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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 28

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across the Great Divide to Estes Park, in Colorado. Her account of the pioneers of that day interested me greatly, for I was impressed with the fact that by 1900 the Buffalo Bill variety of show- off, as well as the “ murder for breakfast every day” bad men, was out of date. When men who never saw Tonopah write of this period, stressing the gun-toting adventurer, they are drawing a long bow. To be sure, the gunman, the dance- hall girl, and the gambler were all realities, but the lawlessness was over. When my husband and I were young, another kind of pioneer had emerged - the geologist, the mining engineer, the chemist, the lawyer, men whose grubstake was a college diploma. They lived on the frontier, but they were not the fictional version of frontiers men. However, we were not without our flamboyant characters, who might be described as a link between the old, lawless West and the modern community, where productivity depended on law and order. One such character was cattleman and politician John Sparks, who came from Texas to Nevada sometime in the ' 80s He brought with him not only his Longhorns and Herefords, but also his gunman, Jack Davis, who knew the technique of border raiding. Sparks had some grazing land up north in Nevada close to the Idaho line. There was a man over in Idaho he suspected of encroaching on grazing land he considered as his own, so he sent Jack Davis over into Idaho to kill him, Jack succeeded, but before he got back across the state line into Nevada he was captured by an Idaho sheriff, tried, and condemned to death. John Sparks had influence enough over there to get Davis’ execution delayed three times. Then, in 1903 Sparks was elected governor of Nevada. The first thing he did was to appeal to his friend the governor of Idaho to pardon the gunman - which he promptly did. In Tonopah, January Jones and Bar Francis were also referred to as gun- toters, and they carried their weapons more or less openly. The butt of January’s bulged just below his right shoulder blade. I couldn’t figure out what would happen if he ever had to draw that weapon in a hurry. It looked to me as if he would have to reach down his collar. I don’t think he was much of a fighter and may have worn his pistol in a way that would make it hard to pull. Although he looked like a brigand and had the reputation of having more than one notch to his credit, January was a peaceful, law- abiding citizen in Tonopah, married to the lady barber and altogether respectable. Bar Francis was a man of similar appearance and somewhat the same reputation. In later years, upon reading Eleanor Roosevelt’s book, This I Remember, I was startled to run across the name of Bar Francis. In the chapter headed “ The Peaceful Years,” she mentions visiting the ranch of Mr. and Mrs. Dana near Reno where “ the caretaker of the horses was a wonderful old



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