March 11, 2006
Nevada's Online State News Journal
[From Thompson & West's History of Nevada 1881, With Illustrations And Biographical Sketches Of Its Prominent Men And Pioneers, pp. 527-563]
HISTORY OF ORMSBY COUNTY. 527
HISTORY OF ORMSBY COUNTY.
Emigrants and Early Settlers—Organization of Ormsby County —Appointments and Elections—Topography of County—Early Settlers—Samuel A. Nevers—Aaron D. Treadway—Warren Wasson—William D. Torreyson—Advent of Abram Curry—Resources--Mines and Mining--Quartz Mills—Saw mills -- Toll-roads—Court House—County Divided into Townships—Game—State Prison—Carson City—Hon. Chas. F. Bicknell—Hon. Trenmor Coffin--Monroe A. Driesbach--H. H. Bence—W. M. Cary—M. D. Hatch—J. H. Marshall —Duncan McRae—Mathias Rinckel—Harrison Shrieves-George C. Thaxter.
The history of Ormsby blends with, and has its source in the earliest history of western Nevada, when the region formed part of Carson County of the Territory of Utah. The Carson River flows northeasterly through the county, and along its valley came the trappers, explorers and emigrants in the dim period of the past, in their search for game, for new transcontinental routes and mountain passes; and for new homes on the shores of the Pacific. Of
528 HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA.
the early trappers and explorers, Kit Carson has left his name applied to the beautiful river that first greets the thirsty traveler from the East and points the way to the crossing of the Sierra, and of the early settlers, Ormsby leaves his name to the county. For many years the white strangers came and went, leaving but their tracks to tell of their passage. Some had tarried a few months, and a few localities in the valley were said to have been " settled," but the great emigration of 1849 — of preceding and later years was for California, and the beautiful valley of the Carson was still a wilderness.
In November, 1851, a party of men from the placer mines of California, seeking gold on the eastern slope, were attracted by the advantages offered for agriculture and trading purposes and located upon ground where now stands the city of Carson. These were Joseph and Frank Barnard, George Follensbee, A. J. Rollins, Frank and W. L. Hall. Killing an eagle on the spot, and preserving the stuffed skin as a trophy, which was used as a sign for their station, the place became known as Eagle Valley. This was the first settlement of the region under review. No government yet threw its protecting aegis over the county. The whole region was a part of Utah.
On the seventeenth of January, 1852, the county of Carson was formed by Act of the Territory, including all the inhabited portion of the west. This early history, with the transition from Utah to Nevada, belongs more particularly to that of the State in which it is fully treated, leaving it necessary in this place to refer only to the period since its political organization as a county.
ORGANIZATION OF ORMSBY COUNTY.
Ormsby County was created by the Act of the Territorial Legislature, approved November 25, 1861, with boundaries defined as follows:
Beginning at the northeastern corner of Douglas County, and running easterly along the northern boundary thereof to a point where it crosses El Dorado Cañon; thence down the center of said cañon to a point thereon due east of Brown & Company's dam, on Carson River; thence in a westerly direction, crossing Carson River at said dam; thence to the Half-way House, between Carson and Silver City; thence northwesterly to the summit of the mountains east of Washoe Lake; thence in a westerly course along said summit to the tops of the Sierras; thence due west to the California line; thence south along said line to the place of beginning.
The name of Ormsby was given in honor of Maj. William M. Ormsby, one of its pioneer and most prominent citizens, who had recently been slain in battle with the Indians.
Geographically it is bounded on the north by Washoe and Lyon Counties, east by Lyon, south by Douglas and west by Placer County, in California. The Legislature having passed the Act creating the county, met in joint session on the twenty-third of November, two days before the approval of the bill, and chose three County Commissioners—H. F. Rice, J. S. Albro and F. A. Tritle being the Commissioners then chosen for Ormsby County.
By an Act approved November 28, 1861, a special election was ordered throughout the Territory for county, township and Territorial officers, to be held on the second Tuesday in January, 1862, and providing that the officers then chosen should enter upon their duties on the first Monday of February ensuing.
By Act of the same Legislature, approved November 29, 1861, the county seat of Ormsby was located at Carson City.
We have now the new county, with its boundaries, county seat, commissioners, officers and statutes providing for the complete organization of its government. The Commissioners held their first meeting on the twenty-fourth of December, 1861, and Mr. H. F. Rice was chosen Chairman. Under the general statutes of the Territory they were required to organize election precincts and establish polls, providing for the election to be held on the ensuing fourteenth of January. The county was declared to be one precinct, with polls established at the following places:
Polls No. 1 Carson City at Ormsby Rouse
" 2 Empire City at Kinney's Hotel
" 3 Clear Creek at Haskell's Saw-mill
" 4 at Half-way House
The following-named gentlemen were appointed to act as Judges of the Election:—
Polls No. 1—W. G. Bingham, W. D. Torreyson and Seymour Pixley.
Polls No. 2—H. Kinney, Abe Jones and D. C. Clark.
Polls No. 3-H. G. Haskell, R. Walton and Chas. Jones.
Polls No. 4—W. F. Bryant, H. Howell and Geo. Pringle.
APPOINTMENTS AND ELECTIONS.
The following is a complete record of the officers of Ormsby County, elected and appointed since the organization in 1861. The first election was on the fourteenth of January, 1862, specially ordered by the Territorial Legislature. At this election the following-named persons were candidates: Clerk, Parker H. Pierce, and Charles W. Curry; Recorder, S. D. King; Sheriff, William L. Marley, D. J. Gasherie, and Thomas J. Bradford; Assessor, O. H. Pearson, George Chandler, A. H. Greenhalgh, and H. H. Herrick; Collector, D. L. Huntsman, J. B. Cormack, L. D. Strong, and S. G. Lane; Treasurer, W. D. Torreyson, Charles C. Conger, and Samuel Doak; Surveyor, James S. Lawson; Superintendent of Schools, Rev. A. F. White; County Commissioners, George L. Gibson, H. Smith, George W. Chedic, A. Treadway, James Sanderson, W. S. Goodridge, and eight others receiving from 1 to 176 votes; Justices of the Peace and Constables were also elected at the same time, there being fourteen candidates for the
HISTORY OF ORMSBY COUNTY. 529
latter position. The Clerk was ex officio County Auditor. The highest vote was 998, for A. F. White, who had no opponent for Superintendent of Schools.
Gavin D. Hall and J. C. Lewis, elected September 3, 1862, the total vote was 1,080; Abram Curry, elected September 2, 1863, total vote 779; E. R. Cox, elected September 7, 1864, total vote 1,249. The gentlemen elected to the Senate and Assembly were chosen under the Territorial organization, and as the State Constitution was adopted at this time, none of them could serve under it in the capacity for which they were chosen. This necessitated another election to fill these offices on the following eighth of November. Jonas Seely and A. J. Lockwood, elected November 8, 1864, total vote 1,273. Seely resigned June 13, 1866. Theo. D. Edwards and B. H. Meder, elected November 6, 1866, total vote 743. Edwards was elected for the long term, and B. H. Meder for the short term. D. R. Brown, elected November 3, 1868, total vote 919; Israel Crawford, elected November 8, 1870, total vote 866; A. J. Lockwood, elected November 5, 1872, total vote 930; T. D. Edwards, elected November 3, 1874, total vote 1,156; W. O. H. Martin, elected November 7, 1876, total vote 1,346; B. H. Meder, elected November 5, 1878, total vote, 1,056; John D. Hammond, elected November 2, 1880, total vote 1,102.
