Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mormon Station aka Reese's Station: Nevada's First Permanent Settlement

Mormon Station was established in 1851.  It was a response by a couple of Mormon entrepeuners to the need for a station on the California Trail, for outfits to recruit before going over the Sierra Nevada.  The Nevada State Park website describes the history:
In June of 1850, two members of the Mormon Battalion, Abner Blackburn and Hampton Beatie, established a temporary trading post on the west side of Carson Valley. Their stories of this beautiful area on the emigrant trail intrigued their Salt Lake employer, John Reese, and his nephew, Stephen Kinsey.
In the spring of 1851, Reese and Kinsey loaded more than a dozen wagons full of supplies and set out for the Carson Valley. The Reese Company built a permanent trading post, approximately one mile south of the temporary trading post established by Blackburn and Beatie. Reese’s Station soon had a blacksmith shop, livery stable, and flour and saw mills nearby.
The Genoa City history adds some clarification:
Explorers and trappers made their way through this area but it wasn't until June of 1851 when John Reese and his party built a trading post that the area began to attract settlers and became a permanent settlement. Reese and his men took up land claims extending from the Walley's Hot Springs marsh area south of Genoa into Jack's Valley on the north. Since most of the men in Reese's party were Mormon, the location became known as Mormon Station. After building a trading post, Reese built a house and sent for his family in New York. Later, Reese added a blacksmith shop and a large corral for livestock.
The Overland Emigrant Trail passed down what is now Genoa's Main Street. Reese's operation did very well and when the Mormons were called back to Salt Lake City in 1857, Reese decided to stay to protect his business and extensive land claims. A great deal of buying, trading and selling of land went on during these early years. Reese did return to Salt Lake City in 1859 after business reversals.
Orson Hyde, an elder in the Mormon Church, was sent to "Mormon Station", Utah Territory, to set up a government, survey the town into lots, and define the state line between California and Utah Territory. He renamed Mormon Station "Genoa" in 1855. As the story goes, Hyde admired Christopher Columbus and so named the town site" Genoa" after Columbus's birth place, Genoa, Italy. Orson Hyde was the first probate Judge. Court matters were settled by Judge Hyde in the loft of Reese's trading post. Entrance to the loft was gained by climbing a ladder on the outside of the building then climbing through a large window into the loft. This loft was also used as a type of hotel for those pioneers traveling by foot and wishing to stay the night.
There is some argument as to whether this is the first settlement, as the town of Dayton also lays a claim.  Turns out there were miners living in Dayton, before Reese established Mormon Station.  However they had not built permanent buildings. 

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