Jewett Family Papers

Identifier: 87-11

Scope and Content

The Jewett Family Papers consists of thirteen letters, primarily from Oscar and Alonzo Jewett in Virginia City, Nevada, to their family in Michigan, and letters from their parents and sister. They range in date from July 18, 1861 to September 18, 1867. There are no restrictions on use of the collection.

These letters offer a rich, first-hand account of mining activities and life in and around Virginia City, and on the opposite end, the reaction of the home folks to the news. The first letter, July 18, 1861 from Alonzo to the family in Saginaw, is an especially early Nevada document and establishes a pattern by providing much detail in few pages. Prices of goods, wages, living conditions, depressed mining conditions, and Nevada events are reported, as are the brothers' reactions to the news from home. Alonzo's letters from November 12, 1863 to November 25, 1865 detail Oscar's military career, his popularity with the men under his command, and his wounds acquired in the Sand River campaign.

The letters from Saginaw are primarily from father A. Jewett and sister Mary, with an occasional note added by their mother. They discuss family activities, including Wallace's enlistment and death in the Civil War. Last, there is one letter from Ida [Groulis?], asking why "Dear Friend" hasn't written. From a letter written by their father, Ida was apparently a neighbor.

The letters are arranged chronologically, and because they consist of both incoming and outgoing letters provide a valuable first-hand account of events in Nevada Territory.


  • 1861-1867



Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

Oscar and Alonzo Jewett were brothers from Saginaw, Michigan who went to the California gold fields in 1858 and then to the Nevada silver mines by January 1861. Their immediate family in Michigan consisted of father Eleazer, [1799]-1876; mother Azubah L. Miller Jewett, [1805]-1889; sister Mary Jewett Lee (1834- ) and her children Girtie, Edgar and Jessie; brother Wallace, [1840]-1863; and uncle Henry [Jewett].

Like many others, they followed the Gold rush from California to Virginia City, Nevada Territory, arriving by January 1861. They owned and worked several silver mining properties, worked in the mines of others, and found day labor to support themselves.

Upon hearing of the death of brother Wallace (probably in late September or October 1863), Oscar enlisted as a first lieutenant in Company D, Nevada Territory Volunteers. He served at Fort Churchill and in the Honey Lake Valley area of California and subsequently participated in the 1865 Powder River and Sawyers expedition under General Patrick E. Connor. He was wounded in the hand and thigh and spent time recovering in the Salt Lake City area.

Alonzo continued to mine in the Silver City and Virginia City region, holding shares in a number of mines and working as mine superintendent at several others. He managed Oscar's business interests during the latter's absence, but as Alonzo stated in several letters to his parents, times were hard and the value of their shares much less than when purchased. Alonzo indicated several times his desire to return to Michigan, but was always waiting for money from the sale of a mine or for better weather.


0.4 Linear Feet (10 items)

Language of Materials



Principally detailed letters from brothers Oscar and Alonzo Jewett to their family in Saginaw, Michigan, in which they discuss their life and mining ventures in Virginia City, Nevada, and Oscar's military activities. Also included are letters from their parents and sister in Michigan reporting news of the family and Saginaw. Material between 1861-1867.


Arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Papers purchased from James Smalldon Americana on November 5, 1987.


Guide to the Jewett Family Papers
Susan Searcy
November 1987
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)