A few months ago, there was some discussion about Treadway Park, (located behind the old Carson Tahoe Hospital at 775 Fleischman Way in Carson City) so I contacted Pete Livermore who has been trying to save the Park for Carson City. Pete said, "We need to honor Treadway and his Park. It's part of our Carson City history. He was one of the first pioneers in Carson and did so much for our community."
During my research I also called Guy Rocha, who had written an article about the oldest tree in Carson City as part of his Historical Myth a Month series, "Carson City's Oldest Tree," in which he says "in all probability, there were few, if any cottonwoods in the middle of Eagle Valley until Aaron D. 'Farmer' Treadway planted scores of trees on his ranch beginning in the 1860's." That tree is still on Washington Street, once the boundary of Aaron D, Treadway's property. According to Guy Rocha, the cottonwood is indigenous to this area, but that Farmer Treadway planted a lot of the cottonwoods, and some are still there in Treadway Park as it exists today.
What follows is a report about Treadway Park, the oldest Park in Carson City, and about the pioneer who lived here until the early 1900's when he passed away. He was one of the longest-living pioneers in our city.
The park was originated by Treadway in about 1861 as a private park, but open to the public. We had no public parks at that time.
He was born in Middletown, Conn., on March 1, 1815. He apprenticed to a brick mason at the age of 16 and then went to Georgia in 1835. He was 20 years old at the time. He was in Illinois until 1847 when he became First Lieutenant of Company I, Fifth Illinois Regimen, to the Mexican War. According to Myron Angel's History of Nevada, he was discharged in Illinois in 1848. He heard the call to the goldfields in 1849 and like many others went to California and stayed at Sutter's Mill.
In 1859 he came to Washoe, Nevada. According to the Reno Evening Gazette July 18, 1880, "Dave McFarlane spent yesterday in Carson, and was the guest of Farmer Treadway, who won his heart by his hospitality. Dave says Mr. Treadway's orchard is very fine, and the yield this year will be large in all but peaches, which were killed by the frost. The pear, apple and plum trees are loaded with fruit, and the only drawback to Dave's happiness was that nothing was ripe. He didn't dare eat green fruit for fear of getting 'a pain across him.' The orchard covers ten acres, and is nineteen years old." This article dates the farm back to 1861. Nevada was still a territory until 1864.
According to the Carson City Assessors rolls of 1866, Farmer Treadway (Uncle Tred) as he was called had quite a few acres: "Possessing claim to 300 acres of land (timber) situated about 3 miles west of Carson City, the same being enclosed by a brush fence ... 10 acres of land situated within the limits of Carson City, together with the dwelling house and other improvements ... situated north of and adjoining Washington Street ... 110 acres of land bounded on the east by the fire limits of Carson City." He also had stock and equipment. "Also personal property valued and assessed as follows: Household furniture and one piano $500, 4 wagons, $200, 3 horses $150, 26 work oxen, $800, 2 milk cows $80, 8 hogs $50, 15 tons of hay and implements of husbandry ..." All of this he had to pay taxes on. Not reported on the tax rolls for 1866 were some catfish added later. The Reno Evening Gazette reports in the paper of July 1879, "Some time last winter Fish Commissioner Parker presented Farmer Treadway with several young catfish, which the latter placed on the reservoir on his ranch. Occasionally he would feed them and the farmer thought that they would die. For a long while he paid no attention to them, until yesterday, when he looked into the reservoir he found the water alive with little pollywogs. Upon a closer examination it was found that the catfish did not die but had spawned, the result of which will be thousands of young catfish. Farmer Treadway is now in a quandary how to save the fish, but will vouch that he'll manage it someway."
Farmer Treadway was known to most likely thousands of people because he owned the park. It is said that he was a " ... a genial soul and quite a character in his way, that makes him a prominent figure, and which he would have been in any walk in life, had fate cast his lot elsewhere." People also remembered him for his "quaint expressions." He was characterized as being a little different in his own way, but people loved him. "He is fond of his toddy, but seldom if ever drinks enough to hurt him or rattle his brain. The reason perhaps is that he drinks a little water both before and after the whiskey. ... Once asked him why he always drank water before the whiskey and he answered: 'Well, my son, you see if I happen to get hold of shiftless whiskey I have it well entertained.' (9-30-1891 Reno Evening Gazette)
During Farmer Treadway's lifetime, people came to his park from Virginia City, Reno and Carson - anywhere the Virginia and Truckee Railroad made a stop. In July of 1881, "The Reno Athletic Club will turn out in force on July 10th. Handsome prizes are offered the successful gladiators, and a strong, athletic time is expected ... the jollification will take place at Treadway's Park."
Others using the park for celebration included the Pacific Coast Pioneers and the Virginia, Carson and Reno Turn Verein. Each day was filled with a Club or organization. Treadway and his Park was the most popular place to be in the summer months.
In 1898 Treadway Park was the location of Camp Clark. Our president at that time was McKinley, and the United States was in a four-month long Spanish-American War. About 603 Nevadans were recruited for that war. Troops in Carson City were first at Camp Sadler, site of the racetrack at the outskirts of town. Soldiers complained that it was crowded and hot. The racetrack owner wanted to train horses there instead of housing the troops so Governor Colcord made arrangements so that the troops could be moved to Treadway Park. They found the accommodations to their liking. According to the article written by John Clark of the Nevada Appeal on March 29, 1898, "The infantry troops were all mustered-out of the service by late October 1898, without every having left Carson City."
The Carson City news reported on Jan. 30, 1903, that "Farmer" Treadway had passed away. He died at his home on the outskirts of Carson City "after a long life of usefulness." He left few survivors. There was a large family of relatives in New York and two nieces, one of whom lived in Carson City, Mrs. Dow and Mrs. Grace Wasson, of San Francisco. Farmer Treadway had married later in life to the wife of his deceased brother, but they had no children.
Treadway left a tremendous legacy. Though a little less of an acre of his park remains, he deserves "a page in the history of Nevada" and Carson City - and a park to remain in his memory.
• 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 past president of the Carson City Historical Society.