An Interview With
Edmund L. Fleming
An Oral History conducted and edited by
Robert D. McCracken
Nye County Town History Project
Nye County, Nevada
Nye County Town History Project
Nye County Commissioners
Edmund L. and Jane Fleming
Early days in the east; the Diemels of the Pahrump Ranch; a trip from Virginia to Nevada; the Pahrump Ranch itself; a dude ranch; ranch work and well-digging.
Ed returns to the Pahrump Valley as a school teacher; life with Pop Buol; early valley residents.
More early residents; mows to Goodsprings and Nelson; mining; a move to Oregon, then back to the desert and teaching; on Lois Kellogg; hot tempers in the area.
Frontier justice; funding for schools.
The Nye County Town History Project (NCTHP) engages in interviewing people who can provide firsthand descriptions of the individuals, events, and places that give history its substance. The products of this research are the tapes of the interviews and their transcriptions.
In themselves, oral history interviews are not history. However, they often contain valuable primary source material, as useful in the process of historiography as the written sources to which historians have customarily turned. Verifying the accuracy of all of the statements made in the course of an interview would require more time and money than the NCTHP's operating budget permits. The program can vouch that the statements were made, but it cannot attest that they are free of error. Accordingly, oral histories should be read with the same prudence that the reader exercises when consulting government records, newspaper accounts, diaries, and other sources of historical information.
It is the policy of the NCTHP to produce transcripts that are as close to verbatim as possible, but some alteration of the text is generally both unavoidable and desirable. When human speech is captured in print the result can be a morass of tangled syntax, false starts, and incomplete sentences, sometimes verging on incoherency. The type font contains no symbols for the physical gestures and the diverse vocal modulations that are integral parts of communication through speech. Experience shows that totally verbatim transcripts are often largely unreadable and therefore a waste of the resources expended in their production. While keeping alterations to a minimum the NCTHP will, in preparing a text:
a. generally delete false starts, redundancies and the uhs, ahs and other noises with which speech is often sprinkled;
b. occasionally compress language that would be confusing to the reader in unaltered form;
c. rarely shift a portion of a transcript to place it in its proper context;
d. enclose in [brackets] explanatory information or words that were not uttered but have been added to render the text intelligible; and
e. make every effort to correctly spell the names of all individuals and places, recognizing that an occasional word may be misspelled because no authoritative source on its correct spelling was found.
As project director, I would like to express my deep appreciation to those who participated in the Nye County Town History Project (NCTHP). It was an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to obtain oral histories from so many wonderful individuals. I was welcomed into many hares—in many cases as a stranger--and was allowed to share in the recollection of local history. In a number of cases I had the opportunity to interview Nye County residents whom I have known and admired since I was a teenager; these experiences were especially gratifying. I thank the residents throughout Nye County and southern Nevada--too numerous to mention by name-who provided assistance, information, and photographs. They helped make the successful completion of this project possible.
Appreciation goes to Chairman Joe S. Garcia, Jr., Robert N. "Bobby" Revert, and Patricia S. Manikins, the Nye County commissioners who initiated this project. Mr. Garcia and Mr. Revert, in particular, showed deep interest and unyielding support for the project from its inception. Thanks also go to current commissioners Richard L Carver and Barbara J. Raper, who have since joined Mr. Revert on the board and who have continued the project with enthusiastic support. Stephen T. Bradhurst, Jr., planning consultant for Nye County, gave unwavering support and advocacy of the project within Nye County and before the State of Nevada Nuclear Waste Project Office and the United States Department of Energy; both entities provided funds for this project. Thanks are also extended to Mr. Bradhurst for his advice and input regarding the conduct of the research and for constantly serving as a sounding board when methodological problems were worked out. This project would never have become a reality without the enthusiastic support of the Nye County commissioners and Mr. Bradhurst.
Jean Charney served as administrative assistant, editor, indexer, and typist throughout the project; her services have been indispensable. Louise Terrell provided considerable assistance in transcribing many of the oral histories; Barbara Douglass also transcribed a number of interviews. Transcribing, typing, editing, and indexing were provided at various times by Alice Levine, Jodie Hanson, Mike Green, and Cynthia Tremblay. Jared Charney contributed essential word processing skills. Maire Hayes, Michelle Starika, Anita Coryell, Michelle Welsh, Lindsay Schumacher, and Jodie Hanson shouldered the herculean task of proofreading the oral histories. Gretchen Loeffler and Bambi McCracken assisted in numerous secretarial and clerical duties. Phillip Earl of the Nevada Historical Society contributed valuable support and criticism throughout the project, and Tom King at the Oral History Program of the University of Nevada at Reno served as a consulting oral historian. Much deserved thanks are extended to all these persons.
All material for the NCTHP was prepared with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy, Grant No. DE-FG08-89NV10820. However, any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of DOE.
--Robert D. McCracken
Historians generally consider the year 1890 as the end of the American frontier. By then, most of the western United States had been settled, ranches and farms developed, communities established, and roads and railroads constructed. The mining boomtowns, based on the lure of overnight riches from newly developed lodes, were but a memory.
Although Nevada was granted statehood in 1864, examination of any map of the state from the late 1800s shows that while much of the state was mapped and its geographical features named, a vast region--stretching from Belmont south to the Las Vegas meadows, comprising most of Nye County--remained largely unsettled and unmapped. In 1890 most of southcentral Nevada remained very much a frontier, and it continued to be for at least another twenty years.
The great mining booms at 'Tonopah (1900), Goldfield (1902), and Rhyolite (1904) represent the last major flowering of what might be called the Old West in the United States. Consequently, southcentral Nevada, notably Nye County, remains close to the American frontier; closer, perhaps, than any other region of the American West. In a real sense, a significant part of the frontier can still be found in southcentral Nevada It exists in the attitudes, values, lifestyles, and memories of area residents. The frontier-like character of the area also is visible in the relatively undisturbed quality of the natural environment, most of it essentially untouched by human hands.
