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New Jersey Zinc Company


Historical Note

The lead mines of southwest Virginia were first discovered by Colonel John Chiswell in 1756. Chiswell mined lead ore on the New River in Augusta County (now Wythe County) from 1760 to 1766, and furnished large supplies of lead to Virginia during the French and Indian War. A fort and trading post were sut up at this time near the mines. Chiswell died in 1766, and ownership of the mines was trasnferred to William Byrd. The mines were leased to the state during the Revolutionary War.

In 1789 Moses and Stephen Austin contacted for the lead mines and bought them from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Due to mismanagement, the lead mines reverted back to the state in 1802. In 1806, Thomas Jackson bought the proerty, now in the town of Austinville, in Wythe County, at a public auction in Richmond. He constructed a shot-tower on the New River, which operated from 1812 to 1830 and still stands today.

From 1830 to 1898, the property was mined by Daniel Sheffey and David Pierce or their descendants. From 1838 to the 1850s, the firm was called the Wythe Lead Mines Company. The Union Lead Mine Company, as it was called in 1860, contributed more than 2,000 tons of lead to Confederate troops in the Civil War. After the discovery of zinc in the 1860s, the Union Lead Company formed the Wythe Lead and Zinc Company.

The Wythe Lead and Zinc Company sold all of its ore in 1898 to the Bertha Mineral Company, which operated in Pulaski, six miles northeast of Austinville. In 1902, the New Jersey Zinc Corporation purchased Bertha holdings and the Austinville property.

For more information on the early history of the Austinville lead and zinc mines, see: Austin, Vera Lee. 1977. The Southwest Virginia Lead Works, 1756-1802. Thesis (M.A.)--Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1977.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

New Jersey Zinc Corporation (Austinville, VA) Records II,

Identifier: Ms-2011-037

The New Jersey Zinc Corporation Records II contains maps, surveys, memoranda, and reports related to the New Jersey Zinc Company.

Dates: 1925 - 1969

New Jersey Zinc Corporation [Austinville, VA] Records

Identifier: Ms-1991-032

The collection consists of maps, blueprints, and files of the New Jersey Zinc Corporation operations in Austinville, Virgina.

Dates: 1850 - 1969