Idaho History June 11, 2017

Pearl, Gem County, Idaho

(Part 1)

Pearl Idaho ca. 1890s


source: Mike Fritz Collection History of Idaho
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Strategy Fails to Win Case for Basin Miner

Present Pearl District Mining Claim Calls to Mind the Plowman vs. LeVan Suit

By Anderson W. Cox – The Idaho Statesman, March 18, 1934.

Editorial Note — Interest in the lawsuit of the Ojus mine in the Pearl district which occupied the attention of the court recently, reminded Anderson W. Cox of Caldwell, a pioneer who has taken a keen interest in all business affairs in this section, of another interesting case which involved the Pearl district also, and he has written the following story of the case:

About the year 1897 there was quite a notable mining lawsuit pulled off in the district entitled Plowman vs. LeVan. The suit was filed by Plowman to recover the possession to a certain mining claim.

This claim was located by a very old man by the name of Brown, familiarly known as Major Brown. Brown had worked on the claim, as the mining law requires in making locations, and thought he had sufficient amount done to hold it.

Several months after Brown made his location LeVan filed a location over Brown, claiming Brown had not performed the required amount of labor nor had he properly staked the ground. This claim was thought to be valuable as very rich ore had been taken from various prospect holes on the claim.

Plowman was a well known mining and mill man from the Boise basin. He was experienced in the mining business from every angle. Being a good friend of Brown’s he became deeply interested in his claim, that LeVan was trying to get away with. Brown had no money to fight lawsuits with so he arranged with Plowman that if he would take the case into court and win he could have a large interest in it. This promised to be a very interesting case.

Best Lawyers Engaged

LeVan employed a very able team of lawyers, James H. Hawley, W. E. Borah and two or three others. Plowman also had a bunch of good lawyers from Boise.

The trial was set for the fall term of court at Idaho City before Judge Richards, and as court time drew near the contestants were notified as to the date the case would be called. The day before the trial was to begin both sides had their lawyers and witnesses ready and very early in the morning all set out from Boise for Idaho City.

All travel was by team in the interior in those days. There were l5 or more witnesses on either side to go beside the lawyers. It required several different rigs to convey everybody. Plowman had a four-horse team and passenger wagon all nicely fitted up which carried the greater portion of his bunch, while his lawyers and some witnesses went on the regular stage. LeVan also took two rigs to take care of his men.

Dinner Scoop

Before leaving Boise, Plowman phoned to the proprietor of the Halfway house on the road to prepare dinner for about 15 men, or whatever the number was with the team. Harry, one of Mr. Plowman’s boys, was the driver and he surely could herd four horses. His father told him to outstrip all of the LeVan rigs and get to the roadhouse first as he had ordered dinner for his passengers. Harry made good and got there on time and all went in to dinner. While we were eating the LeVan teams drove up and they too wanted dinner but had neglected to send in their order ahead, so they would have to wait until a dinner could be cooked. This made them pretty mad, that they would have to wait until the first bunch finished their dinner and still wait for another to be cooked, but it was great joy for the Plowman crowd to get the best of the others. Plowman had previously phoned In his order to Walt Galbraith, proprietor of the Luna house, to reserve all of his spare rooms for his people whether they would all be occupied or not. Plowman was a pure type of pioneer miner and a few dollars made little difference to him in a little affray like this. Plowman’s crowd arrived at the hotel far in advance of the other rigs. We all went in the hotel, registered and had our rooms assigned and were well settled when the LeVan rigs arrived. The occupants all rushed in to the hotel to secure quarters but were informed by the proprietor that all spare rooms were previously engaged by Mr. Plowman and that he could not accommodate them. The Luna house was the only hotel in the town so they had to scatter out and get lodgings wherever they could. There was a lady who ran a boarding house that had a few spare beds where some of them lodged. When the LeVan’s saw they were again outwitted they were mad in dead earnest.

Plowman Popular

Plowman seemed to be the leading light of the city, an old-timer, and was well known. He had been a robust man—and despite his 60 years was yet hardy and strong, carrying more than 200 pounds avoirdupois and over six feet tall. He owned and operated a large placer mine very near the city where several men were employed during the summer, besides operating several quartz properties in different parts of the country. With his high standing in the community he was popular and generally got what concessions he asked, but in this particular mining case he was not successful, as he lost the suit.

The following morning after the arrival of everybody, court opened and the case of Plowman vs. LeVan was called. The judge informed the attorneys that the court was ready to proceed with the case and asked if both were prepared. They answered that they were and the case. proceeded. This was to be tried by jury. Then 12 men were called to the jury box to be examined as prospective jurors. The usual routine was indulged in of rejecting, accepting and challenging of jurymen until a jury satisfactory to both sides was selected. They were sworn in and then the taking of evidence commenced.

Several days were required in examining witnesses on the side of the prosecution. A score of witnesses had testified and all evidence produced that was available and everything said that was necessary by the prosecution attorneys. Mr. Borah, for the defense, took the floor and in a very forceful manner addressed the court at length, making a strong plea that the prosecution had failed in every particular to show evidence sufficient to establish their rights to the mining claims involved, and made a motion that the case be set aside. Then a real combat between the attorneys on both sides ensued. The judge stated he would take the matter under advisement, and when court convened the following morning the judge informed the jury that they were excused as he had decided to dismiss the case. This was very disappointing news for the townspeople—LeVan winning the case without putting a witness on the stand or presenting evidence in any way. The citizen, spectators and friends of Plowman wore deeply interested and had watched the case closely from the start.

Hawley Grilling

I was a witness for the Plowman side and had been on the stand nearly an entire day. I was examined by our own lawyers of course, then came the cross-examination by the opposite attorney. Mr. Hawley conducted this. I stood his constant grilling for many hours and when he had finished with me I had about all I was able to stand for one day. Mr. Borah did not take much part in my examination, as Mr. Hawley was a-plenty. His questions always came so blunt and earnest and always demanded direct answers, yes or no, and no hesitating around the bush.

