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Savage Mining Company and associated records

Call Number: WA MSS S-1318

Scope and Contents

The Savage Mining Company and Associated Records document the mining of the Comstock Lode in Storey County, Nevada. The collection spans the dates 1858 to 1959, but the bulk of the material falls in the period 1860 to 1900. These are primarily the records of the Savage Mining Company, but there are also papers of other mining companies, such as the Hale & Norcross Mining Company, as well as those of stockbrokers and Virginia City businesses. It is unclear how the records of other companies became part of the Savage Mining Company archive. The fragmentary nature of the ancillary documents suggests that happenstance had much to do with it; only the Savage and the Hale & Norcross companies are represented in significant depth.

The collection is arranged in twelve series by kind of document and then, within each series, by company of origin. (Appendix I lists the companies represented and locates their files across the collection.) Series I, Executive Records, contains the superintendents' papers, stock and court records, as well as some board of directors papers. Series II and III, Operation Records and Ore and Bullion Records, document the development and mineral production of the mines. Financial Records, Series IV, contains the monetary accounts, while Series V, Inventory Records, holds the accounts of physical property. Series VI, Pay Roll Records, includes both time and payment records, and Series VII, Tax Records, consists of state tax records. Blank forms found in the collection have been arranged in Series VIII, Mining Company Forms. Materials which are not corporate records have been placed in Series IX, Tailings. Artifacts, Series X, contains a miner's lunch pail and other physical attributes.

Series I, Executive Records , begins with General Records, which consist principally of correspondence; agreements, indentures, and deeds; and court papers. Although the corporate origin of many of these documents can be determined, the origin of many others remains obscure. Because the material often documents the competitive and cooperative endeavors of various firms, it was decided not to subdivide these records by company of origin. Thus all correspondence, even that clearly belonging to Savage Mining Company executives, has been brought together in a single, chronological arrangement.

The bulk of General Records is correspondence with various Comstock Lode mine superintendents; letters from company executives in San Francisco, from merchants and businessmen in Nevada and California, personal letters, and letters to and from the superintendents' staff. To maintain the integrity of the correspondence, it was decided to include letters whose corporate origin could be identified. Therefore, the bulk of the correspondence, like the collection, refers to the Savage and Hale & Norcross mines.

From 1861 to 1876 the majority of the letters are Savage business letters; routine communication between the superintendent and San Francisco reporting operations or complaining of mistakes in financial records (see also Letters from the superintendent, Box 10, folders 175-77). Such communication, which at first was handled by the president and superintendent, became the responsibility of the secretary of the board and the superintendent or mine secretary/paymaster. Notes from shift bosses and clerks to the superintendent discuss daily operations, like the letters in 1881-82 from the Santiago Mill to R. P. Keating about pay and supplies. In-house letters often concerned requests for pay advances or for salaries to be paid directly to merchants for debts (see also Assignments, Box 6, folders 85-91; Attachments, Box 7, folders 100-03; and Executions, folders 106-10). Savage superintendents corresponded with merchants and vendors; in 1871 and 1876, for instance, James G. Fair received letters about equipment from from Henry C. Egerton, "Mill and Mine Supply Buyer and Receiver of Ores." Most of the 1872 letters concern supplies, while in 1873-75 wood and timber orders and freighting costs become important.

From 1876 on, the majority of the letters involve R. P. Keating either as superintendent of Savage or Hale & Norcross, or on his own business; it becomes difficult to distinguish private from official, and, if official, which mining company is involved. Mining stock is a central topic and dominates the letters for 1878-81. Stock account statements accompany many of the letters for 1874-79 and show that superintendents played the stock market as individuals as well as being involved as corporate officers. Eugene Dewey and Samuel Dixon, San Francisco stockbrokers, communicated with Keating in code (for example see Box 2, folder 22, 26) and speculate on the "Bonanza Managers" in 1879-80. For the periods 1883-84 and 1888-89, there is a great deal of Hale & Norcross business correspondence, much like the earlier Savage material (see also Letters from the superintendent, Box 10, folders 175-77). B. G. Haas and Samuel L. Haas worked for both mines during the 1880s, and many of their letters can be found in the correspondence. Shift bosses such as William Pearce kept the superintendents informed on matters underground.