A. Curry, A. D. Treadway and W. H. Brumfield, elected September 3, 1862; W. H. Brumfield and Wellington Stewart, elected September 2, 1863; S. D. King, J. E. W. Casey and S. C. Denson, elected September 7, 1864. The gentlemen elected to the Assembly were chosen under the Territorial organization and as the State Constitution was adopted at this time, none of them could serve under it in the capacity for which they were chosen. This necessitated another election to fill these offices on the following eighth of November. S. C. Denson, L. C. McKeeby and J. E. W. Casey elected November 8, 1864; Orion Clemens, T. D Edwards and George Munckton elected November 7, 1865; Horace H. Bence, George Munckton and D. A. Horton, elected November 6, 1866; S. C. Wright, Wm. H. Corbitt and John Hansen, elected November 3, 1868; A. J. Lockwood, J. A. Burlingame and J. R. Cowen, elected November 8, 1870; Jacob Tobriner, W. D. Keyser and D. B. Lyman, elected November 5, 1872; J. W. Haynie, Alfred Helm and S. E. Jones, elected November 3, 1874; H. R. Mighels, H. G. Parker and W. P. McIntosh, elected November 7, 1876. Mighels resigned November 7, 1878. E. F. Gibson, T. W. W. Davies and H. H. Howe, elected November 5, 1878; Trenmor Coffin, Eugene May and William Havenor, elected November 2, 1880.
H. F. Rice, J. S. Albro and F. A. Tritle were appointed by a joint session of the Legislature, November 23, 1861, when three Commissioners were named for each county. George L. Gibson, H. Smith and Geo. W. Chedic, elected January 14, 1862. July 8, 1862, Geo. W. Hopkins was chosen to fill the position of County Commissioner in place of Smith, who had removed from the county; Hopkins had been appointed by the Governor on the thirty-first of the previous May. Abraham Jones, J. Sanderson and Adolphus Waitz, elected September 3, 1862. The Commissioners drew terms of office-Waitz three years, Jones two years and Sanderson one year; Jones removed from the State, and John Tarbell was appointed January 8, 1863; E. C. Dixon was appointed July 6, 1863. A. M. Elsworth and L. D. Strong, elected September 2, 1863. Elsworth resigned December 10, 1863, and Samuel Ripley was appointed. Ripley did not serve, and Hazard Webster was appointed January 2, 1864. Webster did not qualify, and E. W. Whitman was appointed March 24, 1864. Whitman resigned, and S. E. Jones was appointed July 1, 1864; J. R. Mason and H. F. Rice were appointed March 24, 1864. H. F. Rice, S. Buckingham and S. E. Jones, elected September 7, 1864; H. F. Rice, Eugene Jones and John Bunker, elected November 6, 1866. Bunker resigned March 31, 1868; A. B. Driesbach, appointed April 15, 1868. H. F. Rice, A. B. Driesbach and S. E. Jones, elected November 3, 1868; J. E. Cheney and A. B. Saben, elected November 8, 1870. Cheney resigned July 7, 1873. M. C. Gardner, appointed. B. H. Meder and James Morris, elected November 5, 1872; George Gillson and James Morris elected November 3, 1874; O. P. Willis and James Morris, elected November 7, 1876; John E. Cheney and M. Hogan, elected November 5, 1878; S. E. Jones and Israel Crawford, elected November 2, 1880.
E. C. Dixon was appointed by the Executive December 14, 1861, resigned July 13, 1863, and S. H. Wright appointed to the vacancy; S. H. Wright was elected September 2, 1863. The office ceased with the organization of the State Government in 1864.
Dighton Carson was appointed by the Executive December 18, 1861. The district, according to the apportionment made by Governor Nye July 17, 1861, included all of Nevada west of the one hundred and eighteenth meridian west from Greenwich. S. D. King, elected Prosecuting Attorney September 2, 1863, resigned; T. D. Edwards appointed October 2, 1863. Edwards resigned February 10, 1864, Thos. E. Haydon appointed. R. M. Clark, elected September 7, 1864; Samuel C. Denson, elected November 6, 1866, re-elected November 3, 1868, resigned December 7, 1868, Thomas Wells appointed April 6, 1870. Wells was succeeded by Wm. Patterson. Patterson was elected November 8, 1870, re-elected November 5, 1872, and November 3, 1874; Trenmor Coffin, elected November 7, 1876; M. A. Driesbach, elected November 5, 1878; Horace F. Bartine, elected November 2, 1880.
530 HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA.
Wm. L. Marley was appointed by the Executive December 9, 1861; D. J. Gasherie elected January 14, 1862, re-elected September 3, 1862; T. G. Smith, elected September 7, 1864, re-elected November 6, 1866; killed in the discharge of his duty December 17, 1867, A. W. Nightingill appointed December 19, 1867, resigned September 7, 1868, and T. J. Edwards was appointed. S. T. Swift, elected November 3, 1868, re-elected November 8, 1870, November 5, 1872, November 874 November 7, 1876; Lloyd Hill, elected November 5, 1878; S. T. Swift, elected November 2, 1880.
Parker H. Pierce, appointed by the Executive December 21, 1861, elected, January 14, 1862; Chas. W. Curry, elected September 3, 1862. Samuel H. Wright, appointed May 4, 1863, in place of Curry, deceased. Wright resigned July 2, 1863, to become Probate Judge, and Silas Caulkins was appointed, and elected September 2, 1863, resigned July 4, 1864, and B. F. Small appointed. H. B. Pomroy, elected September 7, 1864; M. J. Ashmore, elected November 6, 1866, resigned November 10, 1868, and O. H. Parker appointed; T. J. Edwards, elected November 3, 1868, re-elected November 8, 1870, re-elected November 5, 1872, re-elected November 3, 1874, re-elected November 7, 1876, resigned March 3, 1877, and Alfred Helm appointed; J. H. Marshall, elected November 5, 1878; M. D. Hatch, elected November 2, 1880.
Phillip Stoner, appointed by the Executive December 14, 1861; W. D. Torreyson, elected January 14, 1862, re-elected September 3, 1862; John Wagner, elected September 7, 1864; Horatio S. Mason, elected November 6, 1866, re-elected November 3, 1868, November 8, 1870, and November 5, 1872; H. J. Peters, elected November 3, 1874, re-elected November 7, 1876, resigned August 27, 1877, and James Fraser appointed; M. L. Yager, elected November 5, 1878; James Fraser, elected November 2, 1880.
O. H. Pearson, elected January 14, 1862, re-elected November 3, 1862, resigned April 17, 1863, and H. H. Bence appointed. Bence was elected September 2, 1863, re-elected September 7, 1864; Geo. W. Chedic, elected November 6, 1866, re-elected November 3, 1868, re-elected November 8, 1870; J. P. Winnie, elected November 5, 1872, re-elected November 3, 1874; E. B. Pixley, elected November 7, 1876; H. H. Bence, elected November 5, 1878; Jno. D. Kersey, elected November 2, 1880.
S. D. King, elected January 14, 1862, re-elected September 3, 1862; S. D. King, Sr., elected September 7, 1864, re-elected November 6, 1866, November 3, 1868, and November 8, 1870. Samuel D. King, Jr., appointed vice S. D. King, deceased, November 5, 1872. F. D. Turner, elected November 3, 1874, re-elected November 7, 1876, November 5, 1878, and November 2, 1880.
COUNTY SUPERINTENDENTS OF SCHOOLS.
Rev. A. F. White, elected January 14, 1862, reelected September 3, 1862, resigned June 5, 1863, and was succeeded by A. C. Knox. Knox resigned and Chas. L. Anderson was appointed. Anderson was elected September 2, 1863; W. B. Lawler, elected September 7, 1864; B. F. Bivins, elected November 6, 1866; Chas. Martin, elected November 3, 1868, resigned August 16, 1869, and R. R. Parkinson appointed. L. S. Greenlaw, elected November 8, 1870, re-elected November 5, 1872, re-elected November 3, 1874; E. A. Moody, elected November 7, 1876; L. S. Greenlaw, elected November 5, 1878, re-elected November 2, 1880.
