Southern Methodist University

Federal Union Mining Company records

A Guide to the Collection


Creator: Federal Union Mining Company
Title: Federal Union Mining Company records
Dates: 1853-1886
Abstract: The Federal Union Mining Company Collection is comprised of company records, legal documents and correspondence related to the organization and operation of a short lived mining company in Clear Creek County, Colorado during the territory's first boom era in the 1860s. Correspondents include A.W. Hoyt, Elisha Wells, Erskine McClellan, and Napoleon Bonaparte Buford. The collection provides a good example of the importance of the infusion of eastern capital in mining ventures in the West and shows how risky such ventures could be.
Accession No: Mss 0018c
Extent: 27 folders (330 items)
Language: Material is in English
Repository DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Historical Note

The Federal Union Mining Company (F. U. M. C.) was organized by a group of Eastern investors including A.W. Hoyt, a civil engineer, Elisha Wells, a Massachusetts businessman, and General Napoleon Bonaparte Buford, at the end of the Civil War. In 1865, Hoyt sent Buford, a Union general who had been prominent in the Tennessee Campaigns, to visit the mining property of Jeb and Erskine McClellan in Clear Creek County, Colorado, seven miles from Black Hawk. Hoyt instructed Buford to check out the mines’ "working value" and get the McClellan brothers to sell their claims. Buford visited Colorado and returned East in late 1865 with bond to pay for the claim. In 1866 the company was formally organized. Arthur Field was elected President and Elisha Wells was to serve as Treasurer-Secretary. A sufficient number of Eastern investors were solicited to raise enough capital to send Buford back to Colorado in the spring of 1866 as superintendent of the mines. He took with him a group of men to work in the mines and a trainload of supplies in April 1866. In Clear Creek County, Buford served as superintendent until December 1866. Then he decided to return to his home in Rock Island, Illinois for the winter. In the spring of 1867, the Board of Directors, displeased with Buford’s management of the claim as they had no evidence of profits, dismissed Buford as superintendent. Buford later became a special commissioner to inspect the newly completed Union Pacific Railroad. He spent his last years in Chicago and died there in 1883.

In the meantime, the Board of Directors appointed Erskine McClellan, who had been serving as manager, the new superintendent of the mines. Elisha Wells visited Colorado in the summer of 1867 and did not discover anything amiss, but McClellan was not running the claim any more successfully than Buford had. In November 1867, McClellan hired a manager to take over the operations for the F.U. M. C. while he carried out mining at the Evans Company in Georgetown.

By 1868, the company was in dire financial straits and no longer paid McClellan his salary so McClellan brought suit against F. U. M. C. McClellan won a writ of attachment in the trial of McClellan versus the Federal Union Mining Company in April 1868. In that same month, the company appointed Elisha Wells superintendent of the mines and gave him the power to settle with McClellan and begin suit against Buford. Wells traveled to Colorado in May where he found that all of the company’s movable property had been sold to Thomas Evans of Georgetown and the real estate in Clear Creek County was to be sold at auction on June 6. The mining property was auctioned to Thomas Evans and the F. U. M. C. lost all of its original property. They were left with eighty acres of coal mining property in Jefferson County, Colorado, near Golden. For the summer Wells prospected for himself, staking claims in Summit County. He also began to question men who had had dealings with Buford and McClellan, beginning to gather evidence against the two former superintendents.

In January, 1869 at the company’s stockholders meeting, Wells was authorized to bring suit against McClellan. In 1871, the stockholders voted that Wells was also authorized to commence suit against Antoine Serriolle "or others against whom the Company has demands or unsettled accounts" and a suit against the firm of Royle and Butler of Central City for damages in conducting the suit of the Federal Union Mining Company versus McClellan begun in November, 1868. The company’s resolution to bring suit against the law firm is the only evidence in the collection that the F. U. M. C. lost their suit against McClellan. There is no indication that the company brought suit against any of the other individuals or the law firm.

There is no mention of the F. U. M. C. after 1875 when some company papers were filed with the Clear Creek County clerk in the F. U. M. C. versus McClellan case. It can be assumed that the Federal Union Mining Company was short-lived since no mention of the company’s existence can be found in any Colorado mining histories or histories of Clear Creek County. After the company’s demise, Wells must have returned to Massachusetts as he worked as town clerk in Greenfield in 1871. Erskine McClellan remained in Colorado where he had other mining interests in the Phoenix Mine and the Silver Cloud Mine in Clear Creek County. McClellan left his mark on Colorado for Colorado histories often refer to McClellan Mountain in Clear Creek County and mention McClellan’s Silver Queen Opera House in Georgetown.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection provides a useful primary source for the first boom era of gold mining in Colorado where little has been written about mining in Colorado. The papers provide a good description of the foundation and operation of a mining company and furnish an example of how ephemeral many of these companies were. The collection also shows the important role eastern investors played in providing capital for the development of western mines.

