Carson Valley author details early days of Nevada lawmen |

Carson Valley author details early days of Nevada lawmen

Mellisa Murphy

Before Nevada became the 36th state, it was the stomping ground for scores of gold-hungry miners. This infectious passion for gold created the dangerous environment that eventually called men of many professions to the ranks of early law enforcement.

“Territorial Lawmen of Nevada,” the latest work by Carson Valley author Bob Ellison, documents the evolution of the state’s lawman tradition, beginning in 1851-1861.

“This is a pioneer effort that brings together the scraps of a history that have been somewhat neglected,” Ellison said.

The 12-year research project was a joint effort with wife Marion, also an author. Her initial work on an index for Nevada territorial records opened the door for the “Territorial Lawmen of Nevada” series, and she lent her talents as an editor.

Several of Nevada’s early lawmen were bachelors, self-made miners on their own search for prosperity. Often poorly-paid, many kept the peace without official government authority. In many cases, very little documentation exists for these men, but Ellison was dedicated to giving as full an account as possible.

Bob Ellison was previously a teacher of philosophy and history, as well as an instructor in various law enforcement academies. He also served as a law enforcement officer in Douglas County.

His love for law enforcement and for history has underscored his often painstaking work.

“Researching history, especially one as elusive as early Nevada’s, is fun,” Ellison said. “The book is very thoroughly footnoted, and will be useful for those interested in the history. It brings it all together.”

Ellison’s previous writings include professional articles on explosive devices, and he co-authored a series of articles on the immigrant trail experience with David Jennings, published in The Record-Courier.

Ellison plans to make the second volume of the “Lawmen” series available within the next year.

“Territorial Lawmen of Nevada, Vol. 1” is available at the following locations: Minden, Hot Springs Mountain Press, fax 267-1525; Reno, Sundance Books, Borders, Family Books; Virginia City, Mark Twain’s Books, Gold Hill Hotel; Carson City, Kennedy’s Books, Chamber of Commerce, Nevada State Railroad Museum; Genoa, Genoa Courthouse Museum.

For additional locations or information, call the Ellisons at 267-2715.