Elko, Nevada – June 3, 1876
Two important events happened in Elko on June 3, 1876. Henry H. Peyton was the main participant of his funeral, and the Central Pacific Railroad’s new “Lightning Express” stopped in town for the first time.
Born in 1836 in Kentucky, Peyton had been in the Union army rising to the rank of major. His friends called him “Major.” It was a natural. He came to Elko in 1869 and went into the freighting business. Quickly realizing there was more money in mining, he moved to Bullion where its mines were booming. He was elected Elko County Assemblyman to the 1875 Nevada Legislature. Then, right in the middle of his political success, he died.
A beautiful sendoff to the Promised Land was planned at the Presbyterian Church on the corner of Sixth and Pine streets. It was the only house of worship in Elko at the time. The Reverend James H. Byers, the only minister in the county, was ready with a fine sermon. The bell tolled, the pews were full. Pastor Byers announced the first hymn. Henry Peyton was leaving where ever he was going with last rites fit for someone of his political stature. The people quieted as Preacher Byers raised his hands, ready to lead the congregation in song.
It was then that a man stuck his head in the doorway and yelled, “Here she comes! The train’s coming!”
In an instant there was a stampede of mourners, pallbearers, and family of the deceased. The man of God and the body of H.H. Peyton remained.
CPRR’s new “Lightning Express” was in town for only fifteen minutes. Most of the people in town went to see the amazing train that could travel the 3,377 miles from New York City to San Francisco in only seven days. That’s about twenty miles an hour. After the train steamed away, the people retuned to the church where the Honorable Henry H. Peyton was given a proper service and buried in the town cemetery.
It wasn’t a lack of piety or disrespect for the dead. There was just too darn much excitement going on that day.
Poor old Peyton’s remains were moved in 1906 to its present location in the northwest corner of the present cemetery. Finally, he rests in peace.
Sources: A Sagebrush Saga, Lester Mills, 1956; Political History of Nevada – 1996, issued by Dean Heller, Secretary of the State of Nevada; Weekly Elko Independent, June 4, 1876; Jan Petersen, historian, Elko.
©Copyright 2009 by Howard Hickson