Memories of a Son
This section is devoted to the life notes of Patrick Walsh Jr. ( Patsy ) and his memories of life on the Reese River.
A complete copy of the writings of Patrick Walsh Jr., and his memories of growing up at Reese River are on file at the Nevada Historical Society in Reno, Nevada.
The New World
Pauline ( walti ) Walsh
The girl, a member of a family of sixteen children, through stint and sacrifice was endeavoring to save enough money to purchase a third rate passage by ocean bound vessel to reach America, the land of opportunity, and her sweetheart in view of matrimony.
After a period of time, this ambition was attained. We cannot at this time undergo the emotions, the sadness, the stress of parting from fond parents, from brothers and sisters, friends and relatives who naturally objected to this venture into the unknown.
The boy, a lad just attaining the state of manhood, after being raised among a mixed family of half brothers, half sisters, full brothers, and to a certain extent by a step parent, had decided that the state of affairs and the adverse conditions which surrounded his upbringing, was not in accordance with his ambitions.
The parting from friends and relatives in his case was not as severe a test as that of the girl's he left, no doubt, with the blessing of all, and was proceeding to a country where they spoke the same language.
Trains & Stage Coaches
Patrick's Journey from Boston to Reese River -
You now find the young man aboard the train leaving Boston with about enough money to pay for transportation but hardly enough to pay his fare insofar as fare means feed. After a trip which at that time takes three times as long in elapsed time by rail as it takes to make the journey now.
My Father left the train at a small railroad station called Battle Mountain, this station or town located at about the central part of the state of Nevada.
From here, there was a stage running to the town of Austin, some ninety miles away in a southerly direction.
This stage line runs two stages daily, one from Austin to Battle Mountain, the other in the opposite direction. In most respects, the stages were much alike, the old Wells Fargo Coaches carrying the mail, the express, the passengers and were drawn or pulled by six horses.
These horses were changed three times during the course of the journey, from one terminal to the other.
At the station where the first change was made the restaurant, run in connection with the station, made the call for lunch, my father not having the price of the meal did not respond as the other passengers did.
At the next station the call was made for dinner and again my father walked away - the stage driver at the second stop called my fathers attention to the possible necessity of eating his evening meal. My father replied that he was not hungry, he did not want others to know that he was ( to use a slang expression ) flat broke.
No doubt the driver would have advanced the price of a meal had my father asked for it, this in keeping with western generosity, but my father preferred to stay hungry on account of his pride and independent nature.
At this junction which in reality is the town of Austin and which was at the time a booming camp, noted for production of silver, we see the young independent Irishman step from the stage coach which had carried him safely to this destination.
Shortly after his arrival he located former acquaintances who took him in and provided food and lodging for the night. These good people assisted him the following day to reach the destination some fourteen miles from the town of Austin, where he was able to locate for a considerable period of time. Here we leave him in the employ of his half brother who had preceded him to this spot.
First days on the Ranch
In a previous chapter we left my father in the employ of his half brother. The position which my father held was what we will call the man of all work, the job consisting of anything from driving teams, pitching hay, shoveling ditch, to milking cows, and making butter.
The position thus held took long hours, any where from ten to eighteen hours per day, and was paid at the rate of thirty dollars per month. After a time, this position in my fathers opinion became rather monotonous, especially in view of the fact that besides being the man of all work, he was considered the poor relative.
Eventually my father quit this job and moved to an adjacent county, near the mining camp of Eureka. Here in the hills, my father and his partner, a big raw boned Irishman set up camp for the purpose of processing coke or charcoal.
This substance was a sort of fuel used in the mills at Eureka at that time, and very much in demand. In order to produce this coke or coal, it was necessary to cut the timber down that grew in the adjoining hills, then to remove it to where pits were dug and then over smoldering fires which required much attention, the wood was reduced to the form of coke or coal that was required by the mills.
The transportation of this prepared fuel was in itself quite a problem, but was done at that time with the help of ox teams, a slow but sure means of conveyance.
The oxen were in a way quite economical since they subsisted by browsing on the natural grasses which grew quite abundantly at that time in the surrounding hills.
Thus over a period of years did my father endeavor to get ahead through stint and long hours of hard labor. My father was able to save considerable money and as a result returned to his half brother's ranch with the intention of purchasing this property.
