Kittie Burke arrived in the United States as a small child and in 1880 we find her at 20 years old working as a waitress in Virginia City. She marries miner James Burke and as mine output tapers off, they move to the new boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona, where they have a baby, Mary Kate (my grandmother) three years after the gunfight at the OK Corral. Tombstone is already being “played out” so they move to the next boomtown of the 1890s, Aspen, Colorado where they have 3 more children. By 1900, Aspen’s best days are over.
Word gets out on the fabulous mines of Tonopah and Goldfield and by 1904, the family has moved to Goldfield. Even at 50 years old, James Sr. is a “grand old man” who enjoys “working at the bottom” as his son-in-law Fred Steen related. By 1913, Mary Kate has met George Cooper, Sr, a young miner from La Junta, Colorado at a town dance in 1912. By 1914, they are married and my father, George, jr. is born.
Mary’s sister, Josephine marries a mining executive from Tonopah, Mr. Fred Steen, and they reside in Tonopah the rest of their lives.
Mary’s youngest sister, Nellie Burke, becomes a life-long school teacher in the Tonopah and Goldfield schools and is fondly remembered by her students today. Brother James, stays in Goldfield working above-ground and with the fire departments of both towns. Brother John attains his Hoisting Engineer’s license and works the mining districts of the west. James, Kittie, Nellie, and James jr, all lie at rest in the Goldfield Cemetery. We also visit the Steen’s in the Tonopah cemetery when in town.
George and Mary Cooper continue the tradition of following the mining fortunes of the west in Arizona and California where Mary in 1929 with three teenage boys finally says “No more mining camps!” and they settle permanently in the old mining town of Grass Valley, Ca. They both pass away while their sons are off fighting World War Two. George Jr. returns home, marries the descendant of a ’49er Gold Rush family and has three son’s of his own. I still remember his fond reminisces of the beauty of the Nevada hills and am fortunate that I live in Nevada and can enjoy them as well.