My Ralston Family Story

William A. Ralston [1840 – 1922]          Incident at Paradise Valley

[Paradise Valley in north central Nevada Territory] is one of the best valleys for farming... if properly husbanded will prove of much value... This has been a desirable home for the Indians [Northern Paiute and Shoshone]... as remarkable good hunting ground for nearly all kinds of game for which they will not give up without a long struggle...Ralston William Awhites defined farming as superior to gathering and thus considered that farmers had more right to the land...settlers argued that it was the moral duty of the government to provide them military protection against the Indians.

In August 1865, members of the Nevada Cavalry [from Ft. Churchill, Nevada Territory] were nearby some California militiamen guarding government stock in the valley when 50 Indians appeared. The Indians, having long since learned of the whites’ propensity for unwarranted attack, immediately raised a white flag. They wanted to come in and talk. The militiamen insisted they lay down their arms before doing so and they did. During this tense process a militiaman panicked, the cavalry was called in and bedlam broke loose. When the six-hour long skirmish ended, half of the Indians, and two soldiers lay dead.

The Humboldt [Nevada Territory] Register of August 5th, 1865, hailed the action and awarded the known surviving soldiers involved with hero status. Private W. A. Ralston, Co. D, Nevada Cavalry was one of them, doing what he was ordered to do.

As Long as the River Shall Run, 1984, pp. 49, 58.

Sacramento [CA] Daily Union, 8/10/1865.

Sacramento [CA] Daily Union, from the Humboldt Register, 8/12/1865.