James Crawford: Master of the Mint at Carson City - A Short Full Life
In James Crawford: Master of the Mint at Carson City – A Short Full Life, published in 2007, Rusty Goe brings to life one of the most extraordinary figures in the annals of Nevada’s hallowed coin factory.
With no true heirs by birth to extend his lineage, James Crawford left this earth with no one to perpetuate and preserve the name he made for himself in fifty-two years of humble and faithful service on earth. The Treasury Department offered no memorials to him, save for a two-sentence epitaph appearing in the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, which stated that for ten and a half years Crawford “proved an efficient and worthy officer, and was much beloved by the officers and employees of the mint.” Neither did the Carson City Mint, during the scrambled days of Democratic rule following Crawford’s death, see fit to pay homage to the deceased former superintendent. Even later, when Republicans regained control of the mint, there were no tributes in his honor.
Two generations after James Crawford died, when the last vestiges of what had been the Carson City Mint ceased operations for good in 1933, his memory had all but faded into nothing more than a name on a list of former superintendents and assayers in charge.
When the old mint metamorphosed into the Nevada State Museum in 1941, and in subsequent years, noticeably missing was a hall or a special room devoted to all the superintendents who had served there. For decades this remained a significant oversight at the museum. If the Carson City Mint was special, so were the men who led it, through good times and bad, during the efflorescent years between 1870 and 1893. Of the seven superintendents who served during this period, James Crawford stands head and shoulders above them all: in terms of years in office, tenant improvements supervised, preservation of the mint’s credibility in the eyes of Treasury Department officials, and coinage production achieved.
Yet it is not only his service as a mint superintendent that has merited James Crawford recognition in history books, especially those books focused on Nevada, the Silver State. For in his short, full life, he accomplished much more that deserves praise. Beginning at age twenty as an illiterate farm boy from Illinois, James earned the respect of everyone he ever worked for and from those who appointed him to public office, first in California’s Mother Lode region, and then in surrounding towns near the colossal Comstock in Nevada. As an assemblyman in both states, Crawford proved that he could exchange political blows with the best of them. His managerial skills as an operative in the mining industry could have taken him right to the top of any company.
During his twenty-two years in Nevada, James walked in the company of governors, senators, congressmen, Comstock kings, railroad moguls, judges, leading businessmen and many others in positions of power and influence. By the time he turned fifty, he had reached the threshold of the zenith of his career, possibly poised to parlay his stellar performance as the head of the Carson City Mint into just about any job in the state he desired. It is indeed telling that in his last year of life, a growing constituency of supporters launched a campaign to send Crawford either to Congress or to Nevada’s Governor’s House. Had he lived, one can only wonder to what heights he could have climbed.
Yet just as those famous figures from any era who get struck down in the prime of life, and whose image at the time of their death is indelibly etched in the perpetual consciousness of the public mind, James Crawford will always be remembered first and foremost as superintendent of the Carson City Mint; and that is sufficient. For James accepted the challenge, passed every test, and truly excelled at his calling, with the stroke of a master.
From cover to cover, Goe’s gripping, definitive tribute to the man who led the Carson City Mint through its most productive years, will unveil behind-the-scenes activity in a busy coinage plant, and provide you with interesting glimpses of America’s history during a very colorful era. After you finish reading the touching biography, you will likely have a fond place in your heart for James Crawford, and you will most certainly never forget him or the mint where he fulfilled his destiny.
James Crawford: Master of the Mint at Carson City – A Short Full Life by Rusty Goe
As I read this latest offering by Rusty Goe, I came to appreciate what a labor of love this was for our intrepid author. His previous award-winning book, The Mint on Carson Street (2004), described in great detail the coins minted by the Carson City coin factory. In this latest endeavor we’re treated to an expanded snapshot in time about the actual people responsible for producing those coins we Carson City collectors revere. James Crawford’s humble beginnings and his development into a respected community leader and public servant are worthy of emulation. The essence of understanding and appreciating history is not done by viewing events through our 2007 prism, but by going back in time and placing ourselves in this vibrant era where radio, television and the internet don’t exist. I invite you to read this book about a man and his time replete with all the political and social power struggles that we think of as only recent phenomena. James Crawford by his unswerving professional demeanor kept the Carson City Mint viable for a ten-year period against great odds. In the stream of history he would be considered a minor player at best, but those of us who collect Carson City coins know better. This book is a great ride, so sit back, relax and prepare to be impressed. To my friend Rusty Goe I say well done sir – well done.
Review by Anthony R. Arnold, AA Liberal Arts, BA History, MA Education, C4OA Member
"Attention Hollywood.....there's a great movie here.", August 13, 2007
I just finished reading "James Crawford, Master of the Mint at Carson City - A Short Full Life" and have come to one of two conclusions; 1.) The author did an extremely thorough job of research, or; 2.) He has a time machine. Simply stated, there is no other book I have ever read or heard about that minutely details those lives & times of that particular era like this book does. "Attention Hollywood...there's a great movie here."
