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North Star Mining Company and associated records

Call Number: WA MSS S-1322

Scope and Contents

The North Star Mining Company and Associated Records document quartz mining in Nevada County, California. The collection spans the dates 1853 to 1963, but the bulk of the material falls in the period 1860 to 1900. These are primarily the records of the North Star Mining Company, which by 1900 had absorbed most of the other companies represented in this collection. A few mining records document activity outside of Grass Valley and may have belonged to James D. Hague, one of the largest investors in Grass Valley. Printed material from the 1960s seems to have been the property of twentieth century mine officers.

The collection is arranged in twelve series. The first ten representing individual companies; Series XI contains smaller record groups documenting mining in Grass Valley and other California counties, while Series XII consists of printed material about Grass Valley and mining.

Series I-X are alphabetically arranged by company name, and each is divided by record type. Executive Records documents the incorporation and management of a company, such as minutes of directors' meetings, correspondence between the directors and mine superintendent, and stock documents. Operation Records contains reports on the overall management of the mine while Ore and Bullion Records, Financial Records, Pay Roll Records, and Inventory Records, consist of reports on a specific area of operations. Other Material contains photographs and material related to the company. A detailed schedule of document types and their arrangement appears in Appendix I.

Series I. Empire Mines and Investment Company : Sometime prior to 1902 this company was known as Original Empire Mill and Mining Company, in 1929 it merged with the North Star mines to become the Empire Star Mines Company Ltd. The bulk of the papers (Box 1) document Empire's purchase of land and mineral rights in and around Grass Valley over the period 1900-20. President William B. Bourn often acted as an intermediary in these real estate transactions. There are two contemporary photographic postcards of workers in the Empire mine.

Series II. Empire Star Mines Company Ltd. : This company was formed by the merger of the Empire Mines and Investment Company and the North Star Company. There is very little material on this company, except for contracts from 1929-30 regulating the operation of the mine and court documents from the 1930s (Box 3, folders 62-63 and 64-65). The Gladys-Belle Mine report (folder 66) contains a concise history of the area as well as a 1913 map of the Grass Valley mining district which shows many of the mines represented in this collection.

Series III. Gold Hill Mining Company : Incorporated in 1877, Gold Hill was taken over by North Star in 1903. Executive Records (Boxes 3-9) are extensive and span the entire period of the company's existence. The by-laws describe the corporate structure, while the minutes note the founders, officers, and directors of Gold Hill. The minutes record decisions on contracts, machinery, finances, and mine operations, and include copies of important documents.

Correspondence consists of letters received by and sent from Gold Hill's San Francisco office and letters received by and sent from by its Grass Valley office covering the period 1890-1902. The letters to the corporate office in San Francisco (Boxes 4-7) are from stockholders and various other parties, but mostly from mine superintendents to the president or secretary. [For a list of Gold Hill's corporate officers, see Appendix 1.] The stockholders letters of 1890 concern assessments, while the superintendent's letters discuss construction of buildings, laying railroad tracks, timbering the mine, flooding in the mine, and the hiring of J. H. Hammond, a consulting engineer. Many letters refer to drafts drawn and record keeping; they indicate a constant stream of reports from Gold Hill's Grass Valley office to the corporate headquarters. Machinery and supplies are also addressed throughout the 1890s. In 1891 management discusses business with Risdon Iron & Locomotive Works and the Grass Valley Water Company. Letters in 1892-93 note financial transactions and imply Gold Hill is inactive. The correspondence of 1896 shows a burst of activity, with the construction of a power plant, purchase of machinery from Stanley Electric Manufacturing, and establishment of a branch line from the Nevada County Electric Power Company. Two years later letters mention the increase of capital stock, high costs of supplies, "bad ore," and wranglings with North Star over boundaries. The letters from Grass Valley are frequently accompanied in the files by a copy of the secretary's or president's replies.

Letters sent from the San Francisco office (Boxes 6-8, folders 87-163), the bulk of which are filed with letters received in San Francisco, are mostly from the president to the superintendent. Letters for the last years, 1900-03, focus on the mine's progress and eventual attempts to sell it.

The final two groups of letters are the correspondence of the Grass Valley office (Boxes 8-9, folders 164-92). Letters received at Grass Valley are usually from the president to the superintendent. Frequently these are duplicates of letters found in the San Francisco files (Box 6-8, folders 87-163), but the Grass Valley office files is a more complete record. In 1899-1900 the letters focus on the construction of an electric hoist, machinery, supplies, and mining employees and tributers. [Tribute, or contract work, as used in Grass Valley and defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is "The proportion of ore raised or its value paid to miners by owners in exchange for labour." During the first decades of mining in Grass Valley, tributary relationships were common in Grass Valley. Tributers worked side by side with company employees. Over time they were phased out, though never completely eliminated.] A discussion of the Minna Mine controlled by Sherwood Hopkins of the Gambetta Mining and Milling Company (Grub Gulch, Madera County), ranges over this period and into 1902. Mine development is a constant topic, and the president often suggests the superintendent consult Mr. Foote of North Star. Letters sent from Grass Valley office are generally copies of letters found in the San Francisco files (Boxes 4-7), but this set contains material for 1894, the one gap in the San Francisco set.

Information on the Gold Hill's capital and investors spans the life of the company (see Box 9, folders 201-10). The stock ledger, organized by stockholder, records when certificates were canceled or issued; similar information is listed chronologically in the transfer journal. Assessments, (how much, when, and who paid) are noted in a separate ledger.

Gold Hill's Operation Records only cover the latter period of company's history, however the weekly reports for 1896-1902 are nearly complete (see Boxes 10-11, folders 213-44; parts of 1899 and 1902 missing). These reports note shafts being worked, amount of ore and waste hoisted, number of feet progressed, and number of men employed. This data is broken down into further detail, such as ore from stopes or drifts and men on contracts or employed by the company. Information on assays, production of sulphurets, and bullion is recorded in monthly reports for 1896-97 (Box 10, folders 211-12). A book of amalgam accounts (folder 275) reports the processing of ore and the quantity of amalgam retrieved.

