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Nye County, Nevada, Court Documents: Finding Aid
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Nye County, Nevada, Court Documents
    Dates (inclusive): 1865-1890
    Collection Number: mssNyeCountydocuments
    Extent: 49 items in 1 box.
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This small collection contains 49 documents related to the Nye County District Court and Nye County Justice Court in the mining boom town of Nye, Nevada, between the years of 1865 and 1890. Documents chiefly consist of criminal court documents, as well as some bonds and oaths and correspondence.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Nye County, Nevada, Court Documents, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Purchased from Dawson's Bookshop, January 1962.

    Biographical Note

    Nye County, Nevada was created by the state legislature in February of 1864 and named in honor of the Nevada Territory's first governor and later U.S. Senate representative, James W. Nye. The county seat and first county courthouse were built in Ione in 1864, and served the resident population of between 1,000 and 1,500 mostly migrant gold and silver miners. In 1867, following the shifting fortunes of boomtown mining, the Nye county seat and courthouse were relocated to neighboring Belmont. Mining in the area began with the discovery of silver along the Reese River in 1862. While the most productive ore-processing mills were located along the northern length of the river in Lander County (founded 1861), some prospectors followed the river southward, discovering modest amounts of silver, quartz, and mercury in the rocks and rivers. The county's fortunes were intimately linked to the economy of mining and metal, and an enduring bust followed a short turn-of-the-20th century boom. By the 1950s, only around 3,000 people occupied Nye County's 18,159 square-mile territory, a fact which may have contributed to the Federal Department of Energy's choice to establish the Nevada Test Site - for nuclear energy and weapons testing - there in 1951. Nye County only achieved sustained growth at the end of the 20th century, with the rise of Las Vegas bedroom communities.

    Scope and Content

    The documents in this collection relate to the Nye County District and Justice Courts between the years of 1865 and 1890. They are organized into four content-based groupings: Bonds and Oaths, Criminal Court Documents, Correspondence, and Ephemera. The contents grouped as Bonds and Oaths cover the swearing-in of Nye County servants, often Justices of the Peace and once a Road Overseer, and are organized chronologically (see folders 1-5). Within the Criminal Court Documents, grouped together are multiple documents related to the same defendant; this group makes up the majority of the collection (see folders 14-44). The grouped documents have been organized alphabetically by the last name of the defendant, and are then sorted chronologically. The criminal court documents that are not part of a group (i.e., are single references to unrelated cases) have been organized chronologically (see folders 6-13). The group of Criminal Court Documents ranges from court summons, to sworn testimony of witnesses, to instructions for the jury, settlements and verdicts. The crimes alleged include: rape, burglary, embezzlement, libel, illegal gaming (gambling), and assault with deadly intent. Unfortunately, even when there are multiple documents relating to one criminal defendant, there is not enough information to construct a beginning-to-end (or accusation-to-verdict) narrative of any of the cases. The documents are recommended, however, to researchers interested in the social history of the American West, conflict in mining boom towns, or early branches of United States government in the West. The documents grouped as Correspondence include four letters, one of which is written in Italian (see folders 45-48). The Ephemera group consists of one receipt for purchases made at a livery and seed store.


    Items organized into four content-based groupings: Bonds and Oaths (Folders 1-5), Criminal Court Documents (Folders 6-44), Correspondence (Folders 45-48), and Ephemera (Folder 49).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Crime -- Nevada -- 19th century.
    Criminal courts -- Nevada -- 19th century.
    Justices of the peace -- Nevada -- 19th century.
    Nye County (Nev.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.


    Criminal court records -- Nevada -- 19th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- Nevada -- 19th century.
    Oaths -- Nevada -- 19th century.