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John F. Campion

John Francis Campion was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada on December 17, 1848, the son of Helen Fehan and M. Brevort Campion, a shipbuilder. John attended the Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown in 1862. He fought in the American Civil War, and thereafter joined his parents who had moved to Sacramento. There turned his attention to prospecting and mining, and discovered the White Pine silver mine, but ultimately lost all his money there in what was certainly a learning experience. He moved on to Eureka, Nevada, where he developed and sold mining properties, making a fortune in the process; after that he went to Pioche, Nevada, where he operated the Pioche-Phoenix silver mine.

In April 1879 he and his family moved to Leadville, Colorado where he lived at least until 1901, working as a mine manager/owner with an office on Harrison Avenue. He managed the operations of the Elk Mining Company, Ibex Mining Company, New England Gold and Silver Mining Company, Iroquois Mining and Leasing Company, Wapiti Mining Company (in Breckenridge, where he collected many superb gold specimens), Yak Mining Company, Stag Mining Company, Bison Mining Company, the Reindeer Mining Company, the Iron Hill Consolidated Mining Company (1889). He also owned the Sequin mine and managed the Niles-Augusta mines on Carbonate Hill, and purchased the Little Johnny mine in 1890. The Little Johnny was a fair silver mine on the verge of petering out, but Campion tunneled through to a major gold discovery. Profits from the Wapiti and Little Johnny made Campion immensely wealthy.

In addition to his mining activities he was an Officer (with Charles Boettcher) of the Carbonate National Bank of Leadville (from 1895) and the Leadville Light Company (from 1897). As his business interests expanded he became Vice President of the Seventeenth Street Building Company of Denver, Vice President of the Denver National Bank, Vice President of the Denver, Northwestern and Pacific Railway Company, and President of the Northwestern Terminal Company and the Big Horn Mining and Cattle Company. He also founded the Ideal Cement Company and Great Western Sugar Company (in partnership with Charles Boettcher), bringing sugar beet farming to Colorado. And he was instrumental in the building of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Denver.

In 1895 he married Nella "Nelly" May Daly (1873-1922; she was 22 years younger than he was), daughter of Thomas Daly, founder of Capitol Life Insurance Company, and built for them a palatial home in Denver; they had four children: John F. Jr. (1896) Helen (1899), Phyllis (1901) and Roland (1902). In 1900 (though his mining offices were still in Leadville) they were living at home in Denver, with a live-in waiter, maid and butler; he listed his occupation as "mining gold and silver."

Campion was one of the promoters and organizers of the Colorado Museum of Natural History (now the Denver Museum of Nature and Science), and served as its President. While mining in Breckenridge he had met Prof. Edwin Carter, and helped arrange for the purchase of Carter's large collection of stuffed and mounted birds and mammals from the Rocky Mountains for the museum. He also donated his world-class 600-specimen collection of gold to the museum. He died in Denver on July 17, 1916.

Colorado Marriages, 1859-1900.
U.S. Federal Census, 1900, 1920.
Leadville City Directory, 1892-1900.
CAMPION, J. F. (1894) Exploitation of a theory: practical demonstration of the views of mining men of national renown. Ballenger and Richards' 14th Annual Leadville City Directory, 8-9.
History of Colorado (1919), vol. 4, p. 14-17.
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