Financial Records (Boxes 12-20) for Gold Hill Mining Company are substantial. Ledgers and cash books exist for 1877-1903. Ledgers contain separate accounts of assessments, bullion, building improvements, electric power, repairs, and many other services and supplies. Cash books record similar information but are organized chronologically instead of by account. A column in the cash book records the ledger page on which the data is noted or the number of the draft used to pay the bill. Monthly statements (folders 282-87), like the ledgers, list expenses and earnings by categories. Trial balances are also linked to the ledgers; each expense includes a ledger page citation. Tribute statements list quantity of ore each tributer mined, value of the gold, and cost of the services and supplies provided by the Gold Hill company.

Superintendent's statements and drafts (Boxes 12-19A) are a monthly package of reports the Gold Hill superintendent prepared from monthly bills and reports. From 1897 to 1902 most packages consist of: receipts; mine and mill storehouse reports (noting the amount of supplies used and on hand and their value); pay roll records (noting name, occupation, pay rate, amounts paid); and starting in 1898, statements of expenses (data similar to monthly statements).

Most of the material which would be filed in Gold Hill's Pay Roll Records and Inventory Records is in the superintendent's statements and drafts (Boxes 12-19A). There are two separate inventory ledgers dating from 1897-1900 noting quantity and usage for supplies and wood.

Series IV. Granite Hill Mining & Development Co. : The Granite Hill Company began operating in 1893, and although most records date from the 1890s, they are fragmentary. Several agreements and court actions concern Martin Ford, an early investor (Box 20). The journal of T. F. Phillips (Box 21, folder 490), dating from 1897-99, contains daily, though terse, descriptions of activity at the mine: "fixing pumps," "started Mitchell & Thomas in [underhand] stope," "all hands laid off for Xmas." The weather is noted in almost every entry and three columns ("W"[aste], "M[mill or mining ?], "Q[uartz]) record routine data. Daily amalgam records for 1897 and 1899, recorded in brief statements, are at the back of this journal.

Series V. Grass Valley Water Company : This company was started with financing from the Original Empire Mill and Mining Company in 1884, but was purchased by the North Star in 1898, who had been managing the company as early as 1894. The Grass Valley Water Company provided water power to the mines.

Executive Records (Boxes 21-22) documents the founding of the Grass Valley Water Company and its early financial troubles. The 1889 by-laws were drafted when the water company finally settled its financial affairs with the Empire Company. The original by-laws can be found in the volume of minutes (folder 500). Minutes also contain copies of agreements and the 1899 "Declaration and judgement for Dissolution." Folders for copies of minutes and material from meetings contain papers needed to vote for directors: stockholder lists, ballots, and tallies.

Although there is some information on the 1890s, the majority of Grass Valley Water Company's stock documents cover 1885-89 (Box 22, folders 525-33). A ledger, listing stocks by name of holder, and the transfer journal, noting the sale of shares, record the offer to Empire of company stock in return for a loan. Instead, James D. Hague bought the shares in 1889 making North Star part owner of the water company.

The daily water supply and log book is the major record in Operation Records (folder 534). Covering the period 1888-96, it contains narrative reports on the water pressure, condition of the reservoir, and supply to consumers. For instance, "main Reservoir going down assumption being North Star was using more than 250 [inches] water" indicates how precarious the relationship was between the Grass Valley Water Company and the mines. Separate reports of North Star's water consumption for 1894-97 are filed in Series VIII (Boxes 57-66, folders 1408-1502).

Financial Records (Boxes 22-23) for the Grass Valley Water Company are sparse and fragmentary. The ledger and journal end in 1889, although there are some annual statements for the 1890s. There is extensive information on financial arrangements between Grass Valley Water Company and the Empire. Accounts with Empire Company (folder 542), organized by expense, record what bills Empire paid on behalf of the water company. This is followed by an account of money North Star owed to the water company, yet paid to Empire in return for its loan.

Series VI. Massachusetts Hill Mining Company : Massachusetts Hill (Box 24) adopted by-laws in 1889, but there was probably an earlier incorporation or working association. The mine was absorbed by North Star in 1894. Massachusetts Hill mine was finally deemed unworthy of further work by Ernest Howe in 1929.

The founding and structure of the Massachusetts Hill Company is well documented by the certificate of incorporation and the by-laws. Other records are insufficient to document the operation of the mine.

Series VII. New York Hill Mining Company : The earliest document in this series is an 1871 certificate of incorporation. Most of the records continue until North Star bought the New York Hill in 1894. Within Executive Records (Boxes 24-25) is a full set of corporate minutes, beginning with a copy of the certificate of incorporation and the by-laws, including a copy of the deed transferring the mine from Alonzo Delano to the company (folder 599). The early minutes note the choice of bankers, the occurrence of assessments, and the embezzlement of funds in March 1879, by Secretary F. J. Hermann. An 1886 agreement between New York Hill and Grass Valley Water Company is copied into the minutes. Hague's investment in New York Hill is noted in the minutes in 1889 along with a revision of the by-laws. In 1894 North Star negotiated to buy the properties and assets of the company. The minutes are augmented by "copies of minutes and material from meetings" (folders 600-15). As in other series, these folders contain ballots from board votes, proxies, advertisements of the meeting, and copies of the minutes. Financial reports by the secretary for the period 1885-89 are also filed in these folders.

