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September 30, 2022 3:01 am
On this episode of Our American Stories, John Mackay, James Fair, William O'Brien, and James Flood epitomized the rags-to-riches American dream. Roger McGrath, author of Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes is here to tell us the story of the richest mineral discovery in American history, the Comstock Lode.
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There is probably no crazier, while the more chaotic boom to bust back again phenomenon the Comstock load in the 1860s, the richest couple of square miles on earth. The small section of dirt change the destiny of the United States.
The pelvis rags to riches frontier. Tell old West historian Roger McGrath hears Roger if ever there were real life figures clipping characters in the Horatio Alger novel. It was the silver Kings John Mackey change figure William O'Brien and James flood March the rags to riches American dream John Mackey is the engineering genius of the silver Kings born in Ireland in 1831 immigrants with his family to New York in 1840 he reaches California Goldfields in 1851 enjoys hard physical work in mining camp wife is almost no formal education that stuttered badly when young, but he is blessed with extraordinary intelligence change fears, a mine superintendent without peer in a shrewd financier born in Ireland in 1831 immigrants with his family to Illinois during the early 1840s. His enormous energy, transient mind and a natural aptitude for all things mechanical. Georgia gold rush to California in 1849 William O'Brien was born in Ireland in 1826 and brought to New York as a small child joins a goldrush of 49 is grown into a large man of correct carriage.
He will soon have had a prematurely white here is sized posturing here in the dignified appearance unlike his partners is soft-spoken with an avuncular, kindly quality about him is least forceful silver Kings was gregarious and genial nature make them the most popular and ideal for public relations James flood is the only Silver King not to have been born in Ireland is born in New York in 1826, shortly after his Irish immigrant parents arrive catches a gold fever in 1849 seals around the horn to California is equipped with a shrewd mind of volatile temper and a powerful drive to succeed is a genius in trading stocks and finance Mackey fear O'Brien and flood will spin the early 1850s, prospecting and mining in California and each has some success with his earnings from the dickens. O'Brien opens a Marine supply store in San Francisco flood with money he is made opens a livery and carriage shop just down the street from O'Brien lose their businesses. Though in the depression of 1855 join forces and open the saloon.
O'Brien reasons. The thing that does not go down in the depression is the consumption of alcohol is right and there's thrives flood handles the business and evaporation. O'Brien greets customers and serves roast beef sandwiches. The come complementary with a drink. By the early 1860s flood and O'Brien are dabbling in mining stock buying and selling shares in mines, the tapping of the Greek Comstock mood in Nevada flood is an uncanny ability in stock trading within a few years in O'Brien amassed a small fortune in 1868. They open their own stock brokerage office in San Francisco making fair working separately also spin the early 1850s prospecting in California.
Here's Comstock load historian Ronald James speaking to us of the location of the Greek Comstock load strike which is made in 18 59 x 2 Irishmen, Peter O Reilly and Patrick McLaughlin the first minor through came here whereafter gold gold Vesey gold doesn't combine with many things so you can actually even pick it out of there washed dirt with tweezers and hope for another picture final flexor goal, and that's all you can pull the gold out the two minors were come up. Couple of Irish immigrants were just looking for a good place to do dam up out of natural spring so they could get water and they were hoping that they could find some water throw some dirt into their long palms which were these wooden boxes and wash the dirt while they were damming a natural spring they found which was right up here.
They started throwing some of the dirt in there that found immediately that they were uncovering several ounces ago very good day and it was the first of many good days. In fact, 20 years worth of good days they were complaining for those first few weeks after the strike in June 1859. These early minors complained about this blue mud that gummed up their works because as you wash away the wider soil.
