Monday, July 4, 2016


Salt Lake City Weekly by John Saltas
Mining Memories
The dwindling few who recall living in Bingham Canyon fight to keep alive memories of a community that was stolen from them.
by Stephen Dark June 29, 2016
Waste-Dump car with Brakeman
In the southwest corner of the Salt Lake Valley, the New Bingham Highway climbs into the mountains. It runs past the offices of Rio Tinto Kennecott, then through the leafy, quiet rural idyll of Copperton, past barren, overgrown land on the right, before cresting a hill—only to be closed off by several 2-foot-high concrete blocks. On foot, the hill drops down toward the former town of Lead Mine, telephone poles on the left, to reveal a far greater obstacle in the form of a manmade mountain. In the summer, the mountain is green with Kennecott-planted vegetation, but this early spring day it's a dirty gray, reflecting its nature—namely millions of tons of waste rock ripped from the bowels of what Native Americans called the Oquirrhs, the shining mountains.
This man-made mountain is far more than a dumping ground for the byproduct of a 113-year-old open pit mine that is one of the largest in the world. It's an unmarked tombstone, a resting place for the hopes and dreams, the lives and loves of a community once known as Bingham Canyon.

At its peak, Bingham Canyon was home to more than 15,000 miners and their families who had come from all over the world to work the mine. The community's main artery was a 5-mile, 20-foot-wide Main Street that snaked up the canyon. At the Bingham Mercantile store at Carrfork, the street split. To the left was a one-way tunnel that led to the hamlets of Copperfield and Dinkeyville and to the right led to Highland Boy. "That canyon was so narrow, a dog had to wag its tail up and down," old-timers quip. Throughout the canyon were small communities bearing such now-politically incorrect names as Frog Town, Jap Camp and Greek Camp, each reflecting, to some degree, its residents' ethnic make-up.
1.jpg Main Street, looking up to Highland Boy, looking down Carr Fork
Copperfield School, to Dinkeyville
"Our confinement between these towering mountains seems to produce a closer bond of fellowship among the people," wrote Mayor Ed W. Johnson in the 1939 souvenir program for Galena Days, the first of a series of frequently held celebrations of mining and canyon life that continued until 1957.
With Salt Lake City 30 miles away, Bingham had every amenity you could want, be it neighborhood grocery stores, cafés and bars like Pasttime and Copper King, and even its own movie theater. Local, retired advertising executive Bill Nicholls lived in Frog Town as a child, and remembers paying 45 cents at the Princess Theater to watch Flash Gordon serials, eat popcorn and drink malted milk.
Compared to the long-dominant Utah migration narrative of persecuted white Mormon pioneers pulling handcarts to what would become Salt Lake City, Bingham's all-but-
marginalized story was of a wealth of international migrants from the late 1800s onward, who ultimately would be driven out by the very mining companies that paid for them to come here.
For all Bingham's picturesque small-town pleasures, life was hard for both miners and their families. "Women who married three times, still outlived their husbands," Kennecott retiree Eugene Halverson recalls. He estimates between 300 and 400 miners died each year from lung diseases related to inhaling mine dust. Dust wasn't the only killer—accidents, cave-ins, along with avalanches and fires jumping shacks so close you could hear your neighbor snore—made life in Bingham hazardous. But the people who lived in the canyon, and in Lark, a smaller mining community directly to the east of the mine, loved their communities with a fierce pride.
Bingham Days
In the largest human displacement by a mining corporation in Utah history, former mine owner Kennecott Copper squeezed out the communities, buying up homes and businesses for cents on the dollar so the mine could expand.
Since the late 1990s, the foundations of Bingham City have been buried beneath a mound of waste rock so high it all but eclipses the snow-capped mountains behind it. Lark, meanwhile, is a wasteland.

Halverson has for years written about his memories of Bingham life on a blog called "Gene's Family Tree." In a post titled, "Bingham, a time to cry," he quotes a deceased former mine worker. "Yes, I envy all of you that can go back to your home town and sharpen memories of day gone by, because I have only my memories to reflect on. The town I spent my youth in is gone. There is no remnant of the town to sharpen my mind—nothing to focus on and bring in to sharper remembrance those long-gone days."
Telegraph in winter

In the last few years, Bingham and Lark's former residents have brought their long-buried yet still mourned homes back to life, freeze-framing and sharing their memories through virtual communities. Bingham native and now St George resident Eldon Bray administers a Facebook page called "Bingham Canyon History." Some of its 1,946 members post photographs of Bingham, its streets, businesses, people and craggy landscape. A community that had vanished from Utah is viscerally evoked in black and white images as those who lived in Bingham and their relatives post joyful comments, having identified faces and places in the pictures 

previously consigned only to fading memories. On a Facebook page entitled "Lark, Utah," along with historical images of the town and its people, amateur historian and former Lark resident Steven Richardson has provided a wealth of documents, news clippings and reminiscences about the town's history. As one woman writes on the Lark page, beneath a 1947 school class picture, "I love to see pictures like that. It makes my heart happy."
Saltas Store in Copperfield
Salt Lake City Weekly John Saltas
Mining is a brutal industry that devastates landscapes. The obliterated Oquirrh Mountains speak to that. The company gets its ore, workers get their salaries and one day the community has to pick up the social and environmental pieces left behind.
The corporate-driven demise of these two communities, protracted over years as far as Bingham Canyon was concerned, a few tension-filled months in Lark's case, left only those who had lived there to mourn their passing.
"They took my memories," Halverson says. "They buried Bingham. I used to be able to go to the top of the mine and see where things were." With no trespassing signs keeping people away, "Now, I can't even go up there. Just seems like they took everything away from me."
"You miss out on so much companionship and love and feelings," says Stella Saltas, the 88-year-old mother of City Weekly publisher, John Saltas. She was born in Bingham and had to join the forced exodus from the canyon in the early 1990s. Since then, she has lived in a rambler in West Jordan. The long-gone city, she says, "will always be home. I live here, but it's not home."