Little correspondence exists, the majority being letters received in New York Hill's San Francisco office (Box 24, folders 616-24) concerning assessments. Those sent from the San Francisco office (folder 625) are routine business communications usually noting the arrival of reports from the superintendent in Grass Valley. The last group of letters, written by the superintendent to the president (folders 626-27), are detailed, almost daily accounts of work in the New York mine from August 1885 to April 1886.

Information on the New York Hill Company stocks can be gleaned from several sources. There are a stock ledger and a transfer journal (Box 25, folders 632-33), both covering the period 1875-89; unfortunately, there is little information from the last five years of the company's life. For information on stocks in the 1890s, there are an assessment ledger and lists of stockholders. Although these documents were created for different reasons, they all supply data on who owned stocks, and their value.

Financial Records of New York Hill (Boxes 25-26, folders 648-70) contains a ledger, cash book, and journal for 1871-89, which all present similar information on company expenses. The ledger and journal are organized by account, while the cash book is chronological. Information on the company's financial affairs just prior to the Hague-North Star take over can be found in statements of receipts and disbursements for 1889-93 (folders 653-56), paid vouchers, and bank books. The statements, usually covering several months, are similar to the journal. Those for 1890-93 show New York Hill's President W. B. Bourn advancing money to the company.

Series VIII. North Star Mining Company : Although the North Star mine was established in 1851, the earliest records in this collection date from its incorporation in 1867. Over the years the company reincorporated several times, usually when new investors bought into North Star. In 1887 Hague became president and the largest stockholder of the North Star and used his position to invest in the surrounding mines. In 1929 North Star merged with the Empire and became Empire Star, which was then purchased in turn by the Newmont Company. Eventually North Star became part of the New Verde Mines, which sold the mines and equipment in 1958.

The records of the North Star Company are extensive and generally complete until 1900. Executive Records, which document decisions on development and finance, and Operation, Ore and Bullion, and Financial Records, which show how the decisions were enacted, provide a full history of the North Star Company.

Executive Records occupy Boxes 27-48. The minutes of the board meetings for 1867-87 (folder 673) contain copies of the certificate of incorporation, by-laws, list of original subscribers to capital stock, and the agreement by which North Star purchased quartz lodes and mining claims at Lafayette and Weimer Hills. Between 1880-84 the corporate officers of North Star did not meet. A new company, formed in 1884, eventually bought the assets of the existing company, but until 1887 two North Star corporations existed.

The new company's minutes (folder 674) include copies of many incorporation documents found in the earlier minutes. In 1887 North Star and the Grass Valley Water Company came to an agreement which led to a service contract. This same year a transfer agency was established in New York to facilitate trading on Wall Street. North Star's minutes often include copies of important agreements as well as lists of stockholders and their votes. The 1896 volume (folder 675) is similar to the preceding two volumes. The last volume, covering 1922-30, shows that the meetings are being held in Jersey City and later New York City. The volume ends with a series of printed and typed letters that document the merger North Star with the Empire Company.

"Copies of minutes and material from meetings" contains copies of the minutes, proxies, ballots, lists of stockholders, advertisements of meetings, financial statements, and important agreements. Material from 1897-1904 covers a period for which no official minutes exist.

North Star's correspondence (Boxes 28-43) has been organized by office and arranged chronologically. Letters from the New York office to the San Francisco office (Boxes 28-30, folders 715-43) were written by the president or assistant secretary to the secretary (for a list of North Star's corporate officers, see Appendix 1). Much of this correspondence documents the transfer of reports and information between North Star's offices. These letters can be useful in deciphering the company's bookkeeping practices. Although the president resided in New York, all major records were kept in San Francisco until 1898, when the New York office received reports directly from the Grass Valley office. In 1889 and 1895 Empire mine reports were enclosed in many North Star letters, suggesting that some tie existed between the two companies. The purchase of New York Hill and Massachusetts Hill in 1894 was probably contemplated as early as 1891, when the New York office asked for maps of those mines. Repeated mention of the Grass Valley Water Company in 1894 suggests that North Star was running the company several years before they formally merged. There is mention of a court case involving Scadden Flat in 1896, perhaps a title dispute. In 1897 North Star was involved with the Mount Pleasant Gold Mines Company. In fact, every major acquisition or deal in which North Star was involved between 1885-99 is mentioned in these letters (see also the later section Special Projects and Reports, Box 44).

Letters received at North Star's San Francisco office (Boxes 30-33, folders 744-90) are from the superintendent in Grass Valley to the president or secretary. They concern daily business, and usually report financial information or accompanying a report. From 1884-85 the lists of drafts, later kept separately, were filed with the North Star correspondence. Also included are letters from local suppliers and lawyers. Two frequent correspondents are Searls & Searls, lawyers on retainer in Nevada City, and McKay & Co, local grocers-dry goods merchants. Letters received in North Star in New York, after the corporate office was moved there, have been filed with letters received at San Francisco.

Although there are a few earlier letters, the daily communication between the Grass Valley and San Francisco offices begins in 1884. Superintendents report on machinery, such as the equipment received when North Star bought the works of the Scotia mine in 1884. Flooding in the mines in the winter and lack of water power in the summer were frequent topics. Letters in 1885-86 often touch on the tribute system, used in most Grass Valley mines. Emilie R. Abadie, superintendent 1886-94, was particularly worried about fires in the mines. Although he wrote long, detailed letters describing equipment and progress in the shafts, most of his letters consisted of a single line noting what drafts were drawn, bullion shipped, and sulphurets assayed and sold. In 1889 Abadie's letters mention labor problems, hinging on wage versus tribute reimbursement systems and racial tensions between management and miners. Although most of the superintendent's letters to the New York office focus on conditions at the mine, one gets a hint of North Star's corporate dealings. A series of 1894 letters by Hague to Jennings, in their capacity as corporate officers of the Magenta Company, suggests Magenta was one of the many properties acquired by North Star. There are scant references to Hague's interests in Cripple Creek, Colorado and the Anaconda mine in Butte, Montana (1895). In 1895-96 North Star was involved in legal battles over Irish American and Scadden Flat mines. In 1898 a printed letter from Frank A. Leach requests statistics for a publication by the United States Mint about metal production on the Pacific Coast.

