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Michael Zurbrick was born in 1841 in Cheektowaga, Erie co., NY, son of Michael Zurbrück, b. 1810, and Saloma Dieffenbach, b. 1807. Michael died as a bachelor and had no known descendants to remember his short but interesting life - so we remember him here. Michael left home at age 20 and served in the Civil War in Co. G, 21st NY Voluntary Infantry; he was wounded at the battle of Bull Run, VA in Aug. 1862, but recovered. After the war he went West to find gold & silver in the late 1860s. In 1870 he was in Nevada where he penned this letter home from a silver mining camp in Hiko, NV. (see list of co-workers below). He mentioned being in California for a time. Then in 1880 he was in Tombstone, AZ, working as a silver miner during the boom there. 1880 was the year the first railroad opened up to Tombstone. He lived on Allen St., just down the road from the OK Corral which was the site of the famous gun fight in Oct. of 1881. (He was there, but apparently not involved.) He died May 16, 1883 in Buffalo, NY (of dropsy) at age 41, and is buried in Lancaster Rural Cemetery, Lancaster, Erie co., NY. He wrote this letter to his sister from a gold mining camp in Lincoln Co., Nevada. (The handwriting was difficult to read in places, and some spellings and punctuations were changed for clarity. Michael's first language was German. He was the grandson of the immigrant ancestor Nickolaus Zurbrück.)
" Dec. 2ond 1870
Dear Sister Anna
Your last came to hand on the 27th in ___(Stint?) and found me in good health. Hope these few lines may find you and Mother the same. Well Anna I've written to you quite a while ago and also recyvt (received?) that photograph in good order--well an it's John at home yes or not. You spoke of sending me a bottle of black berry brandy. I'm as much obliged to you as if you had sent it. Apples and such things are scarce in this country but I would not get these anyway, even if they were sent. Times have been very dull out here fore the last yere, but they are getting lively now and I think I'll make some money next Spring. We are going to have a mill a running and then we can have some ore worked and get some money. Well and how are all Boys and Girles and how are times and how is Lib and Jake and all the rest of the (6?) tribe making it? Well Anna, I will try and come home next Spring or Summer if I possibly can.
Well, Anna one thing I want to know from you--if Lucy White is thare yet. Why I ask this question because I was down in San (Bernidino?) Co. California, and the day comin' away I met the Stage going in and thare was a lady sitting at the window and she looked out as I past and bowed to me and laught and she was the picture of Lucy but I don't think it was her.
Well and how is the winter? We are having fine weather. I'll tell you a little jok that a Choyote or a wolf plaid me the other night. I was boiling som beef. We do our cooking out doors and this beef was sitting on the fire boyling after dark. And (I) went about a hundred feet from thar to another capin (cabin) and when I got back the pott and the beef was gone. So I thought the boys done it fore a jok. So I thought I would play even on them and thay had some beans a baking in a bak kittle (bake kettle). So I gits up to steel the baked beans so when I got thare the lid was off and the pork and beans gon. So I was beet on evry turn. So the next morning I went to the next cabin to see if thay were eating beef and thay com over to see if we were eating beanes--and all kept still until after a while one of the boys went over the hill. He found one of the Choyotes, the pott on his head. After they got the meat all out, this one was going to lick the bottom--and the top being smaller than the bottom, he got his head in thare and couldn't get it out again. He couldn't see anything fore his Ise (eyes) were in the pot so we catched the Joker. So the jok was expersed (reversed). It was the only amusing thing that happent fore some time in camp.
Well Anna I haven't got any more news. Tell Mother that I am liable to come any day when she isn't thinking--so I will close fore this time.
Adress Hiko, Lincoln co., Nevada via Pioche "
All of these were silver miners - listed in the order given
here. They were the only ones in the census for "Tampiute", NV.
The first white settlements in the area were mining camps that came and went in a boom-and-bust cycle. The remnants of
dozens of abandoned mines are found in the area. Silver, tungsten, mercury & lead were once mined from these locations.
Here is an interesting link to mining history in the area of Hiko and Pioche: http://www.robertwynn.com/PiocheH.htm
According to this website, Ely and Raymond arrived in Pioche in 1869 and ran a "little 5-stamp mill" at Hiko. -
This ended up being a failure due to low-quality ore.
This description comes from a website
about Ghost Towns from the Pioche, NV Chamber of Commerce:
"During 1865 in Lincoln County, a number of mining camps came to life in an area called Pahranagat Valley, an Indian word for “Valley of the Lakes.” There were twenty-six small silver mines in the valley in 1866. A William Raymond purchased several of these mines, built the first mill, and laid out a townsite and named it “Hiko,” an Indian expression meaning “white man's town.” By the end of 1866, Hiko and the area around it had attracted a few hundred residents but by 1871 the mining activity west of Hiko had begun to die out. Lawlessness ran rampant throughout the valley during this period with cattle rustlers and horse thieves. As if this wasn't enough, it soon gave way to notorious gun-play. The town still exists on state highway 36 just north of the junction of state highway 25. "