In the evening after supper of the day I was on the stand someone called out for everybody to “come up” and have something to drink. As this was a very familiar custom I think nearly everyone in the lobby went up to the bar. The bar occupied a prominent place in the big lobby of the hotel. It was customary all over the country to have a bar in the hotel, for a hotel was not complete without one. The crowd present was for the most part Plowman people. A certain young lawyer of the LeVan side was in the lobby, as he was a guest of the house, and came up to the bar and took a drink along with the crowd.

After the refreshments were dispensed with nearly everyone took seats save three or four who lingered about the bar. This certain lawyer and myself were among those who stood by or near the bar. He moved over near me and began talking. By this time the others had moved away so he and I were alone. When he commenced talking I saw he was in an angry mood. He wanted to talk about the happenings in court that day. After a few words relative to the case he asked me why I testified as I did on the stand as to the location of a certain corner stake of the claim in dispute – that I knew I had testified falsely and he knew it too. I said, “Mr. –, I testified to the location of that stake just as I knew it to be as well as all other stakes on the claim.” “Well,” he said, “you did not tell the truth and I know it and if you will come outside I’ll mop up all the dust in the street in front of the hotel with you.” No, I said, I was not going outside with him as that would not settle anything so he cooled off a little, then left me.

He was a stout, heavy built young man and could have done considerable mopping with me had he undertaken the job. I was rather small of stature and would have stood no chance in a knockout with him. I had a solid friend sitting in a chair just across the room and leaning back taking in all the talk between Mr. — and I. He told me afterward that had that fellow offered to lay a hand on me he was all ready to jump on him. Said he was fairly aching to get a chance to knock all the camas out of him and felt sure he could do it.

This friend was Brad Hurt, a perfect athlete when it came to a bout. His weight was about 200 pounds, very stout and active, but I did not know I had such good backing or I might have been braver. I was very glad that the trouble ended where it did, as feeling was at fever heat between the witnesses on both sides and if a riot had broken out there would have been someone hurt and maybe several. There had been bad blood brewing between I the two contending sides since they first came in contact at Idaho City preceding the trial.

Friends Later

I will not mention this lawyer’s name that wanted to do some street mopping with me, because we became better acquainted and for many years I have enjoyed his friendship which I highly esteem. The scrap between us at Idaho City was never mentioned by either of us when we were together. He is a prominent lawyer at present and will probably remember this episode.

But the lawsuit ended and we all went home to resume our regular vocations. Plowman continued to work his big placer mine and Le-Van in a short time sold his mining claims and mill which he was forced to do to clear up the expense of his lawsuit.

source: Gem County Historical Society
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Annual report of the mining industry of Idaho

Jay Czizak, Inspector of Mines, 1899
(Extracted from google books)

Pearl District

“Pearl district, situated in the southwestern part of Boise County, is a thriving mining camp. Here is the famous Checkmate mine, which has paid from the “grass roots” and has developed into a well-equipped mine, for several years being a regular shipper of high grade concentrates. The Lincoln group is another property being rapidly developed, and there are a score or more of other promising properties in the district, the best known of which are the I.X.L., King, Red Warrior, Comrade, Friday and Superior.”

“. . .the cost of fuel varies in different districts of the county. At Pearl coal is used and costs $12 per ton; in nearly every other part of Boise County wood is used and costs $3.50 per cord . . . From Pearl the cost of transportation to market is $9.50 per ton. In the Idaho Basin the ore is worked there. Miners receive from $3.00 to $3.50 per day; timbermen get $3.50; trammers, $2.50; laborers, $2.50; engineers, $3.00; pumpmen, $3.00; foremen, $4.00; blacksmiths, $3.50.”

source: Gem County Historical Society
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Red Warrior Mine Pearl Idaho August 5, 1900


source: Mike Fritz Collection History of Idaho
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Pearl in the early 1900’s

by Sharon McConnel

(This article first appeared The Village Chronicles, a periodical by the Gem County Historical Society, Summer 2006.)

The year was 1900. William McKinley was in the White House and Frank Steunenberg was Governor of Idaho. In Pearl, along Willow Creek, in what was then the southwest portion of Boise County, Oakley Wylie was five years into his nine-year term as postmaster. It was almost 40 years after the Boise Basin gold rush. It was twenty years since the 1880 census taker had counted twenty-nine miners on Willow Creek, fifteen of whom were Chinese. Merle Wells tells us that Pearl gold mines became productive in 1894 yielding $30,000, followed by $80,000 in 1896. Let’s take a look at the period after the boom, the census data, the postmaster appointments, ordinary people living ordinary lives and hanging on in a declining community.

Oakley Wylie, the postmaster told the 1900 census taker he was a miner. So who was minding the post office in this dusty mining settlement? In the Wylie household we also find his 28 year old wife Minnie, seven year old son Oakley and five-year old daughter Dora. Not exactly the stereotype image of a rough and tumble mining camp. A closer look at the census shows that of the 243 people there were fifty-one women and seventy-two children. Five households were headed by women: May Jacobs, seamstress; Annie Goure, laundress; Margurite Jury, innkeeper; Delia Caldwell, innkeeper; Ella McCabe, innkeeper.

How many extended families were living in Pearl, we can only speculate, based on last names, place of birth and parents’ place of birth from the census record. Presumably 29-year old miner George Caldwell was related to 38-year old inn keeper Delia Caldwell. Both were bom in Missouri and both reported fathers born in Vermont. Fifty- two year old farm laborer Thomas McCabe was seven households from 23 year old innkeeper Ella McCabe and her two sisters. McCabe was born in Arkansas and the McCabe girls reported that their father was bom in Arkansas; in all likelihood he was their father. This is a pattern in my own family. My great grandparents moved to Pearl in 1901 and by 1910 they’d been joined by three married daughters and their families, the John McKenneys, the James “Bob” Morcoms, and the Fred Turners. There were jobs to be done and then, as now, people went where there were jobs.

