Austin, NV and the Flour Sack

Photos/text courtesy of Mick Werve
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Mick's Website: Civil War Today
Links:
1. GRIDLEY DAYS 2007
2. Austin and the Reese River Mining District

3. Mark Twain - Grand Austin Flour Sack Progress
4. Flour Sack Brings Joy Symon Sez
 

Mr. Ruel Colt Gridley carried a 50 lbs sack of flour through town to the neighboring town of Clifton on April 19, 1864 as part of an election bet. Mr. Gridley, a southern supporter had to carry the sack while the town band marched behind playing the Star Spangled Banner, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and other patriotic ditties. The deed done with good natured aplomb, the participants retired to the Grimes and Gibson Saloon to celebrate and auction off the sack of flour to raise money for the Sanitary Commission. After raising $3,500 from locals, Mr. Gridley took it on the road around Nevada, California and finally to the cities of the east. The sack was last auctioned at the Sanitary Fair in St. Louis. Altogether, Mr. Gridley raised between $200,000 and $275,000 for the relief of wounded Civil War Solders. The amount depends on the source you happen to be reading.
 
The silver failed while Mr. Gridley was on the road auctioning off the sack and he returned home to find himself broke. He died in Stockton, CA in 1870 and was buried in a grave marked only by a simple cross. When word of his demise reached veterans of the Union Army, they sold thousands of miniature flour sacks to raise the funds to erected a proper monument in honor his service to them.
 
As an interesting side note, the original flour sack still exists; it resides in the Nevada State Museum in Sparks, but it is currently in storage and not on display. For a time, the sack would travel back to Austin every year for their annual Austin Days celebration but the red tape got so bad that nobody wanted to deal with it any more. There is a movement of sort to demand that the state give the sack back, they are just storing it, and Austin has a museum of its own that would love to display it.

 

(2009) Enlarge The Gridley Store where the fabled sack started its trip through town
 
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(2009) Enlarge Mark really let the place run down

Pictures of the route Mr. Gridley followed

  

(2009) Enlarge Mark really let the place run down

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