|Object Name||Clipping, Newspaper|
TITLE: NEW ALMADEN, WORLD'S SECOND LARGEST QUICKSILVER MINE SUBTITLE: Romance of Indian "War Paint'' Supply Told CENTURY-OLD DISCOVERY ECLIPSES SPAIN'S FAMOUS DEPOSITS PUBLISHER:
SAN JOSE MERCURY HERALD, SUNDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 2, 1923:
CALIFORNIA, "The land of everything under the sun," possesses next to the richest and most productive quicksilver mine in the world - a mine that at one time produced half the quicksilver output of the world. But strangely enough, few of the enthusiastic Californiacs who "sing the glories of the Golden State even know of its existence, and fewer still dream of the important part it has played in the history of the state's wealth and development. For, in the early days of hydraulic mining and, later, in the stamp mills where gold and silver bearing quartz was ground to powder and washed across silvered plates, quicksilver was the medium by which the particles of precious metal were caught and retained in amalgam.
Discovered by Indians.
The mine was discovered by Digger Indians more than a century ago, and lies some 14 or 15 miles from San Jose at New Almaden, so named from the famous Spanish mine at Almaden, in the province of La Mancha. The name is an [words missing] and of two words, [words missing] den," meaning "the [words missing]
[words missing] Spaniards came [words missing] Indians used the [words missing] war paint, and [words missing] a number of In- [words missing] aght in a cave-in [words missing] .we, were found [words missing] first opened up [words missing] today there are [words missing] found in the old [words missing] ground on Mine [words missing] corn-grinding mortars, pestles, [words missing] .w , heads and other Indian [words missing] Pigment from the cinnabar brought to the padres by the first Indian converts, was used by then in decorating the Santa Clara mission, built more than a century ago.
It was not until 1822 that the existence of the mine was known to any save the Indians, however. Then they told Louis Chabolla and Senior Robles of the ore, and two years later Robles showed it to Don Antonio Sunol. Thinking it contained silver, Don Antonio experimented with the ore for a year trying to extract it, but not realizing the real nature of the deposit, finally abandoned it in disgust.
Twenty years later a Mexican officer, Andreas Castillero, visiting at the Santa Clara mission was shown some of the ore, and, after experiment discovered quicksilver. He filed a "discoverer's claim" upon the ledge. in accordance with Spanish and Mexican laws, formed a company with the view of developing the mine and employed an American, William G. Chard, to extract the mercury from the ore.
First Reduction Work.
Chard's first "reduction warps" were crude and primitive. A gun barrel was filled with small pieces of the ore, the vent was closed with clay and the muzzle immersed in a barrel of water. Fire was built around the clay-closed end of the gun barrel, and the mercury, driven off by the heat in the form of vapor, passed out at the muzzle, was condensed in the water and precipitated in the form of liquid quicksilver. Three or four gun barrels were thus used for several weeks. Then six whaler tryout pots; capable of holding three or four tons of ore, were obtained and a sort of a furnace formed by inverting three of the pots filled with ore over the others: About 2000 tons of ore were thus reduced. hither Castillero became discouraged or feared the Americanos, for in 1845 we find that the property was appraised by Captain John C. Fremont, American military governor of California, at $30,000 and Castillero sold his holdings to an English firm, and Alexander J. Forbes, the principal stockholder, who later acted as British consul in San Jose for several years, arrived from Tepic, Mexico, with funds, laborers and machinery necessary for working the mines properly.
The evident value of the mine brought forward immediate claimants to the property. There were four title sources - Justo Larias, who claimed title under a Spanish grant; Jose Berryessa, secretary to Don Luis Arguello, who, as governor under the Mexican regime, had given him the land grant; Castillero, who claimed the property under the "discoverer's title;" and the United States, who claimed it as public land. Long-drawn-out litigation ensued. Two of the claims, the company bought for its own protection, but the matter assumed serious proportions - for the foreign claimants were loathe to abide by United States supreme court decisions and orders. Court decrees were disregarded and it became necessary to station federal troops at the mine to enforce the decrees and curb any disorders resulting from dissatisfaction on the part of the foreign claimants and their followers. Matters finally became so complicated that in 1858 an injunction was placed on the mine.
Finally the state department at Washington conceived the idea of submitting the question of title to Geneva Tribunal, the American members of which had just been appointed by President Grant for arbitration of the Alabama claims. However, it was found inadvisable to submit questions unrelated to the Alabama claim to the tribunal, and it was finally arranged by the state department to submit the issue to Emperor William of Germany, grandfather of ex-Kaiser Wilhelm; his decision to be final. The emperor awarded the property to the company on payment of $1,600,000 to the Mexican claimant, and incontestable title was then vested in the company.
Captain Henry Halleck, afterwards famous as a major general during the civil war, was one of the early resident managers of the company, and it was during his superintendence at the mines that furnaces were first constructed and ore reduced in large quantities. Mary Halleck, the brilliant artist and novelist, was Captain Halleck's daughter. She became the wife of Arthur D. Foote, engineer of the mines in the late seventies, and lived at New Almaden.
Bought by Americans.
It was in 1861 that the mines were bought by the Quicksilver Mining Company of New York, which paid $1,7 00,000 for the mines and improvements, including 8,500 acres of land. Samuel F. Butterworth, a noted jurist of Washington, D. C., and a man of great culture, refinement and ability, was the first president and manager of the American company. He was succeeded in 1870 by J. B. Randol of New York, who owned a controlling interest in the stock of the company. In 1894 Thomas Derby, now a resident of San Jose, succeeded Mr. Randol and continued as manager until 1912, when the mine passed into the hands of the present company, the New Almaden company. Mr. Derby was with the Quicksilver Company for many years, first in their San Francisco offices, later as storekeeper at Hacienda and then as manager, occupying "Casa Grande" the Big House built by the English company as a home for its superintendent and visiting officials.
