History

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.

Longstreet Spring, near Jack’s cabin. It’s difficult to detect the water, because the pool’s specular surface blends in well with the surrounding reeds. This spring emerges from the ground at 16 gallons per second. It’s one of the cooler springs of Ash Meadows, at 78 F. The springs closer to the foothills are generally 91 – 93 F.

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.

Jack at age 94.

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.

The eponymous Longstreet Inn & Casino, about a quarter mile from the California border.
To the right of the entrance, visitors are greeted by a statue of Jack Longstreet.

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.

44 replies »

  1. Poor Jack! That does seem a little suspicious about where his wife was? Why wouldn’t she have been there for him, unless she was the one that shot him? 140 miles is a real long way to a hospital! Thankfully we have closer ones now!
    How nice of him to offer Southern Hospitality to those who didn’t try to cross him. 🙂 So what was his secret to staying in good physical shape, running in the desert?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I suppose domestic disputes had a tendency to resolve themselves in one way or another. Somehow, I don’t think any of Jack’s wives were exactly demure valentines, and there was probably a certain amount of give-and-take involved in such “spousal” arrangements.

    Back on the map… the town of “Crystal” (not labeled, just a bar and some brothels near SR-160)… that’s where “Dennis Hof” was from. He became known in Nevada for being elected to the state assembly… after he had died. Now that’s “libertarian”.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You write some interesting stuff about some fascinating and wide-ranging subjects. I have read a few of your series and enjoyed and learned something from them. Nonfiction is my favorite form of writing and I’m wondering what are some of the sources you used for this series and the one on China.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Much of my source material for the Amargosa series comes from being there and reading historical markers, signage, etc, as well as talking with locals. I also got a lot of info from the internet, including Wikipedia.

      As for the China series, nearly all of that came from a multitude of Wikipedia articles that I pieced together like a puzzle, and put into my own words.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I would add that Chapter 24, entitled, Cow Sheds, in the China series, was derived from the book “The Cow Sheds” by Ji Xianlin. He was a survivor of the Cultural Revolution. It’s a good read for those into nonfiction.

      Like

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