Category Archives: virginia

Fire in VC

August 29th 1863, a fire swept through Virginia City, causing between $600,000 and $700,000 in damages. Beginning in a carpenter shop in the rear of Patrick Lynch’s saloon in the business section the fire quickly swept through the dry wooden buildings. At once it consumed the brittle board and canvas shanties.
The damage may not have been so great had the two most important fire crews in town fought a heated argument on the street near the scene of the fire, trying to settle an old feud between them. Instead of putting their differences behind them, and their energy into dowsing the flames, they took to bricks, bats, and fire nozzles to battle one another. When all was said and done there was one man dead and many more injured — but not from the fire.

However, the contours of traditional civic life swiftly developed, and in 1863 the respectable community fought a final symbolic battle with the city’s sporting men. A fire in a carpenter’s shop provoked a brawl between Engine Company No.1 and its adjunct hook and ladder company (the sports) on one side and Young America Engine Company No. 2 (the respectables) on the other. The two companies fought to determine which should put out the fire, and before they finished one man had died and a portion of Virginia City had burned. The melee was the first and only large, overt conflict between the two groups and the legal decisions in its aftermath sealed the respectable community’s dominance.

Aug 29, 1863

Professional Women

Hurdy-gurdy girls are not prostitutes.  They are Taxi Dancers in the basements of Hurdy Gurdy music joints.  They were paid .25c per dance, besides a treat.  If a man became enamored, as often happened after a few drinks, he gave her a bonus of five dollars, or ten or twenty. A saving girl could build a substantial estate out of these takings.

Mrs. Warren was an opulent madam.  Highly respected.

D Street girls, whores, smokes cigarettes, as did Mexicans.  Men smoked Havana cigars.  Germans smoked long pipes.  Chinese smoked opium in dens.

A reporter noted “a woman under the influence of liquor…perambulating on C Street … shaking a thousand dollars in gold coin at passersby” or ” a notorious courtezan, Josephine Dodge, also known as Buffalo Joe lying in the street dead drunk, surrounded by a crowd of spectators, her fingers and breast bedecked with diamonds”

Even the prostitutes gained civic renown, of various sorts: the scary “Buffalo Joe” Dodge, because she liked to duke it out with her professional rivals on the street; the British-born madam Julie Bulette, because she drove around in a gleaming carriage, prevailed on the city fathers to build clean cabins on D street for his daughters of desire, and decorated her own cottage, “Julie’s Castle,” with geraniums and roses.

A reporter noted “a woman under the influence of liquor…perambulating on C Street … shaking a thousand dollars in gold coin at passersby” or ” a notorious courtezan, Josephine Dodge, also known as Buffalo Joe lying in the street dead drunk, surrounded by a crowd of spectators, her fingers and breast bedecked with diamonds” Impromptu scuffles were so common as to be almost beneath notice.

Josephine Dodge, alias “Buffalo Jo,” a prominent trollop, was often in the public eye, bandying obscenities with street comer loafers, and being hauled off to jail dead drunk.

Juana Sanchez, known as “Sailor Jack,” was a fiery wench who took a pistol away from Jack Butler and shot him dead with it. Teamsters and others continually traded punches, as if for exercise. In a fist fight about some mail bag arrangement at Silver City yesterday, a stage driver’s little finger was broken by his antagonist’s nose coming in contact with it.

William Stephenson, M.D.

MAIN STREET, SILVER, CITY, Gives special attention to the treatment of all DISEASES OF THE HUMAN SYSTEM

And from an experience of twelve years of general practice, can Safely Guarantee Satisfaction to all who may place themselves under his care.

Special attention given to the treatment of RHEUMATISM, NEURALGIA, DIPTHERIA AND PARALYZED LIMBS.

He was known to be unscrupulous and would give drugs to addicts.