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Civil War concerns, and a message from Abe Curry

Sue Ballew
Special to the Appeal

In October of 1860, the “Territorial Enterprise” moved to Virginia City, and less than a month later the “Silver Age” moved into Carson City. The first issue of that newspaper was December 1860. It continued printing until Nov. 2, 1862, when it suspended publication. The owners then moved the publication to Virginia City, where it became the “Virginia Daily Union.” For the following nine months there was no newspaper in Carson. On July 27, 1863, the “Carson Daily Independent” printed its first issue. (“The Newspapers of Nevada,” Richard Lingenfelter and Karen Rix Gash).

During this time, Nevada still was a territory and the Civil War had been going on since April 12, 1861. As of March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States. Stories that captured the news of the day are those of the Civil War. From the Carson Daily Independent of Sept. 1, 1863, “A Rebel View of the Military Situation,” The military situation has no longer that degree of interest which it possessed during the past three months. Lee has completed his retreat and holds his old lines on the Rapidan and Rappanhannock in security … The United States has not an army of 100,000 men to employ on its circumvialation and if it had, that army would be cut in two and destroyed by an attack from the interior. Before Charleston can be invested, Richmond must fall, East Virginia be conquered, and the army that accomplished these feats might, without doubt, lay siege to Charleston and take it. But before such events happen, there will yet, ‘Many a night to earth be borne, and many a banner rent and torn.’ It is a far cry to Luchow; it is a further cry to Richmond.

More news comes in “Items from the South:”

Two members of the Tenth Ohio Regiment, aged about eighteen years, were executed by the rebels near Columbia, Tennessee, some days ago as their was suspicion that they were spies. The Richmond papers continue to chronicle frequent desertions from the rebel army and abound in advertisements of runaway slaves.

While so much was going on with our nation, Carson City was still forming its boundaries and establishing a community. The following story is from the Carson Daily Independent, Sept. 1, 1863, and is written to “The Citizens of Carson City” from Abe Curry.

Having learned that there are many rumors in circulation, prejudicial to myself, in connection with my act of enclosing the square of ground in this city, known as the Plaza, justice to myself as well as a desire to place before the people the true position of this matter, impels me to address you thus, with the full belief that all unprejudiced and fair men, will sanction my action in this respect …

In July, 1858, I purchased for J. Musser, Frank Proctor, and myself, the land upon which the city of Carson now stands … In September, I procured the services of John F. Long, Esq. to survey and draft a town plot, agreeing to give Maj. Ormsby all the ground lying between King and Fifth streets … The enterprise met with serious resistance on the part of some of the neighboring sites, and they complimented our new town with the name of Mugginsville, in full expectation of a failure … And it was mutually agreed between myself and partners, that the ground should not be sold or occupied for any other purposes as long as there was the least prospect of a Capital being built upon it … There has been no disposition manifested toward the improvement or enclosure of the ground up to the present time, and instead of its being an ornament to the city, it has been used as a receptacle for every species of nuisance imaginable … A. Curry

From the “History of the State of Nevada Territory” comes a story written by Mark Twain in “Roughing It” about Abe Curry and all that he had done for Carson City:

… When Curry heard of the difficulty, he came forward solitary and alone, and shouldered the Ship of State over the bar and got her afloat again. I refer to “Curry – Old Curry – Old Abe Curry.” But for him the Legislature would have been obliged to sit in the desert. He offered his large stone building just outside the capital, rent free, and it was gladly accepted. Then he built a horse-railroad from town to the capital, and carried the Legislators gratis. He also furnished pine benches and chairs for the Legislature, and covered the floors with clean saw-dust by way of carpet and spittoon combined. But for Curry the Government would have died in its tender infancy.

• 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.