He at once went to the mines at Sonora, on foot, being almost penniless, In company with Dr. Ballinger, of Branch County, Michigan, he prospected for a claim, and not being supplied with blankets sufficient for the life he was leading, he contracted a severe cold and was compelled to lay idle at Sonora all winter. In the spring, he bought a claim on Woods Creek, from which he took out enough to pay his doctors bills. In company with Amos Gustin, he left the mines at that place and started for Fresno. When he reached Merced River, he concluded to go to work in a quartz-mill, and was to receive $100 per month, but the man failed and Mr. Nichols got nothing. Soon after he engaged in mining and merchandising on the river, and very soon was well situated from a financial point of view, In May, 1855, he sold his business and returned to Michigan, thence to Iowa, and in the fall of the same year returned to Michigan, and was married to Miss Susan A. Cragin, daughter of Milo and Susan Cragin, of Quincy, Michigan, and with his bride removed to Iowa, settling in Ozark, Jackson County, where he, in connection with an uncle, was engaged in milling and merchandising, for a few months, when Mr. Nichols removed to Hopkinton, Delaware County, and purchased a mill-site and saw-mill, partly constructed, for $5,500, and through the ill-luck of his uncle, lost every dollar. The creditors allowed Mr. Nichol to finish the mill, and he also erected a flouring mill, and by good management and industry cleared the indebtedness on the property. In 1864, Mr. Nichols rented the mills, and again sought the Pacific Coast and located in Honey Lake Valley, California, where he farmed one season, and then removed to Paradise Valley, Humboldt County, Nevada, where he was joined by his wife and daughter, and has since resided. He has held the office of County Commissioner of Humboldt County for four years, and was also Justice of the Peace two years. Their daughter, Hattie Josephine, is married and living in the valley.
WILLIAM A. SPERRY
Is a native of the State of Connecticut, born in the town of Derby, December 18, 1840. At the age of eleven years he went to Illinois and engaged in farming. As youth ripened into manhood he desired a wider field for his labors, and at the age of twenty-two years sailed on the ship Northern Light to the Isthmus of Panama, and from there came to San Francisco, California, in the steamer Golden Gate. Unlike nearly all new arrivals, he did not seek the mines as his first occupation, but going into the Sacramento Valley he pursued the same business he had followed in his Illinois home. After two years as a farmer he went to Dutch Flat, Placer County, and commenced mining, where he stayed about one year. From there he went to Summit Valley, thence to Bear Valley, thence to Meadow Lake, and finally arrived at Dutch Flat again. Having traveled rather extensively through
California, he came to Nevada, and for a period of three months was located at Gravelly Ford. He then came to Paradise Valley, Humboldt County, and was there about the same length of time, when he went to White Pine, and for two years was engaged in quartz mining. He then came back to Paradise Valley, and taking up some Government land settled down as a tiller of the soil, where he has since resided. In 1873 he built a fine house, and has a well-appointed farm. In January, 1879, he was married to Lena E. Wilder, of Athens, Michigan.
Is a native of Germany, the country to which the United States is so largely indebted for the steady, industrious emigration which has done so much to make the wilderness blossom like the rose. He came to the United States in 1854, making his first halt at Cincinnati, in Ohio, where he engaged in coopering for five years. The reports of fortunes easily made in California swept him off his moorings, and the summer of 1859 found him on his way to the farthest West. He worked for two years in the mines in Trinity and Shasta counties, and then three more at farming. Having accumulated a considerable sum by his industry, and desiring to try the world for himself, he purchased an ox-team and went to freighting between California and Nevada, and made his way into Paradise Valley among the first. His experience there will be found more fully related in connection with the history of the Indian difficulties in 1863-64-65-66. He also mined at Silver City, Idaho, during the years 1864-65, visiting California during the time. In the fall of 1866 he came to Paradise again, and located the farm upon which he has since lived, in company with G. H. Carroll. His adventures and hair-breadth escapes during these years will be a source of interest as long as people shall be interested in frontier tales,
QUEEN CITY was one of the prospective rivals of Paradise City, It was built, or rather the name was given to a cluster of buildings on Martins Creek, at the time of the building of the Paradise Quartz Mills, in 1874. At the closing down of the mills most of the population left. In 1879 it contained about 100 inhabitants, but being situated in a cañon in a rather inaccessible place, it did not long prove a rival to Paradise City. It is distant five miles from Paradise, and six miles from Spring City. It has at present eighteen inhabitants; no stores or places of active industry. Letters to persons at this place are sent to Paradise City. The mill (not running) is a ten-stamp mill, dry crushing, with a capacity of ten tons per day, using both steam and water power. It has a roasting furnace (White & Howell) with a capacity of twenty tons. The amount of bullion produced while running was estimated at $235,000.
SPRING CITY is a lively little town, twelve miles northeast of Paradise City. It has a post-office and daily mail, express office, seven saloons, two stores, two hotels, one restaurant, one brewery, one bookstore and other industrial places. It is quite a center, and at the last election, in 1880, cast eighty votes.
