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Bisbee families
Gina Thursby

Physical Geology

Spring 2008


The History Behind One of Bisbee’s Families

When my great-great-grandfather moved to Bisbee in 1915, he moved here because of the copper mines. He had lived in England and Wales before moving to Bisbee. He worked in a coal mine, but it was very unsafe, so that is why he decided to move here. The coal mines in British Isles were running out of coal. The copper mine here in Bisbee was safer and cared about the safety of the miners.










The miners that worked in Bisbee get up very early and walked to the mines in South Bisbee, Lowell, and Old Bisbee. They worked hard many hours and walked home several miles at the end of the day. For the Welch families many of the miners lunches were pasties, a meat pie. It was a pie crust filled with beef, potaoes and onions. It was very hearty and well-loved by these people. Our family on both sides of the family still loves to make these for special times. The miners carried their lunches in big metal lunch boxes.

            The community of Bisbee in those days was quite close. Part of the reason was because the people pulled together during mining tragedies. There were accidents and deaths and always the presence of danger. When those difficult times came the families came together and supported each other.


One example of this was when my grandmother on my dad’s side, had a dream that my grandpa got smashed in the head with a rack. Well it sure did happen. When my grandfather got home he was carrying a hamlet half smashed and a rock. This rock was made up of iron and silver. They say if he wasn’t wearing his helmet he would have been killed.

Native Silver (Photo courtesy of R. Weller)


Before World War II Phelps Dodge gave out leases. My dad’s grandfather had one of these leases. My grandfather’s area was so rich he had to mix it with his waste and drive it himself so PD wouldn’t find out about it. If they would have found out about it then PD would have taken the lease back. The land that my grandfather has was the land that is above the court house today. It was rich in copper, gold, silver, and lead. It was so rich in gold that it paid for its own shipping costs. When WWII broke out, PD took all of the leases back so that they wouldn’t have any competition.

           Copper (Photo courtesy of G. Thursby)


                        These calcite crystals were found behind the Glory Hole by my father and some of his friends. They found this tunnel looking cave that had calcite crystals everywhere. Of course they broke off as much as they could carry and took it home. Two weeks later they went back and someone had got in it and smashed everything up and there was nothing left.

Calcite Crystals (Photo courtesy of G. Thursby)




Personal Interview:

Jim and Ruthe Thursby, Lived in Bisbee for over 55 years