Person:Isaiah Smelser (7)

Isaiah Prigmore SMELSER
d.23 MAR 1897 ,,Nevada
  1. Martin SMELSERABT 1824 -
  2. David SMELSERABT 1826 -
  3. Susan Jane SMELSER1828 -
  4. Isaiah Prigmore SMELSERABT 1833 - 1897
  5. Mary Elizabeth SMELSER1834 - 1916
  6. Rebecca Addie SMELSERABT 1836 -
  7. John Riley SMELSERABT 1839 -
  8. Benjamin Franklin SMELSER1840 - 1921
  • HIsaiah Prigmore SMELSERABT 1833 - 1897
  • WEliza POWERS1845 - 1918
m. 29 OCT 1863
  1. Jefferson Davis SMELSER1865 - 1917
  2. SMELSER1866 - 1866
  3. SMELSER1867 - 1867
  4. Nancy Adeline SMELSER1869 - 1962
  5. John Sterling SMELSER1871 - 1929
  6. SMELSER1873 - 1873
  7. Isaiah Sylvester SMELSER1874 - 1878
  8. Wesley Levi SMELSER1876 - 1884
  9. SMELSER1877 - 1877
  10. William Walter SMELSER1878 - 1881
  11. Henry King SMELSER1881 - 1952
  12. Rosalie Elizabeth SMELSER1884 - 1951
  13. Daniel Fay SMELSER1886 - 1937
  14. Frederick SMELSER1888 - 1912
Facts and Events
Name Isaiah Prigmore SMELSER
Gender Male
Birth? ABT 1833 Kentucky or Missouri
Marriage 29 OCT 1863 Peavine,Washoe,Nevadato Eliza POWERS
Death? 23 MAR 1897 ,,Nevada

!CENSUS:1860 California (Siskiyou, Yreka) Page Page 13 167/165 Day Laborer (living with Stock Dealers)
!CENSUS:1870 California (Plumas, Quartz Twp) Page 42A 1407/1424 Farmer;
!CENSUS:1880 Nevada (Humboldt, Golconda & Stone House)E.D. 22, Sheet 19, Line 29 Farmer Taken 6 Nov
Appears as Asa SMUSNER
GOLCONDA . Latitude 40.9532359 Longitude -117.4892882 Elevation 4400
STONE HOUSE Historical Latitude 40.8371285 Longitude -117.1720551 Elevation 4453

The Humboldt Historian
Pumpernickel Valley
By Ruth (Tipton) Danner
Annual Index
Page 7-8
One of the first settlers in Pumpernickel Valley was Isaiah Smelser who came west after the Civil war and settled at the springs in the pass between Pumpernickel and Buffalo Valleys. The ranch he established became known as the Smelser Ranch, and he did extensive water development work there. He irrigated alfalfa and grain fields from a lake of about 18-20 acres he had formed with dams and levies.7

Smelser planted carp in his lake, and they propagated rapidly. By July of 1885 he had fish that weighted from five to eight pounds. The lake was six to eight feet deep, full of a luxuriant growth of tules and literaly teeming with fish. He had planted the fish for table use, but they became most difficult to catch. He had tried to tame them by throwing meat and bread on the water, but the fish found more palatable food in the lake. Fisherman had tried every device known to try to catch them including nets which snared in the tules.

When Smelser wanted fish to eat, he would shoot a few. He told a newspaper reporter that if he had a practical means of catching them, he could supply all the railroad towns for miles with fresh carp. In those days carp was considered equal to trout as table food. He offered a reward for anyone who could come up with a means of snaring several hundred of the fish daily. 8

In January of 1882, Smelser was promoting a new ore discovery that was creating some excitement. The ore was argentiferous gray copper which carried considerable gold and silver. It was found in a 50--foot vein with a strike of north and dip west at 50 degrees. Smelser & Co had sunk a 70--foot shaft intersecting the vein which improved toward the bottom. 9 The ore was later determined to assay $20 to $60 per ton in silver and 12 to 26 per cent in copper. It was not rich enough to ship, but the property was a candidate for a reduction works which could concentrate the ore. 10 These are probably the copper workings over the hill from the Smelser ranch on which a cabin and other ruins stood in the 1970s.

In March of 1884, Smelser's wife, Eliza, gave birth to a daughter. The next year Smelser's 8--year--old son, Wesley Levi, was playing in a cold mountain stream and fell victim to rheumatic fever. He died March 20, 1885 and was buried in Golconda.11

Isaiah Smelser was thrown from a wagon and killed Tuesday morning, March 23, 1897. He and Mitchell Brown, one of his rach employees, were hauling wood about 3 1/2 miles from the ranch. They had loaded about half the wagon. Smelser was seated on the seat and started to drive to another pile of wood a few yards away. Mitchell was at the wood pile waiting for him to drive up.

The team of colts became frightened and started to run. A wheel struck a rock, and Smelser was thrown to the ground, striking his head and shoulder. Brown asked if he was hurt, but Smelser didn't answer. Brown turned Smelser over and found that he was dead. He went for help and then helped take Smelser back to the ranch. Pete Finley, who was driving a band of sheep nearby, witnessed the accident. 12

Smelser's widow and children mvoed to Golconda where the children attended school. In 1900, the Golconda census records Eliza Smelser age 54, Rosa born in 1884, Daniel born in May 1886, Fred born in November 1888.

Smelser Springs was shut off by the earthquake of 1915 but came back in 1940. Springs on the other side of Pumpernickel Valley were not affected by the quake. 13 The pass, the abandoned ranch and a small peak carry Smelser's name.