A survey of written sources on southcentral Nevada's history reveals some material from the boomtown period from 1900 to about 1915, but very little on the area after around 1920. The volume of available sources varies from town to town: A fair amount of literature, for instance, can be found covering Tonopah's first two decades of existence, and the town has had a newspaper continuously since its first year. In contrast, relatively little is known about the early days of Gabbs, Round Mountain, Manhattan, Beatty, Amargosa Valley, and Pahrump. Gabbs's only newspaper was published intermittently between 1974 and 1976. Round Mountain's only newspaper, the Round Mountain Nugget, was published between 1906 and 1910. Manhattan had newspaper coverage for most of the years between 1906 and 1922. Amargosa Valley has never had a newspaper; Beatty's independent paper folded in 1912. Pahrump's first newspaper did not appear until 1971. All six communities received only spotty coverage in the newspapers of other communities after their own papers folded, although Beatty was served by the Beatty Bulletin, which was published as a supplement to the Goldfield News between 1947 and 1956. Consequently, most information on the history of southcentral Nevada after 1920 is stored in the memories of individuals who are still living.
Aware of Nye County's close ties to our nation's frontier past, and recognizing that few written sources on local history are available, especially after about 1920, the Nye County Commissioners initiated the Nye County Town History Project (NCTHP). The NCTHP represents an effort to systematically collect and preserve information on the history of Nye County. The centerpiece of the NCTHP is a large set of interviews conducted with individuals who had knowledge of local history. Each interview was recorded, transcribed, and then edited lightly to preserve the language and speech patterns of those interviewed. All oral history interviews have been printed on acid-free paper and bound and archived in Nye County libraries, Special Collections in the James R. Dickinson Library at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and at other archival sites located throughout Nevada. The interviews vary in length and detail, but together they form a never-before-available composite picture of each community's life and development. The collection of interviews for each community can be compared to a bouquet: Each flower in the bouquet is unique—some are large, others are small--yet each adds to the total image. In sum, the interviews provide a composite view of community and county history, revealing the flow of life and events for a part of Nevada that has heretofore been largely neglected by historians.
Collection of the oral histories has been accompanied by the assembling of a set of photographs depicting each community's history. These pictures have been obtained from participants in the oral history interviews and other present and past Nye County residents. In all, more than 700 photos have been collected and carefully identified. Complete sets of the photographs have been archived along with the oral histories.
On the basis of the oral interviews as well as existing written sources, histories have been prepared for the major communities in Nye County. These histories also have been archived.
The town history project is one component of a Nye County program to determine the socioeconomic impacts of a federal proposal to build and operate a nuclear waste repository in southcentral Nye County. The repository, which would be located inside a mountain (Yucca Mountain), would be the nation's first, and possibly only, permanent disposal site for high-level radioactive waste. The Nye County Board of County Commissioners initiated the NCTHP in 1987 in order to collect information on the origin, history, traditions, and quality of life of Nye County, communities that may be impacted by a repository. If the repository is constructed, it will remain a source of interest for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years to came, and future generations will likely want to know more about the people who once resided near the site. In the event that government policy changes and a high-level nuclear waste repository is not constructed in Nye County, material compiled by the NCTHP will remain for the use and enjoyment of all.
RM: Ed, let's begin by you stating your name as it appears on your birth certificate.
EF: My name is Edmund Lee Fleming.
RM: Where were you born and what is your birthdate?
EF: I was born in Virginia, Minnesota, October 18, 1915.
RM: What was your father's name?
EF: My father was James Hennessey Fleming and my mother was Mary Lenore Brennan Fleming.
RM: When was your father born and where?
EF: He was born in Ballylanders, which is in Limerick, Ireland, on May 28, 1858.
RM: And when was your mother born?
EF: She was born on June 12th, 1873, on the island of Valentia, Ireland.
RM: So they were both Irish?
EF: Yes, they were. I'm a first generation [American].
RM: What was your father's occupation?
EF: My father did many different things - he was in real estate and he was the postmaster in our home town. Virginia was in the northern part of the state and it was about 18,000 or 19,000 at that time. My father was a judge there and, as I said, the postmaster.
RM: Did you go to school in Virginia?
EF: Yes; through junior college. I finished at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota.
RM: What were the circumstances that first brought you to Nevada?
EF: My brother from New York had some friends, the Diemels, with whom he lived. They were sent out west because of Mr. Diemel's health and Mr. Diemel took over this ranch, which was at that time owned by some friends of the family. He was originally from San Francisco.
RM: Was that the Pahrump Ranch?
RM: Who were the owners at that time?
EF: It was a consortium of big wheels on the west coast.
RM: That was the Pahrump Land Company, wasn't it?
EF: [They included Isidore] Dockweiler and Paul Shoup, and there was a Dr. Shoup among them. Shoup was the President of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
RM: And, who was Ed Diemel?
EF: He was the friend from New York.
RM: Was he the foreman of the ranch, or did he leave it leased?
EF: It was more or less on a lease basis. He was the scion of a manufacturing family. His father had invented Diemel linen mesh underwear and he was their New York representative at that time. And my brother lived and worked with them, in New York.
RM: Is your brother older than you?
EF: Oh, yes.
RM: When did Diemel lease the ranch?
EF: It was about 1932.
RM: What were his intentions with the ranch?
EF: They were going for cattle, sheep ranching and alfalfa. I think there was an experiment with cotton, but it was not too successful. And [they were going to run it] as a dude ranch. He was primarily interested in the dudes. When I first went there it was the summer of 1934. I stayed out of school that year and another friend from New York, who was from my home town, came and picked me up in Virginia and the 4 of us came out on U.S. Highway 40.
RM: That must have been an interesting trip at that time.
EF: Avery rugged one - we were in a Model-A roadster.
RM: Was Highway 40 paved?
EF: A good part of it was not, especially through the mountains and in western Colorado and Utah. Vernal, Utah - I remember that one.
RM: Yes; I've been there.
RM: How old were you then?
EF: Nineteen. I'd had one year of college.
RM: Did you intend to go out for the summer, or what was your thinking?
EF: Yes; it was only for one year.
RM: Was your brother employed by Diemel?
EF: No. Michael was in advertising. He worked for J. Walter Thompson, I believe. And [later] he was with Macys and Bloomingdales.
RM: How did he know the Diemels - from business contacts, or . . .?
EF: I believe they were in adjacent apartments or something of that sort.
RM: Oh, I see. And who did you ride out with?
EF: His name was Frank Lenci. He was also from Virginia and he was about my brother Michael's age. I rode out with him and his wife and baby daughter.
