Uncle Billy Chollar

By Natalie L. Coolidge

Gold was discovered in California on a Sunday morning, January 24, 1848. The results to which this discovery soon led profoundly affected the lives if innumerable individuals; but more than that, the discovery, or the consequences of which it was the primary cause, deeply influenced the politics and the financial condition of the country.

In 1849 the California gold fever was rife all over the Eastern States. Many went from Danielsonville, among whom were Dr. Samuel Hutchins, William Chollar, John Hutchins, Freeman James and George W. Spaulding. Dr. S. C. Griggs, then a young man, also started to go, but at the depot it came to a choice between going and leaving behind him a bride expectant and quite naturally he chose the negative alternative. Most of those that did go were fitted out by men of means, but it is doubtful whether the majority of these god seekers ever gained much of anything beyond experience.

There was one, however, who did make a name for himself. He was William C. Chollar who, in 1851 along with Edwin Franklin Morse, located the Massachusetts Hill claims at Nevada City, Nevada County, California.

He went to Washoe in the Fall of 1859, located the Chollar ground in which he held the usual 100-foot claim, and undertook to explore it by means of a tunnel. This, though a costly work, availed nothing; therefore, he sold out and taking the proceeds of the sale returned to his home at Grass Valley (California), and there again engaged in mining. He was a clear-headed business man, active and industrious; but being of a convivial disposition, at times spent his money lavishly.

Chollar came to western Utah Territory (now Nevada) prior to June 1860. In June 1860 he and several others conveyed their undivided interests to the Chollar Silver Mining Company in the Chollar silver mining claims, on the Comstock. On April 29, 1861, William C. Chollar and another sold to William H. Graves of San Francisco for $800 a parcel of land containing 4.95 acres, situated eastward from A Street, in Virginia City, and within the corporate limits. In 1861 Chollar described himself as a miner, and boarded at the Virginia City Hotel in Virginia City.

In September 1861 Chollar and another had 320 acres of coal mining land surveyed for them. The land was situated in the Butte Mining District, seven miles south of the Carson River, and ten miles east from Chinatown (now Dayton, Nevada). Billy Chollar sued the adjoining Potosi Company in December 1861, claiming trespass. The $1,300,000 suit lasted until 1865, when the two companies were consolidated as the Chollar-Potosi Mining Company. The consolidation lasted until 1878, when it again became two companies.

In December 1863 the Reese River Reveille listed W. C. Chollar as a property owner in Lander County, Nevada (central Nevada). The assessed value of his property was $2,000. He returned to California in 1864, the Virginia Dail Union (Virginia City, Nevada), noting: "Mr. W. Chollar, original locator of the famous Chollar claim in Virginia City, Nevada, resides in Grass Valley, and is still prospecting to strike a pile."

Chollar returned to Nevada in 1868, the Gold Hill News (Gold Hill, Nevada) commenting on November 14, 1868: "Uncle Billy Chollar, locator of the Chollar mine on the Comstock Ledge, and latterly a resident of Grass Valley, has gone to White Pine (in eastern Nevada). He may do there as he did on the Comstock, make his mark, if he does not make his pile."

On April 13, 1870, the Elko Independent (Elko, Nevada) reported: "Billy Chollar, the discoverer of the celebrated Chollar claim on the Comstock, some two months ago discovered a ledge on the west slope of Mineral Hill, about half-way to the summit, and named it Hartford. He has been at work on it taking out ore for shipment. Lately he sent 2,500 pounds to the English mill at Reno, and on Monday last received returns of $915 per ton. Chollar has got a big thing." (Mineral was an early mining camp in Eureka County, Nevada." On March 8, 1870, the Territorial Enterprise (Virginia City, Nevada) reported that Chollar "now resided in the village of Danielsonville, Connecticut. 'Uncle Billy' was an industrious and enthusiastic prospector during his residence in Washoe." ("Washoe" was the early name used in referring to Nevada.)

At the earnest solicitation of his brothers living in Connecticut, William Chollar returned from Nevada to Danielsonville, Connecticut, in the Fall of 1873. He made his home a part of the time with his son, William H. Chollar. This was reported on February 12, 1877, in a letter written by Joshua Perkins to the editor of the San Francisco Mining and Scientific Press.

The letter continued, "During the past two years he has been engaged in the towns of Eastford and Woodstock, in this state. He has located a mine of fair prospects in each of these two towns. The assays from both locations are considered flattering by himself and his associates. This winter he is with his partner, Mr. Brown, in Woodstock, engaged in sinking a shaft and he is prospecting his mining enterprises with his usual energy and enthusiasm?. He is confident that there is great mineral wealth in New England, and all that is wanted to successfully develop it is enterprise and practical mining experience. He is the same genial and confident person of yore, when he discovered the famous Chollar mine?"

"We could be consanguineous!"

Don't be offended if someone you've just met says to you, "I think we are consanguineous." Consanguineous simply means having the same ancestry, related by blood. Or, consanguinity, meaning the connection or relation of persons descended from the same common ancestor.

My Family Coat of arms ties at the back?..is that normal?