Although the story revolves around the remarkable James Crawford, everyone from mint workers, journalists, politicians, stage coach drivers and even U.S. presidents are included as Rusty Goe captures that special window in history like no one else has. Within the pages of this book you will share all the dissapointments & tragedies as well as all the triumphs & victories of James, his family & friends and a multitude of others locally, nationally and internationally who made those times what they were.
The first section of the book chronicles James' birth in Kentucky and childhood in rural Illinois, his adveturesome trip out west as a young man, his early "character building" years in the California gold rush towns of the western Sierra Mountains and his early years in Lyon County Nevada. The second section chronicles James' Carson City years (1874-1885). Rusty carefully crafts the short but all important first section much like a 5-star chef finely prepares a savory multi-course meal in order that the ultimate feast (the "Carson City Years" section) can be enjoyed to its fullest.
The most important aspect of the book is how Rusty captures the very essence of an "unsung hero" James Crawford. His strength and courage in the face of adversity is the stuff legends are made of. He was tenacious yet gentle, caring, loving and jovial. His honesty and integrity were above reproach as Rusty's book so aptly reveals. James is the ideal role model for modern day politicians and businessmen. Today's world thirsts for people of such character. Month by month, year by year, you will taste the food, feel the sting of the winter snow and the heat of those mid-summer days, enjoy wonderful springtime, hear the music and share in the mirth & laughter from the many grand gala's and balls. Read on and you will hear the freshly made coins clanging in their bins, smell the acrid fumes from the mint smokestack. You will share day to day experiences of the mint workers. You will go hunting, fishing, competition rifle shooting, you will undergo courtroom dramas, suffer political frustrations, you will laugh, you will cry, you will virtually relive that time in astonishing clarity as if actually there. In this regard, Rusty's book is unique as the famous 1873-CC without arrows liberty seated dime! Perhaps Rusty does indeed have a time machine.
"Wanna go for a ride?......read this book!"
An excellent work on the man and the mint he mastered, August 16, 2007
This book is a fascinating look into the life of a mostly unknown, but yet very important man in the history of Nevada. As Crawford's life unfolds within the pages of this book, we readers learn just how vital the Carson City Mint's success was to the overall runnings of the city it resided in and in the financial status of the entire state of Nevada. As the book clearly shows, James Crawford, during his superintendency of the mint, took on many challenges facing the mint during rough times, and handled those challenges not only efficently, but with a kind and generous spirit. Author Goe shows readers that without the Carson City Mint, the city itself would have been nothing more than a supply station for the miners of the Comstock Lode. James Crawford was truly responsible for putting Nevada's capital city on the map where it has remained ever since. We highly recommend this book to all those who enjoy United States and/or Nevada History, or those interested in numismatics, for it is a true pleasure to read and contains a wealth of information to offer to it's readers.
Richard Kelly & Nancy Oliver, authors of "A Mighty Fortress...the stories behind the 2nd San Francisco Mint", and "Sentiments & Aspirations of a 19th Century Tradesman" (A biography of Joseph Breck Harmstead).
A Master Storyteller, August 6, 2007
I've just finished reading this spellbinding tale of James Crawford, and I must tell you how fortunate I feel to be able to "sit at the feet" of Rusty Goe as he expands on his wonderful book, "The Mint on Carson Street." Because this second volume is not a follow-up, but rather an expansion of that first tome. I doubt if there is a man alive today who knows as much about the Carson City Mint and the period which these two books cover. If you are interested in coin collecting, these books will tell you all you need to know about one of the most desirable and profitable niches of the hobby you can explore. If you are interested in politics, these books will allow you entry into the backroom deals and squabbles that dominated the era. If you are interested in the monetary history of the United States during the twenty years following the Civil War, these books will lay the groundwork for any study of money and the emergence of the Western States. And if you are interested in the social history of the people of the West, their concerns, their personalities, and their way of life, this book about James Crawford will take you inside that world in a way that will amaze you.
This is a book that invites you to give yourself over the customs and mores of the times, while leaving you with a desire to read every chapter with a notebook by your side. It is that packed with detail. You could become more versed in this era than many others if you were to do nothing other than read and study the original source documents Rusty Goe reproduces in this life of Mr. Crawford. But there is really so much more in this book. Be prepared to enter the world of a romantic and exciting bygone era, because Mr. Goe has steeped himself in it and writes the story as an oral historian would--there are lots of detours and meanderings in these pages, but all are there in order to flesh out the person of James Crawford and Carson City and the Mint and the mood and details of a person and a time that we could never be able to experience in today's world.
How Mr. Goe completed this book in three years is hard to understand--there is so much in it. Although I've just finished it, I'm already going back through it and re-reading sections of chapters in order to take in the details once again.
If you are interested in any of the areas I've mentioned, or if you just want to spend time with the master storyteller of this era, do yourself a favor and read "James Crawford: Master of the Mint at Carson City: A Short Full Life." To travel through these times with such an engaging and genial guide is a treasure the equal of the rarest of any coin minted at Carson City. And that's saying something! Thank you, Mr. Goe!