Many of Bingham's displaced citizens say they left a part of themselves in the canyon that they never regained. Some, such as authors Eldon Bray and Scott Crump, have self-published books celebrating and preserving their memories of the canyons.
Other former residents meet monthly at cafés and restaurants to share memories and keep alive old friendships forged in Bingham. Then there's the Fourth of July chuck-wagon breakfast at Copperton Park, a tradition started in Bingham Canyon and continued in Copperton by the local Lions Club chapter.
Ada Duhigg from Highland Boy
These gatherings underscore the fragility of such communities; each year fewer Bingham Canyon survivors show up for the eggs and pancakes.
London-based mining conglomerate Rio Tinto purchased the mine in 1989. On its website, it employs similar tools, but instead of an adhoc tour of personal histories and recollections, the corporation favors a 360-degree panoramic tour of the mine, which measures three-quarters of a mile deep by two-and-three-quarters miles across. "You can see it from the moon!" the tour guide in the video says.
"Currently, we are planning on operating until at least 2029, and the long-term outlook for copper is strong," spokesman Kyle Bennett writes in a response to emailed questions.
Meanwhile, far from its shadows, in kitchens and basement studies, the children of Bingham Canyon build through photographs and words a virtual re-creation of a beloved world long since lost. Halverson says they have no choice. "If you don't write these stories, and don't pass them on, they will die."
Erma Yengish's mother
 Highland Boy
The canyon got its name, according to local historian Marion Dunn's book Bingham Canyon, when Thomas and Sanford Bingham herded their cows there in August 1848. Back then, the canyon was covered with pine trees, many measuring 3-5 feet or more in diameter. Along with scrub oak and wildflowers, the Oquirrh Mountains were sources of timber to first build homes, the Mormon Tabernacle and to shore up the walls of underground mines.
Individual mining claims gave way to acquisitive businesses. By the early 1950s, U.S. Smelting, Refining & Mining Co. owned the underground mines that let out near Lark, and Kennecott Copper owned the above-ground mine directly to the south of Bingham Canyon.
Johnny Susaeta is a spry, twinkling-eyed 93-year-old who still displays the rugged good looks captured in photographs of the heroic local football star 70-plus years ago enshrined in a room dedicated to alumni at Bingham High in South Jordan. The World War II veteran and retired Kennecott worker's parents were Basques who met in San Francisco after emmigrating from Spain. Susaeta grew up in Highland Boy, where he knew Slavs, Italians, Serbs and Croatians. "I spoke most of their languages when I was young," he says.

It was a tough town to grow up in, one where fighting was a way of life. "I got in a fair amount of fisticuffs," Nicholls recalls. "Fighting was your way into making your mark and being accepted."

While Bingham taught its residents that diversity and acceptance went hand-in-hand, when they went to Salt Lake City, they'd often experience rejection. "When I went to the valley with my Mexican friends, they wouldn't let us go dancing unless I ditched them," Halverson says. "Well, hell, who would want to ditch their friends?"
When hostilities broke out in Europe at the beginning of World War II, Bingham ethnicities of every stripe went to war, leaving women to take over mining work. "Everybody in town was signing up," Halverson recalls. Johnny Susaeta signed up with four friends. "We ran around together, so we decided we'd go win the war."  Three made it back uninjured.
4 th of July Copperfield
Nicholls' father was a blacksmith. At war's end, he bought the Coppergate bar in Bingham. Wide-eyed, 8-year-old Nicholls arrived in Bingham just days before the end of the conflict. Each night, he went to sleep to music from a jukebox in the bar below playing country music. The day the war ended, he marveled at the parties in the street, people hanging out windows banging pots and pans, firecrackers going off as residents sang and danced in the streets.
Meanwhile, next to the mountains, Lark had a store, a gas station and a hotel, a bar and two churches—Catholic and Mormon. The land itself was owned by the U.S. Smelting, Refining & Mining Co.—some residents owned their homes, while many took advantage of cheap rents, the mining company-cum-landlord preferring to subsidize rents to have its employees close by.
Lark sat on a hillside with spectacular views of Salt Lake Valley. "It was right on the corner of the valley," says Lark historian and former Kennecott geologist Richardson. "You could look out and see the Wasatch Mountains." He and his wife would go for walks after dinner on the sand dunes, the smells of the copper minerals in the tailings that formed the dunes rising up to greet them.
What it shared with Bingham was the same miners' work ethic, and for some the same net result, men dying young of silicosis and their widows struggling to support their children.
Unless you owned your home, renting from the company made you vulnerable to eviction, if, as in the case of Crump's grandfather, you fell sick with "miner's lung." He and his family were evicted because he couldn't work anymore. A friend found him rooms elsewhere in Lark, where his wife cared for him until he died. She raised her children on a tiny pension until she found work at the Lark Mercantile and as custodian of the local Mormon ward house.
With the world's insatiable appetite for copper ore, the various canyon communities the mining corporations had relied on for labor found themselves in the way of the mine's expansion.
The process of families being displaced that first began with open-pit mining operations, picked up pace in the 1950s. By 1959, Kennecott Copper began aggressively buying up canyon private properties and homes. At a meeting, Dunn quotes one resident saying, "Why should we sell our homes for a song, move to the valley and go into debt 20 years?"

