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Did you know that the Society receives most of it's collection materials thru the generosity of donations?
If you have any questions, please call 775.688.1190 ext. 0.

Summer 2008

New Acquisitions at the Nevada Historical Society


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The library recently received a donation of matchbooks that will be added to the Nevada Historical Society’s collection. The collection now contains approximately five hundred matchbooks from Nevada casinos, restaurants, hotels, motels, and political campaigns, to name just a few categories. Some of the matchbooks are from Nevada’s long-forgotten past, and the matchbook may be the last physical remnant of an establishment or a hard-run campaign for political office. Some matchbooks contain more information than one would usually think, such as maps, menus and food specialties of restaurants, and pictures of the establishments themselves. They are a cultural representation of a particular time and place. They can be serious, comical, and informational.

We have recently scanned the matchbooks into the PastPerfect database, and they are available for viewing in the Nevada Historical Society Library. They can be used to illustrate articles and books, or to just browse through for research or for fun.

If you have any Nevada matchbooks that you don’t know what to do with, we would be pleased to add them to our collection.

Michael Maher


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When Charles Wesley Baker came to Reno right after World War II, the city was just commencing a commercial and residential construction boom. In 1947, he formed Sterling Builders, Inc., and began building houses and other structures to meet the postwar demand. In succeeding years he became associated with several other local business ventures and entered the field of commercial banking through his C. W. Baker Company (he later declared that he was “forced” to become a mortgage banker because there was insufficient local financing for building projects in northern Nevada).

“Wes” Baker’s granddaughter, Melissa Shanley, has generously donated a collection of his business papers to the Nevada Historical Society. Most of the materials, which include early minute books from Sterling Builders and the C. W. Baker Company, date from the period 1947-74 and serve to document Baker’s important and multifaceted business career in the Reno area.

Financial records from a number of northern Nevada banks have recently been added to the Society’s catalogued manuscript holdings. Notable among these are substantial groups of documents from two Elko County banks, the Bank of Wells and the First National Bank of Elko. The Bank of Wells records are from the period 1912-22 and include stock journals and ledgers, as well as minutes of meetings of the bank’s stockholders and board of directors. Much of the material relates to the bank’s placement in the hands of the Nevada state bank examiner, Gilbert C. Ross, in 1922, and its reorganization that year as the Wells State Bank.

The records of the First National Bank of Elko, which occupy approximately eight cubic feet of shelf space, cover the years 1904 to 1936, and contain a variety of materials. Among these are transaction journals, check and draft registers, collection records, account reconcilement registers, a general ledger for 1935-36, and minutes of directors’ and stockholders’ meetings, 1905-17.

Bert V. Bradshaw (1884-1965) and his wife, Pearl Scott Bradshaw (1896-1981), were ministers of the Methodist Church who served congregations on a number of western Indian reservations from the years of World War I into the 1960s. From 1947 to 1963, they were at the Methodist Mission in Schurz, Nevada, on the Walker Lake Indian Reservation. The Society has added to its research library holdings a significant group of photographs, certificates, and other materials that document the Bradshaws’s activities at Schurz during their decade and a half of church service there. Included are dozens of photographs of the Bradshaws, the community of Schurz, various public events, and the Paiute residents of the Walker Lake Reservation.

Eric Moody
Curator of Manuscripts


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The Nevada Historical Society is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of a gift of the historic photograph and manuscript collection of Emil W. Billeb, courtesy of his granddaughter Vickie C. Daniels. Mr. Billeb was actively involved in the mining and railroad industries in Nevada and California from 1905 through the 1950s. He is well known for his book Mining Camp Days, which recounts his work and adventures of that period, as well as his subsequent instrumental role in setting up the preservation of the town of Bodie as a California state park.