The collection is comprised of one small box divided into 27 folders containing sections of correspondence, company records, insurance records, legal papers, witness reports and trial papers, commercial receipts, printed materials and miscellaneous items. Most of the correspondence is directed to Elisha Wells, though some of the letters are from Buford to Erskine McClellan. The bulk of the correspondence falls in the years of 1866 and 1867 and gives the most complete picture of the actual operation of the mining company. The company records and legal papers are not complete and no company records were kept after Wells’ visit to Colorado in 1867. There is also a gap in the papers for the year of 1869. A few items of correspondence and some company papers dated between 1865 and 1868 which were filed with Clear Creek County clerk in 1873 and 1875 in the F.U. M. C. vs. McClellan trial are filed with the other trial papers in Folder Twenty-Three.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into 9 series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1853-1870
Series 2: Company Records
Series 3: Insurance
Series 4: Legal Papers
Series 5: Witness Reports
Series 6: Trial Papers
Series 7: Commercial Receipts
Series 8: Printed Materials
Series 9: Miscellaneous


Access to Collection:

Collection is open for research use.

Publication Rights:

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library.

Copyright Statement:

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms in the Southern Methodist University Libraries' online catalog. Researchers desiring related materials may search the catalog using these terms.
Gold mines and mining -- Colorado -- Clear Creek County.
Mines and mineral resources -- Colorado -- Clear Creek County.
Mining corporations -- Colorado -- Clear Creek County.
Clear Creek County (Colo.) -- Gold discoveries.
Colorado -- Gold discoveries.
Colorado -- History -- To 1876.
Hoyt, A. W.
Wells, Elisha.
McClellan, Erskine.
Buford, Napoleon Bonaparte, d. 1883.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Federal Union Mining Company records, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1961.

Processing Information

The materials were originally rolled up together.

Finding aid written by

Christina Peterson, 1982.

Encoded by

Lara Corazalla, 2006

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Correspondence, 1853-1870

1 Correspondence, 1853-1864
Contains letters to Elisha Wells dealing with business matters and Wells’ army regiment.
2 Correspondence, January-June 1865
Includes letter from Buford to Erskine McClellan dated January 30, 1865, containing the first mention of forming a mining company and discussing the problems of capital and partners as well as letters to Wells concerning the war and business.
3 Correspondence, July-September 1865
Includes letter to Wells about his son’s army discharge, personal and business letters to Wells and letters from Buford to McClellan about visiting Colorado and Hoyt’s plans to form a company.
4 Correspondence, October-December 1865
Contains letter of A. W. Hoyt to Wells about their plans to organize the mining company and send Buford to Colorado. Also letters on Buford’s return from the mines about publishing Buford’s report on the claim. Other letters are directed to Wells and deal with personal and business matters.
5 Correspondence, January-March 1866
Consists of copies of letters from Buford in New York to McClellan instructing him on mining operations as well as developments in the company’s organization.
6 Correspondence, April-June 1866
Includes more copies of letters from Buford to McClellan about mining operations, plans to build a town, financial matters. Other letters from Buford to Wells dealing with preparations to take a train of supplies to the mines and about financial matters. Also contains letter from Well’s son describing travel plans. After their arrival, Buford also reported to Wells on how the mining was proceeding.
7 Correspondence, July-September 1866
Contains letters from Buford in Clear Creek County to Wells reporting on the company’s prospects, mining operations, financial affairs and employee difficulties. Also includes letters dated in September from Hoyt, E.H. Bowman and J. C. Bennett who visited the mines directed to Wells, reporting on the company’s prospects and management.
8 Correspondence, October-December 1866
Consists of letter from Buford to Wells concerning problems with employees wishing to leave and prospect elsewhere. Buford asks to return home for the winter. Also contains copies of letters Buford wrote to McClellan after he left instructing him how to conduct mining operations.
9 Correspondence, January-June 1867
Includes letters from Buford to Wells about issues of stock, mining operations, employee problems and McClellan’s desire to be superintendent. Others from McClellan to Wells accepting the superintendent position, ordering stock, about financial matters, and detailing the Buford lode. Also contains letter from Bowman advising Wells to visit the mines, letters from Hoyt defending Buford after his dismissal and telling Wells to prepare for a trip to Colorado.
10 Correspondence, July-December 1867
Includes letters from Hoyt to Wells defending Buford and urging Wells not to give up hope, letters from Buford to McClellan about his work for the railroad, and from Buford to Wells about selling his stock. Also letter from E. McClellan to the Board of Directors demanding money due him.
11 Correspondence, January-June 1868
Includes letters from Erskine McClellan to Wells about the articles he sold to raise money, letters from Buford to Wells about stock, others from Thomas Evans to Wells about the company’s finances. Also letters from Wells to Idaho Springs to Field about the company’s legal problems, other possibilities for the Company in coal mining, and letters from Wells to Mr. Marsh about legal difficulties.
12 Correspondence, July-December 1868
Contains letters from Wells to Mr. Marsh questioning him about the company accounts and McClellan’s deceit. Other letters from Erskine McClellan’s to Wells dealing with the lawsuit and company records.
13 Correspondence, 1868-1870
Includes 1869 letter to Wells concerning Buford's stock. Letters from 1870 mostly directed to Wells and deal with the court case and evidence gathered about Buford. Also one letter dated 1886 from W. Wells to Henry Wells about a family death.
14 Correspondence, Miscellaneous
Consists of portions of two letters, no date, and one a poem to L. Childs in Deerfield, the other, a letter to Wells and other letters to McClellan as well as descriptions of different lodes Buford wrote about in the letters.