Other single women include Alida Ramsay, a cook; Ella McCabe’s sisters, Irene and Florence. Annie Goure, the laundress, a widow raising three children. Emily Langrose, a waitress, boarded with May Jacobs, the seamstress. Undoubtedly some of the women met their future husbands in Pearl. In June, Nancy Ella McCabe married Oscar Harper, also of Pearl, and in November Alida Ramsay married Alfred Hutchison. In 1901 Delia Caldwell, the innkeeper, married John Lenson. In 1905 Florence McCabe married Boaz Tibbs and her sister Irene married Elmer Watson.

Five married women took in boarders including Florence Grimes who is buried in the Pearl cemetery. The men were miners, laborers, engineers, teamsters, carpenters, merchants, farmers, a livery stable keeper, barber, shoemaker, shoe dealer, vegetable peddler, blacksmith, butcher, machinist, druggist, wood sawyer and stenographer. Sam Birdwell ran a saloon as did William Emke and his brother Charles, three doors away. Sixty-eight year old Edward Henneberry and his forty year-old son Richard were both millwrights.

By the time of the 1910 census the population had decreased by roughly fifty per cent. Birdwell had turned to mining and the Emke brothers had moved on. Fred Crawford was the only saloon keeper and Rene Hazelton was the hotel manager. Also, Pearl had lost its occupational diversity. Twenty-seven of the 123 residents were gold miners; the others were as follows: one each, engineer, millwright, innkeeper, merchant, 75 years old store salesman, Lewllyn Walter, and one handyman. The average age of the miners was 46 years; the youngest being Charles Danielson’s bother-in-law at 19 years and oldest being Don MacAskill, my great grandfather, at 65 years. Edward and Mary Henneberry were still there, and forty year old Edward [Jr] was the millwright.

The village was not without its’ “shakers and movers.” Rush Von Harten, the proprietor of the dry goods store, served the 1909 -1910 term in the state legislature. His wife Luella was appointed postmistress June 1909, a position she would hold until her death in November 1914. Both she and her husband are buried in the Pearl cemetery. Their daughter Emma Luella was appointed postmistress April of 1915 and continued to serve in that capacity until May 28, 1919. On June 19, 1915, she married Arthur D. Turner and, over the next seven years, she homesteaded 570 acres.

May 18, 1915 Gem County was formed, including portions of Boise and Canyon counties. January 1919 Constitutional Amendment XVIII was ratified, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcohol. In May of 1919, in the village of Pearl, Jules Delamaster was appointed postmaster. And in 1920 the census taker counted only 40 people living on Pearl’s Main Street, a decease of approximately two-thirds. William Von Horton was still there, still running his store. Fred Turner with his three oldest sons had turned to farming since the previous census. Emily Brambee and son Frank are still there and still farming. Rinehart Schiller is also listed as a farmer, making a total of eight farmers as compared to six miners. Michael Murnane, the Irish-born head engineer from the 191 0 census, was now listed simply as a miner. A check of the Metsker Gem County Atlas show that by 1939 he had considerable real estate holdings as did the Bramlees. Josephine Craford, the widow of the 1910 Pearl saloon keeper, is now listed as having a restaurant in the Montour precinct. Dressmaker Mary Haley and her mother Julia Marrinane were also counted in the Montour precinct, although in the 1910 census they were counted in Pearl. It is unknown at this time whether this reflects a move on their parts, or whether it is a change in precinct boundaries.

People stayed on after the so-called boom, as some of the people I’ve highlighted show. Some moved on and some only the short distances to the surrounding communities. We’ll probably never have a complete picture of what it was like to live in Pearl in the early 1900’s. At times history reminds me of the fable of the blind men trying to describe an elephant. Each person has a different view depending upon their perspective and their sources. Local history is fragile especially when it’s about ordinary people leading every day lives. Hopefully I’ve put a human face to Pearl.

Note: The museum has an extensive collection of Pearl photographs.

source: Gem County Historical Society
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Pearl 1902


Looking west from “water tower hill” down Willow Creek: Checkmate mine and Jury Boarding house on left; further west, on the south side was the Gem Saloon, which is described in the 1903 quitclaim deed from Sam Dunbar and Arther Kontze to Rene Hazelton as being “on the south side. . facing Main Street. . . between the building now owned by Frank Demant as a store and the building occupied by the Idaho Dress Beef Company.”

On the north side of the road was the house George and Hattie Johnston sold to the Ladies Aid Society of Pearl in May 1902 and the Ladies Aid Society sold a year later to the Congregational Church. Also on the north side: the I.O.O.F. Hall; The Pearl Drug Store that Jefferson Welch sold to Rush VonHarten in October 1902; Emke’s Saloon, formerly Jake Decker’s; and the barber shop.

The Pearl business district was on patented mining claims and the above information is from transfers of leases. Possibly there were more businesses that occupied locations less formally than recorded documents or on a hand-shake.

From a 1896 lien filed by J. E. Griggs against G. R. Reed we know a bit about the construction of the Jury Boarding House, fka Reed Boarding House, fka Jury and Minton boarding house. Reed was “to pay $7 per 1000 sq. ft. for hauling 13608 ft lumber; hauling 1 cord of wood, $3.50; furnishing 1/2 cord wood, $3.50; hauling 12000 shingles from Caldwell, $4.80; Mrs. Loid A. Griggs for cooking, $7.00. Such labor & assistance performed & rendered between July 24, 1896, and August 26, 1896. The amount claimant demands is $115.20, no part has been paid except $18.50. Amount now due & unpaid, $96.70.” (Griggs is listed as teamster on 1900 census.) Callistus W. Cooper also filed a lien against Reed, Jury and Minton for “$89.00 for lumber, doors, windows, shingles furnished by claimant as material man to said George Reed by contract made with Reed on 12 Aug. 1896.” That lien further describes the boardinghouse as being a two story frame building “situated on south side of street, between a storeroom on east and Checkmate ore house on west and being about 200 ft. northeast from working tunnel of Checkmate.” At the time of 1900 census Margaruite Jury was running a boarding house, presumably the same one.

