Community and Society

Donner Party Survivor Dies

[This is a transcription of a newspaper article from The San Francisco Call, Wednesday, May 18, 1904.  For a larger image of the newspaper page, please visit the Library of Congress, Chronicling America project.]

Donner Party Survivor Dies.

Felice Cohn

This entry was provided through a partnership with the Nevada Women's History Project.


Dr. Galley and M. V. Gillett discovered rich silver-lead ore in the Hot Creek Range of Nye County in 1870, but Tybo did not develop until 1874. By 1876, the population was more than one thousand. A series of fifteen charcoal kilns were built in nearby canyons to help in the smelting process. Mining slowed and by 1881, only one hundred people were left. A new mining revival began in 1916, but faded in 1922. Major mining took place from 1926 to 1937 when the Treadwell-Yukon company built a mill and hired more than two hundred men.


As prospectors dispersed from Austin, several of them discovered rich placer sands located in what is now Elko County. It was in 1867, shortly after the Civil War, and one of the miners called the place Tuscarora to honor a Union gunboat on which he had served. Area underground deposits attracted some attention, but surface placer mining was the primary focus.


The discovery of silver in south-central Nevada produced a major mining boom that revived the state's mining industry in the first decade of the twentieth century, and fueled a fierce economic recovery across the region. The Tonopah bonanza re-galvanized Nevada's status as a mining empire, organized a railway through its center, and may have preserved its status as a state in the union.

Muddy Mission

After Mormon missionaries established a way station between Utah and California at Las Vegas in 1855, they received a directive from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to scout more town sites just north of the area along the Muddy River. Not everyone approved, but Church officials authorized new Muddy settlements anyway. Before long, the Muddy missionaries discovered why no one else had settled there before them.

Donner Party: List of Members

(With ages, or approximate ages at the time of rescue or death, in parentheses, including how they died or escaped. S, survived; D, died)

The Breen Family from Ireland by way of Keokuk, Iowa

St. Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church

Father Hugh Gallagher built Virginia City's first Catholic church shortly after his arrival in 1860, but a strong wind blew the humble building down within two years. Father Patrick Manogue built its successor, known as St. Mary in the Mountains Church, shortly after he arrived on the Comstock in 1862. Bishop Eugene O'Connell dedicated the simple structure on July 17, 1864, a block south of where the current structure stands.


The settlement of Sparks sprang up virtually overnight when officials of the Southern Pacific Railroad moved maintenance operations from Wadsworth to an area just east of Reno in the summer of 1904. The railroad cited Wadsworth's outdated structures, lack of a good water supply, and the need to straighten dangerous curves in the track as reasons for moving to Sparks. The little community, which today is one of Nevada's major cities, thrived in the once swampy area east of Reno.


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