James S. Lawson, appointed by the Executive December 11, 1861, elected January 14, 1862; Porter C. Rector, elected September 3, 1862; J. M. Ackley, elected September 7, 1864, resigned December 4, 1865, Butler Ives was appointed. Ives did not qualify and Richard A. Chase was appointed February 5, 1866, and again June 5, 1866. Abram Curry, elected November 6, 1866; R. A. Chase, elected November 3, 1868; did not qualify, and H. J. Barker was appointed December 6, 1869. R. A. Chase, elected November 8, 1870; succeeded June 3, 1871, by Hugo Hochholzer; Hochholzer was elected November 5, 1872. Office vacated for non-residence June 1, 1874, and Alexander Mitchell appointed. C. L. Anderson, elected November 3, 1874, failed to qualify, and H. H. Bence was appointed January 11, 1875. V. Hoyt, elected November 7, 1876-1878 none elected, 1880 ditto.
Gregory A. Sears, elected November 6, 1866, resigned, H. H. Bence appointed September 2, 1867; H. H. Bence, elected November 3, 1868, re-elected November 8, 1870. Office vacated for failure to file additional bond January 2, 1872, and George G. Lyon appointed February 17, 1872. J. O. Pierce, elected November 5, 1872, failed to qualify, and John P. Meder appointed December 13, 1873; J. P. Meder, elected November 3, 1874, re-elected November 7, 1876. Office vacated May 7, 1877, for failure to file additional bond and J. D. Kersey appointed June 4, 1877; B. F. Foster, elected November 5, 1878; Marshall Robinson, elected November 2, 1880.
THE TOPOGRAPHY OF THE COUNTY.
The Act defining the boundaries had given the county an area of 172 square miles, including lake, mountain and valley, being the smallest county of the Territory. The area of water was its portion of Lake Tahoe, comprising twenty-seven square miles, the mountainous portion embraces near 100 square miles, the remainder being valley. The form of the county is peculiar; being of very irregular shape, its greater length being along its southern border, a narrow arm of about six miles in width reaching out to
HISTORY OF ORMSBY COUNTY. 531
the lake on the west, while the body spreads out in the valley of the Carson River.
The mountains of the west are the Sierra Nevada, and east of the Carson River is the Pine Nut range. The first rise to an altitude of between 7,000 and 8,000 feet above the level of the sea and are covered with a grand forest of pine and other coniferous trees, from which lumber, firewood and charcoal are obtained in large quantities. This lumber and other products of the forest are brought to market by railroad and flumes, which are fully treated upon elsewhere in this work under their appropriate headings. The Pine Nut Mountains of the eastern portion of the county were so named from being clothed with that species of tree, but the demands of the miner and the quartz mills long since demanded their denudation, leaving them bleak and barren.
The valley of the Carson River widens, after entering Ormsby County, a broad arm of it reaching several miles westward to the base of the Sierra, and bears the local appellation of Eagle Valley. This has an area of about twenty-five square miles, is fertile in soil, abounding in water, and is exceedingly picturesque in scenery. The pine-clad spurs of the Sierra Nevada rise abruptly in the west, a spur from it and outlying hills border it on the east and south, and in the north the gold and silver-bearing hills that inclose the great Comstock Lode limit the vision. In the northeast, following the course of the river, the valley of the Carson opens a distant horizon. The altitude of the valley at Carson City is 4,015 feet above the sea, and of the river as it leaves the county, 3,850 feet. The height of the mountain ridge bordering Lake Tahoe is 7,312 feet, and of the lake 6,137. The Pine Nut range within the county attains an altitude of about 6,000 feet.
The principal river is the Carson, running northerly, with a sinuous course of about eighteen miles within the county. This is a stream of variable volume, flooded with the rains and melting snows of winter and spring, and dwindling to a stream of ten yards in width, and less than a foot in depth in the summer and fall.
Clear Creek is a mountain torrent in the season of floods, having a short course from its source in the Sierra Nevada to its junction with the Carson.
Mill Creek is a small but rapid stream flowing from the Sierra and entering Eagle Valley near Carson City, its rapid fall making it valuable for propelling machinery, hence its name.
El Dorado Cañon, which borders the county on the east, sometimes bears a stream of water in its bed, and these with a few rivulets in the Sierra Nevada constitute the water courses of Ormsby.
Eagle Valley embraces the greatest area of arable land. A small portion of it was originally covered with natural grasses, but the greater portion was covered by sage-brush. By means of cultivation and irrigation it has been made productive, producing the best of grain and vegetables. Trees have been planted which flourish luxuriantly, and with farms made, roads and ditches constructed, the natural appearance of the country is greatly changed. In the valley are the principal towns and settlements of the county, the most important being Carson City, Empire City and Warm Springs.
For a full statement of the products of the county from 1867 to 1880, the number of acres under cultivation, the stock and grain raised, and the fruit trees and vines growing, the reader is referred to pages 135, 136, 139, 140 and 141, of the general history. For the bullion product of the county see table elsewhere in this work.
We have already given the names of Joseph and Frank Barnard, George Follensbee, A. J. Rollins, Frank and W. L. Hall, as the locators of Eagle Ranch, in November, 1851. These men opened a trading-post, cultivated a garden and made hay, enjoying a profitable business until 1854, when they sold it for the sum of $2,000 to Messrs. Reese and Barnard, who had previously been established at Mormontown, or Genoa, as it was subsequently called. In 1855, Reese & Barnard sold the ranch to some Mormons, several families of whom had settled in the valley. This route had now become the favorite one for trains of emigrants and droves of stock passing between the Eastern States, Salt Lake and California, until by 1857 the grass was entirely eaten out " root and branch." Then the tide of travel passed by other routes, and trade declined.
In 1852 the Legislature of California appropriated $25,000 for the relief of destitute emigrants on their way overland, and a party was sent out to meet those needy people. Among the party was Mr. J. T. Griffith, who camped in Eagle Valley, explored it thoroughly and subsequently returned, and is now a resident of Carson City. Of the old settlers it is mentioned that Dr. B. L. King, after whom King's Cañon is named, came to the valley in 1852, and at one time kept a place of public resort at the old brewery, west of the present city of Carson. Accompanying him were his daughters, Sarah and Mrs. M. Little. A married daughter of Dr. King still resides in the neighborhood. Richard Rose was the next comer, giving his name to Rose Cañon, and Jacob H. Rose, now living near Battle Mountain, Charles Wolfe, James Menifee, and Mr. Miller, are names recorded in the annals of the pioneer settlers. The year 1857 is given as the advent of Maj. William M. Ormsby, Mr. S. A. Nevers, Mrs. Harmon, her sons, John and James, and her daughters, Sarah, Eliza, and Josephine. Charles Stebbins was there, the proprietor of a store in that eventful year of 1857. Mr. S. A. Nevers is credited with building the first dwelling in the valley, being the same in which he now resides near Carson. Mr. Henry Fulstone, from whom these facts are obtained, arrived in the valley in 1858 with his family, consisting of himself and wife, and sons, Henry, Robert, William, John, and Joseph.
532 HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA.
In company with him came also John Bath and wife. In 1857 the Mormons were summoned by Brigham Young to Salt Lake, which unreasonable and tyrannical behest the deluded and superstitious devotees of the Church obeyed, and their settlements in western Utah were abandoned or disposed of to any person offering any price. The same scenes and sacrifices enacted here were repeated wherever the Mormon Church had a " stake," in Utah, California or elsewhere. Those of Eagle Valley went with the others, and the region was left with a new element. At this time a new man enters upon the scene.
The following sketch of this person was published in the Carson Daily Index of March 20, 1881:
Soon after those days a few Mormon families had ranches in Eagle Valley. As these people were about to remove hence and return to Salt Lake, a man named John Mankin, whom the early settlers designate as an old pirate, mountaineer and frontiersman, purchased for a mere trifle the possessory right and became the owner or claimant of all the valley land lying between Nevers' Lane, extending to the hills north and south, and the now Prison Hot Springs. This man was a widower with four children, one a daughter named Mace, about twelve years old. With him lived also an Ute Indian boy named "Cap." They resided in a cabin then a little northwest of the present town site.
Mankin was a rough, passionate, illiterate fellow; given to quarreling with his neighbors. He was a splendid marksman with his rifle, which was his constant companion, and in his hands a dangerous weapon. His unpopularity caused some of the " boys " to plan a scare for him one night. Among the party were Jim Menifee and Charles Wolfe. They might as well, as they discovered to their own fright, have attempted to catch a weasel asleep. They disappeared behind a log-fenced corral not an instant too soon to escape a bullet. Mankin was a broad-shouldered man of fifty-four years, so active, that in sport he would run a race with any one in the country, and there were some extraordinarily active men here in those days. The distance of fifty yards would be measured, and Mankin would lie flat upon his face, and at the word would rise and distance all his competitors.
Mankin took a party to the Walker River country on the pretense of showing them rich mining prospects. Once there, he gave them the slip and returned home. For weeks thereafter he kept, his gray stallion saddled night and day, ready to escape, fearing the return and attack by the men he had deceived. He also rented some ground to a man named Obar, where Mr. Folsom's dwelling and the Nye stone mansion now stand. There was a dispute about the area under cultivation, and, as usual in those days, the matter was left to referees; in this case Theodore Winters and Dr. King being chosen to view the ground and report. An impromptu court was held at Obar's house just north- east of Nevers' present residence, at which John Cary (since dead), an elder brother of our present Police' Magistrate, W. M. Cary, presided. Ex-County Commissioner S. A. Nevers, who resides here, was clerk of the Court. During the consideration of the case, Mankin stood one side of the open doorway and Dr. King the other side. Mankin was balancing himself on one foot and looked as though he might at any, moment kick King under the chin, which he was physically capable of doing with ease, while a man nicknamed "Pike," who lived with King, reclined upon an old table with his hand upon a revolver. Behind the last-named individual stood a son of Mankin with a knife up his sleeve. All this was plainly seen by the clerk. But no violence was attempted. Obar won the suit. His house, where the court was held, was built by the Mormons. The same cabin was afterwards removed and is now a part of the dwelling of our esteemed townsman, Farmer Treadway, who purchased the same some years later.
ADVENT OF ABRAM CURRY.
For a short period it appears that Mankin and his family were the only occupants of the region. But a more energetic class, with more civilizing influences, was soon to make its appearance. Early in 1858, there came to western Utah a man of enterprise, ability and energy, whose course was to have a decided influence on the future of the Territory and State. This was Mr. Abram Curry. His coming is told in the Nevada Tribune of July 17, 1876:---
A traveler, weary with riding over the Sierra from California, arrived at the ancient village of Mormontown (Genoa), where a town site had been laid off, the owners expecting to make a great speculation in the sale of lots therein. Curry was in pursuit of an eligible location to build a store for general merchandising. He examined the town site, and soon selected a corner lot to build upon. The price, $1,000, and no less, must be paid. One of the partners plead for reduction, the other was unflinching in his demands for the sum, or no sale. His stubbornness was excelled only by his inability to estimate the strength and determination of his man, in consequence of which the trade was never consummated. The stranger mounted his horse, asked for the last time for a reduction of terms. The cold, unrelenting answer was returned as before. Our hero replied, " Well, then, I will build a city of my own," and, suiting the action to the word, pressed his spurs to the flanks of his already restive steed, and, before the sun had settled into the lap of the west, Abram Curry was in Eagle Valley for the purpose of redeeming his promise of the morning. Here he was joined by B. F. Green, Frank M. Proctor and J. J. Musser, his companions, who had crossed the mountains with him. A Mr. Mankin was at this time in possession of Eagle Ranch, its eastern limits, the Warm Springs and State Prison grounds, thence west to a point near Minnesota Street. The party viewed the premises, and concluded to buy the ranch. Mr. Mankin was asked what was his price, and he answered, "$1,000." The purchase was made, the payment being $500 coin and some mustangs.
The story of Mankin is concluded as follows: "To avoid his creditors he took to the Sierra Nevada Mountains between two days, mounted upon his gray stallion, and the children and the Indian boy on the recently purchased animals. He went to Santa Cruz, got into a shooting scrape there, and went thence south, leaving his daughter, who married in Santa Cruz." Upon leaving Eagle Valley he swore eternal vengeance against the Pah-Utes, claiming that he had killed fifty of them.
In September, 1858, Mr. Curry proposed to lay out a town site, which was done, from which date
HISTORY OF ORMSBY COUNTY. 533
the locality and the actors pass into the history of Carson City.
At this period the population was exceedingly scarce, it being represented that by collecting all the people in Carson, Washoe and Eagle Valleys, enough would be present to have three sets in a dance. These gatherings usually took place at Dr. King's brewery, which was made a place of public resort. The settlers of Eagle Valley regarded the Eagle Ranch as the central point, and it was long before any other locality bore its specific name. A station was established on the overland road where it touched the river, three and a half miles from Eagle Ranch, which subsequently bore the name of "Dutch Nicks," the usual name for Nicholas Ambrosia, the first settler, but afterwards changed to Empire City. Families also located at Clear Creek, Mill Creek, and other localities prior to the discovery of the Comstock Lode and the rush of people to Nevada.
SAMUEL A. NEVERS,
Son of Ebenezer and Sarah C. (Andrews) Nevers, was born in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, March 1, 1824. His ancestors as far back as Mr. Nevers can recollect were New England people. His parents were both natives of Massachusetts, his father being born at Lexington, and mother at Boston. Young Nevers, was educated in the common and high schools of his native city; during his minority following the calling of book-keeper. On the first day of March, 1849, he bid adieu to the scenes of his childhood, and started in pursuit of fortune in the golden State of California, corning by way of Cape Horn, in the ship Sweden. On the third day of August of the same year he landed in San Francisco, and without delay proceeded to the mines on Big Bar, at Mokelumne, San Joaquin County. After one month's trial in search of the golden nuggets, he returned to San Francisco and spent the winter. In June of the year 1850, he went to the mines on American River and worked at Rattlesnake Bar, until the fall of 1857, at which time he crossed the mountains to Nevada and located in Eagle Valley, arriving there October 14. During his many years' residence in the sage-brush country, he has witnessed the transformation of a desolate wilderness into a thriving and beautiful city. As a farmer, Mr. Nevers has been successful, through his untiring energy and strict attention to business, and has sold his crops some seasons at fabulous prices. Hay, $500 per ton and potatoes as high as $100 per ton. He was married October 10, 1859, to May Eliza Harman, daughter of J. and Mary (Smithson) Harman, and two children live to bless their union. The following are their names and date of birth:—Sarah H. born, August 5, 1860 and John W. born, January 18, 1869. In politics Mr. Nevers is a Republican but has held no office except that of County Commissioner. His portrait will be found on another page. Mrs. Nevers is a native of Monroe County, Mississippi, born April 29, 1830.
AARON D. TREADWAY,
One of the pioneers of the State and the subject of the following sketch, is a native of the State of Connecticut, born in the town of Middletown, March 1, 1815. At the age of sixteen years he was apprenticed to a brick mason, and mastered that trade during the succeeding four years, when he went to Macon, Georgia, in 1835, and worked at his trade during the winter. In the spring of 1836 he went to Illinois, where he continued the business until 1847, at which time he went as First Lieutenant of Company I, Fifth Illinois Regiment, to the Mexican War. The regiment was commanded by Colonel Newby. Lieutenant Treadway won many laurels as an officer, and was discharged at Alton, Illinois, in the fall of 1848. In the Spring of 1849 he came to California, arriving at Weaverville, Trinity County, in the month of July. After a short stay at the last-named place he went to Sutter's Mill, in El Dorado County, and from there to Sacramento City, where he remained until he came to what is now Washoe, in Nevada, in 1859. Mr. Treadway has done much to build up the country in which he has resided during the past twenty-two years, always an active, enterprising business man, recognized as authority on anything pertaining to the cultivation of the soil, and is known throughout the State as " Farmer Treadway." In 1866 he bought the land known as Treadway Park, and by diligent labor has produced for the pleasure of the people a park second to none in the State. It is situated on Washington Avenue, of easy access from Carson City, and the thousands who visit the place during the summer months speak volumes in favor of it as a summer resort. A view of the park is to be found in this work.
