Madison Gates Purviance
Paradise Valley, Nevada - Part 2

Paradise Valley

With Hailey behind them, the couple set sights on Nevada - Paradise Valley, Nevada.

The Purviances moved there sometime in 1883. In September of that same year, the Silver City paper reported that Louise’s family the Daveys moved to Paradise too.
Richard Davey's interests in new mining strikes in Spring City, Nevada near Paradise looks to have prompted the move. I do not know yet if the Purviances were already there, but they were settled in the area by fall of 1883.

Madison’s skills as a miller would come in handy in Paradise. The Silver State Flour Mill, established in 1864, was located in the valley and was a supplier of flour to northwest Nevada. Its claim to fame is for the creation of ‘Cream of Wheat’ cereal, which is still milled in other parts of the country. The mill made for steady work for Madison Purviance.

For the next 15 years, the Purviance family would call Paradise Valley their home. And Paradise would be the place a special girl would be born and make the family name famous.

Madison Gates Purviance

Madison Gates Purviance
The first telling of the story of Edna Purviance’s father
Research by Linda Wada © - July 2003-2016

Part Two - The Paradise Valley Years
Edna Purviance’s birth home

'Paradise was a booming town'
Paradise Valley, Nevada is located on Cottonwood Creek below what was then called the Cottonwood Mountains. Today they are know as the Santa Rosa Mountains. Farming and ranching became the mainstay of this windswept valley.

Paradise is a small town, more like a village. This town 40 miles north of Winnemucca serves the local ranchers, farmers and the handful of businesses in town. Tourists visit the area to get away from the rat race of the rest of the world. And it is the rest of the world residents who live here like to leave behind.

Today, it is mainly a retirement town, with a scattering of long time residents who have called Paradise their home for generations.

Driving into Paradise you will not see any fast food or tourist shops, but you will see tourists. Just a handful on a weekend, and larger numbers when a special event is happening in town. Hunting and fishing season brings its own brand of new and regular visitors to swap stories with the locals. Some of these people even own vacation homes in the area.

During Purviance's day, you could find a nice hotel room in which to stay, but today you will need your camper to overnight in Paradise. There is a bed and breakfast located several miles south of town, but in Paradise itself, a small campground across from the local bar serves the visitors' needs. At least that was the case in 2002.

Paradise Valley 2000

From your camp space you can walk across the street, have a drink at the only saloon, shoot the breeze with whomever, write a letter about your experience, stroll over to the post office, and send off your envelope. In front of the post office you can pause and see a reminder of just one of the many historic fires that swept through this town. A burned-out tree stands to memorialize the 1930's grease kitchen fire that wiped out most of Paradise's main street.

Back at the bar, during our visit, photos were on the wall showing the buildings that once graced main street; buildings built by dreamers of a much bigger town. In the saloon on a lucky night, you may even hear stories told by descendents of those dreamers. Stories of pride, or just matter-of-fact tales of a time long gone.

Paradise Valley 2002
The next morning you can continue your journey on the streets of Paradise. Victorian style homes stand alongside modern dwellings, doublewide mobile homes, and houses beyond repair. History graces your eyes as you roam the town that stands today. Some building being saved, others melting into the landscape, are all part of the rustic charm of this once enterprising town.

As you continue your meandering, you can see the current schoolhouse.
Kids still go to school here, then are bused off to continue their education beyond the scent of sage and fresh cut alfalfa. The schoolhouse of Purviance's day is history, but the same church the Purviance family went to still exists, with services and events for locals to attend. The church can be easily seen as you drive into Paradise, near the local fire station.

No, Paradise is not a booming tourist town, but a place where people live, work, and just get away from it all. In Purviance's day, however, Paradise was a bustling small town.

Back in the 1880's, Paradise was an active area with schools, churches, merchantiles, hotels, saloons and all other basic businesses it needed, including a flour mill and a brewery. While no train lines served the area, stagecoaches ran daily routes to neighboring towns, with the closest big town being Winnemucca.

