Friday, September 9, 2016

Leadville, Part II: Searching for Family Roots in an Old Mining Town

A panorama as we ascended the Rockies from Manitou Springs (6358 ft) to Leadville (10,151 ft).
The "alpine" scenery was quite breathtaking.  Photos struggle to capture it.
Outside the library in Leadville.
Not everyone seeks out Leadville on a family vacation. One has to sort of go “off the beaten path” to find it. We came because Laurie has a connection to Leadville’s mining past. Laurie’s maternal-grandmother was born in Leadville and lived  here for a short time. Laurie visited here when her family drove across the country when she was a child and she wanted to come back as part of our own cross-country trip. According to her mother, Laurie’s maternal great-grandfather was a Mason, whom it appears bought his family west from Maine during the Silver Boom. Her grandmother had always told them that her father met his untimely end when he “fell down a mineshaft”. Laurie had assumed this tragedy happened in Leadville and, in keeping with her Sabbath theme of reconnecting and rediscovering her roots, she wanted to see if she could find out where her great-grandfather was buried. She did an investigation at the local library, but she could not find any information about the whereabouts of his grave—and records for the miners buried in cemeteries in Leadville are pretty thorough. Since he was a Mason, the librarian wondered if he might he be buried in a Mason's Cemetery somewhere other than Leadville?  

Inside the library.
Upon following up with her mom after her initial visit to the library, Laurie was reminded that her great-grandfather was not just a rank-and-file miner, he actually owned a mine—not in Leadville, but in the nearby town of Dillon. So, she went back to the library again for some more research. In short, she has concluded that her great-grandfather is most likely not buried in Leadville. She has found some more leads to follow up on in Dillon. She also found a couple references to him in some newspapers from that time. She didn’t have time on this trip to visit Dillon but the search continues…

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