The Early Home Builder
Leaving Eureka with his hard-earned savings, my father returned to the Reese River Valley and to his half brother's ranch, where formerly he had been employed.
This time he aquired a part of his brothers land, which consisted principally of meadowland. With the crops from this land to feed them, he now purchased a few dairy cattle, and a small herd of stock cattle, and from the very soil that the land consisted of, he made the adobes, or unburnt brick that was laid in the construction of a crude but warm and comfortable home.
At about this time he married a countrywoman who had recently arrived from the old sod, or to be more specific, the land of Erin.
In order to retain his stock within the boundaries of my fathers property, and more especially so as to keep other people's stock out, it was necessary to dig ditches on the order of a moat or trench - this type of fencing was all done with pick and spade.
After a few years spent at this location, my father expanded to the extent of buying his half brother out, then moved over to what is known as the old Home Ranch, this being the place where at a later period of time I was born.
In order to purchase this property, my father borrowed a considerable sum of money and for many years this debt including high interest was a heavy burden which was eventually eliminated through constant endeavor and the strength of purpose my father always had in meeting his obligations.
Of the first home or shanty as some would call it, there remains but a mound of dirt. The well from which drinking water was obtained is but a slight depression on the surface of the ground, thus does time obliterate to some extent the efforts of man. Yet, the spirit of home building and the rearing of a family will live to the end of time.
At the new home which my father purchased soon, was to be born another child, but destiny had decreed otherwise. Both the mother and child were in this ordeal, called to the great beyond, leaving a grief-stricken husband with four small children to carry on as best he could.
In addition to my fathers indebtedness and worldly obligations, he now had the problem of rearing four small motherless children.
The Cattle Drive
Note: the cattle drive story by Patrick Jr. is much longer that what we will post here. We have taken what we feel are the best examples of what Patrick Walsh Sr. was trying to teach his sons.
Task: driving 600 head of cattle from Reese River to Fallon !
- The age of Patrick's sons at the time of this cattle drive -
Will ( 25 ) - second from left in photo
John ( 18 ) - third from left in photo
Patrick Jr. ( 16 ) - fourth from left in photo
The Year was 1906
With everything in readiness for the second trip, my fond mother bid me farewell with tears in her eyes, and no doubt, much worry as to the probable outcome of the hazardous trip on which we were starting.
She, thinking that perhaps something in the way of a stimulant might be of some benefit during the cold weather we were about to face, gave me a pint flask of good whiskey, but requested that I use it wisely and in compliance with the good advice that I did not at any time on the trip over indulge. As a matter of fact, when we finally reached Fallon, I still had a drink left in the flask.
The plan on starting from home was to drive to the little field at the mouth of New Pass Canyon on the first day. Two teams and wagons were put on the lead of the procession.
One of these teams was an eight horse team pulling two wagons loaded with hay for the purpose of feeding the cattle in the enclosure the first night out.
It was intended that this team would return to the ranch after serving this purpose, but the trend of circumstances completely changed this plan.
The other string team pulling three wagons loaded with baled hay, grain, our beds and grub was to accompany the trail drivers all the way. In addition to the six hundred head of cattle, we also started with about seventy five head of stock horses and two head of saddle horses for each rider.
There were seven riders in the group, including my father, who was then a man over sixty years of age. His intention was to turn back after the first night. We started this procession from the old home ranch at a very early hour in the morning, but did not arrive at the proposed camp until one o'clock the following morning.
After the cattle were fed the two loads of hay, and we had our pre-morning dinner, it was about time to start again. It was then that my father decided to send the one eight horse team and the two empty wagons on to Fallon to haul hay back to Sand Springs to meet the cattle.
My father could tell from the look of the cattle that the trip the previous day had to a considerable extent, worn down their vitality.
The teamster who was to start for Fallon was instructed to stage the team all the way in so as to be back at Sand Springs on a certain date. Our schedule was set so as to meet there, and in this particular case, we did make both ends meet by having two big loads of hay as refreshment for the cattle at a very opportune and vital time.
Again, on the second day of our trip, my father accompanied us for a distance of several miles before he started back toward home. While he was still with us, he instructed my half-brother Will to be sure and buy hay for the cattle at the Alpine Ranch, if it could be bought and regardless of the cost.
Will was then placed in charge of the trail herd, and my father bid us good-bye and reluctantly left us starting in the direction of home.
