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A friend shared an invitation to the Ancient Order of United Workmen’s third anniversary party in Walkerville two days before Christmas 1885. H.O. Christenson, the invitee, was a clerk. The arrangements committee included George Holbrook, a carpenter, while William E. Hall was superintendent of the Alice Mine and Frank Kramlick was proprietor of the American House hotel on the north side of West Daly Street in Walkerville.

George Hillebrand was foreman at the Lexington Stamp Mill (the “new” mill in Walkerville, not the old one that stood at present-day Lexington Gardens, Broadway at Wyoming Street) while Carroll, Reimel, and Coppedge were mill workers there. The mill was connected to the Lexington Mine on Main Street by a series of trestles.

Fisher was an amalgamator at the Alice. He would have worked the machines that combined mercury with gold to free it from the rock. N.C. Anderson was a miner, and Charles Bruhn was a butcher, the Butte partner of Nick Bielenberg in a meat market.

All the members of the party committee lived in Walkerville at a time when there were no street addresses, though most of the streets were probably there and named. They all lived on Daly or Main streets, except for Anderson, who lived on Dunn.

The Ancient Order of United Workmen was a fraternal organization that began in Meadeville, Pennsylvania, in 1868. Its goal was to adjust “all differences which may arise between employers and employees, and to labor for the development of a plan of action that may be beneficial to both parties, based on the eternal truth that the interests of labor and capital are equal and should receive equal protection.” Members paid $1 into a private insurance fund for members’ survivors; the AOUW was the first fraternal organization to offer this. By the middle 1920s, lodges were merging and insurance took precedence over the fraternal aspects. The organization eventually evolved into the Pioneer Mutual Life and other insurance companies.

The Walkerville Hibernia (Ancient Order of Hibernians) hall where the ball took place stood on Main Street just south of the intersection with Daly.

Walkerville in 1885 probably had a population of about 1,200, with perhaps that many more in the immediate vicinity outside the town limits.

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Local geologist and historian Dick Gibson has lived in Butte since 2003 and has worked as a tour guide for various organizations and museums. He can be reached at rigibson@earthlink.net.

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