"It was all ending," Nicholls says. "Almost all of them were gone, there were a few holdouts who didn't want to take their pennies on the dollar offer."
Nicholls' father sold his Coppergate bar in 1961. The work had taken its toll on him, his son says."It just about destroyed him physically. He was an alcoholic, it was hard, hard work. He went through years of real struggle financially to keep things going."
Kennecott offered to pay the appraised property market value. Nicholls' father paid $39,000 in 1945 when he bought the bar. Kennecott offered him the same amount to sell in 1961. While his father wasn't pleased with the offer, "he was just happy to get out and get out with something," Nicholls says. "They really had the city over a barrel."
Bingham Days
Compared to the campaign of economic and social attrition Kennecott waged successfully against Bingham Canyon, the mine's owners faced a public-relations nightmare when it sought to raze the much smaller town of Lark.
On Dec. 14, 1977, a Kennecott official summoned Lark's 591 residents to a meeting at the LDS ward house. It had just agreed with UV Industries, which had previously bought out the U.S. Smelting, Mining & Refinery Co., to pay $2 million for 640 acres, which included Lark. The people of Lark had to vacate their homes by Aug. 31, 1978. Those who owned homes had to move them; those that rented faced eviction. Kennecott would neither buy the homes nor pay moving expenses, the official said. The company, he added, "is not in the housing business."
The acquisition, Rio Tinto's Bennett says, was for several reasons, including "owning buffer property adjacent to (the mine) and as a site for infrastructure that captures and moves storm water."

Lark Days 2015 at Copperton Park

Hilda Grabner was a descendent of Cornish miners, who were among the first immigrants to start mining the canyon. The retired teacher had lived in Lark on her own since her husband died in 1939, cultivating an immaculate English garden.
Then 81-year-old Grabner was one of six Lark residents who, strangers all to air travel, nevertheless flew to New York to attend a stockholders' meeting of the financially struggling Kennecott. Grabner and another resident were given five minutes. One irate shareholder shrilly interrupted them multiple times with the question, "Are they stockholders?" Grabner silenced her by replying, "We're stockholders in human lives."
some Lark Kids
Faced by a swarm of reporters reveling in the David-and-Goliath fight, Kennecott extended an olive branch. In early May 1978, it offered 120 percent of the appraised value of the homes, $1,000 toward the cost of relocating, and moving owned homes to Copperton free of charge.
Most of Lark's residents voted to take the deal. Perhaps the final insult to Lark's memory was that the nine white-board houses that were moved free of charge by Kennecott to Copperton, were then clad in red brick as part of Copperton Circle.
Richardson expresses frustration that he can no longer visit the land where his former home stood and where he and his wife raised four children. The last time they could walk there, they found pieces of a jigsaw puzzle his wife had made in the dirt. There was the tree where his kids had played on a swing.
"You can't leave the highway," he says, as any straying on to where Lark stood is barred by no-trespassing signs. "There's no sign there was ever a town there."
Old Mill a play ground
Rio Tinto began dumping waste over the former city and Main Street in 1997. Retired Kennecott employee Gary Curtis recalls driving one of the first haul trucks to start the down-canyon dumping on his mother's birthday. "I don't know I really realized the ramifications of it," he says now. "You can't take away people's memories, but you dump that rock in there, you've buried history, I guess."
By then, the last holdouts in Lead Mine, which stood at the bottom of the canyon, had gone. Stella Saltas lived there in her final Bingham years, the location of her home and her father's precious garden still partially visible from the road through a chain-link fence. "Little by little, they did it, till you're about the only one left," she recalls.
5.jpg Lark
"I wanted to stay there, that was home, I loved it," she says. Her feelings for Bingham, wrapped up in memories of daily coffee with her own mother on the latter's porch as hawks and eagles wheeled in the sky, are "something you can't explain."
Bingham High School
An important remnant of Bingham's existence was Bingham High on the northern edge of Copperton. While the elegant, art-deco designed school, by then a junior high, had been closed in 1996 by Jordan School District, it remained an emotional touchstone for generations of Bingham and Lark graduates who saw it as all that was left to testify to their past.
"Bingham people came from all over the world, really, to be miners," Crump says. "They came from so many places speaking different languages and the school was the gathering place, where they would all come together, to first get ahead in America by getting an education. This was their gateway to a better life, to learn English."
Rio Tinto ordered it razed in 2002. Bennett says the building post-closure by the school district, "fell into disrepair due to vandalism and became a safety hazard," so they had it torn down.
Fourteen years on, feelings still run high. "It's just a sin it was leveled," says Nicholls.
While other residents grabbed small mementos from the site, Johnny Susaeta and his three sons carried away a 2-by-4-foot, 200-pound capstone from one of the Art Deco school's towers. "Everybody else took bricks," Susaeta says, standing by the capstone, which they dug a hole for in his driveway. "We took that."
Now it's simply a weed patch. The only sign there was ever a school there is some steps rising to where the ballpark once stood that rang to the cheers of Bingham fans.
1947 Class in Golden Coral
The Bingham Canyon History Facebook page's membership, Eldon Bray says, is largely made up of, "the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of people who grew up in Bingham or worked the mine. The town and the mine were all locked together in so many ways."
Sit with retired mine worker Gary Curtis as he reviews old mining photos online and the pleasure they provide are clear. He points to a picture of Marvin "Rosie" Ray, father of Russell Ray, Copperton's former postmaster, and recalls the time Rosie "chewed my butt," after he was caught up in a fight. "There's Dr. Richards," he says, pointing to a 1930s photo of a barbecue. "He birthed me."
Thanks to Lark historian Richardson's diligent efforts, including interviewing former residents and posting their stories on Facebook, the Lark Facebook page paints a picture of both the community and its demise.
Bingham Kids
While Richardson had long been interested in history, his passion to explore Lark's past was fueled by Utah state archeologist Chris Merritt. In 2014, Merritt presented at a history conference a computer-software-generated 3-D flyover of Lark, circa 1978, using a town survey completed by Kennecott to calculate how much to pay residents for their homes, and black-and-white photographs of all the properties. The drone-like view begins from the Mascotte tunnel entrance, sweeping out over the streets and principal buildings that once made up the town. After the presentation, an emotional Richardson told Merritt, "I lived in Lark, I lived in that house," Merritt recalls, Richardson having recognized his former home among the pictures Merritt had used to bring Lark back to life.
Merritt coordinates the antiquities section for the Utah Division of State History and as a deputy state historical preservation officer, reviews "state and federal undertakings for their effects on archeological resources." He first heard of Lark after a state agency sent him a water-mitigation project Rio Tinto Kennecott was proposing on the old Lark site. Merritt learned that while most of the buildings were long gone, "the street system was still intact" in the surface dirt, and there were several 1950s brick structures, along with the old water tower.
Frog Town Kids
Through a report on the site compiled by the state, Merritt learned that in contrast to the LDS ward house-centric neighboring city of West Jordan, Lark, with its majority Hispanic population, had a Catholic church at its center, with the union hall next door. The LDS ward house was "off on the bench land further away." he says. "This is a classic mining town."
Since the site is not publicly accessible, working on documents he found in the state archives such as the town survey, "led us to a digital preservation of the community. That underscored you don't need to have that physical place to retain a community. You can still have it through this digital expression."
Merritt plans to invite Lark old-timers to the Sept. 30 Utah State History Conference in West Valley to record their recollections of "what they remember about Lark, what sticks out about it."
The sleepy town of Copperton all but stands guard on Bingham's mountain-tombstone, dump trucks visible on the waste-rock pile's upper echelons in the distance above houses on the west side of Copperton park.
Once it had a café, a gas station, a grocery store, an elementary and a high school, but "that's all gone now," says Copperton resident Ron Patrick. "Basically it's like we've moved away from some of the conveniences of the world."
Walk the quiet, drowsy streets and you encounter few cars or people. Copperton has three churches, a Mormon ward house, a Catholic and a Methodist church. Crump says being LDS and a Republican, "I'm in a minority. Republicans met in a telephone booth, while Democrats were a force to be reckoned with. They met in the Lions Club."
Walk with Patrick the block from his house to his father's, and he talks about people he knows and the houses they live in. He doesn't know the number of their house, just where it is.  "People change," Patrick says. "The town don't."
While residents talk about the possibility of Rio Tinto one day buying out Copperton and leveling that, too, Bennett writes that, "The Company has no plans to buy land within Copperton in the future, and it is unlikely that land in Copperton would be needed to accommodate growth."