Letters sent from San Francisco corporate headquarters (Box 33, folders 791-96) are from the president or secretary to the superintendent in Grass Valley. These are letterpress copybooks consisting of copies of letters in the earlier section "Received at Grass Valley" (folders 744-90).

Letters received by North Star's Grass Valley office (Box 33, folders 791-96) are to the superintendent from the president or secretary in San Francisco, from office staff, miners, and vendors. Many of the letters from the San Francisco office concern record keeping and what reports should be circulated. In the 1880s, renting or buying a mill and securing water power are major topics. A few letters in the late 1880s refer to the employees, some making derogatory comments about Cornish miners. There are hints of an association between North Star and Empire as the North Star president compares their expenses in September 1889 and asks Empire to cooperate on water expenses in 1892. During 1891-92 letters from the corporate officers and from attorney Fred Searls discuss James Kenney's law suit over a mining accident. In the following years legal problems arise over the Star Placer claim and the Irish American mine. The mid-1890s was a period of expansion for the company, and many claims and deeds are mentioned in the letters (see also the latter section Special Projects and Reports, Box 44). Power supply at North Star is discussed ever more frequently in the 1890s, becoming the overriding topic by 1894 as the company plans to build a new power plant. Electrical Engineering Company, Fulton Engineering and Ship Building Works, Pelton Water Wheel Company, Rix Company, and Risdon Iron & Locomotive Works correspond with the North Star superintendent regarding proposals, agreements, and installation of equipment. The collection also contains occasional letters from miners and engineers seeking work, and letters from present employees. Letters from miner's wives in 1895 and 1908 give some idea about living conditions and relationships between workers and the mine superintendents. Letters bidding for the North Star's sulphurets, usually from Pioneer Reduction Company, Puget Sound Reduction Company, or Shelby Smelting & Lead Company become common in the 1890s. From 1896 to 1904 there is a stream of letters from Fidelity and Casualty Company of New York, usually advising the company that North Star was not liable for various mine accidents. After 1904 North Star corresponds with other insurance companies. Letters of 1898 demonstrate that Arthur D. W. Foote is keeping the books for the Grass Valley Water Company, which North Star had absorbed. In the early 1900s, the majority of the letters are routine business communications from the office in San Francisco and vendors. In 1906-07 there are letters from the Grievance Committee of Grass Valley Miner's Union, No. 90 Western Federation of Miners ask for wage raises. Letters in 1907 hint at trouble between the North Star and Empire, and J. Ross Browne is called in to referee. A letter in 1909 from Mrs. Ballon offers to sell land to the company: "I was told you were buying up all the mines and mining ground you could get."

Letters sent from North Star's Grass Valley office (Box 43, folders 928-34) are from the superintendent to vendors and corporate offices. These are actually letterpress copybooks duplicating material found in the section "Received at San Francisco" (Boxes 30-33). Most are either routine business communications to the San Francisco corporate offices or about equipment to merchants. There are some financial reports which were enclosed in the letters. A 1894 letter seeks advice on hiring men "either on days' pay or Tribute." In 1895 almost every letter concerns contracts to build the power plant and hoisting works. A Grass Valley Water Company contract to supply Empire with water was copied with a February 1899 letter.

The Insurance section (Boxes 89-103) contains policies protecting North Star's hoist, offices, and quartz mill. These are organized by the year of signing. After 1895, the Stockbridge works and buildings are also insured. After 1895 the company takes out liability insurance against employee injury.

Accident Documents (Box 43, folders 936-45), dating mostly from the twentieth century, consists of paperwork involving the Department of Safety--Mining Division of the California Industrial Accident Commission. For information on North Star's reaction to mining accidents in the nineteenth century see letters concerning insurance in Boxes 36-40, folders 822-85.

The section Agreements, Claims, Deeds, (Boxes 43, folders 946-77) contains agreements, deeds, indentures, quit-claim deeds, land petitions, and many other documents transferring property and mineral rights to and from the North Star Company. There are also agreements or contracts governing labor relations and equipment. For 1896 there is a bound volume, arranged alphabetically, of tributer contracts.

Court Actions (Box 44, folders 978-83) contains papers from law suits involving the North Star Company.

Special projects and reports (Box 44, folders 984-1007), arranged chronologically by event, contains papers related to various mines, reports, or machinery. Many of these projects are also discussed in the North Star correspondence. A series of reports for October 1919 by "Operative #37" (folder 1007) concerns activity in the Central North Star shaft and at various miners' meetings. They give some information on unionization in Grass Valley.

Stock documents of North Star (Boxes 45-46) contain a variety of material related to stock ownership and value. The ledger, subscriptions, receipts of stock sold, transfer slips, assessment ledger, and various lists of stockholders record stockholders names, number of shares owned, and when stocks were transferred. Taken together they document the history of the ownership of the North Star from 1867-99, except for the years 1886-88. The assessment ledger notes when stockholders were asked to send additional money, but information on dividend payments can only be found in the financial accounts. The authorizations to buy mining properties (Box 46, folders 1033-34) note the need for capital in order to finance North Star's 1894 expansion. The letters to stockholders (folder 1035) also explain the company's needs, give a history of the mine, and describe the assets in 1897 and 1899.

