Did Virginia City, Nevada, ever have any notable gunmen?
The first notable gunman who comes to mind is Andrew Jackson Davis, better known as “Big Jack” or “Smiling Jack.” After moving to the Comstock Lode in 1859, he bought a stamp mill in Six-Mile Canyon near Virginia City, Nevada, and organized an outlaw gang. His men robbed stagecoaches, trains and wagons hauling bullion west of town, on the narrow Sierra Nevada Mountain roads David used his mill to melt down gold taken in the robberies.
Davis and four men were responsible for the first train robbery west of the Rocky Mountains. On November 5, 1870, they held up a Central Pacific train between Verdi and Reno. The law caught them, and Davis and crew went to prison.
Released early for good behavior in 1875, Davis went back to robbing stages. Two years later, a shotgun messenger killed Davis during a robbery.
Davis reportedly buried much of his stolen gold and silver in Six-Mile Canyon because he didn’t want people to know how rich he’d become. This legend has conjured up tales of lost treasure waiting to be found.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.