COLUMN: A boy named Silver King
Second of two parts
On March 16, 1893, the front page of the Nelson Tribune announced the Silver King mine had been sold to a Scottish syndicate, which it claimed would assure the city’s future as it was “believed to be one of the greatest silver-copper mines ever discovered.”
The same edition carried the announcement that two days earlier a son had been born to George and Bessie Hunt. Elsewhere it elaborated: “[O]n Tuesday morning jeweller George Hunt awakened every man in the Houston block to let them know that he was for the first time a daddy, not of a weakling girl, but of a 13½ lb. sturdy boy.”
Buoyed perhaps by news of the mine’s sale, they named him Silver King.
This is what little we know about the Hunts: George was born in Kent, England, and by August 1890 had arrived in Donald, a divisional point on the Canadian Pacific Railway west of Golden, where he ran a jewelry and watch repair shop in partnership with Jacob Dover.
That month the Nelson Miner published this peculiar item under the heading “Small chunks of news from Donald.”
Son — Pa, who is that full-chested youth that goes to Golden three times a week?
Father — That is the slickest young jeweller in the mountains, George C. Hunt by name.
Also that month, Jacob Dover returned from Nelson and gave “vivid word pictures of the great mines he saw, the magnificent rivers and lakes he sailed over, and the big poker games he looked at … For the present, however, he will confine his jewelry operations to the line of the CPR.”
By spring 1891, however, Dover could resist Nelson’s lure no longer. He and Hunt opened a branch here above the office of The Miner, pending completion of the Houston and Ink building on Josephine Street, which they then moved into.
It was probably no coincidence that they shared space with John Houston, the Miner’s publisher, who would go on to become Nelson’s first mayor, for he was also a Donald expatriate.
In March 1892, George Hunt married Bessie Caverly of Haverhill, Massachusetts in Donald. He was 21. She was 17. As he gained a personal partner, he lost a professional one, as Hunt and Dover parted company with Robert Strathern, who briefly joined the business.
In October 1893 Hunt and Dover announced they too would dissolve their partnership. Dover continued as sole proprietor for several more years.
Around the same time, Hunt and his wife also went their separate ways. This might be a clue why: back in Donald in 1890, Hunt led a brass band that provided music at a picnic. The Nelson Miner reported “It was generally conceded that they laid themselves open to criticism by their longwindedness; but that can be easily accounted for: their leader can drink more ‘four per cent’ than any man in the district.”
By the time he was six months old, Silver King Hunt was being raised by a paternal aunt in the United States. However, after his mother remarried, she filed a court petition to get her son back.
In November 1896, the Chicago Inter Ocean reported that “Judge Hanecy yesterday decided that Silver King Hunt, the six-year-old [sic] boy over whose possession there has been considerable litigation, should be left in the custody of Mrs. Ora Hunt.” (In fact, he was not yet four.)
There is no sign of Silver King on the 1900 US census, but he turns up in 1910 living in Lebanon, New Hampshire with Frederick T. and Augusta B. Hunt. It’s unclear if Augusta was the same person as Ora Hunt.
Now 17, Silver King had acquired a more common name to go with his unusual sobriquet: he was known as Frank S.K. Hunt.
He graduated from Vermont’s Middlebury College in 1915 and then enrolled at the University of Michigan. When he registered for the First World War draft in 1917, he indicated he was a medical student and a naturalized US citizen.
Unfortunately, his promising life was cut short: Frank Silver King Hunt died in Boston on January 10, 1919, age 25. He was buried at Barnstead, New Hampshire. Although his cause of death is unknown, Spanish flu seems likely.
Frank’s mother appears to have married a third time in Chicago in 1906, to a Henry Benson, but her fate, like George Hunt’s, is unknown.