Take it easy
  Williams Station (aka Honey Lake Smith's)

UTM 11 312822E 4363970N  USGS Silver Springs North Quad


We visited: September 28, 2013
Our Breakfast: Eggs at the Silver Strike in Silver Springs
We visited: January 18, 2014
Our Breakfast: Eggs at the Silver Strike in Silver Springs

DIRECTIONS Kinda hard to explain. We'll get back to you on that.

Williams Station was a combination stage station, general store, and saloon. It was one room, situated on the north-west bank of the Carson River. Three brothers from Maine, James O. Williams (the oldest) and his two younger brothers - Oscar Williams and David Williams.

The station was attacked and burned by Indians in May of 1860. After a considerable amount of torment from white settlers, some members of the Paiute Tribe decided they had had just about enough, and raided Williams Station, killing several. The result was the Paiute Indian War. A militia force was sent to teach the aborigines a lesson, but instead were lured into an ambush north of Nixon where 46 of their number were killed. Before it was all over, seven stations had been burned and employees killed.

Honey Lake Smith rebuilt and ran the station afterwards.

From The History of Nevada 1881-

"A secret war party, numbering nine in all, had left camp unknown to the chief, under the command of Captain Soo. They reached the Carson River about sundown, at the place where James O. Williams was keeping a station on the Overland Road, ten miles northeast of where Fort Churchill was afterwards built."

Oscar Williams, 33; David Williams, 22; Samuel Sullivan, 25; John Fleming, 25; and "Dutch Phil" were all killed.

"On the evening of the massacre, the owner of the station, J.O. Williams, was camping a couple of miles further up the river, and thus escaped the fate of his brothers."

"The Indians camped on the bottom around the place until 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, and then started across the eight mile desert for Buckman's station, intending to kill the owner, after whom it was named. They passed by the ranch of C.M. Davis without molesting him, and on arriving at daylight on the farm of W.H. Bloomfield, one of their number named ------, proposed to the band that they drive off the stock from the place and return to the lake without committing any further depredations."

But there's another version....

"The indians came to Honey Lake Smiths Station on Carson River at what is known as the big bend (the lower end of it) in the spring 1860. two men known as the Williams boys were keeping a station or trading post there at that time. there were quite a number of Indians accompanied by their wives or squaws. the Williams boys took the squaws into their house and ravished them. This act greatly incensed the indians and they in retaliation committed various outrages on whites. there is also a theory on the part of some that three gamblers came to the station of the Williams boys and in gaming with them lost all their coin and subsequently murdered the boys, robbed them and to conceal their crime burned the house together with the bodies of the murdered men the Indians were accused of doing this, and the whites rose up with Major Ormsby at their head and determined to avenge the act..."
- Nevada Historical Society Papers 1913-1916, vol. 1, State Printing Office, Carson City: 1917, pp. 171-174

Then it was rebuilt, because the History of Nevada 1881 remarks,

"1881 - In the fall, Wm. Gephard shot and killed an inoffensive old Irishman, who was helping to build Honey Lake Smith's station. He was not even arrested for the killing."

From an article when they looked for-- and found-- the Station in tthe early 1960's:

Samuel S. Buckland came to Nevada in 1859 and eventually established a station on the Carson River, at the place now known as Weeks. He had once been an associate of James O. Williams who, with a brother, built Williams Station. An article by Buckland indicates that Honey Lake Smith built upon the ground where Williams Station previously stood. In relating events preceding the massacre, he stated that: "The INdians came to Honey Lake Smith's on the Carson River at what it known as the Big Bend (the lower part of it) in the spring of 1860. Two men known as the Williams boys were keeping a station, or trading post, there at the time."

As Honey Lake Smith's is shown at this place on the township plat of the NEvada Surveyor General's office, from surveys made in 1867 and 1868, the site of WIlliams Station is thus made known. A visit to the area by Mr. Claude Mills resulted in the finding of the charred sills of a building on a small knoll on the north bank of the river. Here there was seen much scrap iron, a metal powder flask, numerous fragments of crockery, as well as mule, horse, and oxen shoes, indicating an old-time settlement. Later, in November 1960, the place was visited by several persons, together with Mr. Phillip Cowgill and the writer and an examination confirmed out earlier opinion that here was the site of Williams Station. The old foundations, on the knoll referred to above, were found in the place where the early survey had designated "Honey Lake Smiths Old Station."

