Old Missoula

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'Gold rustlers' LaCasse Brothers

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The Lacasse Bros., the placer miners, operating in the vicinity of the Iron Mountain district, brought in yesterday as the result of a clean-up of three months’ run thirty-five pounds of gold dust, valued at $6,300, which may, even in the rich state of Montana, be considered very fair remuneration for the time employed. Four brothers are interested in the claims worked and they are all rustlers, able to see gold as quick as the next man and to get it out whenever they see it.

The above article is from the Morning Missoulian, October 18, 1892.

Development Work Progresses

French Bar Gold Mining & Milling Company Has Good Prospects

The French Bar Gold Mining & Milling company is now doing some splendid development work on its group of claims, known as the “Little Dandy” group, near York, in Lewis and Clark county, about 21 miles northeast of Helena. The company, which is composed chiefly of Missoula people, owns the entire group, including nine claims and a patented millsite. In this group are the “Little Dandy,” Golden Messenger,” the “Faith,” “Wall Street,” “Eagle,” “Helena,” “Moonlight,” “Sunlight” and “Last Chance,” besides the millsite. The first two named are patented, while the “Faith” is surveyed for a patent and has been recommended for entry. The others are yet unpatented.

The present company took over the property in August, 1908, and ever since has been doing work on the “Golden Messenger.” On this claim they have drifted a tunnel for 560 feet, while a shaft has been driven for 150 feet. A cross-cut has also been driven for 50 feet. All of this work has been done in paying ore, which assays at from $6 to $12 per ton. In the coming spring the company expects to construct a 50-ton mill which will contain rolls and screens as well as a complete and up-to-date cyanide plant. There will be no stamps in this mill.

The company is now well equipped for business as all of the necessary buildings and machinery have been built and installed. On one of the claims there is a generator which develops 75 horse-power and is used to operate the electric lighting system, the drills and other machinery. There is a telephone system with about one mile of wire which runs from the generating plant to the scene of the present work on the “Golden Messenger.” Near the plant is a 20-room hotel, which is used to accommodate the employes, of whom there are five at the present time. At one time there were 65 men employed on the work but that was before the old stamp mill burned in 1902. There are also several thousand feet of flume to handle the water from a spring located on one of the claims.

The company is composed of Missoula people principally, although 20,000 shares are owned in Helena. The total number of shares issued to date is 600,000. The officers of the company are Alphonse Lacasse, president, and John Lacasse, secretary treasurer. It was incorporated in Missoula county under the laws of the state of Montana. Business has so much improved that they have moved to the new office at 116 West Cedar street, in the room formerly occupied by the Deschamps store.

The above article is from The Daily Missoulian, January 15, 1909

An article in the Engineering and Mining Journal in September, 1908 stated the following:

“Lewis and Clark County”

“Alfonso Lacasse, John Lacasse, Napoleon Lacasse, C. A. Davis and C. M. Van Leuvin, all of Missoula have recently purchased a group of gold claims near York and expect to begin operations at once. The property is equipped with a hydro-electric plant, compressor plant and electric hoist.”

Joseph Treffle LaCasse died in 1952. Alphonse LaCasse died in 1921. Napoleon LaCasse died in Missoula in 1944.

The information below is from the FamilySearch. Org website:

J. T. LaCasse Dies at 88

January 2016 ·

J. T. LaCasse Obituary - Missoulian, Missoula, Montana J. Treffle LaCasse, 88, 405 Alder Street, who was one of the men who built the Palace Hotel in 1908 and who conducted one of the first large-scale hydraulic placer mining operations in western Montana, died at a local hospital Friday morning. Rosary will be recited at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at St. Francis Xavier Church. Requiem high mass will be celebrated at the church at 10 a.m. Wednesday with Rev. Father Louis J. Gels, S. J. celebrant. Burial will be in St. Mary's Cemetery. Lucy's Hayes Mortuary is in charge of arrangements. Mr. LaCasse was born April 4, 1864, at Saint Marguerite, Quebec, Canada. He came to Missoula in 1884, accompanied by a brother, Alphonse. They made their journey through Canada, and to Montana via the Canadian Pacific Railway and worked on the construction of this rail line through Kicking Horse Pass to the Columbia River. They struck out from the end of construction on foot through Indian country on the Kootenay Trail to Bonner's Ferry and then on to Sandpoint, Idaho. At Sandpoint, they decided to continue to Missoula so they started on foot to Noxon, which then was the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway. At this point, they boarded a train to Missoula. After working in the Frenchtown valley for a short time, Treffle joined Alphonse who had gotten a job working in the placer mines on Cedar Creek near Iron Mountain, known now as Superior in Mineral County. For the next 67 years, Treffle spent the summers mining on Cedar Creek and the winters taking care of his business interests in Missoula. During his mining career, he was one of the first in this area successfully to use hydraulic mining equipment. In 1901, Treffle returned to Saint Marguerite and married Amande E. Lailberte and returned with his bride to the mine on Cedar creek. He established a home in Missoula where three children were born: Edward, who died at the age of 3; Henrietta, who lived at the family residence here, and Edmund E., who is an electrical engineer for the Bonneville Power Administration in Portland. In 1908, in partnership with the brothers, Alphonse, Mr. LaCasse built the Palace Hotel and afterward he was active in the development of Missoula and the surrounding area. He was joined by eight other brothers who established their homes in and around Missoula and raising families. Three of the brothers survive. They are Philias, a retired Grass Valley farmer now living in Missoula; J. A., a shoemaker who has a shop on South Higgins Avenue; and Ernest, a long-time employee of the J. M. Lucy and Sons Furniture store. Other survivors are two grandchildren: Edmund Warren and Mary Ellen, both of Portland. Mr. LaCasse was a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish. His wife died here in 1940.