Lost Butte, Montana, a book by Richard I. Gibson, is in stores and museum gift shops around Butte. Or order from the publisher. It's also in E-book formats at all the usual places. And read an interview with Gibson, here, and on KXLF here. The Facebook page has many historic photos of Butte, and the Butte-Anaconda NHLD project showcases many historic buildings. Location-oriented posts can be found on HistoryPin. On Mondays beginning in January 2016, look for Gibson's "Mining City History" column in the Montana Standard. Many of these blog posts have been converted to podcast episodes, available at KBMF.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Destroying Angel

Central Butte Claim Map, ca. 1885. Click to enlarge.
By Richard I. Gibson

About 1880, prominent Butte businessman (later Mayor and U.S. Senator) Lee Mantle established the Diadem Claim in the heart of Butte’s growing business district, angling from the corner of Broadway and Montana southeast to Main and Galena and a bit beyond. By 1882, Mantle was seeking to evict surface owners from the Diadem Claim—but they didn’t go quietly.

The surface business owners banded together and, finding a possible legal flaw in the Diadem, established the Destroying Angel Claim, completely encompassing the Diadem. The name was chosen deliberately, to reflect the expected “destruction” of Mantle’s eviction attempt. And the Destroying Angel partners prevailed; Mantle’s case was dismissed in 1884.

But it wasn’t over yet.

The partners fell on each other, in various disputes over who owed what to the Destroying Angel money pool. The cases dragged on for more than 10 years and ultimately went to the Montana Supreme Court, with Chief Justice William Pemberton participating in the decision to compel one of the partners to pay $200 to the others. Pemberton’s Butte home at 39 East Granite was just two blocks from the east end of the Destroying Angel Claim, while Lee Mantle’s house on North Montana was two blocks north of the west end.

A mine was ultimately developed on the Destroying Angel Claim, but never seems to have produced much (if anything) even though its location was given as 35 West Galena (rear) from 1895 to 1910.

For more of the story, and to sample some Destroying Angel Whiskey, visit Headframe Spirits at 21 South Montana beginning Wednesday, February 29, 2012. Their 1919 building stands on the western boundary of the Destroying Angel Claim.
John & Courtney McKee prepare to open Headframe Spirits Feb. 29, 2012.

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