For a couple of years 1880-1881, Paradise even sported its own newspaper, but it was gone by the time the family moved into the area. The Silver State newspaper in Winnemucca featured news and events for all to read about the many happenings in Paradise.

How and when the Purviances arrived in Paradise is still being researched, but they settled sometime in 1883. The first report has the family settled in an area called Martin Creek. It is highly likely Madison was working at the local flour mill from his earliest days which was located near Martin Creek, but that is being researched as well. Louise would have wanted to be settled by the fall of 1883.

'birth of their second daughter, Ida Purviance'
The first big event for the family in Paradise would be the birth of their second daughter, Ida Purviance. Ida was born in November of 1883. But Ida would not live long enough to feel the warmth of a new spring. She died in March of 1884, after only a few months of life.

On October 17, 1884, their third daughter was born. Myrtle Purviance would live to see many springs in Paradise Valley. Myrtle would finish nearly all her schooling at the Paradise Valley school, and her older sister Bessie did finish her schooling there.

In the U.S. Census Reports the family listed five children, with two children dying during the Purviance marriage. I am still trying to find out more on this fifth child.

Ida Purviance

Death notice of Ida Purviance March 14th, 1884 issue of the Silver State newspaper. M.G. name got misspelled W.G. Purviance. The newspaper requested the notice to appear in the Silver City, Ida. paper (Louise's hometown and the Edwardsville, Ill. (Madison's home area).
Courtesy of Humboldt County Library.

Edna's first home

Edna's Paradise home (top) and what is left (below)
Photo: Linda Wada 2000

Church the Purviances attend

The church in Paradise the family attended.
Photo: Linda Wada 2002

Madison in Paradise!

In 1885, county records showed Madison brought a property that appears to have been close to the Silver State Mill property. This property could have been the Martin Creek home, or possibly another home in the same area.

Madison owned two properties in Paradise Valley
In 1886, Madison was doing well enough to purchase another home in the town of Paradise.

The Purviances family appeared to be living in the home Madison brought from John Case, who owned one of the local mercantile in Paradise. I mention this, because the store building Case owned still stands in Paradise. It’s currently the site of the only saloon in town, the place you can stroll across the street from your campsite to visit.

The house Madison brought was made up of three or four small cabins moved in from Spring City. It was a small house, but people were use to living in much tighter living quarters in those days.

Today, only a single cabin, which I was told was the living room, survives. The small building is used as a tool shed and sits by itself in a pasture. The structure was moved from it original location in the early 1980’s, when Edna’s first home, was totally remodeled.

'Bessie and Myrtle learned singing and piano playing from Louise'
During the Paradise years, Bessie and Myrtle learned singing and piano playing from their mother Louise.

Louise became known as a popular singer during her time in Nevada. She would team up with her daughter Bessie and sing at many events in the following years.

If the pair ever sang at the local school house, I had not found a report yet, but the local school house would not have any records of any such events, or the fact the Bessie and Myrtle went to school there. The building burnt down many years after the family left the area. All their school records were lost in the fire.

And fire would also consume a very important business in Madison's day..

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Madison Suffers a Serious Blow

On June 24, 1895, the steady work at the long running Silver State Mill came to a swift halt, as a mysterious fire turned the landmark mill into a heap of ash. All the Paradise people could do was watch it burn. The mill owners were devastated, for they just spent $5,000 remodeling the mill between 1894 and 1895. But they remained in business and started the rebuilding as soon as the ashes cooled.

M.G. has the elected job as Constable of Paradise Valley in 1894
In record time, a new mill was being erected during the summer on the same site. But the building of the mill was not the type of work Madison’s health would have allowed at that time.

The summer before the fire, in 1894, Madison suffered a serious blow to his right leg when a horse kicked him. His right leg was broken, and it would be a full year before he would be able to work at any type of heavy labor.

