The lead-bearing region of what was known as the "Northwest" before the "course of empire" had taken its way still farther northward and westward, and which embraced the country where was located the first "discovery" of "lead ore" by the early travelers, afterward known as the "Spanish Mines" of Upper Louisiana; subsequently the "Fever River Mines," and still later the lead mines of the Upper Mississippi, is at present substantially embraced in Jo-Daviess and Carroll Counties, Illinois; Dubuque County, Iowa, which included the old "Spanish Mine" of Julien Dubuque; and the counties of Lafayette and Grant, in the State of Wisconsin. This is undoubtedly the richest lead-bearing region in the world, and the galena or sulphuret of lead is of the purest quality known, yielding 86.55 and 13.65 Sulphur in 100 parts. It is true that the mines of late years lost something of their importance, and the quantity of lead produced has perceptibly decreased. This is accounted for by the uncertainty of the pursuits of mining, and the fact of the great agricultural wealth of the lead region. In many places one may stand in a field bearing upon its surface as large a crop of wheat, corn, or potatoes, as can be produced from an equal area in any place, and hear the miner blasting rock far beneath him. The pursuits of agriculture being so much more certain, though often slower, the mining has in a very considerable degree been abandoned for farming. The land having been all “taken up" is no longer open for "prospecting."
|Reception of General Grant at Galena, IL - August 18, 1865|
Twenty-five or thirty years ago, four out of every five men in the country were connected directly or, indirectly with mining operations; but it is safe to say that at this day, even in localities where the most mining is done, not one in twenty has any connection with the mining interest. High scientific authority predicted a long time ago that the lead in that wonderful wealthy region would, to use a miner's phrase, soon "Peter out." But not only do the mines continue available and rich, but further developments prove them to be richer and more inexhaustible than was formerly supposed. Many think the time not distant when the vast mineral resources of the lead region will be fully developed, and mining will resume its original importance.
|Galena Residence of Captain Ulyses S. Grant|
The happy period when the mining interest shall again predominate is looked for with great interest by all the old settlers. Their minds revert with pleasure to the good old times, when the country was filled with roaming, rollicking, boisterous miners, with their picks and gads, tubs and windlasses, and when all the furnaces were in full blast. When the streets of Galena, the mining metropolis, were crowded with sucker-teams, and the teamsters played tunes with the lashes of their enormous whips. When the circulating medium was exclusively gold and silver, and the plentiful sovereigns jingled in every man's pocket. For years and years at Galena the currency was largely composed of sovereigns and five-franc pieces. While the real value of the sovereign was $4.84 and the five-franc piece 93 3/4 cents, yet in every business transaction of the country they were exchanged as $5 and $1 respectively. The fractions were called "bits" and "picayunes." Copper coin and the later nickel, have never to this day been introduced in the Galena Lead Mines.
The journals of the Jesuit explorers, Marquette, Hennepin, La Hontan, and Jontel, all speak of the mineral wealth of the "Upper Mississippi" Jontel, who was in the country as early as the year 1687, and who became the historian of La Salle's unfortunate, expedition, says that "travelers who have been at the upper part of the Mississippi affirm that they have found mines of very good lead there."
The attention of the French Government had been directed to this section by the reports of early explorers. In 1699 an expedition under the conduct of Iberville and La Surgere was sent out from France to the Mississippi.
The Farmer-General, M. L'Huiller, sent with these parties La Setter and thirty workmen to explore "the mines at the source of the Mississippi." Previous to this, La Seuer had reported a discovery of lead in that region, which report led to the enterprise which L'Huiller had entrusted to him. In the progress of this expedition he reached the mouth of the Missouri River in July, 1700. On the 13th of that month he left that point and ascended the Mississippi. From the 30th of July to the 25th of August he advanced to a little river, which he named the "River of the Mines," and which he describes as follows: "It comes from the north at its mouth, and flows from the northeast. Seven leagues to the right there is a lead mine a league and a half in land. This river, except the first three leagues, is only navigable when the waters are high; that is to say, from spring to the month of June." La Seuer may be considered as the discoverer of the Galena Lead Mines. This "River of the Mines" was undoubtedly what was subsequently called by the early French settlers "La Riviere de Yale," or "Bean River." It was so named from the immense quantity of wild beans that grew on its banks. The corruption from "Feve" (Bean) to "Fievre" (Fever) was very natural, and so in later time the river was known as "Fever River."
|Galena residence of General Ulyses S. Grant|
La Seuer's description of the navigability of the river conforms to what is known of the present Galena River, which must at that time have been navigable to a point some two miles above where the city of Galena now stands, and which would be three leagues from its mouth. In this expedition of La Seuer, from the 25th to the 27th of August, he "made ten leagues, passed two rivers, and took notice of a lead mine at which he supplied himself." The two rivers thus passed were the Platte and Grant rivers, which empty into the Mississippi, between Dunleith, Illinois, and Potosi, Wisconsin. The mine referred to was in the vicinity of Potosi, Wisconsin, known in early times as "Snake Diggings."
It would be impracticable in an article of this character to trace the entire history of the lead-mining in the Mississippi Valley under the grant to Crozat by Louis XIV in 1712, and under the grant to the Western Company in 1717. Up to the year 1762 France held possession of the valley on both sides of the river. She then by treaty ceded all east of the Mississippi to Great Britain. The English did not take possession under the treaty until 1765. In 1763 France by a secret treaty ceded all west of the river to Spain, but held possession until 1769. In that year was made the first application for a concession of land for a lead mine in the Upper Mississippi country. The concession was granted upon the following application:
"To Messrs. Louis Saintange de Bellrive, Captain-Commandant of the Illinois, and Joseph La Buxiere, Attorney of the Attorney-General, Judge, etc., of the Royal Jurisdiction of the Illinois for the French:
Sirs,— Martin Miloney Duralde, inhabitant of St. Louis, has the honor of exposing to you that he has been informed by several traders of a lead mine in this French country, on the borders of the Mississippi, ascending it about 80 leagues above the River Moa, or 160 leagues, more or less, from this village, according to their estimation; that several individuals have explored lead from the same without any previous rights or finding any obstacles; whereas no application has ever been made for possession of the same; your petitioner being in all times abandoned to the whims of fortune and involved in the general misfortune which renders the livelihood so troublesome, and resources so scarce, prays you and petitions very earnestly, Sirs, to grant him the concession of the said mine as being the only resource he can see, with three arpents in front by the ordinary depth, in order that he might explore it, make a garden, and procure himself the necessary fuel for his hands; and that without being interrupted in any operation respecting the same. As depositary and disposer of the goodness of the most cherished King, your petitioner waits on your humanity for the favor which he solicits; and will give you proofs of an everlasting acknowledgment, praying the Supreme Being to prolong the days of such cherished and useful persons for the public good, and you will do justice.
