Friday, December 10, 2010

Bodie's Dead: William S. Bodey

I thought I would visit the most obvious gravesite first. This one is not what it seems though. Let me explain. The following is typical of most books in explaining the Bodey story. I am just doing a quick summary.

Terrence Brodigan, Patrick Garrity, William Doyle, E. S. Taylor, and William S. Bodey (AKA Waterman Bodey) joined forces in Monoville in 1859. Monoville was a settlement just north of Mono Lake. They trying to find places to prospect for gold in the canyons near what would become Aurora, NV and Bodie, CA. The men finally came across dirt that had bits of yellow metal. Convinced they had found gold they set up a cabin at the site.

Seeing how they did not have enough time to fully develop their claim due to the winter conditions setting in they headed back to Monoville. There they decided that Bodey and Taylor would go back to the cabin for the winter. The rest would go to Sonora.

For both parties a massive snowstorm occurred. For the men heading to Sonora via Sonora Pass, they were forced to backtrack and head to Carson Valley then over further north to Sonora. Bodey and Taylor got caught in the snowstorm while trying to reach the cabin. Bodey was exhausted and fell in the snow. Taylor tried to carry him on, but was exhausted too. He went on to the cabin to regroup with warm coffee and a fire to get his strength back. When he went back he could not find Bodey. It was not until the snows melted that Taylor found the remains of Bodey.

What you are about to see is not the actual gravesite of William S. Bodey. It is only marker put up in his memory. It does say his remains are buried here, and as a vague statement, which probably is correct if his remains are truely somewhere on this hillside like many believe. However, his remains are not literally under this marker.

You can read the whole marker if you would like. Double click the picture to make it bigger. A couple of points before I end this one. I say two things on the video you will see that need some clarification. This is part of the problem of trying to explain details in a video that is only a few minutes long.

The first one is a minor point in that I say that Bodey found the "mines" here. While he is credited with this I probably should not have used the word "mines". I think most people will get the idea that I was just saying he and the rest found the ore minerals here. A person might think of a mine as a shaft or a cave, but that did not develop until later. Not a big deal, but I wanted to say something about this.

Second, I say something about them finding this area in 1859, but it was not until the late 1870's that the town fully developed and they were actively mining it. This is true, but again this is the price I pay trying to cover detailed history in just a few seconds on video. There were people that did come back to what would become the town of Bodie to prospect, but it was not one of the hotspots at the time for mining. Both Aurora and Virginia City had the priority over this area. The key was you had to have sponsorship and people investing in mining to get anything going. Keep in mind the elevation of the area and the terrible winters the place has. It is still not uncommon for modern newspapers to show Bodie as the coldest place in California on any given day in the weather section. So, when people started to invest that is when the boom started in the 1870's.

Third, E. S. Taylor did suffer over the loss of his friend. A few years later he too died a tragic death at the hands of Paiutes.

Finally, why is the town called Bodie while named after Bodey? The common story is that the name had different phonetic spellings. Eventually, Bodie was used and it stuck.

Bodie's Dead (Youtube Version)

Bodie's Dead (Vimeo Version)

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