Egan Cemetery, Egan Canyon, White Pine, Nevada

 

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East end of Egan Canyon

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Egan Cemetery showing the three unique hand crafted wooden  fences and headboards standing in 1999. Shaputis Photo

Overview of Egan Cemetery at the west end of Egan Canyon  in 1999. The cemetery is near the site of the old Pony Express Station. Shaputis Photo

Egan Cemetery showing a close-up view of the wooden pegs used on the construction of the grave fences. Shaputis Photo 1999

Egan cemetery is in T23N R62E NW1/4 NE1/4 Section 15. It is located approximately 1/4 mile from the old townsite. There are four obvious burials, four of which are enclosed by beautifully hand-crafted wooden fences held together with wooden dowels.   The fence was constructed around the cemetery in August 1975.  The writing on the wooden headboards over the four graves can no longer be read. There are many more burials here but none are identified by markers and are hidden under the sagebrush.

This cemetery has been erroneously referred to as the Fort Pierce Graveyard in some reports. The U. S. Army did not have a military post at Egan Canyon. A temporary post apparently existed at Schellbourne. The main Fort was located at the lower end of  Ruby Valley and was called Fort (Camp) Ruby. Several Pierce family members are buried in one of nearby Cherry Creek, Nevada's cemeteries and they may have been linked to some kind of mining or ranch business in Egan Canyon areas and thus had their name connected with this graveyard.

On August 11, 1860, when the Army arrived in time to save the lives of the two Egan Station keepers from a large party of Indians, during the fight, three soldiers were wounded. According the report of Lt Stephen H. Weed (File U-44, Adjutant General's Office, Letters Received, Records of the War Dept, National Archives, Microfilm # 567, Roll 634. The three wounded men were: Corpl. John Mitchell (shot in the hip, not serious) and Pvts. Joseph Henry (shot in the neck, serious) and Thomas Conley (shot through the back - serious). On the August 12, 1860, Lt. Weed ordered eight soldiers to take the wounded back to Ft. Ruby where Pvt. Thomas Conley died from his wounds. The other two survived their injuries. They are not buried in the Egan Cemetery.

The following report will prove that there is no truth in the local legend that the three fenced graves are those of soldiers killed in a Indian battle in 1860. The Ely BLM office has a handwritten copy of Lt. Stephen H. Weed's report in a file labeled " Pony Express Historical Background Information." The transcript done by Mike Bunker in 1993 will be shown in its entirety below.

"From: 
1st Lt. Stephen H. Weed, Actg C. O., Co. B, 4th Art,, Station at Egan Canyon, August 12, 1860.

To:
Actg. Assist. Adjt. Gen., Dept. of Utah, Camp Floyd.

Sir:
    I have the honor to report that I left Ruby Valley yesterday, intending to go as far as Antelope Springs before my return to chastise certain Indians in that vicinity ... [3 noncoms, 24 privates in his detachment].  Upon arriving within a mile of this station, which is about 40 miles from Ruby, I was met by the Express rider who had passed me a short time before [on his way east], and [he] informed me that the station was surrounded by Indians armed and apparently hostile.  Leaving a non-comd. officer with seven men with my two wagons, with balance of my party I hastened on and found the report of the Express man was correct.

There were from 75 to 1000 Indians immediately around the station, nearly all of them were armed with rifles, and certainly a greater number than either of those above mentioned, from five to eight hundred yards distant on the mountains. The Indians had evidently been bullying the station men, and had extracted from them nearly all the stores [food]. The station keeper and the man with him have since informed me that the Indians would not permit them to go after their stock, and that they had not the least doubt but they would have been killed very soon but for my arrival.

I gave directions for surrounding the Indians near the station, and while that was being executed tow or three of my men too eager to commence fired prematurely, thus alarming the Indians and leaving them an opportunity to retreat, which they lost no time in taking advantage of; the fire then became general, but the Indians very soon got up the mountains south and east of the station where they were well protected from our fire by rocks and trees.  As they were evidently well supplied with rifles and ammunition and were so greatly superior in point of numbers, I did not think it advisable to attempt to attack them in their strong position.  The Indians from their shelter fired one or two volleys but they were beyond range and did no damage; they proceeded to get off as rapidly as possible.