It was about noon and he was obliged to ride a distance of thirty-five miles in order to reach home. Here at home, many other tasks awaited his guiding hand. On and on through the day and well into the night, we slowly advanced in the direction of Alpine.
On this night it was too late to arrange for hay, so the cattle were placed in an enclosure and for the balance of the night we unceremoniously, and without the owners permission took charge of an old building we had occupied on our first trip.
This time, while the weather was dry, it was still extremely cold. In fact, somewhat below zero with about 12 inches of snow on the ground.
The following morning, it was necessary to melt snow in a wash tub for the horses and also to use for cooking. The creek that usually supplied water for the Alpine ranch had by this time frozen over and did not during the early morning reach us.
After much coaxing, my brother Will managed to buy but one load of hay for the cattle, this hay was favorably located at a place called the Cold Springs Ranch, which was in the direction of Fallon, and at a distance of six miles from Alpine. During the day, four of the riders drove the cattle to the Cold Springs Ranch.
We returned to the Cold Springs Ranch and soon gathered the cattle from within the field and the procession began moving in the direction of Fallon.
During the course of the day we made fair progress. The path of the trail from Cold Springs, in the direction of Fallon was all down grade, and as the elevation became lower the snow in depth also was much less, and as a consequence travel was easier.
Reaching Middle Gate early in the afternoon, it was decided to push on to West Gate, a distance of 4 miles. At West Gate, we drove cattle through the gap and turned them loose after starting them in the direction of Dixie Valley. Here we found some shelter in a cabin that belong to the station-tender, a man by the name of Vaughn.
After we had prepared and eaten our dinner, and after the stock and saddle horses had been blanketed and fed for the night, Will, my brother and I rolled out our beds on the cabin floor, intending to have a good night sleep.
Before slumber had overtaken us, suddenly from out of the night came the sound of cracking boards - then the sound of hoof - beats on the frozen surface of the ground. Jumping up out of our bed and putting on our outer garments, we found that the seventy-five head of stock horses had broken down the corral and had escaped, traveling in the direction of home.
There were two things we could do. Let them go or saddle our horses and attempt to recapture them. Not knowing where they would go, we decided to surround them, if possible. Cold as it was, we eventually managed to surround all but a few head and replaced them back in the enclosure after repairing the broken side of the corral.
The stock horses were also fed along the road in that direction and by this time they were hungry enough to nibble at any kind of brush. Five of us moved the cattle down the old wash close to Chalk Mountain into the Dixie Valley.
During the night about two hundred of the stronger cattle had drifted in a Northerly direction and far from the intended path. These cattle were tracked until they were found and returned in the direction of the main herd. Again, about sundown after driving these cattle into a compact herd, once more they were turned loose at a point about three miles from Frenchmans Station.
Here at this station during the night and the following morning is when we experienced the coldest weather of the whole trip. Thermometers registered eighteen below zero.
Regardless of the amount of clothes we wore, we could not ride with any degree of comfort. It was on this morning that my hands and ears were frozen. Still we continued on, and aside from rubbing snow on the frost bitten parts of my anatomy there was no relief.
We riders in the cold of this wintery January day eventually surrounded the herd of cattle and after counting them, finding that they were all there, we started them in the direction of Fallon. By this time many of the cattle had become very weak as a result of the cold weather, lack of food, and the continued effort of travel.
It was on this day that the team and wagons here held behind the advance of the cattle, and as an animal would stop from sheer exhaustion it would be loaded on to one of the flat hay-wagon beds and there tied with ropes. During the course of the day several animals were loaded in this manner.
By this time, both hay-wagons had been completely relieved or emptied of the original loads of hay and grain, thus making space available for exhausted livestock.
Along toward evening on this cold gloomy day, the procession reached Sand Springs and at almost the same time Will pulled in from the direction of Fallon with two huge loads of alfalfa hay. The hay was of much benefit to the livestock. My brother John had also ridden out from the Dolf ranch to help us for the remainder of the trip.
All of this was encouraging. So, on the following morning with renewed hopes once more we took the trail, and although by this time we had loaded and were hauling about ten head of livestock on the wagons, still we reached our destination with a loss of only two head of cattle.
It was on the second day after leaving Sand Springs that we arrived at our destination, or at the old Lem Allen ranch at St. Clair, about six miles from Fallon.
On the last day of the trip, the procession was reviewed by many curious people, including even school teachers and the school children.
