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you were assayer for La Abra Company at Tayoltita T— A. Yes, sir.



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LA ABRA SILVER MINING COMPANY. 997

Seizure and Confiscation of the Companxfs Mule Trains.

The committee's proposition that " the correspondence between the
company's superintendent and agents at the mines in Mexico and the
managing agent of the company in New York, accompanying this re-
port, is sufficient, considered alone, to show the whole claim of the
company to be fraudulent, and the claimant's testimony before the
Mixed Commission, so far as it tended to fix the respotisibility for the
cmnpany^s loss upon tJie Mexican Oovernment^ to have been rank perjury^^
may also be tested by a comparison between the deposition ot General
Bartholow, who was the company's first superintendent at the mines,
and his letters to Mr. Garth, the company's treasurer in New York.
General Bartholow's testimony was taken for submission to the joint
commission on behalf of the company, in June, 1874. His letters to
Mr. Garth, three in number, were written between February G, 1806,
and April 10, of the same year — a period but little over two months,
and it is therefore impossible that they should contain anything like a
full account of the occurrences and transactions in Mexico affecting the
company during his superintendency, which commenced in the summer
of 1S65. It is evident that the letter-press copy-book does not contain
all of his correspondence with .the home office, and can not fairly be
put in comparison with his deposition, so far as the latter deals with
facts that transpired prior to February 6, 1866.

General Bartholow, now deceased, attained his military rank in the
war for the Union. He was distinguished and highly esteemed in
Saint Louis, the senior member of a banking house in that city. The
United States Commissioner, Mr. Enos Clarke, before whom General
Bartholow was examined, certified that General Bartholow was well
known to him " as a prominent banker and citizen of the city of Saint
Louis, a man of responsibility, and of excellent character as a gentleman
of truth and veracity ; ^ and attached to the general's deposition is a
certificate of the Hon. Samnel Treat, judge of the district court of the
United States for the eastern district of Missouri, that, in his opinion,
Thomas J. Bartholow, the aforegoing deponent, personally known to
him, ** is a prominent banker in the city of Saint Louis^ in said district,
and a gentleman of unquestioned veracity and integrity, whose statements
are entitled to the fullest confidence.^

In rebuttal of testimony, produced on behalf of the Mexican Govern-
ment, to the effect that the company never owned any mule trains, and
hence could have suffered no loss by the capture of its mules, General
Bartholow deposed as follows (Appendix, p. 476) :

Two entire male trains, loaded with provisions and supplies belongipg to said com-
pany, were captured by the military authorities of the Mexican Republic ; and the
mnles and supplies so captured and taken by force were appropriated lo the use of
said army, and I never was able to recover any of said mules or supplies, nor did
said Abra Company ever receive any indemnity or compensation for the same, al-
though I applied to General Ramon Corona, the chief in command of said forces on
the Pacific coast, to restore to the company the property so captured by his subordi-
nate officers, and at the same time implored protection from him against further dep-
redations of that character against the property of the company. He responded to
said appeal by referring me t«» the commanding officer at San Ignacio, Sinaloa, under
whose military jurisdiction the property was seized. IvUited said commander at San
Ignacio^ whose name, I think, was General Guerra or General Parra ; I do not now rec-
ollect which of the two was then commanding at that point. / knew them both, and
a number of other officers of said army, whose troops had committed similar depre-
dations, and had levied other *' prestamos " upon the Abra Company while under my
soperi n tendence.

This is a sufficiently definite statement, susceptible of direct reftita-
tion if not true. The Mexican agent in Washington, as soon as this



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998 LA ABRA SILVER MINING COMPANY.