Labor liens filed in 1896 and 1897 range from labor as a miner at the rate of $3.00 per day to $4.00 per shift.

Story © Sharon McConnel, whose grandfather at age ten moved, with his parents Don and Emma MacAskill, to Pearl in 1901.

source: Gem County Historical Society and Village Museum
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W. C. Emke Mines at Pearl Sold for $25,000

Emmett Index, January 13, 1903

An important sale was made at Pearl this week by W. C. Emke of a group of four mining claims to New York parties, $25,000 down being paid, part down and the balance on short time. The Deserter mine, on which a rich strike was made recently, is included in the sale.

The purchasers of this property will erect a mill and do a large amount of development work the coming season and will contribute largely toward making Pearl one of the liveliest camps in Idaho.

Mr. Emke has many Emmett friends who are pleased to hear of his good fortune and entertain a hope that he will now become a permanent resident of this place. Mr. Emke still retains a number of promising claims in the Pearl district.

source: Gem County Historical Society
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Great Pearl Mining Camp

Emmett Index, April 30, 1903

Mine Work Being Done on Various Claims with Satisfactory Results and a Bright Future for the Entire District is Positively Assured

Pearl, Boise County, Idaho is the postoffice town of the West View Mining District, more commonly known as the Pearl District. It is situated ten miles east of Emmett, twenty-five miles north of Nampa, and four miles north of the Boise and Payette power plant, situated on the Payette River. This power company has its poles et and wires run an is now ready to transmit power to Pearl and install electric lights, thus giving the mine owners the best of power at a much less cost than steam or gasoline. Teams from Pearl can reach five different sawmills in one day’s drive.

This district is comparatively a new one, as while placer mining has been carried on for a number of years, not until the year 1895 were even the crude methods of quartz operations undertaken. Within the past two years concentrators have been introduced into th several of the mills of the district with the most satisfactory results. The camp now has a few steady producers and has shipped more ore and bullion than any mines of Southern Idaho. Hitherto all this ore has been hauled to Boise, but since the completion of the Idaho Northern railway to Emmett, this place has become the distribution point of the Pearl district. Already one carload of concentrates is shipped each third day from the Checkmate mine via Emmett and Nampa.

The arrival of the railroad is timely for the productions of the mines in this district will be many times larger this year than ever before.

The Checkmate mine, hitherto the largest produce of the district, is owned and operated by the Checkmate Mining and Milling Company, a corporation formed under the laws of Utah. The principal stockholders are Messrs. E. E. Calvin, J. H. Young, F. C. Schramm, Geo. V. Schramm, of Salt Lake City, the O’Mellveny estate, John D. Carnahan, F. L. Chapin, C. A. Henry of Ogden, Utah, and S. M. Carhart of Pearl. Mr. Carhart is president. F. C. Schramm secretary, C. A. Henry treasurer and J. W. Thompson Jr. superintendent.

There are several parallel, well defined veins on ths property but as yet only one, the Checkmate, has been developed to any extent. . . . While the Checkmate is not yet much more than a prospect, it has shown itself to be a wonderful producer and one which has a very bright future.

The Lincoln mine, with J. T. Hodson general manager and J. H. Stallings foremand and assistant manager, was sold something more than a year ago to Utah and New York people by W. P. Carter, of Nampa, and associates. While this mine hitherto has not been a great producer, the ore is now known to be there and will fast be removed . . .

The Leviathan, owned by St. Louis parties, has an inclined shaft 150 feet deep upon the ledge with drifts and raises. . . . This company has recently purchased the Red Warrior, an adjoing claim, and will install a new and complete hoisting plant . . .

The Aspen and Mormon City, J. C. Johnson, superintendent, are being rapidly developed . . .

The Middleman, owned by S. L. Tipton and others of Boise, lies between the Leviathan and Aspen and is developed by a 125 foot shaft . . .

The Friday, owned by Oregon and Washington parties, with N. Sorenson as manager, is developed by a cross-cut tunnel and drifts . . .

The Afterthought, owned by Detroit, Mich., parties with Wm. Emke as superintendent, will be another heavy producer the coming season . . .

The King, owned by McDougal and the estate of J. C. Bollock, has a long cross-cut tunnel and has recently opened a fine body of ore. . . .

Col. Dewey’s group of five claims, with E. H. Dewey, of Nampa, as general manager, is well developed . . .

The Midnight and Primrose, owned by Richmond and Staats of Pearl, is developed by two 25 foot shafts showing good bodies of ore . . .

The Gold Dollar, owned by Walla Walla people, has also a big credit for its free gold production . . .

The Pearl, owned by L. R. Walter and Chas. Lockeman of Pearl, has two shafts 50 feet each . .

The El Paso group of patented claims, owned by the Rock Creek Gold Mining Co., with Granville Mitten manager and C. C. Stinson treasure, now have 1100 of drifting . . .

Henderson No. 2, owned by S. M. Carhart of Pearl, has a cross-cut tunnel 125 feet long . .

The Little Joe, owned by Hawley & Puckett of Boise, is an extension on the east of Henderson No. 2 . . .

The Birthday group, owned by Boston parties, are promising properties and will be developed more this summer . . .

Fewel and Partridge have a very fine showing on their fraction just east of the Checkmate, the Hecla.

H. W. Dorman, superintendent of the IXL group, has recently returned from a trip to the east and work will now be started on these claims . . .

. . . The town of Pearl can be reached by wagon from Boise or Caldwell in four hours time or from Nampa to Emmett by the Idaho Northern thence by stage in two hours time.

source: Gem County Historical Society
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Mine Pearl Idaho


source: Mike Fritz Collection History of Idaho
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Annual report of the mining industry of Idaho

Robert Bell, Inspector of Mines, 1904

The Pearl district is situated twenty miles west of Idaho City near the Canyon County line and about the same distance north from the State capital. This is at present the most productive quartz camp in Boise County.