At the time of the broken leg in 1894, he did have the elected job as Constable of Paradise Valley (peace officer). He was even running for another term, in the fall of 1894, but he lost the race. The accident could have played a role in losing the race, but he still carried out his duties until his term expired at the beginning of 1895.

During the early winter and spring months of 1895, Madison seemed to have been at home, still recovering from his broken leg. Work was scarce, even with the mill running in the winter months. If he did work at the mill, he apparently had to work more as a supervisor than a laborer. He was known for his expertise in all aspects of the mill trade.

At home, Bessie and Myrtle continued their school year. They would attend social events and activities at the local school and Methodist Church. Louise was active in social events too, especially with church. I have found her very involved with church throughout her Nevada years. She was especially interested in social work.

But Louise was also pregnant during this time, so her activities may have been curtailed.

'Silent Flower' Born

Madison recovered from his accident by the summer of 1895. With the mill burnt to the ground, and his physical condition not at a prime, he had to find employment.

Haying was a huge job in Paradise, requiring the help of hundreds of men to cut and stack the hay. Wagon drivers were needed to move the hay in the thousands of acres of alfalfa fields in the valley.

Madison easily got a job that July and was casually driving his wagon team through a field, when one of wheels rolled into a rut. Purviance lost control and took a nasty spill from the top of the wagon.

'Olga Edna Purviance was born October 21, 1895'
Once again, Madison was laid up for many months with neck and other injuries, but during this recovery, a very special event occurred for the whole family.

Madison's last daughter born would place his family into the history books of film legends and the man to do it was six years old at the time in London, England, with many tough years in store for him. But that Englishman's future leading lady arrived in Paradise Valley in the fall of 1895.

Olga Edna Purviance was born on October 21, 1895. Edna Purviance, as she became known, was the youngest of the three daughters. Bessie was 13 and Myrtle was 11 when Edna was born. The three girls were described as very pretty, with all three having blond hair.

Louise was 31, and Madison was 46 years old when Edna was born. Unless the other child reported dying in the cenus report is found later, Edna appears to be both Madison’s and Louise’s last child. Neither parent would have any more children.

To help pay for this new addition to the family, Madison's job prospects improved too.

Silver State Mill Fire

Silver State Mill Fire -
From Silver State - June 26, 1895 edition
Winnemucca, Nevada

M.G. Purviance run for Constable

M.G. Purviance runs for Constable in the fall of 1894
Silver State - October 25, 1894
Winnemucca, Nevada

Constable Purviance

M.G. Purviance bringing in his man
to Winnemucca for arrest.

Silver State - November 22, 1894

Accident to M.G. Purviance

Silver State - July 25, 1895

Mrs. Richard Davey

Edna's Grandmother, Mrs. Richard Davey
visits Paradise from Winnemucca.
Silver State - March 6, 1896

Edna Purviance

Edna - Humboldt Museum Exhibit

Inside the Silver State Mill

For this one in living color! This is inside the mill
Madison worked at in Paradise. This is the same
mill equipment that was installed the year Edna
was born. This mill is on private property.

Patent Numbers

The Silver State Mill - Patent Numbers still very readable.
Photo: LWada

Back of the current Silver State Mill

The Back of the Mill. The building is in disrepair,
with the sides and roof exposing the mill equipment inside.
Photo: L.Wada - UPDATE DECEMBER 2005: Special thanks to Dave and Aleta for the update on the mill. The bare roof in this photo has been replaced with a TIN ROOF. Special thanks to the owner for helping to save this valuable piece of Paradise Valley history.

New Silver State Mill, but not enough...

A few weeks after Edna’s birth, the brand new Silver State Flour Mill was finished in November of 1895.

Corner Stone of the Silver State Mill
Mill Corner stone
November 1895
Today, that 1895 mill still stands as a building ‘born’ nearly the same time Edna was born. The corner stone at the mill reads November 1895 as it sits inside the mill.

The mill, which is located on private property, suffers today from lack of care. The roof and sides of the building have been allowed to fall apart. The beautiful workmanship inside that is still visible today, is being lost forever...