The teachers had temporarily dismisssed their classes, so as to see this strange spectacle which slowly wound its way through the country lanes of that rural community.
The success of the venture I attribute to the careful planning of my father and the untiring efforts of my half-brother Will, who personally directed the campaign.
Ragtime & Will
For many years this event called 'the races' was of special interest in the community, and most everyone looked forward to the event with a degree of delightful anticipation.
All of the horse owners that owned saddle horses of even a little more than ordinary speed, spent months in training and preparing their horses for the races.
The races were run to win and the best horse always won, providing he did not fall in the race or was tardy at the start.
There was a man by the name of Jack Wilson who had purchased much ranch property in the community, and for a time was a partner of my father in possession of some Reese River ranches.
This man Wilson was quite a sportsman and as time went on he took a great interest in the races. He had previously been a racehorse man, and now as a participant in the local event he shipped in many bona-fide racehorses and imported a licensed jockey.
This however did not fit in with the local picture and soon, since competition was pretty much eliminated, local interest waned.
This racehorse was a colt from a sire named Brutus, and as a two-year-old, Ragtime had been unwisely exerted in racing on a hard track, and as a consequence was wind broken.
The owner of the colt, a very popular mining man name of George Wingfield, in view of the condition of the colt decided to farm him out.
At the time the horse was stabled at Goldfield, Nevada where feed was high and conditions not too favorable for keeping a horse that had been injured.
In order to carry out his plan, Mr. Wingfield asked a very capable horseman by the name of Bar Francis to take the colt up to Austin and turn him over to anyone that would take good care of him. This was done and in this way my father got possession of the horse.
With good care the horse soon recovered from the effects of earlier over-exertion, and as the racing season was soon to start, my half-brother Will decided to train the horse and fit him for the races.
In training the horse and on a trial run it was found that the horse had amazing speed and was fast enough to make a likely bid, even in a race with the best of the Wilson racehorses.
Eventually, the races took place at the Malloy ranch during the late autumn. Will was on hand with the new horse called Ragtime, and the horse was entered in the main events. For several consecutive days, Ragtime easily out distanced the other horses in each race in which he was run.
Jack Wilson, being a typical race-horseman, had reserved his fastest horse, perhaps in view of arranging a special race with a large wager as stakes, and, undoubtedly, in order to get a better idea of what the other mans race horse had to offer in the way of speed.
Mr. Wilson was sure that Will as a jockey would not attempt to deceive the public by retarding the speed of the horse that he rode. Wilson was positive that he knew what Ragtime could do, since he had timed him with a stopwatch on each occasion that the horse had run.
Finally on the last day of the races, which usually lasted about five days, the match race arranged, a moderate wager was placed on the outcome of the race by each of the horse owners. Much interest in the special race had developed among the people in general that attended the races.
Excitement was great and a nervous tension was apparent in the community at large. My brother Will remained constantly in the stall with his horse, fearing perhaps that someone might attempt to drug the animal or disqualify him in some way.
At last the horses were sent to the post, Will up on Ragtime and a professional jockey by the name of Thomas astride the Wilson entry.
Here at the starting post Ragtime refused to start and waltzed around & around for perhaps a half an hour or more. Mr. Wilson became quite impatient, so he and my father walked across the field to the starting post.
Mr. Wilson wanted to whip Ragtime with a buggy whip, but my father refused to let him punish Ragtime in that manner and said he would wait awhile.
Finally, after many capers, the horses were off to a good start and once again the horses came under the wire with Ragtime an easy winner.
Excitement was rampant at the finish, and a Cornishman, who owned a mining claim at a place called San Juan, jumped out on the track, threw his hat in the air and shouted, 'Ragtime, the horse, and San Juan against the bloody world. '
Mr. Wilson forfeited his wager with a grace that was becoming to a sportsman, and the following day everybody that was present at the races went back to his farm and job.
For a number of years the horse called Ragtime was well taken care of and lived to be a very old horse.
The horse was a stallion and in time became a sire of many fine colts. At the time that the horse died, my brother Will was very busy in the midst of haying season. Will found time to dig a grave and bury the horse, and perhaps shed a few tears while doing it.
This was a setiment of finer feeling not usually shown by many of Gods creatures known as mankind. My brother Will had many fine traits, but like most of us, had his faults.
Perhaps the many disappointments he encountered in his young days were the cause of later problems with alcohol.