A Guide to the Papers of
Dan De Quille
Collection No. NC55

Dan De Quille (William Wright), 1829-1898

Journalist Dan De Quille (pen name for William Wright) came to the west coast of the United States from Iowa and Ohio in 1859. Between 1859-1862 he and his brother Hank moved frequently around the gold mines and cities of northern California, the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, and western Nevada Territory. While traveling he began submitting articles to eastern and western newspapers under the name Dan De Quille, articles filled with stories of the people, places, and adventures encountered in the west. He was a popular writer and was soon published weekly in a number of papers.

In 1862 De Quille went to work for Joseph T. Goodman, owner of the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City, Nevada. By that time he'd become widely known, well liked, and respected for his craft. He was to work for the Enterprise off and on as a reporter and columnist for thirty years.

De Quille was a good friend and colleague of Mark Twain and Nevada newsman Alf Doten. The latter was also his drinking partner and recorded faithfully in his journals (published by Walter Van Tilburg Clark as Alf Doten's Journals) Dan's problems with alcohol abuse. In between his drinking bouts De Quille produced a prodigious number of articles, stories, novels, travelogues, and other works, the best known of which was The Big Bonanza, a book about the largest silver vein in the Comstock Lode of Virginia City.

De Quille died in Nevada in 1898, just a few years before his friend and fellow journalist, Alf Doten.

Scope and Content

The papers of Dan De Quille were purchased by the University Library from the Alta California Book Store in 1863. There are no restrictions on use of the collection.

The collection is a very small one; the bulk of the De Quille papers are held by the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. The papers held by the Special Collections Department date from 1877-1887 and are twelve in number. They include the rough draft of one short story, a genealogical narrative of the Wright and Markley families, and letters to De Quille. The correspondence is arranged by the name of the sender and in chronological order.

Folder No. Contents
55/1-2Manuscripts.
55/1/1a"Tom Collette's Bath." Originally titled or subtitled "Fun in the Mountains and Desert Wilds." Published in the Territorial Enterprise, Dec. 2, 1877 (3:6). Included here are the original draft of 8 l., xerox of the draft, and xerox copy of the published article.
55/2Manuscript in letter form by De Quille to "Aunt Lou" regarding genealogy of the Wright and Markley families. n.d. 4 l. and envelope.
55/3Correspondence
55/3/2/1-3Letters to De Quille from Amos J. Cummings, editor of The Sun newspaper of New York. 3 items, each 1 l., and an envelope: Mar. 16, 1885; April 28, 1886; and Feb. 25, 1887.
55/3/2/4Letter from The Overland Monthly editor, [Millicent Washburn Shinn], offering to pay $25.00 for De Quille's "Snow-Shoe Thompson" story. Sept. 11, 1886, 2 l. and an envelope.
55/3/2/5-9Letters from James G. Fair to De Quille. Each (except last) 1 l. and envelope; last letter has no envelope. Oct. 31, 1884; Aug. 26 1885; Jan. 7, 1886; Jan. 26, 1886; and Aug. 18, 1886.