Raycraft and Rives Family Papers

Identifier: NC594

Scope and Contents

Four different early Nevada families (Rives, Raycraft, Morris, and Golden) are represented over four generations, and the collection is divided into four series to reflect these families.

The Raycraft and Rives family subgroups comprise the bulk of the material, and are further subdivided into series of papers collected by individual family members. The largest series are personal correspondence between family members and friends; and personal, financial, and legal documents.

The families of Madge (Margaret Morris) Raycraft, 1864-1943, and James Andrew Raycraft, 1862-1913, each came to western Nevada during the middle of the Civil War. The two sweethearts had separate careers under way when they married in 1886 to form the nucleus of the Raycraft family. Their papers show the lives of a school teacher (Madge) and a livery stable owner (James) during the second generation of Nevada statehood, primarily from 1880-1910. Places involved include Empire City, St. Clair Station (two towns which no longer exist), Genoa, Carson City, Virginia City, Lake Tahoe, and Gardnerville in Nevada, plus trips to San Francisco and Placerville in California. Around the turn of the century the family began branching out into real estate and mining stock speculation, as recorded in various deeds, certificates, and agreements.

In 1916, James and Madge's daughter Marguerite Jeanette (Honey Raycraft) Rives, a well-educated dance instructor, married Henry Macon Rives, 1883-1952, a mining businessman, and formed the nucleus of the Rives family. Letters collected by Marguerite beginning in 1914 include a group from Fred Searls, Jr., a travelling mining geologist, who tells of conditions in Tonopah, Alaska, and Mexico during the Mexican Revolution.

Henry Rives was important in Nevada mining politics from 1907 until his death in 1952, but this collection contains little official correspondence. Some information on political occurrences in Carson City, Reno, and Washington D. C. can be gleaned from Rives' brief, cryptic diaries from 1936-1937 and 1940-1951. However, the bulk of the diary space is taken up with health (Rives had gout and other afflictions), weather, and gambling results. Various legal and financial documents show Henry Rives as holder of numerous state positions, member of lodges, duck hunter, occasional philanthropist, and speculator in mining stock.


  • 1876-1965


Conditions Governing Access

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 Notes

Henry Macon Rives (January 15, 1883-December 1, 1952) was born in Pioche, Nevada to George Townes Rives and May (Miller) Rives. George was a mine operator, and his brother Henry (uncle and namesake to Henry Macon Rives) was a judge in eastern Nevada. The younger Henry was raised in the mining and legal worlds of his father and uncle. After attending the University of California at Berkeley for just one term at the turn of the century, he went to work in turn for a California gas company, the U. S. Geologic Survey (1905), a Tonopah law firm, and as the secretary to Nevada Congressman George Bartlett in Washington D. C. (1907-1908). He then returned to the legal side of the mining business, which occupied the remainder of his life. In 1915 he became the secretary of the Nevada Mine Operators Association, a post he retained for some 37 years. He served on various other association boards, including the American Mining Congress, the American Silver Producers Association, and American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering.

Rives also maintained his interest in politics, winning election to the Nevada Assembly on the Democratic ticket from Esmeralda County in 1914, serving on the Nevada Industrial Commission in 1915, and representing mining on the Nevada Tax Commission from 1927 until his death in 1952. He counted among his friends Nevada Senators Key Pittman and Tasker L. Oddie, as well as their fellow Democrat and occasional nemesis Pat McCarran.

Marguerite (Jeanette Honey Raycraft) Rives (July 26, 1893-August 28, 1963) was born to James A. and Madge (Morris) Raycraft, and spent her childhood in Carson City. She became a dance instructor, and in 1916 married Henry M. Rives. They lived primarily in Reno, and had three children: Marguerite (Daisy Rives) Moore, Jeannette (Rives) Connolly, and Benjamin Allen Rives IV.

