Biography of Peter Donnelly

Among the prominent pioneer miners of Silver City we should mention this highly esteemed citizen of Dewey, Owyhee County. He is a native of Ireland, born in county Longford, October 31, 1833. In 1840 his parents emigrated to the New World, settling in Rhode Island, and young Peter was brought up in the city of Providence. He arrived in California in the spring of 1853 and for several years followed placer mining, in all the prominent diggings of that state.

Upon the discovery of gold at Oro Fino he was among the first to arrive there, in April 1862, and engaged in furnishing the miners with meat. He arrived in Idaho basin in March, 1863, and in June following came to the vicinity of Silver City, as a member of the company headed by Captain Michael Jordan. The packers then at the gulch were Cyrus Iby, Dr. Rood (one of the original discoverers). Jack Reynolds and a Mr. Boon. A man named Thompson whipsawed the lumber and made and set the first flumes. Mr. Donnelly and his partner, Michael Jordan, set an Indian-head on the top of a pole at the camp, which became the occasion of the place being called “Skull Camp.” Another partner was a man named Charles Skinner. They together opened the wagon road to Snake River, having first obtained from the territorial legislature a charter, which had a life of fifteen years. The toll on this road was three dollars for a pair of horses and wagon, one dollar for a horse and carriage, and twenty-five cents for a saddle horse. At the same time the company were engaged in running the mines and made a great amount of money.

Swalley Nelson was the first discoverer of the quartz mines here, in October 1863; next was the discovery of the Oro Fino and the Morning Star, on the War Eagle mountain. Mr. Fogus, who also was a partner in these discoveries, sold two-thirds of his interest to Marion More. Mr. Donnelly has been connected with Colonel Dewey in many business enterprises, and he is an enthusiastic friend of the Colonel; they are indeed fast friends. Mr. Donnelly is uniformly represented to be a whole-souled, generous and liberal man and a good representative of the early settlers of Idaho.



Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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