"ST. Louse, July 5, 1769."
"ST. Louse, July 5, 1769."
On the following day, at St. Louis, Messrs. Saintange and La Buxiere made the following endorsement on the petition of Duralde:
"Seeing what is exposed in the present memorial, and making right to the same, the Lead Mine in question, having not been granted to nobody, several individuals having worked on the same, and afterward abandoned it, and in order to favor the intentions of the said Duralde. which tend to the public good, we have granted; and grant as titled property for him, his heirs, and assigns, the Lead Mine above demanded in the within petition with three arpents in width fronting on the said mine, by three in depth or length, to facilitate him in cultivating and raising the necessary buildings for the exploration of said mine, under the condition to commence his settlement within a year and a clay, or be reunited to the domain of the King. We forbid most expressly all persons to trouble or disturb him in the said concession under the penalty of all costs, damages, and to be punished according to the ordinances. Saintange – La Buxiere
"St Louis, July 6, 1769."
|Hughlett's smelting furnace, Galena, IL.|
This petition and concession embraced a blot of land in the region of the "River of the Mines" discovered by La Seuer. Of course it would be idle to speculate as to the particular point where Duralde proposed to locate his "concession." It may be observed that the distance from St. Louis to Duralde's mine -160 leagues, or 480 miles — is precisely the distance from St. Louis to the Galena mines. It is probable that he did not commence his settlement within the specified time, and that the grant became "reunited to the domain of the King." There is no trace of his having done so. Duralde's is indeed a striking instance of that infirmity of purpose that is rather the cause than the result of men "being in all times abandoned to the whims of fortune, and involved in the general misfortune which renders the livelihood so troublesome, and resources so scar."
It was unquestionably the discovery of lead ore that attracted Julien Dubuque to the region of the Upper Mississippi in the year 1778, where he established a "trading post" near the site of the present city that bears his name. Dubuque was a French Canadian, a man of wonderful enterprise and decided ability. He resided in Cahokia, in "the Illinois country," before he located himself among the lead mines. He soon acquired a great influence over the Indians among whom he lived, and all matters of grave importance were by them submitted to his decision. He died in 1810, and was buried one mile south of the city of Dubuque, Iowa. Such was the veneration in which the Indians held his name and memory, that for many years they kept a lamp burning nightly upon his grave. The Fox Indians visited his burial-place once in every year, and performed over it some religious ceremony. Not a stone remains to mark the spot where he lies.
The wife of an Indian chief (la femme de Peosta) having "struck a lead" (a lode of mineral is called lead, pronounced Teed) in the mining region, Dubuque turned his attention to obtaining from the Fox Indians, who occupied the country, the right to mine over a tract of land which should embrace the mine discovered by the wife of Peosta. The Foxes, in a full council, assembled at Prairie du Chien, in September, 1788, declared a permission to Julien Dubuque, whom they called "La Petite Nuit," to "work the mines tranquilly and without any prejudice to his labors." Armed with this permission, and being on most friendly terms with this tribe, Dubuque became largely interested in trading and mining. Spain having acquired from France, by the secret treaty of 1763, all the country west of the Mississippi, Dubuque deemed it necessary, in order more firmly to secure himself in his possessions, to obtain a concession of the same from Spain. He therefore, in 1796, made the following petition:
"El Baron de Carondelet, Spanish Intendant and Governor-General of Louisiana: The very humble petitioner of your Excellency, named Julien Dubuque, having made a plantation on the frontier of your Government, in the middle of the Indian people, inhabitants of the country, has purchased from them a tract of land, with the mines included in it, and by his perseverance has overcome the obstacles so expensive and dangerous; and, after several misfortunes, become to be peaceable proprietor of a tract of land situate on the western part of the River Mississippi, to which tract he has given the name of the Spanish Mine, in memory of the Government to which the said land belongs; and as the place of his plantation is only a spot, and the several mines which he has worked at are scattered and dispersed more than three leagues of distance from one to the other, the very humble petitioner of your Excellency prays you to be so good as to grant him the peaceable possession of the said mines and lands—which is to say, from the hills above the little River Moquouquitois until the hills of Mesquabynongues, which makes about seven leagues on the western side of the Mississippi, and three leagues of depth, which the very humble petitioner dares hope that your goodness will be pleased to grant him his demand. I pray this said goodness to be so good as to allow the pure simplicity of my heart in default of my eloquence. I do pray Heaven to conserve and load you with all its kindness. I am, and will be all my life, of your Excellency the very humble, very obedient, and very submitted servant, J. DUBUQUE.
"To his Excellency BARON DE CARONDELET.
"To his Excellency BARON DE CARONDELET.
New ORLEANS, October 22, 1796."
A few days after the following order was issued by Carondelet:
"Let the merchant Don Andrew Todd be informed of the nature of this demand. BARON DE CABONDELET.
New ORLEANS, October 29, 1796."
In the following month Andrew Todd addressed a document to the Governor-General which reads thus:
"Sirs,— Complying with the superior decree of your Lordship, by which you order me to give you a notice on the demands made by the party interested in the preceding memorial, I must say that, about the land petitioned for, it does not offer any thing to me by which your Lordship may not grant it, if you find it proper; but under condition that the petitioner must observe what is ordered by his Majesty concerning the trade with the Indians, and that the same should be absolutely forbidden to the petitioner unless he Will obtain my consent in writing." ANDREW TODD.
"New Orleans, November 10, 1796 "
On this paper occurs the following indorsement:
"Granted”, as it is demanded, under the restriction mentioned by the merchant, Don Andrew Todd, in his information.
"BARON DE CARONDELET."