COL. WARREN WASSON
Is a gentleman with whom the readers of this history are already familiar, he being one of the earliest of the pioneers, and prominent in the Indian wars of Nevada. Colonel Wasson was born at Harpersville, Broome County, New York, December 25, 1833, a "Merry Christmas " gift. When but three years of age, his parents moved with him to Illinois, and of the Prairie State are his earliest recollections. In 1849 he crossed the plains in company with his father and Judge John H. McKune, now of Sacramento, California. In 1851 he returned to the East by water, and again made the journey overland the following year. In 1857 he came to the eastern slope, then a part of the Territory of Utah.
About the first of December, 1858, he located Big Hot Springs, about five miles from Beckwourth's Pass, claiming, by location, two miles of Long Valley, being one mile each way from the spring. In the following January ho occupied his new ranch with 100 head of cattle and twenty horses, having with him one hired man named William Harley. Here he met and made friends with Numaga, also mentioned in the Indian history, and on the twentieth of
534 HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA.
February, 1859, bargained with him for all the rights the Pah-Utes had to the valley for a distance of nine miles of its length. In the following month, Deer Dick, chief of the Washoe tribe of Indians, came and demanded pay for the land, denying the Pah-Ute jurisdiction and his right to cede the land of the Washoes. Another purchase was therefore made, and peaceful occupation followed.
On the twentieth of June, 1859, James Morgan, with three others, moved into the valley and settled fifteen miles below Hot Springs, thus making six settlers, and these were the first inhabitants of Long Valley. On the twenty-fifth of the same month, Wasson was elected a delegate to the Genoa Convention, which met on the eighteenth of July to organize a provisional government, (see chapter X. of this book). In August, 1859, he sold his Long Valley property to J. Hood, and moved to Genoa. The following September, Wasson received the appointment of Deputy United States Marshal from Judge Cradlebaugh.
In the winter of 1859 and spring of 1860 he visited Mono, Walker and Pyramid Lakes, making the acquaintance of the Pah-Ute Indians and becoming familiar with the country, which knowledge was afterwards of great service to him in the Indian difficulties which followed. He also purchased a ranch near Genoa which he held vi et armis, as elsewhere related.
Colonel Wasson has held several public positions, beginning with that of Deputy Marshal above referred to, followed by Acting Indian Agent for a long period, although others held the commission. March 6, 1862, he was appointed United States Marshal of Nevada Territory by Abraham Lincoln, which position he resigned December 25, 1864, being succeded by Edward Irwin. August 29, 1862, he was appointed and confirmed Assessor of Internal Revenue for Nevada, thus holding two important positions at the same time. He continued as Assessor until June 1, 1869, being succeeded by Warren F. Myers. He has also held three military commissions, twice as Lieutenant Colonel on the Staff of Governor Blaisdel, and once the same rank as aid to Governor Bradley.
Colonel Wasson was married May 29, 1867, to Miss Grace A. Treadway, of Carson, a lady of superior beauty, intellect and refinement, and a family of seven daughters and one son bless the union.
After a residence of twenty-four years in Nevada, the Colonel declares his intention of moving to Oregon and there making his future home.
The wealth and prosperity of Ormsby County are evidences that it possesses resources of an important character. Situated centrally in the most thickly peopled belt of the " Eastern Slope," it derives great profit from the trade and travel its favorable position demands. Trade with passing emigrants incited the first settlers, who had the additional incentive of seeking gold in the soil of the valley or ravines entering it. The pastoral and agricultural resources seemed the most reliable to the early settlers, and these were most cultivated.
Eagle Valley contains the greater part of the arable land of the county. This contains about 16,000 acres, the greater part of which is susceptible of cultivation. The soil is fertile, and produces the best of grain and vegetables. The Surveyor General of Nevada in his report for 1880, says that " about 5,000 acres of this valley are inclosed with good fences, a large part of which is in a fine state of cultivation." Along the Carson River and in some of the cañons of the Sierra, are small tracts of arable land. The Carson River opens a channel of trade with the heavily timbered mountain region about its source, and immense quantities of lumber, firewood, etc., are floated down the stream, the greater part of which is taken from the water in this county.
A large area, comprising more than 40,000 acres, extending into the Sierra Nevada, was originally heavily timbered, and, although much has been taken, this forest still constitutes an important resource. In connection with this interest are the various small mountain streams, which afford power for manufacturing the forest trees into lumber. These are Clear Creek, Mill Creek and King's Cañon and small streams flowing into Lake Tahoe. The Carson also affords a great water-power, and numerous quartz and saw-mills are propelled by its force. These streams furnish a perpetual power for manufacturing purposes.
The mineral resources have not been developed, but at different periods have attracted considerable
HISTORY OF ORMSBY COUNTY. 535
attention. The Nut Pine Mountains bear many ledges of gold and silver-bearing quartz, as well as gold in placers. Iron and copper ores are also found in the same range, and a bed of lignite, once mined for coal, exists in El Dorado Cañon. The dearth of water in this region is a serious obstacle to its development. The placer mines have given evidence of the mineral wealth. " For a few weeks," says Kelly's Directory of Nevada for 1862, " while the water lasted, some twenty men made half an ounce a day each, working surface diggings at Onion Valley, in Sullivan District. There are other points where equally good prospects can be had, but there is no water."
In the foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada are numerous quartz veins which have been sufficiently prospected as to demonstrate the existence of gold and silver in their stony embrace. The abundance of wood and water, so essential to successful mining and milling operations, in this section of the county is an advantage it possesses seldom obtained in the mining regions of Nevada. Extending from Clear Creek along the base of the mountains across the entire county, a distance of eight or ten miles, a series of quartz ledges may be traced, all more or less impregnated with the precious metals. These mines have been worked with spasmodic vigor at various times, and considerable gold and silver has been produced.
Building stone of several varieties and of most excellent quality is abundant. A quarry of sandstone one and a half miles east of the town of Carson is especially adapted for architectural purposes and has been largely used in building the State Prison, United States Mint, Capitol and other important structures. The State Mineralogist reports this species of rock as existing in the foot-hills of the Sierra in great masses. It is a sedimentary formation, somewhat stratified and varying in compactness, easily wrought and wearing well. Granite is in great abundance in the Sierra Nevada; clay suitable for making brick is found in profusion, and marble suitable for ornamental as well as other purposes is obtained from a bed of that stone five miles northeast of Carson City.
The streams of Ormsby, notably the Carson, bearing their freight of lumber, mine timbers and firewood constitute a living and lasting source of wealth. Besides being carriers of the forest products, they afford irrigation for the arid soil, without which there would be no agriculture, no beautiful gardens or shady trees about its dwellings, and more than all, do they afford the power which drives the many quartz and saw-mills which furnish remunerative employment for so large a proportion of the population. Added to these are the railroads centering at the capital city, the Carson and Colorado reaching to the mining regions of the southeast, and the Virginia and Truckee extending, in one direction to the mines of the Comstock, and in the other to Reno and the Pacific Railroad. With these improvements and natural resources the county presents the condition of continued and substantial prosperity.
WILLIAM D. TORREYSON, the subject of this sketch, is a native of the State of Virginia, having been born in Unison, Loudoun County, September 5, 1821. When he was thirteen years of age his parents removed to Brooke County, West Virginia, where he lived with them until the year 1855. During his stay in Brooke County he learned the blacksmith trade, and afterward engaged in the manufacture of glass, owning the first glass-works built west of the Allegheny Mountains. In 1855 he came to the Pacific Coast, and located at Downieville, Sierra County, California, where he followed blacksmithing and mining until 1860, when he came to Carson City, Ormsby County, Nevada, where he has since resided. Being one of the early arrivals in this place, he has seen the town grow up around him, and has very materially aided the progress of several branches of industry, being engaged in blacksmithing, milling and mining. He is at present the proprietor of an extensive wagon manufactory in connection with a general blacksmithing business. Mr. Torreyson is a man well known throughout the county—and respected by all—a quiet, well-informed gentleman, and an honor to the town in which he lives. He was married to Miss S. C. Brown, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, December 6, 1849, and has an interesting family of five children.