That isn't true for Lark, though. Tearing out the guts of a mountain, in order to process the less-than-1-percent of copper ore it contains, generates 50 million tons of waste rock every year. Rio Tinto is placing some of that waste rock close to where Lark stood, 40 years after it tore the town down.
The only threat, resident and Copperton council member Kathleen Bailey sees, is encroachment from the valley itself. "Every year, they build further up Bingham Highway. I think one day they will be at our door."
Bingham Days
Every Fourth of July morning, Copperton Park rings to the preparation of a chuck-wagon breakfast and the shouted encouragement of the young and the old as they take part in three-legged races and other short sprints. "A lot of people from Bingham come back for that day," Patrick says. "They'll sit here all day in the park and just visit."
Where once the breakfast used to be for 2,000 people, Patrick's father Bud says, "now you do good if you have 500 or 600. You don't get many people who lived in the canyon and remember it."
This year's celebration will also see the unveiling of a memorial to the demolished Bingham High by Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.
Ask Rio Tinto what should be done to memorialize Bingham Canyon, given the role it played in the mine's development—including so many deaths from miner's lung—and Bennett responds by highlighting his company's focus on achieving a "zero-harm workplace." He writes, "We recognize the ultimate sacrifice many miners made before modern health and safety standards were in place."
Bingham High School Memorial
Bill Nicholls and Maynard John Berg, both graduates of Bingham High, are the driving force behind a permanent memorial for the school, if not the city. They had searched fruitlessly for one of the capstones that crowned the school's towers to use for the memorial. In mid May, having given up the hunt, a Copperton council member told them about Susaeta's capstone in his driveway.
In the late afternoon May sun, Nicholls and Berg, Susaeta, a volunteer and a City Weekly reporter gathered around the capstone.  "This is the key to our monument," Nicholls says. "We thought none of these existed. When I saw it, I just about fainted."  Berg squatted down by the capstone and dug a little of the dark, loamy soil that had been its home for so long. "I call it providence," he says.
The four men removed the capstone and took it to a shed at Copperton Park, to join several hundred bricks and smaller pieces of the old school's masonry that had been rescued by onlookers.
Lark Days
Shortly after the men drove away, one of Susaeta's relatives realized that they had not filled in the hole that removing the stone had created. In the late afternoon sunlight, the black soil leant it the quality of a grave. The man picked up a shovel and dragged the edge of the blade over the surrounding concrete, filling in the sides of the hole with dirt, before finding some blocks to fill in the rest of the yawning space. The metal scraping against stone echoed around the silent neighborhood, providing a soundtrack of sorts to the dumper trucks lined up on the upper ridges of the waste-rock mountain that looms above the town.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