In 1832, the country having passed into the possession of the United States, the War Department asserted the right of the Government to the tract of land granted by Spain to Dubuque. Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, U. S. A., who was then stationed at Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien, was ordered to the village of Dubuque with a small company of infantry, and the settlers claiming under the Spanish grant were ejected by the strong hand of military power. The heirs of Auguste Chouteau and John Mullamphy, of St. Louis, petitioned Congress, in 1836, "to be restored to their possessions until their title should be decided according to the laws of the land." The petition sets forth that Auguste Chouteau, on the 20th day of October, 1804, bought of Dubuque 72,324 arpents, for the sum of $10,848.60, "to be taken of the lower or southern end of the tract," and that afterward he sold an undivided half of the interest thus acquired to one John Mullamphy. After the death of Dubuque, in 1810, his estate was administered upon in St. Louis County, in the then Territory of Upper Louisiana. The residue of his grant was sold at administrator's sale, to pay his debts. The petition further alleges that
"The assignees of Dubuque continued in possession of the land from the time of his death, so far as their relations with the Indians would permit, until they were dispossessed by the United States. That without any judicial investigation or decision of the validity of the title of the claimants, or any of the forms of law, the executive officers of the United States, supposing the grant from Spain to Dubuque to be, of no avail, dispossessed the claimants by military power, and leased the lead mines, and held possession by superior force."
|Marsden's Diggings near Galena, IL.|
Congress never acted favorably upon the petition, and the United States treated the land embraced in the "disputed territory" as public lands, and disposed of them as such. But the heirs and assignees of Dubuque did not relinquish their claim, and a suit was instituted in the United States Court, to test the validity of the Spanish grant to Dubuque. The suit was finally decided in the Supreme Court of the United States a few years since, adversely to the claimants. Thus ended a chapter of interesting history connected with the subject of this sketch.
The fact that the "Spanish Mines" - or "Dubuque Mines," as they were subsequently called - were claimed as private property, tended to keep away from that locality the early wandering miners. They preferred "prospecting" on the Indian Territory or the public lands. The Indian traders, and the roving characters seeking their fortunes in the lead mines, located themselves in the rich mineral region of the Fever River. The great Indian traders, Davenport, Farrar, and Farnham, established a trading-post at "The Portage" of Fever and Mississippi rivers as early as 1821. The site of that celebrated Indian trading-house is three miles below the city of Galena. The great wealth of the Fever River mines, and, the trading establishment of Davenport, Farrar, and Farnham, attracted great numbers of Indians to "The Portage" and vicinity, who built their villages on the banks of the river. Black Hawk and other chiefs, with their tribes, to the number of two thousand men, women, and children, spent an entire summer in the region of "The Portage" and the site of the present city of Galena.
The "discoveries" made by the Indians proved very rich, and they took pains to conceal from Americans the knowledge of their wealth, although between themselves and the French settlers the lead had become an important article of traffic. It is well known that at the period while the French and Indians were on terms of amity and intimacy, the red people stood in great terror of the English and Americans. In the immediate neighborhood of Galena, in 1815, there were about twenty rude Indian furnaces for the purpose of smelting the lead ore. The first load of lead from the Fever River Mines was transported, in 1816, on a flat-boat to St. Louis, and was sent in payment of purchases of goods made by the Indian traders. Efforts had been made by boatmen the preceding year to go up to the mines on Fever River; but the Indians prevented the success of those efforts, fearing that if the exceeding wealth of their mines were discovered by the Americans they themselves might be driven off. The Indian mode of smelting was very rude. A hole was dug in the face of a piece of sloping ground, about two feet deep, and as wide at the top. This hole had the shape of a mill-hopper, and was lined with flat stones. At the bottom or point of the hopper, which was eight or nine inches square, narrow stones were laid across grate-wise. A trench was dug from the sloping ground inward to the bottom of the hopper. This channel was a foot in width and height, and was filled with dry wood and brush. The hopper being filled with the ore, and the fuel ignited, in a few minutes the molten lead fell through the stones at the bottom of the hopper, and thence was discharged, through the trench, over the earth. The fluid mass was then poured into an awkward mold, and as it cooled it was called a "plat." A "plat" weighed about 70 pounds, which is very nearly the weight of a "pig" of the present day.
|Ore veins of the Elevator Mine, Galena, Il.|
Though Congress had as early as 1807 reserved the mineral lands from sale, and authorized the leasing of the mines, yet no mining leases were ever granted in what were then called the "Fever River Mines" until 1822. On the 29th day of November, 1821, the Treasury Department turned over to the War Department the superintendence of the lead mines. The first lease ever granted was to Colonel James Johnson, brother of the late Richard M. Johnson, formerly Vice-President of the United States. This lease bore date September 30, 1822. Only four other parties obtained leases in that year, and in 1823 only nine additional leases were granted.
There was no regular system of leasing adopted until the appointment of Lieutenant Martin Thomas, U.S.A., on the 18th of August, 1824, "to be the agent for the granting leases of the lead mine lands belonging to the United States." Lieutenant Thomas was armed with full authority and elaborate instructions to carry out the policy of the Government in that regard, and established his head-quarters at St. Louis, Missouri, as the Government had at that time large tracts of lead lands in that State. The rent exacted of the miner and smelter was one-tenth of the whole product "in clean pure lead." It was subsequently reduced to one-sixteenth. In 1826, in response to a resolution of the House of Representatives, introduced by the Hon. Daniel P. Cook, of Illinois, Lieutenant Thomas made an elaborate report on the lead mines in Illinois and Missouri. He says: "The number of lead mines at the Fever River is increasing rapidly. Such are the inducements to individual enterprise and industry that numbers of the most respectable inhabitants of the Upper Mississippi are resorting to them." He further says: "The extent of the mineral region of the Upper Mississippi is immense. That portion of it now wrought for lead ore is trifling compared with the whole, and yet it has yielded $86,000 worth of lead during the present year." It is observable that in this report of 1826 Lieutenant Thomas recommended to Government "the clearing out of a boat channel through the rapids of the Upper Mississippi; the first near the mouth of the River Des Moines, the other just above Fort Armstrong or Rock Island." He says: "The object is one of great importance in many points of view, independent of facilitating the intercourse with, and consequent development of, the lead mines."
