March 2007

Other Scientists in the Family

I have written often of the many physicians we have had in the Douglass family and we know most of the early Douglass generations in the United States were farmers, but I have not written much about scientists. One of the reasons for that is that I did not know about many scientists in fields other than medicine.

Recently I have become aware of several people in the extended family that worked in the field of mining or as in the case of Earl Douglass, (Feb 2007) in geology.

George Harrison Roseveare was born in Sibwa, Michigan, to Joseph Roseveare and Olivia Harrison. The Roseveares moved from Michigan to Arizona about the same time as Olivia’s oldest sister, Ida, and her husband Kirkby Townsend did (ca 1907). Joseph worked in a creamery and later bought a 150 acre farm. The Roseveares had two sons, George and William. Both of their sons went to the University of Arizona and received degrees, George in Metallurgical Engineering and William in Chemistry.

I did not find as much about William as I did for George. George was listed in American Men and Woman of Science, 1971-1973. After getting his B.S. George worked in a series of mines as chemist or shift supervisor, gradually working his way up to supervisory roles. He got a degree in Mine Administration in 1929 and worked one-two years at a time at various small mines in California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. In 1945, he became Professor of Metallurgical Engineering at University of Arizona and continued in that capacity for the next 29 years. He was recognized as an expert in the field of copper flotation and ore analysis. He was known for his consultant work with small copper producers.

It is significant that both of these brothers went to college and got degrees. Their father, Joseph, born in Southill, Cornwall, England, at age 18 worked his way to America on a cattle boat (ca 1890). Unfortunately he died in 1913 and did not get to celebrate his sons’ accomplishments. After Joseph’s death, Olivia rented out the farm and moved to the Phoenix area. George rode a bicycle 3 1/2 miles to Phoenix Union high school. Riding a bicycle to school is not a different experience from that of many of our grandfathers, but in the 1920s not that many sons graduated from college, especially when they had a widowed mother to help support. Much of the emphasis on education may have come from Olivia, who in at least one notation is listed as a schoolteacher. In fact, Olivia bought a house near the University of Arizona in Tucson so that her sons could complete their education there.

Some of these notes about the Roseveare family come from Nick Martin’s website. Nick writes about George and his wife, Burl, that they were deeply involved in their Christian church, each of them accepting responsible assignments for the progress and maintenance of the church structure and administration.

George and William Roseveare are from the Catharine branch of the family. Their lineage goes: George and William-6, Olivia Roseveare-5, Thomas-4, Catharine Harrison-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

Jennie Trerise (Robert branch) has researched her father’s ancestors who came from Cornwall to work the copper mines in Montana. Her paternal grandfather was born in Virginia City, Montana, where his father was a miner.

William Blackman who married Vera Flewelling (Betsy branch) and his son, Howard, worked as miners in Idaho and Montana. William is buried in Butte, Montana. I have more research to do on this family yet.


Copper Mining

Copper was the focus of much of George Roseveare’s research. Copper is a complex ore and at first the mining companies were only interested in mining silver and gold. It was easier to acquire and process. Copper ore was a byproduct and the demand for copper was met by the ore mined in Europe where the necessary smelters were also located. Then came the electrical age and the telephone and the demand for copper boomed.

When the demand for copper increased, copper mines in Butte were developed, the processing technology was imported from England and by 1888, Butte, Montana mines were the largest copper producers in the world.

Many Cornish families emigrated to work the gold and silver mines in Butte in the mid-1800s. They were soon followed by a tide of the Irish. The mines were never a great place to work but labor was scarce and laborers attempted to form unions to better their situation. The mining companies, of course, fought the unions and before there were any safeguards by the government, union organizers were frequently beaten and sometimes killed. As the mining companies consolidated into huge monoliths, the unions lost their power.

The emigrant families who came to dig out the ore lived in shacks, usually thrown up around the mine. As the area grew into towns, the smelters for the ore were moved away from populated areas as the smelting process spewed toxic sulphur fumes into the air. Ore was freighted from the mines to the smelters. Copper continued to be mined in Montana through the first half of the 20th century.

Today in the United States, over half of the copper used is recycled copper, as much recycled as is produced from mining annually. We will not run out of copper as there is an abundance in the world and many countries mine it. The greatest demand in the States comes from the building trade, followed by electrical and electronic components.

There are several websites with information about mining in Butte, Montana. (See Copper Applications) The Blackman family was mining in Butte in the 1930s. George Roseveare was working in mining in the Southwest from 1930s on. George worked with small mining companies and most of those mines were played out long ago. As other minerals began to gain interest, methods for extracting those were developed too.

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