|A Second Fortune
Over the years in the borax business, Frank had made many friends. He was known for his trust, his loyalty, and a warm generosity. One of the friends he helped in the early years of the 20th Century was Ben Edwards and his development of the Tonopah Extension Mining and Milling Company, a silver mine, which later was to become the West End Consolidated Mining Company. The rewards for his help from time to time resulted in Frank owning a sizable number of shares in the company. He had put these into Evelyn’s name. Between 1910 and 1913, the company began to make money, and in November 1913, with annual monthly profits of $40,000 and a reserve of $480,000, it voted its first dividend of five cents a share, or $89,424 in total.
However, soon the West End Company was in a dispute with the Jim Butler Mining Company over ownership of certain mining claims in the Tonopah area. It was a dramatic case which ended up in the United States Supreme Court, but in 1918 West End prevailed.
Frank had already devised ways to use his West End capital for new projects. He created the West End Chemical Company, and used the mining company’s assets to finance the new endeavors. Several attempts to make a new fortune failed, but luck turned for Frank in 1921 with the discovery of the richest colemanite deposit then known, near the village of St. Thomas, Nevada. Frank made a bid for the claim and won. His engineers determined that the grade and quality of the ore were unbelievably rich and estimated that the value was from 10 to 60 million dollars. Frank named it the Anniversary Mine.
Frank was ready to make his second fortune. He used profits to purchase more claims which angered shareholders and resulted in law suits and finally led to Frank’s departure from the West End Mining Company in 1926, but not the West End Chemical Company, which continued to profit from its endeavors.
During this period, Frank and his family continued to return to Shelter Island each summer, although for shorter periods.
Frank and his family arrived at Presdeleau in 1923 in mid-June. The August 17 issue of the Suffolk Times described how the willow trees on the Presdeleau lawn came to be: They “originated from a willow cutting brought by Mrs. Smith Baldwin, mother of Edgar Baldwin, from Napolean’s Tomb at St. Helena. Mrs. Baldwin gave the willow slip to her brother, Capt. Malby Cartwright, the owner of the house and grounds which are now the property of F. M. Smith, the Borax King.”
In mid-August, Presdeleau was the venue for the annual harvest festival organized as a fund raiser for the library. The August 24 issue of the Suffolk Times reported, “The wide lawns and shady groves of ‘Presdeleau’ were thronged with visitors on Friday afternoon when Mr. Frank M. Smith gave his beautiful estate for the Harvest Fesitval. Attractive booths dotted the greensward and under the shade of the birch grove, the Camp Pettit girls gave a series of dances interpreting in most graceful fashion a beautiful legend read aloud by the leader. The girls also gave a short play, ‘The Man Outside,’ using the piazza as a stage. Mr. Smith kindly gave his dining room for use for dancing. The blue waters of the bay attracted some for a boat sail, while others crossed the tiny bridge to stroll along the haunted wood on the cliff. Of course the cake and candy tables received due attention and were soon left empty. Despite the drought, a fine display of vegetables were on hand, even to strawberries. The very attractive book table had its patrons and many were interested in the fancy work. Large numbers of autos filled the road and crowds were continually coming and going. Over $700 at this writing has been realized for the benefit of the library.”
The Smith family left the Island for California in mid-September; however, the Suffolk Times further reported, “Considerable changes are to be made in his large residence. The older part is to be torn away and a modern residence take its place. F. A. Myer’s men are now engaged in tearing down the condemned part.”
There are no references to the Smith family in the Suffolk Times in 1924 or 1925; however, that does not mean that they were not here. In late August 1924 a vicious storm bludgeoned the Island and some of the finest trees were destroyed. “The long row of dead Lombardy poplars along the South Ferry Road, escaped unharmed, but several live trees on the F. M. Smith estate were torn up as if by a whirlwind.”