Skip to main content
photo

Comstock, Henry

Scoundrels

Henry Tompkins (or Thomas) Paige Comstock (1820—1870) was an American 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", an "illiterate prospector", and a "quick-thinking loudmouth", he was known by his contemporaries as "Old Pancake", because he could not be bothered to bake bread. 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 committed suicide by his own pistol on September 27, 1870 near Bozeman, Montana and is buried in the Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman.

Back to Top