For 1888-94 many of the letters concern the Hillside Water Company, founded and managed by R. P. Keating, Clayton Belknap, and S. P. McKnight. The company seems to have been involved with agricultural projects, since letters focus on water rights around Bishop, Inyo County, California, and on breeds of apple trees.

Other topics found throughout the correspondence files are postmaster appointments in Storey County, law suits involving mining claims, job requests, and in the 1890s the Democratic Party of Nevada.

General Records in Series I contains two other large sections: agreements, indentures and deeds (see Boxes 5-6) and court papers (Boxes 7-10). The agreements are a mixture of printed and handwritten documents; some appear to be the participants' copies while others seem to be duplicates produced during research. The majority of these papers record the transfer of mining claims, especially individual claims to the Savage Mining Company. Mining claims also figure in the court papers. The material is organized by court, and within each jurisdiction cases are chronologically arranged. Often there is only one document representing a law suit, generally a deposition. The case of William B. Thornburgh vs. Savage Mining Company involved a dispute over the infringement of boundaries, and fortunately the collection contains the opening and closing statements as well as lengthy depositions.

Series I continues with executive records of individual mining companies, stockbroker firms, Keating's Hillside Water Company, and the corporation bearing his name. The most common records are stock ledgers, order books, and other accounts which record the transfer of shares. Information usually given includes names of buyers and sellers, names of the stock, certificate identification, and price. Ledgers of the stockbroker firms record "Interest a/c" and "Commission account." Bowers Company's share accounts and Gould & Curry Mining Company's assessment books note the premiums stockholders had to pay the company.

For most of the companies listed individually in Series I, there are fragmentary records from the board of director's or superintendent's offices. There is more extensive documentation for the Hale & Norcross and Savage companies. For 1866 and 1869-75, there are three letterpress copybooks with correspondence from the superintendents of the Hale & Norcross to Joel Lightner, secretary of the board of directors. Occasionally, as when Fair and Philip Deidesheimer were superintendents, there are letters to various suppliers, but most are official reports on wages, bank drafts, ore assays, and the progress of tunnels and drifts. Usually the letters are brief, but sometimes affairs required further explanation, such as Charles C. Thomas's letter in May 1866, which justified to the board the superintendent's unofficial communications with San Francisco.

The Savage records in Series I, Executive Records, are largely from the superintendent's office. Six letterpress copybooks, like those of Hale & Norcross, contain copies of the superintendent's reports to the executives in San Francisco. In both cases this material parallels the correspondence in the General Records, since those were letters to the superintendents and these are the letters by them. Finally, this section includes a series of annual reports written by the superintendents and presenting an overview of the mining operations for the previous year (Box 10 folders 191-199). For 1866 there is only the statistical information on expenses, ore production, and material consumed, which is replicated in the printed annual reports. (The Beinecke owns separately cataloged copies of the Savage Mining Company's printed annual reports.) Later reports, addressed to the president, are narrative accounts of the year's operations on each level of the mine. These reports are another version of the annual reports of operations found in Series II (see Box 12, folders 240-53).

Series II, Operation Records , contains reports on work in the mines, employment, production, material consumed, and financial transactions. The series is arranged by company, and within each company yearly reports precede monthly and daily reports, and general accounts precede specific ones. Mining companies and mills are represented here; however, those mill reports addressed to a mining company have been listed under that company. Most operation reports are written by the superintendent's office for in-house use. The records are fragmentary for most of the companies listed, but those for the Savage, Hale & Norcross, and the Chollar-Norcross-Savage Shaft are fuller and cover a range of years.

The Chollar-Norcross-Savage Shaft Company (also known as the Combination Shaft) was founded in 1875 as a joint effort to mine lodes in the vicinity of the four collaborators. It is difficult to determine who sent the reports and who received them, but the fact that Savage is the most fully documented company in the collection, suggests that these reports were sent to the Savage offices by the shaft's offices. The weekly operations reports for the Chollar-Norcross-Savage shaft (Box 83-84, folders 1403-09) cover the period 1880-86, and although no year is complete, there are records for most months of each year. Each report gives "Aggregate Number of Days Worked" by various miners, carmen, foremen, carpenters, and other workers. The weekly reports also record the consumption of timber, wood, candles, steel, iron, powder, fuse, and other material. Most Chollar-Norcross-Savage shaft reports include a brief comment on the progress of the shaft and drifts: whether the pumps were running, new timbers put in place, or more of the hydraulic system installed.

Series II, Operation Records, contains general reports and mill production reports for the Hale & Norcross. There is only one yearly operation report, which gives a chronological account of work on the 1450 level. There are gaps in the weekly reports (Box 12, folders 223-24) and although they vary in format, most focus on employment, material, and descriptions of progress. The report for February 1883 (see Box 12, folder 223) is from the Hale & Norcross superintendent to the Savage superintendent, indicating close ties in the management of these two mines. Moreover, Hale & Norcross weekly reports for 1891-93 were enclosed with the Savage weekly reports that were sent to the Savage superintendent (see Box 14-15, folders 280-83, 290).

The Hale & Norcross daily operations reports in Series II cover the entire period for 1873-86. Two kinds of reports are found: three volumes entitled "Daily Record of Operations" (Box 12, folders 225-27) and four volumes of daily shift boss reports (Box 12, folders 228-31). The "Daily Record" is a day-by-day account of the working of the mine: men employed, waste cars hoisted, material used, pump workings. The first volume (1873-83) focuses on men, rock hoisted, candles, wood, timber, and pumping. After 1883 the reports give more detail on salaries and supplies, such as when material arrived, were it was used, and what its value was. The daily shift boss reports describe the work completed during the 7 a.m., 1 p.m., and 11 p.m. shifts, and note the material and men taken into the mine. Although reported by the shift boss (whose name appears at the end of each entry), this information seems to have been recorded in the volumes by an office clerk. Several men who acted as Hale & Norcross shift bosses in the 1880s are listed as working the same position for Savage at the same time (compare Hale & Norcross's records to Savage's in Box 18, folders 332).

The final operation reports for Hale & Norcross are letters from the mill foremen to the mine superintendent (Box 12, folders 233-39). Although they vary in format and time period covered, they report quantity of ore received, on hand, milled, and shipped out. Once again, many of the Hale & Norcross reports are filed with the Savage material (Box 20-24a, folders 351-58f).

The Savage reports in Series II, Operation Records, are divided into two categories: "Savage Mine" and "Mill and Sutro Tunnel Company Reports." Those under "Savage Mine" are similar to the Hale & Norcross records but more comprehensive. The yearly reports of operations (Box 12, folders 240-53) cover the period 1887-96 and seem to be background notes for the superintendents annual reports. Most of the dates for this material were established by the archivist from comparison with the annual reports; further work might result in dates for the three folders of undated reports. The reports note the actual work performed in the mines, such as stations erected, timbers repaired, winzes dug, and drifts extended. Each report is composed of a series of notes, chronologically arranged, on a specific level of the mine. Often the narratives are accompanied by maps with old sections of the mine drawn in black ink and additions drawn in red.

Savage monthly reports record production and expenses from 1866-69 (Box 13, folders 254-258). For each month there is a "Statement of Assets & Liabilities" noting the monetary value of the ore and the cost of milling; a list of "Materials on hand as per Store House Book" noting quantity and value of goods (see also Box 63, folders 1064-76); a "Statement of the Operations of the Savage Mine" noting mining costs and ore extracted; statements for "Savage Mill" and "Atchison Mill" noting quantity and value of goods as well as an account of milling costs and produce; and finally a "General Acct. of the Operations of Savage Mine," which summarizes all the previous information. The appearance of the Savage and Atchison mills in the monthly operation reports suggests that these mills were built and operated by the Savage Mining Company. The "weekly reports of ore production and expenses" (Boxes 92-93, folders 1463-69) record the same information in a similar format. The weekly reports stand as the earlier versions of the monthly reports, although they cover a slightly different time period, 1865, 1869-70.

Series II contains a second series of weekly reports for the Savage Mine (Boxes 13-17, folders 259-319), which record salaries for 1866-76, the amount of ore extracted, and some mine construction costs. They are similar to the monthly reports and the first set of weekly reports. However, weekly reports of operations from 1887-95 are narrative descriptions of mining, not statistical, noting which levels are being worked and how far the drifts have been extended. These Savage weekly reports of operations include those of the Hale & Norcross for 1891-93 and of Scorpion mines for 1891-94. Handwritten on scraps of paper and often difficult to read, these reports were submitted to the superintendent. Spanning nine years with few gaps, the weekly reports of operations are an excellent source on mining in the 1880s and 1890s.

Savage's daily reports of operations and shift boss reports are similar in content to its weekly reports. The daily reports (Box 18, folders 327-30) are printed forms noting the number of men working each shift and their occupation. The report often includes a brief description of the work. The shift boss reports (Box 18, folders 331-332), like those for Hale & Norcross, record men, equipment, and progress for each shift.

Following the yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily operation reports are a few specific reports; forms which report only one matter at a time--materials, employment, or pump activity. Finally, at the end of the "Savage Mine" section are daybooks and daycards which record information before it was translated into the operation reports.

"Mill and Sutro Tunnel Company Reports" for the Savage Mining Company occupy Boxes 24a-25 of Series II. Like those of Hale & Norcross, these reports from the mills and Sutro Tunnel Company are addressed to the superintendent of the mine. They refer to the amount and quality of ore shipped to and/or from the mine.

Series III, Ore and Bullion Records , is organized alphabetically by company name, and the records for each company follow the arrangement ore books, bullion assays, ore assays, statements for the Sutro Tunnel company, and miscellaneous. Once again, substantial records exist for the Hale & Norcross and Savage, but little for the other companies.

The Hale & Norcross ore books (Box 26, folders 393-95) cover the period 1866-74; for 1889-90 the information has been recorded in the Savage ore books (Box 27, folder 439). Ore books record the evaluation of the gold and silver extracted from the mine. Information is arranged by mill, and for each mill there are two sets of listings presented chronologically. The left page gives the number of tickets, weight of the ore, the monetary assay value per ton of gold and silver, the total assay value, and 65 per cent of the assay value (per ton and total). On the right page is listed the bullion returned (bar numbers and amount), the monetary value of gold and silver per bar, total value of each bar, and a grand total. Accounting based on this information shows what is due the mill. At the back of the ore books, a monthly summary gives a mill-by-mill account of "Excess over 65 per cent," "Reclamation," and "Recapitulation from date to date". More detailed information on the mill charges for processing ore can be found in the bullion accounts (Box 26, folders 396-97). Ore assay reports are the first evaluations done on the ore. Hale & Norcross's assays are identical to Savage's but only cover the 1880s (see Box 26, folders 399-422); in fact some of the Savage ore assay reports in 1888 list Hale & Norcross readings. Finally, the ore records for Hale & Norcross include a few monthly statements for the Sutro Tunnel Company for 1884-89. These statements, made by the mines to the tunnel company, suggest that the mining companies contributed to the tunnel based on ore extracted from their own mines. The statements note the tons of ore reduced and at which mill, the bullion yielded and its value, and the dollar figure due the Sutro Tunnel Company; however, the forms are not always completed.

Series III, Ore and Bullion Records, contains evaluations of the Savage mine from extraction through processing to shipment. Taken all together the records are concentrated in the 1860s and 1880s-90s. The Savage ore books (Box 27, folders 434-439), arranged by mill with indexes, bring together data on the cost of production. Information usually noted includes: date of delivery, amount of ore sent, amount of bullion produced, assay values both in terms of fineness and dollars, name of assayer, a certificate number, which links the data to the Memoranda of Bullion (see Box 27-28, folders 440-77), date shipped out and to whom (president in San Francisco), charges (assay, freighting, milling), and the net value of the bullion. There are also summaries at the back of the first two volumes, 1863-65, which report the amount and value of ore produced over time; some summaries emphasized the amount produced for specific periods, others the amount based on the mill.

The Savage's memoranda of bullion (Box 27-28, folders 440-77) are arranged by the names of the assayers and chronologically. The memoranda, which span the period 1863-1873, report the value of the bullion produced and the cost of assaying. Although the forms vary, most note the bar number (which links them to the ore books), weight (sometimes before and after melting), fineness of gold and silver, a number and dollar value, assay charges, and from which mill the bullion came.

The Savage ore assay reports (Box 28-41) were produced daily to monitor the value of the area being mined. They constitute one of the largest series of records in the collection. Although the material dates from 1863 through 1895 and 1914, there are significant gaps, for example, 1871-77. For most of its life, Savage used the Chollar-Potosi Assay Office. Their daily report identified about twenty samples from the mine, stating assay value in dollars for each sample of gold and silver. Starting in 1886, the daily reports are accompanied by forms listing the monetary value of ore labeled "Battery," "Settler," or "Tailings." Following this large series of assay reports are sets of sample assays from cars and mills (Box 41, folders 630-37).

