Thomas Walsh (miner)
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Thomas Francis Walsh (April 2, 1850 – April 8, 1910) was an Irish-American miner who discovered one of the largest gold mines in America. He was also famous for giving the famed Hope Diamond to his daughter Evalyn Walsh McLean as a wedding present.
He was probably born on his father's farm, Baptist Grange, in Lisronagh, Tipperary, Ireland and was the son of Michael Walsh, a farmer, and Bridget Scully. According to his daughter's book, Father Struck It Rich he was apprenticed to a millwright at age twelve and soon became a fine carpenter.
In 1869, he emigrated to the United States with his sister, Maria, after the death of his father. For a time, he settled in Worcester, Massachusetts, with his aunts, Catherine and Bridget Walsh Power, who helped "shake the greenhorn off him".
Around 1870 or 71, he heeded the call to "go west young man" and soon found himself in Colorado getting paid top dollar for those scarce carpentry skills he allegedly learned from his appenticeship "to a millwright". During the 1870s, the Black Hills of South Dakota saw a gold rush that attracted hoards of hopeful men afflicted with gold fever. At first Walsh was attracted too but not to the gold. He wanted in on the opportunities to trade goods and services at inflated prices.
Gradually, he became more and more immersed in the world of gold and was soon trading mining equipment to prospectors for mining claims as payment. He also studied mining technology at night. In 1877, he returned to Colorado with between $75,000 and $100,000. He and his "between $75,000 and $100,000" soon found themselves in Leadville, Colorado where he married Carrie Bell Reed on July 11, 1879. The couple had two children:
After becoming an expert in the subject, Thomas Walsh finally was overcome by gold fever and took to the hills. Unlike other prospectors he took a far more methodical and careful approach to prospecting which soon paid off.
In 1896, he came home and uttered the words which later became the title of his daughter's book, "Daughter, I've struck it rich!" The Camp Bird Gold Mine near Ouray, Colorado soon turned out $5,000/day in ore and produced riches for the Walsh family "beyond the dreams of avarice".
The money soon provided the family with a lavish lifestyle that included trips to Europe, fine clothes, and expensive motor cars. Around 1898, the family moved to Washington, D.C.
In 1903 the family moved into the ornate mansion at 2020 Massachusetts Avenue. Later, this house became the Indonesian Embassy. On 23 January 1909, The Aero Club of Washington was founded with Walsh as president to promote the new technology of Aviation.
Thomas Francis Walsh died on April 8, 1910, at his home in Washington, D.C.
Thomas Walsh had the following siblings:
- Maria Walsh: married Arthur Lafferty, a two-gun police sergeant in Leadville, Colorado
- Michael Walsh: died in 1904 in Denver, Colorado, of dropsy of the liver
Other siblings? Mary Ryan, in her book, Hope, claims Thomas had half siblings from a later marriage his father made to Margaret Cunningham.
Thomas Walsh is a cousin twice removed to W. Arthur Garrity, Jr., the federal judge who issued the famous 1974 order that Boston schools desegregate by means of busing.
Thomas Walsh is a cousin once removed to New York City civic improver and Macys Lawyer, Patrick L. Ryan.
- Weeks, Christopher (1994). AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, D.C. (3d ed.), pp. 179-80. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-4712-5.
- Tom D. Crouch. "Aero Club of Washington: Aviation in the Nation's Capital, 1909-1914". p. 39.
- An informal family history written by Margaret Kennedy (c.1972)
- Father Struck it Rich, by Evalyn Walsh McLean (1936)
- Hope by Mary Ryan (c.1998)
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