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Ghost Mines of Yosemite (1958) by Douglass Hubbard


6. THE MEN

THOMAS BENNETT, JR.
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THOMAS BENNETT, JR.
WM. C. N. SWIFT
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WM. C. N. SWIFT
RHODOLPHUS SWIFT
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RHODOLPHUS SWIFT

THE NAMES of certain men are repeated again and again in the records of the operation on Tioga Hill; others appear briefly to be seen no more.

It is possible that a man named Oliver H. Brooks may have supplied the initial spark for the formation of a company which lighted the western sky brilliantly for more than two years before it burned itself out.

Brooks appears first on the scene in December 1880 as superintendent of construction of the Bodie and Mill Creek telegraph line, extending a wire to Lundy.13 In March of 1881 he was assistant superintendent of the Great Sierra Mining Company, leaving with a force of 15 miners to work on the Mount Dana Mine. 14 Two weeks later, apparently satisfied with the mine,

O. H. Brooks . . . left . . . for Indianapolis, Chicago and New York to consult with some of the owners of the mine in regard to the erection of the much needed reduction works. To the eye of an experienced mining man like Mr. Brooks it required but a glance to see that with ample mill facilities and the vast amount of good ore in sight in the Great Sierra there are “millions in it.” 15

Significant in the paragraph above is the word “Chicago” for in that city resided Dr. Almon Brooks, brother of Oliver. It was inevitable that the brothers would discuss the potential wealth of Tioga, perhaps including in their discussion their brother-in-law, Judge Joseph J. Parker of Canton, Ohio. Almon Brooks in turn contacted William H. Forbes of Boston, one of the organizers of the American Bell Telephone Company, giving him a description of “the immense wealth contained in the Great Sierra Mines in Tioga Mining District” and offering an opportunity to purchase an interest in the property for himself and to include some of his eastern friends. 1 Colonel Forbes had a summer home and friends in New Bedford. These friends doubtlessly included Thomas Bennett, Jr., one of the founders and First Agent of the Wamsutta Mills, William Cole Nye Swift, of the firm of Swift and Perry, whaling ship owners and outfitters, and his brother, Rhodolphus Nye Swift, a whaling captain whom tragedy had driven from the sea*.16 Forbes and these men met in Boston the summer of 1881. That meeting set the stage for the drama to follow:

June 8, 1881 — It is expected that J. C. Kemp and O. H. Brooks, who have met with very good success in procuring capital in the East for the development of some of the mines of Tioga District will return to Bodie about the 15th instant.17

So impressed was the group with the reports of mining engineers John I. Ginn (later editor of the Homer Mining Index,) Russell F. Lord18 and others that action was initiated which resulted in the acquisition of the major claims of both the Sheepherder and the Great Sierra lodes.

Leg-man on the scene at Tioga was Judge Parker, whose name appears frequently in the records of Mono County for late 1881. He busied himself locating and purchasing claims, adjusting titles, and consolidating ownership of the various claims on Tioga Hill into one company. This was accomplished sucessfully in November.1

[*]Rhodolphus’ first son was born and died while he was at sea. He never sailed again.



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