Aurora, Nevada

Aurora, Nevada or the real wild west. In 1860 gold was discovered in Aurora, 30 miles southwest of present day Hawthorne, Nevada. For a while both Nevada and California claimed that the rich gold fields of Aurora belonged in their state. Both states made Aurora the county seat for a new county, Mono County California and Esmeralda County Nevada. This led to great confusion during the next presidential election as citizens could vote at the Nevada polls then walk down the street and vote again at the California polls.

Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain,

Aurora, Nevadacame to the flourishing town of Aurora to work as a miner and later described his experiences in his book, Roughing It.
Aurora was a very dangerous place in the 1860's. As many as 27 people were killed in one year, and it is a well-documented fact that Aurora was the home of the notorious Daly Gang. John Daly was only twenty-five years old when he came to Aurora but he was already one of the most feared gunfighters in the west. It was rumored that he had already killed between 4 and 10 men in Sacramento California. He and his men went to work for the Pond Mining Company. The Pond was fighting with the Real Del Monte Mining Company over mining claims to Last Chance Hill. Both companies hired gunmen to intimidate the other side and to keep witnesses from testifying against their companies in court. It was the conflicts between these two groups that accounted for most of the deaths that year.

The Daly Gang was almost running the town; at one time they even got one of their members elected city marshal. In 1864 the Esmeralda Star is quoted with saying "No sooner had the Marshal been sworn in than the worst villains that ever infested a civilized community were appointed policemen, and with but few exceptions they were composed of as hard a set if criminals ever went unhung." Daly himself was a "deputy marshal". Things had gotten so bad that while Daly was out of town the people elected a new Marshal and fired all of the Daly Gang's policemen.

On February 1, 1864 John Daly and three of his friends brutally murdered William Johnson and left his body in the street. This was more than the people of Aurora could take, it was one thing for gunmen to kill gunmen but now they were killing innocent and well-liked people. Around 400 people met at Armory Hall and formed the "Citizens Safety Committee". This vigilante group began by helping Sheriff Frances round up the gang, but when Sheriff Frances was out of town tracking one of the outlaws they took matters into their own hands and lynched Daly and three of his men. This action so angered Governor Nye that he headed for Aurora with a State Marshal and was going to call out the troops from Fort Churchill to put down the Vigilantes. After the Marshal looked into the facts no action was taken against the "Citizen Safety Committee" and things were quiet at last.