STAR CITY was the principal town of the Star District, and is ten miles north of Unionville, the former County Seat, and ten miles south of Mill City. It has an altitude of 3,700 feet, and is situated in a deep cañon, with Star Peak, a lofty mountain which is a landmark for all the region south of the Humboldt, only two miles distant. In 1864-65 it had a population of 1,200, which began leaving during the panic of the following years, until now, but four persons keep guard over the place. It has a Crane Concentrating Mill capable of reducing forty tons of ore in twenty-four hours. The value of all the taxable property in the place is estimated at $10,000. In consequence of the almost utter desertion of the place it has been next to impossible to gather anything of its early history. A full account of the mines has been given under the head of Star District. That 1,200 active men should ever have assembled at any point and remained there three or four years without making materials for an interesting history would be absurd, impossible. The abandoned shafts and tunnels, the holes where the miner had his shanty, the half-ruined chimneys, and the hundreds of trails ramifying in every direction through the cañon, are all that remain to speak of the busy thousand who once hoped to achieve fortunes which should make them respected and happy.
UNIONVILLE has a history of its own, which alone would make a good-sized volume. To condense into a few pages a history which involves so many social, political, and financial features is a piece of vandalism that a true historian is very unwilling to be guilty of, but there seems to be no alternative.
Soon after the discovery of the Comstock Lode, the Indians brought into the camp pieces of ore similar to the rich rock of that lead, and expressed a willingness to conduct white men to the vicinity. Captain Hugo Pfersdorff and J. C. Hannan, with two donkeys loaded with supplies, and four Pah-Ute Indians, started out into the desert of sagebrush, sand plains, and rugged, barren mountains, and on the twelfth day of May, 1861, just as the sun was setting, stood on the top of the ridge overlooking the Buena Vista Valley, or Cañon, as it seems to have been improperly called, for it is rather a valley. The quiet valley, with a clear stream running through it; the great gorge in the mountain range, which towered among the clouds; Star Peak some miles to the north, the summit covered with snow, contrasting with the dark-green of the valleys, were features fit to be limned by a painter, or immortalized in poetry by a Homer or Virgil. Though our prospectors appreciated the scenery, they had come for the silver that was in
the mountains, and lost no time in giving the rocks a thorough examination. They were gratified in finding abundant indications of mineral. Soon after the arrival of the first party of explorers, came Jerry Harmon, W. Strong, C. Lark, S. Montgomery, G. W. Whitney, John Wolliver, D. B. Higgins, A. P. K. Safford, J. C. Fall, Thomas Rutherford, A. W. Nightingill, F. Aires, W. A. Holcomb, George Wortman, C. P. Dietz, G. W. Fox, Wm. H. Claggett, and Sam. Clemens (Mark Twain), all following the trail of the first party, and anxious to share the fortunes which were said to be had for the taking. Within a week from the time the first white men came into the cañon a meeting was called to organize a mining district, S. M. Carter being chosen Chairman; W. Cummings, Secretary. Within a year a town was organized, the first set of officers, or Board of Directors, being R. McBeth, Chas. Kyle, Chris. Lark, James Emory, and John Spencer. J. W. Story was the first Treasurer of the town. The town was originally laid out nearly a mile above the present location by Captain Pfersdorff, who called the place Buena Vista. It is said that, in anticipation of a great population coming, the owner asked extortionate prices for his land; in consequence of which, Chris. Lark, who had taken up a place a mile below, conceived the plan of having a rival town, and by judiciously giving away and selling lots cheap, he turned the tide of settlement to his portion of the valley, 100 houses being put up in a short time,
Whats in a name ? At first the new place, which bad a preponderance of persons sympathizing with the Rebellion, was called Dixie, but in the course of the year a great many Union men came to the place, and July 14, 1861, after much angry discussion and hard feeling, the town was baptized Unionville, and the American flag flung to the breeze amid much rejoicing.
In 1861 there were but three settlements in the county, Unionville, Humboldt City, and Star City, Dun Glen being settled the following season. At the organization of the county, in 1862, the Governor designated Unionville as the county seat, which position it retained until 1873, when it was removed to Winnemucca. Though the population poured rapidly into the Star District very little substantial work was done until 1866, when the Arizona mine was sold by Wm. Graves and Ed. Kelly to Fall and Temple, who organized the Arizona Silver Mining Company, with John C. Fall as Superintendent. It is said that the Arizona Mine has produced $3,500,000 of bullion to date. The Humboldt Register, a lively, six-column paper, was started in May, 1863.
The population of the town, in its best days, is variously estimated from 600 to 1,500. The difference in the estimates is probably caused by the boundaries not being exactly defined, one party basing his estimates on those who actually resided in the compact part of the town, the other including the suburbs many miles in extent. Since 1870 the town and surrounding district has declined considerably in population, the present population being about 200. Unionville is considerably above the level of the basin, which is about 4,000 feet above the ocean, and is pleasantly located in a valley which brings to perfection all kinds of hardy fruits, and good crops of hay and grain. There are now two stores, one saloon, two restaurants, one livery stable, two blacksmith shops, a post-office, a telegraph and express office. The buildings are constructed mainly of wood and adobe, some being of stone, however; there is one church (Methodist Episcopal), built of wood, costing $2,500, and capable of seating 500 persons.
