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Riches, Ranching & Railroads

The Governors

Nevada's 19th Century Govenors

(1861-1864) James Warren Nye was Nevada Territory's only governor.  He was born in DeRuyter, Madison County, New York on June 10, 1814 or 1815.  Raised in New York, he was president of the New York Metropolitan Board of Police when he received the appointment as territorial governor from President Lincoln.  He left his family in New York during his term in office and reunited with them when he was chosen one of Nevada's first Senators.  He served in Congress until 1872.  Nye died in 1876 in White Plains, New York.

(1864-1871)  Henry Goode Blasdel was born in 1825 near Lawrenceburg, Kansas.  He worked at several occupations; he was a farmer, a storekeeper, and a river boat captain.  In 1861 he brought his family to Nevada.  He was active in mining and milling in the state both before and after his six years as governor.  He moved his family to Oakland, California in 1891, and he died there in his home in 1900.

(1871-1879) Lewis Rice Bradley was a native of Virginia.  He moved to California in 1852, then to Nevada about 1862 where he was in the cattle business in Elko County.  He served two terms as governor, and was narrowly defeated in a bid for a third term.  He died in Elko in 1879.

In his first address to the Legislature in January 1871 the governor sounded optimistic about the future of the nation and the state of Nevada.

State of Nevada, Executive Department
Carson City, January 3, 1871

Gentlemen of the Senate and Assembly:

As we again assemble to discharge the responsible trusts to which we have been chosen by a confiding people, let us devoutly remember Him, the Creator and Disposer of all, rendering grateful thanksgiving for the past, and humbly invoking His divine guidance in our future labors.

The past two years have been fruitful of good to the people.  Under the wise policy and rigid economy of the administration of President Grant, though the burdens of taxation have been sensibly reduced, the National faith has been kept, the National credit steadily advanced, and nearly two hundred millions of the Nation's debt have been paid.

Under the impetus of free labor, the southern portion of the Union is so swiftly progressing in the race of material wealth, that already the devastations of war have measurably disappeared.

The last of the rebellious states has been admitted to Constitutional relations with the Government, and the Union finally restored upon a basis of broader liberty and more universal equality.

At home, our causes of gratitude are manifold and great.  Health has blessed and material prosperity attended the efforts of the people.  The mineral resources of the State have developed beyond our expectation.  Extensive veins of precious metals, fabulous in richness, have been discovered, affording opportunities for investment, which have attracted several millions of foreign capital to our midst.  The great transcontinental railway has been triumphantly completed, connecting the great oceans, binding the East and the West in ties of closer intimacy; opening new fields of industry; infusing new energy and life into business, and furnishing us with rapid and easy communication and cheap transportation for our products and supplies.

(1879-1883)  John Henry Kinkead was a native of Pennsylvania, born there in 1826.  He came to Carson City in 1859 to establish a branch of his father-in-law's mercantile firm.  He served as territorial treasurer in Nevada Territory before becoming Nevada's third governor.  In 1884 he was appointed governor of Alaska Territory.  He stayed there one year, then returned to Carson City where he lived until his death in 1904.

(1883-1887) Jewett Adams was born in Vermont in 1835.  He came west with the California Gold Rush.  He worked there in the mines and owned a general store.  In 1864 he moved to Nevada and worked in mining, freighting, and cattle raising.  He served two terms as lieutenant governor, one term as governor, and later was Superintendent of the U.S. Mint n Carson city.  Adams and his family moved to San Francisco in 1915, and he died there in 1920.

(1887-1890)  Charles Clark Stevenson was a native of New York, born there in 1826.  He came to Nevada in 1859 where he worked in mining, milling, and agriculture.  He served three terms as a State Senator, representing Storey County.  For eleven years he was a Regent of the University of Nevada.  In 1886, he was elected governor, and died in office in 1890.

(1890) Frank Bell was a Canadian, born in Toronto in 1840.  He came to Nevada when he was supervising construction of the transcontinental telegraph through Nevada in 1858 to 1860.  He was one of the operators who telegraphed Nevada's Constitution to Washington D.C. in 1864.  Bell served as acting governor when Governor Stevenson signed a disability certificate on September 1, 1890, until the inauguration of Governor Colcord.  He was the first foreign born governor of the state.  He died in 1927 in Oakland, California.

(1891-1895)  Roswell Keyes Colcord was born in Maine in 1839,  He was apprenticed to a shipbuilder and became a carpenter.  He came west to California in 1856, then moved to Aurora, Nevada in 1860.  He moved on to Virginia City in 1863 where he became a successful mining engineer.  He served one term as governor, then became the Superintendent of the U.S. Mint from 1898 to 1911.  He died in Carson City in 1939 at the age of one hundred.

(1895-1896) John Edward Jones was Nevada's second foreign born governor.  He was born in Wales in 1840, and settled in Iowa with his family in 1856.  Jones worked on the Union Pacific and followed the rails west in 1865.  He settled in Eureka in 1869, and worked in mining and agriculture until 1883.  He served two terms as Surveyor-General of Nevada, then was elected governor.  He died in office in 1896.

Reader: Assemblyman Dennis Nolan

Photo Credits:
Nevada State Library and Archives