Jackson Lee Davis “Diamondfield Jack”

Jackson Lee “Diamondfield Jack” Davis who was pardoned for murder in Idaho and moved to Nevada where he founded several mining camps. Davis was a hired gun who worked for the cattlemen “protecting” cattle herds and their grazing land from sheep famers.

Jackson Lee "Diamondfield Jack" Davis (12 Aug 1863–2 Jan 1949)
Jackson Lee “Diamondfield Jack” Davis (12 Aug 1863–2 Jan 1949)

In 1895, Davis is hired by the Sparks-Harrell cattle company to keep the sheepherders off of the grazing lands. After an altercation where Davis wounded Bill Tolman in a shooting. Following this incident, he fled south to Nevada to star or of sight. While in Nevada, Davis is known to brad about his exploits.

In February, 1896, Davis returned to Idaho and returned to work for Sparks-Harrell in Idaho. During this time, two sheepherders, Daniel Cummings and John Wilson, are shot and killed. Due to he previous bragging and his being in the area at the time, Davis became a suspect. Davis fled to Arizona and is eventually captured. Upon his capture, he is returned to Idaho, tried, found guilty and sentenced to death for of the shooting.

DiamondField Nevada  - 1904 - Paher
DiamondField Nevada – 1904 – Paher

keep the sheep back. Don’t kill but shoot to wound if necessary. Use what measures you think best. If you have to kill, the company will stand behind you – regardless what happens.

While “Diamondfield Jack” is waiting his execution, two other men, James Bower and Jeff Gray, confess to the killing. During their trial, the two men are found not guilty. Regardless, this trial raised doubt as to the trial and Davis is reprieved one day before his scheduled execution.

Following a series of appeals, Davis is again scheduled for execution on July 3rd, 1901. At this point in time, public opinion no longer supported the death penalty. His execution is rescheduled until the Board of Pardons commutes his sentence to life in prisons. Davis is eventually pardoned on December 17th, 1902.

Following his release, Davis moved south into Nevada. In the spring of 1903, when news of promising gold strikes in Goldfield, Davis travelled to the town. After exploring and prospecting he uncovered promising ore ledges on McMahon Ridge northeast of town.

Within weeks of his discovery, prospectors flooded into the area. “Diamondfield Jack”, ever the opportunist plotted a townsite for the location and build a toll road to the new town from Goldfield. In the fall of 1904, the town reached its apex. At that time, it boasted a Post Office, three saloons, restaurants, general stores, schools, church, livery, butcher shop, blacksmith and union hall for the miners, which is impressive for a town just six months old. Public servants such as a sheriff, notary public and lawyer also maintained offices in the new formed district.

Nevada State Historic Marker #251 Text

This historical marker commemorates the lasting notoriety of flamboyant western gunman Jackson Lee Davis (1870-1949), who was better known by the colorful name, “Diamondfield Jack.” As a young man, after unsuccessfully prospecting for diamonds in the nearby hills, Davis was jokingly called “Diamondfield Jack,” a nickname that he carried the rest of his life.

In the late 1890’s, Davis gained a measure of fame as a gunman for the cattle interests, including rancher John Sparks, who would later become a Nevada governor, that were attempting to restrict sheep ranchers from southern Idaho and northeastern Nevada rangelands. Following a sensational trial in 1896, Davis was convicted of murdering two sheepherders. He was sentenced to be hanged, even after others confessed to the murders.

In 1902, Davis was finally pardoned for the crimes. He moved to the central Nevada mining towns of Tonopah and Goldfield, where he became a successful mine operator. He also helped found several mining camps, including one called Diamondfield. In later years, he drifted into obscurity and died in Las Vegas in 1949 after being struck by a car.

Nevada State Historic Marker #251 Summary

Nevada State Historic Marker251
NameDiamondfield Jack Davis
LocationElko County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude41.98471, -114.67209

Resources

James Crysanthus Phelan – Rhyolite Shopkeeper

James Crysanthus Phelan
James Crysanthus Phelan

James Crysanthus Phelan was a business man and early pioneer of the desert southwest, who like many others followed the boom towns west. Early in his life, he owned a series of butcher shops in various towns throughout the south west, including Rhyolite. It is believed that his butcher shop was located on Golden Street across the street from the Cook Bank Building and near the Porter Brothers Store.

Biography

The automobile garage owned by James C. Phelan, and named after him, is cleverly planned, well built, and managed according to up-to-date methods. Mr. Phelan’s father, who was an honored veteran of the Union Army in our Civil War, is D. F. Phelan, and he is still living at Los Angeles.

Prior to casting his lot in the Golden State, he was a pioneer in Colorado. Mrs. Phelan, who was Annie Donahue before her marriage, is deceased. Born in the Centennial State on October 25, 1867, James C. Phelan was educated at the public schools in Colorado and New Mexico, and also, as he likes to put it, in ” the great school of experience.”