COMPANY GUNMEN and the 1912 STRIKE and living in VIOLENCE

A Terrible time to Live in Bingham                             
Copperfield 4th of July
John J. Creedon said the 1912 strike almost caused our family to leave Bingham.  My mother was asked how many extra boarders she could handle, but when my father found out they were strike breakers and gunmen, he notified Mr. Haymond that they could eat in the section house, but not as long as he lived there.  Mr. Haymond agreed with him and these “skunks” were taken care of at the “Big Ship” in Upper Bingham.
Mother kept me out of school for part of that year because of the tension.  The gunmen were everywhere on company property and you never knew when you would have a gun stuck in your back and challenged.  We even had one in a packing box below our house.  I remember that one of these men shot another and that seemed to be the only good they did while they were here.  I don’t remember of too much violence, but they say there was a lot of shooting in Upper Bingham during the strike, but evidently no casualties.
Copperfield 4th of July
But life must go on and school and new friends put all else in the background.  Those first days at school I met friends that I was to go through school with and form friendships with their families that have endured to the present time.  My first pal was Coleman Quinn.  We started the first grade together and graduated together without a break in the twelve years.  My first auto ride was with the Quinns, and I took many trips with them.  I met the Stillmans, Grants, Bakers, Nerdins and so many of the Swede-Finns that first year.
The year 1912 came and with it tragedy to Bingham.  It was the year of the Big Strike.  I don’t remember the issues at stake or the winner of this strike, if there was any winner.  There seems to be a difference of opinion of the outcome from some of the old timers I have consulted.
It brought to Bingham an element that left a blight on the community for years to come - Strike breakers or “scabs” were brought in to work the jobs, the men had left and the gunmen were there to protect them.  The hate and resentment shown these unwelcome visitors impressed me as young as I was, and to this date, I loathe such persons.

Greek Camp Copperfield 1912 ?
Chicago Day Book said, a deadly war may break out at the village of Bingham, where 5,000 miners are on strike, at any minute.  If it does the Utah Copper Company will be directly responsible. 
Governor Spry refused to give the mine owners the militia on their demand, and now the owners are organizing a militia of their own.
Late last night 50 sharpshooters, each man a dead shot, were ordered posted on the hills around the Utah Copper Companies mines.

When the miners struck they entrenched themselves near the mines.  They did so because they had experiences with Utah Copper special deputy sheriffs in the past. 
Two days after the strike was declared there were 100 heavily armed Company deputies in Bingham.  The company spread reports of the finding of dynamite and of the likelihood of killings.  Governor Spry hurried to Bingham.
Spry asked the miners to meet with him and talk things over.  They readily consented and left their entrenchments, satisfied they were safe so long as the governor was in Bingham. 
Spry asked the men their grievances.  They told him they wanted an increase in wages and recognition of the union.   Spry advised arbitration.  The men immediately offered to arbitrate.  The company refused. 

Spry advised the men not to use violence.  They said they had no intention of doing so.  Spry asked them why they were armed and entrenched.  They told him of the deputy sheriffs.
Spry then said there was no need for the soldiers the company demanded and left Bingham. 
The next day the force of deputies increased to 300 and more deputies have been pouring into the village every day. 

Meantime the Utah Copper Company had enlisted the county commissioners in their service.

They had the commissioners go to Bingham on a junket trip and inspect the miner’s entrenchments, which Spry had not thought serious.  The County Commissioners ordered the sheriff to destroy the entrenchments and disarm everyone in Bingham except deputies. 

This is certain to cause trouble.  The miners are afraid of the deputies.  They will not submit to be disarmed, while the deputies are left armed, without resistance. 
And if the miners do attempt resistance the sharpshooters on the hills above the mines will be able to kill them at will.
Governor Spry is still trying to get the company to agree to arbitration.  The men have made another request for a conference with company officials.  The company officials have returned no answer to the request.
Bingham is not a town.  It is just a collection of shacks of Utah Copper Company’s miners.

Quotes from “Bingham” a 1945 school book-7th and 8th Grades.  The Mine owners and scabs were successful in breaking the 1912 Strike

Utah Copper had “fired and Black-Balled” many of the strikers.  They were angry and unemployed.  Scabs were replaced with experienced men and both were causing trouble.  Bingham was no longer a safe and happy place to live.  Some of my Swedish-Finn relatives moved to Eureka or went back to Finland.  Greeks and Italians found other work or became self-employed.

 John Leventis owned a coffee shop in Copperfield, said, “Let the owners get the ore themselves”.  The Greeks created a fraternal lodge to help their members become independent.  With money and help partnerships opened most of the grocery stores, drug stores and apartments.  The more pressure and discrimination they endured the closer they became.  They united into one great family and they survived.

The Ku Klux Klan and the Company Deputies made life as miserable as they could.
Highland Boy
Ellen Vidalakis (Furgis) told about the Ku Klux Klan when they were burning crosses in Dinkeyville.  “You could see them everywhere and people were just terrified.”  A Mormon Bishop was caught “burning crosses” above Magna.  Salt Lake and Price had crosses burning there, yet there were no arrests by police anywhere.   

Highland Boy
 “Lopex Saga” happened when Deputy Sheriff Julius Sorensen pushed Raphael Lopez too far.   The sheriff was a company gunman and bought in with the other 400 gunmen.  Raphael Lopez came to Bingham to work.  The mines were hiring and he was an experienced miner and worked as a “leaser”. He made lots of money and spent it freely on his friends.  He was noticed and watched by the police.  He was not a “Scab” yet he was treated like some kind of animal.  He was an educated, honest and honorable person, from an aristocratic Spanish family from Mexico Lopez was a half-blood Englishman and Mexican.  He won the respect of the people who knew him.  He was quiet and good natured and temperate with liquor.  He was definitely not a drunkard or a trouble maker.   The turning point in his life was most unfortunate. 

Two young ladies came running to the Highland Boy Mine to tell about two Greek muckers who had bothered them and a Mexican had made them stop. 

Failing to believe the young ladies Sorenson pistol-whipped Lopez and hauled Lopez to jail.  Lopez had a terrible temper and wanted revenge.  LOPEZ knew he had no life in Bingham so when he was released he found his old enemy and killed him.  There are many other versions of why he killed Valdez. 
a make believe Lopex
He left Bingham and headed over the mountain on foot, but there was snow on the ground and he left a trail.  The “Posse” followed him on horses and soon caught him west of Lehi where he killed three of those who found him.  Of course Sorensen got away. 

LOPEZ left tracks in the snow and the chase was on.  Several Posses from as many cities and counties began chasing like he was some kind of animal.  LOPEZ began circling until no one knew who was following who.  There were reports of gun battles at Mosida, a town south of Utah Lake.  Some thought they had him near Eureka.  Others had him at Cedar fort. Fifty men plus 25 Indian Trackers had him at Skull Valley.   Others had him in Little Valley, south-west of Vernon living on McIntire Summer Ranch more than a hundred miles away. 

A man in Bingham stated the Police deserved what they got for treating people the way they didThe police beat him up, put him in jail and the judge fined him $50.00 to get out.  The town was sharply divided on who was the good guy and who was the bad guy.  John Creedon wasn’t the only one who loathed the Company Gunmen. 

Class 1947 Bingham High
All of Lopez’s friends were rounded up; searched for any kind of weapons and jailed (this is what they did to minorities during the strike).  Hundreds of Mexicans in every Mormon town were arrested while the “Newspapers” called for all Mexicans to be deported (just like the Mormons think in Utah today).  They were even rounding up Mexicans as far away as California. 

I worked with a blacksmith named Joe Tome.  In his oral history Joe said he came to Bingham the same year as Lopez.  Joe said he liked Lopez and thought he got a bum-rap.  Everyone I knew liked Lopez, just wish I would have just asked what life was like for each one of them “living in a Company Town” with Company Gunmen and Company Law.
The posse learned Lopez had come back to Bingham and trapped in the Highland Boy mine.  So, it was shut down and searched and had poisonous gasses pumped into the mine.

The searchers were paid with a five-dollar gold coin.  When the police thought he was dead or gone, the searchers suddenly found a new track or sign of Lopez to keep the gold coins coming.

Governor Spry refused to let the Militia come to Bingham
Colorado's Militia machine gunned  and fire-bombed a striker camp 
remembered as the "Ludlow Massacre" 
Bingham had lived under the guns of gunmen over a year or two and it did not surprise anyone when someone gave Lopez a helping hand and away he went.   

Unions were never recognized until 1944.  Wages were low and workers were still being killed or injured.  So we went on strike.  We went on strike time after time.  When I retired they deducted 1 ½ years strike time from my pension.  Salt Lake County sent 60 to 80 deputies up there at a time to intimidate us.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016


A Story of Maren Hansen’s Daughter
History of Ellen Pederson Sorenson; 
Written by Lois Jane Sorenson (daughter-in-law)

            In the far off land of Snesere, Denmark, was born a little girl, with blue eyes and dark hair to Peder Pedersen and Marren Hansen.  This little girl was born 29 June 1856 and was given the name of Ellen.
            Marren, the mother, had been married before to a man by the name of Nielsen (it is not known if he died or not).  She had two children by this marriage, a boy named Hans Peter and a little red-headed girl which they called Stina.
            In the year 1858 a child was born to Ellen’s mother and Father, they gave the name of Kiraten.  This family was contacted by the Mormon Elders and converted to the church.  They were baptized about the year 1856 in Denmark.  After joining the church their friends and relatives mistreated them very severely and they decided to set sail to American to be with the Saints in Utah.
Oxen and Wagon
            In the year 1862 they started for the Promised Land.  They were ten weeks on the water which was a long time for them especially the children.  Their little daughter Kiraten was ill all the way.  Her parents felt she would improve when they reached land but this was not so and after two weeks travel she died.  This was in the state of Nebraska.  With only a sheet to wrap her in they laid her in the cold earth.  This was a great trial to her parents.  Ellen remembers that after they had traveled a few days the captain felt their wagon was overloaded and ordered them to unload and throw away part of their boxes.  This was heartbreaking for them to throw away a good box which only a few days ago could have served as a casket for their dear little daughter.
            Ellen’s father and mother bought three yoke of oxen and a cow and started across the plains to Utah.  Hans Peter driving the cow, the mother riding whenever she could.  Ellen remembers walking most of the way.  She and her little sister gathered buffalow chips in their aprons so that they could have a fire at night.
            The cow gave enough milk that the family had all the milk they needed, also Marren made butter, which was enjoyed by many of the Saints, what was left shared with the other Saints.
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            Indians were bad, but they never bothered them while traveling, however they had many experiences with them after arriving in Utah.
            Ellen, a little girl of seven, loved to pick Indian beads out of the ant beds and string them for necklaces.  She says that the ants never bothered her.  She also remembers her father being left by the company and having to walk all night to catch up.
            Arriving in Utah in 1862 or ’63 they settled in Ephraim for two years.  Later they moved to Richfield.  The family lived in a little two-roomed house with a dirt floor.
            The town of Richfield grew very fast from log cabins to adobe houses.  Ellen’s father was a carpenter and he made them beds, tables, chairs, and many other items of furniture.  The children sat on three-legged stools and Ellen remembers cooking many meals in the bake skillet over the coals in an open fireplace.  At this time they burned grass wood using the ashes for soap to wash their clothes.  What was left over was saved and later made into candles which was their only way of lighting at night.
            Ellen had very little schooling but was very talented in cording and sewing.  She spun many yards of cloth, sewed many mens suits, shirts and other clothing.  She has spun as high as seven scans in one day.
Silk making
            Twenty-first March 1867 was a day she remembered well.  Many a time she has related the story of Jens Peterson and his wife, and 14-year-old Mary Smith and of how they were killed by the Indians while on their way from Richfield to Glenwood.  Ellen’s sister Stina was a friend of Mary Smith and had planned to come with her but at the last minute she changed her mind and didn’t, or she would have been killed also.
            After this terrible experience President Young told the people of Richfield to move away, to go north to more populated areas.
            This was hard for the Saints as they were finally being settled down after so much traveling.  However, the Pedersons like all the rest left their homes and returned back to Ephriam about the first of April 1867.
            It was here that Maren, their mother who had been through so many hardships, became ill and passed away on 28 December 1867, leaving her husband and three children alone.