The Silver State
January 7, 1882
Page 3, Column 2


An Immense Ledge and an inviting Field for Prospectors.

A miner who visited the Summit Springs mines, recently discovered, writes to the SILVER STATE as follows concerning them:
The Summit Springs mountain range is one of the many parallel ranges that form a pecular feature of the western slope of this continent. Their trend is meridianal, and their fissured and corrugated sides give evidence of their having been riven by dynamic and volcanic action, and torn by torrents and floods which washed down the debris into the large valleys. The ac?lulated waters, impregnanted with chlorine, florine, and salts of the precious metals, penetrated to the molten interior of these ranges, where they formed steam which, with the volatile metals in a gaseous state, arose and crystallized in the colder parts of the fissures, and a subsequent desiccating period has brought them to their present condition. My inclination would lead me to write more in detail on this subject, but space might prevent you from printing it, therefore I will contine myself to a brief reort of Summit Springs District.

The new discovery of Smelser & Co. is about twelve iles from Stone House, on the C. P. R. R., in a southerly direction from that place and on the east side of the range. The vein strikes north and dips to the west at an angle of about 50 degrees, and crosses a low hill jutting out from the main range. The vein is about 50 feet wide on the surface, and all ore. I went down the incline shaft about 70 feet. It is sunk about the middle of the lead. The ore has improved with depth adn is much better at the bottom of the shaft than at the surface. All the rock taken from the shaft is strongly impregnanted with ore, and Mr. Smith, the Superintendent, has offered to pay all expenses incurred thus far for the ore on the dump. The ore is argentiferous gray copper, carrying considerable gold as well as silver. The company will start a level from the bottom of the incline and cross-cut the vein, so as to find th ewall and ascertain the exact width of the lode, and they do not want visitors until they have properly defined it. The ledge can be traced by croppings carrying ore over six thousand feet. Smelser's ranch is about a mile and a half south of the mine, and a large stream of water flows there. The range south is capped with limestone threaded with veins of galena, copper and silver, and covered with groves of juniper wood, and water is abundant.

Mr. Smelser has made some expensive and permanent improvements at his place. He has built high dams and long levies which back the water on to a flat, forming a lake, from which he irrigates his extensive alfalfa and grain fields. From what I have seen I have come to the conclusion that Summit Springs will prove to be one of the most extensive mining localities in Nevada.

The Silver State
February 3, 1882
Page 3, Column 2

Summit Springs District.
The SILVER STATE recently published a well-written article on Summit Springs District, by an old miner, in which the Smelser mine was described. Mr. Smelser, one of the owners of the mine, informs the Lewis Herald that they are now down 60 feet on the ledge, which a crosscut shows to be 26 feet wide at the depth. An average of the ore assays from $20 to $60 per ton in silver, and contains from 12 to 26 per cent copper. The ore is not rich enough to ship, but could be concentrated, if reduction works were at the mine, so that it could be profitably shipped to smelting works.

The Silver State
July 25, 1885
Page 3, Column 2

Plenty of Fishes But No Way of Catching Them
Some years ago Isaiah Smelser, whose ranch is at Summit Lake, 28 miles south of Golconda, stocked the lake, which covers an area of eighteen or twenty acres, with carp. The fish propagated rapidly and the lake is now literally alive with them. The oldest fish weigh from five to eight pounds and are equal to trout for table use. The lake is from six to eight feet deep, and tules grown luxuriantly in its waters. Several attempts have been made to tame the fish, by throwing meat and bread on the water, but they will not eat it, as they find plenty of more palatable food in the lake, and every device known to fishermen has been tried to catch them, without success. They are said to be as cunning as foxes, and they can not be caught with hook and line. Various kinds of nets have been used in vain attemps to ensnare them, as the tules prevent their successful use, and the fish will bury themselves in the mud and let the net pass over them, or when hard pressed will jump out of the water over it. The only way that Mr. Smelser can get fish for his table is by shooting a few occasionally, while if he had some practical method of catching them he could supply all the towns along the railroad for miles with fresh carp. He has hopes that eventually they will become so numerous in the lake that they will require artificial food, and hunger will tame them, but at present anybody who can devise a net or snare by whih a few hundred or a thousand of the larger fish can be caught daily, will be handsomely rewarded by Mr. Smelser.

!NEWSPAPER: There is an error in this account-the ranch is southeast of Golconda. Kathleen has been on the road to the ranch.
Silver State
March 24, 1897
Page 3
I. Smelser met with an accident near his ranch, which is situated northeast of Golconda, which resulted in his death yesterday afternoon. A telegram received here this morning merely stated that "I. Smelser had been killed by a team yesterday." Full particulars will be given after the inquest, which will be held by the Golconda justice of the peace today.

Wed, 27 Jun 2007
Information from the person who now leases the land:
Smelser pass is about as remote as you can get: deep rutted, dusty roads w/ mostly sage brush.

Description of Summit Springs, now referred to as the Old Cow Camp
Trees:Cottonwood. 2-3 Fruit Apples: Yellow, Freckled red & Yellow and Crab trees Wild Pear (it's very tall, the fruit needs to be knocked down with something).

The crab apples use to be used for cider.

The house was on 50 acres. There is a foundation and dug-out left.

50,000 sheep were grazed in the area in the 1940s & 1950s.

The Servel family leased the ranch

It's about 28 miles south of the Highway.

Isaiah was cutting Juniper fence posts when the colts bolted.