Tombstone Tuesday: Euphronius Daniel “Frone” George

FroneGeorgeEuphronius Daniel “Frone” George was born in April of 1840 in Lunenburg County, Virginia to parents James and Ermine (or Armine) George.  Frone was their second son and the 1850 census enumerated six children for James and Ermine, ranging in age from ten to one.

In 1852, James died and it appears that his oldest son William and youngest daughter Mary may have also died sometime between the 1850 and 1860 censuses.  In 1860 Ermine was a widow living “North of the Court House” in Raleigh County, Virginia (soon to be West Virginia) with her children Frone, Henry and Harriet, who was listed as a spinster at the age of seventeen.

Ermine moved to the county in 1857 with sons Frone, Henry and James who all served the Confederacy during the Civil War.  According to Raleigh County history, Frone was “a noted fiddler in his younger days and was often the whole orchestra at the dances held in the neighborhood of the [Army] camp.”

Frone was an early enlistee, signing up on June 3, 1861.  Henry, only seventeen, signed up the same day and records indicate he was later captured and served as a nurse at Camp Douglas, Illinois near Chicago.  James enlisted in April of 1862, joining his brothers in Company C of the 36th Regiment of the Virginia Infantry.

Frone was wounded twice and Civil War records indicate that one incidence occurred on September 8, 1864.  A Raleigh County history book included the following story about one of those incidences:

Frone George, a soldier of the Confederacy for four years was wounded twice.  Says he saw himself “shot ON the breast – looked at the minie ball as it hit him – did not penetrate, but made a very sore, black spot and hurt worse than if it had gone inside” says he could have stayed under cover but did not think the dam Yankee could shoot straight enough to hit him.

On May 24, 1865 at the headquarters of the First Separate Brigade in Charleston, West Virginia, Frone (E.D.) George signed his parole papers, promising to conduct himself “as a good and peaceable citizen” and never again take up arms against the United States Government.

Frone POWFrone returned home and on January 21, 1868 he married Mary Keffer in Raleigh County.  In 1870 he moved to Beckley and opened a blacksmith shop which he operated for over forty years.  Mary’s father Samuel may have worked with Frone since they are enumerated as next door neighbors and both listed as blacksmiths in the 1870 census.

Their first son William was born in 1869, likely in honor of Frone’s older brother William.  Their only daughter Leona was born in 1872, second son Frederick Clyde was born in 1874 and their last child Charles Edward was born in 1876.  William was tragically killed by lightning on August 20, 1900 while working as a carpenter.  The architect of the project, J. Price Beckley, grandson of the town’s founder General Alfred Beckley, was also killed.

FroneGeorge_GraveFrone continued to work as a blacksmith, known by his friends and neighbors as a “man of many abilities . . . about whom volumes could have been written without great effort.”  He died on October 17, 1918 and is buried in the Wildwood Cemetery in Beckley, alongside Mary who died in 1926.

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2015.
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Mothers of Invention: Thank a Woman

MothersOfInventionMelitta Bentz

Melitta – does that name sound familiar?  Today its namesake’s invention is a coffee machine necessity.  If you enjoyed a steaming cup of home-brewed coffee this morning, sans coffee grounds, you have a woman to thank for that.

Amalie Auguste Melitta Liebscher, who later married Hugh Bentz, was born in Dresden, Germany in 1873.   As a housewife, she began experimenting with ways to eliminate coffee grounds from her brewed coffee and also make it less bitter-tasting.  A common practice at the time was to use a piece of cloth, or even items like socks to filter coffee, but neither method was particularly effective.

A story that circulates on the internet (true or not, I don’t know) is that Melitta was compelled to find a method to filter out coffee grounds because she had observed grounds stuck in her friends’ teeth while attending a coffee klatch.  Whatever the impetus for the experimentation, she finally came up with the solution, a simple one actually.  After experimenting with several methods, she tried a piece of blotting paper from her son’s school exercise book.  It turned out to be a brilliant idea, for after all the purpose of this type of paper was to absorb liquids.

