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Carson’s founders give way to new generation

Guy Rocha
Special to the Appeal

This is the last of a five-part series on the founders of Carson City, written by State Archivist Guy Rocha. Previous installments can be read at http://www.nevadaappeal.com.

Benjamin Franklin Green’s son-in-law, Frank Proctor, pursued his dreams on the transient mining frontier. He resided briefly in Sacramento in 1862. By the following year, he had interests in Jacobsville in Lander County’s Reese River country. In 1864, Proctor, a resident of Ione City, served as a delegate from Nye County to the second constitutional convention in Carson City. The convention was held in the Ormsby County Courthouse, formerly Abe Curry’s Great Basin Hotel, from July 4 through July 27. Proctor was one of 12 lawyers and the only Democrat among the 35 delegates attending the convention. Representing Nye County, he served in the first three sessions of the State Senate. It was during his residence in central Nevada that he lost his wife, Caroline, and a 3-year-old daughter, both dying of typhoid fever in Placerville at the residence of his father-in-law in August 1866.

Following the completion of the transcontinental railroad across Nevada in 1869, Proctor moved north to the new railroad town of Elko in search of fame and fortune. He ran the boundary line between Lander and Elko counties. Interestingly enough, the U.S. Decennial Census for 1870 listed his occupation as “Civil Engineer” and not lawyer.

In September, he met up with his old friend and prosperous business associate Abe Curry. Curry was attending the state Republican convention in Elko as a candidate for lieutenant-governor. Despite Curry’s efforts, the incumbent, J.S. Slingerland, received the nomination. Ever the stalwart Democrat, Proctor had attended the state Democratic convention held earlier in the month in the Elko County seat. He surely took some delight in the Democrats winning both the governor’s and lieutenant-governor’s offices in the November election and breaking the Republican’s dominance over Nevada politics, much to Curry’s chagrin.

Curry and Proctor saw each other again during the 1871 legislative session when Proctor worked as a copying clerk in the Assembly.

Curry died on Oct. 19, 1873, in Carson City at the age of 58. Just prior to Curry’s death, Proctor, suffering from poor health, had left Nevada for Texas, and then New Orleans. He soon returned to the West, first in 1877 to the Black Hills in Dakota Territory, then on to Montana Territory in 1881. He was a member of the Montana Constitutional Convention from Yellowstone County in 1884. From 1888 until the time of his death, April 25, 1892, he lived in Buckley, Washington, east of Tacoma where Benjamin Green’s brother, W. Y. Green, was mayor. He was serving as the town attorney when he died at the age of 64. “His friends say that a kinder hearted man never lived,” Proctor’s obituary reported, “his only failing was his underestimation of the value of money and attribute it in part to the exceeding generosity of his nature, which led him, in pleasant companionship with friends in more prosperous days, to neglect the acquirement of wealth when the opportunities to do so were plentiful in those earlier days.”

Unlike Frank Proctor, Curry clearly knew the value of money and saw his future in Eagle Valley. Despite his wanderlust, we can thank Proctor for his part in promoting a Nevada Territory and later designating Carson City as the state capital. Green, however, was not a full partner from the start, the generous Proctor sharing his interest with his father-in-law, and the small-time businessman moved from the area very early. While John Jacob Musser certainly had good business instincts, and played an important role in advancing the movement for a Nevada Territory, it was Curry who eventually emerged as a dynamic entrepreneur and principal promoter of Carson City by the time of statehood. Curry’s myriad accomplishments and political activity have long obscured the contributions of Proctor, Musser and Green in the writings on Carson City and early Nevada.

Hopefully, this article will provide a new perspective and a greater appreciation of the three other “fathers” of Carson City who are not honored with statues and, until now, have been lost to history.