Operation Records of North Star (Boxes 47-53) contain a series a weekly reports spanning 1884-1901 and monthly mining reports covering 1888-1901, each group recording different information. The weekly reports (folders 1043-69) track the quantities of ore extracted and processed, sulphurets obtained, as well as supplies used (wood, water, electricity) and men employed. This information is broken down to give details on ore costs in terms of supplies, men, and processing, and to trace the origin of the ore. The types of job (air driller, foremen, engineers, stokers) are also included. Most reports consist of a printed form with an attached handwritten narrative. North Star's monthly mining reports (folders 1070-1237) record the extension of the shafts and progress on the levels or drifts. This information is divided by company and contract/tribute work.

Other North Star operation reports are limited to a specific shaft or function, like tribute or mill work. Tribute statements for 1891-96 (folder 1240), arranged chronologically and then by tributer, record costs of milling and supplies (presumably services supplied to tributers by the company) and the number of cars of ore tributers extracted. The North Star mill reports (folder 1241) note supplies used and running-time of the mill, but only for 1898-1901. The Stockbridge shaft reports are a mixture of letters by the North Star assistant superintendent, pay roll lists, monthly narrative progress reports, supply lists, and other documents which together describe operations at the shaft. Finally, there is a twentieth-century map of the North Star properties and separate maps of the Champion and New York Hill mines (Boxes 53, folders 1246-47; Box 119, folder 2398).

Ore and Bullion Records, (Boxes 53-54) consist of the North Star Company's amalgam-bullion-sulphuret records and ore-and-waste records along with specific records for Massachusetts Hill and Champion. The amalgam-bullion-sulphuret records (folders 1248-64) report the value and quantity of bullion/sulphurets retrieved from ore (company and tributers) and processing charges. The second volume of each set holds summary statements. Biweekly amalgam-bullion-sulphuret records (folders 1265-70) were transferred into the above records and only lack the final bank values, shipping and refining costs, or net credit at the bank. North Star's ore-waste records (Box 54, folder 1287; Box 104, folders 2303-13), covering the period 1886-1903, report the source and quantity of ore. There are totals for the different levels, and company versus tributer quartz. These reports are accompanied by information on the lengths of the drifts and shafts.

Financial Records (Boxes 55-89) comprise the largest and most comprehensive set of records in the collection, although they only begin in 1884 after North Star's first major reorganization. Annual statements (Box 55, folders 1288-89) for the 1890s summarize the monthly statements. These annual statements record receipts and disbursements, representing the mine's operating expenses, and they include the office expenses for New York, San Francisco, and Grass Valley. The monthly statements tend to be more detailed than the annual and duplicates are filed with the superintendent's statements and vouchers (Box 55, folders 1292-94; also in Boxes 57-66, folders 1408-1502). Often, monthly accounts such as "statement of amount due by North Star" are filed with general monthly statements. The journals (folders 1290-91A) record similar financial information, but in more detail since individual expenses are listed. Moreover, the journals are keyed to the vouchers used to pay the bills.

North Star's tabulated statements (Box 107) were kept by Grass Valley for inspection by the San Francisco and New York offices in lieu of analyzed statements (see letters from New York to San Francisco, Box 28, folder 716-19). Tabulated statements, spanning 1890-99, are a series of expense accounts of mining labor, surface labor, mining supplies and materials, milling supplies and materials, power, miscellaneous, and tribute. Each account contains monthly entries and is broken down into labor costs per stopes and crosscuts, costs of individual material, cost of water for compressor, and hoisting. There are separate entries in red for Massachusetts Hill in 1896 and Stockbridge in 1897. In 1898 there are separate volumes for North Star and Stockbridge and one recording both. For 1888-97 the tabulated statements are summarized in yearly reports (Box 107, folders 2330-31). Analyzed statements of disbursements (Box 55, folders 1295-96; Boxes 108-09, folders 2344-58) list information on the expenses of ore production, waste versus quartz, tribute versus company, and supply and personnel expenses. There are two sets of bound volumes as well as duplicate paper documents.

Box 55 contains a series of North Star's specific accounts on tribute, the New York office, wood, and purchasing Massachusetts Hill mine.

Superintendent's statements and vouchers (Boxes 55-66) are a comprehensive monthly package of reports on the financial affairs of North Star's mine. Each month's report contains vouchers dated by when the bill was paid. From 1885-92 all the vouchers relate to the San Francisco office, but from 1893-96 there are some Grass Valley vouchers, and finally from 1897 all vouchers are from the mine. Starting in 1897 each month contains a monthly statement of receipts and disbursements, tribute statements, pay roll statements, and "daily returns of water sold to North Star" by Grass Valley Water Company. County and city tax receipts are enclosed in the November packages.

The last section of North Star's Financial Records consists of various documents related to drafts and checks. There are lists of the superintendent's drafts, checks drawn on the secretary of the company, the drafts themselves, and checks drawn by the secretary and president on the Bank of California.

Pay Roll Records for the North Star consist of the statements filed in the superintendents' statements and vouchers (Boxes 57-66, folders 1408-1502) and time books (Box 89, folders 1883-89). Time books, which are similar to the pay roll records, note the name, occupation, days worked, total days, wages paid, and rate per day. The list is divided into surface, underground, mill, central shaft, and improvement. The wage sheets, which span a few years in the 1920s, are organized by worker and record wage and bonus amounts.

Series IX. Rocky Bar Gold Mining Company : The Rocky Bar mine, founded in 1850, was taken over by the Mount Hope Company in 1856 and then by A. Chavanne & Co, which gained possession in 1858 when Mount Hope defaulted on a loan. The Chavanne company renamed itself the Rocky Bar Company and the mine was run independently until purchased by North Star during 1891-93. The records in this series date from 1863, after Chavanne had been in possession for several years. There are few Executive Records except for stock documents which tell the history of the mines ownership from 1863 to 1893. There is a 1865 map of the Rocky Bar mine and a financial journal for 1864-84 (Box 90, folder 1913). Finally, there are a variety of accounts, covering mine expenses, salaries, dividends, lumber, and other matters, for the years 1864-66 and 1870-77, written in the back of the stock ledger (Box 90, folder 1909). A history of the Rocky Bar starting with its incorporation in 1863 can be found in Box 90, folder 1908.

