There is extensive information written about Jefferson in the old newspaper archives. With that said, this website has space limitations. Therefore, I had to stick to the 19th century and forego the revivals of the early 1900's..... Silver was first discovered here in the mid 1860’s. Further discoveries were made in 1871. By March of 1872, there were reports of major strikes being made in the Prussian, Sailor Boy and several other mines. By October of 1873, valuable ore was being transported from the Prussian South mine to the Monitor Mill in Belmont. A stage route to connect the two towns did not yet exist. Ore had to be hauled by pack train over the Toquima Mountains. In May of 1874, the Eureka Daily Sentinel reported: "We understand there are sixty men in Jefferson Canyon, and never a woman or child..." By summer, the owners of the Prussian South and Jefferson mines (Stephen Roberts & George Williams) sold a 2/3rd interest to San Francisco capitalists for $75,000. Some speculated that they sold too cheap. By July, machinery for the mill and hoisting works at the Prussian South had been shipped. By August, the population reached approx. 250 residents, with extensive building taking place. Construction on the Prussian South mill had also begun. Lumber was arriving from Wadsworth almost daily. Early August saw the first reported act of violence. Men fired approx. 5 or 6 shots at each other over a card game. Nobody was hurt. The Eureka to Jefferson Stage began running in August. By September, machinery for a second (ten-stamp) mill was being shipped. The two mills belonging to the Prussian and Prussian South mines were owned by separate interests. In October, the Prussian Mining and Milling Company purchased the hoisting works from the Twin River Consolidated Mining Company in Ophir Canyon. A "force of men" was sent to Ophir to haul the machinery across the Smoky Valley to Jefferson. By late 1874, the Jefferson to Belmont toll-road via Meadow Canyon was finished. I wrote quite a bit about this on the Meadow Canyon page. This toll road had several incidents of robbery and theft, both by road agents, as well as by a stage driver. (See the Meadow Canyon page). Many businesses would be established. To include a Wells Fargo office, saloons, restaurants, the Dayton & Co. store and Price and Lamb Hotel. December of 1874 saw the first reported homicide at Jefferson. As the trend went in many of these western mining camps, gambling was the cause. James Donovan and Killett (First Name Unknown- AKA: "Texas") engaged in a dispute over a poker game. Killett left to retrieve a gun. When he returned, Donovan fired two shots at him and missed. Killett returned fire, striking Donovan in the head and killing him. Once Donovan hit the ground, Killett emptied his pistol into him. Killett then said, "Boys, I hated to do it, but I couldn't help it." Killett was held to answer for the incident. A trial was scheduled in Justice Marshall's court. Nye County D.A. Frank Owen was the prosecutor. Lawyer Williams acted as defense attorney. I wasn't able to find an outcome for the case. By January of 1875, both ten-stamp mills, owned by the Prussian and Prussian South companies, were up and running. The mines continued to produce good ore through the first half of 1875. This kept the mills running steadily. On September 3, 1875, another homicide occurred. Owen Shehan (Sheehan) was shot to death by an older gambler named "Buffalo Jack". Sheehan was called a "respectable young man, a miner, aged 30 years". Buffalo Jack had come to Jefferson from Carson City. He ran a barber shop in Jefferson. He was described as a degenerate regarding his time in Carson. He was called a "drunk loafer" who spent a lot of time in jail for disturbing the peace and fighting. Sheehan had tried to collect money that he believed was owed to him by Buffalo Jack. The killing of Sheehan was called a "cold-blooded murder". While in the Nye County jail, Buffalo Jack attempted to escape unsuccessfully. A lynch mob made up of Sheehan's friends formed to kill Buffalo Jack. However, common sense prevailed. I wasn't able to find an outcome for this case. By January of 1876, the Prussian and Jefferson mines were said to be producing at the highest levels yet. Peak population would reach 800 residents in this time frame. In an event that wasn't often seen in many of these mining camps, the Jefferson mine actually paid full dividends back to the stockholders. During this era, the name of the Harrison brothers first comes up. Good ore was being shipped from their Hillside Mine. The Harrison brothers would go on to become a staple in Jefferson long after the original boom would end. In March of 1876, several of the pack train mules that were used for hauling wood were stolen and taken out of Jefferson. The Sheriff pursued, but I am unsure if they were ever recovered. In June of 1876, plans were made for the ore at Barcelona (Spanish Belt) to be processed in the Jefferson Mills. By July, Barcelona ore was being hauled over the mountains by pack mule. See the BARCELONA page. The first non-native child was born in Jefferson on June 6th. George Washington Thomas. His father was R.L. "Bob" Thomas. It was said that in the centennial year (1876) "George Washington" was the most fitting name. Toller and Clugage also completed a stage route from Barcelona to Jefferson, making for much easier transportation of ore. By the Fall of 1876, it was reported that things were slowing at Jefferson. There is also