In the year 1827 the agency of the lead mines was removed from St. Louis to Galena. Lieutenant Thomas was succeeded by Major Thomas C. Legate, U.S.A.
|Residence of Henry Corwith at Galena, Il.|
The leasing system was in operation until 1835, when it was practically abandoned. In 1 841 an attempt was made, under the administration of Captain John Tyler, to revive it. The results of this revival were strife, litigation, and bad feeling throughout the mining region, while Government incurred expenditures largely exceeding the receipts. The subject of the sale of the mining lands then began to be agitated with much spirit. President Polk, in his Message of December 2, 1845, called the attention of Congress to the subject, and showed that the system of leasing lead mines had been "not only unprofitable to Government, but unsatisfactory to citizens who had gone upon the lands, and must, if continued, lay the foundations of much future difficulty between Government and the lessees." He quoted the official record to show that the amount of mineral rents in the Galena mines received by Government for the years 1841, 1842, 1843, 1844, and 1845 was $6354.74; while the expenses of the system for the same period were $26,111.11, the income being less than one-fourth the expenses. He recommended the repeal of the system and the sale of the lands. On the 11th of July, 1846, Congress passed an act authorizing the President to sell the reserved mineral lands in the States of Illinois and Arkansas, and the Territories of Wisconsin and Iowa, and in the following year the lands in the Galena Mines were brought into market and sold.
The largest discovery of lead ore made in the earlier times was about one mile above Galena. It was made by the Indians in 1819, and obtained the name of the "Buck Lead," by which appellation it has ever since been known.
Up to the time of Johnson's advent among the mines, mining was prosecuted in the most primitive manner, and mostly by squaws, who labored with much industry and perseverance.
Colonel Johnson brought with him a large number of workmen, and all the necessary mining tools. He ascended the Mississippi in keel-boats, and pushed up "La Riviere de Feve" to the French and Indian settlement where Galena now stands, where he encamped, and near which he commenced mining operations. His success still further directed public attention to the mines, and people from all quarters flocked to this new El Dorado. People from Missouri Territory, from Kentucky and Tennessee, went up the Mississippi, while many followed an Indian trail from Southern Illinois by the way of Fort Clarke, now Peoria.
|Residence of Hon. E. B. Washburne at Galena, IL.|
In 1829 the greatest immigration took place. In 1827 the name Galena had been applied to the settlement on Fever River. From that time the whole country around Galena was covered by people "prospecting" and digging for lead ore. In the spring thousands ascended the river to Galena, and engaged in mining during the summer. In the autumn they made their exodus, because there were in the country no provisions for winter supplies. From the fact that the adventurers went up and down the river at the same time that the shoals of sucker fish came and went, it came to pass that the nickname "Suckers" was given to these people. The sobriquet afterward came to be applied to all inhabitants of Illinois, and still clings to them. Governor Reynolds, in his History of Illinois, says: "General Henry, at a crisis in the battle with Black Hawk, near the Wisconsin River, addressed his troops as brave Suckers, which excited them to the ne plus ultra of their energies."
From the discoveries about Galena the miners pushed out in pursuit of the rich ore in every direction, and valuable lodes were constantly struck.
Among the earliest discoveries outside of Galena were those at "Gratiot's Grove," near where the flourishing village of Shullsburg now is. The mines there are inexhaustible; probably the richest in the lead region. They were first developed by two Creole Frenchmen, brothers, from St. Louis John P. B. and Henry Gratiot. At one time nine log furnaces were running at that point. Discoveries were soon after made at New Diggings, Hamilton Settlement, Mineral Point, Dodgeville, and many other points. The largest amounts of ore are now raised at Shullsburg and New Diggings, Wisconsin, and at Marsden's Diggings, a comparatively new discovery, six miles below Galena on the Mississippi River.
The following diagram, taken from the plot of "The Elevator Mine," owned by Edward Weatherby, Esq., of Shullsburg, and Captain Edward H. Beebe, of Galena, will give some idea of the extent and diversity of the veins. We are enabled to give only a small section; but as this is from actual survey, and the courses and distances are all correct, it exhibits more perfectly than words can do the erratic manner in which the ore is distributed in the Galena Limestone. Captain Beebe is well known as one of the most practical of miners, and a learned and accomplished geologist.
|Residence of Nelson Stillman at Galena, Il.|
The mines at Hamilton Settlement were first worked by William S. Hamilton, a son of the distinguished statesman Alexander Hamilton. Colonel Hamilton removed early to Illinois, and was a member of the Illinois Legislature in 1825-6. He emigrated to the lead mines, the then Michigan Territory, in 1828, and was an officer in the Black Hawk war in 1832. He resided in Iowa County, Wisconsin, from that time until 1849, when he went to California, and died there in 1851. He was a gentleman of much natural ability, but of eccentric habits. He never married, and, though naturally of a social and genial disposition, shunned all society. He adopted great plainness of garb, and while working his mines lived and dressed more coarsely than any of his workmen. With his coarse clothes, slouched hat, bare feet, and his pantaloons rolled up to his knees and covered with mud and dirt, he would hardly have been recognized as the son of the greatest American statesman, and one of the most polished gentlemen of any period or country. Underneath this extraordinary exterior were a heart of gold and a cultivated mind. He was a Whig in politics, and mingled a good deal in political life, and more than once represented his county in the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature. His mother visited her son and spent the winter of 1838-9 in Galena, the guest of one of its most hospitable citizens.
Among the pioneers was Colonel Henry Dodge, who removed from the Missouri or "Lower Mines." He located near where the town of Dodgeville - named for him - the county seat of Iowa County, Wisconsin, now stands. He there established a smelting furnace. Dodge was an old Indian fighter who distinguished himself in the Black Hawk war and acquired great popularity. He became delegate to Congress, and Governor of Wisconsin Territory, and after its admission as a State he was twice elected to the United States Senate. He still lives at Mineral Point, Wisconsin.
The richness of the mines attracted to them men of all professions -physicians, editors, lawyers, men of letters, and statesmen. Some were distinguished. The poet Percival, who was an M.D., spent the last days of his life in the mines of Southwest Wisconsin. Having been appointed State Geologist of Wisconsin he spent his time exploring the mines. The eccentricities of this remarkable man were distinctly developed. He lived a recluse, practicing the most rigid economy, and died at Hazel Green, under circumstances of a very peculiar character. He bequeathed his entire property, which was considerable, including his magnificent library in Connecticut, to a gentleman with whom he had resided.
