Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Daisy Mine and a Connection to John W. Slack Discovered

A few days back I received a surprising email from Leslie Bergen of Thorold, Ontario, Canada. Leslie is located just outside St. Catherines about 15 minutes from Niagara Falls, New York. Leslie had been doing a Google search on John W. Slack and landed on my blog. Why she was searching for my great great grandfather completely floored me. Leslie had John W’s business stamp (shown above) in a small 1909 diary she purchased for $1 from an antiques store in Naples, New York about 30 years ago. She had been wondering for decades who the diary belonged to.

As Leslie’s email described it:

I have read it several times over the years due to the interesting entries. In the beginning, the author writes about getting and readying a gas engine for an experiment. Later on, we find out that the experiment was in trying to revive dead cats gotten from the pound and at least one live one that is killed to see if it can be revived. I've often wondered who the owner of this diary was but never searched it until today. I figured he was a lawyer as there are several entries about cases and also that he had something to do with mining. There is a stamp on the back of the diary so I decided to start there. I didn't know if it was the owners stamp or perhaps a company he did business with.

I did a google search of "W. Martin Jones", Missouri and found the following [web address below] "W. Martin Jones subsequently leased this property from the Daisy Company from August, 1907, to October 23, 1909, when fire destroyed the shaft buildings and the mine became flooded.”

I checked the diary I had for October entries and sure enough found where the fire is mentioned. I then knew that the diary I have belonged to W. Martin Jones. I then searched further and found HIS father and found that he was an associate of Abraham Lincoln's when he was younger. This is getting more interesting by the moment.
There are numerous entries regarding John W. Slack. Jones received a telegram from Slack on Oct. 29th notifying him of the fire. Slack then resigns three days later (Nov. 2). After that (Nov. 13), they meet for dinner and agree on how much is owed Slack. John W. Slack is then mentioned many more times, in passing.

The following are pages from the diary of W. Martin Jones meticulously documenting his daily activities (courtesy of Leslie Bergen):

 Entries from October 25 - October 30, 1909

Entries from October 31, 1909 to November 5, 1909

Entries from November 12 - November 17, 1909

I have learned from my cousin Jim Slack that our 2nd great grandfather, John W. Slack, Sr. was in the mining business, and he got his start from his father-in-law and my 3rd great grandfather James Morgan of Springfield, Missouri. As it turns out, W. Martin Jones was John's employer in 1909.

A short Internet search revealed additional information on the Daisy mining operation and W. Martin Jones involvement. The Missouri Bureau of Mines and Mine Inspection publication, Embracing Reports on Coal, Lead, Zinc and other Mines, December 31, 1909 ( reported:

The Rathburn Mining Company of Springfield, Mo., is incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware for $400,000. W. Martin Jones is president of the company, C. J. Page secretary, and Melvin Stephens, treasurer. The company controls under first lease and operates 65 acres of land, located in sections 35 and 36, of township 29, range 21, the land being owned in fee by the Daisy Mining and Milling Company. The Rathburn Company is also a sublessee of 20 acres of the Morgan Estate. The operating' company has upon its lease a concentrating mill, with daily capacity of 100 tons. Its mining machinery is ample for treating ore, and fourteen miners and seven top and mill men are employed in ore production on the land. Considerable drilling and development work was engaged in by the company during the year. The mine was operated 200 days during the year, and 100 days were devoted to development work.
The 1909 Bureau of Mines report tantalizingly mentions that the Rathburn Company is "a sublessee of 20 acres of the Morgan Estate.” Is this a reference to James Morgan? That will require more research, to include locating property records connecting James to the Daisy lease, but it sounds plausible.

To add perspective, I also found a plat map on line showing the Daisy Tract, located in Southeast Greene County:

I will be visiting Springfield, Missouri in a few months and definitely plan on researching this further. A search of the newspaper(s) of the time will probably shed more light on the subject, especially the Daisy Mine fire and flood.

I want to shout out a big “THANK YOU” to Leslie Bergen for sharing her diary and offering new insights into the life of John W. Slack, Sr.


  1. What an amazing thing it must have been to have Leslie track you down with the information from this diary. The part about trying to revive dead cats with a gas engine was a little bizarre, however.

  2. Yes, the part about the cats was pretty strange by any standard. It sounds like the author of the diary was into many ventures including some really weird ones! However, that little journal has provided some interesting insight into my great grandfather. I’m grateful to Leslie and hope to provide more from the diary in time. Thanks for the comment!