RM: So you were all going out to the Pahrump Ranch to check it out?
EF: Yes, that was the idea; and also to work.
RM: And you had gotten knowledge of it through your brother?
EF: Yes. I think Diemel's brother-in-law and Michael worked together.
RM: How did Diemel hear about it and get interested in it?
EF: Dockweiler and Shoup and so forth were friends of his family in San Francisco. It was a fairly, wealthy family.
RM: He didn't have any experience in ranching or anything did he?
EF: I presume he had probably grown up working on a ranch - helping out or duding or something of this sort. He was a graduate of Berkeley and in business, but it was a matter of his health. He was sent back here because he had T.B. The doctors did it. As soon as they found out about it, there were some family strings pulled and that's how he wound up in that particular place.
RM: How did the dude ranch idea get started? Nevada had just passed its divorce and gambling laws at that time, hadn't it?
EF: Yes. They figured from the contacts they had made in school and also in business, that they would attract a lot of wealthy people. As a matter of fact, when I came there that summer there were 3 or 4 young men about my age who were working on the ranch and I think the families were paying for their room and board. And subsequently there were a number of divorcees who came out.
RM: Did they fix the place up at all for the dude ranching?
EF: The place was not all that run down; it was not bad. The ranch was beautiful, as a matter of fact. It had all the glamour and the color. The living arrangements were pretty basic but aside from that, it was attractive in that it seemed to be attractive to the wealthy people who came out there, as a contrast to what they were used to.
RM: Could you describe the beauty of the Pahrump Ranch?
EF: There were huge trees, all open, up and down the lanes. I remember particularly an immense fig tree that was not far from the cook house. It must have been nearly I00 years old, even at that time. It was probably 6 feet across at the stump. I've never seen anything like that particular tree. And, of course, we had the cottonwoods up and down the lanes and on a lot of the water lines. Then there were two tremendously big springs where we swam and so forth; that's where the water came from.
RM: Where did the guests stay?
EF: There were several cottages, separate units, and then everybody ate at the cookhouse or shack, which was along the lane. It was like one of the western movie Main Streets - some old buildings, stables and an old saloon and the store and the schoolhouse. We 3 or 4 boys shacked up in the bunkhouse, which was along the same street. The owners were in a separate house. That was where Diemel . . . They had a little girl who has visited me within the last year or so, incidentally. Her husband is a professor at Ohio University and she was out here for a PTA conference or something.
RM: What were your first impressions of getting to Pahrump?
EF: That was something else. At that time they were working on the highway between Las Vegas and Reno and there were stretches that had not been paved. The paving extended as far as Indian Springs and there were large crews living at Indian Springs who were working on driving the road farther north, up to Beatty. After one left Indian Springs on this terrible road, about 18 or 20 miles farther you turned off to the west and then you were in the desert for sure.
RM: Was that at the present turnoff?
EF: Yes. It was about 28 miles from there into the ranch. Entirely a 2- track desert trail. It was the same way when I returned 4 years later to teach there.
RM: It must have been a dramatic contrast to the environment in northern Minnesota.
EF: It certainly was.
RM: How did it strike you?
EF: I was used to city heat, for instance; we were much more civilized perhaps than many places in the east. We bought steam heat from the city. And indoor plumbing was non-existent as far as Pahrump was concerned.
RM: And no electricity?
EF: Oh, no.
RM: What about the climate?
EF: It didn't affect me particularly; I loved it. Of course, I was a 19-year-old on an adventure. And they kept us busy, working on the ranch, doing all the things - haying and irrigating and so forth. There were about 1,000 acres under cultivation so that you were always busy, and there were the cattle and sheep and pigs. There was always something different to do. They had a decent library, and it kept us entertained and amused.
RM: What kind of library?
EF: It was just a personal library.
RM: Did you do anything other than read for recreation?
EF: We rode and we explored. We used to take trips. One weekend we went down to Hoover Dam, which was a-building at that time - it was halfway finished. Any trip of 100 miles took a full day. We'd go over to Ash Meadows to swim and so forth and to Shoshone. These are about equal distance from Pahrump. Death Valley Junction had a movie once a week. We never got to it, but it was there, waiting for you. The Junction was beautifully. It was very formal. The people from Pacific Coast Borax, who had built a new hotel there (it was only 5 or 10 years old), were English. It had a very formal dining room and so forth.
RM: Was there activity at the clay camps and Ash Meadows then?
EF: Not very much. There was an old man named Martin, I think, who was in his 80s, at Ash Meadows. He raised black widows and sold the webs as gunsights.
RM: I heard that they used black widow webs for that.
EF: Yes; they are strong, for one thing.
RM: Did he have a lot of black widows?
EF: There were a slew of them. There were quite a few around anyway, and he just picked them up. Somebody had put him on to this [as a way] to make money and he did. I don't even know how he marketed them, except that he did send them to some central place.
RM: Were there quite a few Indians in Pahrump at this time?
EF: Yes. There were a number of them who worked on the Ranch. Long Jim - Jim Steve - and there were a couple others who were more or regular, and then there were transients. They used to have a powwow once a year, where they would congregate from all over. They were pretty spread out.
RM: They kind of had their own little village or compound, didn't they?
EF: I don't know. Long Jim had his own place up on the mountain. As far as I know, the family are still there; I think there are a couple of girls still there. Long Jim and I worked together on the ranch. I was helping him because he was real moxy about ranch work, putting up fence and this sort of thing, and it was interesting that 4 years later I had his family in school, and his oldest daughter worked for my sister for a number of years after that, here in town.
RM: When did the dude ranch begin?
EF: I don't know if they advertised, or whether it was word of mouth or whether Dockweiler referred people to them, since he was a lawyer. I presume it was through that. I know one of them was the Owl Drug heiress. I wound up renting a house from her the 2 years that I lived there.
RM: She had a house in Pahrump?
EF: She was building a honeymoon cottage on about 20 acres a couple of miles from the Pahrump Ranch.
RM: Do you remember her name?
EF: Lottie Miller. That was her maiden name, I believe. She married a dealer here in town some years after.
RM: Do you remember any other guests from that summer?
EF: Most of them came after my original year there. At the time I was there, there weren't any. They dreamed [the dude ranch] up after that. They were very bright people, the Diemels. And I mean if one thing didn't work, they tried something else. Evidently, they came up with that the year after I left - about '35.
RM: So it wasn't a dude ranch when you got there - it was a working ranch?
EF: Except for these boys who were working there with me whose families were paying, yes.
RM.: Was it basically so they could have some ranch experience?
EF: And in the process they were getting some free labor, because they were not treated any different than anybody else.
RM: Where were they boys from?
EF: From the west coast. One of them was a Shoup, and his father is a doctor in the Bay Area. Another one's father was a businessman in San Francisco.
RM: And you stayed there that summer . • •
EF: Up until December.
RM: Then you didn't go back for the fall term?
EF: No, I picked it up in the spring - I was back home for the second semester.
RM: What made you stay on rather than go back in the fall?
EF: I was enjoying it, for one thing, and I was trying to make some money. This was in the depths of the Depression and we did pick up some extra money. They were paying me $20 a month, which I didn't collect until the end. The government came through with one of the New Deal projects – it was digging wells and putting windmills up throughout the desert area, so I got on the crew digging the wells and that was $5 a day, which was big money at that time.
RM: Where all did you dig wells?
EF: All over the valley. We lucked out. It was just surface water and we'd go down 15 or 20 feet - that's about all - and then erect the windmill and some stock tubs or vats for water.
RM: How big were the well holes?
EF: About 6 feet across.
RM: Did you timber them?
EF: You cribbed about 8 feet on top, which was . . . well, we were young and husky.
RM: Whose land were the wells being dug on?
EF: It was mostly federal land.
RM: Why were they digging wells out there?
EF: There were a lot of wild horses around and also it was just to spread a little money for folks to live an.
RM: Yes. Were they trying to build a road over the Charleston Mountains during this period? In the old Las Vegas newspapers in the early '30s, they are talking about building a road and how they've got to double the crew and I think it was CCC or one of those programs.
EF: Yes; the existing road to Pahrump was originally built by the CCC. We had what they called a spike camp right up in the saddle.
RM: At Mountain Springs?
EF: Yes. Because later on I was with the forest service during the summers as a kind of assistant to the ranger and the CCC camp was adjacent to us, so one of my duties was to make a circle of the mountains once a month in a pickup. I used to go over that . .
RM: At Mountain Springs?
EF: It was a fright. On the other side there were desert tracks up until it nearly met the one from this side. Charlie Robert's ranch was up there and there was Charlie Williams on the other side - Intermittent Springs, they called it. Those places still exist, except I think the Intermittent Springs are almost shut down now. Somebody here in town has a big layout on the other side of the Mountain Springs, a share deal, for RVs.
RM: Up there where the bar is?
EF: Past that.
RM: Was this also the first summer that you were here?
EF: No, that was later; when I came back to teach.
RM: And then you went back to Minnesota to finish school?
EF: I was still peripatetic. I think the next summer I went down to Texas, but I got tired of the winters in Minnesota. They are a fright. As soon as I got my degree, I headed this way.
RM: And you got a teaching job?
RM: What made you came back to Pahrump?
EF: My sister was teaching there in '35; she came the year after I had left.
RM: Had she learned about it from you?
EF: Well, from my other brother. They were all in contact.
RM: What was her name?
EF: Mary VanCleve. She was married to a mining engineer and Van died suddenly in the Philippines in '35, so she went back to work.
RM: Was she a schoolteacher by trade?
EF: She had started out as one, and she had a young son. They had lived in South America for about 12 years and when Van went out to the Philippines, she was going to go there. Plans had to be changed. So she taught there for 2 years before I took her place. And she came here to Las Vegas to teach.
RM: Did you apply for the job?
EF: Yes. And it was word of mouth. Teachers were a little scarce finding them for outlying areas at that time. [They'd] have to pay as much as the cities in order to attract anybody, so it wasn't a question of money because I theoretically had much better jobs, like Assistant Principal in Mandan, North Dakota.
RM: What was your salary?
EF: $1,200 for 8 months.
RM: What school district did you work for?
EF: It was Pahrump and Johnnie Mine and Johnnie Town; Johnnie Mine was the post office for Pahrump. It was called the Rose District.
RM: Pop Buol didn't have a post office there then?
EF: Pop carried the mail, but the post office was at Johnnie Mine and Frank Otto was the postmaster.
RM: How many children were in your class?
EF: I had 13 children.
RM: Were they mostly whites or mostly Indians?
EF: I had four Long Jim children and the other 9 were white. There were a few transients but not too many. I had the 3 Buol children, one Bell and few others.
RM: Were they Pop Buol's son's children?
EF: Yes. Frank [Jr.] was leasing the Johnnie Mine at that time, and his family was living down at Pahrump. On the weekends sometimes through the school year, if I didn't come to Las Vegas, I would help Frank at Johnnie Mine.
RM: What was your college degree in?
EF: English and history.
RM: Did they have teaching certificates in those days?
EF: You bet. I had a high school certificate. The summer after I got my B.A., I had to go to Superior State Teacher's College to qualify for the elementary certificate. For a number of years I carried both, but my heart was with the elementary teaching.
RM: So you started there in 1938?
RM: Where did you live?
EF: I rented this honeymoon cottage. By that time she had split up and had married this other bartender here in Las Vegas. She was lousy rich anyway. She was not particularly attractive - on the pudgy side.
RM: Where was her place located?
EF: It was adjacent to Pop Buol's place. As a matter of fact, I think Pop probably sold her 20 acres. Right outside my back door there was an artesian well, pouring constantly into a little pool. I took my bath there every morning. It was idyllic, shall we say. But she never completed that; she and Sam broke up and they had just finished 2 rooms. The one was the kitchen and the other my bedroom. The huge living roan, maybe twice this size, with a fireplace and so forth, was not completed. But they did have the roof on. Sam was an old cattle, and, strangely, sheep man. He ran the sheep at Pahrump.
RM: Did they have a lot of sheep on the ranch?
EF: Quite a few, but in 1934, they bought over 1,000 sheep from one of those island's - the Channel Islands. The government was trying to clear them out, and they were wild, practically. They trucked them up to Shoshone and we went to Shoshone to pick them up. It was horrible.
RM: Because they were so wild?
EF: One third of them were killed just in transport, stomping each other. Then when they got out, they ran in every direction. We got back to the ranch with only maybe a couple hundred head. It took about 3 days.
RM: By the time you got back in '38, what was happening with the dude ranch?
EF: Well, by that time Mr. Diesel had died. And she . .
RM: How did he die?
EF: I think of this T.B.
RM: Was he a young Iran, or middle aged?
EF: I don't think he was 40; maybe about 40. She moved to Tonopah and all the [holdings] were broken up and they optioned the ranch, I believe, to a man named Van Horn, who was a cotton grower in California.
RM: So basically the dude ranch never got off the ground?
EF: Oh, no. Not as an establishment. (It was primarily directed at divorcees.)
RM: What was happening at the Manse Ranch during this period?
EF: A fellow by the name of Marron had it. They had come up from San Diego sometime before and he was running a very tight ship, believe me. That was a very attractive place, and I think he was making money.
RM: Was he Dr. Cornell's son-in-law?
EF: I know that there was some connection. Cornell, I think, was one of the owners. The Manse was more compact and it was a prettier place.
RM: What was pretty about the Manse Ranch at that time?
EF: I don't know; it was quaint - white fences, white barns and everything looking very shipshape.
RM: Could you talk a little more about your career as a teacher there for the 2 years?
EF: Well, the facilities were very basic. I didn't preside in the big schoolhouse, the one they talk about . . .
RM: The red schoolhouse?
EF: Oh, no. Pop's daughter-in-law Gertie, Frank's wife, was secretary of the school board and I think Pop was getting as much as he could out of it, so he rented this building to the Rose School District and that's where I presided. I was up there several years ago and I think I found it. It was made out of railroad ties and was rather small - 2 rooms - the 2 rooms were no bigger than this .
RM: Probably 20 by 15 at the most.
EF: Oh, the 15 is elaborate. But there was plenty of room for us.
RM: How far was it from Buol's house?
EF: Probably half a mile.
RM: But it was on his property?
EF: Yes. There was a well there, with flowing water. We did have running water outside.
RM: Was the so-called red schoolhouse still there?
EF: Oh yes. But it was over on the ranch. Most of the students were not from the ranch, so . . . the Jim children, of course, were brought down [by Long Jim].
RM: Were you getting many kids from the Manse Ranch?
EF: There weren't any.
RM: Were there other little farms, or . . .?
EF: Well, there was another farm there. The Randy Bell farm was adjacent to the big ranch.
RM: Was it a big farm?
EF: He had a fairly good-sized spread.
RM: Did that, later, became the Raycraft place?
EF: I believe it was reversed. It was perhaps originally the Raycraft and then Bell was operating it.
RM: Who was Randy Bell?
EF: He was an old cow, man. They had a granddaughter who was one of my students.
RM: Were there any other places? There was the Manse Ranch, the Pahrump Ranch, the Bell or Raycraft Ranch, and the Buols. Were there any other occupancies?
RM: That was it. Plus the Indians
EF: Yes. But the Indians mostly stayed on one of the ranches. There were a lot of itinerants.
EF: Yes. And some of the people from down . . . the Younts, for instance. Johnnie Yount used to come up and the Lee brothers were in and out.
RM: Could you say a few words about Johnnie Yount? Did you know him
EF: I met him a couple of times, but he was farther down the valley beyond the Hidden Ranch, and I didn't get around that much. He was well thought of. And his brother, of course, was involved at Goodsprings.
RM: Right. What was Sam's role in Goodsprings? He was one of the founders of it, wasn't he?
EF: Not really, but one of the developers. [He was a] heavy in the Yellow Pine Mining Corporation and he had the company store and later, after things eased down, he was one of the big stockholders in Security Pacific National, in Los Angeles; one of the directors.
RM: I didn't know that. Sam made money there?
EF: Oh, yes; lots of money. They took around $13 million dollars out of the Yellow Pine.
RM: What time period was that?
EF: Around the first World War and shortly after it. After the railroad went through in 1906.
RM: It sounds like Sam made money, and I have the impression Johnnie Yount was really dirt-poor.
EF: Johnnie just didn't care about money. I imagine some of this was sibling rivalry or something of this sort, but I think Sam always helped him, but tried to keep it down also.
RM: Was Sam older than John?
EF: Yeah. And Johnnie was a squaw man, so . .
RM: Was that held against him?
EF: It was, evidently, by his brother, but nobody else did. I thought it was interesting that the Lee brothers were half . . . there were many precedents for this taking of a squaw. The Lees came out here with Fremont, I believe. The original 5 [Lee] brothers [were] Leander, Philander, Meander and Salamander. These boys were the sons of Phi Lee, I think.
RM: Yes, and one of them got the Resting Springs.
RM: Yes. And then his son was Bob Lee.
EF: Bob was the blacksmith at Pahrump.
RM: Was he a good blacksmith? Did he work at the ranch, or did he freelance?
EF: He was a good one, and he kind of worked around. There wasn't that much work for one man at the ranch in those days. He used to live with Pop Buol.
RM: Were they pretty good friends?
EF: Yes. I lived with Pop also, because I was almost adjacent to his grape vineyards and I used to help him make the wine. He was a bonded winery, you know.
RM: Could you talk about Pop and his winery?
EF: It was bonded winery Number 2, and it was the only operating winery in the state at the time, I believe.
RM: What do they mean when they say bonded?
EF: That means it's licensed by the government, and they had an inspection once a year.
RM: Did he make a lot of wine?
EF: Quite a bit. And he furnished the California Club, which is a club in Los Angeles, with some of his Zinfandel, I believe.
RM: The California Club was a big, high-faluting .
EF: The big money boys. It was Chateau Buol.
RM: Did he have his own label?
EF: Oh yes. I've stuck many of them on.
RM: Was it good wine?
EF: Very good. Because of the desert conditions, it was very high in alcoholic content. Even though he did not make any fortified wines, his natural wines were 14 to 16 percent. And he used to hide it all over the desert.
RM: What would he bury - barrels?
EF: No, just bottles. He had this large room where he also lived and he only had maybe 1,200 gallon barrels in it; that was about the extent of his production.
RM: He made the wine inside his living quarters?
RM: And it was about a 1,200-gallon-a-year operation?
EF: I don't know how many it would be; I was just guessing.
RM: How would he crush the grapes?
EF: He had a mechanical crusher
RM: Could you say a little bit about his vineyard? Was it quite extensive?
RM: How many acres do you think it covered?
EF: I don't think he had much over 10 or 15 acres. It was broken up into sections for different grapes
RM: He had a lot of different varieties?
EF: Yes. He would try, for instance, to isolate this variety of Muscat or. . . in a certain area he might have had 20 acres. But no more than that.
RM: Did the grapes thrive?
EF: Very, very much so. And he was exceptionally good at it. I don't know his background. Pop was Swiss, I believe, and probably it came down . . . maybe when he was you he had been exposed to it, although he had came there from Wisconsin where he was a timber cruiser
RM: Was he close to his brother in Las Vegas?
EF: Yes, Pete used to come out. By that time Pete was in L.A. He was a promoter, primarily. He must have moved down there in the '20s. And their mother lived to be 100-and-something, so Pete was living with the mother, or she was living with them. He would come up maybe a couple times a year to visit and of course Pop would go down there.
RM: What made Pop stay on there?
EF: He loved it. He was as black as one of the Paiutes.
RM: From the sun?
EF: He never wore anything but shorts until he came to town. Then he'd dress up.
RM: Was he a big man physically?
EF: No, probably medium.
RM: I heard that he read a lot.
EF: Very much; he was a reader. I'd usually linger over when I'd help Pop, when I was teaching out there, and we used to eat together, as I boarded with Gertie and the 3 little girls. Gertie was his daughter-in law.
RM: Pop wasn't married, was he?
EF: No. His wife died when Frank was just a little boy. Pop was always very much interested in the news and so forth. They had a radio. It was a wind-charger, the first I'd seen.
RM: Did that also run lights?
EF: Just the radio.
RM: Did Pop make a living off his orchards and all?
EF: He picked up money renting the schoolhouse and on the mail run. Once a week he'd run up and get the mail from the highway and take it to Johnnie Mine.
RM: Did he have a store at that time?
EF: He had a little store.
RM: Did it amount to much?
EF: No. I do remember one thing. A delicacy which still makes my mouth water. He would come to Las Vegas and buy a 5-pound round of Roquefort the real Roquefort - and we would feast for a long time on that.
RM: Did he keep any cattle or stock or anything at all? Somebody said he had a pig or 2 and he used to let them eat the fruit that had fallen off the trees.
EF: I don't know. People traded and this sort of thing. He had a couple sheep, but I don't think he butchered them or anything, and a milk cow.
RM: Did you know Hughes at all?
EF: I net him a couple of times. I had a couple of his kids, the second year I was teaching - I think one was in the 8th grade. I believe they were from Oklahoma, and they were not education-oriented, so we didn't bother them . . .
RM: People didn't have to send their kids to school there, or did they?
EF: Theoretically they did. The same rules existed then as now.
RM: But in practice, did they?
EF: There could be extenuating circumstances. In practice, they did. Those little Indian girls were there every damn morning.
RM: Were they good students?
EF: They were fair They had the 2 who made the national headlines years later for their visions. The twins, Annabelle and Clarabelle Jim.
RM: They saw visions?
EF: Oh. yes. They hit the national . . . the A.P.
RM: Religious visions, or . . .?
EF: Yes. Somebody started playing up and it ran for 4 or 5 months. I think one of them is still out there, and I'm sure the youngest one . somebody was telling me she is quite an activist. Her name was Cynthia.
RM: Oh, I interviewed Cynthia. She didn't mention her sisters and their visions.
EF: Cynthia was an awfully cute little first-grader when I had her. She was about 6. These twins were older; 12 at the time.
EF: It was just one of those things you just didn't think about. Occasionally some of the Indians would get a hold of some . . . they'd find some of that dune wine and go on a little spree. I recall once we were in the bunkhouse in '34, and they started shooting up the place. I still have a little scar from a piece of sharp glass that sliced me.
RM: A scar on the elbow of your left arm.
EF: They shot the windows out of the bunkhouse, that particular time.
RM: They had just been drinking?
EF: Yes. They were angry about something; I've no idea what it was.
RM: Did people carry guns and everything then?
EF: Everybody had a piece, a rifle for poaching or whatever, because a lot of poaching went on up there - mainly deer and sheep.
RM: There were quite a few sheep then?
EF: The sheep would be over here in the sheep mountains.
RM: The Nopahs?
EF: The sheep mountains behind Indian Springs.
RM: Oh, they'd come clear over there to poach.
EF: Yes. I remember George Ishmael used to be real good at that. He was kind of the foreman at the ranch for Diemel.
RM: Then you worked under George Ishmael? Could you talk a little bit about him?
EF: Oh yes. I just loved him. He was a big, husky tough guy, really one of the toughest men I ever net or saw. It was a big family affair His mother-in-law was the cook on the ranch and his family was living there. George was a man "for all seasons"; a little bit of everything. He was the head butcher, head hunter and so forth, and the head honcho on anything to do with the ranch. Diemel's wife's maiden name was Hatch, and she came from out of Berkeley also and her brother was there on the ranch. He was supposed to be head irrigator. His name was Worth. He was a very tall, beautiful-looking man.
RM: What was Ishmael's mother-in-law's name?
EF: Mrs. Carpenter.
RM: And Ishmael had his wife and children there?
EF: Yes. He had 4 or 5, a boy and . . . I think the boy is still around Tecopa•
RM: I interviewed his daughter Phyllis Bell in Beatty.
EF: Yes, he had 2 very attractive . . . well, they were younger than I.
RM: Then you left the Pahrump Valley and went down to Goodsprings?
EF: I stayed a year at Goodsprings and then went to Nelson.
RM: Was Nelson a booming town?
EF: It was a booming town at that time. They were building the road both from the highway and from Nelson down to the river, so we had all the construction workers. I had about 45 kids in one room.
RM: Is that right?
EF: That was a real bad pick, that I did in that case.
RM: You mean because of such a high number?
EF: Five grades there at the end. The lady who was teaching with me was sickly so I assumed some of her classes.
RM: By then the war was going, wasn't it?
EF: The war started on December the 7th of that year.
RM: When you were at Nelson?
EF: Yes. I had got married the month before.
RM: And you married a girl from Goodsprings?
RM: Was her father . . .
EF: He was a storekeeper and Schwartz was his name. He had the store there and they operated several mines also. He was one of the original ones on the big gold mine there.
RM: What was the name of that mine?
EF: I think it was Chiquita; later, the Barefoot.
RM: Were you in Goodsprings when the Lombard plane went down in January of '42?
EF: In '42 I was in Henderson. I moved around quite a bit. Was this right after Pearl Harbor?
EF: Well, we were over there visiting, anyway, when she went down. Because Jane's uncle over here, and several of the others, were the first people up at the site.
RM: You mean your wife's uncle?
EF: Yes; the one in the picture here. Her father had mined up there – the Copper Peak was the mine - and it was the closest thing to where the plane crashed. They still owned it at that time, and used to go up there quite often.
RM: Exactly where on the mountain did the plane go down?
EF: Well, it's up on Potosi. From Goodsprings you can just about see where it is, and it's up in the very rugged terrain.
RM: Right near the top?
EF: Yes. That was one of the reasons it crashed, I believed. He had just underestimated . . . his maps were haywire. Very little was said about the 25 pilots he had aboard.
RM: Isn't that something. Yes. Where were you teaching in 1942?
EF: I had a contract to teach high school in Boulder City and I called Elbert Edwards on the last day and resigned and I went to work for Basic Magnesium.
RM: What did you do for Basic?
EF: I started with a shovel but I wound up as a foreman in production. We were there from the first shovelful until they closed it. We lived on Water Street in Henderson until '45.
RM: That was an incredible project, wasn't it?
EF: It was.
RM: The speed with which they completed it and the number of men they had working there and
EF: There were over 10,000.
RM: The growth it produced in the community is almost unbelievable by today's terms
EF: When I came to Vegas there was only [a population of] about 8,000. It was a little burg as far as I was concerned, coming from the east. From 10,000 to 60,000.
RM: What made you switch from teaching to Basic Magnesium?
EF: More money. My contract was something like $1,700 and I made about $4,000 the first year, then $6,000 and $7,000, which was fantastic wages for that time. That was more than the superintendent [of schools] was making, so that was actually the reason.
RM: After Basic Magnesium shut down, what did you do?
EF: I spent about a year and a half in the arms of the U.S. Army.
RM: You'd been exempt because you were in an essential industry before that?
EF: That was part of it; also I was 4-F.
RM: Did you get drafted?
EF: Oh yes. They were into the bottom of the barrel by that time. I went gladly. I had a job offered to me. I worked for Fred Gibson, you probably have heard of him - he was the one who started Pacific Engineering. This was the older Fred and he was also looking for a job, so I went to Salem, Oregon. They were building an aluminum plant, and I was to scout the place out and also be a foreman t I spent about 4 days in Salem and that was enough for me.
RM: You didn't like it?
EF: Oh, my God. It never stopped raining. I came back and reported that out and then very gladly went into the service.
RM: What did you do after the service?
EF: I knocked around. I worked in the mines at Goodsprings and did some fruit harvesting up in northern California and some real estate appraisal in California. Then I came back and I worked about a half a year, I guess, on the Argentine Mine at Goodsprings - that's lead and zinc. Then I went back into teaching and I stayed with it.
RM: When did you enter teaching again?
RM: And you stayed with it until you retired?
EF: I retired in 1978; I had 35 years all told. I was Audio-Visual Supervisor for Clark County for about 12 years.
RM: Do you remember any interesting anecdotes or stories of Pahrump? EF: Well, there were always characters around. For instance, one summer after school was out, Pop hired me to help him and people were getting interested in Pahrump at the time. Lois Kellogg came down and was very much interested. Pop was also a surveyor, which went with the timber cruising as his background, and we surveyed across the bow of the hills above Pahrump, which was quite an area of rugged terrain, finding the benchmarks and so forth. She bought up quite a bit of land in the valley. She didn't touch the main ranch, of course; by that time, she was pretty well settled in there. She had a big ranch up in Fish Lake Valley. As a matter of fact, that's where she was living. She died a couple of years later in Los Angeles.
RM: Oh, she didn't die in Pahrump?
EF: No. She died of tularemia.
RM: Did she contract it in Pahrump or up at Fish Lake?
EF: Fish Lake, as far as I know. I think she died in Los Angeles. They rushed her down there. She was an heiress of the Kellogg Telephone Company in Chicago, and filthy rich. I remember she hired this drilling outfit, one of the biggest ones in the world, out of Los Angeles to come up. They were the only ones with this kind of equipment and my God, it left holes . . .
RM: The drill was 16 inches?
EF: Something like that. They punched that thing down and the water just shot up. We all went down because they said they were going to uncap it or open it up and clean it out.
RM: How high did it go?
EF: Oh, hell, 50 feet.
RM: It didn't stay there, did it?
EF: Well, they shut it down to save it. It was a hell of a big hole; I don't remember just how big.
RM: Did you know Lois Kellogg at all?
EF: Oh yes.
RM: Could you discuss her?
EF: She was very much a tomboy. She would go along . . . she would be up in the trees. She was a little waggly.
RM: By waggly you mean . . .
EF: Oh, eccentric. She had a lot of money; she could be eccentric. She was nuts about Russian Wolfhounds. She always had a couple with her when she came down here. She had about 80 of them at Fish Lake.
RM: Were you ever up there?
EF: Just once. I don't recall too much about it. But they used them up there to run down the coyotes. She had a couple that were real pets. She always ate with us at Gertie's in Pahrump, and those big heads would be hanging over the table watching every move we made.
RM: So she didn't do her own cooking when she was in Pahrump?
EF: Oh no. Not that I know of. I don't think she ever did her own cooking.
RM: Why did she want a ranch at Pahrump?
EF: She just liked them.
RM: And she already had one at Fish Lake?
EF: It's probably just inborn acquisitiveness.
RM: How old a woman was she, would you say?
EF: She was in her early 40s.
RM: Was she pretty?
EF: Yes, she was attractive.
RM: Was she a small woman or a big woman?
EF: She was probably medium, but rangy and, as I say, very much a tomboy, running around and doing a lot of riding. When I first went to Pahrump there were a lot of wild horses. There are none anymore, but at that time there were a lot of wild horses running around. I noticed that they are transplanting some of the she from the river up to those particular mountains where we had to drive the sheep from Shoshone.
RM: The Nopahs, I think they call them. Yes.
EF: We called it Chicago Valley, and New York Valley, adjacent to the Pahrump Valley. But we lost a lot of sheep at that time. I often wondered whether any of them survived. It was up in those same hills. I didn't know that there was any water up there.
RM: You are talking about when you put the wild sheep from the Channel Islands up there. Can you think of anything else about Lois Kellogg that might be worth noting?
EF: No. She used to take one or two of the Buol girls down to L.A. with her just to get a vacation, and she'd always had the Presidential Suite. She was lousy rich.
RM: Her ranches didn't have to pay, then?
EF: Oh no. Certainly . . . with 80 Wolfhounds.
RM: Was she selling the dogs?
EF: No. She just kept them. She liked them.
RM: She wasn't there very long, was she?
RM: Tim Hafen, when he bought the old Kellogg Ranch from Bowman, said that he found a set of plans in an old building that was signed by F.L. Wright, from Los Angeles. They have since been lost, but he was wondering if Frank Lloyd Wright might have actually designed the building.
EF: F. L. Wright could have known the Kellogg family in Chicago. He did much of his work out there.
RM: The Kelloggs were from Chicago?
EF: Oh yes. In the good old days, half of the telephones in this county were Kellogg Company phones.
RM: There's no relationship to the Kellogg cereals?
EF: No. This was an entirely separate family, very affluent. It was a monopoly practically - telephone receivers and handsets.
RM: Their fortune kind of went into eclipse, didn't it? Now, you just never heard of it.
EF: No. I've no idea what became of hers, for instance.
RM: Can you think of any other characters, instances or anecdotes concerning Pahrump that . . .
EF: Well, there was a good, old guy, Pete I think his name was, who lived at Johnnie Town and he was just damned to stay there. No one was in there for 60 years, just an old miner and he finally died. Nothing I recall particularly.
RM: Any murders or anything relating to this kind of law beyond the pale?
EF: Yes. In the first year I was there . . . Van Horn had married this woman, named Sally Cayton, I believe. (Van Horn had the Pahrump Ranch before Hughes did.) Sally Cayton brought relatives from Texas. One of them was Paul Cayton, her son. Incidentally, years later, he bought the Goodsprings Hotel that burned. He was a dipso; anyway, that's the theory -that he got drunk and burned the hotel down around himself. But Cayton and his cousin were 2 raw characters. The cousin had a very attractive wife, Johnnie, and a little boy, and of course the little boy came to school. Pawford Brooks was the father's name and Pawford got it into his knuckle head that I was tampering with his Johnnie. [One] particular weekend he got liquored up and I had taken off . . . On the weekends, if I didn't come to Vegas or go up to Johnnie Mine, I'd just go exploring on the desert, and I had gone to Death Valley, I believe, that day. He came looking for me with his shotgun. Fortunately I eluded him without knowing that he was hunting for me. That was as close as I ever came. Because there is no recourse . . . you can't report it to the authorities.
RM: Were you very concerned that he might get activated again?
EF: Not really, because there was no basis at all for it. It was this other conniver that was feeding him all this crap, I presume.
RM: And his wife was named Johnnie?
EF: Yes. And she was on the school board. In small communities like that, the latest arrival always gets a place on the school board because nobody else wants it. They are just looking for fresh meat all the time.
RM: fascinated by the whole thing of frontier law and justice in the
area even well into the '30s.
EF: They were pretty well self-regulating.
RM: Was there a deputy sheriff there then?
EF: No. (There was only one deputy in the county.) All the law was in Tonopah, 150 miles away. There were a lot of informal ones like Tim Harnedy at Indian Springs - volunteers - but no law. I don't know, everybody seemed to get along all right without it. As I said, there was no recourse.
RM: And both whites and Indians were involved in this kind of thing?
RM: Can you think of anything else that might be worth noting here?
EF: I remember that Gertie's father lived in Sandy Valley. This was about 40 miles from Pahrump and every once in awhile, he and some of his drinking companions set out from Sandy Valley for Pahrump to visit Pop Buol and try to talk him out of a couple of bottles. Sometimes they would arrive with no tires on the Wheels; God knows how they got there . . .
RM: No tires?
EF: No. They had all blown out on the way and they were so potted they didn't know it. They were just having one hell of a good time.
RM: Did Pop sell his wine locally?
EF: Oh, yes. That sometimes was a problem, I guess. There weren't concentrations of Indians . . . nobody paid too much attention. He had a ready market for anything that he made, but as I say, it was very limited.
RM: How long did he age it?
EF: Sometimes in those dunes, I imagine it was 4 or 5 years. Some of them are still aging I am sure. I went out a couple of years ago when my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were thinking of buying a place up there. It was kind of nostalgic and I had an awful time . . . frankly, I couldn't even find Pop's place. I know that it's in the area of the University Extension Farm and Benny Binion's place, but Pop Buol .
RM: It doesn't look the same at all?
EF: It doesn't. There's a little bar that looks like the schoolhouse -that was the schoolhouse. It's made of railroad ties.
RM: Is that the Cotton Pickin' Saloon?
EF: I think that may be the name.
RM: That may have been the schoolhouse?
RM: I'll be darned. I think it is made of ties.
EF: Ties were the construction material of choice. This place that I rented from Lottie was constructed of ties, either from the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad or the T&T . . . Deke's railroad. Deke [Lowe] was the telegrapher and the station master at Shoshone on the T&T, like his father before him, and Celesta [Lowe] was in the offing there. Her uncle [Charlie Brown] had the big store in Shoshone and we used to trade there. As a matter of fact, when they gave me my check at Pahrump, I hurried fast to Charlie's place to cash it, buy a money order, and get out of town.
RM: How did the Rose School- District pay? Was each farmer there taxed?
EF: There were some taxes that went into the state distributive fund -that's where all the money came from.
RM: It wasn't raised locally?
EF: No. That's why when it experienced such wild growth out there, they didn't have any money to build a school. And they got this windfall which was from the county.
The index has been removed for the digital format. Digitization by Suzy McCoy - Beatty Graphics SM Productions - Beatty, Nevada.