Courtesy of Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park · 3 min read
MINDEN, Nev.- In a one man show, Chris Bayer will portray both Major William Ormsby and Lucky Bill Thorington in “The Major and the Gambler” at Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park on Wednesday, August 9, at 6:30 pm.
Major William Mathew Ormsby was born in 1814 in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Ormsby was a teamster, failed horse dealer, citizen at large, visionary and one of the most important figures in the founding of Nevada and its capitol, Carson City. He was killed in 1860 during the Pyramid Lake Paiute uprising.
William B. “Lucky Bill” Thorington was born in 1812 in Chenango County, New York. Thorington was a resident of Carson Valley, Nevada in the 1850s and was known from Salt Lake City to San Francisco as a gambler and a “Robin Hood” who helped needy neighbors and emigrants alike. He was convicted and hung in 1858 for being an accessory to murder after the fact, although there was never any evidence proving this.
During the 1850s, Major Ormsby and Lucky Bill were arch rivals on the eastern slope of the sierras. Both were pivotal players in the development of Nevada Territory and Carson City, each spearheading their own proposal for a new territory. Their story is one of intrigue, plots and violence, and a story little remembered today.
This event is sponsored by Soaring NV, Douglas County, Bently Ranch, Dr. James the Dentist, NV Energy, Ridge Tahoe Resort, Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, Carson Valley Inn, Carson Valley Times, Carson Valley Accounting, Horsetales Magazine, Allied Sanitation and the Frances C. and William P. Smallwood Foundation. This event is also made possible with the assistance of Nevada Humanities, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The cost is $5 for adults, free for members and for 16 years and younger.
Chris Bayer is an author, historian, musician and storyteller with a deep love of the history of Carson Valley and Carson City, as well as Northern Nevada and California. He has a passion and talent for bringing history to life while sharing well-known and little-known facts that leave his audiences with a clearer picture of the entire story.
“Just when I think that I thoroughly know our local history, I spend a few minutes with Chris Bayer and I find out how much I don’t know. This is a must-see event for everyone interested in the beginnings of Nevada,” said the park’s events manager, Kim Harris.
The park is located at 1450 Hwy 88, ¼ mile north of the Carson Valley Veterinary Hospital. This is an outdoor event, and visitors should bring their own seating. Dogs are not permitted at this event. For more information, visit dangberghomeranch.org.
The final Chautauqua performance of the season at the park will be Juanita Westbrook as “Cathay Williams: Buffalo Soldier” on August 23. The park’s full 2017 event schedule is available at the park’s website.
The Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park is the 2012 and 2013 Reno-Tahoe Territory winner of the Nevada Commission on Tourism’s “Discover Your Nevada” contest. The site preserves the home of Heinrich F. Dangberg and three generations of descendants. The Dangbergs were a prominent ranching family in Carson Valley that founded Minden in 1905. The Park includes eight historic structures built between 1857 and 1917, along with a large collection of artifacts, documents and photographs. Programs include guided tours, concerts, Chautauqua and other public events. The Park is operated by Friends of Dangberg Home Ranch, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, in cooperation with its owner, Douglas County.