There appeared among the miners in the spring of 1835 H. H. Houghton, a printer from Vermont, who has since made his impress upon the mining region as editor of the Northwestern Gazette and Galena Advertiser. Commencing his career "prospecting" as a miner, he "drifted" into the editorial chair, which he has occupied since the autumn of 1835, and is thus the oldest editor in the State of Illinois, respected for his ability and his private virtues.
The rocks exposed within the mining district are, commencing with the lowest, the Lower Magnesian Limestone, which is the equivalent of the calciferous sandstone of the New York Geological reports. The second stratum is the St. Peter's Sandstone. The third is the Blue and Buff, or Trenton Limestone. The fourth is the Galena Limestone. In this deposit seven-eighths of the Galena is found. The next above is the shales of the Cincinnati group, and the last is the Niagara Limestone, capping the loftiest cliffs. The ore occurs in three modes, viz.: surface deposits, vertical crevices, and flat sheets. The first is called by the miners "float mineral," and indicates deposits in the rock in close proximity. In the vertical fissures galena is found in a thin sheet attached to the walls, one or both, or merely separated from one or both by clay or other matter. Crevices have been found taking a saddle-shape, by the portions each side of the center dropping gradually to lower strata. Flat sheets are a deposit that may occur anywhere proceeding from the vertical crevices, but are chiefly limited to the lower formations, or as low as the Trenton Limestone.
In the best mining grounds the veins run in an east and west, north and south direction, approximately. They are termed "ranges," whether applied to a mine or a district. When persons wishing to prosecute mining have procured their land, either by purchase or lease, they commence by "sinking a shaft." Where it is possible there is an entrance to a mine by means of an inclined plane, but it is generally necessary to sink a perpendicular shaft. After penetrating the soil from 10 to 20 feet, they secure it with timber or two-inch plank. This is to "crib it." The size of an ordinary shaft is four by six feet. At the distance of ten to twenty feet from the surface the Galena Limestone is usually struck. If it is soft the miners go down with pick and gad, but commonly powder is used, and the rock is blasted, until the stratum in which they expect to find the ore is reached. They then "drift" off in any direction in which they hope to "cut a crevice" or "opening," as it is in these that the largest deposits of mineral are found. Subterranean chambers are then excavated in all directions. An "opening" or enlarged crevice is in part filled with loose material left behind in the decomposition of the rock, the remains of strings, bunches and sheets of ore, and other loose matters that have been introduced. These "openings" of irregular dimensions are from four to fifteen feet in height, four to ten, but sometimes forty feet in width, and have been met with several hundred feet long. They are sometimes repeated to the number of five, one below another, but one alone is more common.
|United States Customs House|
and Post Office at Galena, IL.
Should water be encountered at any distance in descending - and this is really the greatest difficulty miners have to contend with – they put on a pump driven by horse-power. When a crevice is cut and the miners get into caves, or "broken ground," which frequently happens, it becomes necessary to secure the roof. This is done either by timbers taken down for that purpose, or by leaving or making pillars of the rock. Whenever the "drift" is driven to an extent that forbids a free circulation of air, or if the “choke-damp" occurs, ventilation is secured by sinking another shaft that intersects the first and thus supplies oxygen.
The mines are lighted by means of common tallow-candles, as there is no danger from the explosive gases that prevail in coal mines. But the miner's candlestick is unique. A person about to descend into a mine is handed a candle and a lump of white clay, or "fire clay." It is about the consistence of such a lump of mud as boys use for making "mud-balls." He is expected to wrap the ball of clay around the end of his candle. The advantage of so plastic a candlestick is obvious. If a miner or visitor desires to relieve himself of his candle, all he has to do is to "stick it up or down as the case may be, and it adheres to whatever surface it meets. This "fireclay" of which the mining candlestick is made abounds in the lead region, and a supply is always kept for this purpose.
After the ore is dislodged it is carried to the foot of the "shaft" by means of a wooden band-managed railway, and then hoisted by means of tub and windlass": This, however, is a slow, laborious operation, nevertheless it is almost exclusively used. The owners of the Elevator Mine at Shullsburg have built, and now use, a machine for hoisting which is worked by horsepower. When the ore reaches the surface it is weighed and sold, at a given price for 1000 pounds, and always for ready money. It is then carted off to the furnace in wagons. There it is sorted over, and the large lumps are thrown upon an open floor find broken up by hammers. The furnaces are always constructed near a water-course, and the water is conducted by a pipe into a shed. A rough wooden trough placed under the stream of water receives the mineral, and as the water falls over it the dirt is washed away, and much of the finer ore in scales or crumbs is carried along down the trough, but its specific gravity is such that it sinks upon the floor of the trench, while the water flows on and out through a drain. This fine ore is shoveled out and again subjected to the action of water outside, by being put in a wooden box open at one end, which is placed under any little fall in the water-course. Men here stir the mineral about in the box with a common hoe, while the flow of water carries off all that remains of the dirt, the mineral again being retained by its great gravity. The washed ore is now ready for the furnace.
|United States Marine Hospital at Galena, IL,|
The log furnace that was adopted as an improvement upon the rude stone furnace used by the squaws, was not a great advance upon that, though a larger percentage of lead was extracted. At many of the primitive smelting places a profitable harvest of rich lead was, long time afterward, extracted by the white settlers from the slag and other refuse of the Indian's smelting. The log furnace consisted of a back and two side walls. These were built of stone to the height of six or eight feet. A projection was made on the inner surface of either side wall about eighteen inches from the floor. The largest logs procurable were rolled in and stretched from side to side. On top of the logs was placed a large quantity of the ore, and then fuel and mineral were piled alternately upon it to the very top of the walls, each "charge" containing from 3000 to 5000 pounds weight of ore. A fire was then kindled under the furnace, and as the logs burned the ore melted and was plunged to the bottom of the furnace; and as the furnace was built on the side of a hill, a small trench from the bottom to the surface allowed the fluid mass to pour upon the ground. A "charge" was melted in the course of eight to twelve hours. Only from thirty-three to forty per cent of lead was thus extracted.