The Pearl district is in sharp contrast with the Basin. The same weathered and eroded hills are here, but they are smooth and grassy and devoid of timber.

This district shows a remarkable succession of well defined fissure veins in metamorphic granite. These veins are in close association, but not generally in contact, with a system of parallel dikes of diorite and porphyry. The mineralized belt of this important district extends from a mile west of Pearl to the Kentuck and Osborne mines, five miles further northeast, where it crosses the Payette River. It is six miles long by two miles wide and is continued in several good ore exposures beyond the river.

The veins of this district strike from due east and west to northeast and southwest. They are fissures of the true fissure type. They are later than the diorite and porphyry dike and are often split up in passing through them. There is another set of dikes and necks of rhyolite and basalt of recent tertiary date in the vicinity of the mines, as well as some limited areas of lake bed sediments, Payette sandstones and shales.

The best developed mines in the district are the Checkmate, the Lincoln and the Kentuck, all three of which are equipped with small mills. The Kentuck plant was only gotten into commission in December, 1903, and did not cut much figure in the year’s output. The Checkmate mill of ten stamps ran only four and one-half months, when the property changed hands and has since been undergoing extensive development. The Lincoln mill is a Chilean mill of one hundred fifty tons capacity and was only run on day shift, making an average daily run of about eight hours during seven months of the year, its operations being bullion.. The total production of these two plants, run irregularly as they were, amounted to nearly $90,000 dollars in gold bullion, and since the electric power has been introduced from the big Payette River Power Company’s plant near by, they are unlikely to be hampered from lack of power in the future, and their present extensive ore reserves warrant the anticipation that the combined output of the district for 1904 will be as near $300,000 as it was $100,000 in 1903.

The ores of this district resemble those of Gilpin County, Colorado, very much. They consist of oxidized quartz and granitic gangue near the surface, which changes at a comparatively shallow depth to a mixture of iron pyrite, arsenical pyrites together with zinc blend and a small percentage of galena and copper sulphides. The increase in the galena in these ores is a sure indication of increase of gold value and is eagerly anticipated by the miners.

The proportion of values are about ninety-five per cent gold and five per cent silver on the average, and they range from eight dollars to twelve dollars per ton for mill dirt, and forty dollars to one hundred fifty dollars for smelting ore. About twenty-five per cent of the value is saved as free gold on copper plates, and of the balance ninety per cent is saved by concentration on Wilfley tables. The concentrates run about the same as the smelting ore, and are shipped to the smelters at Salt Lake for treatment, except the new plant at the Kentuck group, near the river, the product of which is shipped to the White Knob Copper Company’s smelter at Mackay.

The Checkmate mine is developed to a depth of five hundred feet on the dip of the vein and has made a total output of over $500,000. This mine was purchased in August by the Gold Dollar Mining & Smelting Company, who also own the Dewey or Levan group adjoining it at the north, which gives the company a very extensive tract of territory right in the heart of the camp that is traversed by half a dozen well known fissures.

During the year the four hundred-foot vertical shaft on the old Checkmate vein was sunk one hundred feet deeper and a cross-cut started north and south from the fifth level. The cross-cut to the south struck the Bayhorse vein at a point six hundred feet deep below its apex on the dip, and one hundred fifty feet out from the shaft, and just about where it was anticipated from the dip shown in the shallow cuts at the surface. This vein was found to be four feet wide with values ranging from five dollars to twenty dollars per ton.

The old Checkmate vein strikes east and west and dips north at an angle of fifty degrees. Its walls are smooth and well defined, excepting local patches where the vein is interrupted with a small diabase dike having nearly the same strike and dip.

The ore in this vein expanded from a shoot sixty feet long at the first level to a succession of shoots that aggregate five hundred feet along at the fifth level and an average width of about five feet and contain average gold values of eight dollars to twelve dollars per ton.

The ore in these shoots in some places reaches twelve feet between walls. It is largely an altered granite gangue threaded with banded lines of metalic sulphides with almost invariably a pay streak of the clean high grade smelting ore, a few inches to a foot or more thick, on one or the other wall.

These ore shoots are easily mined. Holes can often be drilled with a coal auger. The material crushes readily and makes a granular free running pulp which concentrates to excellent advantage. The ten stamp mill on the property crushes forty tons a day and yields a very clean product of concentrates.

With its four main fissures opened from the cross-cut at the fifth level of the Checkmate shaft, and proving a resource of ore in each one of them of equal volume with that of the Checkmate vein above the fifth level, this property is likely to warrant a milling plant of three or four times its present capacity. It is evident that the ore on the surface of these parallel veins are equal in size and in some openings far superior to what the Checkmate was at the surface. There is some strong evidence at hand that they will carry the same value and strength under ground in proportion as the Checkmate has.

The Lincoln mine, a mile west of the Checkmate, has responded in a very gratifying manner to the development work which has been carried on during the past year.

This mine is opened with an incline shaft three hundred thirty feet deep. At two hundred thirty feet deep a drift has been run out east and west ten hundred twenty-five feet, in continuous pay ore all the way. This remarkably continuous ore shoot varies from a foot to fifteen feet wide, while the extent of the shoot to the east has not yet been reached, but still shows a handsome breast of mineral five feet wide containing an average assay value of fourteen dollars per ton.

The average width of the stopes in this mine are from five to six feet. They produce quite a lot of clean smelting ore worth from three to eight ounces gold, together with ten to fifteen ounces silver, per ton, while the average battery assay of the mill dirt sent up has been over nine dollars for the past month.

The Lincoln Company is making half a carload of high grade concentrates a day at present. A new level is being run out at three hundred thirty feet deep and a hoisting plant of larger capacity is on the way. With these improvements completed the property will be able to make a carload of concentrates a day in addition to the crude shipping ore encountered and promises to show a gross earning capacity of over $20,000 a month in the near future.

