About Michael Joseph Cooney
On 22 November 1899, Michael Joseph COONEY was found guilty of culpable homicide by the Circuit Court for Soutpansberg. He was sentenced to five years in prison. He had acted in self-defence, and the Pietersburg residents lodged a petition calling for his release on the grounds that "Mr Cooney is a man of good and honourable character". He also wrote a letter to the Volksraad pleading for his release. The prison warden sent the petition and the letter, with his own recommendation that prisoner 302 be given special pardon in view of the political situation in the country. Soon after peace was declared, British Intelligence Officer took Michael into custody on the following grounds:
He disguised himself as a prospector to spy on the British military during the Anglo-Boer War, During the war, he took a battery from the house of the Pietersburg Gold Mine Engineer, DAMANT, to give to Carel CRAEMER (a young German who fought on the side of the Boers) to be used for the ignition of dynamite to blew up trains carrying the British, He made a bomb for General Ben VILJOEN to blew up the Spekboom River, to prevent the British from entering Pilgrim's Rest, He scraped gold amalgam from the copper plates at the gold mines in the Lydenburg area and gave it to the Boers.
The Intelligence Officer asked his Captain in Pretoria, what to do with Michael. He was told that no further action was necessary, and the man could be released.
Michael was born in Galsworth, Ireland in 1844 to Patrick and Margaret COONEY. His father died at the age of 102. Michael was one of 13 children. He immigrated to America, first settling in San Juan County, where he worked at the Black Wonder mine. At some stage while there, his sister, Beatrice, visited him. She met and married Carroll THOMAS. Michael next worked near Lake City, Colorado. He later moved to Leadville, Colorado, where he became involved with the New Years mine, which he later sold. Next, he moved to Cassell, Montana, where he worked in silver mines. He later moved to the Whitlach Union and McIntyre gold mines in Unionville, Montana. After this, he l decided to head for Europe and later went to Ireland and then found his way to South Africa. He remained in South Africa until 1904, returning to America. He moved to the Oroville district in Butte County, California, where he bought the acquired the Bank Mine Company with a partner. Michael married twice, first to Annie TAYLOR, and then to Emma ERFURTH. He died some time between 1908 and 1929.