Friday, July 8, 2011


Karl John(Johan)
By Eugene H. Halverson

Karl was the “old German”.  I had too many Scandinavian relatives to believe him to be a full German.  He must have come from one of the three Grand Duchies that Prussia captured in the 1863 war.  I believe John to be a middle name and know one ever knew his last name.  I probably new him better than most and I know only bits and pieces about him.  Everyone thought he was wealthy and I guess he was at one time because he had boxes of old German coins and paper money.  He would always give you some if you asked.  There were always kids leaving with pockets full of money.  I just wished that I had saved some just to remember him by. 
Karl John was a secretive old cuss.  He was never mean or ornery even when I discovered some of his secrets.
My dad was fired because he got silicosis and could no longer work in the mine, but was rehired to run the air compressors in back of the US Hotel.  Old man Hoyne (superintend Hoyne that is) was afraid of a lawsuit after his son ran his car over Lee and I.  I could not go to school for a whole year.  So, day after day, summer and winter, here I sat like a bird, with a bird’s eye view from our house sat unable to hardly walk even with crutches. 

A wheelbarrow at a time filled this ore-bin and tunnel
I began watching Karl John coming and going.  He was doing some strange things.  I could tell he was not fond of being watched even by an eight year old kid.  He began watching me as much as I was watching him and it was bugging him.  A few months later I made the mistake of sneaking in on him while he was working but he caught me.  I was scared but he was scared too.  His first question was what do you know and who have you told?  I told him I knew he was hiding something and now I knew what.  Who knows anything besides you, who have you told, what about your parents? 

Then the two of us sat down to talk.  He didn’t tell me how he found this body of ore (silver and lead, whatever) but I believe he went down to bedrock for gold and it by accident.  He asked me to keep quite or he would be sent away.  So, I promised.    

The 1863 mining claim at Galena/US came right to the surface.  Karl’s vein was deeper maybe about 5/6 feet under the surface.  He worked it for years with a pick, shovel and wheelbarrow.  He mixed waste dirt with his ore to fool the US Mine who he was leasing from.  If they even had an idea how rich a claim he had they would have shut him down.  I pat myself on my back on finding his secret but neither Lee nor I had ever been able to catch him wheeling his wheelbarrow from his work to the loading shoots.  He had to take it out of the hole up and across the road, up the hill and dump it in the ore shoot. These wheelbarrow trips must have been done at night when everyone was sleeping.  He was a sneaky old rascal to do this and he did it for years.  Trucks would later take it from there to the train just above Copperfield.  If the shoot was full he would barrow it into the mine there, where it was camouflaged again.  No one but Lee and I knew this part of his secret. 

He had his own forge and anvil.  We used to love watching him making the picks and bars hot and then he would hammer sharp points on them on his anvil.  
He never seemed to have visitors or friends.  Very few ever stopped to talk to him.  Never seemed to smile except to laugh at himself.  I never ever seen him at Copperfield or Bingham buying food or clothing.  Once in a while a taxi or maybe a car would pick him up but I believe it took him straight to Salt Lake City.  That was where he said he was going when he retired so he must have had friends or family there.
Four mines were sunk within a few feet of his claim and missed it.  Neither Karl John or I ever told about his secret.  But the Henike brothers began scraping the creek bed down to bedrock and found it.  But greed overtook them they shipped out the pure stuff and the US shut them down after the first shipment.

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