Madison County Mining

 

 

     

The county is rich in minerals, and contains a great variety of them.  Lead is the most valuable, and has been worked for more than a century and a half.  When Renault, in 1720, entered the county with his miners, he was accompanied by La Motte, a mineralogist, who in one of the earliest excursions, discovered the mines in the northern part of this county, which still bear his name.  Of this mine, Moses Austin wrote in 1804 as follows:

 

    "Mine La Motte was discovered by Mr. Renault, about the year 1723 or 1724, who made an exploration, but finding no silver ore abandoned it.  About the year 1723 a man by the name of La Motte opened and wrought the mine, after who is was called.  About the years 1738-40 the Mine a la Motte was considered a public property, and the people in general were allowed to work it.  At that time it furnished almost all the lead exported from the Illinois.  But soon after the discovery and opening of the Mine a Burton the mine a la Motte was in a great measure abandoned, the mineral at Mine a Burton being much easier melted.  The Mine a la Motte is at this time claimed as private property; in consequence, the inhabitants in general are denied the privilege of working.  Therefore the quantity of lead is greatly reduced.  For the years 1802 and 1803 the quantity of lead made at Mine a la Motte did not exceed 200,000 pounds' weight, although about thirty men were employed from four to six months each year."

     

The claimants of the mine at this time were J. B. Pratte, J. B. St. Gem, Francois Valle and J. B. Valle, who alleged that they purchased the property in 1790.  To the United States Commissioners they submitted evidence to show that the mine was worked by one of the Valles as early as 1763; that in 1769 the  Chickasaw Indians killed the son of Valle, and by other acts of hostility drove him from the land; that a short time after, he attempted to resume work, when one of his companions was seized and burned by the Indians; but that in 1780, or 1782, he was once more returned to work.

 

 In 1827 the grant, which consists of about 24,000 acres, was confirmed to three claimants or their representatives, who in 1838 sold to C. C. Valle, Louis F. Linn and E. E. Pratte.  These owners divided the mining section into forty lots of forty acres each, and leased them for a term of ten years, which was afterward extended three years.  Various parties worked under these leases, and four or five furnaces were operated.  In the thirteen years an aggregate of 19,000,000 pounds of lead was produced.  During this period, a partition sale of the property took place, and some Philadelphia men became part owners.  A legal fight over the title ensued, and lasted until the beginning of the civil war, during which time there was little mining done.

 

In 1861 the works were destroyed by the Federal troops.  In 1868 the property was purchased by the La Motte Lead Company, composed of R. G. Hazard, of the La Motte Lead Company, composed of R. G. Hazard, of Rhode Island; R. B. Lockwood, of New York, and W. A. Scott of St. Louis.  Modern machinery and furnaces were put up, and preparations made for more systematic work, but the stockholders disagreed, and a financial wreck was the result.  In 1876 Rowland G. Hazard became the sole proprietor, and still owns and works the mines.  His manager is Mr. J. D. Sanders.

 

Three mines are worked.  The ore is raised by steam, and carried over tramways to the works, where it is treated to much the same process as the disseminated ore at other mines.  The mines my be shallow, the deepest not going more than 130 feet below the surface.  The ore lies in isolated masses, the veins averaging three or four feet thick.  in 1876 the total amount of lead produced from these mines since their discovery was estimated at 110,571,436 pounds.  In 1887 the yield was about 80,000 pounds.  

 

Other lead mines in the county have been worked at different times, and recently there has been considerable prospecting for this metal.  It is thought that there are ore fields as rich as those of St. Francois County, if they were sought out and developed.

 

In 1843 copper was discovered by John Craddock, one and a half miles east of Fredericktown.  He sold out to Dilly & Avery who formed a company to develop the mine, but four years later the property was transferred to J. T. Foster & Co., of New York, who worked it until 1880, taking out large quantities of black oxide and yellow sulphuret.  Soon after the close of the ware, work was discontinued, and has never been resumed.  In 1838 copper sulphides in  paying quantities were found on the Mine la Motte tract, and in 1845 a mine was opened.  Work was carried on for three

years, and it is said that the net profits from the copper taken out amounted to $150,000.  The ore in sight was exhausted, and the work was suspended..

 

In the smelting of lead at Mine la Motte, some cobalt and nickel are found, and shipped to Europe in its raw state.  The amount averages about seventy-five tons per year.

 

About fifteen years ago a company of St. Louis capitalists was organized to develop what was thought to be a very rich deposit of tin.  It was found in what has since been known as Tin Mountain, ten miles southwest of Fredericktown.  Half a million dollars was expended in putting in machinery and opening up the mine, but no tin was obtained, and the company was forced to the conclusion that the mine had

been "salted" by interested persons, since specimens assayed had yielded large returns.

 

An equally fruitless attempt was med to develop a silver mine in the western part of the county, but it is believed that had this company continued their work they would have met with success.

 

With the exception of lead, the most valuable mineral production in the county at the present time is granite  A quarry has been opened by the La Motte Granite Company, about three and one half miles from Fredericktown, and a large force of men are employed in getting out granite paving blocks.

 

Ten miles southwest of Fredericktown is a marble quarry, from which have been taken some very beautiful specimens, but it has not been extensively worked.  It is a very beautiful color, takes a good polish, and is highly valuable for ornamental work.  Besides the minerals mentioned, there are large deposits of kaolin and hydraulic cement, but neither have been developed.

     

     

     

     

     

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Source:  History of Southeast Missouri 1888