MelittaBentzHer simple invention was patented on June 20, 1908 and by the end of that year she had a business, employing her husband and two sons to assist with production and management.  In 1909 her new invention won an award at the Leipzig Trade Fair and two awards followed in 1910 at the International Health Exhibition and Saxon Innkeepers’ Association.

World War I brought stringent rationing of paper products, and coffee beans were hard to come by due to blockades designed to cutoff Germany from the rest of the world.  With her husband conscripted to serve in the Romanian Army, Melitta supported herself by selling cartons.

Following the war, the company began to expand and by 1928 was employing eighty employees working double shifts.  Her son Horst eventually took over the leadership of the company after Melitta transferred her majority stake to her sons Horst and Willi.

World War II brought another halt to commercial production when the company was ordered to assist in the war effort.  Later, Allied troops used the facility for “provisional administration” for several years.  In 1948 production resumed and by the time Melitta died in 1950 the company had made almost five million Deutsche Marks since its founding.

Melitta’s grandsons, Thomas and Stephen Bentz, now run the company, and today their product line includes premium coffees, basket filters and earth-friendly bamboo filters.  A piece of blotting paper and a little female ingenuity was the beginning of an international multi-nillion dollar business.

March is Women’s History Month, so look for more articles about amazing women – “Mothers of Invention”, “Feisty Females” and more.

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2015.
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Early American Faith: Reverend Jonathan Lee (Part One)

EarlyAmerFaithI came across Reverend Jonathan Lee’s tombstone recently  – the impressive epitaph definitely caught my eye:

In Memory of the Rev. Jonathan Lee, this Stone, the fruit of conjugal affection and filial gratitude, is erected.

He was born July 4 AD 1718; Graduated at Yale College, 1742;
was a settled minister in the Gofpel in this town 45 years; and died
Oct. 8 AD 1788, in the 71 year of his age.

To the faithful discharge of the paftoral office he united the private
virtues of the hufband, the parent and the friend, and expired in the
bleffed hope of that Gofpel to which he had freely devoted his life.

My flesh fhall flumber in the ground Till the laft Trumpet’s joyful found,
Then burft the chains in fweet furprife, And in my Savior’s image rise.

I had never heard of him, but with an epitaph like that I wanted to know more about Jonathan Lee.

Early Life

Jonathan Lee’s immigrant ancestor, grandfather John Lee of Essex, England, had come with a group called the Hooker Company, adherents to the ministry of Thomas Hooker, a prominent Puritan who later dissented and helped found the colony of Connecticut.  John, at the age of thirteen, had been sent by his father under the guardianship of William Westwood.  Although his father had planned to immigrate as well, he never made it to New England’s shores.

Jonathan Lee was born on July 4, 1718 in Coventry, Connecticut to parents David and Lydia Lee, the youngest of seven children.  His mother, however, died six days following his birth on July 10.  David had become a prominent member of the new settlement of Coventry, a weaver by trade, and within a year of Lydia’s death had married a woman named Elizabeth.

Lydia’s father, Elder Jedidah Strong, likely had a strong influence on his grandson.  According to Julia Pettee, author of The Reverend Jonathan Lee and His Eighteenth Century Salisbury Parish, “children were carefully instructed in theology during their tender years, and Jonathan Lee, the first of John Lee’s descendants to enter the ministry, undoubtedly owed much of his impulsion toward this career to the devout and intellectually gifted Strongs.”

Just before Jonathan’s eleventh birthday, in late June of 1729, David exchanged land in Coventry for land in Lebanon, Connecticut.  Until Jonathan entered Yale University, his education and religious training was conducted in Lebanon,  under the tutelage of Reverend Solomon Williams.  In August of 1737, David again exchanged land and moved back to Coventry.  Pettee surmises that David may moved to Lebanon intentionally, even for a short period of time, so that “his youngest son might avail himself of the superior education advantages of the town and its much respected minister.”

