Our mentor, our friend, our favorite jockey, miner, storyteller and trailblazer was called to a new frontier on Wednesday October 26, 2016…Dean Otteson is not just another guy who passed through our lives. He was a living pioneer, a man with his own mind, and his own set of high standards and integrity…the likes of which isn’t easy to find anymore. Dean will be missed, but the truth is his spirit is alive in all of us that knew him and had the privilege of calling him our friend. His laugh, his gravelly voice imparting unending streams of common sense, and his sense of humor, which never failed to clear the air and define the moment, are all with us for the rest of our lives… They say he is gone, but he is not gone…He’s in the next room, he’s around the corner, he’s in our hearts, minds and souls…Dean can be found at The Mizpah, laughing, and rolling his eyes at the irony of life, playing his lucky machine, loving Donna, and loving life. Those of us who knew Dean will move ahead in our lives with him always right beside us. Thanks for the memories Dean, but truly thanks for defining for all of us what it means to be a great man, a great friend, a great trailblazer…
Nancy and Fred Cline and The Mizpah Hotel
How did a native of Austria-Hungary who barely spoke English become the first and only person to be executed by a specially-made ‘Gun Machine’ in the history of Nevada?
Andriza Mircovich’s tale begins with tragedy. His cousin Christopher Mircovich died in Tonopah's Belmont mine fire, an underground blaze that took the lives of many men on February 23, 1911. Since Christopher left no will, the state was charged with distributing his funds to surviving family.
Those included two siblings, Vasso and Maria, who received $1,700 between them, while Andriza received $50. This distribution was determined by John Gregovich, a fellow Montenegrin working with Nye County to handle the estates of Serbians who died in the Belmont fire.
Mircovich, furious at not being given control of the entire estate, was even angrier at what he felt was an unfair distribution of his deceased cousin’s estate.
On the morning of May 14, 1912, Mircovich spotted Gregovich at the Tonopah train station, and shouted “I’ll get you, you old son-of-a-bitch,” at which point he stabbed him several times with a knife.
Gregovich later died of his wounds, and Mircovich was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was given the choice of hanging or shooting, and chose the latter because he felt it would be faster and less painful.
When the time came for his execution, no sharpshooters could be found willing to serve as a firing squad, so the state constructed a 1,000-pound “shooting machine,” a rack with three 30.30 rifles and three strings – only one of which discharged the weapons. That way the guards who cut the strings did not know which one fired the rifles.
Mircovich was killed instantly, and it was the first and last time anyone was executed by gunshot in the history of Nevada. The rifles used in the execution are on display at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City.
When silver was discovered in this central Nevada town in 1865, it didn't take long for the fortune seekers to turn an empty spot in the desert into a town. By 1875, an estimated 2,000 people called themselves residents of Belmont, and it became the Nye County seat. To commemorate that designation, a courthouse was constructed that is the one remaining original structure today. Other buildings were not so fortunate - as nearby Tonopah became the next boom town in 1900, folks took what wood and other scarce building materials they could and relocated. Today, Belmont is home to three businesses - an antique store, jewelry store, and a saloon called Dirty Dick's. It is said that Charlie Manson once hid out in Belmont - his name is scratched into a door frame. Photos are courtesy of Travel Nevada. Read more about Belmont and other Nevada locales at http://matadornetwork.com/trips/travel-guide-nevadas-ghost-towns/.