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Collection Summary
Administrative Information
Access:
Publication Rights:
History
Scope and Content
Container List
Loose Papers
Bound Volumes
Maps

Vermont Copper Company Collection

Collection Summary

Repository
University of Vermont Libraries Special Collections Burlington, Vermont 05405-3596
Creator
Vermont Copper Company
Title
Vermont Copper Company Collection
Dates [inclusive]
1853-1961
Quantity
6 containers
Shelf location
Special Collections, Bailey/Howe Library.
Language
English
Abstract
The collection consists of 4 cartons and one box of papers, 10 bound volumes, and 16 oversize maps. The papers consist mainly of the business records of the Vermont Copper Company during the 1942-1958 era. The bound volumes are ledgers and jornals, some from the year 1882, and the remainder from the period 1942-1954. The 16 oversized maps are all maps of the Orange County Mines. The dates range from 1900 to 1949.

Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item] Vermont Copper Company Collection, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Vermont, Bailey/Howe Library, Special Collections © 1998 

Access:

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights:

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

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History

In 1793 copper was discovered at what was to become known as the Elizabeth Mine in Strafford, Vermont, and the story of copper mining in Orange County began. It ended 165 years later, in 1958, when the Vermont Copper Company closed its shafts for the last time. In the intervening years, the copper mines at Strafford, Ely, and Corinth went through alternating periods of hardship and prosperity. The Elizabeth Mine at Strafford, started by Isaac Tyson, Jr., Amos Binney, and Daniel Long, and later taken over by John Reynolds Jr., was in production, albeit on a small scale, from the 1830s to the turn of the century. The Copperfield Mines at Ely began their crisis-ridden history in 1853, when Henry Barnard bought the original property. Prominent members of this venture include Thomas Pollard, who was in charge of the mines; Joseph Bicknell, one of the original stockholders; Smith Ely, an investor who became president of the company in 1865; and Smith's nephew Ely Ely-Goddard, who became involved in the enterprise in 1876. Also involved were William and Daniel Long Jr., sons of the Daniel Long in Strafford. In 1882 Francis Cazin first entered the company as a buyer. He became a partner, an association which produced many disagreements, which evolved into law suits. Roswell Farnham, who was hired as a counsel to the firm in 1865, and who later became its chief counsel, handled these cases for the company, and continued to represent them until his death in 1903. These legal troules were the final straw, and the mines were abandoned in 1893. The Union and Eureka Mines at Corinth, which were handled by some of the same investors involved in Copperfield, opened in 1845 and remained so into the early 1850s.

Interest in the mines revived around the turn of the century. Between 1900 and 1909, out-of-state backers-- such as August Heckscher at Strafford, George Westinghouse at Ely, and Harry G. Hunter at Corinth-- invested several million dollars in equipment and machinery for the Orange County Mines. Unfortunately, this investment did not prove to be a profitable one, and the mines were once again abandoned. However, WWI and its demand for metals brought about another revival, which continued on into the 1920s, before the depression put an end to it. The final revival came in 1942 when all the mines-- Eureka, Union, Elizabeth, and Copperfield-- which had ben operating independently until then, were purchased by the Vermont Copper Company. Some of the men involved in this merger were George Adam Ellis, who was the first president; Stanley C. Wilson, secretary and later president; Frederick Snow, president; John Cowley, president; Clarence Benson, treasurer; Frederick Foote, engineer; and Frank Eichelberger, consultant. Under the guidance and direction of men like these, and with Government Aid, this corporation was able to operate the mines for another 16 years, closing for the last time in 1958. Today only a few piles of rubble and some crates in the ground indicate that these mines ever existed.

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Scope and Content

The collection consists of 4 cartons and one box of papers, 10 bound volumes, and 16 oversize maps. The papers are placed first in the collection, followed by the bound volumes, and then the maps.

The papers consist mainly of the business records of the Vermont Copper Company during the 1942-1958 era. Although some pieces from the earlier years are included, the bulk of the material relates to this final sixteen year period. Included are documents pertaining to the birth of this corporation, its rise, and its ultimate decline. There is a substantial amount of Wilson correspondence in the collection, as well as correspondence of Benson, Ellis, Cowley, Snow, Foote, and Eichelberger. The business papers are divided into the following series: Correspondence, Financial, Legal, and Stockholders. Small groups of material relating to various subjects have been organized into another series, called the "General File", while "Printed Matter" comprises the final series. The folders within each series are arranged alphabetically, while material within each folder is ordered chronologically.

The bound volumes are ledgers and jornals, some from the year 1882, and the remainder from the period 1942-1954. These volumes are arranged chronologically. The 16 oversized maps are all maps of the Orange County Mines. The dates range from 1900 to 1949. All of the maps from 1900 are maps of the Copperfield Rail Road. This collection was at one time filled with the papers of the Vermont Copper Company's historian Collamer Abbott. However, as these are really two distinct collections, they have been separated. Those interested in the history of the Vermont Copper Company should look at the Abbott papers, since they do contain a significant amount of related material, particularly pertaining to the early history of the company. UVM also has the papers of Stanley C. Wilson and Roswell Farnham; these collections should be examined as well.

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