Jonathan had remained in Lebanon, continuing to be mentored by Williams, until matriculating to Yale in 1739.  There he also met his future wife, Elizabeth Metcalf, who had become a ward of Rector Thomas Clap after her parents died.  Jonathan was well-prepared for college – instead of needing the four required years to complete his program, he graduated after three years in 1742.  The “Great Awakening” had begun in 1731 and ministers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, so-called “New Light” revivalists were preaching to large crowds throughout the colonies.

“Old Lights” vs. “New Lights”

A contentious dispute had arisen between the “Old Lights” and the “New Lights”.  In general terms, the “Old Lights” were of the Congregationalist faith who depended on the authority of church government, and the “New Lights” of the Baptist or a more evangelical (Calvinist) faith.  New Light preachers believed that conversion was an absolute requirement for salvation.

These itinerant revivalists were drawing crowds and converting hundreds of people, engendering hostility from the “Old Lights”.  The era was a period of “great awakening”, yet it was a time of great division.  Jonathan Lee entered Yale as a “New Light” adherent.

George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards had both preached in New Haven, but Yale’s Rector Thomas Clap, was an “Old Light” and warned students against attending these “unauthorized meetings” lest they be expelled.  Pettee cited one instance of a deacon in the New Haven church refusing to attend his own son’s funeral because the son was a member of the “New Lights.”

Religion and one’s personal salvation was the topic of the day, however, frequently dominating the topic of conversation.  Students formed prayer circles and conversions were recorded, even though Yale students were all required to attend the First Church of New Haven pastored by Reverend Joseph Noyes, an “Old Light.”  Noyes, of course, would not allow a “New Light” to stand behind his pulpit and preach.

The Yale Years

According to Pettee, not much is written of Jonathan’s years at Yale, but presumably he was quite capable and intelligent, surmising that he dutifully followed the rules and attended Noyes’ church, although he himself was counted among the “New Lights”.  Pettee believed he, though conservative, believed in the necessity of a personal religious experience and had no sympathy for the intolerance of the “Old Lights”.

Elizabeth Metcalf had accompanied Rector Clap to New Haven, but following Clap’s marriage, returned to Lebanon.  Following his graduation in September of 1742, Jonathan returned to Lebanon, desiring to again be mentored by Reverend Williams in preparation for his own ordination.  As was the custom of the day for those desiring to pursue a career as either a lawyer or minister, Jonathan probably lived in Williams’ home.

The Call to Salisbury

In July of 1743, Jonathan received his license to preach and began filling vacancies where they were offered.  In the fall he was invited as the temporary minister of Salisbury, a new Connecticut settlement.  The first minister had not been committed to settling in Salisbury permanently, so Jonathan was given a chance to serve the town’s congregants.

By January of 1744 he was offered the full-time job as pastor of the Salisbury church.  He believed he was not only called by the church to serve, but by God Himself.  Jonathan accepted the terms of the salary offered, which included a base salary of forty pounds and incremental raises as his tenure continued through the years.  He pledged:

I therefore do hereby testify mine acceptance of the call, and your proposals, and hereby profess my willingness to labor for your good in the work of the gospel ministry, according as I may be assisted by the grace of Almighty God; and hoping and trusting in his goodness, and depending upon a continual remembrance in the fervent prayers of the faithful, I give and devote myself to Christ, and my services to you for his sake, who am your friend and servant.

Jonathan and Elizabeth had a decision to make, one they must have considered carefully, given the remoteness of the area they had been called to.  He submitted his letter of acceptance (in part, above) on August 19, 1744 and two weeks later, on September 3, Jonathan and Elizabeth were married.  Jonathan preached his own wedding sermon.

