Carson in 1878: Progress, shootings and celebration

Nevada Historical Society A postcard featuring the Ormsby House is pictured. The house was widely known throughout the region in the 1870s.

Nevada Historical Society A postcard featuring the Ormsby House is pictured. The house was widely known throughout the region in the 1870s.

The Nevada Appeal in 1878 was not like it is today. The front page of the Morning Appeal was all advertisements, most which never changed day to day. Some kind of literary comment appeared on page two. Page three was for local news, or what would be conceived as local or concerning the general area. Some news was actually an advertisement without a box. Editors served as reporters and also as receptionists. News traveled quickly into the Appeal office by foot or by telegraph.

In June of 1878, Carson City was preparing for the 4th of July. The race track was being rebuilt, Old Winnemucca, war chief of the Piutes, had sent for Naches to meet him at Fort McDermit as a prelude to the Bannock Indian Wars, The Ormsby House had moved and reopened, and Albert Hayden Adams, loved Nevada Appeal carrier, was dead.

Jewett W. Adams (not related), then Nevada's Lieutenant Governor, was sent by Gov. Bradley to Tuscarora with arms to protect the northern border from raiding Indians.

Along the way, reports were coming in from Elko to Duck Valley of residents and Lt. Gov. Adams organizing residents to fight.

The Bannock Indians, facing starvation on the Fort Hall Reservation, began raiding white settlers' farms in southwestern Idaho in 1878. Sarah Winnemucca, doing her part for Old Chief Winnemucca, went to act as an arbitrator in the war, narrowly escaping with her life. The dispute ended when 140 of the natives were killed at Charles Ford, Wyo. Nevada tribes largely kept out of the dispute, according to accounts in the Appeal.

The tragic death of Albert Hayden Adams, 22.

The small circle which has made up the working family of the Morning Appeal printing office has been suddenly and most violently broken. As useful a young life as ever was known in Nevada has been sacrificed. The manner of our faithful carrier's death was as shocking as the deadly assault which took his life was cruel and unexpected. His industry and perseverance were heroic. He was determined not only to learn the printer's art, but to make that the aim and central object of his life. He was bent upon giving his best work and faculties to the help of his widowed mother. He had the moral courage to stand by an early determination to make a man of himself. His sturdy and undemonstrative personal valor and true manliness cost him his life. There is a deep and abiding sorrow for Albert's loss; but in the life that went away so suddenly and serenely there was so much that was sterling and admirable, that our grief for his departure is much assuaged by our admiration for the purity of his aims and purposes and the calm manliness of his walk and work.

Albert was struck by a bullet in the heart in front of his Carson Street home by R. A. Clark, 55, a singing teacher who had resided in Carson some months. Tall and lanky with a peculiar walk, Clark was the point of many rude jests by younger ones. Adams had confronted Clark in front of Adams house after the older gentleman had hit Albert's younger brother with a cane the day before. Both men were armed and drew weapons. Adams fired twice, Clark five times.

At the funeral at St. Peter's Church some 25 vehicles were in the procession led by Mr. Howe's Carson High pupils followed by the junior hose team that runs with the Warren Engine Company - then there was the Carson Guards and a band.

The sentiment which prompted this numerous attendance was that of genuine sympathy - sympathy for the bereaved mother and brothers and sympathy for the quick ending of a pure and brave young life just entering upon the duties and dangers of manhood.

Later, a grand jury failed to indict Clark.

A Grand Celebration

The people of Reno, Silver City, Gold Hill and Virginia City were invited to a grand general demonstration of The Fourth in Carson City. Governor Bradley ordered his staff to take part in the parade. The military was offered free transportation and expenses while here. The Pioneers held their annual picnic at Treadway's ranch. All that plus an independence ball at night promised to make "the Fourth to be a big day in Carson."

Hither and Yon

As you stand on the crossing midway of the street between the Ormsby House and the old Grenige corner and look east, you see looming up over the old race course, the rafters of the new one. We turned our horses into the grounds of the Agricultural society yesterday. We found a busy force of carpenters at work on the said structure. It will present a front of no less than 120 feet in length, the second story being devoted to the customary slanted floor of seats for the sight-seers. These seats are calculated to accommodate as many as 1,000 spectators.

Imagine looking east from the Ormsby House down what was then Warm Springs Road to fields of alfalfa and a rebuilt race track that promised to be very "fast." Imagine standing on the new pine grandstand and looking south to Job's Peak with the snow just about done. To the east were new cottonwoods running down the Warm Springs pike to what is now the prison and the new freeway. A grand time indeed.

Later accounts showed progress on the track, saying several of the racers were in training. Among those recognized were "Batterman," "Illusion," "April Fool," "Bill Hazel," "Kent," and "Read Oak." "Mollie McCarthy," owned by Theodore Winters, was to be brought over in a few days to take part in the races. The field had been flooded and was ready for rolling.

Free Steamer for the fourth.

We have neglected, hitherto to state the fact that the steamer Niagara, Cap't Avery, Master, will make the tour of Lake Bigler on the Fourth of July, free, for the guests at Yank's. We have already called attention to the advertisement of the Ball which is to be held there on the evening of that day. It will be a most charming affair. The contemplated excursion round the Lake will be worth all the cost of the party and will be a most delightful incident of the day's junketing.

All that and you get to ride up on Hank Monk's Stagecoach.

The Ormsby House

When we look back at the old adobe and its inadequate proportions and, bringing it before our mind's eye, compare it with the present Ormsby House we are sure we are a participant in an age of progress. Partici-Pant, we might well have rendered it and then not perpetrated the worst pun in the world. Everywhere you go you hear praises of the Ormsby. And the beauty of it is that there is never any word too much in praise of this excellent public house. Mr. Pantlind is a model landlord. He is the most enterprising of men. Good neighbor, good landlord, good citizen, good Injun. That's the secret of the success of the Ormsby as a candidate for popular favor. If you want an entire suit go to the clothing merchant; but if you want a good tavern, get yourself into Pant's.

All the while during the night was the "mildly meandering airs" of the sounds of the singers rehearsing for the Fourth of July. The Capitol square had reached its zenith in beauty, with the editor remarking a special session should be called every July just to let the Solons see how beautiful the capitol grounds really are.

• Trent Dolan is the son of Bill Dolan, who wrote a column for the Nevada Appeal from 1947 until his death in 2006.

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