Devils Will Reign
How Nevada Began
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Nevada Press
LIst of Illustrations
I am grateful to Charles Wegman for allowing me full use of the Grosh Papers and to Fred Holabird for bringing us together. My debt to Eric Moody at the Nevada Historical Society for invaluable advice on sources cannot be overstated. Other colleagues at libraries, historical....
It was a time when mighty pines unbitten by the ax still stood tall in the Sierra Nevada, deer moved softly through the forest shade, rivers rippled in clear cascades down the eastern slope to flow more gently through valleys of deep grass and lose themselves in desert lakes and marshes, antelope
Chapter 1: The First Settlers Arrive, 1851
Abner Blackburn was a Mormon, after a fashion. Born in Pennsylvania in 1827, third child in a westering family that moved to Ohio, then joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Missouri and Nauvoo, Illinois, he was not baptized until 1847, later than other members...
Chapter 2: Indians, Emigrants, and Grand Ideas
It was the fault of the wind, that mischievous creature. After the Maker of All Things laid out the seeds that would become the Indian peoples in a flat basket, the wind blew away most of the Washo seeds, leaving only a few. In consequence, the Washo were a small tribe of fewer...
Chapter 3: The Cursed Black Stu
Gold Canyon miners remembered a Mexican in 1853 who had pointed excitedly upward toward Sun Peak and exclaimed, “Mucho plata.” Even if they had understood the stream of Spanish that...
Chapter 4: The Mormons Take Charge, 1855
No longer did the wagons roll west in a continuous stream of dust; no longer did the myriad scythes of haymakers flash in the Humboldt Sink; no longer did the mountains ring with the curses and songs of men struggling up the Carson Canyon. By 1854 the...
Chapter 5: James Crane Explains It All, 1857
In June 1858 the Mountain Democrat in Placerville, California, opined that the creation of a new territory on the eastern slope would “open a fine field for broken down politicians, land grabbers, and office hunters.” In fact, the influx had started earlier, and one of the newcomers...
Chapter 6: The Mormons Depart, the Groshes Return, 1857
In August 17, 1857, Peter Conover, a farmer of forty-nine years, began riding west from Utah on an urgent errand for Brigham Young. He traveled with several other men and a guide, present because to speed...
Chapter 7: Devils Reign, 1858
In 1857 a twenty-one-year-old Rhode Island farm boy arrived on the eastern slope. Peleg Brown was not an important man. Indeed, he tried hard not to be important, lest he attract the attention of frontier roughs who might covet his land and stock or ambitious men who might
Chapter 8: Bonanza, 1859
The winter of 1858–1859 was the worst that anyone remembered. It began with a hard and lasting freeze that deprived the Gold Canyon miners of the water they needed to run their Long Toms. Then it snowed and snowed and snowed. Tennessee...
Chapter 9: An Indian for Breakfast and a Pony to Ride, 1860
They waited, with mounting impatience. On the Comstock they waited, sporadically attempting to scrape away several feet of snow and resume prospecting. In Placerville they waited for the Sierra Nevada...
Chapter 10: Such a Motley Crowd: The 1860 Census
The year 1860 may have been the worst possible for an accurate count of the Nevada population. Not only had the war ignited an exodus followed by a backflow, but also, in the phrase of historian Ronald James, “society was in continuous flux,” the usual situation in the...
Chapter 11: Territory! 1861
The critical months from January to March 1861 are a black hole in Nevada’s local history. No copies of the Territorial Enterprise have been preserved for these dates, and the Mountain Democrat has little to...
Epilogue: Ghosts Who Walk
In the early days, Tennessee had called Nevada an emigrant trail and a mine. A century and a half later the broad outlines still fitted: emigrants still, but instead of gold rushers on their way to California sustaining Nevada...