Biography of Robert H. Leonard

Into the bosom of the earth the hand of nature placed many rich mineral deposits, and the great value of these, together with the magnificent forests and rolling lands of Idaho, have gained for the state the well deserved title of the “Gem of the Mountains.” Its mines are now yielding a large output of gold and silver, which adds to the wealth and prosperity of the country as well as of the individual mine owners. Among the enterprising and prominent business men who are now engaged in the development of the rich mineral resources of the state is Robert H. Leonard, of this review.

The home of his childhood was the far-off state of Maine. He was born near the Kennebec River, in the Pine Tree state, June 7, 1832, and his ancestors, native of England, were early settlers of that northeastern section of our land which was named for the mother country. The grandfather, Isaac Leonard, was a ship owner of Maine, and served his country in the war of 1812. His son Isaac, the father of our subject, was also born in Maine, and became a sea captain. He married Miss Levina Snow, a native of his own state, and to them were born five children. The mother died and the father afterward married her sister, Priscilla Snow, by whom he had ten children. The sisters were both members of the Methodist church, but Mr. Leonard was a Universalist in religious faith. He died at the age of seventy-three years.

Robert H. Leonard, whose name introduces this review, attended the common schools near his boyhood’s home, and remained in New England until 1852, when, attracted by the discovery of gold on the Pacific coast, he went by way of the Nicaragua route to San Francisco, where he arrived on the 17th of November. He spent a month in the mines at Hangtown now Placerville, and then made his way to Sacramento, and there remained a short time. Then he went to Marin County, California, where he was engaged in lumbering until March 4, 1861. He then loaded a sawmill outfit upon twelve wagons and started for Moro County, Nevada, where he engaged in sawing lumber for some time. In 1862 he took up his abode in Florence and engaged in mining on Salmon River. There he was associated with eight other men, and putting all their earnings together they divided equally, thus making from seven to twenty dollars per day.

On leaving that place Mr. Leonard returned to Nevada to dispose of his property, and in May 1865, came to Silver City. Here he accepted the position of superintendent of the Ainsworth Mill and Mining Company, and for a number of years was very actively engaged in mining and milling. He had charge of the New York twenty-stamp mill and the ten-stamp Cosmith mill. In 1871 he began the same business on his own account by erecting a mill where the Poorman mill now stands, and worked the first one hundred tons of ore taken out, yielding ninety thousand dollars or nine hundred dollars per ton. In 1866 he took by steamer to New York eighteen tons of this ore, which was smelted in New Jersey, yielding five thousand dollars to the ton. The Poorman mine was discovered in August, 1865, by six men, all of different nationalities, who sold their interests for from two to five thousand dollars, the purchaser being P. F. Bradford, who took out a great deal of money, but eventually sold the mine, after which there was much litigation concerning it. It finally became the property of C. W. Moore, of Boise, who sold it to an English syndicate, the present owners. Mr. Leonard has operated the Dewey mill and the mill of the Florida Mountain Mining and Milling Company, and now has a third interest in four claims, the Banner, Harmon, Coffee and Star Spangled, a rich group in the Florida mountains. In the Coffee mine they have taken out two hundred and sixty ounces of silver and five ounces of gold to the ton. They have an eight-foot ledge, of which three feet yielded twenty-two dollars in free gold, and parts of the Ban-ner mine produce pure silver. Mr. Leonard also owns a claim on the south side, only partly prospected. He has made judicious investments of his capital in these various mining interests, and is accounted one of the leading mine-owners in this section of the state.

In March 1867, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Leonard and Mrs. Adelaide Victoria Chase, nee Durgin. They had been neighbors in childhood in their far-off Maine home, and for thirty-two years they have traveled life’s journey together. They have had three children. The two sons, Lewis F. and Robert H., were both born in 1868, the former January 1, the latter November 26. The elder was accidentally killed, but the younger is now a representative young businessman of Silver City. He was the first district court clerk of the district and ex-officio auditor and recorder after the admission of Idaho as a state, being elected to that office when only twenty-two years of age. He is now engaged in mining. The daughter, Adelaide E., is now the widow of James S. Ryan, and is quite celebrated as a musician and vocalist, having received superior advantages in her art as a student in the New England Conservatory of Music, in Boston.

In 1857, in the old town of Shasta, California, Mr. Leonard, of this review, was made an Odd Fellow, and he has also passed all the chairs in the encampment. In 1867 he was raised a Master Mason in the old lodge in which his father and his brother had been initiated into the mysteries of the craft, and has served as master of the blue lodge and is past high priest of Cyrus Chapter, No. 2, R. A. M. Since the organization of the party he has been a Republican, unfaltering in support of its principles. His life has been one of continuous activity, in which has been accorded due recognition of labor; and today he is numbered among the substantial citizens of his County. His interests are thoroughly identified with those of the northwest, and at all times he is ready to lend his aid and co-operation to any movement calculated to benefit this section of the country or advance its wonderful development.



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

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