The mines west and north of Butte were some of the earliest to develop because the Butte mineral district is zoned like an onion, with the outer rings richer in silver than the central, more copper-rich sections. While the Orphan Girl was probably the most prolific producer at more than seven million ounces of silver, other mines were important during Butte’s silver era, 1875-1893.
The Germania mine was about a half mile almost due south of the Orphan Girl. It was established by a German immigrant about 1881. He promptly died, and his nephew Louis “Lee” Freudenstein inherited the claim when he came to Butte in 1882.
Butte’s silver boom really began in 1884-85, and by November 1885, the Germania was “being worked night and day… looks very well,” according to the Butte Miner. Freudenstein and his wife Christina were living at 211 W. Galena, a tiny frame house long gone, on the site of today’s Headframe Spirits building.
In 1886, the Germania was being worked aggressively. In January that year, the 150-foot level encountered an old drift from the Mountain Boy mine northwest of the Germania. The Mountain Boy had been abandoned and filled with water, and the onrushing torrent blasted the two Germania miners, Gus Anderson and James Oxman.
Oxman, a 25-year-old Cornwall man from Redruth, England, was carried away and drowned, but Anderson survived. It took a week to de-water the mine and remove the debris to retrieve Oxman’s body. The owners of both mines, Freudenstein for the Germania and J. Ross Clark for the Mountain Boy, were found negligent, but I don’t know what penalty they paid, if any.
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