Two brothels, Burton, from England, brought to the Galena Mines the first "reverberatory" furnace, and tried to conceal from others the working of it. But Robert A. Drummond not only discovered the mode of its operation but invented an improvement thereupon. The "Reverberatory Furnace" was built of stones, and had an oven in the side wherein the ore was put, while the fuel was placed in front of it. Drummond's improvement consisted in the furnace being so constructed as to cause the blaze to pass over the mineral.
The Scotch Hearth, or Blast Furnace, has now superseded all others. It consists of a box of cast iron, two feet square, one foot high, open at top, with the sides and bottom two inches thick. To the top of the front edge is affixed a sloping shelf or hearth called the work-stone, used for spreading the materials of the "charge" upon, as occasionally becomes necessary during smelting, and also for the excess of molten lead to flow down. For the latter purpose a groove one half an inch deep and an inch wide runs diagonally across the work-stone. A ledge one inch in thickness and height surrounds the work-stone on all sides except that toward the sole of the furnace. The hearth slopes from behind forward, and immediately below the front edge of it is placed the receptacle or "melting-pot." An inch from the bottom, in the posterior side of the box, is a hole two inches in diameter, through which the current or "blast" of air is blown from the bellows.
The furnace is built under an immense chimney, thirty to thirty-five feet high, and ten feet wide at its base. Behind the base of the chimney is the bellows, which is propelled by a waterwheel, the tuyere, or point of the bellows, entering at the hole in the back of the box. The fuel, which consists of light-wood, coke, and charcoal, is thrown in against the tuyere and kindled, and the ore is placed upon the fuel to the top of the box. The blast of air in the rear keeps the fire burning, and as the reservoir or box is filled with molten lead the excess flows down the grooved hearth into the "melting-pot," under which a gentle fire is kept, and the lead is ladled from it into the molds as is convenient. Before adding a new "charge" the blast is turned off; the "charge" already in is drawn forward upon the work-stone, more fuel is cast in, and the "charge" is thrown back with the addition of fresh ore upon the wood. The combustion of the sulphur in the ore produces a large amount of the heat required for smelting. The furnace is thus kept in operation sixteen hours of the twenty-four.
The ore is of different degrees of purity, but the purest galena does not yield on an average over sixty-eight per cent of lead from the first process of smelting. The gray slag is very valuable, though the lead procured from it is harder than that of the first smelting. There is left about 15,000 pounds of gray slag from each 1,000,000 pounds of ore. The slag furnace is erected under the same roof with the Scotch Hearth, and has a chimney of its own a few feet from that of the hearth, and the "blast" is secured from the same water-power by an additional blast-pipe driven by the same wheel. It consists of a much larger reservoir, built of limestone, cemented and lined with clay, with a cast-iron door in front, heavily barred with iron. It will burn out so as to require repairs in about three months. Open at the top, the slag and fuel are thrown in promiscuously.
Under the iron door is an escape for the lead and "black slag." In front of this escape and below it is the slag-pot. It is an oblong iron basin about a foot in depth, with one-third of its length partitioned off to receive the lead which sinks as it escapes; while the slag, being lighter, flows in a flame-colored stream forward, and falls into a reservoir that is partly filled with water, which cools the slag as it is plunged therein. As the reservoir fills a workman shovels the scoria, into a hand-barrow and wheels it off. This scoria is black slag and worthless, the lead having now been entirely extracted. The smelter now and then throws a shovelful of gray slag into the furnace, which casts up beautiful parti-colored flames; while the strong sulphurous odor, the red-hot stream of slag, with the vapor arising from the tub wherein the hissing slag is plunged, the sooty smelters, and the hot air of the furnace-room, suggest a thought of the infernal regions. Outside, the wealth of "pigs," not in the least porcine, gives one a sort of covetous desire that, if indulged, we are taught, leads directly to said regions. The Scotch Hearth requires less fuel than any other furnace. It "blows out" in from six to twelve hours, while the Drummond furnace was kept in operation night and day. Four millions of pounds are smelted annually at Hughlett's furnace.
The total amount of lead shipped from the Galena Mines from 1821 to 1858 was 11,636,438 "pigs," or 820,622,839 pounds. The largest product for any one year was in 1845, .being 778,408 " pigs," or 54,494,850 pounds. Since 1858 there has been no regular account kept, but it is estimated that the value of lead from 1821 to 1865 has not been less than $40,000,000.
With this notice of the mines we naturally pass to Galena; which, from its earliest settlement, was the great center of the mining interest. The "River of the Mines" of La Setter, afterward "La Rtviere de Fere" of the French settlers, and still later the "Fever River" of the universal Yankee, became in 1854, by an Act of the Legislature of Illinois, the "Galena River." It rises a few miles above the present city of the same name, and is in itself a small stream. It becomes navigable by receiving the "back water" of the Mississippi River. The "Father of Waters" is well named such; and he is peculiarly the Father of Galena River, which has always been navigable for any class of steamboats that can ascend the rapids of the Mississippi. The water of the main river sets up to Galena, and the rise and fall in the Galena River is governed by the Mississippi.
In 1819 the first house was built within the limits of the present city of Galena, that locality being then known as "La Pointe, or "Frederick's Point." In 1827 a village was laid off by Lieutenant Thomas, of whom mention has been made. The village was very appropriately named Galena, that being the name used to designate the sulphuret of lead which abounds in the region. It is an interesting fact that the first regular store or trading-house built at Galena was erected and occupied in 1824 by Frederick Dent, of St. Louis, Missouri, the father-in-law of Lieutenant-General Grant. Mr. Dent was at that time the largest trader to the upper Mississippi, and supplied all the United States military posts above St. Louis. Thirty-five years afterward his son-in-law made that town his residence, and went out from there to save the Republic.
The Agent of the Lead Mines granted "permits" for individuals to occupy and improve lots on condition of their being surrendered to the United States on one month's notice. This was the only title citizens had to their lots until 1838. In 1829 Congress passed an Act authorizing the Surveyor-Generals of Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas to "lay off a town on Bean River, embracing 640 acres," and to sell the lots at auction, reserving to actual occupants a pre-emption right to purchase their lots at the rate of from $10 to $25 per acre, according to location. This Act was not complied with, and in 1836 another act was passed, and Commissioners appointed to perform what the Surveyors had failed to do.