As Pettee wrote, they “turned aside from the comfortable living and refinements to which they were accustomed and decided for a remote parish in an almost unknown wilderness.”  What awaited them in Salisbury where Jonathan would serve faithfully until his death in 1788?  Tune in next week for the conclusion.  In case you missed my two-part article on George Whitefield (George, The Cross-Eyed Preacher) you can read them here and here.

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2015.
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Surname Saturday: Snow-Snowman-Snowball

SnowCrestThese English surnames were all derived from the Old English word “snaw”, but interestingly has nothing to do with “snow” as in the frozen stuff that has fallen in massive quantities this winter along the East Coast.


Snow was an English nickname which referred to someone with very white hair or a pale complexion.  It is also possible the name was given to someone who was born during the wintertime.  It wasn’t uncommon for names to be associated with some event either, for example: Noel, Pentecost, Midwinter, Winter and Frost.

Charles Bardsley, author of A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, mentioned an anecdotal story he was introduced to while writing his book (1872-1896): “A clergyman wrote to me some time ago to say he had just baptized a child by the name of ‘Sou’-wester’.  This turned out to the father’s Christian name, who was born on board ship in a sou’-westerly gale.”

Some believe its origins may trace back to pre-historical times with a King of Denmark named “Snoo”, which meant a cunning, crafty or sly person.  In Germany the name may have been a Jewish surname like “Schnee”, “Schnei” or “Schneu”, according to, and later Americanized.  Spelling variations included Snow, Snowe, Snaw, Snawe, Snowling and others.

Some of the earliest instances of the name which appeared in records were Henry Snou (1273, County Buckinghamshire) on the Hundred Rolls and Willelmus Snawe of Yorkshire who was listed on the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379.

The earliest American immigrants bearing this surname were Nicholas Snow (Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1620); Henry Snow (Virginia, 1636); Elfred Snow (Virginia, 1702); and Josiah Snow (Virginia, 1724).  Nicholas Snow is considered to be the immigrant ancestor of many who bear the surname Snow today.


This surname derives from the same Old English origins as the Snow surname.  An instance of the name was recorded at St. Andrew’s Holborn in London in July of 1597 as John Snowesman, and according to the Internet Surname Database, possibly meant the friend or foreman of John Snow.  Spelling variations include Snowman, Snoweman and Snowesman.

The New Dictionary of American Family Names notes that this surname may also have German origins, an Americanized form of “Schneemann”.


This is also derived from the Old English word “snaw” combined with “bald” (as in bare).  P.H. Reaney noted in his book, A Dictionary of English Surnames, that the name probably originated as a nickname for someone with jet-black hair with a glaring bald spot, perhaps a monk.

SnowballCrestIn 1327 the name Roger Snowbald appeared on the Subsidy Rolls of Staffordshire; in 1332 Robert Snaubal was listed on the Pipe Rolls of Lancashire.  Even earlier, the name Robert Snawbal was recorded on the Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire in 1301.  Spelling variations include Snowball, Snowbal, Snowbawl, Snaubal, Snowbald and others.

It never ceases to amaze me the names I run across, both the highly unusual ones or those which are also commonly used words like Pray, Bible, Butter, Thing, Purchase, Kitten and Tinker.  Discovering the origins is just plain fascinating to me, and hopefully to you the reader as well.  Check the archives for a full list of Surname Saturday articles.

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2015.
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Feisty Females: Jessie Daniel Ames

JessieDanielAmesToday’s article closes out the month of February, also known as Black History Month, with a story about an anti-lynching activist Southern white woman, Jessie Daniel Ames.  She was also the founder of the Texas League of Women Voters in 1919 and served as its first president, believing that it was the role of various women’s organizations to help solve the country’s racial problems.

Jessie Harriet Daniel was born on November 2, 1883 in Palestine, Texas to parents James and Laura Daniel.  Her father was a railroad worker, and after the family moved to Georgetown in 1893 Jessie enrolled in the Ladies’ Annex at Southwestern University at the age of thirteen.