Famous Casa Grande
Casa Grande has probably entertained more notable people-captains of industry and finance-than any other residence in California. During the heyday of the Quicksilver Mining Company's activities open house was kept and lavish entertainments were given. A big retinue of servants was maintained, the cellars were famed for their inexhaustible supply of rare wines, and solid silver service was used at the sumptuous dinners.
Magnificent stables of blooded driving and riding horses were maintained, and the record time made between San Jose and the Palace hotel in San Francisco was held by the company's horses. The grounds of Casa Grande were beautifully arranged and planted to all kinds of rare flowers, vines, fruits and trees. Back of the veranda-shaded, tree-embowered "big house" terraced lawns slope down to a lovely artificial lake and fountain. Against a background of luxuriant shrubbery and trees stands a quaint oriental tea-house, in sad disrepair today, but, for all that a regal reminder of an emperor's favor.
An Emperor's Gift.
During the regime of the English company the emperor of China, in recognition of courtesies extended to his envoy, presented the company with a magnificent tea house inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Such was its value that the company carried, $50,000 worth of insurance on the gorgeous structure.
The emperor's gift still stands in the beautiful grounds, on a terrace overlooking the lake. But its beauty and richness are gone; the mother-of-pearl inlay has been stripped off and carried away by vandals, and it stands there, weather-beaten and forlorn, a mute reminder of its past splendor. Sometime, however, the company now owning the New Almaden mine hopes to restore the emperor's gift and give it again its old-time oriental magnificence.
The vast holdings of the company were a sort of feudal do-main, and the hand-written monthly log book of the "surface foreman" is filled with memoranda showing the care taken of the employees a hospital for both the
Mexican and English camps; a Catholic and Methodist church; a dispensary; "Helping Hand" clubs; library containing books, magazines and newspapers; music hall with a big stage across one end for general purposes and schools. And, of course, there were stores, saloons, and postoffice.
The company not only had a resident physician to look after the physical ills of its employees, but, as is shown in the log book, provided decent burial for those employees who might die without means. One entry, for instance, reads: "Only one coffin was made during the month by the company and that was for an old standby, Francisco Perez, who died suddenly about 2 o'clock on the morning of January 1, and it is presumed by the priest that he spent a happy New Year's day in his 'home behind the cloud'."
Those "who did not behave were summarily ordered off the hill and forbidden within the company's domain. One such entry reads: "Thomas Blank , an ex-Cornish and preacher miner, ordered off the hill for drunkenness and ungentlemanly conduct toward a lady." Others were ordered off the hill for "selling liquor, selling contraband, hoodlumism, ungentlemanly conduct toward a lady, immorality, etc."
Controlled State Politics.
In the late seventies and eighties there was a population on the property of about 6000 people, and it was said that the voters there controlled the politics of the state of California.
Had Banner Co. School.
New Almaden's public school on Mine Hill was known as the banner school of Santa Clara County. The best teachers obtainable were employed and received the highest salaries of any school teachers in the county. The school library contained 3,000 volumes. The company also engaged in "helping hand" work, maintaining a building devoted to the activities of the - work which included practical instruction for the boys and girls not found in the regular school curriculum. In a letter outlining vocational technical training classes for the boys and girls of New Almaden, J. B. Randol, superintendent of the mine, offered a series of prizes to stimulate the youngsters. In the cooking class prizes were offered for the best loaf of bread, $5; best roast, $4 best steak, $3; best chops, $2; best rice pudding, $2; best beans, Mexican style, $1. In the dressmaking, blacksmithing, carpentry and mason-work classes prizes of $10 were offered and additional prizes of $10 were offered for punctuality, good behavior and continued attendance.
Caste Lines Drawn.
Hacienda, with its company offices, Casa Grande, hotel, stores, plaza, and homes of the company offices, was the recognized "seat of the mighty," and families with budding aspirations have been rudely shocked on being informed that a probationary period on "the Hill" where English camp was situated, would be necessary before their claims to admission would be considered.
There were two camps, distinct and separate communities - English camp, nestled amid the rank shrubbery on the sloping hillsides, and Spanish camp, referred to occasionally in the foreman's log book as, "Gobbletown" high above English camp on the crest of the hill. Lines were rigidly drawn, and no Mexican was permitted to live in English camp. Indeed, the separateness of the two communities was so complete as to extend even to their church, school, clubs, and entertainments, each camp having its own group of buildings. However, the whole community "got together," as upon the Fourth of July, when a great celebration with a banquet of "barrels of lemonade and sangarie" was provided by the company, and the Stars and Stripes were unfurled on the hilltop to the accompaniment of patriotic airs played by a band composed for the most part of "talent from the Mexican camp."
The property has produced to date in value of quicksilver approximately $75,000,000, and of recent years a new and rich shaft has been sunk so that the little town is again the scene of much activity, 18861969-01-07
Scenes at the New Almaden mine, California's famous quicksilver mine, which celebrated its centennial yesterday. At the upper left is the lovely old managerial residence, "Casa Grande"; at the upper right is a
view of the buildings where the cinnabar is converted into quicksilver; at the lower left is a view of the
grounds at the rear of Casa Grande, showing the famous tea-house, gift of the Chinese Emperor to the
English company which bought the mine from the Spanish grantees. At the lower right are some of the old adobe houses opposite the plaza on the main street at Hacienda, formerly the homes of company employes.
Berryessa, Jose Reyes
Butterworth, Samuel Fowler
Chard, William G.
Derby, Thomas (Tom)
Foote, Arthur DeWint
Fremont, John C.
Halleck, Henry (Wager, Sr., Jr.)
Randol, James Butterworth
|Cataloged by||John Atwood|