536 HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA.
HON. H. H. BENCE
Was born in Jefferson County, New York, February 16, 1827. His parents were both natives of that State. After receiving an ordinary common school education he learned a trade, which he followed until he started for California in 1852, by way of the Straits of Magellan, in the steamer Pioneer, arriving in San Francisco on the twentieth of August that same year. Immediately after his arrival he went to Calaveras County, and engaged in mining with the usual ups and downs of the miners of those days.
In 1858 he contracted the Frazer River fever, and went with the throng to that region, arriving in the month of July. Finding that " things are not always what they seem," he returned to San Francisco in the fall an invalid, and soon after went to San Mateo and engaged in farming until he came to Carson City, Ormsby County, Nevada, in 1860, where he has since remained. In 1863, Mr. Bence was elected County Assessor, and held that office until 1866, when he was elected to the Assembly. He was Public Administrator during the years 1868-69-70, and received the appointment as County Surveyor in 1874, and again elected Assessor in 1878. He was also for two years Deputy United States Revenue Assessor, and the Deputy United States Mineral Surveyor. Mr. Bence has held office longer, as principal and deputy, than any other man in the county. As an officer he has faithfully served his county, a practical man, he became familiar with the laws of his country, and was at one time admitted to the Bar, but preferring the profession of civil engineer, he soon became proficient in the business, and to-day stands at the head of his class in that line. As a mathematician he has few equals. In politics he is a Republican, having fought on that line since the organization of the party.
MINES AND MINING.
The mines of Ormsby, even if they have not enriched their owners or added their millions of treasure to the wealth of the world, still constitute an important feature in the natural resources of the county, and their discovery, the excitement attending their earliest development, the high hopes of their owners, the struggles with adversity, the many abandonments and resuscitations of mining enterprises and their present condition form an interesting chapter in its history.
The excitement following the discovery of silver in the Comstock Vein caused a great "rush " of people from California to the "Eastern Slope," very few of whom had ever seen silver ore, and knew nothing of its appearance or how it occurred in its native State. Gold mining was the great interest of California, either from the placers where it occurred a native and pure metal and was obtained by simply washing the earth containing it, or by crushing the quartz, the original matrix of the metal. In both cases the process was simple, the pure metal was plain to the view and no scientific skill was required to extract it. The miners had learned nothing of ores. These were a mystery. Silver, copper, iron, zinc and other metals were known to come from ores, and that was about all of the science of metallurgy that they did know. This mystery gave zest to the excitement. The dark ore concealed the rich metal. Veins of quartz contained the ore. Everywhere throughout the mountains were veins of quartz. That which appeared at the surface, whether in Mount Davidson, the Sierra Nevada or Pine Nut range, was to the inexperienced eye all the same. Claims could be located, and if the locator had not the capital or inclination to develop his mine he could sell to speculative parties, or at least hoped to.
With these views, the people entering the Territory spread over the country in the vicinity of the oldest settlements. Carson City became the headquarters of an army of prospectors, who, in 1859 and '60, centered here and explored the surrounding region for " croppings " of quartz and "indications " of metals. There were then no mining bureaus, no cabinets of minerals, no treatise on vein formations, or descriptions of ores, by which the prospector could familiarize himself with the appearance and occurrence of ores, and as a natural consequence he went blindly to his work. All was excitement and enthusiasm. People rushed hither and thither. Wherever a piece of quartz was observed it was " located." A claim was made, using the set phrase, so many " feet on the ledge, with all its dips, spurs and angles," few knowing or caring what it all meant. Under such conditions districts were
HISTORY OF ORMSBY COUNTY. 537
formed which, in the aggregate, covered the entire country, lapping and covering each other.
In the outlying hills, forming the base of the Sierra, bordering Eagle Valley on the west, were discovered many veins of quartz, which were speedily located, and Eagle District was organized in the fall of 1859. The following year a number of these lodes were prospected quite extensively, but not showing the wealth the high hopes of the owners had pictured for them, were abandoned. At different periods since, renewals of work have been made, long tunnels have been run, and deep shafts sunk, and nearly as often have all despaired of success.
The various Commissioners appointed to gather mining statistics of the United States, the State Mineralogist, and the Surveyor General have for many years neglected to place Ormsby County in the list of mining counties. The mines, however, still exist. In 1876 work was energetically carried on in the North Carson Mine, two and a half miles north of Carson City, and, says the Mining Review of July, 1876: " The hoisting works of the North Carson has recently blown the first steam mining whistle ever sounded in Ormsby County."
For some years this mine took a prominent position in the public mind and on the stock board of San Francisco. Says the Tribune, of Carson City, July 22, 1874:
North Carson takes a jump this morning, and now the hearts of the holders may rejoice. From twenty-five to seventy-five is no small leap, and doubtless the stock will continue to advance, from the fact that mining experts have pronounced the mine a meritorious one, and also because it is now a recognized fact that valuable mines exist in the hills surrounding Eagle Valley.
The Mining Review of 1876, says:
Assays of the rock have been made at the branch mint at Carson, which range from $5 to $2,132.17 per ton. The company have 500 tons of milling ore on the dump. The new hoisting works, which have been put up at a cost of $15,000, will develop the mine to a depth of 1,500 feet. The company own forty acres of land adjoining their claim upon which are located their offices and other buildings, making quite a little village.
CLEAR CREEK DISTRICT was organized in 1859, also in the spurs of the Sierra Nevada, west of Carson City. J. Ross Browne, United States Commissioner of Mining Statistics in 1868, says: " The Clear Creek District in 1859 and 1860 was the scene of much excitement and activity. Extensive mining grounds were taken up, and prospecting operations initiated. Here a number of long tunnels were afterwards driven, and deep shafts sunk, but none of them availed to reach ore deposits of a remunerative kind, and the district, under an absence of population and an entire cessation of labor for several years, is considered as practically abandoned." Mr. H. H. Bence, Assessor of the county, in his report for 1866 says:—
Near the base of the mountains, three miles west of Carson City, is located the Athens Mine, the rock of which prospects very well in gold and silver. There are other veins of quartz rock in the same vicinity, which, it is said, prospect well, but at present there is no work being done upon them.
Commissioner Browne, in 1868, and State Mineralogist Whitehill, in 1872, say:
In 1860 a fitful interest was awakened in regard to supposed valuable discoveries made in the bald hills southwest of Carson, which, having led to the locating of many claims in that neighborhood, eventuated, soon after, in their total abandonment, since which time nothing further has been done either towards locating or working mines in the district.
The abandonment of the mines of Ormsby appears to have been complete for a number of years; but in 1874, says the State Mineralogist's report for that year, " Mines of gold and silver have also been discovered, which are being worked with vigor at present, and which bid fair to soon become paying properties." He then mentions the North Carson, the Eagle, the Clear Creek Mine and the Niagara, all showing extensive work and good prospects. Following this comes the report of H. H. Bence, County Assessor of Ormsby, dated November 30, 1880, saying:
This county cannot, like many other counties, boast of its extensive mines, and bullion product, but, nevertheless, we have some prospective mines. The Voltaire Mine, belonging to the Voltaire Mining Company, is situated about five miles southwest of Carson City in a spur of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, bearing easterly from the main range, and is a property that gives fair promise of success. The ore vein of this mine has an average width of from three to five feet, with fine clay seams next the hanging and foot-walls, the formation of the foot-wall being granite, and that of the hanging-wall, gneiss. The course of the vein is nearly northeast and southwest, magnetic meridian, and has a dip to the southeast of about forty-five degrees from the horizon. The ore is somewhat base, containing a small percentage of copper and lead, but readily yields to the roasting process. Some small lots of the ore worked have yielded as high at $200 per ton. The owners have lately shipped a number of tons of this ore to San Francisco for reduction or sale. The company have built a house over their shaft, and hoist the ore by horse-power, and have the mine well opened for working, and are constantly taking out ore, as well as making further developments on their vein.
SULLIVAN DISTRICT was the result of the excitement of 1859-60. This district lies in the Pine Nut Mountains east of the Carson River, and was organized in the early part of 1860. The croppings showed the existence of free gold, and this most pleased the inexperienced miners from California.