The Savage records in Series III include statements made for the Sutro Tunnel Company, 1880-87, and later the Comstock Tunnel Company, 1891-96 (Box 41, folder 639; Box 86, folder 1419). The collection contains twelve monthly reports for 1892, but for the other years there are only two or three. The statements for the 1880s are identical to those for Hale & Norcross, but the statements in the 1890s are more detailed, providing a good summary of ore-bullion production. They note the weight of ore extracted, shipped, and processed, which mills processed the ore, the weight and value of the bullion, value of bullion sales, and finally the money due the Sutro (later Comstock) Tunnel Company.

Ore-bullion shipment reports for the Savage in Series III document the amount and value of ore shipped to the mills and of the bullion shipped from the mills to San Francisco. The data also includes "Finances at office in San Francisco" which compares the value of bullion to office expenses.

Series IV, Financial Records , is arranged by company; within each company material follows the pattern: ledgers, cashbooks, daybooks, accounts, statements of disbursements, bank records, and receipts. A description of the Savage records will serve as a guide to the others. Special note should be made of the companies not directly involved in mining. There is some data on the finances of the Hillside Water Company, founded by Keating and friends, and further information on the company's accounts can be found in Series I correspondence (see Box 15 for the years 1888-94). M. [Monahan] and Company's (The assumption of the name "Monahan" for "M" is based on the childish scribbling "Katie Monahan" on page 11 of the cashbook and the listing "M. J. Monahan & Company" in a contemporary business directory) ledger and cashbook may be the records of a Virginia City merchant. There is no information in the Pless D. & R. Company bank book to suggest the nature of that business. The material from the M & H Company and R. P. Keating & Company, however, indicates they were involved in the stock market. Financial records involving Savage and another company have been filed under Savage when it is difficult to determine whose copy is in the collection. The same is true for records involving Hale & Norcross.

The Savage records in Series IV have been arranged into three sections: General Records, Superintendent's Records, and Bank Records. General Records house the ledgers, official summaries of the company's financial position, cashbooks, and daily accounts of financial transactions which will be recorded in the ledgers. Ledgers (Box 44, folders 736-41) have indexes by individual and corporate names as well as services or types of accounts. Entries are by function, such as "Assaying Ore," "Office expenses," "Surveying and Drafting," or "President's expense account." For each entry there are two pages with "dr" (debit) on the left, "cr" (credit) on the right, and a chronological listing of transactions underneath. Cashbooks (Box 44, folders 742-53) follow a strict chronological arrangement with entries noting the nature and amount of the bill and in which ledger the bill was later recorded. Once again there are two page spreads, but the "cr" and "dr" are reversed. At the back of the Savage cashbooks is a section entitled "Memorandum," a chronological listing of the monetary value of the bullion from various mills (the money is listed as being in San Francisco office) and "Drafts on [president]," money drawn on the president's account. Following the cashbooks is a daybook, which seems to be a rough draft of a cashbook.

The General Records section ends with a series of receipts for the Savage Mining Company which cover the period 1860-1906 (Boxes 44-57). "Receipts" includes all bills (whether presented by the supplier or Savage's own inhouse copy) recording a transfer of goods or services between Savage and another party. Although the names of the two parties are usually noted, the cost and/or subject of the transaction is not always clear. For some merchants there are monthly reckonings of what Savage purchased. They give an overview of the food, dry goods, and hardware that Savage consumed. The receipts help document Savage's cooperative ventures with other mining companies. In 1896-98, for instance, there are receipts showing Savage's involvement in the Brunswick Exploration Company (see also Box 42, folder 666).

The accounts (Box 58, folders 947-53) in Superintendent's Records are monthly reports that summarize the financial transactions of the office. They note the balances in the timber and lumber, freight, wood, and president's accounts. Drafts on the president and check stubs from an account in the president's name record money paid. The receipt books (Box 59, folders 959-60) document payment made by the Savage superintendent to mills, office personnel, and ore services.

Bank Records contain account books, interest records, checks, and check stubs for Savage bank accounts with B. F. Hastings & Company, Bank of California (Virginia City), Nevada Bank of San Francisco (Virginia City), Paxton & Thornburgh (William Thornburgh, who was involved in the Thornburgh vs. Savage case [see Boxes 7-9], may have been a member of this company), and Wells Fargo & Company.

