GLEASON, John  Streator: Rush Valley Miner

GLEASON, John Streator: Rush Valley Miner

Mining in Rush Valley

John Streator Gleason (1819-1904)

One of the premier days of my life is the day I took my mother (Marie Gleason Bennett) to Ophir City in the County of Tooele. It was here that, family tradition has it, John Streator Gleason sold his “Million Dollar” gold mine, the Mountain Lion Mine, in the year 1873 and used the proceeds to purchase the family farm in Pleasant Grove City. She had relived this story over and over and was delighted to see the City of Ophir.

Ophir Utah

What information could I find by searching the Internet? The Goshuite Indians lived in the area before the white man came. They had some ornaments and bullets made of silver, which they had mined from local exposed ore. General Patrick Connor and his troops, led by the Goshuites to the East Canyon of the Qquirrh Mountains, made some of the first claims. This area was known as Rush Valley and then Ophir in 1865. The Ophir Mining District was organized in 1870, and by 1871, more than 2,000 mining claims had been staked. The chief metals were lead, silver, zinc, and very small amounts of gold.

The Ophir mines were the Kearsage, Mountain Lion, Petaluma, Silver Chief, Tampico, Blue Wing, Velocipede, Shamrock, Miner’s Delight, Wild Delirium, Montana, and the Silveropities (Ophir Utah-Northern Towns). Wondering what aspects of the family tradition could be substantiated, my wife, Marilyn, and I visited the County Recorder in Tooele. We spent a delightful and informative day at the Tooele County Recorder’s office browsing through the mining records. We were able to confirm that John S. Gleason did indeed own the , or parts thereof, but also the Blue Wing mine listed above,, and much to our surprise, at least seventeen other lodes.

Two miles north of Ophir is Jacobs City in Dry Canyon. Some of the richest lodes of the Ophir Mining District came from this location. John S. Gleason owned, in part, the Iris (Ira) and Jacobs Hill lodes (Shoo Fly) in Dry Canyon. Millions of dollars of rich metals were taken from the Ophir and Jacobs City locations.

The date of sale of the Mountain Lion Lode No. 2 was March 4, 1871. It was sold with the Webster and women’s rights lodes for $2,000 dollars. The Mountain Lion Lode and thirteen other lodes were sold on June 10th, 1871, for the combined sum of $5,000 dollars.

Finding 19 lodes partly owned by John S. Gleason raised the question; why was he mining in the Ophir District and was he an original claimant. Ore was “discovered” in the Rush Valley in the year 1865. John had returned from a mission in England in the fall of 1863, and he had time to explore new finds. John had been a selectman in Tooele County and was familiar with the terrain. As an officer in the Davis County Militia, he may have had contact with Army personnel who had “discovered” ore in Rush Valley. No matter the history, his interest in mining was extensive and spread much beyond the Mountain Lion Mine.

Recording mining claims was not federally required until 1870. However, the Rush Valley Mining District kept records of many claims prior to 1870. The Ira Lode and the Red Pine West Lodes show John S. Gleason as one of the original claimants over his own signature dated June 20, 1870, at 7 o’clock a.m. and May 24, 1870, at 8 0 clock a.m, respectively. The Mountain Lion Lode was filed on June 11, 1870. John sold his interest in mining in the years 1871–1872.

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