Series X. Tribute Mining Company : Tribute, located on New York Hill in 1879, was eventually taken over by North Star in 1896. There are minutes of board meetings for the entire life of the company (Box 90, folder 1915), as well as extensive stock documentation (folders 1918-21). Together these records tell the story of Tribute's search for a buyer and its eventual purchase by James D. Hague.

Series XI. Other Mining Companies and Associations : The papers in this series (90-93) are arranged alphabetically by company and then by record type (see Summary Outline of Record Types, pages 33-34). The majority of the companies are Grass Valley mines, of which many were eventually purchased by Hague and the North Star. The records of A. Chavanne & Co., early owners of the Rocky Bar, consist of some of the earliest deeds in the collection, chronicling the history of claims in the Massachusetts-New York Hill area. The Chavanne company took over the Rocky Bar from the Mount Hope Company, which is also represented here. Michael Brennan, superintendent of the Rocky Bar mine in 1858, was involved in the financial scandal that led to Chavanne's takeover and the collection contains a copy of his suicide letter (folder 1961A).

Three of the groups are from areas other than Nevada County. Murphy Mining company was in Nye County, Nevada, which was probably the location of the Twin River Mining District and the Twin River Consolidated Mining Company (Boxes 93, folders 2068-74). Since Hague was president of the Twin River company, he may explain its presence in this collection as well as other non-Grass Valley records. The Yaqui-Providencia Mining Company (folders 2083-84) was incorporated in Arizona and worked mines in Mexico, perhaps in Sonora. Records of non-mining groups include American Powder Packing Company, Marysville and Nevada Power and Water Company, and the Mine Workers Protection.

Unidentified mining records are at the end of this series. There are deeds recording the transfer of land and mineral claims in and around Grass Valley from 1857 to 1899. Several maps show the situation of claims in the area in 1867, at the turn of the century, and in 1930. Also included are photographs of unidentified buildings and workers, as well as some landscape prints from the Giant Gold Mining Company.

Series XII. Printed Material : This series consists primarily of chronologically arranged printed pieces about mining or Grass Valley found among the corporate records. There are local newspapers from Grass Valley, including issues with histories of the mines. Other printed material centers on mining, including a special centennial issue of the Virginia City Times and a 1949 publication, Drama of the Comstock. A 1902 pamphlet on Nevada County by a local promotion committee contains histories as well as illustrations of the mines (Box 2111). Articles on the Grass Valley Historical Museum document its founding.

Oversize contains material from Series I-XII. The arrangement, based on the size of the material, parallels the order of the collection. SUMMARY OUTLINE OF RECORD TYPES The following is an outline of the arrangement of the papers used for each series. EXECUTIVE RECORDS --Incorporation, By-Laws, Minutes ---Certificate of incorporation ---Articles of incorporation ---By-laws ---Minutes of directors/stockholders meetings ---Copies of minutes and material from meetings --Correspondence ---New York to San Francisco ---Received at San Francisco ---Sent by San Francisco ---Received at Grass Valley ---Sent by Grass Valley --Insurance --Accident Documents --Agreements, Claims, Deeds --Court Actions --Special Projects and Reports --Stock Documents ---Ledger ---Subscriptions ---Receipts of stock sold ---Transfer journal ---Transfer slips ---Assessment ledger ---Statements of issues of stock ---Register of stockholders ---Names and addresses of stockholders ---List of stockholders ---Certificates ---Sale of delinquent stock ---Irrevocable stock power ---Proxies ---Account of sale of stock for assessment and charges ---Receipts for stock certificate tax OPERATION RECORDS --Monthly reports --Weekly reports --Daily journal --Maps and diagrams --Mine development --Maps and diagrams ORE AND BULLION RECORDS FINANCIAL RECORDS --Annual statement --Ledger --Cash book --Journal --Monthly statement --Tabulated statements --Analyzed statements --Trial Balances --Monthly tribute statements --Various accounts --Superintendent's statements and drafts, or --Statements of receipts and disbursements, or --Paid drafts, vouchers, receipts --Bills sent to secretary for payment --Receipts --Lists of drafts drawn --Drafts --Bank book --Check stubs --Checks PAY ROLL RECORDS --Pay roll Records --Time books INVENTORY RECORDS OTHER MATERIAL


  • 1853-1959


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Boxes 120-124: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Boxes 12-19a and 95-97: Restricted fragile material. Restricted until conservation work has been completed. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The North Star Mining Company and Associated Records are 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

Purchased with money from the William Robertson Coe fund from Alta California Bookstore in 1966.


109.5 Linear Feet ((251 boxes) + 11 broadside folders)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The records document quartz mining in Nevada County, California. The collection consists of the corporate records of the North Star Mining Company, Gold Hill Mining Company, and other Grass Valley companies. The collection contains deeds and maps of the area, as well as printed material on Grass Valley and mining.
A smaller quantity of material documents mining in other areas and may have been the property of James D. Hague, one of the largest Grass Valley investors.


Nevada County, in northwestern California, is one of the gold bearing regions discovered in the mid-nineteenth century. Early miners panned for gold, changing to hydraulic mining (washing the gold out of near surface rock) as the river beds were exhausted. Eventually hard rock mining, digging down into the bedrock, was the only profitable method of mining. In Nevada County veins of gold were found in quartz and the area became famous for quartz mining.

During the 1850s, miners worked individually or in small informal groups. The change from placer to hard rock mining was accompanied by a change to large incorporated companies and heavy machinery. By the 1860s, San Francisco investors were buying up mining claims and establishing corporate offices in San Francisco. Eventually many companies set up a second office in New York in order to trade on the eastern stock exchange. Most mining records in this collection date from this period.

