by Sharlene Irete
Mike Makley speaks about the subject of his latest book, "John Mackay: Silver King in the Gilded Age," at the Douglas County Historical Society's lecture of the month, 7 p.m. Thursday, at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center, 1477 Highway 395, Gardnerville.
Makley presents slides and all new stories about Mackay, who is known for mining, as in the Mackay School of Mines at the University of Nevada, Reno, and as one of the richest men of the Comstock era.
Makley's book involves the bonanza king's second career challenging Jay Gould's Western Union Telegraph cable cartel and taking on Comstock king William Sharon's Bank Ring.
"There's so much that Mackay was involved in," Makley said. "He was good guy, a really generous man. He felt all gold and silver was really a trust. He wanted to do something for the country. He was an Irish immigrant, but because he made his fortune in America, he felt he owed something back.
"I'm going to argue that Mackay is the greatest hero in American history."
Makley's four books on Nevada history include, "The Infamous King of the Comstock. William Sharon and the Gilded Age in the West," which won ForeWord magazine's Silver Award for biography in 2006.
Makley's video, "Cave Rock: The Issue," was used as a source document in the court case between rock climbers and the Washoe Indians recently settled in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A book on Cave Rock is to be considered next month for publishing by the board of the University of Nevada Press. The Cave Rock book is a collaboration between Makley and his son Matthew who teaches Native American studies at Metro State College in Denver. Matthew did the research on the Indians while Mike did the rock climbing research.
Mike Makley and his wife Randi live in Woodfords, Calif.
The lecture series is on the second Thursday of the month. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $3, free for historical society members. Information, 782-2555.