The Ladies’ Annex opened in 1889 and was a self-contained boarding and classroom facility, according to Southwestern University.  Following the Civil War, the so-called separate-but-equal doctrine was applied not only to address racial equality but equal opportunities regardless of gender.  Essentially, the university was required to provide separate living quarters for women who wanted to pursue an education.

The facilities included living quarters, an art studio, a chapel, a gym and meeting rooms for three sororities and two literary societies.  The proximity of these buildings to the main campus was planned so that the distance for either male or female students would be fairly equal, thus allowing all students to access the school’s main facilities easily.

Jessie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1902 and then relocated to Laredo with her family.  In June of 1905 she married Roger Post Ames, an Army surgeon and associate of Walter Reed.  Together they had a son and two daughters, yet spent much of their married life living apart.  Ames worked in Central America fighting yellow fever, while Jessie remained in the States.  According to Dan Utley of Austin, the couple experienced difficulties in their marriage and his family never accepted Jessie (read Utley’s interesting narrative here).

In 1914, Roger Ames died of blackwater fever in Guatemala.  Jessie had visited him in August and thought that perhaps their relationship had improved.  She was pregnant with their third child when he died four months later.  Jesse, then thirty-one years old, had already lost her father three years earlier.  To provide for her family she moved in with her mother and helped run their family business, a telephone company in Georgetown.

Her involvement with several Methodist women’s organizations was the impetus for her activism in the women’s suffrage movement.  In 1916 she organized local suffrage associations across Texas and worked to ensure that Texas was the first state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1919.  With the founding of the Texas League of Women Voters, she served as the organization’s first president and was a delegate to the Democratic Convention in 1920, 1924 and 1928.

Her activism extended to racial issues in 1929 when she became a director for the Commission on Interracial Cooperation.  Although the organization’s name implied that the group was “interracial” it was in fact founded in large part by a group of liberal white Southerners.  The group strongly opposed lynching, mob violence and the so-called Black Codes which were put in place following the Civil War to restrict the freedoms of emancipated slaves.

The Commission was based in Atlanta and Jesse relocated there in 1930 to assume the position of national director of the CIC Woman’s Committee.  That same year she founded the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching.  In the face of opposition and threats, forty thousand women across the South signed the Pledge Against Lynching:

We declare lynching is an indefensible crime, destructive of all principles of government, hateful and hostile to every ideal of religion and humanity, debasing and degrading to every person involved…[P]ublic opinion has accepted too easily the claim of lynchers and mobsters that they are acting solely in defense of womanhood. In light of the facts we dare no longer to permit this claim to pass unchallenged, nor allow those bent upon personal revenge and savagery to commit acts of violence and lawlessness in the name of women. We solemnly pledge ourselves to create a new public opinion in the South, which will not condone, for any reason whatever, acts of mobs or lynchers. We will teach our children at home, at school and at church a new interpretation of law and religion; we will assist all officials to uphold their oath of office; and finally, we will join with every minister, editor, school teacher and patriotic citizen in a program of education to eradicate lynchings and mobs forever from our land.

At that time in history, African American males were most often lynched for allegedly raping white women.  More often that not, however, the allegations were false and innocent men lost their lives.  Jesse strongly believed that white women need not fear, nor did they require special protection from, African American men.  In her opinion, the motive for lynching was purely racial hatred.

She organized her members and trained them to go out in their own communities and talk with judges and law enforcement officials, urging them to sign the pledge as well.  Interestingly, however, Jessie Ames opposed a federal anti-lynching law, believing perhaps that culture and society needed to change rather than a law requiring compliance.  She also believed that an anti-lynching law would only result in more violence against blacks.

Indeed, Southern Senators had tried to filibuster the law and it went nowhere at the federal level.  By 1937 the Association of Southern Women had eighty-one state, regional and national groups organized across the country.  In 1942 the CIC was replaced by the Southern Regional Council, the Association dissolved, and Jessie retired to Tyron, North Carolina.