With the mill newly open, Madison could have easily gotten steady work again. And the family had a new reason to celebrate.

Edna's birth was a happy time as reports showed relatives and friends visiting the Purviances and their new baby girl throughout the year.

Edna's grandmother, Julia Davey was reported visiting her latest grandchild. Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Brown and friends drove their wagons to Paradise to pay the family a visit. Even Louise and baby Edna were reported visiting Winnemucca to see her family.

But Edna would never know her grandfather Richard Davey, or even her grandmother, Julia Davey for that matter. Richard Davey died in January 1893 and Julia Davey died in October 1897, when Edna was about two years old.

The Daveys brought their family from England to Nevada and successfully raised their children to lead good lives on their own. If there was one person in
the family who may have had the hardest time adjusting to her American life, it may have been Louise. Being the oldest, she could clearly remember her English roots. As for Madison, his family was in America as early as 1750's after arriving from Ireland.

All of Louise’s family left the Paradise area by about 1890 and were living in the Winnemucca area at the time of Edna’s birth. Visiting meant a 40-mile wagon or stagecoach ride to Paradise. There were no rail lines into Paradise.

The families would spend about two weeks in the area, combining it with an outdoor outing of camping and fishing in the nearby mountains. Fancy picnics were not out of order either.

From 1986-1898 it was highly likely that Madison worked at the newly rebuilt mill since it was the best overall job for him in town. But, he wasn't there for much longer. His older daughter Bessie was starting college soon, and his health was not the best for taking hard physical labor anymore. With Myrtle getting close to college age too, the family apparently needed more steady work to pay for the schooling.

After 15 years, life in Paradise Valley was coming to a close...

Time to move on, again...

While Madison’s health could have played a role in the move from Paradise Valley, his daughter Bessie wanting to go to college was likely the key role in the family decision to relocate. Where to move was the question. But in 1898 an enthusiastic young man's visit could have caught the attention of Madison Gates Purviance.

Late in the summer of 1898, a young Lovelock, Nevada, resident was paying a visit to Paradise Valley. Respected for his judgment on county issues, he was traveling around Humboldt County that summer at the request of county officials. But the request was an easy one for this young man. He loved the county he lived in. He sang the praises of this rich land and told county residents about the town of Lovelock, Nevada as being an area to watch in the future.

Paradise is a small town, so the Purviances could have learned of this visit rather easily and even could have met the gentleman at church or other local events. The young man's name was B.F. Lynips. It's a name to be remembered.

Reno University first building where Bessie attended
The school Bessie went to in Reno in 1898
Photo 2002 L. Wada
Meanwhile, Bessie, 16, had finished high school in Paradise in the spring of 1898. She was ready for a college education. The closest university to Paradise was Reno University in Reno, Nevada. Bessie enrolled for the 1898 – 1899 school year in Reno. She was a good student and could have received funding at well.

It seems the family gave a great deal of thought to moving out of Paradise to be in an area closer to Reno.

Louise had a very close relationship with her family which lived in Winnemucca and she didn’t want to live too far away from them. At the same time, Louise must have wanted to live somewhere closer to Bessie.

Paradise was 220 miles from Reno. Breaking this down, it was an 180-mile train ride from Reno to Winnemucca, with a 40-mile stagecoach ride to Paradise Valley. Plus, there was the cost of stage and train fares. But moving was an expensive thing to do without a plan of action.

And it seems the Purviance's once-successful Hailey days were inspiring ideas for the present...

Continue: Part Three - Lovelock, Nevada

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All other content Copyright 2003-2016 - Edna Purviance, Research Collection
including photos and newspaper articles from public and private collections.
Linda Wada, WadaWorks, All Rights Reserved

Special thanks to the official county offices and libraries from Humboldt, Perishing and Butte County.
Letter from Edna to Chaplin - David Robinson's book Chaplin: His Life and Art