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Utah Biographies ~ Kearns ~ Knox

Kearns, Thomas Hon.

Stories written about mine owners and mining men are more like fiction than real life, for there are so many who jump from poverty to affluence in a day; this, however, after years of privation and suffering and trial. Someday, after weary years, when almost ready to abandon the struggle, almost ready to give up life, the pick of the hammer breaks down a wall of rock and there is the precious metal so long sought.

The story of the life of Thomas Kearns is a story of hard work, of poverty, of privation, of suffering, before the goal was reached. Born near Woodstock, Ontario, April 11th, 1862, his forty-seven years of life have been most active. In the early seventies he removed with his parents to Holt County, Nebraska, where they settled upon a farm. He worked on the farm for several years and in the winter attended the public schools.

Tiring of farm life, believing that there was greater opportunity in the mining districts, he left the farm and began the business of freighter, moving supplies into the Black Hills. Later on he entered the employ of the Great Homestake Mining Company, at Lead, South Dakota, as a miner. When he attained his majority he left the Black Hills and came to Utah, first to Salt Lake and then to Park City, at which place he secured employment in the Ontario mine, then the greatest silver mine in the world. He worked his required shift daily, then eight hours was devoted to prospecting and in the study of geology. While working in the mine, he learned everything he could regarding the practical working of mines.

When he studied in the evenings he did that work just as he did all his other work, and as he has since, working with one object in view and that was to achieve success. His prospecting was at last rewarded. Seven years was devoted to the hardest kind of hard work, then the discovery of the metal he had so long sought and the discovery of which made him a great fortune. The Mayflower Mine was opened after many vicissitudes, after many obstacles were overcome. The return from his first shipment came in the shape of $20,000. From this fortune his first work was to provide a home for his parents and a competence for life.

His mine continued to pay. He became one of the owners of the Silver King properties, the greatest silver mine in the United States, which ownership he still retains, although the property has changed its name to the Silver King Coalition. These properties made him a millionaire. The wealth which has come to him from the Silver King has been reinvested in Utah, largely in Salt Lake City, and his holdings of real estate include the choicest of Salt Lake realty.

In the political field Mr. Kearns has served his people as a member of the Park City council, of the Constitutional Convention of Utah, delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1896 and 1900, and Senator of the United States from Utah from March, 1901, to March, 1905.

Senator Kearns is interested in various other enterprises besides his vast mining interests. He is a heavy stockholder and director in the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad; is one of the owners of the Salt Lake "Tribune," and in other industries. He is a firm believer in Utah and has done everything in his power to aid in the upbuilding of the State and the City of Salt Lake.

Senator Kearns is married, the maiden name of his wife being Jennie Judge, a native of New York State. Three children have been born them, two sons and a daughter, Edmund J., Thomas F., and Helen M., all living. Senator and Mrs. Kearns are very charitable. Their charity is bestowed without ostentation. Hundreds of orphan children in Utah and elsewhere shower blessings upon Senator and Mrs. Kearns for benefactions shown in the Kearns-St. Ann's orphanage which they have provided for.

As an employer Senator Kearns has the good will of every one of his hundreds of employees. Everything about the various industries in which he is interested has been put in with one object in view, that is, the comfort of his employees, so that work can be done with ease and rapidity.

Senator Kearns and his family reside in a magnificent home on East Brig-ham Street, in Salt Lake City, and at one of the finest ranches in California, near Santa Rosa.

Keith, David

Few men, if any, have had more to do with the upbuilding of Salt Lake City than David Keith. His successful work in making of a mere prospect the great mining property known as the Silver King has had so great a bearing, in all its ramifications, on the material growth of Salt Lake City and Utah, that, if this work were presented in its many interesting details, it would read like a fanciful dream.

Almost the whole of the tremendous wealth which the Silver King poured into the laps of its owners has been used by them in making of Salt Lake City "a City Beautiful" in every sense of the term. The Silver King Mine has done more for Utah than any half dozen other successful properties. The money wrested from the mountains has been kept at home. And the most public-spirited of all those associated in this great property, is the subject of this sketch.

David Keith is a native of Nova Scotia. He was born at Mabou, Cape Breton Island, May 27, 1847. He had no advantages in birth, and at a tender age was employed in the Nova Scotia mines. When yet a boy he left home and went to sea.

Tiring of a seafaring life, he attempted to enter the Federal Army, but his sea captain, who had become attached to him, disclosed his youth and he missed an opportunity to serve in the war of the Rebellion.

In 1867, after a brief time spent in California, he went to Nevada and was employed for a time as a construction "boss" in the building of the Southern Pacific near Reno. Later he found employment in the great Comstock mines and succeeded to positions of trust and responsibility. On the decline of this great mining camp, David Keith went to Park City, Utah, in 1883, accepted a situation as foreman of Ontario No. 3 and succeeded to the superintendency of that great property. After several years in the employ of the Ontario he associated with Thomas Kearns, John Judge and Al Emery, in taking a lease on mining claims, from which enterprise sprang the great Silver King, which has made fortunes for its promoters and their families and added immensely to the wealth of the State.

David Keith has valuable and numerous investments in Salt Lake and elsewhere. He has been immensely generous in upbuilding the State. He is in the forefront as a philanthropist, and is one of the best liked men in Salt Lake. He organized the Keith O'Brien Company and recently disposed of his holdings in that great mercantile house to David F. Walker, but the original name is not changed.

