Biography of Joseph C. Gross

This well and favorably known pioneer of Silver City has been for many years the experienced and obliging clerk of the War Eagle Hotel, at Silver City. He is a native of the city of Neustadt, province of Hesse-Nassau, Germany, born February 18, 1835, was educated in his native land, and at the age of fourteen came with an uncle to the United States. For an occupation he worked at the shoemaker’s trade for a time.

On the 22d of December, 1851, in company with his cousin, Charles A. Gross, he started for the Golden state, on the steamer El Dorado. Landing at the mouth of the Chagres, at the isthmus of Panama, they boated up that river to Gorgona and from there proceeded overland to Panama, which place they found filled with men en route for California, many of whom were attacked with the fever peculiar to the isthmus, and many died. Of course one can imagine how anxious the living were to get away from that point. There was but one steamer, The New World, about to sail, and it was far from being adequate for the transportation of all who desired to embark. Mr. Gross sold his ticket, at a great profit, and took a situation in a restaurant there as a waiter until the following spring, when he secured passage on a French sailing vessel named Les Cinq Freres. Shortly after their departure from the port of Panama the tropical fever broke out on board and out of ninety passengers thirty-three were consigned to the deep.

After suffering many hardships the remaining passengers arrived at San Francisco, April 9, 1852. Mr. Gross, who had the advantage of a considerable degree of knowledge obtained from his cousin, who had previously been in California, immediately engaged in mining, and followed it, with varying success, until 1864, when he struck out for Montana; but when he reached Silver City he met an old partner and decided to remain here. He followed mining on Jordan creek, with good results, and in 1867, in company with Christopher Stender, Jacob Dellenbach and Frank Schuster, purchased the Blue Gulch claim, for twelve thousand and five hundred dollars, and also the water rights of John Sullivan, for four thousand dollars. In 1876 he disposed of his interests to Stender and Dellenbach, Schuster having previously sold out; and then he was engaged in quartz-mining until 1881, when he accepted a position in the office of the War Eagle Hotel, which he has since so satisfactorily filled. In society relations Mr. Gross is a prominent and enthusiastic Freemason, a charter member of Silver City Lodge, No. 13. He was made a Mason in 1870, in Owyhee Lodge, No. 5. He is a past master of the blue lodge, having served as master for four terms, and he has served as high priest of the chapter three terms, and was grand warden of the grand lodge of Idaho in 1883. In the latter body he has filled the offices of junior and senior deacon. His lodge in Silver City is now in a flourishing condition.

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