The only mining machinery in the town is a twenty-stamp tailing-mill, capable of working forty tons a day, and a two-stamp prospecting-mill, working one ton a day. The town is supplied with water by a pipe running from the head of the cañon. It is private property. The villages in the vicinity are Rye Patch Station, six miles west over the mountains, Mill City, on the line of the railroad twenty miles away, through which supplies are obtained from Sacramento and San Francisco, Star City, ten miles north, and Vandewater, ten miles south. Wood for fuel is obtained from the surrounding mountains, and is mostly cedar and mahogany. There is no prevailing disease unless a tendency at some seasons of the year to pneumonia may be considered as such. The locality is not subject to floods, and has had but one severe fire, which occurred in August, 1871, burning the express office, Luthers store and Davids shoe shop; the damage being about $5,000.
WINNEMUCCA is situated on the south side of the Humboldt River, 475 miles from San Francisco, 130 miles east from Wadsworth, fifty miles north of Unionville, and forty-two miles southeast from Paradise City. This place was known in 1861 as the French Bridge, or Ford, from its being a noted crossing place. Joseph Ginacca and J. A. Algaur, both now dead, were the owners at that time. The former of these was the originator of the Humboldt Canal, spoken of in another place. The immediate site of the town was formerly a hay ranch, owned by White, Moore & Rule, as early as 1861. The town received its name from C. B. O. Bannon, nephew of the Secretary of the Interior under Lincoln, who wished to perpetuate the name of a famous Indian Chief. Along with Bannon came Milton Shepardson, J. M. Thacker, R. B. Cutler, T. D. Parkinson, and soon after, H. Barnes, N. Levy, W. F. Stephens, and others. W hen the Idaho travel commenced in 1868, a large portion of it found it most convenient to leave the Central Pacific Railroad at this point, and it became a famous stage and teaming center. Its most prosperous period was from 1868 to 1874, when it had a population of some 1,600. In 1872 it got the county seat away from Unionville, being much nearer the center of population than that place,
The present population is about 1,000, with fifteen stores, three hotels, twenty-one saloons, three livery stables, five blacksmith shops, and twelve other places of business not enumerated; telegraph office, post-office, express office, assay office, reduction works, flouring-mill, two churches (Methodist and Presbyterian), two clergymen, two lawyers, six physicians, and one newspaper, the Silver State.
The Humboldt Reduction Works have a smelting furnace and ten-stamp mill. The flouring mill has two run of buhr-stone, and turns out a good quality of flour, enabling the farmers in the vicinity to realize good prices for all their wheat.
The education of the children is attended to, there being two schools with competent teachers.
The Court House is a large and substantial brick structure, with jail and fire-proof vaults, built in 1874, at a cost of $50,000, for which bonds were issued bearing, an annual interest, A county hospital provides a home for the indigent sick.
The Masons and Odd Fellows have strong societies in Winnemucca, as do the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Independent Order of Good Templars. The first two have an inclosed cemetery.
The supplies are obtained at Sacramento and San Francisco, by way of the Central Pacific Railroad. Wood is supplied from the surrounding hills, and is mostly of juniper, or cedar as it is commonly called.
Winnemucca, in consequence of being situated on a line of extensive travel, where persons of all nations and character come in contact, has an extensive record of homicides. These are recorded elsewhere in this work.
Extensive fires occurred in 1870 and 76, destroying considerable property.
The immediate prosperity of the town depends upon the trade to the northern portion of the State and Idaho, and the possession of the county seat. It is quite likely that a railway may be built through the Paradise Valley to Idaho, making Winnemucca a railway center, in which case the town will have a brilliant future.
The valley of the Humboldt is here very broad, and the possibilities of an extensive farming and pastoral region are suggested to the observer. The bottom lands near the river, where the old French Crossing was the town before the railroad came, are already fertile, and other localities, where water has been applied, show the productive qualities of the soil. Should enterprise bring a sufficient quantity of water for general irrigation, either by pipes from the mountains, as at Humboldt House, or by artesian wells, as at Battle Mountain, the whole could be made part of that Paradise Valley that stretches away to the north. Such was the view that Ginacca, the enterprising pioneer of the town, had when he projected the great canal which was to redeem the desert and establish manufactories and towns along its course. But Ginacca has passed away without realizing the dream of his life, but instead, bearing the contumely of devoting a fortune to an impracticable idea. He was acting, simply, in advance of the time. The localities irrigated prove what can be done, and intelligent enterprise will not permit the wide plains and valleys of Nevada to remain the deserts of the savage.
E. Blennerhassett [Portrait]
Is a native of South Carolina, and a grandson of the Blennerhassett of the Ohio, so celebrated in the story of Aaron Burr and his southwestern empire. He served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and came to the State of Nevada, in 1870. He was one of the Democratic Presidential Electors for Tilden, and was also Chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee. Married the only daughter of C. Chenowith, of Winnemucca, Humboldt County. Their union has been blessed with two children.
*Residence legislated into Lander County.
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