March 29, 2020

Story Behind the Place Name: Poland Mine, Creek & Junction

His name was Davis Robert Poland and he was a true frontier placer miner. He came to Yavapai County early, when one could walk down a creek bed trail and find large gold veins, embedded in quartz ledges, glittering in the sun. Indeed, this happened to Poland several times.

He was born in Tennessee in 1834 and moved to Alabama where he married Elander Jane Robbins on May 7, 1858. 

Five days before Christmas, 1859, the couple welcomed Albert B.M. Poland to the world.

However, for reasons unknown, Poland left his wife and son and moved to Lynx Creek sometime around 1863 and started to employ the gold pan to the gravel and sand on the creek. But Poland knew that this virgin wilderness must have more gold and began a quest to locate it that would last 15 years. Beside his famous namesake mine, he would locate many others and eventually mined gold, silver, copper and lead.

He moved south and found gold in Black Canyon panning the equivalent of $150 a day in today’s money. This was a bench claim that grew to 2 miles long. 

Early placer miners in Black Canyon were so busy searching the creek bed that they never noticed the gold in the surrounding ledges “and the credit of prospecting and proofing them to be rich belongs to Poland,” the newspaper wrote. “There is gold in Black Canyon, and the businessman of Prescott should, if necessary, aid the miners (by allowing credit) to extract it.”

Poland was quickly becoming a well respected citizen and in 1869 he was elected Judge in Chino Valley and a delegate to the Arizona Democratic Convention.

In 1870 he along with others, established the New Era mine in the Bradshaw district “which prospects very regularly in fine gold, and gives excellent surface indications of permanence,” the paper declared.

Other nearby claims were made and by April, 1871 the town of Bradshaw was being plotted “a little north of the divide, above Poland’s cabin, in the midst of a fine growth of pine timber, and with a plentiful supply of the purest water from large springs which bubble out of the everlasting granite," the paper said. "The point is well chosen and central, being at the junction of the trails from Prescott...and from Minnehaha flat. The town lots are 25x120 feet. Sixty are already taken.” Two general stores were in operation as was a restaurant, saloon and assay office. 

The founding and early history of Mayer, Arizona is inseparable from the biography of the man who founded the town--Joseph Mayer.

In 1872 Poland was back placer mining on Lynx Creek, when, in late March, several of his animals were lost in an Indian raid. Four months later in early July, Poland took the job of night watchman for Prescott, but did not keep the position for very long.

Toward the end of the year, like many other claim owners, Poland worked to obtain government title for his mines, otherwise outside capitalists would not even consider buying them.

Early 1873 found Poland back scouting for gold. He found “very rich gold ore, from a ledge recently discovered in the Black Hills,” the paper noted. Indeed, he and his partners stated that they would not take the equivalent today of $2 million for it. 

In September, “DR Poland and Ed Powers were out in the mountains prospecting and…while near Lone Pine on Big Bug Creek…were attacked by a party Indians armed with breech-loading guns,” the paper related. “At the time Poland was tightening the girth of his saddle, and his horse was killed. A number of shots were fired on both sides and Poland felt confident that he wounded one of the Indians badly." They faced about a dozen Indians before they escaped.

This did not slow him down, however. Another March (1875) and Poland and friends found another strike. It was another ledge vein on LynxCreek which showed “all pay ore” in a vein 3 feet thick.

After selling the Bulger mine, located on Lynx Creek, to JM Roberts in 1876, he located the Silver Prince mine which ironically held “a heavy and rich copper vein,” the paper reported. At the end of the year, the paper reported that Poland and Miller were earning, in today’s equivalent, $10,000 per ton of ore!

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By 1877, the then “celebrated” Poland Mine, known for being a large gold producer, revealed a large vein of lead as well. While again in March of that year, the paper reported he found several new mines. 

In June he found 2 more mines—this time they were silver. Poland spent the rest of the year and 1878 extracting incredibly rich ores that often produced the same $10,000 a ton (in today’s money.) However, in August the paper reported that Poland’s “Belle” mine was producing the equivalent today of $100 per pound

At this point, Poland began to invest his wealth. He acquired a ranch on the lower Aqua Fria. “Mr. Poland is accumulating much valuable property (including) good mines, cattle, etc,” the paper observed.

It was October 1879 when Poland sold his namesake mine to Chicago capitalists for the equivalent today of $3.5 million.

In May 1880 Poland decided to turn the page and start a new life of ranching and raising cattle. He never reconciled with his first wife and while on a trip to California he met and married Merrit Lee "Laura" Brittain on August 7th. “DR Poland is en route to Prescott with his wife and other acquisitions,” the paper quipped. After she arrived, the paper described her as “a very superior lady.”

At the beginning of 1881 the paper reported that “DR Poland moved his family, household affects, etc., out to his ranch on Ash Creek...where he intends residing permanently hereafter.” On August 8th Laura gave birth to Evelyn Roberts Poland.

Poland’s new life was just beginning to blossom. However, when his brand new daughter was merely 6 months old, Poland contracted pneumonia and passed away February 23, 1882. He was about 47 years-old. 

Through his mining and keen scouting eye, Poland injected a large amount of capital into the greater Prescott area during the town’s early years.

“Mr. Poland was one of our oldest and most respected citizens who has always been held in high esteem by our people,” the paper said. 


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Genealogy research provided by Lynda Pendley Bennett, (Thank you!)
Weekly Arizona Miner, 2/27/1869; Pg. 2, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 3/6/1869; Pg. 2, Col. 3.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 4/10/1869; Pg. 1, Col. 4.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/8/1869; Pg. 3, Col. 3.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 9/10/1870; Pg. 3, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 4/28/1871; Pg. 2, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/27/1871; Pg. 2, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 3/23/1872; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 7/6/1872; Pg. 3, Col. 3.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 11/23/1872; Pg. 2, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 3/8/1873; Pg. 2, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 3/22/1873; Pg. 2, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 9/13/1873; Pg. 2, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 3/5/1875; Pg. 2, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 4/16/1875; Pg. 2, Col. 5.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 9/15/1876; Pg. 1, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 11/24/1876; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 3/2/1877; Pg. 1, Col. 5.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 3/16/1877; Pg. 4, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 3/30/1877; Pg. 3, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 6/1/1877; Pg. 3, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 6/1/1877; Pg. 4, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 7/5/1878; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 8/23/1878; Pg. 4, Col. 3.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 11/29/1878; Pg. 3, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 10/24/1879; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 1/30/1880; Pg. 3, Col. 4.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 5/28/1880; Pg. 4, Col. 1.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 9/24/1880; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 2/24/1882; Pg. 3, Col. 3.
Weekly Arizona Miner, 1/14/1881; Pg. 4, Col. 1.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I am contacting you to acquire a photo that my company would like to use in a proposal we are presenting to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. This agency is requesting qualifications for a project that will take place at the Poland-Walker tunnel. The way we will be using this is to illustrate the change over time. It will become public record, which is subject to Freedom of Information Act, but not published for wide distribution or sold. Please let me know if a citation will be sufficient or if we will need to pay for the use of the photo. The photo we would like to acquire is the Poland Mill image at the top of this article.
    Please reply to the email listed below, which is my company email.
    Renee Remillard