On the 4th of June, 1826, the first post-office was established there, and was called "Fever River, Crawford County, Illinois." Fever River was then regarded in the same jurisdiction as Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, one hundred miles north by the Mississippi River. The first postmaster was Ebenezer Lockwood, from Prairie du Chien, and his sureties were two Frenchmen residing at that place. Wisconsin was not even a Territory then, but was within the jurisdiction of Michigan Territory.
On the 19th day of December, 1829, the name of the post-office was changed to "Galena, Jo-Daviess County, Illinois." The county bearing this singular name was organized by the Illinois Legislature in its session of 1826-7, and embraced an immense territory in the northwestern part of the State, including the mining region, and Galena was its county seat. The name Daviess was proposed in the General Assembly by John Reynolds, afterward Governor of the State. It was in honor of Joseph Hamilton Daviess, of Kentucky, an eccentric man, a distinguished lawyer, a profound scholar, and a great natural orator, second only to Henry Clay. He was killed at Tippecanoe in 1811, charging the enemy at the head of his troops. The "Kentucky influence" was at that time strong in the Illinois State Legislature, and John M'Lean, who was the first Member of Congress from Illinois, and afterward United States Senator, and at that time a member of the Legislature from Shawneetown, with much Kentucky enthusiasm, moved to prefix Jo to Daviess, in order to indicate more distinctly for whom the county was named. Efforts were afterward made to amend the bill by striking off the "Jo," but they failed.
In 1828 the first newspaper was established in Galena, and called the Miner's Journal. The growth of Galena was not rapid or "mushroom" in its character. It is situated on both sides of Galena River, and is built on five different hills and a narrow strip of bottom land near the river on each side. The hills ascend abruptly, retiring only a little from the river as they rise, until they attain a height of somewhat more than two hundred feet. Ravines here and there lead up through the bluffs into the open country beyond. At the southern end of the city there are only two streets between the river and the summit of the bluff - Main and Bench streets. The second of these, Bench Street, is reached from the first by flights of wooden steps, instead of the intersecting streets common to ordinary towns.
Viewed from the east side of the river the hills on the west side form a crescent, and contain so much variety in their scenery that the eye need never weary gazing at them. From the same point are visible six church spires, which indicate half the number of church edifices the city boasts. It must always be an attn. dive picture. The buildings of the town, many of which are very handsome, dispute possession of the hills with the trees, and the varied, beautiful character of the view possesses new charms with every fresh beholding. There are only three streets running at right angles with the river, the precipitous rise of the bluffs making intermediate streets impossible. The other highways of the city ramble round among the hills leap over layers of rock or ore hidden among the cliffs; yet if the observer stand near the highest point of the city, on Washington Street, he will obtain a very fair view of the most populous portion of the city almost beneath his feet.
|Finished sidewalk in Galena, Il. - 1865|
Galena has lost much of its former importance by the decrease of the mining interest, and by its trade having been cut off by the extension of new railroads; yet a large local business is carried on there at present. In but few towns of the country of the same population has there been more wealth accumulated. There are many elegant private residences, and many gentlemen of large wealth resize in the city. By way of illustrating the prevalent styles of architecture, we have given views of a few of these private residences. In no place in the West is there dispensed a more refined and generous hospitality.
Government has built a large and commodious Marine Hospital in the city, and also a beautiful and chaste Custom House and Post Office, views of which are given in this article. These, with the Court-house - a handsome edifice of the Corinthian order of architecture - the City Hall, the Depots of the Illinois Central Railroad Company, the Gas Works, and Hotels, comprise the public buildings of the city.
The first steamboat that ascended the Fever River was the Virginia, on her way to Fort Snelling with supplies, in 1822. The summer of 1826 was remarkable for being a period of high-water in the Mississippi without any apparent cause to produce it. The water in Fever River was from ten to twenty feet higher than usual. Main Street was then submerged, and has been twice since overflowed.
The town was incorporated as a city by an Act of Legislature of February 13, 1839. The city government was organized on the 29th of May, 1841.
Galena was considered the base of military operations during the Black Hawk War, in 1832. General Scott marched his troops front Chicago to Galena, and had his head-quarters there in a little frame building that was standing until within three or four years. General Atkinson was in the place, on his way to chastise Black Hawk, whom he afterward so completely defeated at the battle of Bad Axe, Wisconsin. He had with him, as his Adjutant, Lieutenant Albert Sidney Johnson, United States Army, who afterward betrayed his country, and was one of the most distinguished of the rebel leaders, and who was killed at Shiloh.
Jeff Davis, while stationed at Fort Winnebago and Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien, then a Lieutenant in the regular army, spent much of his time in Galena, and is well known to many of the old citizens.
Colonel, afterward President, Taylor, General Brooke, General Twiggs, General Brady, and Colonel Davenport, at different times in command at Fort Crawford, were much in Galena in the earlier times, that town being then the principal settlement of the Upper Mississippi.
The conflicting claims to certain mineral lodes and the litigious character of the people were productive of numerous lawsuits, and lawyers of ability from the already settled portions of the State went to Galena to practice, some of whom became more or less eminent in after-life. Thomas Ford, afterward Governor of Illinois, was of the number. Jesse B. Thomas, subsequently a Judge of the Supreme Court, resided there at an early day. Benjamin Mills, one of the most gifted and eloquent men ever in the State, and an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 1832, practiced law there at that time. William Smith, Esq., a ripe and accomplished scholar, was also of the number. The oldest lawyer of Galena, Charles S. Hempstead, Esq., now retired from practice, was the first Mayor of the city.
There is probably no town of its size in the country that can boast as large a number of men, citizens at one time or another, who have distinguished themselves in legal, political, and military life as Galena. Among the men, members of the Galena bar, who have become men of distinction, is Hon. Joseph P. Hoge, Representative in Congress from 1843 to 1847, since a citizen of San Francisco. Another is Hon. Joseph B. Wells, elected Lieutenant-Governor of the State in 1846. Hon. E. D. Baker, who was killed at Ball's Bluff, Colonel of a volunteer regiment, resided in Galena and represented that district in Congress from 1849 to 1851, and was afterward United States Senator from Oregon. Hon. Thompson Campbell, successor of Colonel Baker, represented the, district from 1851 to 1853. Hon. E. B. Washburne, who succeeded Campbell, has represented the district ever since, for seven consecutive terms, and is now the oldest member of the House of Representatives of the United States in consecutive service.
