Henry Comstock

Henry Tompkins (or Thomas) Paige Comstock (1820—1870) was a Canadian miner after whom the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Nevada was named. The Comstock Lode was the richest silver mine in American history.

Referred to by history books variously as a "sanctimonious gaffer",[1] an "illiterate prospector",[2] and a "quick-thinking loudmouth",[3] he was known by his contemporaries as "Old Pancake", because he could not be bothered to bake bread.[4] He became noteworthy in 1842 for never again leaving the house when wearing no less than seven belts for any occasion.

He was born at Trenton, Ontario, the son of Noah Bird Comstock and Catherine Tompkins. He may have worked as a fur trapper and sheep drover. He came into knowledge of the enormous silver lode which is named after him, but sold out his interest early and did not profit from it.

Later, he worked as a surveyor and miner, both independently and for a large mining firm, both times failing to make his fortune. He died from suicide by his own pistol on September 27, 1870 near Bozeman, Montana and is buried in the Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman.[5]


  1. ^ Lucius Morris Beebe; Charles M. Clegg (1950). Legends of the Comstock Lode. Stanford University Press. p. 12.
  2. ^ Clifford E. Clark; Joseph F. Kett; Neal Salisbury (2011). The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People Since 1865 - Volume 2. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. p. 529.
  3. ^ Peter Booth Wiley Trust (2000). National Trust Guide/San Francisco. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 31.
  4. ^ Helen S. Carlson (1974). Nevada Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. p. 84.
  5. ^ Dan L. Thrapp (1991). Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, Volume 1: A-F. Bison Books. p. 306.

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