It leaves gold behind was also leaving behind the blue bug that was really obnoxiously happy and was hard to us separated from the from the gold after several weeks they talk about or sample over to California and said what exactly do we have here and what they found was that it if you had a ton of this stuff, it would produce over $800 in gold when gold was selling for $16 an ounce. But what was really surprising that I was I would produce over $3000 in silver when silver was going for a dollar 60 an ounce, so that's really where everyone understood just how wealthy this or body or using the Cornish word load wise and then it became known as the Comstock load of the Comstock load strike at Regina city over the serous to the people who came to the Comstock were international body of people in Nevada actually had in the 1870 census more foreign-born per capita than any other state in the nation more than the great immigrant states or think of Massachusetts and Boston and New York and how vibrantly international. Those places were Chicago lot of Europeans. Obviously, a large group of Chinese lived here. I they they came from all over the often arrived as single man that's out there. It was a very masculine community. We come back along the lines of these risk takers.
The silver Kings story of the Comstock load continues here on our American stories American stories we bring you inspiring stories of history, sports, business, faith and love stories from the great and beautiful country need to be told we can't do it without you are stories are free to listen to are not free to make you love are stories in America like we do. Please allow American stories.com click the donate button give a little give a lot help us keep the great American stories coming our American stories.com this is Tori, and Johnny went to see 10 MG podcasts we have such a special episode brought to you by near attack ODT we recorded at iHeartRadio and Windows. Hanging down near attack ODT were not to plant 75 mg can help migraine sufferers still such an exciting event Windows hang out I had when I took minor attack ODT. I was present amazing time of our conversation with some of our closest friends & was brought to you by near attack ODT were met to plant 75 mg life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family, but only near attack ODT were not to plant 75 mg is the only medication that is proven between a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines else sound lively events like Windows hang out down have to be next to millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year and United healthcare can help you feel confident about your choices for those eligible Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7. If you're working past age 65. You might be able to delay Medicare enrollment.
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That's why on chasing sleep will be chatting with people live, work and perform some of the most incredible environments and see how they not only find quality sleep and unique circumstances, how they also use their sleep to perform at the highest level together will discover how these impressive individuals approach sleeping well from astronauts in space to wildlife photographers in the remote wilderness and learn to get high quality sleep in our own lives alongside the sleep experts at mattress firm join me as we dive because ultimately all benefit from sleeping well and when we do we can all find new ways to live well to listen to chasing sleep on the iHeartRadio app podcasts where you get your podcast and we continue with our American stories and the story of John Mackey, James fair James flood and William O'Brien. The silver Kings was picked up with Roger McGrath when we last left off like he works his pick and shovel minor for four dollars a day is a temperament for six Sunni develops his own business excavating and fortifying tunnels. Much of the space in the form of stock certificates. Now most of these prove worthless if you give him enough money to buy the can talk on my sore has supposedly been exhausted. Mackey sinks a new shaft in the Kentucky and hits a rich deposit during the next several years.
The mind pays over million dollars in dividends.
Huge money in the 1860s.
Mackey also has said he will retire as soon as he is 25,000 in the bank now is many times that his appetite is only been wetted for new adventures and prices will Mackey is working the conduct. James fair become superintendent for one of the richest minds on the Comstock in 1868, he enters into a partnership to develop new mining properties with Mackey at the base of the opera. They called it over. After all, clear goal by King Solomon in the Old Testament by asserting that this was the offer by they were claiming that this was a mind of biblical proportions and they got it right because hundreds of millions of dollars came out of the ground, beginning right here back in San Francisco to plug Brian take notice of these two young upstarts of the Comstock soon. They are discussing joining forces in 1869, the San Francisco stockbrokers and the Comstock minors form a partnership by the early 1970s through wise investments and daring gambles for Irishmen are challenging William Ralston of the Bank of California for control of the Comstock in 1872 by the consolidated Virginia mind for hundred thousand dollars from Ralston's right-hand man in Virginia City William Sharon Sharon gleefully reports to Ralston Irishmen have been taken. The consolidated Virginia says Sharon is a bankrupt piece of property over million dollars has already been wasted in the mind and fruitless exploration making fair if they got a new tunnel at a deeper level for for several months they tunnel pouring 200,000 in the consolidated Virginia but hoisting nothing but worthless rock him. Sharon roars with laughter then one day making fair delicately thin vein for try to follow it, but it disappears. I find it again but again it disappears their time. This time the theme begins the white to a foot to several feet to half dozen feet to 12 feet making fair sent word to flood and O'Brien in San Francisco, stockbrokers quickly buy up as much outstanding consolidated Virginia stock as they can. The deeper the new shaft is sunk in the consolidated Virginia. The wider the vein becomes at the 1500 foot level.
