The Company Store
The Valles Mines General Store has a lot of history. Originally the site of the
Civil War shootout between Confederate Bushwacker Sam Hildebrandt and
Union Army soldiers, the original building met with a tornado circa 1885.
the Valle Mining Company built the present
building as a General Store in the front half, a blacksmith and forge
in the middle, and a small stable in the rear. The Company voted to rebuild the Company store
for William H. Bunt, proprietor, whose very large family operated
it for years as well as the Boarding House and the School. The building got
renovated in 1975 as a residence after the unsolved arson of the Welton Rozier
House across the street. Here is where miners, farmers, and townspeople came to purchase or trade goods, some weekly,
some monthly. They settled their accounts when their crops sold or their mines hit paydirt.
Miners, after registering
their claims on the property at the Paymaster's Shack, purchased
tools and blasting powder in the earliest days and later dynamite after the 1870's at the
Company Store. Valles Mines was once called "Boom Town" after that product showed up
in the store.
While the Company weighed the lead ore and bought
it, others like Baker's, Carter's in the village at Tunnel Station,
Eaton's, and Tarpley's Store down the street accepted it as well. Lead was considered
a local currency and was carried and traded as galena nuggets, the lead ore, was
heavy and compact. It also traded for different
prices at different stores and 'Seller Beware!' DD Frazier
recalled that, "Baker's and some others advertised they paid
a penny more but their scale was so off that you actually did
better at the Company."
Not exactly a gold coin but you could melt down your
pocket change to make bullets with it. The only adulterant in Valles Mines lead
was silver. Our lead was shipped back and, as of the Declaration of Independence,
smuggled back, to Boston, New York and Philadelphia
for the Revolutionary War. It might well have made the rifle balls Mel Gibson made
in "The Patriot" by melting down his son's toy soldiers. Our lead smelts exactly
like that. Some battle scenes in that movie might well have been shot as a documentary of
the battle for St. Louis about that time which for some reason has escaped the history books
almost completely. No brag, just fact, the
Valles fought in it.