Belleville's birth began with the construction of a twenty-stamp mill to serve Candelaria, in 1873. Another twenty-stamper was constructed a few years later. By 1877 there were probably about 700-800 inhabitants. When water was brought into Candelaria by pipe around 1882, Belleville languished. While the Nevada historical marker claims "In 1887 water piped to Candelaria caused Belleville to decline, being deserted by 1892." Going by the dates of the post office, however, I'd say that it held on for quite a while after that.
A RISING CAMP
Belleville is the name of a mining town in Columbia district, Esmeralda county, Nevada, which is now attracting considerable attention, owing to the mines there turning out well, and also to the large shipments of bullion thence to Aurora. Two twenty-stamp mills are about being erected there, the builder being Jim White, who built the thirty stamp mill at Bullionville for the Raymond & Ely Company. Several mechanics have recently left Pioche to work on the mills. - Virginia Chronicle.
- 1876 April 6, Reno Evening Gazette
Not everyone agreed with that assessment.
A PLAYED OUT MINING DISTRICT
Mark Ezokiola has just returned from a trip to the mining district of Belleville, and gives a most discouraging account of the situation in that section. The place is described by him as overdone, and the sight of disgusted adventurers packing their blankets out of town is quite frequent - Virginia City Chronicle
1877 April 10, Reno Evening Gazette
A fight over the last doughnut?
-- A private letter from Belleville states that Charles E. Boch, secretary of the Northern Bell Mining Company, shot and killed Levi Bithly, a bookeeper in the company's office, on the 4th.
1879 January 9, Reno Evening Gazette
Water was always a pain to get a hold of out here.
At Belleville water is worth $1 per gallon
1879 October 14, Reno Evening Gazette
Here is a historical fluff peice which appeared in the Reno Evening Gazette
By W. F. MERCHANT
The following story of the early days of the Candelaria mining district and the mill town of Belleville is told by B. T. Kelso, one of the old-timers of the southern country:
"My recollection of the circumstances surrounding the establishing of the mill town of Belleville is very vivid and the story of the discovery of Candelaria and the building of the mill to treat the Candelaria ores make an absorbing tale concerning a most interesting time in the history of Nevada.
DISCOVERED IN 1870
"A. J. Holmes discovered the Northern Belle mine, which later was to prove such a prolific producer, about 1870. I am not sure Just where Holmes came from before he showed up at his claims in Candelaria but he was a familiar sight in the camp of Columbus while he was prospecting his claims and getting them into shape to produce. It was in the town of Columbus, on the edge of Columbus marsh, that the idea of a mill town at some other point was conceived and finally carried Into execution by Holmes.
"He had been working on his claims for some time when his supply of grub ran low and he went Into Columbus to replenish his larder. He was short of real cash, although he was the owner of a potential mine. He asked the storekeeper for a small amount of grub on credit and was politely refused. His inability to secure credit in Columbus necessitated a trip with his burros to Wadsworth, 125 miles as the crow flies, the nearest place where he would be able to get the needed supplies.
"He swore vengeance then and there on the town of Columbus and told the merchant that he would some day cause the grass to grow in the streets of this town. This threat, while made in all sincerity, he was not able to carry out in detail as it would take more power than that possessed by mere man to make grass, or anything else for that matter, grow in the streets of Columbus on account of the borax content of the soil. He lived, however, to see the town dwindle to a mere white spot on the desert.
STRIKES PAY ORE
"Soon after making his enforced trip to Wadsworth and getting back to work on the Northern Belle he was in pay ore. His ore ran from fifty to seventy-five ounces in silver to the ton on the surface and with a little sorting he was able to raise the value considerably above that so that it I would pay to ship his ore to the mill at Columbus, as much as he hated to do so.
"You must remember that silver was well above the dollar mark in those days and it did not take much sorting or shipping until he was quite independent as far as the immediate future was concerned. It was not long until he had an offer to sell the property but would not consider a sale that did not carry with it the superintendency of the mine. The final deal as made gave him $275,000 cash. 10,000 shares of stock in the company to be formed on the property and the superintendency of the property.
"The mining companies organized in those days did not have the capitalization that they now labor under and a cut of ten thousand shares of stock in one of those companies meant quite a slice of the profits, if any. As a matter of fact Holmes received a dividend of $1 a share, or a total of $10,000 a month on his stock for a period of twenty-nine months after he had the mine developed and on a production basis and before the ore disappeared and it looked like the property had been bottomed.
HOLMES SELLS OUT
"But after Holmes sold his holdings in stock for a nominal sum and left for Arizona the mine was taken over successively by a number of different superintendents and each in turn found more ore, made large produc-I tion and then reported the property bottomed again only to have his opinion proven wrong by the next succeeding management. The property now, after some years of non-production, is again being actively developed for large tonnage production and with new ore discoveries reported that presage another era of bullion production for the old camp as soon as the silver market will Justify the resumption of milling operations.
"However, what Holmes considered the most valuable part of the consideration that he received for his Northern Belle was his superintendency of the property as this gave him the opportunity to carry out, at least in part, his threat of taking Columbus off the map. The first thing he did after getting the property in production was to cast his eye about for a suitable place for a mill to treat the Northern Belle ore without taking it to the mill at Columbus, which was nearer than any other available place.
SELECTS NEW MILL SITE
"He finally selected a site where he established the first mill, known as the upper mill, at a point which he named Belleville, in honor of the mining claims that had brought him his wealth, to which he brough a water supply from the hills northeast of where Marietta was located.
"The water supply was developed through a long and expensive tunnel run into the hills and delivered to Belleville through eight miles of pipe lines. The matter of road building from Candelaria to Belleville was a simple one as the country is comparatively level and the water supply at the new mill was amples, although a rather expensive installation for the sole purpose of carrying out a spite.
"But Holmes proceeded, regardless of expense, to establish his mill town which grew, eventually, to a population of some five hundred workers with two mills in operation on Candelaria ore. while Columbus went down the toboggan slide to nothing more than a group of holdings on the shore of the marsh. And, while Holmes felt vindicated for the affront given him by the Columbus merchant, it was less than two years after he finally disposed of his holdings in the Northern Belle and went to Arizona that he had dissipated his entire fortune through his reckless disregard for the value of a dollar, it is claimed, and was back on the desert again, broke and looking for another bonanza.
"The Carson & Colorado railroad, the narrow gauge which was built from Carson City through Hawthorne in 1881, was extended down through the present site of Mina and over Mt. Montgomery pass in 1882 and went through Belleville with a branch line extending up to the camp of Candelaria, giving the camp and the mill town of Belleville direct rail connection and cheaper freight rates on the Candelaria ores.
CAMP WILL COME BACK
"That the old camp of Candelaria will come back as a producer is a forgone conclusion as the development work that has been prosecuted by the present management has shown up more than enough good grade ore to justify the installation of a mill with modern methods of treatment as soon as the price of silver will warrant. But the old mill town of Belleville has passed to the ranks of the ghost cities of the desert for all time to come unless there is a short revival that might be cause by someone again working over the tailings pond left by the two mills."
-Reno Evening Gazette, December 16, 1930