Written History of Ralph Emanuel Whitney


We stayed on this ranch until the fall of 1924.  Our third boy was born in June of that year, then when he was three months old we moved to Jean, Nevada. This was just a small railroad station.  Here the ore hauled from Goodsprings was loaded on the freight cars and Ralph worked there hauling to load the ore.  Bert, our youngest, was nine months old when Ralph’s contract ran out for loading ore. He got work at a mine four miles out of Goodsprings.  He moved us up there to live.  We had two boarded up tents to live in.  One was our bedroom and the other was the cook shack and dining room.  Five men had this mine leased.  Ralph packed the ore down on a string of burros and I cooked for the men.

When Ralph came down with the second load of ore, I would have the men’s lunch ready, and he would take it back up the hill to the mine. The trail was steep and at least two miles or so long as it wound up the side of the mountain. I would pack the lunch in a large roaster, and he would tie it on one of the pack saddles after he unloaded the ore cans on to a platform near our camp.

One day he didn’t get down to camp by his usual time.  I decided he had been delayed and I had better get the lunch up to the men.  Of course I couldn’t leave my little boys alone at camp, so I had to find some way to take them and the lunch up to the mine.  There was one pack burro at camp, also one pack saddle and two ore cans. I saddled him up and put the two ore cans on each side of the saddle.  I put Bert, ten months old, in one can, and Howard, two and a half years, in the other can. Then I put Calvin, three and a half, on behind the saddle and tied the big roaster with the lunch in on the front.  I took the lead rope and started leading the little burro and his precious load up the trail.  I met Ralph coming down when I got about halfway up to the mine.  He had to wait for a little while for the men to get the load of ore out and ready for him to bring down to camp, so they weren’t expecting lunch until he got back.  When Ralph saw how I had loaded the little burro, he sat down and laughed, but the little boys were enjoying the ride and I was getting the lunch up to the men.

Our experiences were many that summer, as we stayed and worked at this mine until that fall, then the leasers ran out of ore and had to quit the mine. Our tent houses were built on the edge of a twelve foot dry wash.  One day Bert was just learning to walk and got too close to the edge and went rolling to the bottom of the wash.  He was scared but not hurt as it was fine gravel and sand.  Calvin and Howard went for a little walk one day and found some prickly pear cactus. They picked one of the red pears and tried eating it.  When they came back to camp crying I found their tongues and lips filled with little tiny red slivers.  I picked out all I could with tweezers, then had them eat some soft bread and that got most of them.  I expect they had heard us say the Indians ate them, but didn’t hear us say they burned the slivers off first.

One of the miners had been in the service during World War I and owned a big German police dog.  He seemed to be a one-man dog as he wouldn’t make friends with the other men in camp.  The owner would leave him in camp when he went to the mine because he didn’t want him to get around the lead that they were mining.  Dogs and cats would get leaded if around lead ore too much, and it would cause them to have fits.  This dog would lay under the floor of the boarded up tent where the men slept, not far from our part of camp.  One day our littlest boys were looking for a chipmunk that ran under this tent where the dog was, and he growled and came out after them.  I heard the growl and ran out in a flash to grab the boys back before they were hurt.  It scared them and me; they were crying and I was shaking.  I thought I’d better make friends, if I possibly could, with this dog, so I wouldn’t have another scare like this.  I’ve always loved dogs and have never been afraid of them.  I started to be extra kind to him and explained that my little boys didn’t mean any harm to him.  His name was King and he was a very intelligent dog.  He seemed to know from then on he shouldn’t scare the little boys again or ever hurt them.  In less than a month’s time King and I were good friends.  He would jump up and put his front paws on my shoulders and lick my face.  His master was coming down from the mine one evening and King ran to greet him in this same manner, then as I was outside watching Ralph unsaddle the burros, King ran to me and did the same.  His owner couldn’t believe his eyes.  It scared Ralph so badly he picked up a club and was ready to beat the dog.  He didn’t know I’d made friends with him and thought he was tackling me as King had been trained to do in the Army.  Then I told them how he had scared our little boys and I had made friends with him.


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