The ore at the Lincoln is almost identical to that of the Checkmate; in fact, the same holds true of almost all the mines in the district, with probably a little higher silver results here and there.

There are about a dozen properties being actively operated at the present time in the Pearl district and giving employment to fully two hundred men. These mines are already developed in various stages, ranging from that of the Checkmate to a few hundred feet of shallow work. Several of them have shipping records from surface openings, and the description of their vein’s ores and operations would be practically a repetition of the conditions described in the Lincoln and Checkmate, only in varying degrees.

The Pearl district gives remarkable evidence of strength and permanency to great depth and in nearly every property where intelligent development has been carried on the values have either increased or the pay ore bodies have expanded all out of proportion to the surface indication.

This extensively fissured zone has been cut by the canyon of the Payette River to a depth of two thousand feet since these fissures were formed and filled, which is not only an argument for permanency of values at depth in this district but is also likely to have an important bearing on the probable permanency at depth of the values in the Basin veins, which are apparently of the same age.

The ores at Pearl are undeniably base and afford an ideal field for the process man. If some cheap chemical method of getting the values can be devised so that the present shipping cost can be cut out the Pearl district would likely develop a resource of gold ore that would prove a worthy comparison in value and volume to the Little Kingdom of Gilpin County, Colorado, with which we have taken the liberty to compare it.

source: Gem County Historical Society
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Pearl, Idaho (Gem County), U.S.A.


R. Hazelton in listed in Pearl, Idaho in the 1904 & 1905 R. G. Dun & Co’s Idaho Directories. The business is listed as a saloon. Rene Hazelton is also listed running a saloon in Star, Idaho in 1896 prior to moving to Pearl – idahoras


source: Token Catalog
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source: Gem County Historical Society and Village Museum
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Pearl Idaho Ocotber 1, 1909


source: Mike Fritz Collection History of Idaho
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Pearl Mining District, Once Abandoned, Now Booming

Boise Capital News, Boise, Idaho, Saturday, August 31, 1935

By Robert N. Bell Former Idaho Inspector of Mines

One of the most convenient districts in which to look for a small gold mine that might be built up into a profit making unit of $10,000 to $100,000 a year, for initial capital risks of similar amounts, is the Pearl district, situated 20 miles north of Boise and 4 miles from the main North-South highway, over a poor spur road on light grades to the center of the camp.

The original ore discovery of the Pearl district was made in the ’70’s by the early day placer miners who, however, did not find anything to justify more than a few scattered prospect cuts in rather lean ore. In 1894 the camp consisted of one cabin under a grove cottonwood trees, occupied by cowboys as summer cattle range headquarters. During that year, a section boss by the name of Dan Levan wandered into camp with a wife and two or three small children, looking for a summer camping place. He had been discharged from his job on the Short Line for some infraction of the rules and the cowboys taking kindly to him encouraged his settling there, pointing out to him some rusty streaks on the side hill where they had found some good gold pannings in which they were not interested for themselves but which they thought might make a living for him.

Dan Levan took to prospecting; ran a cut on the discovery shown him; found rich ore from which he could makes wages with a hand mortar; soon expanded his operations to a horse arrastra, the cowboys supplying the horse power, and commenced to make money. When the cowboys returned the following spring, Levan had gone highbrow, built a fence around his camp and put up a sign—”D. Levan Mine. Keep Out.” The cowboys were offended and recognizing that his locations were poorly made, jumped the ground and a lawsuit resulted. This, the first mining title suit in the Pearl district was settled by a prominent young Boise attorney of that day who found a purchaser for the property and settled the case out of court by dividing the spoils equally to the satisfaction of all concerned. The purchaser was a bonanza king of that day – Colonel E. H. Dewey – then enjoying the flush production of the rich ores of the Trade Dollar Consolidated. The young Boise attorney who handled this settlement and has for the past thirty years unselfishly given his great talent to the settlement of affairs, state, national and international, and to the zealous support of the great American Magna Charta was William Edgar Borah.
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The Pearl district is situated on the extreme southwestern spur of the Idaho granite batholith at the point on the Boise mountains between the Boise and Payette rivers where the granite terminates in the adjoining vast accumulation of lake bed sediments.

The surface of the district is deeply soil covered and the veins and formations largely blind. The extensive vein system of the district consists of a series of sheared fissures in the granite or in contact with dacite and rhyolite dikes. Quartz is not conspicuous in the veins which consist essentially of replacement deposits in sheared gangue with the strong development of kaolin and clayey gouge. The shallow ore is brown and oxidized, iron stained vein gangue with occasional ribbons of quartz in the surface conditions of the principal mines. This oxidized ore has proven very rich in free gold at several of the properties but the oxidation rarely ex-tends over 50 feet below the out-crop when the primary ore comes in consisting of pay streaks up to a foot in width of massive iron sulphide well sprinkled with galena and zinc blende with occasionally a little copper minerals. This primary ore is very distinct and readily recognized when encountered. The ore bodies in several instances have proven very persistent in strike length and to a depth of 600 feet. The values encountered in the primary ore have ranged around a quarter to half an ounce gold per ton with occasional segregations of much higher values. This sulphide ore proved difficult to treat by the poor metallurgical methods employed, as extraction of 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the values by amalgamation were about the best results obtained by any of the old milling methods. The ore is friable and the sulphide minerals readily separated. The treatment was largely by amalgamation and gravity table concentration, the concentrates shipped to the Salt Lake valley smelters.
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The principal producers of the district have been the Checkmate, Lincoln, Leviathan, Friday and Black Pearl mines. The total production of the district to date has exceeded a million dollars in value.