James Andrew (Jim/Jimmy) Raycraft (June 4, 1862-December 21, 1913) was born in Missouri, the seventh of eight sons plus three daughters born to Joseph and Ellen (Quinlan) Raycraft. The family reached Genoa, Nevada by 1863, and set up an early store and hotel. James and his older brother Joseph began a successful livery stable business, which eventually included the U. S. Mail, express stages, automobile repair, and real estate in Genoa, Carson City, and elsewhere in western Nevada. In 1886 he married Madge Morris, and they raised five sons and two daughters, mostly in Carson City. In 1908 he was elected Democratic Assemblyman from Ormsby County. In about 1910 he began to show signs of a lingering series of illnesses during which most of his business assets, including the Raycraft Realty Company, were turned over to his wife.

Madge (Margaret Theresa Morris) Raycraft (October 1864-March 24, 1943) was born to James A. and Margaret (Muldoon) Morris in Empire City, Nevada where she spent most of her first nineteen years. Her sisters included Mary Louise (Mamie), who married Frank Golden; Anne, who married Rauswell Smith; and Francine (Fanny), who became a nun with the Sisters of Notre Dame. Of her four brothers, three died in infancy while the fourth, Arthur Wood Morris, 1862-1902, became Nevada's Assistant Secretary of State. Madge became a schoolteacher, moving several times within Nevada until mid-1886, when she married James A. Raycraft and settled in Carson City. After her husband's death in 1913, she again taught school in Carson City, Gardnerville, and Wichman, until at least 1930.

James Morris (1826?-1900) came from Ireland to New York before 1848, and soon went to California to make a small fortune in the gold rush. Returning to the East Coast, he married Margaret Muldoon (1831?-1893) in Massachusetts in 1854. The couple returned west to Coloma, California in about 1861, and finally settled in Empire City, Nevada, in Ormsby County just east of Carson City. There James became County Commissioner and Justice of the Peace and raised a large family, including Madge, Mary Louise, Francine, Anne, and Arthur.

Frank (Francis Bernard) Golden (March 1862-December 9, 1911) came from Ireland shortly before 1880, and went into the jewelry business in Virginia City. He enjoyed considerable success with ventures later in Tonopah, Carson City, and Reno. In 1891, he married Mary Louise (Mamie) Morris (January 15, 1867-November 15, 1959), sister of Madge (Morris) Raycraft. Frank Golden and Madge's husband, James Raycraft, were friends and occasional business partners.


1 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Francis Bernard Golden (1862?-1911), of Irish birth, was a Nevada businessman and jeweler, married to Mary Louise Morris. James Morris (1826?-1900), also Irish, was County Commissioner and Justice of the Peace in Empire City, Nevada, married to Margaret Muldoon (1831?-1893). Margaret (Madge) Theresa Morris Raycraft (1864-1943), daughter of James Morris, schoolteacher, married to James A. Raycraft. James Andrew Raycraft (1862-1913) ran livery stable business in Genoa, Nevada and vicinity and Raycraft Realty Company, elected Democratic Assemblyman in 1908. Marguerite Jeanette Raycraft Rives (1893-?), daughter of James A Raycraft, dance instructor in Carson City, married Henry M. Rives. Henry Macon Rives (1883-1953), native of Pioche, Nevada, mine operator, worked in legal profession and as secretary to Nevada Congressman George Bartlett (1907-1908), later worked in legal aspect of mining business, also Nevada Assemblyman and on Nevada ax Commission. The collection primarily contains correspondence to, plus legal and financial documents of: James A. Raycraft, Madge (Morris) Raycraft, Marguerite Raycraft Rives, and Henry M. Rives. Various members of the Golden, Morris, Raycraft, and Rives families are represented to a lesser extent. Also includes newspaper clippings, certificates, diaries, memorabilia, and photographs.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Golden Family; 2) Morris Family; 3) Raycraft Family; 4) Rives Family; 5) Photographs

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by unknown source, possibly the Henry Macon Rives family, circa 1975.

Separated Materials

Photographs transferred to the Special Collections photo archives as collection number UNRS-P1987-28.

Guide to the Raycraft and Rives Family Papers
Jack Shipley
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)