The first locations in this district had been made quite early in the winter, and large tales of their richness were told in Carson, when the snow covered them and they were deemed inaccessible. As an evidence of the excitement and means used for speculating upon it this incident is related: At that time Mr. Eugene Angel then a resident of Carson,
538 HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA.
had in his possession a beautiful mineralogical specimen from the copper mines of Lake Superior. This specimen contained quartz, native copper and native silver. For this and the claims he held he was offered a large sum in cash and a guarantee of $50,000, to be paid upon reaching San Francisco, if he would represent the specimen as coming from his mines in Sullivan District. He resented the proposition and the specimen was exhibited freely under its true character.
The Indian War in May, and the great panic following the defeat of Major Ormsby's party near Pyramid Lake, put a stop to all mining operations, as is shown by the following, published in the Territorial Enterprise of Carson City, May 19, 1860:
MEETING IN SULLIVAN DISTRICT.
At a meeting held by the miners of Sullivan District, on the fourteenth day of May, 1860, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
WHEREAS, Reliable information has been received from Mr. J. J. Webster of the existence of Indian hostilities in this vicinity, and the miners of this district being entirely destitute of arms for their defense; therefore be it
Resolved, That labor may be suspended on all claims in the district for two months from this date, or until said hostilities cease, and that no forfeiture of claims shall take place in consequence of said cessation of labor.
Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Territorial Enterprise.
JOHN DAY, President.
J. M. Jones, Secretary.
After the subsidence of the panic which the merciless character of the massacre bad caused, and which had extended throughout all the mining region of the Territory, and cast a pall over the people of California, then unaccustomed to tales of fierce war and the loss of friends in battle, work was resumed in this district as elsewhere. J. Wells Kelly, in his first Directory of Nevada, in 1862, says:
In Sullivan District, a great number of ledges were located, and considerable work done in the summer and fall of 1860, but not turning out as well as was expected, the whole, with the exception of some half-dozen claims, was subsequently abandoned. Work is still being done on the Bullion, Hatfield, Phoenix, and one or two others, from which some good gold-bearing rock has been obtained. At the period mentioned over 100 men were at work in this district, at present there are not more than eight or ten. Placer mines also exist in that section, which would pay fair wages with water for working them, but this being almost wholly wanting, little can be done. For a few weeks, while the water lasted, some twenty men made half an ounce a day, each working surface diggings at Onion Valley, in this district. There are other points where equally good prospects can be had, but there is no water.
The County Assessor, Mr. H. H. Bence, in his report for 1866, says of this district:
Lately, copper ore was discovered on the east side of Carson River, about six miles from Carson City, which, I have been informed, assays from forty to sixty per cent. of copper; but, as yet, there been nothing done to indicate the extent of a ledge.
There is also in the same vicinity a gold and silver-bearing ledge, known as the " Wood Chopper Ledge," which prospects extremely well and is about twelve feet wide, but, like all others, remains undeveloped for want of capital.
The Surveyor General, R. H. Stretch, in his report for 1866, in referring to this district, says:--
Iron and copper ores are abundant. About two years ago there was considerable excitement about reported discoveries of coal in El Dorado Cañon. Considerable work was done on the Newcastle Company's location, and a depot established in Virginia for the sale of the coal, which was of a dull, black color, and shaly in its appearance, being an inferior lignite, probably of the Triassic age; but work has been suspended for many months. The deposit is not likely to be of permanent value. An attempt is now being made to utilize the copper ores of this section in the manufacture of sulphate of copper, an article of great importance in the milling operations of our State. The absence of any large percentage of iron in the copper ores of some of the deposits near Carson River makes them suitable for this purpose.
The State Mineralogist, Rev. A. F. White, in his report for 1868, says:
There are no mines worked in this county. In El Dorado Cañon a bed of lignite was worked for a time for coal, but has been abandoned. In the northern part of the mountains near the line of the county, copper and iron ores have been found in large quantities. These mountains present a variety of geological formations, among the most prominent of which are basalt, trachyte, and transition slate.
J. Ross Browne, in his report to Congress in 1868 upon the mineral resources, says of this district:
Another drawback upon the success of these mines was at that time experienced in the absence of mills for working the ores, which were, therefore, unavailable, compelling claim-holders who were without means to suspend work, leaving the problem as to the character and value of these lodes still unsolved.
The same language is used by Mr. Henry R. Whitehill, State Mineralogist, in his report for 1872, showing that the same state of things as previously reported continued to exist.
ARGENTINE DISTRICT was located in the summer of 1859, lying in the range of mountains to the east of Washoe Valley, and west of Virginia, and immediately north of Eagle Valley, in which Carson City is situated. Like all other mining localities at that early day this had its enthusiastic prospectors and ponderous companies. A record of one of these is furnished by the Territorial Enterprise of May 19, 1860, from which is taken the following list of incorporators:
A. F. Chapman, M. Bankhead, William N. Bank-head, R. F. Cahill, R. C. McKenzie, J. Drake, R. Neasham, S. I. Hill, A. J. Rutledge, J. P. Sharp, D. Lowrie, M. W. Lusk, J. S. Coffee, S. E. Lewis, R. K. Steele, J. P. Pettigrew, M. H. Spencer, William C. Taylor, Henry Jones, John T. Ward, D. Marshall, J. Williams.
HISTORY OF ORMSBY COUNTY. 539
Mr. R. H. Stretch, State Mineralogist in 1866, gives the farewell to the mines of Argentine District. He says:
They lie chiefly in the granite, the gangue being a glassy quartz, in some instances carrying iron pyrites, and stained black with other compounds of iron, assaying small quantities of gold. The mines are not likely to prove of much value.
The development of the mines discovered in 1859-60 required at once the construction of mills for the reduction of the ores. The first ore extracted was from the Mexican and Ophir claims at Virginia City, and this was packed on mules over the Sierra Nevada to California, some to Grass Valley, and some to San Francisco for reduction, a small portion being reduced in arastras near the mines. This ore being very rich, one mule carrying $2,000 worth, it was a good enough way of transporting the bullion to market. But there was other ore in the mines not so near pure silver, and this required reducing nearer home. For this purpose the first thought was power, and the Carson River seemed to offer it in abundance. This stream was about fifteen miles distant, and there at once the enterprising owners of the mines directed their energies.
A small mill was first constructed near Empire City in the spring of 1860, which was subsequently enlarged as the Mexican Mill, or the Silver State Reduction Works. The building of mills once entered upon, the business increased with wonderful rapidity.
In 1861 a mill was built in Clear Creek District and run by water-power from Clear Creek. In the same year a man named Ashe built a mill in Gregory's Cañon, which afterwards took the name of Ashe's Cañon. This mill was destroyed by a flood in the winter of 1861-62 which was so powerful that it reduced the level of the cañon fourteen feet. Shortly afterwards the mill of Childs & Hunt was built on Mill Creek five miles north of Carson City, driven by water from the Creek. This had ten stamps and crushed from eight to ten tons per day, according to the quality of the work. The mill was running in 1863. The Silver State Mill, which is the common appellation for the Silver State Reduction Works, was built in 1861, one-half mile south of Empire City on the east bank of the Carson. The motive power was water brought from the river through a ditch four and a half miles in length, ten feet wide on top, four feet on the bottom and four and one-half feet deep, having a capacity to supply 4,000 cubic feet per minute. In 1861, this mill had twelve stamps and was capable of reducing twelve tons of ore per day of twenty-four hours, cost, including ditch, $25,000. J. M. Davis was then Superintendent. This was greatly enlarged in 1862, at which time the following description is given of it, and of the method of reducing ore, in " Kelly's Directory of Nevada Territory for 1863."
The mill is driven by water acting on a breast wheel twenty-eight feet in diameter, and an outside breadth of twenty-six feet, being the largest water wheel on the Pacific Coast, furnishing about two-hundred horse power. The fall of water is twenty-two feet. There are now forty-four stamps working, running with an average speed of seventy-five blows per minute, and the amount of rock crushed averages from seventy to seventy-five tons daily-this being more than double the amount crushed by any other mill in the Territory. Twenty-eight of these stamps are employed constantly on ore from the Mexican Mine, Virginia City, from which place the ore is freighted in sacks. The remainder on custom work.