Despite threats of physical violence and intense Southern political opposition, the Association had seen progress.  By 1940 there were no instances of African American lynchings, records of which had stretched back to the Civil War.  In North Carolina, Jessie continued her activism by participating in Methodist Church activities, black voter registration drives and a women’s study group on world politics.

What fueled Jessie Daniel Ames’ resolve to fight as passionately for racial equality as she had women’s suffrage?  Historian Jacqueline Dowd Hall called it a “psychological bridge” which she crossed to connect the two issues of social feminism and racial equality.

Perhaps it was due in part to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan; 1930 was also a year of heightened mob violence across the South.  It’s easy to see that her activism in the areas of both women’s rights and racial equality eventually bore fruit.  In the 1950’s the matter of school desegregation was brought to the judicial system, the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964, followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and later the proposed Equal Rights Amendment.

In 1968, Jessie Daniel Ames returned to Texas for health reasons and lived there until her death on February 21,1972 in an Austin nursing home.

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2015.
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Book Review Thursday: A Fifty-Year Silence

Fify-YearSilenceOver the years I’ve read several books about the Holocaust and its survivors, and reviewed several in this Thursday column.  Each one is different; everyone had a different experience.  As you read this debut work by author Miranda Richmond Mouillot, you sense that underlying it all are the horrors of the Holocaust.

This book is different, however, because there are few direct references to the Holocaust.  Instead, it’s a story about her grandparents, Armand and Anna, who married in 1944 and in 1948 went their separate ways, and in the ensuing years had only one brief encounter.  However, somewhat mysteriously before they parted ways, Armand and Anna purchased an old house in the south of France.

Years later, the mystery surrounding the purchase of the never-lived-in house, , and why her grandparents had such animosity towards each other, became a quest of sorts for Mouillot to discover what happened almost a half century earlier.  She turned that quest for answers into a deeply personal story and this book.

I found the book interesting, but it is over four hundred and fifty pages and I kept waiting for the questions to be answered.  As I neared the end of the book, I assumed all the ends would be tied up (at least for me).   Ms. Mouillot seems to have come to her own conclusions and in the end was able to find her own peace and move on with her life.  For this reader, however, it was a bit of a letdown.

Likely, one of the underlying reasons Armand and Anna split up had something to do with the horrors of the Holocaust. Armand heard firsthand accounts while serving as a translator at the Nuremberg trials, and it was following the conclusion of those trials that the two split.  Day after day he had heard about some of the most horrific atrocities ever committed, so the author herself concludes that somehow had something to do with her grandparents splitting up.

I’m not sure either how it could have come across with a more satisfying ending for the reader.  Great authors may tease their readers, but the story ends, good or bad, with some sort of conclusion.  This book didn’t have that vibe.  In the end, as I suspected, her grandparents’ “fifty-year silence” did indeed have something to do with the Holocaust, but there were too few details to make for a compelling conclusion – not enough meat I suppose.

It was a deeply personal book for Ms. Mouillot to write, that much is obvious, and it’s apparent the story was as much or more about her own journey to answer the nagging questions about why Armand and Anna could barely stand to say the other one’s name.  Still, one can glean some insight into the human condition as she relates Armand and Anna’s stories, as well as her own (she met her husband in France while researching the house mystery).  I just wish the story could have taken up the Holocaust thread earlier in the book and woven it through to a more satisfying conclusion.

Ratings:  ★★★

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2015.
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Ghost Town Wednesday: Total Wreck, Arizona

TotalWreck_AZIn 1879 silver was discovered in the eastern Empire Mountains of Arizona and the claims were held by John T. Dillon.  According to Ed Vail, author of The Story of a Mine, one of the mines and the little town that sprung up nearby got their name from remarks made by Dillon when he signed the recording papers with Vail’s brother Walter in 1881.