The Billeb collection contains five thousand original photographs, including extensive views of the towns and areas surrounding Tonopah, Aurora, Bodie, Mono Mills, Lundy, Bridgeport, and Mono Lake. There are images of Reno, Carson City, Yerington, Hawthorne, Broken Hills, Quartz Mountain, Klondyke, Goldfield, Benton, Mammoth, Tioga Pass, and the high Sierra. Also included is the largest known group of photographs of the Mono Lake Lumber Company (successor to the Bodie Railway and Lumber Company and the Bodie and Benton Railway). The collection includes original correspondence from mining and railroad companies, stocks and bonds, historic newspaper articles, plus the inventory and documentation of buildings remaining at Bodie in the 1950s.

The Society has scanned and fully processed the first group of four hundred photographs from the collection, and they are now available for public viewing. This group includes nearly all of the two hundred photographs depicted in Mining Camp Days, as well as two hundred additional photographs of the railroad and logging-related views in the collection.

To protect the integrity of the collection, the Society is limiting researcher access to those parts that have been catalogued and archived. As funding and other applicable resources become available over time, the Society will make more of the collection available to the public. The Society thanks Lawrence Meeker of Reno for his four-year volunteer role in locating, acquiring, and processing this valuable addition to the documentary history of Nevada and bordering areas in California.

Lee P. Brumbaugh
Curator of Photography

Museum Artifacts 


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In recent months, the Nevada Historical Society has acquired a number of fascinating and historically important artifacts through generous donations from the public. These items represent important aspects of Nevada’s history that might be lost to future generations. In the area of gaming and casino memorabilia, the society has acquired two important collections.

Julianne Gordon Anastassatos donated artifacts used by cheaters in Nevada during the 1920s and beyond in memory of her father. The items include a wool houndstooth vest modified with a spring-loaded metal card holder, a brass card trimmer with an ivory-handle tip, and a brass card-corner trimmer with a mahogany handle dating back to 1864 and made by Will and Finck, San Francisco makers of cutlery, surgical instruments, and barber’s supplies.

Joe Snyder, Jr., donated sets of cheaters’ dice from various casinos including the Sahara Tahoe, the Rolo Club, Ed’s Tahoe Nugget, the Cal-Neva Club, and the Silver Nugget; two ties from the Golden Bank Club and the Golden Nugget; and a diceduplicator set used in Nevada casinos.

Mr. Snyder’s father was known as “Back Line Joe” because he never played anything on the dice table except the back line (betting against the dice). He was born in Baltimore in 1893; he was involved in illegal gambling in Baltimore, and when it got a little too hot there he headed for Nevada. He arrived in Reno in 1942, and because of his previous connections with Bill Graham and James McKay, he was offered work as a pit boss in the Bank Club. Snyder later worked summers at Tahoe Village Casino on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. In 1948 and 1949, he owned and operated the Rolo Club on Commercial Row in Reno, and in 1951 he was manager of the Frisco Club on North Center Street. Snyder suffered a heart attack while working on the catwalk of Harvey’s Wagon Wheel. He died on June 28, 1957. Snyder’s son, Joe, also worked in the gaming industry. His first job was as a dealer at the Tahoe Village Casino. Most of his almost fifty-year casino career was spent as a pit supervisor.

The Pincolini family and Quilici Construction donated items in the area of historical business equipment and memorabilia including the original wooden telephone switchboard from the historic Mizpah Hotel (Pincolini Hotel) that was located at 214 Lake Street in Reno. It was the original switchboard for the hotel’s 110 rooms. Unfortunately, Reno lost the historic hotel to an arson fire on November 1, 2006.

Dr. Joxe Mallea, professor of Basque history at the University of Nevada, Reno donated a carved aspen tree trunk, a good example of the types of Basque carvings found in Nevada. Basque immigrants from the Pyrenees mountain region between France and Spain came to the United States between 1860 and 1930. They left thousands of aspen trees carved with names, dates, poetry, and pictures marking their duties as sheepherders in the industry that supplied mutton to the early western mining camps. They, more than any other ethnic group, are being studied through the use of arborglyphs carved over the last century.

Sheryln Hayes-Zorn