Hay view from Castle

Hay view from Castle
Hay-on-Wye, Powys (formerly Breconshire), Wales. The "Town of Books" (and Vaughans!)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Jacks Valley, Nevada: Yesterday, Today, and Forever

On a typical less-than-busy evening at the North Bountiful Family History Library, I was working on my own family interests and came across a great picture of Jacks Valley, Nevada, from 1939:

Jack's Valley Pony Express Station
With the gracious permission of Sherratt Library Special Collections, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, which owns the rights.

The photo caused one of those little mental shocks as should be obvious from this photo I took a couple of years ago at almost exactly the same spot:

North end of Jacks Valley, Nevada, looking Northeast from Jacks Valley Rd.. 20 October 2014
In the background against the hills is the Ascuaga Ranch, originally established by the Winters Family.
Yeah, pretty weird, right?

Further research is necessary to determine if this is the actual site of a Pony Express Station. I'm getting mixed information from my internet searches as to whether the station just south of Carson was in Genoa or Jacks Valley. The next one farther South was at Van Sickles just below the Sierra climb. Maybe it changed in the short time span that the Pony Express was in operation.

And that's another thing. The Pony Express only ran from April 1860 to October 1861 when the transcontinental telegraph line was finished. That is pretty much the same time span we have calculated for the death of Elinor Jenkins Vaughan, handcart pioneer of '56 and my 4th-Great-Grandmother, who lived the end of her life and and is likely buried within a mile or so of this photo. Yes, the Pony Express and California Trail went right by her for perhaps a year and a half while she still lived. Surely she must have noticed. Surely one of those wiry, young riders or proto-Californians must have noticed an elderly Welsh woman watching them go by.

Jacks Valley is on the far western edge of the Great Basin. Lake Tahoe is just over those hills. It is parallel, north and south, just over a small ridge to the Carson River. The south end of Jacks Valley and the Carson River come together just outside of Genoa, Nevada (where there is a golf course today). There were many routes of the California Trail diverging in what is now Western Nevada. The principal route in 1860 was either the boggy road along the Carson or the solid ground over the ridge through Jacks Valley. The Express riders used the latter. Many of the wagons did as well. It all depended on how wide the Carson and how wet the ground in the main valley.

Jacks Valley along with the much broader expanse of Carson Valley was a last chance for supplies and for the cattle and horses to graze before the climb over the Sierras. By 1862, Elinor's new son-in-law, Abednego "Bendigo" or A.B. Johns [formerly Jones] was being taxed for retail liquor, an eating house, and a "5th Class Hotel" which I think must have been something like a pioneer KOA campground.

Now, I don't know if we're ever going to solve the remaining mysteries of Elinor's story. We're going to keep looking and who knows what documentary, photographic, physical, or other evidence may yet be found. But somewhere in this valley is a grave that will open on that Great Resurrection Day and she will come forth in glory. I'm anxious to meet her there. 

Many won't believe the spiritual aspects of this story. But there's no denying the facts.

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