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John Janney collection
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: John Janney collection
    Dates: 1896-1992
    Bulk dates: 1920-1960
    Collection Number: mssJanneycollection
    Creator: Janney, John, 1877-1967
    Extent: 338 boxes, 29 ledgers, and 2 oversize folders
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2203
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The John Janney collection contains correspondence and business records related to mining in the early 20th century American West. Included are files related to John Janney's several properties and interests, most of which were in Lincoln County, Nevada, including the Ely Valley Mines, Mountain View Hotel, Pioche Mines Company, Pioche Power and Light Company, and Tenabo Mining and Smelting Company. This collection exists as an extensive and rich documentation of Nevada mining, especially during the Great Depression and World War II.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Administration Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site .

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John Janney collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased from Serendipity Books, July 1999


    John Janney was born on August 15, 1877 in Leesburg, Virginia. His great grandfather served as Attorney General under George Washington and John Adams. He was named after a famous uncle.
    In 1896, John Janney graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1900. Soon after, Janney headed west to Idaho and then, Pioche, Nevada where he re-created himself as a businessman. Seemingly, Janney was motivated by a desire to be a great and respected businessman. He admired John D. Rockefeller for making a fortune in oil and set out to do the same in mining. However, Janney proved to be plagued by misfortune and a certain degree of incompetence or irresponsibility that limited his success. During his 50 years in the mining industry, he managed to create enemies of the worst kind, those who neither feared nor respected him. He was sued by other companies and stockholders on numerous occasions, and was forced to devote much of his energy to a never ending stream of litigation.
    Janney failed to follow the advice of Andrew Carnegie, who claimed he made his fortune by putting all his eggs in one basket, and "watching that basket." From the very beginning of his career, Janney had investments in several companies, and projects across the United States. He worked on the development of Milner Dam in south central Idaho and contributed to the founding of Twin Falls, Idaho. He continued to own property and farmland in Idaho throughout this life. In the early 1900s, he became the Secretary of the Pioche Mines Company, and began to make his rise. He spent time in France before the war, and then returned to Pioche, Nevada. He spent the years up until 1920 acquiring controlling stock in the Nevada Volcano Mines Company for his personal ownership. In 1920, he bought the land from the company. Now, he had control of Pioche Mines Company, which had equipment for mining, but no money to buy land on which to use the equipment. Janney also acquired controlling stock in The Pioche Record, the Mountain View Hotel, and the Pioche Power and Light Company. He oversaw the running of these businesses as well as his main interest, mining.
    Janney was a capitalist in every sense and strove to make the Pioche Mines Company profitable throughout the 1920s. Soon, he became the president of the company and was determined to make it work. His success was set back on September 14, 1929, when a fire destroyed the company's mill. Workers expressed support and sympathy for Janney after the fire, despite the depression into which the world had fallen into, plans were soon underway to rebuild the mill.
    Throughout the 1930s, Janney expressed strong views in regards to his economic theories and opinions on the silver policy. He wrote numerous letters to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and friends tried to arrange a meeting with the President Roosevelt so Janney could push his plan for economic recovery.
    Pioche Mines Company eventually merged with Pioche Mines Consolidated, Inc. Janney continued as president. Under his direction, the company actively worked to increase stockholders in the east, especially in Philadelphia. Janney spent much of his time living in hotels in east coast cities promoting and trying to expand his company. The company was not free of problems, however. Percy H. Clark, had replaced T. Mitchell Hastings, as attorney for Philadelphia investors in the company and soon began his push for reorganization. Clark clashed with Janney and other company heads frequently, which eventually led to several lawsuits. Eventually, Clark resigned his vice-presidency; he was unable to see eye to eye on anything with Janney.
    Problems abounded with investors and supply companies that Pioche Mines Consolidated, Inc. was in debt to. Janney seemed to owe money in all directions and to be in no rush to pay up. As the patience of many wore out, the number of lawsuits rose steadily. The case of Fidelity-Philadelphia vs. Pioche Mines Consolidated, Inc. and John Janney dragged on for years and eventually landed in the United States Supreme Court in the early 1960s.
    In the late 1930s or early 1940s, Janney became the General Manager of Ely Valley Mines Company. He oversaw all operations and business in this company, saving records of daily operations at the mill. In letters to and from his wife, Alice Janney, he expresses intense desire to see the company become profitable. In response, his wife made several suggestions on how to accomplish that goal. However, this company was also plagued with lawsuits, specifically the case of Helen Dolman vs. Ely Valley Mines, which carried on until the early 1960s when it finally reached the United States Court of Appeals. Janney also worked on developing the Randsburg mining district, located in Kern County, California. His energies were constantly invested in mines, as shown by the massive number of business correspondence.
    The 1960s lawsuits seemed to wear on him. He spent more time expressing his political views, and following the events of the Civil Rights Movement. Janney spoke out for right-wing politics, anti-communism, and constitutional limitations.
    Janney passed away in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1967 at the age of 90. At that time, several court cases were still in progress, and the mining companies were in his control. In his will, he instructed three old friends to take care of his possessions, being sure his wife would be provided for until her death. His only other beneficiaries were The Defenders of the American Constitution and John C. Williams, President of the Texas Voters for Enforcing the Constitution. Janney's stock was transferred to Arabian Shields Company of Dallas, Texas and his properties were taken over by this company.

