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Nevada County historian dead at 92

Nevada County historian Ed Tyson is dead at the age of 92.

Mr. Tyson, a native of Missouri but designated the official county historian by the Board of Supervisors several years ago, died peacefully at his Nevada City home on Friday.

At his request, no local funeral service will be held, but a memorial is being planned for early spring and will be announced soon.



When I was mayor of Nevada City, I had the honor of proclaiming Mr. Tyson a Nevada City Living Treasure in June 2007.

He is well-known for his community service, including running the Searls Historic Library across from the Nevada County Courthouse on Church Street in downtown Nevada City.




He also is the man primarily responsible for Nevada City’s designation on the National Register of Historic Places.

Born Jan. 8, 1918, in Maryville, Mo., Mr. Tyson retired in 1972 as librarian of San Jose City College and settled in western Nevada County. He was quickly recruited as the volunteer librarian for the Searls Library.

Although he was asked only to help the Nevada County Historical Society organize its collection of old books, documents and photographs, Mr. Tyson remained on the job – without pay – for the next 38 years.

It was only when his health failed him in late 2009 that he began to reduce his hours at the library.

Mr. Tyson served on the boards of the county Historical Society, Nevada County Cemetery District and Nevada Theatre Commission. In addition, he was proud to have been Grand Noble Humbug of E Clampus Vitas.

In 1986, Mr. Tyson was recognized by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce as its Elza Kilroy recipient for longtime community service, and a year later was named Citizen of the Year by the Nevada County Historical Society.

Later, he served as Grand Marshal at Nevada City’s Independence Day parade. More recently, he received the Col. William Lambert Award for outstanding community service, presented by the Nevada City Marching Presidents.

It was Mr. Tyson’s countless volunteer hours of painstaking research that created an inventory of construction dates and building histories that served as the key element that led to downtown Nevada City being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Regarded as one of the most thorough and scholarly historians in California, Mr. Tyson was also a Renaissance man in the best tradition: An accomplished pianist who enjoyed good literature, fiery politics, great food, live theater and music of all kinds – but especially opera.

Nevada City resident Steve Cottrell is a longtime newspaper man, history buff and former mayor of Nevada City.


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