Mr. Keith was a member of the legislature which adopted the Utah Constitution, but beyond this he has neither sought nor held political office. He has a family composed of a wife and five children, four daughters and a son, and occupies one of the most beautiful homes in Salt Lake City.

Knight, Jesse

 One of Utah's leading and most respected citizens, and one who has devoted most of his life to the development of Utah's mineral resources, is Jesse Knight, of Provo. The Knights were pioneers and were identified with the Mormon Church at its very birth, and closely connected with the early settlement of Utah. Newel Knight, father of Jesse Knight, was one of the first converts to Mormonism and held many responsible positions in the church, and was a close friend and adviser of Joseph Smith, first president of the church. Jesse's mother was Lydia G. Bailey, and she was married to Newel Knight at Kirtland, Ohio, in November, 1834, the prophet officiating. It was the first marriage ceremony he had ever performed. The Knights settled at Nauvoo, Illinois, where, on September 6, 1845, Jesse Knight was born. He was the sixth of seven children born; namely, Sally, James, Joseph, Newel, Lydia, Jesse, and Hyrum. The elder Knight died in 1847, and for three years following the widow had to battle with all the privations of frontier life with seven small children. In 1850, after three years of hardship, Mrs. Knight and family started for Salt Lake, where they arrived, after a troublous journey, in October of that year. Here she became a school-teacher and thus supported her family. The earliest recollection of Jesse is attending his mother's school, and herding cows.

At the age of sixteen Jesse started out in life for himself, and chose Provo as a home, working at any employment he could obtain. When the Black Hawk War broke out he became a scout in Capt. Alva Green's cavalry company. In 1868 he worked on the railroad, helping to build the Union Pacific. On January 18, 1869, at Salt Lake, Jesse Knight, then twenty-three years old, married Miss Amanda McEwen, a daughter of John and Amanda McEwen of Provo. Mr. Knight was still doing-freighting and teaming in the canyons for the railroad. He was at Tintic when the first mines were discovered, and made some locations. He hauled the first ore from the Mt. Nebo mines to the Homansville smelter in Tintic. He next went into the cattle business near Payson, where he had forty acres of land at the beginning. He added to his holdings and reared his family there. He went to buying and selling cattle and investing in mines, but it was not until many years later that he realized any profits from his mining investments. His claims in Tintic became valuable, and he soon was worth $30,000; a large sum of money in pioneer days. He next located the Humbug Mine, which ultimately became one of the sources of his wealth. He then went to Provo in order to give his children better educational advantages for religious and scholastic training. He went broke again, owing to his open hearted, generous nature and charitable disposition. But in 1896 a rich strike was made in the Humbug Mine, and Jesse Knight was on his feet again. He next bought the Uncle Sam Mine, paying for it $26,000, and in the next three years had cleared $300,000, his income averaging $10,000 a month.

The children of Jesse Knight are: Oscar Raymond, Jesse William, Amanda Inez, Jennie Pearl, and Addie Iona Knight. His sons are connected with him in business. The business interests of Jesse Knight are many, and cover a wide field. Mr. Knight has done much for the welfare of Utah and its people.

Knox, Frank

From a farmer boy to the presidency of one of the great financial institutions of the inter-mountain empire, is the record of Frank Knox, president of the National Bank of the Republic, of Salt Lake City. Born at Washington, Iowa, March 25, 1857, his early life was spent on a farm, his father being a farmer and stock-raiser. His parents were of English-Scotch descent. Both his maternal and paternal grand-fathers fought in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, and distinguished themselves for bravery and gallantry.

Frank Knox began life, as said, upon a farm. During the winter months he attended the district school and later entered an academy in his native town, where he studied for two years. Then he was tendered a position in the First National Bank of Washington, Iowa, which he accepted, and in 1878 he was promoted to be bookkeeper. One of the directors of the bank, John Bryson, of Chicago, then tendered Mr. Knox the superintendency of his extensive lumber interests in Kansas, a handsome salary being attached to the position, and Mr. Knox accepted it. Later he purchased an interest in the business which he retained until 1882, when the firm sold out their Kansas yards. Then Mr. Knox was tendered and accepted the position of assistant cashier of the First National Bank of his native town. He was soon after promoted to be cashier. In 1885 he resigned his position and went to Osborne, Kansas, where he organized the First National Bank of that place, becoming manager and cashier, which position he held until 1889, when he sold his interests and removed to Salt Lake City.

In 1890 he organized the National Bank of the Republic of Salt Lake City of which he has, since its organization, been president. The National Bank of the Republic carries the largest deposits of any National Bank in Utah. It is a government depository.

Mr. Knox is largely interested in mining in Utah and Nevada. He is a member of and vice-president of the American Bankers Association, and is regarded as among the leading bankers and financiers of the country. He is a member of the Alta and Commercial Clubs of Salt Lake City.

Mr. Knox has never held political office. He was nominated by the Republicans for mayor of Salt Lake City in 1903, but was defeated by his Democratic opponent. He was married in 1882 to Miss May Granley, daughter of George and Margaret Granley of Morris, Illinois. Two sons were born to them, both living. Mr. Knox resides in a handsome home on the corner of East First South Street and Fourth East Street, Salt Lake City.


Source: Sketches of the Inter-Mountain States, Utah, Idaho and Nevada, Published by The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1909 



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