    Scope and Content

    Series I: Ely Valley Mines Company The first series, Ely Valley Mines Company, primarily contains reports, such as Foreman's Daily Reports, Daily Explosives Reports, Shift Reports, Truck Operation Reports, Daily Timber Reports, and Daily Drill Reports. Also, pertaining to Ely Valley Mines Company, are Assay Certificates, Requisition for Supplies forms, time cards, financial records, production estimates, and other technical figures. Included are letters to and from supply companies, stockholders, company officers, and legal firms. Also in this series, are letters to and from John Janney and wife, Alice Janney in Box 57 (3).
    Series II: Mountain View Hotel The Mountain View Hotel series, mostly consists of invoices, receipts, statements, and tax records from various supply and utility companies. This series is roughly organized chronologically. The few letters in this section concern a Redflash boiler leak at the hotel.
    Series III: Oriental Refining Company The third series mostly includes correspondence, memoranda, notes, and statements concerning two lawsuits: Oriental Refining Company, Plaintiff, vs. American National Bank of Denver, Defendant and Richard K. Baker, as Trustee, Francis G. Shaw and Richard K. Baker, as Trustees, Wallace M. Scudder, James B. Thayer, Augustus Hemenway, and Francis G. Shaw, Plaintiffs, vs. Max P. Zall, E. M. Stringer, H. L. Jewell, and Oriental Refining Company, Defendants.
    Series IV: Amalgamated Pioche Mines and Smelting Corporation:The Amalgamated Pioche Mines and Smelting Corporation series primarily consists of invoices, receipts, and statements from various supply and utility companies from the late 1930s to early 1940s.
    Series V: Pioche Mines Company and Pioche Mines Consolidated, Inc. This series is roughly divided into two parts. The first part concerns Pioche Mines Company from the early 1900s to late 1920s. The second part relates to Pioche Mines Consolidated, Inc., which incorporated in December 1928. Both sections contain business correspondence to and from supply companies, stockholders, company officers, and legal firms. Additional subject matter related to Janney includes Twin Falls, Idaho, anti-communism, constitutional limitations, and monetizing silver. Box 239 consists of newspaper clippings related to civil rights and right wing politics. Also, there are correspondence, countersuits, drafts, memoranda, notes, and statements concerning two major lawsuits: Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company, Trustee et al., Plaintiffs, vs. Pioche Mines Consolidated, Inc. Pioche Mines Company, and John Janney, Defendants and Helen Dolman, Lawrence Rust Lee, E.P.R. Duval, Katherine Hansbrough, and James Keith Marshall, Jr., Plaintiffs, vs. Ely Valley Mines, Inc., Pioche Mines Consolidated, Inc., and John Janney.
    Series VI: Pioche Power and Light Company The Pioche Power and Light Company series primarily consists of correspondence, documents, printed matter, and reports addressed to and from the Public Services Commission of Nevada. Also, there are tax related material, financial records, and work orders. Box 222 consists of mostly retained carbons to customers.
    Series VII: Randsburg California Mines In this series, there are agreements, correspondence, deeds, financial records maps, notes, reports, and test results related to Randsburg mining district and Goler Canyon Placer. The bulk of the letters are between John Janney and his agent, Samuel M. Mingus.
    Series VIII: Tenabo Mining and Smelting Company There is only one box in this series. The contents include letters and documents concerning Charles D. Bates, Complainant vs. Tenabo Mining and Smelting Company, Defendant. There are three ledgers: Minutes from the "First Meeting of the Incorporators and Stockholders", a blank receipt book, and a transfer of capital ledger. Box 237 (6) consists of copies of telegrams regarding the sale of Tenabo property.
    Series IX: Miscellaneous This series consists of material related to all the mines in the previous sections. There are business and personal correspondence, financial records, ephemera, shorthand notes, and other material related to Janney's life as a businessman and a devout American capitalist. Boxes 286-290 contain additional material related to the Helen Dolman, Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company, Pioche Mines Consolidated, Inc. and Ely Valley Mines Company lawsuits. There are two oversize boxes consisting of rolled blueprints, drawings, and maps.
    Series X: Oversize There are 29 oversize ledgers and two oversize folders related to Ely Valley Mines Company, Pioche Power and Light Company, and Tenabo Mining and Smelting Company. One folder consists 26 drawings of the Pioche floatation mill and the other depicts mining shafts.


    For the most part, the original order of the collection has been kept. The best way to tackle this collection is to perform a keyword search for items of interest.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    DuVal, Miles P., Jr. (Miles Percy), 1896-1989
    Janney, John, 1877-1967
    King, William Henry, 1828-1903
    McCarran, Pat, 1876-1954
    Post, Langdon W. (Langdon Ward), 1899-

    Corporate Names

    Combined Metals Reduction Company
    Ely Valley Mines Company
    Mountain View Hotel
    Oriental Refining Company
    Pioche Mines Company
    Pioche Mines Consolidated
    Pioche Power and Light Company
    Tenabo Mining and Smelting Company
    United States. War Production Board


    Civil rights--United States
    Currency question--United States
    Gold mines and mining--Nevada
    Lead mines and mining--Nevada
    Mines and mineral resources--Nevada--Pioche
    Mining corporations--Nevada
    Silver mines and mining--Nevada
    Silver question

    Geographic Areas

    Lincoln County (Nev.)--History
    Pioche (Nev.)--History
    Randsburg (Calif.)--History
    Twin Falls (Idaho)--History


    Account books--Nevada--20th century
    Business records--Nevada--20th century
    Letters (correspondence)--Nevada--20th century
    Reports--Nevada--20th century