The following time line chronicles the companies of Grass Valley, Nevada County. The names of companies which figure predominately in this collection have been capitalized. Most corporate names contained the phrase "Gold Mining Company," "Quartz Mining Company," or just "Mining Company; and often all three titles were used over time. Sometimes the names have been shortened for convenience.

1850 George McKnight discovers gold bearing quartz on GOLD HILL and George D. Roberts locates a claim near Ophir Hill. Gold is also found at Massachusetts Hill where the ROCKY BAR MINING COMPANY, a "joint-labor association" begins mining.

1851 A party of Frenchmen discovers gold at Lafayette hill, later the site of the NORTH STAR.

Nevada County is organized and Nevada City is chosen as county seat.

1852 NORTH STAR and NEW YORK HILL MINES are first worked.

1854 Ophir Hill mining claims are purchased by EMPIRE MINING COMPANY.

1855 Grass Valley incorporates.

1856 Mount Hope Company works the ROCKY BAR MINE until financial ruin in 1858.

1858 A. Chavanne and associates purchase the ROCKY BAR MINE and work it until 1866.

1860s Due to "Washoe fever," mining decreases in Grass Valley as people rush to Nevada.

1861-62 Many mines in Grass Valley flood due to hard winter. Steam power is used to operate pumps and clear the mines.

1863 ROCKY BAR MINING COMPANY incorporates.

EMPIRE MINE is sold to new investors who begin operations in 1865.

1866 MASSACHUSETTS HILL partnership forms.

1867 NORTH STAR GOLD MINING COMPANY incorporates. San Francisco capitalists buy the mine.


1877 GOLD HILL MINING COMPANY incorporates. Evidence exists of a company working the mine and operating a mill as early as 1856.

ROCKY BAR reorganizes under Henry Silvester and moves its corporate office to Grass Valley.

1878 Scadden Flat Gold Mining Company forms.

1879 TRIBUTE MINING COMPANY incorporates. Their claims are on New York Hill.

1880 TRIBUTE attempts without success to sell its mine to George Fletcher and then Black Lead Mining Company.

1883 GOLD HILL rents its mine to Scotia Gold Mining Company of New York.

1884 North Star mine, which has fallen idle, is bought by NORTH STAR MINING COMPANY, a company formed by W. B. Bourn and Grass Valley business interests. The new company buys machinery from the Scotia Company, paying with company stock.

GRASS VALLEY WATER COMPANY incorporates. The EMPIRE COMPANY helps finance this company which provided the water to power the mine's machinery.

1887 NORTH STAR establishes a transfer agency in New York to facilitate trading on Wall Street.

1889 MASSACHUSETTS HILL adopts by-laws. There is a flood of capital to the mines around Massachusetts Hill.

1890 Floods in the NORTH STAR mine brings work to a halt.

1891 Wolf Creek Quartz Mining Company incorporates.

James D. Hague begins investing in the ROCKY BAR. He was a major force in Grass Valley mining, serving as president and majority stockholder of the North Star; from this position he bought into most of the other mines represented in this collection.

1893 ROCKY BAR taken over by Hague and his associates.

GRANITE HILL MINING & DEVELOPMENT COMPANY forms or starts working their mine.

1894 NORTH STAR acquires other mines and raises capital for development work. The following mines or areas are absorbed by the company: Boston Ravine, Bowery, Dipper, Great Britain patent, James K. Byrne patent, Magenta, MASSACHUSETTS HILL, L. W. Kitts claim, Lode Star, NEW YORK HILL, Polkinghorn, Ford and Reilly property, Southern Patent, STOCKBRIDGE, Star Placer, Walworth ground, Watt ground, Wickes Field. By the beginning of twentieth century North Star controls most of the mining companies represented in this collection.

NORTH STAR sued by Carson City Gold & Silver Mining Company over Irish American claim.

NORTH STAR begins planning for an electrical generating plant run by water. A. D. Foote, a mining engineer, is hired to supervise the project.

1895 TRIBUTE attempts to sell its property to C. H. Kingsley.

Scadden Flat mine is bought up by Hague, Fred Searls, Thomas Marshall and others and becomes part of NORTH STAR.

1896 NORTH STAR reincorporates and acquires more mining companies and properties.

Hague, A. D. Foote, Fred Searls, and Thomas Marshall become shareholders of the TRIBUTE, and eventually the mine becomes part of NORTH STAR.

1898 New York becomes the de facto corporate office for the NORTH STAR. North Star buys out the GRASS VALLEY WATER COMPANY.

1899 NORTH STAR reincorporates in New Jersey.

1903 Hague becomes director and sole managing director of GOLD HILL, which then ceases to exist.

1911 North Star, through its agent J. M. O'Brien, buys out CHAMPION MINES.

1926 Under the supervision of A. D. Foote, deep development work begins in the NORTH STAR mine.

1928 Ernest Howe, geologist and treasurer of North Star, is sent to inspect the MASSACHUSETTS HILL. In 1929, Howe advises shutting down operations.

