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Representation of John McDonald to the New-York Committee of Safety: His examinations of Lead-Mines


To the Honourable Provincial Congress or Committee of Safety, now sitting in the City of NEW-YORK.

I, John McDonald, Miner, who was appointed by your Honours, with the most punctual instructions relative to lead-mines, obeyed, in compliance with the request contained in said instructions, and proceeded, with all convenient despatch, to the Little Nine Partners, where I carefully applied myself in working and examining for lead and copper, in order to bring the just account of the state and quality of the same, which is as specified in the following manner: Jonathan London, Esq˙, conducted me to a limestone hill, where, at random, I took the dimensions from the northeast and southwest fallings of the ground, being one mile in length, in breadth half a mile, and in height about forty rods. There I found said mines, the veins of ore in which appear running the breadth of the mountain, (lying west and east,) in ledges of limestone mixed with white flint, where, some years ago, a company of adventurers had sunk several shafts or pits in pursuit of lead and copper, as I am acquainted of; and that amongst their trials are two principal pits, one of which is thirty feet deep, and the other fifty feet deep, where they found the best discoveries, of about seven inches diameter lead ore, of a continued vein; but the aforesaid company was under the necessity of dropping their proceedings of working the pits deeper on account of the water rising, anent which I am fully informed by Mr˙ Harris. The disappointments of the water might easily be prevented, by driving levels from its proper advantageous situation to these discoveries; which would undermine and carry off the water by a level. Both pits are now full of stones, water, rubbish, and timber; which timber, being the support from the beginning, got damaged by the overload, which occasioned it to fall over. Mr˙ Harris engaged to make discovery of lead ore: therefore the said Mr˙ London and I made applications to one Mr˙ Fish, (in whose property Mr˙ Harris had made a promising discovery of lead,) for leave to break and search the ground, which he would not grant, for reasons best known to himself. So that Mr˙ Harris' s chief discovery was not explored by me. My sincere advice, from the skill and knowledge found in mining concerning what is necessary to be done first, is, to clear and repair the two shafts or pits, on purpose to find out the certainty or truth of Mr˙ Harris' s information, in conjunction with the rest of the proprietors; and if the discoveries be found agreeable to information, the undertaking company must advise their miners to prosecute the same in all its proper brandies of working it regularly, according to the directions of the sufficient inspector appointed to see each trial properly and well executed conformable to the mining regulations, so as not to be affronted in his undertaking. I am certain that the bounds wherein the veins do frequently lie of continuation are well situated, and likely to yield lead ore; therefore the schemes to work it properly may be put in execution without the least mistakes by any person who was qualified or bred in mining. I made discovery of both lead and copper in several places, but found small veins, which were very good of its quantity. I inspected other mines in Marbletown, of Ulster County, but found nothing worthy of reporting; but received intelligence of good mines which were wrought about forty years ago, being of large bodies of ore, as I am informed by gentlemen of distinction. They are to write to your Honours of all the particulars concerning several mines. Mr˙ Smith Lower had not proper informations to conduct me any where, but was to write to his Committee. It would be proper to open and repair several shafts or pits formerly sunk at the Little Nine Partners.

All which is concluded, after this is most humbly submitted by your Honours' most obedient humble servant,


To the Committee of Safety for the Province of New-York.