"Texas, by God"
and the
Lynn R. Bailey
Galeyville Genesis
Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:44

Joseph W. Clark of San Jose, California, had mined in the Bradshaw Mountains as early as 1877. He owned the Robert E. Lee Mine in the Turkey Creek District and the south extension of the Couger Mine in the Tiger District. It goes without saying that he knew Samuel Wessels. As an associate of George Hearst, Clark publicized Yavapai and Mohave county mines in San Francisco newspapers. When the Tombstone strike became general knowledge, Clark purchased four fine horses and a thorough brace wagon adapted for travel in Arizona. ”He intended to examine mining localities with a view to invest capital.” An expedition was planned to explore the southeastern corner of the territory. General Orlando Willcox, commanding the Department of Arizona, and Secretary of the Territory John Gosper funded and supplied the group. Clark pulled in Samuel Wessels as field geologist, and he in turn recruited Uriah “Toppy” Johnson and George John Jee, a forty-year-old geologist and civil engineer from Pontypool, Wales.[8] Two other men were enlisted: Hiram A. Owens, aka “Chloride Jack,” and James “Quartz” Johnson. Both were Hassayampers, having developed the Vulture Mine with Henry Wickenburg.[9]

The expedition left Prescott in early December 1878 and moved south by way of Fort McDowell. To prevent the destination of the group from being leaked by newspapers, the expedition moved with great secrecy. Members did not give out their names en route, and some used aliases.[10] On December 9th George Hand recorded in his diary the arrival of Toppy Johnson in Tucson.[11] He made no mention of Wessels or Clark but they were there. Provisioning in the Old Pueblo, the expedition pushed southeastward to the Chiricahua Mountains where it examined a twenty-mile long mineral-bearing belt on the eastern flanks of the mountains. Even after their return to civilization, newspapers speculated on the expedition’s success; the Arizona Weekly Miner reported that the Clark-Wessels group struck a bonanza in the Chiricahua District which they called the Willcox Mine.[12]

Joseph Clark and Samuel Wessels returned to Prescott in
early January 1879. Toppy Johnson, Hiram Owens, James “Quartz” Johnson, and John Jee remained in southeastern Arizona. Their duty was three-fold: record and guard the lodes they had discovered; search the area for additional mineral outcrops, and dog prospectors to purchase promising claims. Wessels would finalize acquisition of properties upon his return. Since there were no towns closer than Tucson, the men bunked with cattlemen at San Simon Cienega six miles east of the Chiricahua Mountains.

It took Wessels six months to tie up loose ends in Yavapai County. In early June 1879 he sold his hotel and restaurant at Tiger and departed Yavapai County for the Chiricahua Mountains.[13] Linking up with Toppy Johnson and other members of the 1878 expedition, Wessels went to work acquiring claims in what was called the Chiricahua Mining District. In all, Wessels, Johnson, and Jee bonded seven claims, the most important of which were the Dunn and Texas claims. Rich in argentiferous lead, these properties were sold to John Galey and the Painter brothers, men who had made fortunes in the western Pennsylvania oil boom. The result was formation of the Texas Mining and Milling Company, headquartered at Galeyville.

The first pick was struck in the Chiricahua Mining District on October 19, 1880. Thereafter the Texas Company proceeded to open one of the finest mines in the Chiricahua Mountains. A 120 foot deep shaft was sunk and drifts made at several points. A tunnel was also dug into the hillside about 400 feet from the shaft. The company also commenced work on several other claims. At end of the year 700 tons of ore was piled on the dump, most of which would work $100 per ton.

Prospectors flocked in and it wasn’t long before tents and campfires lined both bank of Turkey Creek. Two townsites were surveyed, one called Galeyville after John Galey, owner of the Texas Mine, and a second called Chiricahua City was established a mile away. Within a year a large village had taken root consisting of rude dwellings, a post office, a Wells, Fargo & Company outlet, six stores, twelve saloons, two lodging houses, three restaurants, a livery stable, and a blacksmith shop.[14]

With a quarter interest in the Texas Mining Company, Wessels was appointed vice-president and foreman. His duties were supervision of extraction and reduction of ore. Because the ore was argentiferous lead, it was imperative that a refinery be installed. To accomplish that goal Wessels journeyed to San Francisco in 1880 to order from the Pacific Iron Works a water-jacket furnace capable of processing thirty tons of ore every twenty-four hours. The furnace was installed at Galeyville in spring of 1881.[15] Having considerable smelting experience, John Jee and Uriah Johnson were in charge of smelting.

Plans of the Texas Mining and Smelting Company. were flawed Although the company had stockpiled hundreds of tons of ore, its claims could not satisfy the voracious appetite of a water-jacket furnace. Secondly, the ore was not self-fluxing. Smelting would fail without an iron-rich ore; and there had to be a constant supply of charcoal to fuel the smelter. While Wessels ordered and installed the smelter, Toppy and Jee worked to solve these problems.

With Sam’s blessings they “cultivated the acquaintance and good graces“ of quite a few San Simon Cienega cowboys.[16] Toppy contracted for charcoal with the “Missouri Boys” (Al George and William Achilles Stark). These men in turn hired Mexicans to cut mesquite and oak in canyons and on mountain flanks. The cord wood was piled in heaps and burned into charcoal in Cave Creek Canyon; 50,000 bushels of the commodity hauled to Galeyville in wagons by Joe Hill and Isaac Clanton, and stockpiled on the smelter site. Most important, Jee also secured an iron-rich claim near Granite Gap three miles north of the cienega. A contract was let to Hill and Clanton to haul this flux to Galeyville. The biggest challenge, however, was to assure a “never-ending” supply of ore. That problem was tackled long before the smelter was shipped from San Francisco.

In early 1880, when the smelter was only a dream, Wessels put together another prospecting expedition to locate an “unfailing supply” of lead-silver ore. As consulting mineralogist, Uriah “Toppy” Johnson commanded the group which included George John Jee. Also accompanying the expedition were two cienega cowboys: William Hanks Graham and Dick Lloyd. There being a lull in the San Carlos cattle trade, the former had signed on as a guard for the expedition; Lloyd was hired as a wrangler. Although both men were drovers, their backgrounds were as different as night and day. . . .

    • Enlightening Peter Love, Thu May 2 03:55
      Lynn That’s great. So this is the John Jee that wrote that article in the UK paper. This shows it was not simply a tall “Travellers Tale” as speculated.
      • Speculative? gobs, Fri May 3 09:59
        Ben, Robert and I agreed on the other forum ... I assume Lynn concurred ... this was "unbiased, level and objective" reporting by a "local" Welshman ... but humoro[u]s at the same time ... maybe he... more
      • More John Jee . . .Lynn R. Bailey, Thu May 2 09:32
        Peter: Jee was also responsible for stringing the telegraph line between Galeyville and Fort Bowie. The line went from ranch to ranch up the San Simon Valley. That feat saved the life of William... more
    • Thank you Mr. Bailey (nm)Old West Magazine, Mon Apr 29 13:24
    • Thanks Lynn.... (nm)Robert Buckley, Mon Apr 29 13:10
    • Lynn, as always excellent information! (nm)Kevin Mulkins, Mon Apr 29 11:48
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