Stephen A. Kinsey & Douglas County Records

Stephen A. Kinsey

Settler, Public Servant, Early Leader

Arriving in Carson Valley with Colonel John Reese in 1851, Kinsey convinced the colonel to settle in the valley. Kinsey's claim was one of the first seven land claims recorded in Carson Valley.

He was appointed clerk of the Probate Court and ex-officio recorder of Carson County on March 3, 1856, and later ran successfully for clerk in 1866 under authority of Douglas County (elected 1866, 1868).

In 1857, when Mormons heeded Brigham Young's order to return to Salt Lake and county government was suspended, Kinsey stayed and was appointed as deputy recorder of the area's valuable property.

After the special election of 1858, Kinsey's election as recorder was the only part of the election recognized by the governor as legitimate; he was the only officer who submitted bond and qualified for office. That same year, when vigilantes threatened to destroy county records, Kinsey smuggled them to Salt Lake City for safe keeping until the re-establishment of county government in 1859.

When Nevada Territory was established, Governor Nye appointed Kinsey one of the first commissioners of the new Douglas County. He lived on in Genoa for the rest of his life, one of Genoa's most memorable early citizens. His brick home still graces the town square, next to Mormon Station State Park.

Vital Source of Nevada History

So you can see, looking at the importance of Carson Valley and Genoa in Nevada's quest for statehood, that Kinsey's early records are among the area's earliest official documents and a key part of Nevada's history. Carson County, with its county seat in Genoa, comprised an area of more than 20,000 square miles, large enough for statehood anywhere east of the Mississippi.

It encompassed all of what later became the counties of Douglas, Lyon, Ormsby (Carson City), Storey, and parts of Washoe, Pershing, Churchill, Mineral, Esmeralda, and Nye, and extended as far as Honey Lake in California. When the counties were first created in 1861, recorders from all over the territory turned to Kinsey records to copy the original claims that then fell within their jurisdictions.

The original Genoa Courthouse burned to the ground in 1910, destroying many of the early records, but those remaining are vital to an understanding of the history of early Nevada.