Monday, May 31, 2010

The Lost Dutchman Mine Inc.

May 24, 2010 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Shortly after World War I, George Miller met Dr. Robert Alexander Aiton. The medical doctor had a strong inter-est in mine development and promotion. Aiton was looking for a mine and the right prospector to promote when he met Miller and his partners, John Hluper and Ernest Martin. Aiton found Miller's story about gold in the area interesting. The question remains to this day. Did Aiton know there was no gold or did he really believe there was gold in the area? Either way he became the fundraiser for the corporation he named the Lost Dutchman Mine Inc.

Dr. Aiton appointed Miller president of the company, Hluper, vice president and himself, secretary-treasurer. Aiton also had another man working for the Lost Dutchman Mine Corp. Inc. who was named James G. Simpson. He was in charge of data and publicity. Aiton set up an office at 33 N. Second Ave. in Phoenix and had stock certificates printed and on sale for the Lost Dutchman Mine Corp. almost immediately. Aiton had a prospectus printed to encourage people to purchase stock in the rich Lost Dutchman Mine. He called the character of the mine, "the richest gold strike of re-cent years in Arizona." The Arizona Gazette ran an article on August 20,1920, revealing a rich gold discovery at the Miller Mine. The article was titled "Rich Strike Made In Lost Dutchman." Aiton also printed the results of an as-say sample that revealed gold ore that had approximately five ounces of gold to the ton. The sample was called No. 1 Red Ore. The sample was a rhyolitic breccia containing iron and manganese oxides. The oxides were limonite and pyrolusite. The assayer was Charles A. Diehl.

I often visited with Diehl in the mid 1950s while attending high school, to talk about gold mines and treasures in Arizona's Mountains. He told me the Miller Mine was salted. However, he further stated he didn't know who was responsible for the salting. He stood by George Miller's character and integrity claiming he Was an honest man. ("Salting" a gold mine was done to make a worthless claim appear rich and rewarding with the sprinkling of a little gold dust to show prospective buyers.) Dr. Robert A. Aiton claimed an old prospector rediscovered the Lost Dutchman Mine. The prospector's name was George Miller, who was now president of Aiton's company the Lost Dutchman Mine, Inc. Aiton was 64 years old at the time the Arizona Republic article appeared in 1920 about his problems with the Arizona Medical Board since his arrival in Arizona Territory in 1899. Aiton, whose home was in Superior was an excellent promoter. He raised sufficient capital for the development of the Miller Mines (Lost Dutchman Mine Inc.). By mid-1921 there was a head-frame, power station, and five-man crew working at the mine. A shaft had been sunk and a drift driven 150 feet into the earth. Aiton was so convinced there was gold at the site in 1921 he told in-vestors they would strike the main vein soon. Investors continued to pour money into the operation and Aiton continued to talk about riches beyond belief. Aiton had an excellent promotional pamphlet printed for investors.

The operation continued for five years off and on, but never produced any valuable ore. There had been no gold from the very beginning. However, George Miller and John Hluner's property. The Lost Dutchman Mine Inc. failed.

Who was Dr. Robert A. Aiton? He was born in Illinois in 1858, came to the Arizona Territory in 1899 and eventually moved from Phoenix to Superior with his family. He and his wife, Rose, had four sons and five daughters. Aiton had practiced medicine through out central Arizona and was one of Arizona's pioneer doctors. However he was often in conflict with the Arizona Board of Medical Practitioners.

Aiton became involved with the Miller Mines when he was 62 years old, shortly after 1918. He and Rose lived in Superior until the time of his death on Monday, February 17, 1928. He is buried in Superior.

George "Drakulich" Miller died on April 6,1'936, and was buried by a group of cowboys on a small wind swept hill above his mine. John Hluper died in 1934 and was buried at the mine also. Ernest Martin died in 1927 and was also buried on the mining claims. Miller wanted to be buried near his prospecting partners Hluper and Martin.

This was the story three old men in their twilight years hanging on to a dream of golden riches and in their final days saw hope in the promotion skills of Dr. Robert A. Aiton. They never found their bonanza, but they did leave us with an epic tale of dedication and survival in the middle of a wilderness.