Stage Coach 
Ellen was eleven years old and was the youngest of the children since her little sister Kiraten had died.
This family went through many hardships without their mother, however Marren had taught Ellen the routine of household duties and so Ellen had to do these tasks.  At times they barely had enough to go around but they were thankful for what they had, and regardless of how tough times got their father always seemed to pay his obligations and tithing to the church.
After the Indian trouble had settled down again they returned to Richfield.  This was in 1872.  She was a very good housekeeper and kept their little house very clean.  She even moped the dirt floor each day to keep the dust away until her father was able to put boards down, this she would scrub each day.
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Ellen used to take her brothers Hans Peter dinner to him each day as he worked in a first mill on the west part of Richfield.  She was so frightened of Indians creeping out at her that she ran most of the way.  She was now 16 years old but still had this deep fear of Indians.
At this time Jens Sorensen had come to Utah from Denmark, he had the privilege of riding the first train that came into Ogden with the Saints.  He later traveled on to Glenwood with P.C. Petersen about 1872, by visiting around with different people he met the Peder Pedersen family.  He enjoyed going to their home for some good meals and visiting with the young people.  He thought Ellen was a very good housekeeper and cook and this was where his love began to grow.  Ellen also became interested in Jens and fell in love with him.  They both enjoyed talking Danish.  On 9 November 1874 this young couple were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, they made their trip by ox team.  Jens had a little one room log cabin with a few pieces of furniture.  Some was made during United Order.  So it was to this little home they abided.  Ellen with her good housekeeping soon had it a very nice little place and a real home for them.  She continued making candles, washing and cording wool, spinning it and helping to clear many acres of land.  She would clean the grain, then would take cloth for furniture which was then made at Ephriam.  (At the age of 70 she still had a wardrobe of this homemade nature and her spinning wheel is a present in the Daughters of Pioneer Relic Hall in Glenwood in memory of her.)
 They lived in the United Order as long as it was in force.  So they knew how to share.  It lasted for about five years.
In July 1878 their first child was born to them.  Ellen made some beautiful clothes for her then named her Mary Ellen Sorensen.  April 4, 1881 their second child was born.  This child was called Annie Kirsteen.  She was a little dark headed girl.
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As they were rather crowded in this little log house by now they built a new house west of their log house, this new place was made of adobe and had three big rooms down stairs and three up stairs.
Dora Dort a little girl was born in this new home, 4 December 1883 just in time for Christmas which made the family very happy.
At this time plural marriage was being practiced and through the acquaintance of Larsena Hansen (who had helped Ellen when she needed help, being a close friend of Ellen’s stepmother).  It was at this time that Jens thought he should take another wife and so he chose Laresena Hansen, a pretty young women from Denmark.  They were married 16 January 1884 in St. George Temple, this was rather hard for all concerned but they did so thinking and knowing it was the Lord’s will.
Twelfth March 1886 another girl baby was born.  They named her Millie, this made quite a family for Ellen to cloth and feed.
Ellen not only shared her husband but also her home.  Larsena lived in the South room for four years where she had two children, Inger Christene and Alice.  The family all ate together.  This was hard for both wives.  After their third child (Larsena) Jemina Dorthea was born she moved to a little adobe house a block East of Ellen’s home, here is where her twins were born.  So Ellen again had the home for herself.
In August 5, 1888 Huldah Adamma a pretty little red haired girl came to earth.

It was at this time that the manifesto was signed that plural marriage was to cease.  The men had to go in hiding from the officers as they came around.  The officers of the law came and took their husband Jens, this was a sad occasion but a common one at this time.
On November 8, 1891 their first son, James Elmer was born a little red headed guy, how proud and happy they were to finally have a son.  On January 6, 1895 another little boy came along and was given the named of Peter Erlen but his stay here on earth wasn’t long as he died on February 8, 1895.  This was hard for them, but Ellen and Jens had been blessed as this was the tenth child for Jens and the seventh for Ellen and the first line broken in the two families.
August 12, 1896 a little blond boy was born to Jens and Ellen, and given the name of Vern Ernest, two years later twins were born to Larsena and Jens (Lyman and Alima).
This made 13 children in all completed to two families.
Ellen taught her children to work along with her.  She was a good wife and mother but very stern in her ways, she was very good to give of her substance to anyone in need.  For years she churned butter and sold it.  She would go with her horse and buggy to Richfield with her pounds and pounds of butter each week, summer or winter.  As each of her children grew up and made homes of their own she made a good grandmother.
They all loved to go to her home, they knew she always had good homemade buns for them to eat.
She was a Relief Society block Teacher for many years.  She worked in all of the Organizations but on the account of her having very little schooling she was unable to write.  However, she was a very good reader and thus was well read and versed.  Her husband kept their family records.  She was active in the church as long as her health would permit it.
Jens died January 20, 1927, at the age of 82, one of Annies boys stayed with her.  Five of her children lived in Glenwood so she was real close to her loved ones.  On May 4, 1939 her daughter Annie Died.  This was hard on her and she did all she could to help with her children.
She was in Richfield to a Stake conference when she took her first stroke and from that time on her health failed her.  Huldah took care of her until she needed some one with her all the time.  At this point her oldest daughter Mary took her into her home and cared for her.
She was there when she had her third stroke, and she passed away in Mary’s home on Tuesday evening May 16, 1939, at the age of 82.
Her funeral services were May 19, 1939, presided over by her son Bishop Elmer Sorensen, conducted by Counselor Albert Oldroyd.  She lived through a choice time and saw many changes in the world.  From people crossing the plains and living in dugouts to our moderns homes of today.  And from the ox teams to the high powered automobiles of today also from candles to electric lights.
She had many friends where ever she went.  At the time of her death she had six living children, 26 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and a half sister Caroline Nielsen.