As a young man, he ventured in both the grocery and butcher business, having a store when only nineteen years of age, at Albuquerque, N. M. For fourteen years, too, his business at Williams, Arizona, was one of the most progressive and profitable establishments in that town. On September 9, 1893, Mr. Phelan was married to Miss Myrtie Dickinson, and this union was blessed with three boys and four girls, viz : Mary M., Chris E., Roy N., Jimmie J., Ruth E., Bernice L., and Leoma C, all of whom were educated in the public schools of Fresno, the two eldest studied at Heald’s Business College, while Roy N., is a student at the University of California at Berkeley.

Cook Bank Building, Rhyolite Nevada, Photo marked 1908 and "Courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society"
Cook Bank Building, Rhyolite Nevada, Photo marked 1908 and “Courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society”

Mr. Phelan has accepted the doctrines of the Christian Scientists, socially he finds recreation in the circles of the Woodmen of the World, the Knights of Pythias, and the Young Men’s Christian Association. In May, 1916, he built the finest and most complete auto establishment in California, spending $90,000 upon the same. He then became agent, for the San Joaquin Valley, of the Maxwell, Mitchell and Marmon automobiles, and the Kleiber and Maxwell Trucks. He employs from forty to fifty men to man the several departments, each of which is complete in itself.

When he first came to California, in 1905, he worked for three years on the Fresno ranch ; and then, getting into the automobile business in a modest way, he has made success after success. Mr. Phelan sold out in August. 1919. Mr. Phelan is a stanch Democrat, but always something more than a political partisan. In advocating and working for good roads, for example, his public-spiritedness has been particularly shown.

References

Wild Burrow ( Equus africanus asinus )

Scattered across the south west scattered small populations of Wild Burrow ( Equus africanus asinus ) thrive in the harsh landscape. The burrow is also known as a donkey, wild ass. The animal is first first brought to the desert southwest by the spanish explorers in the 1500’s as pack animals. The humble burrow help haul goods and open the west. The burrow populations across the desert are the result of escapes, abandoned animals or stranded by the death of their owners.

Wild Burrow photographed in Beatty, Nevada - Photo by James L Rathbun
Wild Burrow photographed in Beatty, Nevada – Photo by James L Rathbun

This animal, which was originally found in Africa and later domesticated, is well suited to the dry desert landscape. The frame of the animal is short of ruffed, standing about four and half feet tall and weighing about 350 pounds. The long ears and short manes are a well defined feature of this beast of burden.

"Wanderers of the Wastelands" vintage postcard of an unknown prospector and his burros. | Courtesy of Orange County Archives.
“Wanderers of the Wastelands” vintage postcard of an unknown prospector and his burros. | Courtesy of Orange County Archives.

Today, all across the desert, the little burrow can be seen in a variety of locations including, Mountain Pass California, Beatty Nevada, and Oatman Arizona. The great state of Nevada established the Marietta Wild Burro Range. The Marietta Wild Burro Range sets aside 68,000 acres. The range is managed principally, but not exclusively for the population of 100 or so, burrow in the area. The burros freely roam near the ruins of the historic Nevada mining town of Marietta.

It is not uncommon for them to approach people looking for hand outs. It is a common practice to pass laws prohibiting the feeding of burrow.

Classification

Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Perissodactyla
Family:Equidae
Genus:Equus
Species:E. africanus
Subspecies:E. a. asinus

References

Raven ( Corvus corax )

The Raven ( Corvus corax ) is one of eight subspecies of Ravens distributed throughout the world. Also known as western or northern raven, this large black bird is a member of the Corvidae family of birds which also contains crows, jays and magpies. This bird is a rather large and features solid black feathers which offers a dramatic and ominous appearance.

Raven ( Corvus corax ) sitting on a coral fence at the Grand Canyon Western Ranch.
Raven ( Corvus corax ) sitting on a coral fence at the Grand Canyon Western Ranch.

The raven is a large bird, known to average 25 inches in length and 2.6 pounds in weight and heaviest of the passerine or perching birds. This species is renowned for its intelligence and commonly used to test animal problem solving ability. This species has a world wide distribution and can thrive in a large variety of climates. The bird is an opportunistic omnivore finding sources of nutrition, feeding on carrion insects, grains, berries, fruit, small animals, other birds, and food waste. The are common features around campgrounds for the food sources left by human activity.

The raven has a long history with man in culture, literature and superstition. Many Native American tribes cultures regard the bird as a trickster or a cosmic messenger. Edgar Allen Poe’s infamous poem forever linked this bird with ominous overtones and symbolism for in western culture. The National Football Team even has a football team named for this special mischievous bird.

Classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyCorvidae
Genus Corvus
Speciescorax

References

Stellars Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri )

The Stellars Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) is a common character found in the forests of the western half of the United States. The bird is an opportunistic omnivore and closely related to the Blue Jay. The Stellars Jay has a black crested head and a vibrant blue body which is commonly about between eleven and twelve inches long. This bird has a lot of variations depending on location.

Stellar's Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) stealing peanuts in Big Bear, California
A Stellar’s Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) stealing peanuts in Big Bear, California
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