"Bonanza" episode
Season 1, Episode 9
#9 in Series
Air date November 7, 1959
Guest starring:
Written by David Dortort
Directed by John Brahm
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
The Philip Deidesheimer Story
Next Episode:
The Magnificent Adah
External links
Mr. Henry Comstock on IMDb
Mr. Henry Comstock on TV


The Cartwrights are met by an old coot with a gun who claims they're on his land; he even has a deed signed by Henry Comstock to prove it. They explain that the paper is worthless because Comstock was a con-man always on the run and perpetrating a scam. The episode flashes back to how Comstock accidentally found the huge silver deposit while trying to pull a swindle, and how Virginia City got its name.


As the Cartwrights return from moving the herd, they pause to cool off by the lake when suddenly a shot rings out. An old prospector accuses the Cartwrights of being on his land. He bought and paid for it and even has the deed. Although Ben tries to explain that the land is his, when he sees the deed he laughs and shows the boys. The land was sold to the prospector by Henry T.P. Comstock. The prospector doesn't know what's so funny, so the Cartwrights proceed to tell him the story of when they first met Mr. Henry Comstock.

Henry Comstock sits atop his mule about to be hanged by four men. He's been accused of claim jumping and they intend to put an end to that. Henry begs a moment to pray and proceeds to ask God why these men haven't heard the new goings on. The leader, Heck wants to know what Henry's talking about and Henry explains that Hang Town changed its name to Placerville and outlawed hangings in the city limits. He also claims that the city limits go clear to the top of the Sierras. The men decide they'll make the long trip and escort Henry out of town and hang him on the other side.

The Cartwrights are just returning from having cut down a Ponderosa Pine (and planted a new one in its place) when they see a man on a mule being chased by four men on horseback. They don't know what's going on, but they don't like the odds and decide to help the lone man out. They take cover lower on the mountain and using Hoss' buffalo gun take turns shooting at the four men. Each of the Cartwrights hit their mark (which isn't the four men, but their canteen, hat, rifle and an arm.) The four men can't see who's shooting at them and take off. Henry doesn't know where the help is coming from, but he's happy to have it.

The Cartwrights meet up with Henry and they ask why he was run out of California. Henry denies that he, Henry T.P. Comstock, was ever claim jumping, may God strike him dead if he did. Joe has his rifle casually resting on his shoulder and pulls the trigger for an explosive boom. Henry tells God he didn't mean right now. The Cartwrights all laugh and invite Henry back to the Ponderosa for dinner.

At dinner, Henry tells some wild stories, but he does say he knows Ben's old friend, John Sutter. Ben would like to hear news of him and Henry keeps avoiding answering. Finally, Ben calls an end to dinner and insists on hearing about Sutter. Henry admits Sutter isn't the man he once was. This only confirms what Ben already heard.

The boys have plans for the evening. Adam's going to the saw mill and asks if Henry would like a job. That's not the kind of work Henry does, so he declines. He claims he's a merchant, buying or selling as the situation requires. Ben just wants to make sure Henry isn't interested in panning for gold, not on his Ponderosa. He saw what gold did to John Sutter's land and he won't have it on his. Henry's intrigued to hear that they've found gold at the Washoe Diggings and thinks he might go down there. Hoss thinks he better tag along to make sure Henry doesn't get into any trouble. Joe wants to go to Dutchman Pete's for the weekly dance. Ben's surprised they even have women to dance with down at the diggings. Joe says they're laundry women and Hoss adds that they're all big boned, but they can dance. Joe says he wishes he could find a pretty woman to take to the dance. Suddenly he has an idea and he and Hoss leave. Hoss to follow Henry, Joe to find a pretty woman. Adam heads off to work.

Joe's idea of a pretty woman is Chief Winnemucca's young daughter, Saratuchi. He's brought some pretty turquoise material and, after talking with the chief, offers it to Sara and asks her to the dance. "But don't tell Chiefy."

Hoss follows Henry to the miners who are placer mining, running water through the soil looking for gold. They find bits here and there, but mostly the equipment just gets mucked up with "this darn blue stuff!" Henry sees an opportunity. He asks two miners if they've filed a claim, because otherwise they're trespassing on his land. Despite Hoss' whispering that Henry can't do that, Henry proceeds and a fight breaks out. Hoss gets pulled into it and Henry just saunters away to find another miner. He offers the man $17 for half his claim. The man, Pike jumps at the chance because all he's finding is blue stuff. Now that they're partners, Henry whispers his plans into Pike's ear.

At the dance, Hoss is having a good time dancing with one of the women when Joe arrives with Sara in her new turquoise dress. He introduces her to the men who are all impressed with the pretty young girl. However, one man, Ol Virginny thinks it was unwise to take Sara from her father and the Paiutes. Hoss agrees. But Joe doesn't care and escorts Sara out to dance. Several men offer Joe a deal to be allowed to dance with the slender young woman, but Joe always declines. Then he leads her to a corner and proceeds to kiss her. That's when Winnemucca and his braves arrive.

Joe's trying to talk himself out of a bad situation, facing an Indian chief and father's wrath, as well as an angry fiance. Sara was promised to Lean Knife. Henry intervenes and insists on kissing the bride, even though Hoss tries to stop him. Lean Knife pulls his knife to cut Henry and Joe shoves Lean Knife to stop him. Lean Knife is about to turn on Joe when Ben and Adam arrive. Adam shoots the knife out of the Indian's hand. Ben assures Winnemucca that his son is young and foolish and he will be punished, but by him not the Paiutes. The Indians leave and everyone returns to dancing.

Suddenly, amongst the hoopla, Pike runs in yelling he struck gold. Everyone's excited, Henry looks smug, and the Cartwrights have retreated to a corner looking worried. Pike's going to show everyone where he found it, but Henry reminds him that it was on his claim. However, he's willing to sell shares for $100, cash on the barrel head, and he'll let them in on the Comstock Lode. Everyone starts throwing money at him as Pike is desperately trying to say he really did find gold. This isn't part of their plan. When Henry realizes he's practically giving away a real gold strike, he tries to give the money back. But everyone would rather keep their share and they all push out of Dutchman Pete's simultaneously. In the crush, Ol Virginny falls and breaks his whiskey bottle. He decides to use it as a christening and dubs the place Virginia. Henry says that's not right, it needs to be called Virginia City. The crowd cheers and head off for the diggings. The Cartwrights remain behind discouraged.

The Cartwrights conclude their story to the old prospector by telling him that Henry sold his claim for $11,000. He didn't know that all that blue stuff was silver and since then they've pulled out millions of dollars of silver from the Comstock Lode. The prospector says he doesn't feel so stupid then for buying the worthless deed. Ben thinks that the deed would be a nice memento of their old friend Henry Comstock and offers to buy it from the prospector for the $25 he paid for the land.

Cast and CharactersEdit

The Cartwrights




Wikipedia has an article related to: Chief Winnemucca.

Wikipedia has an article related to: Sarah Winnemucca.

Did You Know?Edit

  • This episode is also known as "The Henry Comstock Story".



See Mr. Henry Comstock/videos

See alsoEdit