Esmeralda was one of the nine original counties established in the Territory of Nevada. This was done by act of the Territorial Legislature in November of 1861. Esmeralda was originally much larger in land mass, incorporating a lot of modern-day Mineral and Nye Counties. The original county seat was Aurora, which now sits in Mineral County. During the early days of Aurora, there was contention over whether it was in Nevada or California. Local governments were set up for each state until it was eventually determined that it was in Nevada. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) lived in Aurora before finally making his way to the Territorial Enterprise newspaper in Virginia City. Aurora was the county seat until 1883. Hawthorne (now Mineral County) was the seat from 1883 to 1907. Goldfield has been the county seat ever since. Esmeralda was once home to tens of thousands of residents. Goldfield was once the largest city in Nevada with a population between 20,000 and 30,000. Today, the entire population of Esmeralda County is 873 residents according to the 2019 U.S. Census. Aurora was once the sister city of Bodie, California. There is an old story that goes as follows: A family was moving from Aurora to Bodie. One of their children wrote a letter to someone telling them about the move. Whether you were from Nevada or California depends on how you decide the puncuation of the letter. Californians claim it was written as follows: "Good, By God, we're going to Bodie!". Nevadans claim it was written: "Good Bye God, we're going to Bodie!" Either way, it makes for good rival state humor.