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John Scales, a resident of Wagontown, is a native of the Emerald Isle, his birth having occurred in Kilrush, County Clare, on the 6th of May 1840. At the time of the protectorate in England members of the Scales family, natives of that land, went to Ireland as soldiers of Oliver Cromwell, and for their services were paid in Irish estates, called “sword-lands.” The parents of our subject were Samuel and Rachel Scales, who were distant relatives. They came to America in 1855, bringing with them their family of five children, and took up their residence in the state of Maine. The father died in 1875, at the age of seventy-two years, and the mother spent her last days in the home of her son John, passing away at the advanced age of ninety-two years. Four of the children yet survive, one being a resident of Maine, one of Oregon, one of Silver City and one of Wagontown, Idaho, and thus they are separated by the width of the continent.
John Scales was a youth of fifteen years when he accompanied his parents on the voyage across the briny deep. He attended school in his native land and pursued a commercial course in Eastman’s Business College of Poughkeepsie, New York. His residence in Idaho dates from 1868, when he took up his abode in Silver City and began work in the mines. At that time miners were making from five to twenty dollars per day. He also became part owner of the Casco mines near the De Lamar mines, and while milling for others also took out ore from his own claims, thus gaining a good start in business life. He sold the Casco mine to William F. Sommercamp, who later sold the property to the De Lamar Company, who now have the largest and best paying mines in Owyhee County. At the present writing Mr. Scales resides at Wagontown, two miles west of De Lamar, on the famous Jordan creek. In 1891 he conceived the idea of building a dam and inpounding the tailings of the great mill of the De Lamar Mining Company. He also built a flume to convey the tailings to his reservoirs and thus has he inpounded a large quantity of the tailings, which have been found on second working to produce seven dollars to the ton. Formerly Mr. Scales owned a custom mill at Silver City for several years had run ore to the value of millions of dollars and had become a miner and mill man. He turned his knowledge to practical account in the establishment of his present business, and his new enterprise will doubtless net him a handsome profit, for the tailings yield three ounces of silver and five dollars and a half in gold to the ton, and he now has seventy thousand tons of the tailings, the gross income from which will be about a half million dollars. He has recently equipped his mill to a capacity of one hundred tons per twenty-four hours, and used the pan amalgamation method. His efforts are therefore being crowned with success a prosperity which is justly deserved. In connection with Mr. I Wagoner he is also owner of the Trook and Jennings mines, one of the valuable mining properties of Silver City.
In 1879 Mr. Scales was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Crowell, of China, Maine, and they now have two sons, Henry C. and Wilbert G., both of whom are attending school in California. Mrs. Scales is a cultured and entertaining-lady, presiding with gracious hospitality over the commodious residence which Mr. Scales has erected at Wagontown, and in which they have resided since 1891. She is also a valued member of the Baptist church, while Mr. Scales is a Royal Arch Mason and has served as high priest of Cyrus Chapter, No. 2, R. A. M., of Silver City. His political support is given the Democracy and he keeps well informed on the issues of the day, thus being able to intelligently advocate the principles in which he believes. He has served for several terms as county commissioner and also as county school-superintendent, and has been a most capable and efficient officer. He and his family are very highly esteemed in the county in which they have so long resided, and their history is deserving a prominent place in this volume.