The plan adopted in working the ore differs from what is elsewhere in use, inasmuch as it is a combination of two distinct processes—that of simple amalgamation, and the Barrel Process. The ore is crushed wet, and flows through "Brevoort Grinders," to convert it into as fine a state of division as possible, and thence through a series of twelve Mitchell's Amalgamators, in which the pulp, by means of copper screws, is forced through a mass of quicksilver, for a total length of one hundred and forty-four feet. From the last amalgamator the pulp flows into agitators, in which are gathered all particles of quicksilver or amalgam that may have escaped from the amalgamators with the pulp. From the agitators the pulp then flows into vats, where it is allowed to settle, in order that as little as possible of the sulphurets of silver may escape.
The ore has now been deprived of all its gold and free silver, and there remain but the sulphurets of silver, with sulphurets of copper and other base metals. The ore is then taken from the vats, spread out upon a drying floor, deprived of its moisture, carried thence by machinery to a grinder, where all the lumps that may have been formed are destroyed.
The salt that is necessary for the roasting is ground at the same time with the ore, thus causing it to be intimately mixed, and in this state it is elevated and carried to hoppers above the furnaces, without the intervention of manual labor. When the furnace (a reverberatory) is ready for a charge, an aperture in the top is uncovered and the ore shoveled in and spread out equally upon the bed or hearth of the furnace, and then roasted and stirred for such a length of time as the nature and quality of the ore demand.
As soon as the sulphurets of silver are converted into chlorides (the result of the action of salt upon heated sulphurets) the ore is drawn from the furnaces, cooled, and then carried by means of a belt and elevator to the dust chamber, immediately above the barrels.
The furnace shed is 187 feet long by 40 feet broad, and is intended for six furnaces, four of which are now in use. The draught necessary for the fires is created by a large chimney 12x12 feet at the base, and tapering to a height of eighty feet. The chimney is connected with the flues of the furnaces by means of a main flue passing underground, along the entire length of the shed. The flues of the retorting and smelting furnaces are also connected with the main flue, and thus the possibility of an accidental fire is entirely avoided. Near the base of the chimney are condensing chambers, in which are caught such particles of silver as may be carried off from the furnaces by volatilization or otherwise.
The ore having been deposited in the dust-room, is now ready for the barrels. This portion of the mill is 58x40 feet, and thirty-one feet high, and divided into three stories,viz.: the basement, barrel and dust-room. In the dust-room the ore is bolted, preparatory to being charged in the barrels. The barrel-room is fitted
540 HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA.
up for twenty barrels, each capable of working from two to two and a half tons per day; only fifteen of these are now in use. The barrel is charged with a quantity of ore, water, iron and quicksilver, and then made to revolve until, by a test, it is ascertained that all the silver has been extracted. The amalgam and quicksilver are now drawn off, and then the ore washed out of the barrels into a series of agitators, in which all escaping particles of amalgam are caught. In the basement, the salt and ore are ground up together, and space reserved for experimental researches.
The above description refers chiefly to the mode of working the ore from the Mexican Mine. In the custom department the ore is treated differently. Here a series of twelve Hepburn's pans are employed, and the pulp flows into them directly from the battery. No one system is adopted for all ores; but each kind is first thoroughly tested and then treated according to its contents.
The crushing and amalgamating part of the mill (comprising the stamps, pans, amalgamators, etc.,) is contained in a building 186 feet long by 90 feet broad. The total length of the entire mill is 450 feet. The line shaft is driven by two pinions, which gear directly with spur-wheels fitted in segments upon each outer shrouding of the water-wheel. So true are these segments placed (each spur-wheel consisting of twenty-seven) that not the slightest jar is perceptible. All of the machinery is of the most solid description.
The mill has been running for nine months, and not a single stop has occurred by reason of breakage. The millwright is Mr. Isaac Railey. The wood which is consumed at this mill is cut on a wood ranch owned by the company, and situated at the head of the ditch, down which it is floated to the mill.
Another feature of this mill is the completeness of the assay office. This is a fire-proof, brick building, 20x40 feet, erected between the barrel building and the furnace shed. The assay office occupies the entire basement of this building. All the bullion produced by the mill is here smelted and stamped ready for market: Daily assays are made to ascertain the working of the mill in its various departments. A chemical laboratory is also connected with the assay office. Quite an extensive assaying business is carried on here independent of that of the mill. In the upper story of the same building is the office of the mill. The windows and doors of this office open directly upon the various departments of the mill, and thus a constant supervision is exercised. Mr. E. B. Dorsey is Superintendent.
This is locally known as the Mexican Mill, having at latest dates forty-four stamps, twenty pans, ten settlers, and a capacity for reducing 120 tons of ore per day. The power is now given by a Turbine wheel.
Mead's Mill was constructed in 1861, about the same time as the Silver State, and was run by water: from the same ditch. It was located at Empire City, had sixteen stamps, ten stone pans in the amalgamating department, employed twelve men and reduced twenty tons of ore per day. The mill building was 46x56 feet in dimensions on the ground and cost, including bringing in the water, $25,000.
Two miles below Empire City was built, in 1861-62, the Merrimac Mill, by Messrs. Bryant, Ellsworth & Co., at a cost of $50,000. In 1863 it was owned by Messrs. A. M. & S. R. Ellsworth, and run under the superintendence of the latter. The machinery was propelled by water brought from the Carson in a ditch 2,100 feet in length, fourteen feet in width and four feet in depth, the dam at the head being regarded at that time as one of the most substantial on the river. The head of water at the mill was twenty feet, acting on a center discharge wheel, and creating eighty-horse power. The building was 100 feet in length by seventy in width, containing sixteen stamps, of 750 pounds each, and, running day and night, crushed thirty tons of ore every twenty-four hours. The " Hatch process " was used, which was regarded with great favor. The machinery was made at the foundry of H. J. Booth & Co., of Marysville, California. The locality of this mill is now designated as Merrimac Station, on the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. It has increased its power by improved machinery, and is able to crush fifty tons of ore per day.
One mile further down the river was, in 1862, the Copper Cañon Mill, owned by Van Vleet, Tucker, Moor, Kendrick and Clark, owners of the " Yellow Jacket Claim on the Gold Hill Ledge," as the writers of those days express it, crushing rock from that mine, and superintended by Mr. Henry Shadel. The Copper Cañon Mill was run by water brought from the Carson in a ditch, 600 feet in length, operating on a center discharge wheel, six and a half feet in diameter, giving motion to ten stamps, crushing fifteen tons of ore per day. The mill cost $15,000, the building being sixty feet in length by forty in width.
The Vivian Mill, owned by Sperry & Co., in 1862, was a short distance below the Copper Cañon, contained sixteen stamps, employed twelve men and crushed twenty-five tons of ore per day. The power was water brought from the Carson River through a ditch and flume 1,100 feet long and twelve and one-half feet head, operating a central discharge Turbine wheel seven and one-half feet in diameter. The dam at the head of the flume was constructed of stone, very substantial, and the water supply was sufficient for double the stamps used. In 1863 this mill was owned by E. Kuhling & Co., and was superintended by Mr. C. B. Barstow. Subsequently a Leffel Turbine wheel of fifty-six inches diameter was placed in the mill, affording ninety-horse power and capable of reducing forty tons per day.
One-quarter of a mile below the last mentioned, in 1862, Messrs. Wm. M. Stewart, John Henning, Jas. Morgan and C. F. Wood built a mill containing twelve stamps, with which thirty tons of ore were crushed every twenty-four hours. The power was water brought from the Carson in a canal fifteen feet wide and half a mile in length, operating under a pressure of twenty-one feet head a Turbine wheel seven feet in diameter and weighing 7,000 pounds,
HISTORY OF ORMSBY COUNTY. 541