deposition was filed, could have taken steps to examine Generals Co-
rona, Guerra, and Parra, but the testimony of none of these officers was
filed with the commission. General Barthoiow deposed thi^theha4rmted
the Mexican commander at San IgnaciOy within whose military jurisdic-
tion the alleged capture had been made, to confer with him in regard to
restitution or indemnity. Such a statement might easily have been dis-
proved if untrue. The committee brands General Bartholow's deposi-
tion on this point as " rank perjury" so far as it tends '* to fix responsibilitjf
for the company^s loss upon the Mexican GoternmenV^ (there seems to be
the rub), because " it appears from the letters, copies of which are found
in the testimony of witnesses taken before the committee, that the com-
pany never owned any mule trainSjhxxt that all its transportation was con-
ducted by hiring mule trains owned by Mexicans" (Report, p. 13). If
it is General Bartholow's letters, as they appear in the letter press copy-
book, that are alluded to by the committee, the answer is that they
contain nothing inconsistent with the facts stated on this point in his
deposition. The capture of the mules by the military authorities iu the
earlier operations of the company would prove to the superintendent
that it would be better to hire mules if possible. His letters show how
difficult it was to do this, and how the cost of ^^ packing "had risen on
account of the frequent seizures of mufe trains for the use of the army.
It might well be that the packers would insist on some guaranty from
the company, and, whether or not the company had any proprietary in-
terest in the mules, or was liable to their owners to any extent in case
of capture, trains of mules laden with machinery and supplies belong-
ing to the company, and in charge of its employes, might properly be
described as ^^ the company's mule trains." What the mules carried was
worth far more to the company than the mules, and even delay iu re-
ceiving supplies and machinery, to say nothing of their absolute loss,
would entail large additional expense upon the company and otherwise
seriously embarrass the enterprise. An incident of that sort is related
in Mr. Clarke's deposition {ihid.^ p. 368).

In his letter of March 7, 1866, to Mr. Oarth, in giving an account of
the murder of Mr. Grove, an American employ^ of the company who
had been in charge of one of the mule trains. General Barthoiow savs
(iWd., pp. 247,248):

I had nominally purchased a train of pack mules in Mr, Grove's name^ and bent him to
San Ignacio to obtain a permit for them to pack for me and a guaranty that they
would not be taken by the army ; he sncceeded in getting these documents, and was
on his way home to take po8Bei*sion of the mules and start them to packing ; he passed
the night previous to his death at the house of one Meliton, at Tachamete. • * •
Grove told this man of his purchase of the pack train^ and that he was to pay f4,000/9r
iif and was on his way to take possession oj it and start it to work, thus leaving the
impression that he hstd this sum of money with him.

This may mean that that particular train of mules was purchased by
the company in Grove's name, the word *^ nominally" referring to the
fact that Grove was merely the nominal owner, or it may mean that the
purchase was nominal, i. 6., that there was no real transfer of the prop-
erty from the Mexican owner; but this latter supposition seems incon-
sistent with what is said about the purchase, the price, and the posses-
sion of the pack train. Except for the question of " perjury," it would
be a matter of no practical importance whether any of the mules that
did the company's packing between Mazatlan or Durango and the mines
belonged to the company or not; for nothing was allowed by the um-
pire on that account, tie allowed the company what it actually ex-
pended in its Mexican enterprise, and outside of these expenditures
the only allowance was for the estimated value of the ore on the patios.



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LA ABRA SILVER MINING COMPANY 999

But the proof that, in its earlier operations, the company did own a
considerable number of the three or four hundred mules on which its
packing was done, is conclusive, and is left untouched by the admitted
fact that certain of the mule trains were hired, and that when he retired
from the superintendency General Bartholow turned over only twelve
mules to his successor.

It seems that there were two captains of mule trains in the employ
of the company who were murdered on the road — one William Grove,
whose body was found, and another who was ^' lost and never seen
afterwards.'* This, as well as the reputed ownership of mule trains by
the company, appears from the deposition of Juan Francisco Gamboa,
who testified {ibid., p. 366) :

I was acquainted with tbe principal employes of the said company at the time they
were in operation at Tayoltita during the years 1865, 1866| 1867, and up to the time
the company abandoned the said mines, which I think was in the month of March,
1868. I know that 9ome mule trains belonging to the company which were loaded with
a large quantity of provisions and other articles, were taken, and it was said that
this was done by the republican army, but I did not personally witness it. I heard
it said at the time of the capture of the mule train belonging to the said company, which
was loaded with provisions and other articles for their operatives in the said mines.
As the head muleteer was lost and never seen afterwards, it was supposed that he
had been killed by those who captured the mules. I also heard of the murder of
Grove at a place called Arroyo del Candelero, between San Ygnacio and the company's
mines in Durango ; but I know nothing personally of the facts of the murder, except
from general hearsay.