a substantial lack of newspaper articles for this period, which likely corroborates that. The next article that I found was dated May of 1877. It spoke about a new discovery made by a man named J. Carrillo. Many originally believed that the Carrillo find was a hoax. But as experienced miners began to inspect his find, they discovered that it was real. It was originally a gold find, but rich silver deposits were soon located as well. The excitement over this find was short-lived. Again, the newspaper articles disappeared until May of 1878. The Carson Morning Appeal wrote, “Nye County, where the mining prospects have not been at all cheering in tone for the past year, is again coming to front, so to speak.” Unnamed parties had new exploration plans for the Jefferson Mine. By June, men were back at work in the Jefferson mine pumping water out so that it could be re-opened. There was excitement that the mill would be running again by the end of summer. On November 29th, the Jefferson Company shipped two bars of bullion valued at $1,846 and $1,984. This excitement was short-lived. By January of 1879, the post office was discontinued. Revivals would occur throughout the 1880’s. The post office would also open again several times for short periods. But the major boom of the mid 1870’s was over. By 1880, the major mines in Jefferson were all shut down. By August of 1880, Jefferson was described as “almost deserted”. During the decade of the 1880’s, the Harrison brothers would be major players regarding the small revivals that occurred. Literally every article that I could find from this point forward spoke about their success. By Spring of 1881, the Harrison’s had built a small mill that was successfully running. Reports were made in January of 1882, that Daniel and William Deady of Belmont discovered rich ore and were developing their claim. Another name that is very much associated with Jefferson is that of Charles Kanrohat. The post office again opened in January of 1883. In August of 1883, Kanrohat leased ground near the old Jefferson mine to two Mexican miners who were looking to develop it. He had also leased property to a couple of men in the Union mine. Kanrohat also continued to work ground near the Jefferson mine. Garrard, Robinson and Wilson were also having success with their mine. This period was again showing promise for the future of Jefferson. The Eureka Daily Sentinel wrote, “the mining prospects at Jefferson never were better.” As the pattern goes, the news stories promised a bright future, but the reality was different. The post office again closed in January of 1884. The sole source of good news at Jefferson continued to include the Harrison name. Reports in 1885 again stated that they continued to remove good ore from their mines. The post office was re-opened in March. In September, George Elder hauled machinery up for a new mill. And again, the news articles disappear, and the post office closed in June of 1886. By this point, a pattern is clearly being established. The presence or lack of newspaper articles perfectly coincide with the opening and closing of the post office. After the summer of 1887, the stories completely disappear until 1896. Once again, the article speaks of the rich silver ore that was being shipped by Charles Harrison. The last 19th century article that I found was dated July 2nd, 1898 from the Eureka Weekly Standard. Geo. Ernst hauled two wagon loads of very rich silver ore to the Clifton Depot near Austin for transport to Salt Lake City. And with that, the 19th century at Jefferson comes to an end. At least in reference to what I was able to find. I wish I had more room to speak about the revivals of the early 1900’s. I will likely do a Page Two for Jefferson sometime in the future.
Post Office: October 22, 1874 to January 29, 1879; January 24, 1883 to January 21, 1884; March 6, 1885 to June 21, 1886; June 30, 1890 to August 13, 1890
Last Trip/ Road Conditions: July 2017. We took the bumpier route up through the creek bottom. The road was pretty good, with the exception of the creek bottom area. I've heard that the other road is better, but I can't vouch for that. The ride on quads to the top of the Jefferson, Prussian and Keokuk mines gives a view of not only the entire town of Jefferson, but also the entire Round Mountain area of the Big Smoky Valley. The old stage road from Jefferson to Belmont is no longer passable. I've heard that there are a few off-road savages that have done it, but unless you're in their class, I wouldn't try it.
Sources: (Newspapers) Gold Hill Daily News; Eureka Daily Sentinel; Pioche Daily Record; Territorial Enterprise; Carson Daily Appeal; Lyon County Times; Weekly Elko Independent; Pioche Daily Journal; Pioche Weekly Record; Carson Morning Appeal; Elko Daily Independent; Eureka Weekly Sentinel. (Books) Belmont Nevada (By: Alan Patera); Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps (By: Stanley Paher); Preserving the Glory Days- Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Nye County, Nevada (By: Shawn Hall); Nevada Post Offices- An Illustrated History (By: James Gamett & Stanley Paher); Nevada Place Names- A Geographical Dictionary (By: Helen Carlson). (Historic Photographs) The first two are from The UC Davis, University library, Special Collections, Paul. L. Henchey Collection, taken in 1951. The second two are from the Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Nye County, Nevada Photograph Collection, taken in the 1940’s.