I am indebted for the early history of the district to J. C. Johnson, better known as Checkmate Johnson, who was one of its first operators. Mr. Johnson was a hard rock miner from Colorado who came to Boise in 1894 and was attracted by the reports of new discoveries at Pearl. He got a Salt Lake promoter by the name of Chapin interested in the Checkmate which had just been located and had some 10-foot prospect holes on it; got an option on the property for six months at $6000 upon a cash payment of $1000. Chapin interested a party of Oregon Short Line officials in the deal and put Johnson in charge of the enterprise. He started trenching the vein on a 6-inch pay streak from which, within the life of the short option, he extracted and shipped 20 carloads of gold ore that gave net smelter returns of $100 to $150 gold per ton. This early production paid for and financed the further development of the mine.

The ore turned base within 50 feet of the surface. It was developed subsequently by a two-compartment vertical shaft 600 feet deep and equipped with a 10-stamp mill. After a total production of half a million dollars, a strike fault interrupted the vein course at the 500-foot level; a fire destroyed the mill; the enterprise failed; the property was sold for a song and except for two or three minor attempts to re-open it, the property has since remained idle.
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The Lincoln mine, a mile farther west, was originally developed through an incline two-compartment shaft on the vein by a prominent eastern patent medicine man. This development was subsequently carried through a vertical shaft to the 540-foot level. At the 300-foot level the typically sheared ore body was 1200 feet long and stoped for that length in widths varying from a foot to a maximum of 30 feet with average values of about $12 per ton below the shallow oxidized horizon.

The biggest swell in the vein, known as the Log Cabin shoot, about 700 feet east of the shaft, was 30 feet wide and carried bands of massive sulphide ore up to a foot thick and a network of stringers throughout its full width. Several cars of crude ore were shipped from this stope that yielded $90 per ton gold.

An attempt to stope it with square sets without filling caused a collapse of the stope before it was up four sets and this splendid ore showing was lost and I think still remains largely intact. After a production of half a million dollars by this company the property changed hands and has since had several owners. The last attempt to re-open it was about 1928-29 when a lot of good capital was ruthlessly wasted in surface improvements, grass root developments and wandering away from the vein at the 540-foot level.

This is one of the strongest and most persistent gold ore shoots in Idaho. It strikes nearly east and west, dips about 60 degrees to the north and lies in contact with a big dacite dike hanging wall. This formation makes persistent swelling ground in which drift timbers commenced to take pressure and cause trouble three months after they were put in place. These operators would not be advised to run their development in the granite footwall to avoid this swelling ground and were in constant trouble from a condition that could have been avoided with intelligent management.
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The Leviathan, an eastern extension of the Checkmate vein system, carries a strong sheared fissure vein in the granite and also one of the long ore shoots of the district that was stoped at a shallow adit tunnel dept a few hundred feet below the surface for a strike length of 500 or 600 feet in $10 to $15 values with segregations of massive sulphide high grade, from which a number of carload shipments were made that ran $50 to $100 per ton.

The continuation of this ore shoot the Black Pearl mine was quite extensively developed but proved base and unprofitable in spite of some quite elaborate mill-ing attempts.

Some Unusual Ore

Adjoining this property to the south on the same parallel system of fissures of which there are a number in a 2000-foot cross-section, the Friday mine was developed 200 feet deep; had a pay shoot 1 to 3 feet wide and 150 feet long, that was richer in lead then the other ores of the district. Its production in crude ore included a number of carload shipments of 20 per cent to 40 per cent lead and $50 to $100 in gold and silver values. A 300-pound specimen of this ore shown at an Idaho state fair in Boise of nearly clean galena exhibited coarse visible gold in the galena crystals – a rather unusual occurrence.

Except for the Lincoln mine operations in 1928-29, the camp has been practically deserted for the past twenty years. About two years ago Mr. J. B. McKinney, an experienced Nevada who had worked at the Lincoln and found himself out of a job, nosed around the original Levan discovery where in cleaning out some of the old shallow surface cuts he found some of the early day rich oxidized ore, and followed Levan’s start, made wages pounding up the ore in a hand mortar.

The owner of this property, due to the experience of other operators in the district and the refractory character of the ore compared to what he was used to handling at Silver City had patented the ground and forgotten it. Mr. McKinney obtained a lease and option from the heirs and continued his investigations.
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Fissures Parallel

The Levan fissures parallel the Checkmate at a distance of about 1000 feet on the opposite side of Willow creek. The vein had four shallow trench openings at intervals of 1000 feet for a strike length of 4000 feet. In the central opening, Mr. McKinney has since demonstrated the existence of an ore shoot, 60 feet long, with two inches to a foot of high grade oxidized ore and in addition several feet of good milling values. He is en experienced and careful judge of such matters and has made a handsome living in following up this work at this and other points along the course of this persistent fissure. He installed a baby Ellis mill and extracted several ton lots treated by this little plant that yielded $125 to $450 per ton in free gold.

He now has an incline shaft 90 feet deep which exhibits the same small rich pay streaks and several feet of good milling values. This has just been intercepted 200 feet deeper by a crosscut adit tunnel, now 500 feet long. This development will be continued until a year’s ore supply is assured which seems quite definitely in prospect, when the property will be equipped with a 25-ton capacity mill, for which ground preparations and water supply have already been prepared. It seems likely on such a persistent fissure another Pearl producer is now in the making on a conservatively and intelligently handled line of attack.

Some Rich Silver

A mile north of Levan’s mine, another strong parallel fissure under the crest of Crown Point, one of the highest weathered summits of the district, on the divide between Willow creek and Payette river, is of the bi-metallic variety and contains as much silver as gold with some segregations of rich silver mineral. This property, known as the Florence, was developed a number of years ago with a short crosscut tunnel and an incline shaft with considerable drifting and made crude ore shipments to the Salt Lake smelters of 20 to 60 ounces silver ore. This deposit has been idle and inaccessible for several years.