General Bartholow asserts i)08itively, in another part of his deposi-
tion, that the company owned mule trains, and he states the fact and
gives the reasons as follows {ibid.j p. 478) :

I employed from one hundred to one hundred and sixty mechanics, miners, and la-
borers, including muleteers, during my superintendence ; they were supplied with pro-
visions purchased and packed from the city of Durango and from the valley of Sioa-
loa to the company's works at Tayoltita. Other supplies, such as powder for blasting,
quicksilver, fuze, mining tools, also bacon, flour, and butter, were purchaseil at and
shipped from San Francisco, Cal., to Mazatlan, and thence hypaok mules to the com-
pany's works aforesaid. The distance from Durango to Tayoltita was 160 miles or
more, and the distance from Mazatlan to the company's works was about the same.
Some of the provisions used, such as meats, lard, salt, and other small supplies, were
purchased for me by my contractors in the valley of Sinaloa, of whom I now recol-
lect Jos^ Maria Loaiza, of San Ygnacio, as one of the principal contractors for
making said purchases. The average distance of said valley towns from the said
company's works was about VOO miles.

In carrying on works of that magnitude it was, of course, absolutely necessary for
the company to own and work large numbers of mules, which it did, as I have stated.
Mule trains furnished the only possible means for the transportation of supplies.

Now, compare these statements in his deposition with the following
from the first letter of his that appears in the letter-press copy-book,
addressed to Mr. Garth, and dated at Tayoltita, February 6, 1866 (ibid.,
p. 239) :

Mr. Griffith, William Grove (a new man from Saline County, Mo.), and Dr. Hardy
have charge of all the pack trains. Each manages and controls a train. This is neces-
sary, for the reason that if some American in the employ of the company is not con-
stantly with the trains there is great danger, if not a certainty, that the animals would
be taken by the military authorities; and, i)CBides, I could not get the Mexicans to
pack for us unless I agreed to do this ; besides, with this arrangement I have a guar-
anty that my men, animals, and effects will not be interfered with.

Later on, in the same letter, alluding to the great excess of expenses
over the estimates, General Bartholow says (tW<f., p. 240):

This difference in estimate is caused principally. by the weight of the mill and its
cost being first so greatly underestimated, and of course all calculations based upon
the weight and cost of the mill in my former estimate are not reliable; and, besides,
when I left here for San Francisco, in ^September (1865) mules could be contracted for



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1000 LA ABRA SILVER MINING COMPANY.

to pack at from $8 to f 10 per carga, but after Ihe Hberah took possession of the cotiiifry
ana confiscated large nnmhers of mules it was with the greatest difficulty that I could
get any one to agree to pack at all ; and had I not succeeded in getting military pro-
tection OUT mill would now be lying in Mazatlan. Had I at the time 1 agreed to re-
main in Mexico known that I would have to contend with half the difficulties I have
even noir encountered I never would have undertaken the task ; but as I agreed to do
it, my pride is enlisted in the success of the enterprise, and I will see it through if ifc
is possible for energy and industry to succeed.

General Bartholow's revised estimate for the cost of packing was from
$16 to $ 8 per carga, quite double the rates that prevailed before mili-
tary seizures of mules became so frequent. The increased cost and diffi-
culty of hiring mules may have induced the superintendent to purchase
them. His nominal purchase of a mule train in Mr. Grove's name is
mentioned in the next letter, already noticed (ibid.j p. 247) ; and in a let-
ter written between these two to his bankers at Mazatlan, General Bar-
tholow says {ibid.y p. 243):

On my way home from your city I passed one hundred and seventy-four mules
loaded with my machinery, ahout half of which have arrived and the rest will be here
to-morrow, when Dr. Hardy will start back with one hundred and fifty of them, which
will be sufficient to transport all I have of machinery and goods left in Mazatlan.
This is quite gratifying to me, and to pay the packers I need, in addition to what
money I have on hand, at least $2,000 more, and have drawn upou you in favor of Dr.
W. B. Hardy for this sum, which draft please do me the favor to honor.

