Biography of William H. Watt

Last Updated on June 9, 2012 by Dennis

William H. Watt
William H. Watt

William H. Watt, the president of the Delia Mountain Mining Company, has been largely instrumental in developing the natural resources of Idaho thus far, and his labors have not alone contributed to his individual prosperity but have also largely promoted the material interests of the state. By nativity a Canadian, he was born near Ottawa City, in the Dominion, December 23, 1851, and is of English descent. His grandfather, James Watt, was a native of England, and as an officer in the British army fought through the Crimean war. When his term of military ser-vice expired he crossed the Atlantic to Canada, where he lived to the ripe old age of eighty-two years. His son, John Watt, father of our subject, was born in Canada and married Miss Ann Malcomson, also a native of Ottawa. They were industrious and well-to-do farming people, and were Episcopalians in religious belief. Mr. Watt departed this life in the seventieth year of his age, but his wife is now living, at the age of three-score years and ten, on the old Canadian homestead. They had eleven children, ten of whom are yet living, the greater part of the number being residents of the old home neighborhood in Canada, though one is now living in West Bay City, Michigan, and one in Butte, Montana.

William H. Watt, the fourth in order of birth, was reared under the parental roof and acquired his preliminary education in the public schools of Canada, after which he pursued a course in a business college of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He entered upon his business career as a farmer and also engaged in lumbering. In 1876 he went to the Black Hills and since that time has devoted his energies to mining in the northwest. On leaving the Black Hills he went on a Northern Pacific surveying expedition from Fort Rice on the Missouri river to Powder River, the country being then a comparatively unexplored region. In 1881 he came to Hailey on a prospecting and mining tour, at which time the place was just being opened up for mining interests. Its fame was great because of the richness of the discoveries made, and Mr. Watt, with characteristic energy, turned his attention to the development of the mineral resources of the region.

He has since continuously engaged in mining and in promoting mining interests, and in connection with Thomas Brenan he organized the Delia Mountain Mining Company, of which they are the principal stockholders. This is one of the best paying properties in the district. It consists of a group of mines located six miles northwest of the town of Hailey, which are called Idaho Democrat, Idaho Republican, Marquis, Vermont and Belmont. They yield silver and lead ore (the latter called galena), and the output is very rich and valuable. Mr. Watt is president and manager of the company, which is incorporated under the laws of the state of Idaho, and is a member of the board of directors in connection with Thomas Brenan, E. Daft, Leo Cramer and Samuel Allen. The capital stock of the company is one hundred thousand shares, the par value of which is ten dollars per share. These mines were discovered in 1880 by W. S. Van Dusen and worked by him, in connection with other parties until November 18, 1895, at which time the Delia Mountain Mining Company was organized and purchased the property. The original owners took out one hundred thousand dollars and the present owners have taken out seventy-five thousand dollars. Their work thus far has been largely development work, and the property is being well opened by tunnels. There is considerable ore now in sight, which yields from seventy to seventy-six percent lead and from one hundred and five to one hundred and sixty-six ounces of silver per ton. They have an excellent plant, consisting of well constructed buildings, comfortably furnished with iron bedsteads and spring mattresses, and the houses lined with compo-board, which render them very habitable. Sixteen men are now employed in working the mines. Mr. Watt is interested in various other mines, and is also engaged in the banking business. He is also interested in sampling all the ore taken out of the mines and buys and ships large quantities of ore to Denver, Pueblo and Salt Lake for reduction.

He is a heavy stockholder and a member of the directorate of the Parker Mining Company, which owns eight claims, patented as follows: Parker, St. Louis, Montgomery, Western Reserve, Calibre, Transit, Denver, and the Three K’s. They also have nine claims not yet patented. This group of mines is located three miles east of Ketchum in the Warm Springs creek mining district. The company under whose direction they are operated was organized in October 1887, with one hundred and fifty thousand shares, the par value of which is ten dollars per share. Ore to the value of three hundred and forty thousand dollars has been taken from these mines, and a, dividend of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars has been paid. The ores from these mines are the richest ever found in the Wood river country, carrying at times as high as forty-five per cent lead and six hundred and sixty ounces of silver to the ton. In 1890 Mr. Watt erected a fine brick building in Hailey, in which he has one of the finest and best equipped offices in the state.

Mr. Watt has been a life-long Democrat, was elected and served as treasurer of Alturas county, and was chosen to represent his district in the state senate in 1894. He was the only Democrat in either house of the legislature, and, knowing that it was useless to attempt to elect a man of his own party, he espoused the cause of Governor Shoup and was an active and prominent factor in securing his election to the United States senate. Mr. Watt was also largely instrumental in abolishing the counties of Alturas and Logan, and creating the county of Blaine. He was one of the most active and prominent members of the senate, studying carefully the issues which concerned the public welfare and giving his support loyally to all measures which he believed would promote the general good. Prominent in the ranks of the Masonic fraternity, he belongs to the blue lodge, chapter and commandery, and has attained the thirty-second degree of the Scottish rite. He is also a noble of the Mystic Shrine, is past master of the lodge and has taken a deep interest and justifiable pride in the working of this ancient and benevolent fraternity. In business circles he sustains a high reputation. He is a mining expert, is a man of keen discrimination and sound judgment, of un-faltering perseverance and unflagging enterprise, and through the possession of these qualities has gained rank among the foremost businessmen of his state.



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

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