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Ghost Mines of Yosemite (1958) by Douglass Hubbard


17. INTRIGUE

BUT LET US RETURN to Bennettville, where dark clouds were gathering.

Friction is almost certain to develop wherever men work together under strain, and the Great Sierra operation was no exception. These human frailties are often not recorded and are difficult to interpret correctly in reweaving history.

In early 1883 J. C. Kemp van Ee resigned the superintendency of the Great Sierra Company, for reasons that are not known to us now. Charles Barney returned from New Bedford to take his place. Perhaps it was Oliver H. Brooks, organizer, who was now throwing a monkey wrench into the Great Sierra machinery. Indications were that he had fallen into the poor graces of the Index editor:

Octobr 27, 1883 — A rumor gained currency here a few days ago to the effect that O. H. Brooks would be out here in a few days. It is not at all probable, however, that the “promising” O. H. will ever again press the soil of Mono County. 54

Or could it have been Jeff McClelland, who had been driving the tunnel since its beginning?

January 5, 1884 — T. J. McClelland, late acting superintendent for the Great Sierra Company at Tioga, quit suddenly last Thursday, passed through Lundy

TWISTED TIMBER, DANA VILLAGE
[click to enlarge]
TWISTED TIMBER, DANA VILLAGE
the same day, took private conveyance from Bodie yesterday, and is believed to have left the country for good. 55

January 12 — The Bodie Free Press says that T. J. McClelland . . . went to San Francisco and that he will thence today, via Panama, for the West Coast of Africa, to superintend a mine owned jointly by an English and a San Francisco Company. If his new employers knew how Jeff treated the last company that gave him employment we think that they would feel a little “ticklish” about entrusting him with the superitendency of a property in far-away Africa. So far as we have been able to ascertain, McClelland simply abandoned the property and important work entrusted to him, in mid-winter, and without a word to his Eastern employers, and precipitately fled the country. Just why, no one seems to know; but it is just such conduct as this that leads Eastern capitalists to distrust Pacific Coast miners, and to employ in their stead Eastern men of known integrity but far less knowledge of mining*. The Index intimated to the Great Sierra Consolidated Silver Company of New Bedford, when it allowed the intrigues and malice of a marplot** to deprive the company of the services of a thoroughly reliable and energetic man*** that it would be difficult to fill his place, and the company has been in hot water more or less ever since. . . . We understand that the company will send a man out from the East to take charge of their Tioga property, and in the meantime Wm. Onkst has been placed in charge of tunnel work. 56

January 19 — W. C. Priest of Priest’s Station, near Big Oak Flat, has been appointed General Superintendent of the Great Sierra . . . at Bennettville, Tioga. This is a case of “the right man in the right place.” Mr. Priest is a pioneer California miner, an intelligent, affable gentleman, devoid of guile, and . . . incapable of indulging in any of the petty intrigues and bickerings with which that camp has been cursed since O. H. Brooks left it a legacy of delirium tremens. . . . 57

*Barney?   **Brooks?   ***Kemp?



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