An editor and his wife draw first impressions of the capital

It is now May 1865. Henry Rust Mighels has been offered a position as editor with the Carson Morning Appeal. Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated April 15, 1865, and Andrew Johnson is now President of the United States. The people of the country are in mourning.

Yet life goes on. Nevada is a new state in the union and continues to grow. A new editor is coming to Carson.

Henry Rust Mighels fought in the Civil War and was wounded at the battle at Antietam. He was unable to continue his military services because of the wounds and accepted the job with the Carson Morning Appeal as editor.

The Appeal is new in Carson City. In an article prior to H. R. Mighels' appearance, Robinson, the Appeal editor writes:

We have the pleasure to state that we have secured the editorial services of H. R. Mighels, Esq., favorably known to many of our readers as former editor of the Marysville Appeal. He wields a polished and trenchant pen, and acquired an enviable reputation in the conduct of that paper. He is expected the present week, and will shortly enter upon the discharge of his duties; and we confidently expect under his able and judicious management, that the Appeal will rank second to no paper in the State. But for the rest, let the future speak.

After Henry Rust Mighels arrival May 19, 1865, he writes a column:

To Whom It May Concern: It may well be considered in questionable taste for a public writer, at any time, to present himself individually before his readers ... To be a ready writer and a capable editor, one should continue in constant, studious, industrious practice. A successful practice of the profession admits of no long seasons of absence from the editorial chair. The new editor has written nothing for publication in more than five years. And an overturn of the stage-coach gave him an initial baptism in the oil of the Silver State only night before last. He comes before the public, therefore, with a pen in his hand which has grown rust from long disuse; and an experience in the life of his surroundings, of less than a day ... Hoping that time may inaugurate, in a reasonable degree, that pleasant condition of human contentment which results from a well disposed mutual respect and admiration between the editor and the good people of Carson, in particular, and the public of Nevada in general, and begging the acceptance of this self introduction in the spirit in which it is offered, the writer offers the opening of what he trusts may be an agreeable and profitable acquaintance. H.R. Mighels

Henry made Carson City his home. He wrote about his adventures in Nevada to his bride-to-be in a letter dated May 28, 1865:

Dear Nellie, You will see by the date of this that I am already in my new home in "Silverland." My last letter to you was written on the day after I left San Francisco to come here. The last of my tedious journey was 24 hours of which I passed on the outside of a stagecoach. This place is the state capitol. The Governor and the officers live here. I stay with the State Controller. He is one of my earliest California friends. His name is Nightingfill and is one of the Pioneers of the state. I lend him character by sleeping with him. The name of my paper is the Carson Daily Appeal. It was named after the Marysville Appeal, a paper I started in 1860 and left just before going home this year ... I seem destined to identification with the state. Perhaps I am helping the Star of Empire in its westward course. This place is situated just at the foot of the Eastern Slope of the Sierra Nevada ... The mountains are wonderfully rich in silver and copper. Gold is not found in rich abundance. The silver diggings are about Virginia City, the principle place of business in the state, 15 miles hence. I have not been there yet. How would you like to make Carson a temporary dwelling place? I wish you were here Nellie. I could feel contented if you were here; as it is I am all the time longing to be back in Maine. God bless you darling. Remember me kindly to your brothers and Emma and Hattie, Yours affectionately, Harry R. Mighels.

- Letters to Nellie Verrill from H. R. Mighels Special Collections, UNR.

He sent for his bride who was brought to Nevada from Maine by State Treasurer Rhoades who was traveling to the east on government business. The Appeal says: Arrived in New York - A dispatch came yesterday from State Treasurer Rhoades announcing his arrival in New York on the 1st inst. It seems he made the trip in 21 days.

Henry had sent money for Nellie's travel, but didn't want her coming alone. Upon Nellie's entrance into Carson City, she tells a story:

"My western trip was very interesting. I started from a small town in Maine ... and came to San Francisco by way of Panama. The hurry and bustle of the West was entirely different from the quiet, easy life in Maine. The trip from San Francisco to Sacramento was made by boat, and from there to Placerville by small stagecoach. From Placerville over the mountains to Carson was the most interesting part of the journey for we traveled all the way in the large six horse coach called a Concord Coach. These coaches made exactly ten miles in an hour, and every ten miles there was a little station where the horses were changed. I came over the mountains with Hank Monk, one of the most famous stage-drivers of the early West. We became quite good friends during the trip because I wanted to ride on top of the coach, which in those days was something unusual for a woman to attempt ... My first sight of Carson made me think of a little toy village, with its tiny one-story houses and its few trees. Looking down, it appeared to me like a doll town and I wondered at the time why the houses were built so small and squat, but I afterward learned that the houses made only one story high on account of strong winds ... humorously christened "Washoe Zephyrs." On arriving in Carson I was surprised to see cattle, horses, and pigs, wandering about the streets ... Though Carson was not a very large town, it was surprisingly busy and wide awake, due to the amount of freighting that went on with 14 and 16 mule teams. The driver rode one of the mules and guided the whole team with this one line attached to the lead horse. Every team had a set of bells and the musical jingling made a lovely sound at night ...

- from Nevada Historical Society, Women's Federation Essay Contest, interviewed by Jack Myles, 1928.

Mighels stayed with the Appeal until September of 1879 when he died of his Civil War wounds. He left a wife and four children. Before his death he wrote a book called, "Sagebrush Leaves" to pay the debt owed for purchase of the Appeal. He dedicated the book to Nellie: "I dedicate this book, with due deliberation, to that very accessible compositor. Thirteen years ago (come August) that printer and this writer became partners for better and for worse, by the help of Rev. Dr. Stebbins; and so the domestic nature of our work, as also the propriety of this dedication become apparent to the reader."

His wife, and co-editor of the newspaper, carried on with the Appeal after Henry's death. Nellie later married Samuel Post Davis, who came to work as editor of the Appeal in 1879. The paper remained in the Mighels/Davis family until about 1945 when Nellie Mighels Davis passed away. She was 101.

• Sue Ballew is the daughter of Bill Dolan, who wrote the Past Pages column for the Nevada Appeal from 1947 until his death in 2006. She is president of the Carson City Historical Society and a docent at the Nevada State Museum.


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