Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jan 30: Hecla President James McCarthy

On January 30, 1867, James F. McCarthy, President of the Hecla Mining Company, was born in St. Clair, Pennsylvania. He worked as a clerk in his home state, then moved to New York. There, while working at the New York Metallurgical Works, he took night classes at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

He then worked, starting as an assayer, for various mining companies in Honduras. He moved up the ladder fairly quickly, first to mill superintendent and then to a position as assistant manager for the Mammoth Mining Company, which brought him to Wallace, Idaho.
Hecla Mine in 1909. University of Idaho photo.
During his time in Honduras, investors incorporated the Hecla Mining Company in the state of Idaho.

It’s not entirely clear when McCarthy joined the company as “a hard-working engineer,” but he took charge of the company’s daily operations in 1903. Then, in November, in a rather informal way, he was acknowledged to be manager of the company.

In 1911, Hecla’s board appointed McCarthy company President to go along with his General Manager position. The corporate history notes that “It was the first time that one of the major shareholders did not hold the post of President.”

In addition to his Hecla presidency, McCarthy held offices in some other corporations, and was a Regent of the University of Idaho from 1903 to 1907.  He led Hecla through the recovery process when a disastrous fire in 1923 ravaged their plant in Burke. He continued as President until his death in 1940.

Hecla is one of the few pioneer mining company that is still in operation. It has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange for over 40 years.

References: [Hawley]
Corporate History, Hecla Mining Company (1991).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Jan 11: Idaho Territorial Stock Growers’ Association

In 1886, the Idaho Avalanche (later the Owyhee Avalanche) reported that stockmen had “met in Shoshone on the 11th inst. and proceeded to organize the Idaho Territorial stock association, and adopt a constitution and by-laws.” (Historic brands from Adelaide Hawes, Valley of Tall Grass, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho, 1950: Barbed triangle, Dan Murphy; Diamond, Wilkins Co.; Spade, Arthur Pence.)

In attendance were presidents and members of county and regional stock associations from all over the Territory.  Salmon River stockman George L. Shoup, who would later serve as Idaho Governor and U.S. Senator, was among the luminaries present. The article said, “The association was organized under the name of ‘Idaho Territorial Stock Growers' Association,’ about sixty five of the heaviest stock raisers having been admitted to membership.”

Branding a calf.
Idaho Yesterdays, Vol. 15, No. 4, Winter 1972.
Two of the stockmen’s major concerns were rustling and the importation of diseased cattle into the Territory. They would push for regulations to require health inspections and provide penalties for those who imported diseased cattle. Their efforts also sparked laws that provided compensation to those whose stock had to be destroyed to prevent the spread of infection.

The Association urged cattlemen to register their brands and other identifying marks to hamper rustlers who tried to market stolen cattle.

References: [B&W]
The Idaho Avalanche, Silver City, Idaho Territory (January 23, 1886).