The brain is more than 50 feet why you were so rich, waste rock has to be added to it through the stamp mill Irishmen have discovered the very heart of the Comstock load what is called for the rest of their lives. They are no as the silver Kings here again is Ronald James in 1873 they found what was called Bonanza here Comstock load accommodation of gold and silver started expanding as they went underground at its widest up to 60 feet wide of nearly pure gold and silver. The problem is you cannot find a wall log stout enough to span 60 feet even 20 feet without snapping because it has to hold up the mountain and mountains want to collapse in on empty space. So they brought in German immigrant by the name of Philip died a timer to develop the square September in method and it was basically a series of cubes that could be in modular fashion, added to, so that whatever the stope the empty space left over when you dug out all the gold and silver, whatever that stope was shaped like you could fill it up with us without framework of timber and then you would fill it back with waste rock if you dug even deeper inside the mind so is a really nice stable way to support a mind as you are pursuing precious metals and that was exported throughout the world. It's only the first of many inventions flat wire cable. The safety cage.
This was the first place where dynamite was experimented with in a big way underground. It was a first place where I air compressed drills were used.
So it became one invention after the next that defined international underground mining for the next 50 or 60 years 1975 the silver Kings are mostly wealthy. The consolidated Virginia speed million dollars a month something like 100 million in today's money. San Francisco was seized by a speculated media. If the consolidated Virginia has hit the big Bonanza. Other minds might also thousands of shares of mining stock trade daily. People make and lose fortunes overnight charter women. I though tells a script for his drivers giveaway the carriages to live on Nabil Chinese gambling dens close because Chinese gambling and mining stocks instead of Fanta from 1873 to 1882 consolidated Virginia yield 65 million in gold and silver pays 43 million in dividends more than 4 billion in today's dollars. Here again is Ronald James the deeper shop here drop over 3000 feet, 3200 feet over half mile straight elevator drop and keep in mind this is, in 1870, 1880, when most people have never written an elevator anywhere and today to imagine these people being dropped down over half mile straight down. It really is something there is a law on the Nevada books it said it's against the law to talk to hoist operator. He was a fellow who was running the school as it lowered the cages down it's illegal to talk to us, hoist operator while he's working because if you distracted Bernice off by 10 feet. That could be fatal to the guys in the cage is a drop-down silver Kings all live riotously well and I was multimillion dollar states William O'Brien contributes to charities supports all his close relatives, especially the MacDonell and Coleman families of San Francisco. James flood by San Francisco real estate directs numerous buildings funds new business ventures and establishes the Nevada bank bank later merged with Wells Fargo. He donates large sums to charities he and his wife and their children move on the fabulous 35 acre estate at Menlo Park James Ferris elected to the U.S. Senate from Nevada but spends most of his time accumulating real estate in San Francisco becomes the city's largest taxpayer.
He also establishes to banks and railroad John Mackey forms a telegraph company lays a cable across the Atlantic and breaks the Western Union monopoly. He makes more millions during his lifetime he gives way more than 5 million gifts.
Also, tears up IOU notes worth more than 2 million like forgiving 200 million in today's money. When the great fire of October 1875 destroys a central part of Virginia City including the towns Catholic Church St. Mary's of the mountains.
Mackey donates much of the money that St. Mary's rebuilt better than ever during slow.
On the Comstock Mackey secretly pays a Virginia City grocer to supply provisions. Any minor work. He also is the largest contributor to sisters hospital requiring only that his donations be kept confidential.
John Mackey, James fair, William O'Brien and James flood demonstrate that a racial out your characters were not confined to novels, but were found for real in America and there you have a story of the silver Kings. This is will you be silver Kings story here on our American stores