Series V, Inventory Records , is arranged by company and within each company annual reports precede monthly, weekly, daily records, and general reports precede specific. Only Hale & Norcross and Savage are well documented in this series, and many of the Hale & Norcross records have been filed with the Savage material. The invoice and inventory book (Box 63, folder 1054) contains a variety of records pertaining to Hale & Norcross. There is a listing by company of goods received, a set of annual property inventories for 1875-77, and listings of supplies for special projects.

The inventory records for Savage Mining Company are divided into Savage Assay Office and Savage Mine. For the assay office, there are monthly inventories noting the quantity and value of office supplies. These reports, by the assayers, D. W. Balih (1871-72) and C. Wiegand (1873-72), are addressed to the superintendent. The property of the Savage mine is documented by annual and monthly inventories; the annual reports list property building by building and the monthly ones note supplies for both Savage and Hale & Norcross. The Savage company maintained a store house carrying everything from timber and lumber to candles, sledges, rope, borax, tar, and hardware. The store house ledgers (Box 63, folders 1064-76) record what supplies are on hand and received during the month. The ledgers also indicate how much (physical and monetary values) of a supply is consumed in extracting ore, prospecting, or improvements. This information is culled from the daily reports (Boxes 63-65, folders 1077-1111). There are specialized inventories for lumber, timber, and wood (lumber, timber, and wood are not synonymous terms in mining records), but they are fragmentary.

Series VI, Pay Roll Records , is arranged by company, and within each company material follows the pattern: ledgers, daybooks (time books), and pay receipts. Since the records are similar, a description of the Savage records will suffice. A Santiago Mill time book is part of a Savage time book and may indicate ownership of the mill by the Savage company (see Box 71, folder 1199). The final official payroll record were the ledgers (Box 70, folders 1178-1182), which cover the period 1861-93 with only a few gaps. Although the format changed over the years, these books usually contain monthly lists arranged by name, noting number of days worked, rate of pay, amount due and paid, and occupation. Positions listed include: pick boy, carman, drifter, wheeler, lamp boy, ore sorter, carpenter, miner, engineer, blacksmith, jackmaker, brakeman, watchman, laborer, boiler man, sampler, foreman, plasterer, oiler, stone mason, giraffeman, driller, caulker, and timekeeper. Comments (such as "Killed by accident, Augt. 11th," "Discharged,") or mentions of assignments and attachments or poll tax payments are often included. The time books (Box 70-75, folders 1183-44) were the daily accounting of employment and usually only note what days a man worked, position, and pay rate. The pay receipts (Boxes 75-79, folders 1246-1343) are signed by employees and document the payment of salaries.

Series VII, Tax Records , arranged by company, consists of county tax statements. These annual reports, recorded on printed forms, have room to note furniture, goods, animals, capital, debts, bullion and gold dust, and real estate, but usually only the real estate holdings are marked. Sometimes only the value is noted, not the tax. For the Savage company there are poll tax records for 1865 indicating that four dollars a year was withheld from each employee's pay check for state taxes.

Series VIII, Mining Company Forms , contains blank forms arranged parallel to the collection.

Series IX, Tailings , is comprised of miscellaneous non-corporate material. There are publications relating to the Democratic party of Nevada, a few contemporary newspaper clippings concerning the Comstock, personal papers of R. P. Keating, and a Storey County tax list of 1889. A book on accounting practices (Box 81, folder 1391) may be useful in deciphering the financial records of the mining companies.

The artifacts in Series X were taken from the old Savage office building in Virginia City.

Oversize (Boxes 82-94), consists of material from Series I-IX in a parallel arrangement.

The Restricted Fragile Papers in Boxes 95-104 consist of originals for which preservation photocopies have been made. The items in boxes 105-13 were microfilmed and replaced by copyflow within the collection. A negative microfilm exists, as well as a positive, but the positive film is missing some frames. The microfilm call number is "MS Vault / Microfilms / 674."


  • 1858-1959


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research. Boxes 95-113: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Savage Mining Company and Associated Records is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Savage Mining Company and Associated Records were purchased in 1960, except for the Combination Shaft time book (see Box 67, folder 1133), which was donated by Grahame Kardy in 1965.


