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HISTORY & PREHISTORY

Doctor Don L. Byam House

Doctor Byam's House

Doctor Don L. Byam's house is an original Nevada City building built in 1863. Don L. Byam, M.D., was the judge at the trial of George Ives, which took place in Nevada City, December 19 - 21, 1863. Byam was born in 1814, probably in Virginia and attended William and Mary College. He lived in Ohio until 1858, at which time he crossed the Plains to Pike's Peak, then to Bannack in 1862. This house was under construction or had just been finished at the time of the famous trial. Byam died in Emigrant, Montana, in April, 1883.

The Byam house is prominent in historical photos of 1865. It had a false front at that time and two upstairs windows. The Union League, an anti-Confederate political group, met upstairs during the Civil War period. The two windows were later boarded over and a single window placed in the center. The original windows still can be seen in the attic of the house today. The false front was also later removed to make it look more residential, in the 1870's.

Lawrence A. Fenner, a mining engineer, later occupied the house. He acquired the U.S. mineral patent on the Nevada City townsite in 1878. He lived here long after most of the other structures in Nevada City were abandoned and many were torn down. Always somewhat maintained along with its out buildings, the Fenner property forms about half of the original buildings in Nevada City today. Some of the original interior features of the house remained with the 1959 Bovey restoration. The furniture in the house today is mostly from the McGovern family who at first lived in the Star Bakery building, and later had a ranch, still there today, west of Nevada City. McGovern's daughters Hanna and Mary ran the McGovern Dry Good Store in Virginia City.

Special acknowledgements to: John D. Ellingsen.

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