Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gold Discovered and Claimed in the South Boise Region

On May 9, 1863, Captain George F. Settle discovered a gold-streaked quartz lode in what came to be called the South Boise mining region. He and a swarm of other prospectors had been tracing placer gold up the tributaries of the South Fork of the Boise River.

Born in Kentucky around 1830, Settle had over a decade of mining experience when he arrived in Idaho. He had emigrated to California in 1850-1852, where he supplemented his mining efforts by teaching school. He later moved to Oregon. There, he became a captain during the Indian wars, serving at least part of the time in the Oregon Volunteer regiment led by Colonel Thomas R. Cornelius.

It not clear just when Settle followed the rush into Idaho. Still, by the spring of 1863, he had joined the bands looking for gold south of the Boise Basin. They found a fair amount of placer gold in the area. However, George recognized the potential value of the lode gold he uncovered on the slope above a creek bed. The location was about twenty-eight miles southeast of Idaho City, and about six miles north of the South Fork.

As soon as word got out, bands of hopeful prospectors – perhaps as many as fifteen hundred – swarmed into the area from Boise Basin. But that simply overwhelmed the supply of potential claims, so many of them trudged back to the Basin. Still, the census in September enumerated 560 men in the area. The town of South Boise (later renamed Rocky Bar) sprang up less than a mile southeast of Settle's quartz find.
Early Rock Bar. Idaho State Historical Society.

Settle himself stayed. Although he lost litigation about his first claim, he continued to develop and invest in mining properties in the area until his death in 1888.

References: “Death of Capt. Settle,” Idaho Statesman, Boise (March 20, 1888).
Merle W. Wells, Gold Camps & Silver Cities: Nineteenth Century Mining in Central and Southern Idaho, 2nd Edition,  Bulletin 22, Idaho Department of Lands, Bureau of Mines and Geology, Moscow, Idaho (1983).

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