A Sad Tale
Nana Long was a young prostitute from Texas working in the red light district of Goldfield. She went by the name Ray Raymond. On May 10, 1908 this unfortunate young women took a pistol and shot herself in the head. She died by her own hand because her lover had apparently abandoned her. Nana’s father refused to have her body returned to Texas for burial. So, her earthly remains rest in the Goldfield Cemetery.
MY GREAT GRANDFATHER JOSEPH BOWN
B 1839 – D 1906
CIVIL WAR VETERAN | 1ST LIEUTENANT 78TH REGIMENT PENNSYLVANIA
By George Kuhn Joseph Bown and the Goldfield Historical Society
This is a story about my Great grandparents, Joseph Bown his wife Mary E. and family. Joseph traveled west to Telluride, Colorado before settling in Goldfield, Nevada around the early 1900s, not to mine for gold, but to satisfy his entrepreneurial desire. He and his wife Mary were excellent cooks and started a boarding house for miners in Jumbo Town, an area adjacent and north of Goldfield, until the death of Mary in 1919.
My Grandparents (George Frederick Kuhn, known as Fred, and Sara Eva Bown Kuhn, known as Sadie and also Joseph Bown’s daughter) — went to Goldfield to assist in the care of the boarding house in 1911, where my father George and his sister Nellie (their children) grew up. Family history says both rode a stagecoach to school; I wonder did the stage coach stop in front of the house and wait for them to come out, like so many school buses do today!
Mary being a very kind person paid for Nellie to have piano lessons, and Nellie became a very talented musician. My grandmother, Sadie, was a very dedicated Methodist and was instrumental in having the Methodist Church built in Goldfield. She later retired as president of the Methodist Ladies Aid. In the years 1936 to 1942 my aunt Nellie Goodrich was the pianist for the Methodist Community Sunday School. Later my grandparents purchased a home in Goldfield, address unknown.
The boarding house was located on Fifth Avenue in Goldfield. This is the same street a saloon called The Santa Fe (owned by a German named Joe Fuesch) was located. It was patronized by the men in our family, and became somewhat of a cactus thorn in the side of the women folk. I’m sure during that time, if only walls could talk, the stories could not be printed with a quality of modesty! As William Shakespeare once said “Discretion is the better part of valor”. My point in this is to stimulate your imagination and bring back the exciting stories of the old west. One of the stories is the purchase of a .41 caliber double action Colt lighting that Joseph Bown, found it irresistible to have. It has a grip that’s versatile enough for women to handle as well as the hand of the rough and tumble Jesse James. That revolver has been passed down through the family. Approximately 50 years ago my father allowed me to discharge it and somehow became my possession. I in turn passed it to my son Noah a few years back when he showed me how accurately the gun performed, a skill that has eluded me for many years.
Joseph Bown whom I never had the chance to meet also had a pocket watch he carried in the Civil War. It was relegated to family for safe-keeping and now my charge in life is to carry on that tradition. My virtuous cousin, Ken Goodrich placed the watch in my hand to continue that honorable task of diligence.
My wife Dayle and I visited my cousin Kenneth Goodrich and his wife Martha, (Reiley) Goodrich of Sparks Nevada, in October 2009. They wanted us to replace the grave markers of Joseph and Mary Bown with new wooden markers made by Martha. Dayle and I decided the graves needed a more permanent head stone. Our good friend Maryann Phillips of Phillips Monument Co cut and donated the head stone. My wife and I decided to make the trip from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Goldfield to bring the marker and combine it with a vacation. Our daughter Sally and her husband Ken Sennett joined up with us in Sparks, not only to meet the cousins, but to participate in the exiting event. We arrived in Tonopah, Nevada on April 22, 2010 to visit the Central Nevada mine museum. My wife mentioned to the curator the reason we were in Nevada, and she said, with an exited voice “We have been waiting for you!” and to please call Angela Haag. Angela and John Ekman (pictured right), the President of the Goldfield Historical Society, met us at the Goldfield cemetery with tools, water, and cement to set the marker. Dayle and I were elated to have such enthusiasm from people we didn’t know. How refreshing!
Upon our arrival at the Goldfield cemetery, we were also greeted by three local grounds keepers working tirelessly to rid the unsightly undergrowth. Although the snow was falling in the desert, they continued to meticulously manicure the pathways. We were particularly impressed to discover they were working without a contract, and I even thought I recognized them from the movies. The names Bessie, Gus and Francis are thrust upon my grey cells.
Some people pass away all too soon. My great grand parents were no exception to the rule, and are fortunate enough to be buried in the Goldfield cemetery, (The Knights of Pythias section). I’m grateful for dedicated and excellent people to oversee the care and continuous preservation of a worthy cause.
Afterwards we had the privilege to receive a personally guided tour, of the old Goldfield’s high school in the process of restoration, from John and Amanda Elsea. They have an unyielding strength of character to embrace this project with complete devotion.
When our cousins, Ken and Martha Goodrich attended the school, they either signed in pencil or scratched their names on a door frame with other graduates in the past, which are still very visible today. Who said graffiti tag art is the work of today’s young people? The only difference is that kids now are afraid to sign their real names.
In closing, my entire family has been honored, not in the usual way with the pin on your chest or the fanfare of a parade, but with the genuine dedication of the members of the Goldfield Historical Society and the people of Goldfield.
George F. Kuhn