Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sproule Strikes Back

So Robert Sproule has returned to his Bluebell claim after having to leave due to illness and finds that a neighbouring miner has re-staked his claim. Sproule followed proper protocol by filing for permission for a leave of absence and getting it and even with this turn of events, he still followed procedure. He registered an objection with the Gold Commissioner.

This time Sproule wasn't the sole owner of the Bluebell. In order to raise working capital, he had acquired an investor, Colonel Hudnut of Idaho and two working partners. Sproule may have been an honest man but his partners were less scrupulous and retaliated by crossing the lake and re staking Ainsworth claims.

Sproule's case wasn't heard until late in the summer of 1883. By this time there was a new provincial government and a new district Gold Commissioner, Edward Kelly. Kelly decided the case in favour of Sproule so the Ainsworths appealed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The appeal was attached to his partners' other contested claims and although Sproule was once again awarded the Bluebell claim, his partners lost their cases and were forced to return the Ainsworth claims.

Everything should have been fine; things were restored to the original standings. However, Sproule's partner, Colonel Hudnut, failed the pay the fines and court costs associated with his loss. The only asset Hudnut had in British Columbia was his share in the Bluebell, which was auctioned off to cover the monies owed. And the winning bidder was none other than Thomas Hammill - the man who had earlier tried to steal the claim from Sproule.

During the winter of 1885, Sproule worked to keep his dream alive and found more investors for the Bluebell. Dr. Wilbur Hendryx of Idaho became the latest part owner in the Bluebell claim. Sproule and his team returned to the claim in June 1 and Hammill decided to assert his new-found stake in the mine and crossed the lake.

I don't know what was said or what happened when that scoundrel showed up on the claim but Robert Sproule had enough. He borrowed a rifle and fatally short Hammill. Sproule then fled the lake in a rowboat. He was caught in a few days and brought back to face justice.

Friday, I'll tell you about the trial of Robert Sproule as well as some interesting tidbits about the Bluebell mine. I want to thank the The Great Canadian Lake website for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you. 

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  1. Great pictures and an even greater story to accompany them. Thanks, Karen
    Ed Griffin
    PS I love the name "Bluebell". I saw some yesterday in someone's yard. They took my breath away.

    1. Thanks Ed. There were bluebells in the area where Robert Sproule staked his claim. Don't forget to come back Friday and read the conclusion to this story.