In the January 21, 1865, issue of Harper’s Weekly, the editors published a small story about a man from Nevada who had lost an election for city office—but gained national renown in the wake of his defeat:
Mr. R.C. Gridley, of Austin, Nevada, has invented a new method of raising the wind. Whatever else may be thought of it, it is at least successful. An election was lately held in Austin for city officers, on the result of which many wagers were laid. Mr. Gridley bet Doctor Herrick, the wager consisting of a sack of flour, which the unsuccessful better was to carry on his shoulders through the streets of the town, to the tune of John Brown. Mr. Gridley, having lost, was on hand the morning after the election to fulfill his promise. Preceded by a brass-band and followed by a crown, he marches through the street with the flour-sack, weighing 50 pounds, on his shoulders, amidst the shouts of the populace. After formally giving the flour in to Doctor Herrick’s hands he suggested that the latter should donate it to the Sanitary Commission. The suggestion was followed and the sack was put up at auction, and, after a spirited competition, sold for $350. It was again donated to the Commission, and was purchased by Gridley, Hobart, and Jacobs for $250. The process was repeated over and over again until the sum of $6000 in gold had been realized. Starting for San Francisco with the sack Mr. Gridley, in less than a month, had realized $63,000 in gold. No lady’s album in Nevada or California is considered complete without a photograph of Gridley and his sack of flour. Mr. Gridley, on December 13, left San Francisco, with his sack of flour, of course, for New York city, where fabulous sums are piled up, in anticipation of his arrival, for the benefit of the Sanitary Commission.