From this it clearly appears that some at least of these one hundred
and seventy-four mules were hired. But these were by no means all
the mules that were carrying for the company. And it will be observed
that at that time, February 21, 1866, less than two months before the
close of General Bartholow's superiutendency, the machinery had nearly
all been transported over the mountains to the mines ; but outside of
the transportation of the machinery there was abundance of work for
mule trains, as appears by the following paragraph from General Bar-
tholow's letter of March 7, 1866, to Mr. Garth {ibid., p. 248) :

Ao I advised you in my last, I have drawn upon you in favor of the Bank of Cali-
fornia for 110,000, which draft will go to San Fraucisco by the steamer of the 16th
instant. The most of this money I expect to use in the purchase of salt and corn.
Will start the mules now engaged in packing machinery to bringing up these supplies
as soon as they arrive with the balance of the mill, which win be in a day or two.
When our mill is running, we will not use less than 500 pounds of salt daily, and as
none can be packed in June, July, August, and September, and perhaps October, it
is absolutelv necessary that enough be in store to run us during the rainy season.
To keep us fully supplied with this necessary article will require during the packing
season o train of at least one hundred mutes, and another train of an equal number will be
necessary for corn and panoca. All these matters will require constant and assiduous
attention from your superintendent, for a failure to obtain an ample quantity of
these supplies for the rainy season will not only involve a very heavy expense, but
will greatly retard, if not absolutely stop your work. If the latter should occur, voe
will lose your miners, and much time will be required to obtain a new set, for inese
men are so improvident that if they are tcithout work for two weeks at a time (key and their
families are in danger of starvation; then mutiny and revolution is the inevitable result.

It is confidently submitted that there is nothing in General Bartho-
low's letters inconsistent with what appears in his deposition in regard
to the ownership and the loss of mule trains by the company. It is
clear that he had expended a very large amount of money in excess of
the previously estimated expenses, and it is also clear, as we have seen
in Colonel De Lagnel's case, that there were things of great importance
to the security and eventual success of the company's enterprise that
were not reported in the letters which appear in the letter-press copy-
book. Besides there is no evidence that all the letters that were writ-
ten by the superintendents were copied in that book ; and it has been
already noticed that it contains no letters at all during the earlier and
greater part of General Bartholow's superintendency.



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LA ABKA SILVER MINING COMPANY. 1001

There is a great body of testimony corroborating in a general way
the deposition of Bartholow on this matter and showing that the cap-
tni;e of mule-trains and provisions belonging to the company and the
collection of " prestamos f or forced loans from its property were mat-
ters of general repute in that part of Mexico at that time among people
who were not likely to be misinformed. The testimony of two witnesses.
Cole and Clarke, who were engaged as forwarders for the company in
1865, 1866, and 1867, will be found on pages 363, 364, and 369 of the ap-
pendix : Bouttier^s (ib., p. 380) ; Avalos's, 358 ; and Green's, 341 . J. M.
Loai^a, a Mexican merchant and muleteer, who was employed by the
company " in the years 1865, 1866, 1867, and the beginning of 1868," in
forwarding its supplies and machinery', sometimes assisting the afore-
said witness, Cole, and was familiar with its operations, after testifying
to its reputed losses from seizures of its mule-trains by the Liberal forces^
continued as follows (ibid., p. 378) :

/ know that they took, as I have 8tated| one of the trains which was cairying pro-
visions for the company, and it is also supposed that they robhed it and killed the
mnleteer, as he has never been heard of since.

ThU depredation occurred while Thomas J, Bartholow was superintendent of the com-
pany, at the end of 1865, or the beginning of 1866. A short time afterxcard, one Grove^
the muleteer of another train, employed by the company, was found brutally murdered
by the people of the country, on the road to the mines where he was going, at a place
called *'£1 Arroyo del Caudelero," between San Ygnacio and San Dimas, where his
body was found, horribly mutilated.

