In looking over the old records, we find that the miners were compelled to
resort to almost any book they could find, no matter for what purpose may have
been its former use. The oldest of these was the one used by the miners of Jeff.
Davis Gulch. It was the property of A. Graham, who, in 1856, was running the
Graham House in Grand Gulf -- as we find March 27th, 1856: William Olcott, Hors.
pd. 15 cents.
P. Bellamy, s., pd. 70 cents.
Wm. Knight, dead head.
There came a day in Jeff Davis Gulch -- to be exact, Sunday, July 4th, 1863, when the miners of Prospect District wished to hold a meeting, and make laws for its government. You can imagine that the following took place. Some one said: "How can we record the laws we are about to make?" "Why, I have an old account book, that I had years ago, when I had a little hotel in Grand Gulf. It is no good to me." So, in that way, Graham's old Hotel hedger is today to be found in the vault in Old Beaverhead Court House, with the stuff that was of most vital interest, to the men who for years were to mine of the headwaters of Horse Prairie Creek. This man Graham was elected President of that meeting, and as such, signed the first 18 sections that were to help govern the district. On the 18th day of July, a meeting was called at the request of certain parties (names not recorded), for the purpose of having a portion of the District set off from this district, to be known as Jeff Davis Gulch, and its drainage.
The first quartz claim recorded in Horse Prairie, was by H. Monfortin. They held a miners' meeting, and framed laws to cover such claims. They considered it real estate, and not subject to forfeiture. No person was required to perform any work on a pre-emption claim, to enable him to hold it as real estate.
COL. VITAL JERROT, President.
We find the following very interesting entry: This is to certify that W. A. Clark has this day pre-empted claim No. 30, above discovery, on Solomon's Bar, Colorado Gulch, Prospect District, August 7th, 1863.
Gus Graeter says: "I remember well seeing W. A. Clark, a little red-headed fellow, with his pack on his back, the day he left Bannack for Jeff Davis Gulch. He was wearing a soldiers' overcoat, with one of the tails gone, that was said to have been caused by getting too close to a camp fire, sometime when he was cold."
This must have been about August 5th, 1863, W. A. was always a busy person, as we find that he had claimed the privilege of taking water out of the second gulch south of Jeff Davis, for mining purposes -- 17th of May, 1864. He also claimed by preemption, 100 feet down Colorado Gulch, below and adjoining Dutch Fred, May 20th, 1864. A little later, he ordered the recorder to declare this claim vacant.
In a little book at Dillon we find that W. A. Clark was elected Recorder of Jeff Davis Gulch, and that on the 8th day of June, 1864, he made the following entry, to-wit:
"Know all men by these presents, that W. A. Clark has this day pre-empted and recorded claim No. 9, above discovery, Jeff Davis Culch, Idaho District.
W. A. CLARK.
We also find a peculiar trade recorded in the same little book. W. Harvey to W. R. Perkins.
Know all men by these presents, that I, W. Harvey, for and in consideration of one sorrel mule, have this day sold all my right, title and interest in claim No. 10, above Discovery, Jeff Davis Gulch, Idaho District, to W. B. Perkins. July 7th, 1864.
W. A. CLARK.
At this particular point, it is just as well to record what took place in Bannack, December 2nd, 1862.
"I, Joe Bowers, for and in consideration of the sum of seventy-five dollars, paid to me in hand, consisting of the following described property to-wit: One three-year-old pony, one pair of buffalo pantaloons, two buffalo coats, amounting in all to the sum above named, have bargained, sold, and delivered to Ed Hibbard and Frank Parish, No. 86 above Stapleton Discovery." (Parish was hung January 14th, with Boone Helm and others.) To return again to Clark, we find that he helped to build the ditch out of "the gulch south of Jeff Davis," and he and Henry Lovewell sold their interest in Colorado Gulch, including Denver Ditch, February 1st, 1865, to W. R. Vandruff.
I do not believe that young W. A. Clark, the little red-headed man, working in the ground sluice in 1863 and 1864, in Jeff Davis Gulch, going home at noon and night to cook his frugal meals, ever dreamed that he was to become the man whose money was to go toward the proving of Butte as a mining camp; whose ability to scrap was to down Marcus Daly, locate the capital at Helena -- who was to become a U.S. Senator -- the biggest miner in the world, aud the one to build. the most expensive, private home in America. What a contrast! the cabin in Jeff Davis Gulch and the palace in New York City!
Other men were connected with the mines in Jeff Davis that have left an imprint on the pages of our stories.
Judge M. H. Lott, claim No. 1, on Dorsett's Bar, July 8th, 1863.
W. B. Dance, also recorded on that day; William Roe, on July 10th, in Jack's Bar. Mart Barrett and Joe Shineberger bought of Henry Lovewell, all of his interest in Colorado Gulch, and Denver Ditch Co., May 10th, 1864.
We find that Ray Woodworth, afterwards to raise the first crop in Madison Valley, pre-empted 27 above discovery in Solomon's Bar, July 11th, 1863. Also, Gus Craeter pre-empted No. 45, on Solomon's Bar, July 9th, 1863, and William Skelly, of Glen Gary, Fergus County, Montana, was one of the early miners.
Probably the oldest deed, in its original form, in Beaverhead County, is one given on June 11th, 1864, at Jeff. Davis Gulch, when Freeman sold eight-ninth' of his claim on Dorsett's Bar, to I. Baldwin, et al., for which he received one horse and one mule, at a value of $300.00. The parties that owned the animals were to get the first money out of the ground. Said Freeman is to receive $100.00 out of every $1,000.00. The above named persons obtain from claims until he shall be paid the remaining $600.00. Freeman assigned his interest June 30th, 1864, to Vital Jerrot. As said Jerrot was the recorder, he left the little deed in the pages of Graham's old book.
David Metlen sold his interest to Harrison Brown, in the Denver Ditch Company, on Solomon's Bar, March 7th, 1866. Both of these men are yet living on Horse Prairie.
Solomon's Bar was named for Solomon Robinson, as the given name was as apt to be used as anything else, in those early days.
We have taken a side trip to Jeff Davis Gulch to record some of the things that bear directly on subsequent history, as in it, was described to some extent, W. A. Clark.