A Story of Maren Hansen’s Son
Hans Peter Nielsen 1845-1909--- Ellen Pederson 1856-1939
Both buried at Richfield Cemetery
Nielsen Family
Hans Peter was born 31 March 1845,  at Praesto, Denmark,   to Maren Hansen and Niels Isaacsen (Isaaksen
Ellen Pedersen was born 29 June 1856 at, Praesto, Denmark, to Maren Hansen and Peder Pedersen

            We did not know our Grandfather, Hans Peter Nielsen.  He passed away (1909) before our mother was married.  We know he was a grist miller, and excellent carpenter, and a skilled builder.  We have seen and enjoyed visiting some of the buildings he built.  The home we spent most of our lives in, Grandfather built for our Grandparents, William and Sarah G. Meeks.  He worked well with his family, especially his sons and son-in-law, Nels Hanson, an excellent and much sought after skilled carpenter. 

            Grandfather and Grandma had an aesthetic appreciation for nature. Because of this they built the grist mill, their home and other essential buildings in a most beautiful, serene spot near Bicknell on the Fremont River, with large gorgeous red cliffs in the background.  We do not have a picture of Grandpa Nielsen, but from our mother’s description he was not a large man, sandy complexioned, with kind blue eyes and looked like the “Good Miller Man”.

The Story of the Grist Mill and Planing Mill
By Matilda Nielsen Meeks

Moving the Mill from Richfield to Bicknell
            Hans Peter Nielsen came to Utah, the year of 1863.  He came across the ocean in a sailboat owned by John J. Boyd, called the Packet boat.  Father landed in New York, worked a year there and came on to Utah to Ephraim, Sanpete County. 

His occupation was milling. He ran the mill at Richfield.  They were driven back and forth three different times by the Indians to Richfield, Ephraim and Elsinor, and would or had to pile sacks of grain up to the windows and bar the doors to keep the Indians out and from shooting at them.  He carried and old musket gun with him.  He kept it hung on the wall where he could get it easily. 

            He built and owned a mill at Richfield up by the Spring Ditch in the year of 1882.

He came to Thurber, Wayne County the year of 1890, for the purpose of milling.  He built and ran the mill now standing down by the Dirty Devil River (Fremont River) by the bridge.  He ran it by water power.  He ran and kept the mill up to his death, 1909.  It was sold to the King Brothers in the year 1910.  Father brought with him the old musket gun and had it hung on the wall.  An old Indian called Grey Head recognized the gun from the mills at Richfield and Ephraim.  He said, “I that many times and could have killed you.” 

Nielsen Mill at Bicknell
Father was a great friend of the Indians.  They would come and store their pine nuts up in the loft of the mill at Thurber, by the sack full every fall and when they came for them they would give a pan full to Father.  We children looked forward to this, for the pine nuts.  They called him “The Good Miller Man”. 

They also built or had the first planing mill.  Hans Nielsen and Niels Hansen planed all the lumber and made all the door and window frames the went into the first houses built in this new town (Bicknell), the Grant Rock House and Mansfield brick and frame building, and the Relief Society Hall.  The first house was an old granary that was moved up on wagons from the old town by James Grant.  They lived in it while their house was built.  The door and window frames were hauled up to town o big hayracks with wagon and team. 
Mill still quite complete
Sarah Nielsen. Weight said,  About the year 1891 Father and his family were sent to Wayne County, known as Wayne Wonderland, to build another Mill, the first Mill to be built in that county.  it was a four-story building.  The third floor was used as a carpentry shop where Father with our brother-in-law, Nels Hansen, also did carpentry work.  They made coffins when they were needed.  It took a day to bury the dead at that time as all the travelling was done by horses, buggies and wagons—mostly by wagon. 
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Tribes of Indians made their visits often.  They always came peeking in at the windows when they came begging for something to eat.  In the fall they would glean the wheat and gather pinenuts and trade for flour and meat, as Father had a lot of pigs and would cure the meat and smoke it.  We had good smoked cured hams and bacon to sell.  There was an old Indian who always had a story to tell about the early days of Richfield when Indians were so dangerous.  They said they could have killed Father if they wanted, but Father was so good to them and they like the “Miller Man’ as they always called him. 
Father worked real hard.  He lived to be sixty four years old.  He died 18 September 1909 and was buried in Wayne County and afterward moved him from the Bicknell Cemetery to the Richfield Cemetery.
Grandma used to go to Richfield to shop.  One day as she was walking down the side-walk she heard someone calling behind her, trying to catch up to her, “Good Miller Man’s Squaw, stop! Stop!  It was an Indian squaw, Tewank’s sister, and she had been to Grandpa’s Mill in Bicknell many times and pick up pinenuts.  The Indians tied their sacks with a special knot so that they could tell if someone had opened it.