Charles J. Price

CHARLES J. PRICE. Topeka has in Charles J. Price as a resident one of the most capable mining engineers of the country. His has been an experience very much out of the ordinary. Nearly forty years ago he was a mine worker in the Black Hill region. He has a practical working knowledge of the mineral sections of the northwest country. He spent a number of years as a mining engineer in South Africa, and probably no American citizen has a closer knowledge of the people, the industrial conditions, of South Africa than Mr. Price. While there he served with the rank of captain in the British army during the Boer war.

Born in County Kent, England, January 20, 1857, he was brought by his parents in 1858 to the United States. John and Ruth (Relf) Price located in Sullivan County, New York, where his father was engaged in railroad construction work. In 1869, having a relative in Kansas and thinking that better opportunities were to be found in the West, John Price moved to Atchison and while there assisted in building the Missouri Pacific and Atchison and Nebraska (now a part of the Burlington Systems Railroad. All his later years were spent in Kansas, and he died in Topeka in 1912. His widow still survives him and lives with her daughter, Mrs. Charles McClintock, in Topeka. All of their nine children but one are still living.

Charles J. Price became a resident of Kansas when he was about twelve years of age. He lived at home until eighteen and acquired his education in New York State and in Atchison Kansas.

He was gifted with a mechanical self sufficiency and a desire to do something in a constructive way out in the frontier corners of the world. It was these traits that led him in June, 1875, to leave home and go west to Laramie, Wyoming. In December of that year, in company with five other men, he went to the Black Hills. For a time he was engaged in placer mining and later was employed in the famous Father De Smet mine. Later when a California syndicate was engaged in negotiations for the purchase of that mine he assisted the experts in taking samples. That was his first experience in mining engineering. He had the practical ability and experience, but keenly realized the lack of a technical foundation which would enable him to make any important advances in this profession.

With Mr. Price, to realize a deficiency, has always been the shortest method of making it up. He at once secured books and undertook a systematic study of mining engineering and mineralogy. In the meantime he continued hard labor in the mines, and was promoted, successively to shift boss, foreman, and finally superintendent. Altogether Mr. Price remained in the Black Hills until April, 1896, a period of over twenty years.

About that time flattering offers came to him to go to South Africa and continue in that great mineral district as an engineer. Selling his interests in the United States, he went to Johannesburg, in the Transvaal, and that was the scene of his operations for twelve years. Six months after his arrival his stipulated salary was increased, and in time he became one of the chief executives in some of the greatest mines of South Africa. He achieved distinction in his profession and at one time was general manager of eight mines. These mines were the French Rand, Crown Reef, Robinson, Robinson Central Deep, Ferreira, Village Main Reef, Village Deep and the New Modderfontein. In 1904 he organized these mines as the Central Administration. A special distinction came to him in 1907 when he was appointed by the government as one of the five men selected to compose the mining regulations commission.

At the outbreak of the Boer war Mr. Price helped raise a regiment of 1,038 men, all mechanics, drawn from the district of the Rand. This regiment was attached to the royal engineers. There were eight American officers in the regiment. Upon its organization Mr. Price was elected first lieutenant. After his captain was killed on the Vaal River, Lieutenant Price was promoted to captain.

Returning to America in the fall of 1908, Mr. Price has since lived in Topeka. His time is now devoted largely to consultation work as an expert mining engineer, and he has drawn up many reports on mining properties He is a Knight Templar Mason and a member of the Mystic Shrine.

In the Black Hills in 1881 he married Miss Ella Cindel. Mr. and Mrs. Price are the parents of four children: Ruth Mary; Charles James Jr., who married Eulalic Tucker; Harriet Amelia; and Harlow Russell.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed October, 1997.
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