The story starts in Yale in the summer of 1868, when Peter Emery, a Katz Indian, came back from a goat hunting trip in the mountains to show his friend, a 32-year-old miner called Tom Schooley, a sample of silver ore he’d picked up. It was rich. Fabulously rich!
Tall, dark and handsome, always distinguished by his white cowboy hat, Tom Sehooley was the life of every gathering. For that reason he was dubbed, along the Fraser, “Happy Tom”. Schooley climbed Silver Peak, 5 miles south of Hope, B.C., at elevations of 5,000 to 5,700′ on the north side of Silver Peak, found the source of the ore, and promptly recognized it as one of the richest silver finds in the country.
Instead of staking claims, he got a Crown grant to three lots, then went looking for partners. He didn’t have far to go. First one he interested was George Deitz, an old buddy of the original Fraser River rush who, backed by Wells Fargo money, was now running a prosperous stage line between Yale and the upper country.
Another Fraser River original who put up money was S. P. “Sue” Moody, founder of the sawmill community of Moodyville, on the north shore of Burrard Inlet. Then over In Victoria Schooley interested Frank Garesche, who’d been a Wells Fargo man In San Francisco before being transferred to Victoria with the gold rush.
With this backing the Eureka Mining Company was formed, , and soon 3,000,000 shares were being gobbled up. When Schooley’s block of shares hit the market he did pretty well for himself. He met Forman’s daughter, Ellen, just a year out from England. After a whirlwind courtship the couple was married. However, it was right after their San Francisco honeymoon when Happy Tom turned into Surly Tom.
Tom became more and more surly and suspicious of his wife and father-in-law having designs on his money, that Tom turned to the bottle. Finally, it was while he and his wife and their two-month-old daughter were staying with the Formans, that trouble reached the breaking point one January night in 1874.
Tom had been drinking steadily all day, and threatened his wife with violence, smashing furniture along the way. Forman took such exception to his son-in-law’s attitude, that he picked up his plate and went into the kitchen to eat alone. Schooley staggered after him, and lounging in the doorway produced a revolver.
Schooley fired, the bullet going through Forman’s hand. As Forman ran to the back door, another bullet ploughed into his back. Dr. J. S. Helmcken answered the call and his diagnosis was a gloomy one. He doubted that Forman would live through the night. Police Inspector Bloomfield was on the scene and dragging the drunken Schooley to his feet, sent him off to jail in a cab.
The jury took a mere 20 minutes to find Schooley guilty. He was sentenced to hang. Inside the fence of the prison yard was a small crowd. As Schooley made his appearance the crowd in the yard removed their hats, and Sherriff Wood and the Rev. Mr. McGregor, one each side of him, assisted him up the steps to the scaffold. A few minutes later, Happy Tom was no more.
That fall, in November, another couple of Eureka shareholders met their death. Frank Garesche and Sue Moody, with the idea of interesting San Francisco capital in the Eureka Mine, took passage on the ill-fated steamer Pacific, which collided in the dark off Cape Flattery with a sailing ship.
She went to the bottom, and among the 300 drowned were Garesche and Moody. Another who also lost his life was Provincial Police Superintendent Sullivan. In this aura of tragedy, for the next 45 years, the Eureka workings remained silent and abandoned, until a summer day in 1920, when Mr. Williamson re-discovered the property.
Acting as agents for Sperry and White in Seattle, he picked up the property for a song in a tax sale, and big plans were being made to re-open the mine. However, nothing much happened and 15 years later it was struck off.
B.C.’s first quartz mine had become just another hole in the ground, but not before it had tragically affected the lives of its five promoters.