Weekly Register-Call | September 18, 2014

A Tailing Tale

This week’s Tale comes from a contributor who prefers to remain anonymous. Our submitter is a descendent of Alfred Payne, former employee of the Dalton stamp mill. The story of the first bakery in Black Hawk is one of many documented and handed down through several generations.

First Bakery in Black Hawk

Like thousands of others, in 1860, Caspar Hennecke arrived in Black Hawk to find gold. After mining for several months and finding he was not cut out for the life of a miner, Caspar bought a log cabin from B.F. Dalton, owner of the Dalton Mill and started a bakery.

He baked bread in big round iron kettles with iron covers. He put the mixed dough inside and built a fire around the kettles. Once he got the right combination of heat and baking time, he put a shingle outside that read, “Bread for Sale,” and he began baking bread day and night. Neighbors and miners bought Caspar’s big, round, well-baked loaves and the miner turned baker began running a profitable bakery.

Later, Caspar hired a young man who was a learned baker and they started baking cakes, dried apple pies and doughnuts. The shingle outside now read, “Bakery.”

Come winter, a sack of flour in Denver cost $30. Caspar, being the industrious man that he was; put gold dust in a buckskin money bag, and then went to Denver where he bought pipes, tobacco, needles, thread, buttons and other trinkets that miners needed. At the same time, he arranged with the firm from where he purchased his items to fill mail orders and send goods to Black Hawk for his neighbors. This became a regular business for Caspar and his shingle changed again. This time reading, “Store and Bakery.”

You may be thinking, “So who was Alfred Payne and what happened to him?”

Mr. Payne worked as head man and bookkeeper for the Dalton Mill. One day after cleaning up, he ordered to engineer to start the mill. Alfred then put the whole amalgam into the retorts and carried it to the blacksmith shop to be retorted. He generally had someone to help him with this task to watch the pipe that lead into the basin of cold water in which the evaporated quicksilver was gathered but on this day Alfred went alone.

That decision was to be his demise. The pipe came out, and not seeing it happen, Alfred breathed the gases of the evaporated quicksilver. He hurried to the mill to get help, Alfred was taken to Dalton’s home and the doctor did his best to save him but the next day he died.

 Published September 14, 2014 in the Weekly Register-Call

Please send me your tales. If you prefer to remain anonymous, I will not use your name. However, if you do not mind, I would like to tell the readers who sent the story and share any other information you may have.

Mail your handwritten or typed stories with your contact information to Maggie M, P.O. Box 6571, Westminster, CO 80021 or email them to me at Maggie@maggiempublications.com.