Series 2: Company Records

15 Company Records
Contains papers related to the organization of the company including papers showing the distribution of stock to the original owners, subscription lists for capital stock, lists of the company’s working capital, and lists of stockholders.
16 Company Records
Records Buford kept on his trip to Colorado including accounts on his expenses, and an account of the provisions used.
17 Company Records
Records during the time Buford was superintendent in 1866 including lists of company expenditures, personal receipts, bills, employees’ personal accounts with the Company, and vouchers.
18 Company Records
Mostly records from 1867 consisting of payroll lists for 1867 and an explanation of payrolls, bills, personal receipts. Also an 1874 record of Wells’ bills run up in Colorado.

Series 3: Insurance

19 Insurance
Fire insurance and traveler’s insurance policies

Series 4: Legal Papers

20 Legal Papers
Includes copies of the company’s organization and articles of association, mining tax receipts, sales agreements, a November 1867 agreement made by the miners to extend a tunnel twenty feet, copy of an 1868 agreement transferring real estate in Jefferson County owned by E. McClellan to the F. U. M. C. and a document transferring Power of Attorney from McClellan to Buford in November 1868.
21 Legal Papers
Includes a copy of the April 21, 1868 Writ of Attachment and a document certifying that Thomas Evans served as a juror and testified as a witness in the McClellan vs. the F. U. M. C. trial. Also copies of minutes of meetings of the directors of the F. U. M. C. and of resolutions made at 1871 meetings, three quitclaim deeds and copies of sections of law pertaining to involuntary bankruptcy an attachments.

Series 5: Witness Reports

22 Witness Reports
Consists of question lists Wells made up to ask Mr. Mason, Sam Todd and Mr. Marsh about McClellan and his operation of the Company store. Also contains lists of what people agreed to testify, notes of what each witness did testify about their business dealings with McClellan. Includes McClellan’s statement of Well’s orders about mining operations and Wells statement describing what he found on his two visits to Colorado.

Series 6: Trial Papers

23 Trial Papers
Contains papers filed in clear Creek County in 1873 and 1875 including an 1868 letter form Wells to McClellan concerning the company articles sold to Evans, letters from McClellan to Wells and Board of Directors concerning finances, bills, receipts, lists of expenditures, copies of the minutes of meetings of the directors in 1867 to 1868, a copy of McClellan’s account from 1866 to 1867 and quit-claim deed.
Also contains a statement of the purpose of the suit, the company’s formal deposition, an explanation of overcharges in McClellan’s account and lists of the company’ sand McClellan’s debits and credits.

Series 7: Commercial Receipts

24 Commercial Receipts
Most fall in the year of 1866 with few from 1867
25 Commercial Receipts
Most fall in the year of 1866 with few from 1867

Series 8: Printed Materials

26 Printed Materials
Includes two pamphlets, one a copy of the "By Laws of the Federal Union Mining Company," the other, "General Buford’s Reports, Etc., on the Property of the Federal Union Mining Company," published in 1865.

Series 9: Miscellaneous

27 Miscellaneous
Contains maps of a dam, a piece of acreage and one of a township in Jefferson County. Also a copy of the notice announcing a meeting of the organization of the company in 1866. Three documents pertaining to Wells as town agent in Deersfield, Massachusetts and as town clerk in Greenfield, Massachusetts.


Bennett, Joseph C., 9

Bowman, E. H., 9

Black Hawk, 1

Buford, Napoleon Bonaparte, passim.

Buford Lode, 9

Civil War, 1, 8

Clear Creek County, passim.

Coal mines, 3

Deerfield, Massachusetts, 13

Employees, 9

Evans, Thomas, 3, 10, 12

Federal Union Mining Company, Finances, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10

Federal Union Mining Company, Officers, 1

Federal Union Mining Company, Organization, 2, 8, 10, 11, 13

Field, Arthur, 1, 10

Georgetown, Colorado, 2, 3, 4

Greenfield, Massachusetts, 4, 13

Hoyt, A. W., 1, 8, 9

Idaho Springs, Colorado, 10

Investors, 1-2, 4

Jefferson County, Colorado, 3, 11, 13

Law suits, 3, 10-12

Law suits, McClellan vs. F. U. M. C., 3, 5, 12

Law suits, F. U. M. C. vs. McClellan, 3, 5, 12

McClellan, Erskine, passim.

McClellan, Jeb, 1

McClellan Mountain, 4

McClellan’s Silver Queen Opera House, 4

Marsh, George, 10, 12

Mason, A.L., 12

Mining operation, 2, 5, 8, 10, 11

Phoenix Mine, 4

Royle and Butler Law Firm, 3

Silver Cloud Mine, 4

Summit County, 3

Superintendent, 2, 9, 11

Todd, Sam, 11

Union Pacific Railroad, 2

Wells, Elisha, passim.