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An Early Photo of Wardner, Idaho in the Silver Valley -- Includes Image of George Augustus Smith

Detailed photograph of a larger group of men in front of Teddy's and The Model in Wardner, Idaho, which at the time was at the heart of a mining boom town in the Silver Valley.

Of note in the image is the African American man at the front right of the image, this would almost certainly have been George Augustus Smith from Georgia, who was a "Galena" lead miner residing in Wardner in the late 1880s.  Smith is described by Hundhausen as a local prospector, who discovered the Little Pittsburgh mine in 1889 and 4 other neighboring mines between 1900 and 1916.  Smith is also noteworthy for having married Jennie Eva Hughes Smith (1879-1939) of Moscow, Idaho, the first African American to graduate from the University of Idaho in 1899.   The couple lived in Wardner until 1912, when they moved to Spokane, Washington with their 4 children.

J. O. Bowen would seem to have been a partner in the photography firm of Beckwith & Bowen, who first began advertising in the Helena Independent Recorder on May 4, 1884 and seemed to have been active in Helena as partners until at least September 1885.   

Wardner, Idaho

The town of Wardner was founded in 1885 at the site of the Bunker Hill mine, in the Coeur d’ Alene Mining District.  

Wardner, situated at the district's largest mine, was where many of the events related to the Silver Valley's numerous labor conflicts, perhaps including a conflict in April of 1899 when union miners from other parts of the district essentially invaded the non-union Bunker Hill mine. The non-union employees fled and the unions proceeded to destroy the mill and office building with dynamite.


We were unable to find another example of the photograph or any other photo of George Augustus Smith, although photos of Jennie Eva Hughes Smith are extant.

-Mamie O. Oliver, Idaho Ebony: The African American Presence in Idaho History. Journal of African American History, pp 41-54. (Winter 2006);
-Robert Hundhausen, Mining and Milling Methods and Costs at the Little Pittsburg Lead-zinc Mine, Shoshone County, Idaho, pp. 2-4 (1946);
-Jennie Eva Hughes Smith: