Carson 1860-64:’A number of strangers in our streets’
Special to the Appeal
Meandering through old newspapers at the Nevada State Library is an acquired taste. It became normal to me when I would take my father down to do his Past Pages column at the library over the past few years. He would tell me that I need not continue writing the column if I did not wish to, but doing this column has given me an enduring link to my father.
This week features a broken chain of issues from 1860 through 1864. The Nevada Appeal did not start publishing until 1865. Next week we’ll begin with the first editions of the Nevada Appeal.
Live and Let Live
Live and Let Live. – On or after this date, we will be obliged to charge for the printing of Mining Laws, Notices, & Etc., in our paper. It costs the printer something to live this cold winter, not to mention the cost of keeping warm; and we believe a generous public would not have them work for nothing.
Again the Territorial Enterprise was in transition in 1860. The early days of Genoa were becoming a memory and the Virginia City money making machine was becoming reality. Carson City was becoming a capitol as Western Utah began to break from Mormon morals. The question rising was if the territory would allow the Chinese in, since they did not like to work in the tunnels.
Secret societies, including the E.C.V’s The Elete Circle of Virginia, with secret signs and passwords, began to grow on the street. Winnemucca Lodge #1 is started.
The Enterprise office moved again to a building across from the St. Charles Hotel. In an editorial entitled “Affairs at Virginia City,” J. Williams called for a “more permanent era to be inaugurated.”
Ever since the discovery of rich ore, there has gathered “every manner of unprincipled men.” The real bone and sinew of every country had been replaced by morally bankrupt men who return to California to spend their “ill gotten gains in riotous living.” Lying and misrepresentation has succeeded in palming off an infinite amount of worthless property.
The Enterprise Moves to Virginia City
The Daily Territorial Enterprise then moved to Virginia City. It had ambitions of becoming much more widely read. In this November, 1860, issue is a column by Dan DeQuille, called “Quill Drops,” a commentary on Silver City, “being descriptive of our city and the people thereof.”
“When you see Silver City, you don’t see a city on ‘seven hills,’ but a town on one gutter, as the canon along which it straggles might be politically termed. As far as our architecture, I don’t know that the style affected could justly be spoken of as the “Tudor;” yet the majority of our buildings lack a mere trifle of it – they have one door. Our climate is one thing in our favor; it has always been noted for its warmth, but the heat from the furnaces of the immense number of steam mills has raised the temperature to such a degree that no snow can lay on any of the range hills during winter.”
Silver City has become a mass of small buildings put where there are no claims being dug, hooped women of the creme de la creme of society walking in the winter. Pi-Ute women have taken the lead in fashion, wearing speckled stockings, and nothing else. The sloppy weather has effectively quelled outdoor amusements and fashionable ladies have organized a “Mutual Disgust Society,” where they meet to make mouths of each other.
Many New People
The new telegraph line is being pushed to Salt Lake City in July of 1861. The first overland stage has arrived in Carson City, loaded with 2,100 pounds of mail and one passenger. The first mail was taken to Virginia City on Billy Wilson’s coach. The editor calls for the election of unconditional union men. In every issue is mention of the weather, or the inability to control it, or the way it changes at a moment’s notice. There is a survey underway for a railroad through Nevada.
“STRANGERS – We notice quite a number of strangers in our streets. The arrival of the Governor, and the prospect of having a permanent government, seems to give confidence abroad. We hear, already of quite a number of San Francisco capitalists proposing to invest in our Territory.”
“Shooting Affray. – On Monday afternoon last week, Jack Williams, Deputy Marshal, shot a man named Butler three times, inflicting three dangerous but not mortal wounds. It appears that Butler, who had been intoxicated most of the day, and brandishing his pistol among the crowd assembled to welcome the Governor, had his pistol taken away by Williams, who placed it behind the bar of Whipple’s Saloon, Some officious friend obtained the pistol and restored it to Butler … Williams fired three shots at him, each taking effect.”
With the move of the Territorial Enterprise, newspaper accounts of the daily affairs of Carson and surrounding areas pretty much disappear from the newspaper records at the Nevada State Library. The next newspaper, the Carson Daily Independent, begins some two years later and only appears briefly. The Enterprise has changed to represent a much wider more metropolitan audience, more concerned with the state of the nation than local matters.
In December of 1863 during the constitutional convention, the Independent reports that the question of the Capital (sic) is in question.
“We regret, very much that the constitutional convention has seen fit, in its wisdom, to leave the matter of the Capital of Nevada an open question for five years to come.”
There are to be no buildings built for the Convention or to house officers. There is, however, a letter to the editor complaining of the name of that big lake up there and whether to keep it Lake Bigler, or to change to Lake Tahoe.
On June 4, 1864, the Daily Independent carried a story on a fishing and hunting excursion to Lake Bigler (Lake Tahoe), the shooting of some six to eight dogs after a boy was bitten walking through Chinatown, and the imminent arrival of The Curry Engine.
• Trent Dolan is the son of Bill Dolan, who wrote a column for the Nevada Appeal from 1947 until his death in 2006.