While in Florida with CXL, I stayed in the Los Piños building on the old White Oak Plantation. Many of the buildings were strongly reminiscent of my long-since-departed cousin Hollister Sprague’s home, Forestledge, overlooking Puget Sound – on the outskirts of Seattle.
Despite the glowing coverage of the current denizen in the linked article, I hear that he has been bulldozing much of the wild woodland on the property, with the result that landslips are becoming more common.
Particularly sad since Elaine and I shared such happy times with Hollister at Forestledge, and his family across the state, from Vashon Island to Yakima, back in 1973.
When I arrived back from the States this time, I re-read my copy of our great-great-grandmother Clara Witter’s diary of her family’s move west to the Rockies in the 1860s. She was the grandmother of our paternal grandmother, Isabel Griffin/Elkington/Coaker.
In the diary, she describes setting up a post office in the mountains, where the local miners would pay in gold dust. Every weekend she would pan the dirt floor, making a fair amount of money in the process. I was interested in digging back into the mining elements of the family story because one theme CXL has been pursuing is artisanal mining.
I asked my brother Gray for some background on the Griffin side of the family – Isabel having been one, via her father, Francis Griffin. Turns out that a number of members of that generation owned and operated gold and silver mines in the USA, mainly in the Rockies, which is presumably how Francis met Isabel’s mother-to-be, Hattie Witter.
Also turned out, according to a document called “The Griffin Mystery”, that one of the Griffin brothers, Clifford, committed suicide at the 7:30 Mine near Silver Plume – giving rise to endless theories, rumours and ghost stories. False facts have deep roots.
Gray attached a long document giving the true story, which I must find a way to post here at some point. It’s genuinely fascinating – and references tailing dam failures that ended up wiping out part of the nearest settlement.
Somewhat relevant since, while I was in Florida, I received a request from a major mining company which recently had a terrible tailings dam disaster, asking me to write a contribution for their latest sustainability report. I set such a high bar that they withdrew the offer.
But at some level we are all complicit in these tragedies and catastrophes.