62 Linear Feet ((266 boxes) + Art Storage)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The records document the mining of the Comstock Lode, focusing on the operations of the mines, but including information of the San Francisco stock market and court cases involving the mines in both Nevada and California. The collection consists of the corporate records of the Savage Mining Company, the Hale & Norcross Mining Company, and other Comstock companies.


In 1859, James Finny discovered a large silver deposit at the conjunction of Six Mile Canyon and Gold Canyon, in what would become Storey County, Nevada. The Comstock Lode, as the strike was named, became the site of a major silver rush and by the fall of 1860 three cities, Virginia City, Silver City, and Gold Hill were founded with a combined population of over 3400. During the next few years, the original claims changed hands and individual ownership was replaced by corporations owned by California investors.

During the 1860s shafts were dug, hoisting works and mills constructed, and numerous law suits settled questions of ownership. The 1870s were the boom period; John Mackay, James Flood, James Fair, and William O'Brien, known as the Bonanza Firm, gained control of the Hale & Norcross and adjacent mines and built fortunes on big strikes in 1872 and 1874. During the 1870s Adolph Sutro realized his dream to build a drainage and ventilation tunnel under the Comstock mines. By the end of the decade, however, ore production decreased and flooding continued to threaten the lower tunnels. Although mining continued through the 1880s, many mines closed up and pumping costs outstripped revenue. Toward the end of the century and into the twentieth, those mines that remained open had to cooperate with their neighbors to survive.

The management of the Savage Mining Company was typical of the Comstock Lode. Formally incorporated as the Savage Mining Company in 1862, the company was sometimes referred to as the Savage Silver Mining Company, and in 1904 it was reorganized as the Savage Gold and Silver Mining Company. Many of the Comstock mining companies in the nineteenth century are formally entitled "---- Gold and Silver Mining Company," but often "Gold and Silver" was omitted. In this finding aid the names have been shortened for convenience.) The company was founded in California with five trustees and four officers: president, secretary, treasurer, and superintendent. The board of directors ran the business from the company's offices on the Nevada Block, San Francisco. The superintendent, who was stationed in Virginia City, oversaw the daily management of the mine. The two levels of administration kept up a constant correspondence, in early years between the superintendent and president, but later through the secretary. Since the names of these men appear throughout the collection, a chronological list of officers for the Savage and Hale & Norcross can be found in Appendix II.

A detailed history of the Savage Mining Company is difficult to compile: the board of directors minutes for May 21, 1906 (see Box 10, folder 187) note the destruction of all corporate records prior to that date "by general conflagration on the 19th 20th & 21st days of April 1906 [the Great San Francisco Earthquake]." A few facts are nevertheless clear. Situated between Gold Hill and Virginia City, the Savage mine was bounded on the north by the Gould & Curry mine and on the south by the Hale & Norcross mine. The physical proximity of Savage and Hale & Norcross led to a common history, and although they maintained separate corporate identities, they experienced the same problems and successes. Both were supervised by James G. Fair in the 1870s and R. P. Keating in the 1880s. The companies exchanged material and personnel and in 1875 cooperated with the Potosi and Chollar mining companies to sink the Chollar-Norcross-Savage Shaft. In the 1890s when the Brunswick Lode was discovered, the Savage and Hale & Norcross joined forces with Gould & Curry, Best & Belcher, Consolidated California & Virginia, Chollar, and Potosi to dig the shaft.

The records prove that the Savage Mining Company existed into the 1930s, but mostly by levying assessments on their stock. The Hale & Norcross seems to have disappeared sometime before 1904, since they are not listed in projects to pump out and repair the mines. When and if the Savage Mining Company was dissolved is not clear. This collection was removed from the old Savage office building in Virginia City sometime around 1959 when the building was demolished.