Another old prospect, abandoned 30 years ago, an eastern extension of this vein system, known as the Apache, was developed with an incline shaft to a depth of 150 feet and was reputed to have opened some rich segregations of both silver and gold values. A year ago this property was taken hold of by a bunch of college boys who ran a crosscut tunnel to tap these old workings and hit the shaft accurately with a 250-foot drift but a little too high to bottom it and had no means of taking the water out and finding what the development disclosed. However, at a distance of 50 feet in from the portal of this crosscut they encountered a blind vein which was 2 to 4 feet wide containing good values. A drift was extended on this fissure a short distance and from this shallow grass root work 100 tons of ore was accumulated at the portal of the tunnel which is now in evidence and is said to give an average value of $12 per ton in gold, several ounces of silver and some occasional strong showings of galena and lead carbonate – a most attractive exhibit for further development and an illustration of the interesting opportunities the district affords.
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Extends Beyond River

One of the most promising prospects of the district for development is on the Middleman group, lying east and south of the Friday, Leviathan and Black Pearl mines, as the underground development of these properties demonstrated that the strong showings of several fissures extended into this property and in one instance was proven beyond the common boundary lines.

The extensive fissure and dike system of the Pearl district extends north to and beyond the Payette river in the vicinity of the Idaho Power company’s small power plant. In this locality the Osborne, the Nellie Bly and two other mines were extensively developed by short and long cross-cut tunnels on the strong fissure veins in the granite and igneous dike contacts in the characteristic ore of the Pearl district but lower grade in gold. Three of these properties had crosscut tunnels fully 1000 feet long. The values of around $4 to $6 proved too low grade for profitable operations on several small milling attempts but at the new price of gold might justify re-opening. ‘Most of these old works are caved and inaccessible.

Would Justify Tests

On the opposite side of the river, half a mile north of the power plant, the Jumbo mine is a great shear zone in granite and associated dike rocks, 200 feet wide. It carries a wall band 20 feet wide of $4 gold ore and scattered low grade values across its full width, This property has 500 feet of adit tunnel work, surface pits and shallow shafts. The bulk of the deposit probably would not run $1 per ton but as it carries considerable manganese oxide there may have been some surface leaching of its gold values, as in the shallow shafts across its width, pebbles of primary sulphide ore including chalcoprite are found that give gold values up to $9 per ton, and the deposit seems to justify a diamond drill test with a view to disclosing sufficient average values to justify a mass production operation.

East of the Pearl district and separated by only a narrow belt of lake bed sediments in the erosion trench followed by the state highway, a short distance above Horseshoe bend on Shaffer creek, a most interesting area of mineralization occurs in the granite associated with immense rhyolite porphyry dikes where the Ackley, Brogan, Earlywine and Cox prospects have considerable shallow development on broad mineralized shear zones containing narrow pay stringers of quartz showing occasion specimens of visible gold. These big zones are from 100 to 200 feet wide and according to their owners carry average values of $2 to $6 per ton. These deposits are under examination and extensive sampling at this time by one of the prominent northwest mining organizations with a view to a thorough diamond drill test in the event the shallow values encountered prove sufficiently attractive.

Studied by Geologists

The geology of the Pearl district was studied by Waldemar Lindgren and his findings published in the 18th annual report of the U. S. geological survey in 1895. One of the most timely and interesting studies of the district was made last year by Dr. Alfred L. Anderson of the state bureau of mines and geology and his results published in pamphlet No. 41. It is a pity the state department is not better supported in this line of foundation work for the creation of new wealth in the form of a much needed sound money supply.

source: Gem County Historical Society
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source: Gem County Historical Society
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Merle W. Wells — Gold Camps & Silver Cities/Nineteenth Century Mining in Central and Southern Idaho. Idaho Department of Lands, Bureau of Mines & Geology, Moscow, Idaho, 1983. (p. 73-74)

Although development of lode mining around Pearl did not come until much later, a considerable stir was created in Boise on December 7, 1867, when the proprietor of the Dry Creek station and ranch showed up with some good looking quartz specimens from two substantial veins on Willow Creek. The ledges, two hundred feet apart, were parallel and well defined. The gulch between them prospected well, and miners hoped to recover $8 a day by putting in a reservoir to provide water for their operations. At the very beginning of the excitement, the sale of a hundred feet on one of the veins for $400 showed that there was interest in Willow Creek properties. But after a limited amount of work was done at the Red Warrior at Pearl in 1870, the district remained dormant until gold mining staged a comeback during the Panic of 1893. While Pearl was inactive, lode discoveries on Squaw Creek expanded the Pearl area’s mineral potential northward across the Payette, primarily after 1880.

With silver mining ruined by price collapses in 1888 and particularly in 1892, interest in gold revived. Mines at Pearl, as a consequence, finally became productive in 1894. A production level of $30,000 in 1894 and again (in) 1895 was increased to $80,000 in 1896. W.H. Dewey, who had become a wealthy Owyhee mine developer, took over the major mine at Pearl in November 1896. By the time his son, Edward H. Dewey, got through, a shaft had been sunk to a depth of 585 feet. Below the 400-to 500-foot level, sulfides became too much of a problem, and operations had to shut down after about a decade of production. Another major property went into receivership, but was sold for $11,000 in November 1908. Extending the shaft to 540 feet in 1919 proved unrewarding, as did a limited amount of additional development in 1926 and 1932. Lesser properties had the same problem. Since Pearl’s mines were not exactly worked out, interest in them continued long after significant production ceased. About 20,000 ounces of gold, valued at about $400,000 when mined, came from early operations at Pearl. Testing of old lodes at Pearl finally brought renewed activity to that old mining camp in 1980.

In the table in the back of the book Wells calculates that Pearl produced $400,000 worth of minerals between 1860 and 1980.

source: Gem County Historical Society
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Gem County Historical Society and Village Museum
501 E. First St, Emmett, Idaho 83617
The museum’s photo collection includes a Gem Saloon street scene, Lincoln Mine crew plus others.
[big hat tip to SMc]

link to: Pearl, Gem County, Idaho (part 1)

page updated September 10, 2020