ExaWa depositiona before the Joint Commission compared with his letters
and explanatory affidavit

The opinion of the majority of the committee that '^ there was no
forced abandonment of the mines" is based upon an alleged conflict or
want of coherence between ExalPs depositions before the joint commis-
sion and his letters to Mr. Garth as they appear in the company's le^
ter-press copy-book. This opinion is stated in the report (pp. 8 and 9)
as follows :

£xaU, the last superintendent, was the only witness before the commission who pre-
tended to give the circumstances of the forced abandonment, of his own knowledge.
Exall's deposition is completely overthrown by his own letters. Months before ne
left Tayoltita he informed the officers of the company in New York that the mines
were not yielding any ores that it would pay to reduce ; that he was out of funds
and pressed on all sides with debts, and that unless relieved by remittances of money
from New York he would be compelled on that account to abandon the property.
Finally, January 24, 1868, he wrote to the treasurer in New York that unless he re-
ceived money by the steamer of the next month he would be compelled to come to
New York and lay the embarrassed situation of the affair before the company. It
idso appears that about this time Exall talked publicly concerning his intended visit
to New York. The original and the press copy of the following letter to the single
remaining employ^ at the mines has been produced before the committee :

»
Tayoltita, February 2l8t, 1868.
Mr. James Granger :

Sir : As circumstances are of such a nature as to compel me to leave for San Fran-
cisco, and probably for New York, to inquire into the intentions of this company, I
place in your hands the care and charge of the affairs of the La Abra 8. M. Co., to-
gether with its property.

You are invested hereby with all power confided to me, of course acting in all your
transactions with an eye to the interests of the company.

This will, to yon, should occasion require it, be ample evidence of the right possessed
by yon to act in their behalf.
Very respectfully,

Charles H. Exall,

Admr. La Abra S. M. Co,

The date fixed by Exall, in his deposition before the commission, of his expulsion
from the mines was on or about March 20, 1866. An original letter of ExalVs was



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1002 LA ABKA SILVER MINING COMPANY.

produced in evidence before the committee, dated at Mazatlan (the seaport, 150 miles
from the mines), March 15, 1868, which shows that he had been at that place some
days when the letter was written, and that he had left the property and mines in the
quiet possession of Granger, his assistant ; that he was on his way to San Francisco
and New York to obtain money from the company to pay the OTerdne salary of him-
self and his assistant, Granger, and that he expected to return.

In his first deposition, which was made nearly two years after he left
Tayoltita, Exall says that he '^can not state dates and names with any
degree of certainty." It does not appear that he kept a diary, and it
does appear, by the letter-press copy-book and otherwise, that he left
the company's books and pa|>ers at the hacienda when he-abandoned the
mines. Testifying from recollection, it would not be strange if he were
a week out of the way in regard to the date of his departure from Tay-
oltita.

But it is evident that ExalPs depositions, filed on behalf of the com-
pany with the joint commission, and the letters alluded to in the majority
report, furnished different if not inconsistent causes for the abandonment
of the mines ; and the difference is so remarkable that if not explained
it would justify a grave suspicion of ExalPs sincerity ; nevertheless, even
if unexplained it could hardly oven*x)me the great body of testimony,
partly furnished by witnesses who testified on behalf of the Mexican
Government to the continued interferences, annoyances, and wrongs of
which the company was the victim in Mexico, and which, it is claimed,
led to the abandonment of the enterprise. An explanation of the dif-
ference between his deposition and his letters was made by Exall in
writing, under oath, on the 1st of May, 1878, and was received in evi-
dence by the subcommittee on the afternoon of Wednesday, February
27, 1889, but no mention whatever is made of it in the majority report,
which is likewise silent in regard to the •'newly-discovered evidence''
impeaching the conduct of the Mexican Government in its efforts to sub-
vert this award.

Before considering Mr. Exall's explanatory affidavit, it ought to be
observed that it was never claimed by him in his deposition, or by the
company in its memorial, that he was driven out of Tayoltita by any
riotous nprisiug (although there had been such uprisings or '^ demon-
strations ") or by any open attack upon the hacienda, or any one public
act of violence, either on the part of the authorities or people. But it
was claimed both by him and the company that by a persistent and
long-continued course of illegal interferences and impositions, accompa-
nied by acts of violence, with the connivance of the local magistrates,
and the refusal of the higher authorities to afford protection or redress,



Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on ForeCompilation of reports of Committee ... 1789-1901, First Congress, first session, to Fifty-sixth Congress, second session .. → online text (page 147 of 156)