HON. HAROLD T. POWER
Harold T. Power, the president and superintendent of the Hidden Treasure Gravel Mining Company, has the distinction of being the first white child born in Damascus, Placer County, California, the date of his birth being February 7, 1857.
Mr. Power’s father, Michael Harold Power, was a native of Waterford, Ireland, and was descended from English nobility, several of his ancestors having been prominent officers in the English army. When but a youth he left the Emerald Isle and came to America, landing at Philadelphia and going from there to New York City, where he was in business for a number of years, until his health failed and he was advised by his physician to take an ocean voyage. Accordingly, in 1854 he sailed from New York for San Francisco, via the Isthmus of Panama, and early in September landed in the Golden state. His first work in California was building a toll road between Iowa Hill and Illinois Town. Later he was engaged at Iowa Hill in the management of the ditch interests of James Hill, and from there he went to Damascus, where he resided until 1875, being interested in the Mountain Tunnel and Mountain Gate mines, where his efforts were attended with success.
Selling his property at Damascus in 1875, he came to the Sunny South side of the divide, and he and William Cameron became the discoverers of the Hidden Treasure mine. A company was at once organized for the development of this mine, of which Mr. Power was the secretary from the time of its organization until Mr. Cameron’s death, the latter portion of that period also being its superintendent. To his talent and industry is due much of the credit for the successful development of this mine.
A public-spirited citizen, from the time of his coming into the county to reside he took an active part in public affairs, doing all in his power to advance the best interests of the county. An enthusiastic Republican, he was honored by his party with official position, being elected in 1867 as one of the county supervisors, and two years later, in 1869, being elected to represent his county in the state legislature. These offices he filled in a manner that reflected credit both upon himself and the people whom he represented. For years he was a valued member of the Masonic order, and in his life exemplified its teachings. When he passed away July 17, 1885, the community at large as well as his immediate family circle felt a deep loss, and long will his memory be cherished.
Of his domestic life it may be said that Mr. Power was happily married June 1, 1856, to Miss Isaline K. Devely, a native of Switzerland, who came to New York when a young girl and to San Francisco in 1855. Previous to her marriage she was a governess in the family of Commodore Stockton, of California. Accompanying her husband to Damascus they began housekeeping in a rude cabin and she soon adjusted herself to the style of living so different from that to which she had been accustomed. For nearly a year she was the only woman in that mining camp. Small and destitute of conveniences though the cabin was, she by her refinement and her cheerfulness made it a charming home and exerted an influence that was felt for good throughout the camp. It was in this cabin that her son Harold T. was born. One other son and two daughters blessed their union, and of this family of four only two are now living: the subject of our sketch and his sister, Mrs. Lizzy P. Biggs, a widow, residing with her mother in Auburn. To Mrs. Power was given the honor of naming the Hidden Treasure mine. On her sixty-sixth birthday in 1899, she read a paper entitled “The Gold Belt of the Sierras,” before the annual meeting of the pioneers of the county, the article showing that she has a remarkable knowledge and memory of life here in the pioneer days. This paper was published by the press throughout the county and was highly commented upon.
From the honored father to the worthy son has fallen the mantle of usefulness and deserved success. Harold T. Power received his early education in the public schools of his native county, after which he entered the Pacific Business College in San Francisco, of which institution he is a graduate. Upon completing his course in the college he accepted the position of assistant bookkeeper for the firm of Stien, Simon & Company, of San Francisco. He found, however, that the close confinement of office work was detrimental to his health, and, acting upon the advice of his physician to adopt a more active occupation, he went into the Union Iron Works and served as an apprenticeship of four years to the trade of machine smith. At the end of this time he came to Sunny South and entered the blacksmith shop of the mine with which he father was connected, as stated above, and worked at his trade until his father’s death. In September, 1887, he was made the secretary of the company, the office his father had filled, and also soon succeeded to the superintendency of the mine. In 1890 he was elected to superintend the Mayflower mine, and filled that position two years, in addition to performing his duties connected with the other mine. During those two years his residence was at the Mayflower mine. At the end of that time, in 1893, he returned to reside at the Hidden Treasure mine, and since that date has operated the property on a larger scale than ever before. The following year, 1894, the company was incorporated under the name of the Hidden Treasure Gravel Mining Company. Thirty-six thousand shares, at the par value of ten dollars each, were issued to the twenty-eight stockholders, in numbers ranging from 100 to 11,500, Mr. Power having a controlling interest and being the president and superintendent. The mine is equipped with an electrical plant costing twenty thousand dollars, which has reduced the expense of mining and handling no less than thirteen per cent. One hundred and ninety men are employed, and under Mr. Power’s able management, he being recognized as an expert mining engineer, the property is a most productive and paying one. He is likewise the president and superintendent of the Morning Star Mining Company, at Iowa Hill, this state.
While he has been so successful as a mining engineer, Mr. Power has not confined himself exclusively to mining, but has like his honored father, taken a prominent part in promoting the welfare of the county and state. He is the president of the Placer County Miners’ Association and a member of the executive committee of the California Miners’ Association. The aims of these associations are the protection and development of the mineral industries of this county and state and the rehabilitation of hydraulic mining. Mr. Power has been a director of the agricultural society of the county, a director and stockholder in the Placer County Bank, and has served a term in the legislature of California, having been elected in 1897. He was a delegate from California to the Republican national convention held in Philadelphia, in June, 1900, which renominated McKinley for the office of president of the United States, and nominated Roosevelt for vice president. He was nominated and elected a presidential elector of this state on the Republican ticket in the last campaign.
November 23, 1871, Mr. Power was married to Miss Mary V. Sweeney, of San Francisco, and they have seven children, namely: Harold, Treasure, Henry, Anita, Edward, Grace and Raymond McKinley.
Fraternally Mr. Power is identified with the Freemasons, Native Sons of the Golden West and the order of Elks. As a businessman, a public-spirited citizen and gentleman, he is a credit to the state.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.