Chapter 7, Part 3: Longstreet’s Last Days
After Jack posted his very expensive, $800 bail, he put the Chispa Mine debacle behind him and returned to his homestead at Ash Meadows to be with his new bride, Susie.
Jack had made a fortuitous choice in the location site of his homestead. A spring near his cabin fed the Carson Slough. At that time, the Carson Slough meandered about with bends and oxbows, like any other natural watercourse does that’s been in existence for eons. This tortuous course allowed water to pool and form marshes, creating a great wetland that attracted thousands upon thousands of migratory birds.
For Jack, food was free. Less than a half-mile from his cabin, he could hunt an unlimited amount of geese and ducks for dinner. That’s uncommon for someone who lives in a desert.
And the water on and near Jack’s homestead made it very valuable. So in 1907, he sold it for $30,000, which was a king’s ransom in those days. But he never put that money in the bank. Hell, even though he was in his 70s, he was still a fearsome man. Nobody dared mess with Jack Longstreet, so his money was safe enough outside of a bank. And this worked out well for Jack, because the Panic of 1907 caused many banks in Nevada to fail.
Jack moved from his Ash Meadows homestead to nearby Windy Canyon. There he established a ranch and mine. He was an old man by then, but still in good physical shape.
In his senior years, he was regarded by the locals as gruff but kind-hearted. He treated any visitors with a wary, suspicious eye, and kept his gun cocked. But he offered them the southern hospitality he had always provided to those he had no truck with, and was more than willing to regale them with old gunslinger stories.
By 1928, Jack had remarried twice again, and was now on his fourth squaw from the Paiute tribe. Her name was Fanny Black. He was 94 years old, and perhaps stiff joints and the confusion of senility was what led to his death. Or maybe it was Fanny.
Nobody knows exactly how the “accident” happened, but Jack somehow managed to shoot himself in the armpit and shoulder. He traveled 140 miles north to the nearest hospital, in Tonopah, Nevada, where they treated his wound. But Jack was impatient. He wanted to get the hell out of the hospital and return home. So he checked himself out early. Too early.
He made it back to his ranch in Windy Canyon, and then suffered a stroke. He lay alone for three days, without water, and was unable to move. A friend found him while he was still alive, but Fanny was nowhere around. It seemed strange that his wife was not by his side, nursing him.
He was taken back to the hospital, where he now had no strength or ability to leave. Fanny was finally located and taken to the hospital also, to see him. But before she arrived, Jack died.
Four years later Fanny also died, and was buried next to Jack, in Tonopah.
But this old gunslinger’s legend lives on. Andrew Jackson Longstreet remains a man of mythical character, and a celebrated figure in the Amargosa Valley.
The Longstreet Inn and Casino, located near the Nevada/California border is named in his honor. You can find it on Highway 373, about 7 miles from Longstreet’s old homestead. And you can visit Longstreet’s restored cabin, by driving down a bumpy dirt road through the nearby Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.
This is the latest installation of my series, The Amazing Amargosa. Come on back in a few days for the next installation, entitled, Chapter 8: A Tough Job to Finish . Click here to read the previous installation. Click here, to start at the beginning.