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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 47

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Chapter 7 Cowhand’s Luck… Goldfield…“ Richest Ore Ever Recorded”… Lady in a Flophouse... Great Mines of Goldfield… Of Games and Gamblers… Gun Play for Elinor Glyn… The Gans- Nelson Fight… High- Graders, Mine Owners, and the I. W. W. BY ALL ODDS the most captivating mining tale that ever came out of Nevada is the story of Nixon and Wingfield, which is the beginning of the story of Goldfield. This is the way it was told to me. It all began in 1902, when George Nixon was a middle- aged bank clerk in a little cattle town in northern Nevada called Winnemucca. One day a young man in blue jeans and a broad Stetson stepped up to his window holding in his hand a solitaire diamond ring. “ How much will you lend me on this stone?” asked the man. Nixon looked at it. “ Well,” he answered, “ it looks like a nice stone, but I’ll have to have it appraised before I can tell you what the bank will lend on it.” “ Listen, mister,” the stranger broke in, “ I’m not asking the bank, I’m asking you. I want you to lend me the money on face value. How about $ 250?” “ Who are you and where did you come from?” asked the banker. “ George Wingfield, and I come from Oregon. I been punching cows here in Winnemucca. There’s a strike down at Tonopah. The place is booming, and I want to get in on it. You and I will go fifty- fifty on everything.” Mr. Nixon took time to give the young man a long penetrating scrutiny. Then he turned away. When he came back, he handed Wingfield $ 250. At that moment was formed the partnership that sent the bank clerk to the United States Senate and made the cowhand the richest man in Nevada. George Wingfield came to Tonopah and opened a gambling house called the Tonopah Club, and his patrons believed in, and depended upon, his fair play as they counted on tomorrow’s sun. Whether George Nixon’s money was used to buy the card tables, the roulette wheel, and the crap layout, I don’t know; but when Wingfield asked for the loan, he said “ fifty- fifty on everything.” So if the money began spiraling with the opening of the Tonopah Club, it is but one more illustration of the making of United States senators in the West. By the time George Wingfield arrived in Tonopah, the ground nearby had been staked out for miles, but in the Tonopah Club be came in contact with men itching for a grubstake. He selected a smart half- breed Indian named Harry Stimler, who started into the desert searching for silver. At a spot about



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