    List of Killed & Wounded -
    Corporal John Mitchell ... was shot in the hip. I think he is not seriously wounded.
    Pvt. Joseph Henry, shot in the neck - seriously.
    Pvt. Thomas Conley, shot through the back, serious.

Of the Indians one was killed and three wounded .. but only one body left on the ground [says he was morally certain ? of three others]. Of those reported wounded I say myself three of them fall and saw them picked up and carried off by the others.  We got two of their horses, two rifles, a lot of bows and arrows and some bullets.  

I send a party of eight back to Ruby this morning with my wounded, and shall see the Express rider through the canyon sending a small party with him as far as Shell Creek.  I shall remain here with the balance of my party - eleven men - until the arrival of that portion of the company which can be spared from Ruby Valley, when I shall go on to Antelope Springs.

I would especially mention 1st Sgt. James Stewart, Corporal John Mitchell and Privates Armstrong, Lockey, Henry and Conley for meritorious conduct during the skirmish.

        1st Lt. Stephen H. Weed
        Actg. C. O., Co. B"

August 15, 1860, 1st Lt. Weed reported an attack on Shell Creek Station, the stock was run off and one US horse wounded. The Indians were rebuked. Weed then led a re-enforced patrol south and west to clear the area of  hostiles.

The four graves that can be discerned today are marked by beautifully and solidly crafted wooden fences and exceptionally tall wooden headboards that have deteriorated badly by 1999. The square nails were added later. Originally the fences were held together with wooden pegs. The three tall flat, rounded topped wooden markers are not legible. It is possible the same individual constructed the fences as they are very similar in workmanship. Early pictures show several other graves in front of the 4 fenced graves and some more to the west of them. Perhaps as many as 40 burials took place here.

Burials

The only known burial in Egan Cemetery is that of John Somes Low who died September 25, 1873. Apparently, John S. Low "was working the "Union Mine", one and one-half miles northwest of Mike's Springs. He was found on the wagon road between the springs and Fort Schellbourne by a patrol of soldiers, apparently suffering a stroke or heart attack. They took Mr. Low to the fort where he died two weeks later. Not having family to contact and possibly no cemetery available at the fort the military decided to buy him alongside 3 soldiers who had been killed earlier in a skirmish with Indians and were "buried on the spot."" A letter dated Jan. 23, 1976 at the BLM office from Robert L. Hind, Jr., John S. Low's great grandson living in Hawaii, says the above information was from family and testimony  of old timers in Cherry Creek several years ago. The old timers called the Egan cemetery the "Old Civil War Cemetery." Mr. Hinds said "We are reasonably convinced that my Great-grandfather John Somes Low is in one of the graves. We assume it is the one with the large cross."

John S. married Martha Fuller, a daughter of John P. Parker who started up the now famous Parker Ranch on the big island, and Kipikane. Their descendants retain ownership of the Parker Ranch to this day. Kipikane was a grand daughter of King Kamehameha I (born 1810- died 1819) in Hawaii. 

John Somes Low and Martha Parker were the parents of Eliza, Clema, Mary, Eben (married ___ Napoleon), John (Jack) and Hannah (married __ Hind).

 

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The B&W photo are of Ebenezer Parker Low, also known as "Rawhide Ben," a son of John Somes Low.  The "Rawhide Ben" photo was taken about 1890 at Hawaii on a ranch that his father owned and may still be in operation. He lost his left hand in a roping accident in Hawaii. Photos courtesy of  Jerry Bowen and the Cherry Creek Museum.

 

Woodruff, Mr. ____ died April 1869.   The Woodruff family consisting of a man, woman and a 16 year-old son of Virginia City were traveling to White Pine County in April 1869. The father sickened and died at Egan Canyon and was buried beside the road. His widow and son traveled on to Shermantown where they were helped by citizens.  (Source: Treasure Hill by W. Turrentine Jackson p. 90.)

Compiled by June Shaputis 1998


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