Walter asked him for a name and Dillon said, “Well, the mineral foundation is almost a total wreck,” alluding to the fact that it was located beneath a quartzite ledge that looked like a total wreck.  The name stuck and on August 12, 1881 a post office was established.

The Los Angeles Times reported in 1882 that the appearance of the town, however, had nothing to do with its name: “The town of Total Wreck has no appearance of a wreck.  It is a thrifty, neat-looking village, the streets laid out at right angles. The main street is named Dillon street in honor of the discoverer of the mine, and the first to discover minerals in this district.”

By that time, the town had two stores, two hotels, a restaurant, five saloons, a carpenter, blacksmith, butcher, brewery, several Chinese laundries and over thirty houses with about two hundred residents.  The town was fairly well organized with a deputy sheriff who could muster a posse of ninety men within an hour of any sign of trouble from rowdies or Indians.

On September 7, 1882, the Tombstone Weekly Epitaph reported that the townspeople were overjoyed to have received telegraph connections with the outside world.  The Epitaph predicted that Total Wreck was “destined to be one of the most prominent mining camps in the Territory.”

In late November of 1882 one of the local businessmen, E.B. Salsig, was a victim of an attempted assassination by a man named John Drummond.  According to the Tombstone Epitaph, Drummond had a reputation and was well-known to the residents of Tombstone.  The two men were quarreling over Drummond’s interference with the sale of one of the mines in the district.  Mr. Salsig apparently expressed an opinion that Drummond didn’t care for.

Drummond visited the store of Salsig &Sifford and called Salsig out on the street to have a few words, “applying to him epithets which most men resist.”  Salsig was insulted and hit Drummond, only to have a revolver drawn on him and then shot three times by Drummond.  The first shot resulted in only a flesh wound, while the second went through a wallet and bundle of letters, causing the lead ball to drop in Salsig’s pocket; “but for this it might have produced a fatal wound.”

The legend has oft been repeated that the love letters in his pocket saved Salsig’s life and he later married the woman who had penned the letters.  Drummond, however, was arrested and bound over for trial, the Epitaph remarking “it would be well if such characters as this Drummond could be summarily dealt with.”

In June of 1883, several Mexicans were cutting wood in the Whetstone Mountains and were attacked by a band of Geronimo’s Apache warriors.  Six Mexicans had been killed and were the first to be buried in the Total Wreck Cemetery.  Today there is little, if any, evidence a cemetery ever existed, however.

In 1888 another resident, a miner named James Burns, was buried there after collapsing while working near one of the mine areas.  Total Wreck was isolated and too far from Tucson for a coroner to reach the town before decomposition set in.  Of necessity, in those times when such services weren’t available, a jury of Total Wreck citizens was sworn in by a Notary Public to investigate the cause of death.  The jury determined that Burns died of natural causes due to a sudden rush of blood to his head, as evidenced by the dark appearance of his head, neck and face.

As predicted by the Epitaph in 1882, the Total Wreck claims were quite productive – by 1884 mines in the area had produced around a half-million dollars in silver bullion.  On September 13, 1884, the Arizona Weekly Citizen  was boasting that “the Total Wreck and many lesser known properties are just beginning to show the silver edge of their boundless wealth, and their prospective output means unprecedented prosperity to our country,”  Despite those claims, however, the mill built in 1881 by the Empire Mining and Developing Company was closed at the end of 1884.  In those days, booms were always followed by precipitous busts.

Attempts were made to revive operations in 1886, but in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, mining interests declined.   The Tombstone Prospector and Epitaph reported in early January of 1891 that the Total Wreck post office had been closed.  The Silver Crash of 1893 resulted in the closing of hundreds of mines all over the West, and subsequently the withering away of hundreds of once-prosperous mining towns.  Total Wreck slowly dwindled away as well, and today all that remains are a few walls and numerous holes in the ground.

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

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© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2015.
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