1929 NORTH STAR merges with the EMPIRE, which is in turn bought by the Newmont Mining Company of New York.

ROCKY BAR property, by this time, is owned by Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research

1943 The Newmont Company comes close to closing down operations in Grass Valley.

1956 NORTH STAR mines shut down because water, used to operate the mines, is too expensive.

1958 New Verde, which acquired the NORTH STAR and EMPIRE mines, auctions off the properties and equipment.

1959 NORTH STAR power plant machinery is sold at public auction.

1961 New Verde deeds the power plant site and Pelton Wheel to Grass Valley for a mining museum.


-----------------------------------------------Rocky Bar Co.(1850) -----------------------------------------------------# ------Empire Co. (1854)-----------------------Mount Hope (1854) ---------#-------------------------------------------# ---------#------------------------------------Chavanne & Co. (1858) ---------#-------------------------------------------# ---------#------------------------------------Rocky Bar Co. (1863) ---------#-------------------------------------------# ---------#-------------------North Star (1867)-------# ---------#------------------------#------------------# ------Original Empire-------------#------------------# ------Mill & Mining---------------#------------------# -------(1880s)--------------------#------------------# ---------#------------------------#------------------# ---------#----------------------(1893)---------------# ---------#------------------------# ---------#------------------------# ---------#----------------------(1894)-----------Magenta ---------#----------------------(1894)-----------Stockbridge (1860s) ---------#----------------------(1894)-----------Massachusetts Hill (1866) ---------#----------------------(1894)-----------New York Hill (1871) ---------#------------------------# ---------#----------------------(1890s)----------Central North Star ---------#------------------------# ---------#----------------------(1895)-----------Scadden Flat (1878) ---------#------------------------# ---------#----------------------(1896)-----------Tribute (1879) ---------#------------------------# ---------#----------------------(1898)-----------Grass Valley Water Co. (1884) ------Empire Mines----------------# ------& Investment----------------# -------(ca. 1902)-----------------# ---------#------------------------# ---------#------------------------# ---------#----------------------(1903)-----------Gold Hill (1877) ---------#------------------------# ---------#------------------------# ---------#----------------------(1911)-----------Champion Mines ---------#------------------------# ---------#------------------------# ---------------------# ---------------------# ---------------------# --------------Empire Star Mines -------------------(1929) ---------------------# ---------------------# ---------------------# -----------New Verde Mines Company ----------------(pre-1959)

Appendix 1: Officers of mining companies

Most of the men listed wrote letters in their official capacity and this material can be found in the correspondence sections of Executive Records. Corporate officers are often mentioned in the minutes, which are also found in Executive Records.



Hague, James D. 1897 *

Bourn, William B. 1899-07

* Hague's other positions include: president of Twin River Consolidated Mining Company; president of Original Empire Mill and Mining Company.

Vice-presidents: Griffith, Edwin L. 1899

Secretaries: Ward, J. Walter 1899-04

Superintendents: Watt, Mr., 1867; McKay, David Jr., 1884-86; Starr, George W., 1892-07


Presidents: Ivory, M. B., 1877-78; Coleman, Edward, 1878-90; Hopkins, E. W., 1890-1900

Vice-presidents: Scott, H. [T.], 1890-99; Hopkins, Timothy 1899

Secretaries: Ogden, F[rederick], 1877-78; Hill, George W. 1878; Grow, C. A., 1890-1900

Superintendents: Lord, George, 1877-[96]; Dawson, F. R. P., 1896-97



Roberts, E. A. 1897-98


Kirk, H. S.


Harvey, James F. 1895

Phillips, T. F. 1896-99

Walker, Robert 1899-1900



Bourn, William B. 1885-89

Hague, James D. [1889]-99


Bourn, William B. 1889-96

Bishop, Charles R. 1896-99


Ward, J. Walter 1897-99


Walker, Robert 1894-98



Pinkham, S 1874-75

Byrne, James K. 1875-76

Becker, B. A. 1876-78

Watt, Robert 1878-89

Morrow, R. F. 1879, pro-term president

Bourn, William B. 1889-93

Hague, James D. 1893-94


Hague, James D. 1890-93

Bourn, William B. 1893-94


Jennings, David A. 1874-75 *


Jennings other positions include: secretary of Mint Gold and Silver Mining Company, Mortimer Mining Company, Mammoth Silver Mining Company; Hamburg Mining Company, Ward Beecher Consolidated Mill & Mining Company, Original Hidden Treasure Mining Company, Emmet Consolidated Mining Company, Magenta Consolidated Gold Mining Company, and American Powder Packing Company; treasurer of New York Hill Company.

Herrmann, F. J. 1875-78

Leighton, John B. 1879-89

Jennings, David A. 1889-94


Snyder, Jos. 1874-76

Johnston, George 1876-89



Peachy, Archibald C. 1867

Dean, W. E. 1868-69

Harmon, A. K. P. 1869-78

Parkhurst, D. L. 1879

Dean, W. E. 1879-84

Durbrow, A. K. 1884-87 (old North Star Company)

Bourn, William B. 1884-87

Hague, James D. 1887-99

Agnew, George B. 1908-15


Cutter, H. F. 1885-89

Bourn, William B. 1887, 1890-92


Colburn, T. W. 1867

Jennings, David A. 1870-97

Ward, J. Walter 1897-1900

Pagan, W. D. 1900-07, 1922-28

Dodge, Cleveland E. 1928

Assistant secretaries

Olmsted, William N. 1888-90, 1892

Pagan, W. D. 1892-99


Coleman, Edward 1867

Rodda, William Henry 1867

Beckwith, Henry 1868

Crossman, James H. 1868

Hoyt, Dudley 1869-72

Moore, Stephen 1872

Stoddart, A. W. 1884-85

Abadie, Emilie R. 1886-94

Marshall, Thomas 1894-95

Robert, P. R. 1895-96

Foote, Arthur De Wint [1896]-1929

Bedford, Robert H. 1920-31



Berton, Francis 1863

Coleman, Edward 1878

Hague, James D. 1893


Hill, George W. 1878

Marshall, Thomas 1893


Chavanne, L. 1863-[66]

Silvester, Henry 1885



Heyman, Jacob 1879

Taylor, M. [C.] 1879-96

Hague, James D. 1896


Cheva[nne], Edouard 1863

Weissbein, Jacob 1879-96

Marshall, Thomas 1896
Guide to the North Star Mining Company and Associated Records
by Susie R. Bock
January 1990
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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