Appendix I: Outline of Collection by Company


---- Series IV. Box 42


---- Series II. Box 13

---- Series IV. Box 42

---- Series V. Box 63


---- Series I. Box 10

---- Series IV. Box 42


---- Series IV. Box 42


---- Series I. Box 10


---- Series I. Box 10

---- Series III. Box 26

---- Series IV. Box 42


---- Series II. Box 12


---- Series II. Oversize, Boxes 83-84

---- Series IV. Boxes 42-43

---- Series V. Boxes 63, 66

---- Series VI. Box 67


---- Sutro Tunnel Company


---- Series III. Box 26

---- Series IV. Box 43


---- Series II. Box 12

---- Series VI. Box 67


---- Series IV. Box 43


---- Series VII. Oversize, Box 90


---- Series II. Box 12


---- Series I. Box 10


---- Series I. Box 10

---- Series IV. Box 43


---- Series I. Box 10


---- Series I. Box 10

---- Series IV. Box 43

---- Series V. Box 63


---- Series I. Box 10

---- Series II. Box 12, Boxes 14-15, 20-25

---- Series III. Boxes 26-27

---- Series IV. Box 43

---- Series V. Box 63

---- Series VI. Boxes 68-70

---- Series VII. Oversize, Box 90


---- Series I. Box 10


---- Series I. Box 10

---- Series IV. Box 43


---- Series IV. Box 43


---- Series II. Boxes 16-17

---- Series III. Box 27

---- Series IV. Box 43

---- Series VII. Oversize, Box 90


---- Series IV. Box 44

---- Series VI. Oversize, Box 89


---- Series IV. Box 44


---- Series IV. Box 44


---- Series IV. Box 44


---- Series II. Box 12


---- Series II. Box 25


---- Series IV. Box 44

R.P.K. [R. P. KEATING] & CO.

---- Series I. Box 10

---- Series IV. Box 44


---- Series II. Box 25


---- Series I. Box 10


---- Series II. Box 25

---- Series IV. Oversize, Box 89


---- Series II. Box 25


---- Series I. Boxes 10-11

---- Series II. Boxes 12-25

---- Series III. Boxes 27-41

---- Series IV. Boxes 44-61

---- Series V. Boxes 63-66

---- Series VI. Boxes 70-79, 89

---- Series VII. Oversize, Box 90


---- Series II. Boxes 14, 16

---- Series III. Box 41

---- Series IV. Box 61

---- Series V. Box 66

---- Series VI. Box 79

---- Series VII. Oversize, Box 90


---- Series IV. Box 61


---- Series III. Box 41

---- Series IV. Box 61


---- Series I. Box 11


---- Series VII. Oversize, Box 90


---- Series II. Box 24a

---- Series III. Box 27, 41


---- Series I. Box 11


---- Series IV. Box 61


---- Series IV. Box 61


---- Series I. Box 11


---- Series IV. Box 79

Appendix II: Presidents, Secretaries, and Superintendents

Listed below are the presidents, secretaries, and superintendents for the Savage Mining Company and Hale & Norcross Mining Company based on information from the collection, printed annual reports, and contemporary district directories.


Lent, William. M.1862-64

McAney, Gen. [G.] B.1863 Jun

Bull, Alpheus1867-68

Morgenthau, M.1870 Jul-

Fair, James G.1870-71, 1875

Pritchard, James A.1873-75 Aug

Wallace, George1875 Aug

Wells, George R. 1893, 1896


Holmes, E. B.1865, 1868-69 1875-77, 1880-83, 1889, 1894-96

Thorpe, Guy1878

Thompson, A. B.1884-87

Twiggs, John W.1902-04


Morrow, Robert F.1862-1864 Jun

Day, H. H.1864 Jun-Sep

Curtis, Samuel T.1864 Sep-65, 1876 Aug-1877

Bonner, Charles1866-70, 1879

Shamp, T. B.1869 Feb-1871

McClelland, T. J.1870 Jul-Nov

Fair, James G.[1870]-71

Hamilton, Alonzo C.1872-75 Aug

Osbiston, Frank F.1875 Aug-1876 Aug

Gillett, Milton G.1877-79

Kelley, John R. 1880

Buckminster, P. S.1880-81

Keating, R. P.1881-95

Gorham, Harry M.1896-1903

McDonell, A. J.pre-1907

Turney, W. W.1907


Mann, George S.1866-69

Flood, J. C.1870-74

Congdon, George1874


Lightner, Joel F.1866-74, 1882, 1888

Thompson, A. B.1883, 1885, 1887, 1889


Thomas, Charles C.1866-69

Fair, James G.1869-70, 1873

Lyman, Dean B.1872, 1882-83

Keating, Robert P.1873-75, 1883-85, 1887-89

Deidesheimer, Philipp1878-79

Guide to the Savage Mining Company and Associated Records
by Susie R. Bock
June 1989
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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