Hon. William H. Hooper, the present delegate in Congress from Utah Territory, long resided in Galena, and was at one time head of one of the largest mercantile houses in the lead mines.
Of Galena men who have occupied judicial stations are the late Hon. Thomas C. Browne, long a Judge of the Supreme Court of Illinois; the late Hon. Dan Stone, once Judge of the Circuit Court; and the present Judge of the Circuit Court, Hon. B. R. Sheldon. The Hon. Thomas Drummond, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois, commenced practice at the Galena bar. He lived in that city fourteen years. Hon. Van H. Higgins, Judge of the Superior Court of Chicago, was for many years a Galena lawyer, and his law partner there was Hon. 0. C. Pratt, afterward United States District Judge for Oregon, and now Judge of the District Court of San Francisco. John M. Douglass, President of the Illinois Central Railroad, commenced the practice of law in Galena, where he resided many years.
Among military men that Galena gave to the country in her great peril are Brigadier-General Jasper A. Maltby, Major-General Augustus L. Chetlain, Major - General John E. Smith, Major-General John A. Rawlins, chief of staff to the Lieutenant-General, and Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant.
Once the glittering masses of the valuable ore that abounds there in such lavish profusion attracted thousands of people to Galena, its hills and mines. The country still yields to no other the palm of mineral wealth; but now the Northwest, and especially the little corner containing the city of Galena, boasts something immeasurably more valuable, prouder, and of more enduring fame than even the wealth of her hills confers upon her. We have given a cut of the unpretending residence of Captain Grant before the war.
Captain Grant removed from St. Louis County, Missouri, to Galena, with his family in 1859. His father, Jesse R.Grant, had for many years previously carried on in the city a large leather-finding establishment. On the death of a son, who had charge of the business, he sent another son, Ulysses S., who had been a Captain in the regular army but who had resigned, to take his place. Unobtrusive to an unprecedented degree, devoting himself diligently to his business, he was known to few in the city outside of his business acquaintances. Public attention was first turned toward him at a meeting held at the Court-house for the purpose of raising troops, after the firing upon Sumter. This was one of the most remarkable meetings of that character held throughout the country, and the impression made upon those present is ineffaceable. The court-room was crowded to suffocation. The meeting was called to order by John E. Smith, Esq., now a Major-General in the volunteer service, a well-known and highly-respected citizen. On his motion Captain Grant was chosen chairman. There emerged from the crowd a man of medium size in a dilapidated military over-coat; and as he approached the Judge's Bench, he who has since fixed upon himself the eyes of the world, there for the first time made himself known even by sight to more than half his fellow-citizens then present. Assuming the duties of the chair, he stated in few and direct words the object of the meeting. Brief speeches were made by Hon. E. B. Washburne, John A. Rawlins, Esq., a young lawyer of Galena, Democratic candidate for elector at the Presidential election of the preceding autumn, and Captain B. B. Howard, an officer of the Mexican war, who was afterward Captain in the Nineteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and was killed by a railway accident. Among those who participated actively in that meeting may be mentioned the chairman thereof, now Lieutenant-General Grant; Major-General Rawlins, Grant's chief of staff; Major-General John E. Smith, who called the meeting to order, Major-General A. L. Chetlain, who that evening volunteered as the first private soldier, and Brigadier-General J. A. Maltby. It is needless to Say that all these gentlemen have since distinguished themselves in the service.
General Grant entered the service in April of 1861 as Colonel of the Twenty-first regiment of Illinois Infantry. His subsequent career need not be dwelt upon in this article. His ineffaceable record is written highest on America's roll of military fame. After leaving his home to enter the army he did not return to it till August, 1865. The reception given him when he reached Galena was one of the most brilliant ovations ever given to any man in this country. Nothing was left undone by the citizens of Galena to give their world-renowned townsman a fitting welcome after an absence of more than four years, and after having rendered a service to his country unsurpassed in its results by services ever rendered by mortal man to any nation or people. Immense numbers of people were present not only from all parts of Illinois, but from the adjoining States of Iowa and Wisconsin. The enthusiasm was unbounded. The welcoming speech was made by Hon. E. B. Washburne. The modest Lieutenant-General, as unobtrusive and retiring in his high rank as he was when he left his home, responded through his friend, the Rev. J. H. Vincent. Mr. Vincent spoke of the pleasure the General felt in returning to his home, and his gratitude for the cordial reception given him by his 'old neighbors and friends who had stood by him with unfaltering fidelity and unwavering faith through good and ill report. He said that as long as the General should hold his present official position he should be obliged to spend most of his time in the city of Washington, but that he considered Galena his legal home and voting-place, and should spend as much time there as possible. The photographer has given us the view at the head of this paper showing the triumphal arch erected across Main Street. Over the arch was a platform on which stood thirty-six beautiful young ladies, dressed uniformly in white, each waving an American flag in welcome, and each having a bouquet to fling to the Lieutenant-General as he passed under the arch. It is reported that in a conversation during the early part of the war General Grant said he should never be a candidate for civil office, saving, perhaps, that of Mayor of Galena, as that might enable him to have a sidewalk built from his house to the depot. The hint was taken, and before his arrival home last summer some public-spirited citizens laid down a splendid sidewalk from his residence to the Illinois Central Railroad Depot, and at the time of his reception an arch was thrown over the street, with a brief inscription calling the General's attention to the fact.
The present residence of the Lieutenant-General at Galena, and which was occupied by himself and family during their stay at home last summer, is a modest though a beautiful and commodious dwelling, occupying one of the most picturesque and charming situations in the "Crescent City of the Northwest." The house itself, so unpretending, so neat and chaste, its furniture, and all the surroundings, illustrate the unostentatious and simple character of its world-renowned occupant. A view of this is given on a previous page, and also a view of the humble residence of "Captain U. S. Grant," before the war.
Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. May 1866.