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Newspaper Archive of
Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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February 27, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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February 27, 1997
 

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..... V-Y" .- 22 Thersday, February 27, 1997 Pahrump Valley Gazette .... Gazeu,; on the street ...... do you feel about the cloning of a sheep. Pahrump 482-301 6 No to Abuse 751 -111 8 Tonopah 24 Hr. Crisis Line Pahrump The administration of justice in many of Nevada's early nining camps was often hampered by the lack of a jail. Thus it was that those men who got themselves in serious trouble sometimes ended up paying their dues on the short end of a long rope. Those who committed lesser of- fenses were tarred and feathered, had an ear cut off, were run out of town, handcuffed to a hitching post or chained to the nearest tree for a couple of days. The camp of Eureka was estab- lished in September 1864, but did not become of any considerable im- portance until new smelting tech- niques were developed in 1869. The district nevertheless drew its share of drifters and troublemakers. Since the county commissioners in Austin, seat of Lander County be- fore Eureka's citizens took it upon themselves to construct a rough log structure which they felt would serve their purposes. For the ordinary troublemaker, the new jail was entirely adequate, but Newton Thacher was no ordi- nary man. Following a prolonged drinking spree and a near-riot in the red-light district, Thacher and his partner found themselves confined to the aforesaid structure. They drifted offinto adrunken repose and did not awaken until another confederate on the outside aroused them by calling through the wails. An ax was soon psed through a convenient crack and Newton and his partner hacked down the door and walked out  men. The pair appeared at the bar of the nearest saloon and ordered drinks for all present. The barkeep expressed some considerable surprise at the fact that they were at liberty, but Thaeher explained to him what had happened. Displaying the ax, he asked the saloonkeeper to inform all those who inquired that "Newton Thacher, like George then an f now Eureka Jail History by Phillip I. Earl Nevada Historical Society Washington, could not tell a lie, and that he had done it with his little hatchet.'" The local constable took Thacher at his word and he and his partner were locked up again within the hour, minus their ax, and were chained" to the floor for the night. Next morning, they appeared before the justice of the peace, were duly fined and set to repairing their previous night's handi- work. Other prisoners, found the log structure equally as easy to crack, but the commissioners in Austin still refused to spend good money on any such foolishness as a proper jail. Eureka's leading citizens, feeling the justice had to be served, finally met to compound a scheme to impress the recalcitrant officials with the need for such an institution. In early October 1868, Austin teamster, Leonard Jackson, arrived in Eureka with his rig heavily laden with sacks of barley. Since the hour was late, he pulled out his bed roll, spread it beneath his wagon and retired for the night. One of Eureka's citizens, John Dennis, saw his opportu- nity. He contacted two local rounders and paid them to steal four sacks of barley from the Jackson's wagon. The deed was done within the hour and the barley was stored in a back room at Dennis's residence. When Jackson awoke next morning and found his grain gone, he was wild with rage. "What kind of a town is Eu- reka" he wailed," stealing my grain when I'm asleep." "Well, you see;' Dennis told him, "we have something of a crime problem here because we don't have a jail. These thugs can run loose even after they have been convicted. We can't be haul- ing them to Austin every day." Jackson stormed off down the street, sold the rest of his barley before leaving town and considered himself fortunate that he still had his team and wagon. While he was having a last drink in a nearby saloon, someone unhitched the team and lead them away. Jackson, in utter frustration, finally hired another team and whipped them back to Austin. Shorty after his return, he contacted the commission- ers and related the manner in which he had been treated in Eureka. At the next meeting, they voted funds for a jail and dispatched a rider to tell Eureka officials that they should immediately put out bids. Curiously enough, Jackson's team and the missing sacks of barley were "found" and returned to him several weeks later when he again happened to he in Eureka on business. PHOTO INSERT: Early-day Eureka, a town without a jail for many years. NEVADA HISTORICAL SOCIETY PHOTOGRAPH