Saturday, June 5, 2010

The famous old Gridley Store still stands tall

The old Gridley Store is still a famous landmark in Austin. Owner R.C. Gridley, upon losing an 1864 election bet, carried a 50-pound bag of flour up through town to the tune of "John Brown's Body." While post-race libations flowed in the local hotspots, the sack of flour made the rounds at auction. Auctioned many times, it raised $6,000 for the Sanitary Commission, the Civil War precursor of the Red Cross. Other towns challenged Austin and the sack of flour toured the country. Its repeated auctions raised $275,000 for the cause to help battlefield casualties. Traveling around the country ruined Gridley's health, and when he returned to Austin, he found the mine played out and his store close to bankruptcy. Two years later Gridley and his wife and four children were living in poverty in Stockton, CA. Upon learning of Gridley's plight, newspaper editors in California and Nevada raised $1,400 to buy him a house and small farm, but Gridley's health continued to decline. He died in 1870 at the age of 41.

Today, Gridley Store is marked by Nevada Historical Marker 119. For more information about the old Gridley Store, visit For photos of the store, go to visit the Gridley photo album on the Austin Flickr page.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for these additional comments regarding Mr. Gridley and the USSC. The original history did not give a date to the incident of sack of flour, which lead me to this. Keep local history alive! For this is where you find the "heart" of a country's history, through the story of it's people.

Barb Triplett Brown said...

Thomas W. Triplett & Company occupied "Gridley's Old Store" in 1871, where the new occupants
sold "groceries, provisions, liquors, clothing, and a general variety of family and miners' supplies."
Triplett operated the store in partnership with two other Austin merchants, R. L. Horton and M. A.
Sawtelle, but in January 1872 the partnership dissolved. Presumably, the Gridley Store continued to
operate as a store in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, although abandonment is
possible during the years of Austin's decline.
Thomas W. Triplett was brother to my gggrandfather who founded Triplett, Missouri where I was born.