J.W. "Uncle Jim" Ballantine – who was he? Here are some details:
- He wrote a letter to Nat Ballantyne in 1906 signed "Uncle Jim"
- He was partner in a a Hardware / Grocery store in Bellevue, Idaho in 1906
- Nat's father, Alexander Ballantyne (1841-1885) Had three brothers who would have been Nat's uncles, David (born 1837) – nothing is known about him after 1860; George, who died in 1900 and James, born in 1840, died in 1907. Alexander also had four sisters.
- A woman named Lena is mentioned. Jim's wife, Philena, born 1843, died in 1907.
- In 1889 James W Ballantine was appointed Postmaster of Muldoon, Idaho. Muldoon is now a ghost town in the mining area, not far from Bellevue.
- According to Pennsylvania Veterans Burial information, he had been a Col. in the Civil War.
- Though his Civil War records show his name spelled as Ballantyne, he evidently changed the spelling as not only does this stationery show his name spelled Ballantine but his and Lena's gravestones in the Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh also has the Ballantine spelling.
- Jim and Lena had a daughter, Clara, age 4, listed in the 1870 census. Presumably she died before 1880 as she is not listed in that census.
- Lena and Jim both died in 1907 and are buried in Pittsburgh.
The letter follows:
Jan 24th, 1906
I should have written you long ago – but I expected that I would have made arrangements to visit Pittsburgh this winter but my partner (Mr Hill) has been afflicted with rheumatism that he could not attend to business – so I had to remain at home –
Lena – met with an accident about 3 months ago – we started on a visit to Boise City – and in getting of [off] the cars at Shoeshone missed the platform in the dark and struck the edges of the platform and injured her leg below the knee – she did not complain at the time – but on arriving at Boise City – it became so bad that I had to take her to the hospital – and she had to remain there two weeks before I was able to bring her home –– she has intirely [sic] recovered now and joins in sending love to all – We had a severe snow storm about a week ago – snow falling to the depth of 3 ft – and has had the effect of cutting of business almost entirely – and will remain so until the roads can be opened up again. The outlook for business here in the spring looks very favorable – as quite – a number of new mines are being opened up – and will be in shape to produce ore as soon as the roads are opened – in the spring ––
We send love to all – and tell your mother we would be glad to hear from her ––
More about J.W. Ballantine can be found here – Idaho State Historical Society, Reference Series about Muldoon:
- In April, 1883, J. W. Ballentine came out from Pittsburgh to organize operations at Muldoon more efficiently. That spring he had twenty charcoal kilns in production there. Then he contracted for a forty-mule pack train to bring eight tons of upper Fish Creek iron ore six miles each day to a wagon road.
- Running out of operating funds, he had to shut down entirely in October. In November he managed to add ten miners to his staff of four; encouraged by finding some carbonate ore rich in silver as well as lead, they undertook a lot of additional development which incidentally provided an ore reserve of more than four hundred tons that winter. By May of 1884, they had blocked out enough low grade values to justify an investment in a fifty-ton concentrator. That spring Ballentine returned to Pennsylvania long enough to obtain a lease, June 1, that would enable him to enlarge his plant and operate Muldoon's mine with a partner.
- By October of 1885 he completed a large moving project, hauling all his tram and mining equipment from Muldoon to a more promising North Star lode on the east fork of Wood River. Then in 1886 he went into cattle ranching at Muldoon.