Early Mining Discoveries in Nevada

Attwood followed up with another letter a few weeks later:

Gold Hill Mines, Grass Valley, July 15, 1859.

Dear Sir: I have forwarded you through Wells, Fargo & Co. a small box containing samples of silver ore from the Ophir Mine referred to in my former letter. Mr. Walsh and Mr. Woodworth brought down about sixty pounds, and what I send you is some of the poorest of it. If you wet the pieces I have marked you will note the black sulphate of silver.

Melville Attwood

Silver City, Nevada, 1890

Silver City, Nevada, 1890

Some years after the Comstock Lode had become a heavy bullion producer, the heirs of the Grosh brothers tried to secure their rights on the Comstock by litigation and employed Benjamin F. Butler, then the most noted lawyer in the United States to prosecute the case.

He made a very thorough examination of the matter and stated to the litigants that there was no legal question about the absolute rights of the heirs to some of the most valuable ground on the Comstock, but he gave them the advice that the defendants were men so thoroughly entrenched in possession, and having unlimited money at their command, they would be able to buy up any jury that could be selected to try the case, and that, under the circumstances, the winning of such a case would be an impossibility.

The heirs of the Groshes wisely concluded to drop the idea of attempting to wrest the big mines from the hands of William Sharon and the Bank of California.

The Comstock Lode made the reputation of Nevada as a mining State and its record of an output of $700,000,000 has never been eclipsed.

It is a common thing for the latter-day mining men who are operating in Nevada to compare present achievement in mining operations and output with the record of the past, and the founders of new camps frequently mention their holdings as “another Comstock.” The cold light of statistics beating on their claims; however, tell another story.

In closing, one must not forget to pay a deserved tribute to the sturdy prospector who blazes the path which Midas is destined to tread later on. He lives on hope and braves the manifold dangers of the mountain and desert to unearth and tap the treasure vaults of Nature.

He sows the harvest of wealth which others reap, the dreams that haunt the haze of his campfire are realized by others, yet without heed of self, he presses on, leaving in his wake the pulsing life of populous cities and the hum of industries which spring into being from his wooing of the goddess of chance. The camp followers of the prospector dwell in the tabernacles of wealth, while his bones rot in some unmarked and forgotten grave, or bleach upon the sands of the pitiless waste he gave up his life to conquer.


Written by Sam P. Davis in 1912, compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated March 2018.

Virginia City, NV 2009

Virginia City’s Main Street today is lined with historic buildings, Kathy Weiser, July, 2009.

Notes and Author: This article is primarily a tale told by Sam P. Davis in 1913, which was Chapter XIII in Volume I of his series of books entitled The History of Nevada, Elms Publishing Co, Reno, Nevada. However, the article that appears here is far from verbatim. While the story remains essentially the same as originally published, heavy editing has occurred for spelling and grammar corrections, revisions for the modern reader, and updates to this historic tale.

Samuel P. Davis was the owner and editor of the Carson Daily Appeal in (Carson City, Nevada. In addition to working as a journalist, he also wrote poetry and short stories, which were published in magazines and a limited edition book entitled Short Stories and Poems. He also served as Nevada’s State Controller and published the three-volume he History of Nevada.

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