Ezra "Struck-It-Rich" Hamilton (1833-1914) was a Civil War veteran, serving two years in the Union Army, as well as a prospector and inventor. After the war, Hamilton worked in carpentry and farming, which led to his first patent for a peat-pressing machine in 1867.
Mining has been an important industry in the Antelope Valley since the late 1800s. Ezra Hamilton was the first pioneer to strike gold in the area in the 1890s. Ezra had been working in Los Angeles manufacturing pottery, clay pipes, tile, and bricks which led to his purchase of Tropico Hill. Before the development of Rosamond, Tropico Hill was being mined for clay by Dr. L.A. Crandall who obtained the land in 1882.
Ezra renamed the site "Hamilton Hill" and discovered gold during his course of clay-mining activities. The portrait of Hamilton on the wall was taken shortly before his death (c. 1914) at Willow Springs, a town he founded and developed. Rumor has it that Ezra once had so much excess gold that he made a whole set of teeth out of gold nuggets! Having changed names again, the then "Lida Mine" was sold to the Antelope Mining Company in 1908, and again to the Tropico Mining and Milling Company in 1909. Eventually, the mine was acquired by former employees of the company, the Burton brothers, in 1912.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections