Saturday, May 16, 2015

Very Early History of the Sugar Pine Mine

The following is from an historical timeline of the Sugar Pine Mine by Kerby Jackson, Sugar Pine Archivist and Mining Historian.
Sometime between 1858 and 1860, the Sugar Pine Mine was discovered by P. Cassidy, J.E. White and B.F. Simms who sink a short shaft into an ore body on the top of Sugar Pine Butte. It is one of the earliest gold quartz discoveries in the State of Oregon and is the first in the Galice District, if not the first in the entire state. There is dispute as to whether the discovery took place in 1858 or 1860. In her book Along the Galice Trail,
Galice area historian, Claudette Morning Pruitt, lists the date of discovery as 1858, while most sources list the date as 1860. To date, Pruitt's research has not been verified, but our research indicates that many of the details she mentions can be corroborated through records. The 1860 Federal census lists a P. Cassidy (born, 1807 in Ireland) living in Galice precinct who is 53 years old, as well as Job White (birthplace unknown) of Briggs precinct who is 21 years old and B.F. Simms of Galice precinct who is 36 years old. Cassidy, White and Simms build an arrastre at an unknown location, but little mining is done.
Thomas Martin (born Ireland) of Galice precinct, who is 31 years old, buys out J.E. White's interest in Sugar Pine. Martin owned a saloon and boarding house called the “Eagle” on Skull Bar at the mouth of Galice Creek, as well as extensive water ditches. Martin was responsible for giving Applegate Gulch, a tributary of Galice Creek, its name. The conveyance dated June 20th, 1860 is found in Josephine County Mining Records, Volume 1, Page 274. It states that for a sum of $300, the transaction grants to Martin, an undivided one third interest in “a certain quartz lead situated on the Right Hand Fork of Galice Creek, now known as the Sugar Pine Lead (which) was discovered by White, Cassidy and Simms”. The transaction also grants a water right for mining purposes from Galice Creek.
On July 3rd, 1860, John McGrath and William Crow relocate Sugar Pine or a claim on the same lead – the record is not 100% clear as to which is the case. Josephine County Mining Records, Volume 2, Page 273.
Writing in 1884, Joseph Gaston wrote that: “The quartz excitement of 1860 was felt in Galice creek to some extent, and a vein was found three miles above Witt and Arrington's store, on the right hand fork of the stream. Sims, Martin, Cassiday and Dinsmore possessed the best claim.
The last man mentioned by Gaston is probably George Dinsmore, which the 1860 Josephine County census states was born in Canada about 1832 and who was a resident of the Walker's Mill Precinct. This precinct was named after the Walker Brothers (Augustus L. and Wesley R. Walker) who settled 160 acres near what is now Merlin. The Walker Brothers were natives of Kentucky who arrived in the area in 1852. In the summer of 1855 they were mining at Galice and were participants in the Siege of Galice Creek in October of that year, later enlisting during the subsequent Rogue River War, which entitled them to Donation Land Claims.
The precinct named for them included two areas, one served by the Slate Creek Post Office near what is today Wonder, Oregon and the second which was served by the Leland Post Office (near Sunny Valley). About half of the twenty households in the portion which George Dinsmore lived in was populated by Chinese miners. As best as can be figured, this portion of Walker's Mill Precinct extended from the vicinity of Merlin to at least as far west as about Hellgate Canyon, most of the settlers living along Jump Off Joe Creek. As best as can be determined, George Dinsmore does not appear in any future census records in Oregon or California after 1860 and seems to have disappeared, possibly returning to Canada.

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