-"... THE BACK NUMBER..." The Quarterly of the Nevada Historical Society, Fall-Winter Issue, Volume III, October-December 1960, "Site of Williams Station, Nevada" by Vincent P. Gianella

The following people were listed as living at Honey Lake Smith's by the 1862 Territorial Census:

DODGE Benjamin P.        31 M   Massachusetts   Ranchman
FISH R. W.               36 M   Massachusetts   Ranchman
RAVENSCROFT Eliza h      31 F   England
RAVENSCROFT Mary H.       8 F   Missouri
RAVENSCROFT Robert h     35 M   England         Ranchman

A "Clayton Warren" is listed in the May 1, 1863 tax list as a "Retail Dealer in Liquor" and a "Hotel Keeper" at Honey Lake Smith's.

Apparently it was one of the sweeter stops on the route.

"A correspondent of the Grass Valley National gives a lengthy description of the new Humboldt mining region, and the route thither, from which we glean the following interesting facts. They show for themselves how apt Americans are at colonizing, and how rapidly they avail themselves of the advantages which nature has spread before them with to liberal a band; The entire distance from Virginia City to Unionville is about one hundred and fifty miles; and to Humboldt City, one hundred and fifty-five miles. The first wells are distant eighteen miles from Virginia City, where limited accommodations are dispensed by a "contraband." Twelve miles farther is Honey Lake Smith's, where better accommodations are furnished. Again twelve miles, brings the traveler to Bishop's station, and in eight miles more he reaches Ragtown, where horses can be shod, "when the blacksmith is not in jail." Hard upon RagtownI The next thirty-two miles includes the Thirty Mile Desert and the Big Slough, with regard to the morals of which place the correspondent gives a fearful character. After leaving the slough, within eight miles is Murphy's Station, situated a mile below Humboldt Lake, where a square meal can be had, cooked and placed on the table by a good looking female woman. "
-Daily Alta California, Volume XIV, Number 4510, 23 June 1862

Honey Lake Smith apparently had quite a reputation.

The fauna of Ragtown consisted of lank jackrabbits, side-winder rattlesnakes, horned toads and Idaho crickets, the latter gaudily dressed with alternate black and yellow stripes around their fat bodies, the convicts of the insect world. Its flora was rags, rags of every color and of every hue; every kind and quality and texture here in gay commingling gave a gaudy touch to the otherwise dead gray landscape; for here the immigrant took a bath, and, in honor of the green slopes of the Sierras that gladdened his tired eyes, changed his raiment. Asa Kenyon, who was the principal owner of this variegated flower garden, was a well-known character. He had the reputation of using the truth with more parsimonious economy than any man on the coast, not even barring Honey Lake Smith, the mighty prevaricator of Never Sweat valley.
-J. H. Cradlebaugh, Ragtown of Nevada, Sunset, October 1905

Some famous people have been here, too.

We rode through a snowstorm for two or three days, and arrived at “Honey Lake Smith's,” a sort of isolated inn on the Carson River. It was a two story log house situated on a small knoll in the midst of the vast basin or desert through which the sickly Carson winds its melancholy way. Close to the house were the Overland stage stables, built of sun-dried bricks. There was not another building within several leagues of the place. Towards sunset about twenty-hay wagons arrived and camped around the house and all the teamsters came in to supper-- a very, very rough set. There were two Overland stage drivers there, also, and a half a dozen vagabonds and stragglers; consequently the house was well crowded.
-Mark Twain, Roughing It.

Twain also referenced the station in a letter to William H. Clagett on 28 February 1862:

Keep your eye on the old man, Billy, and don't let him get too enthusiastic, because if he does, he will begin to feel young again, like he did when he fell in the river at Honey-Lake's; and being a lecherous old cuss anyhow, he might ravish one of those Pi-Utes and bring on an Indian war, you know. So, just keep an eye on him.

Revised Laws of Nevada (1912) in describing the boundaries of Churchill County refers to "...thence southerly to a point on the Carson River three miles below Honey Lake, Smith's old station..."

I wonder if this Honey Lake Smith-- referenced in a book about Minnehahah County in South Dakota-- is the same dude? Sounds like it could be...


Lake Lahontan. With the water level so low, it's easy to spot the location, a small knoll. Tougher, though, to get to it- it's surrounded by gooey mud. We may try later in the year.
UPDATE- January 2014: In the mean time, unseasonbly warm temperates have melted whatever snow we got and it's now in Lahontan- there is a lot more water that there was in September. Still, the Williams site is sticking above the water, so we flew our drone camera over the site to snap a few photographs. You can definitely see man-made lines on the site but we wo't be able to visit unless the drought continues and the lake levels drop down again.

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