Written History of Ralph Emanuel Whitney


When school was out in May of 1931, we moved back to our ranch ten miles south of Las Vegas.  The mines shut down in Goodsprings that spring.  The boys were elated, they liked our mining camp life, but ranch life appealed to them more.

Sleepy Hollow Ranch, Ralph and horse Brownie

During the worst of the depression at the time, Keith, our youngest child and fourth boy, was born.  I went to a Vegas nursing home to have him.  A widow with six or seven children ran it.  She was a fine LDS woman.  We paid her with pork we had raised and wood Ralph cut and hauled.  It was mesquite wood that grew around our ranch.  She was very glad to be paid in this way.  The doctor charged us $35.00 for delivering our baby and didn’t rush us about paying him.  He was Dr. Clair Woodbury and was about Ralph’s age.  They had been friends and gone to school at St. George together.  He was a fine doctor and continued to be our family doctor until we moved from Las Vegas in 1953.

In 1935 we bought the Overland Cafe, located on Fremont St. in Las Vegas, Nev.  We tried to run it and continue to live on the ranch, but this didn’t work out, so we moved into town.  The Boulder Dam was being built at this time and cafe business was good.

In front of the Overland Cafe in Las Vegas, Nevada. Doris is on the right. (1935)


Doris at the counter in the Overland Cafe. It was located on the northeast corner of Fremont Street and Main, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (1935)

Elsie and Keith Whitney











Ralph cooked the morning shift, then he would come home, and I would go down and work in the dining room until evening, then our older children would be home to take care of the two younger ones and Ralph would come back to help through the evening rush.  After it was over, I would go home, and Ralph stayed to close up at ten p.m.  Our business was very good, and I was needed to help more in the dining room so we hired a housekeeper to be with the children while we were both needed at the cafe.  We made good money, but indoor work didn’t agree with Ralph and his health began to fail.  Also we felt we needed to be with the children more, so we sold out and moved back to the ranch in the fall of 1937.

By this time Paradise Valley School District bought a school bus to

First Paradise Valley school bus. Left to right: Howard, Keith, Lorraine, Calvin and Elsie Whitney at the ranch.

haul the children from theValley to Las Vegas to school.  Ralph was hired to drive it.  We planted crops, raised hay and grain, had cows, chickens and a team to farm with.  Ralph turned the bus driving over to me by spring as he needed more time to work the ranch. Ralph worked the year of 1941 and 42 in the Sloan mill, a little place on the U.P. Railroad about 15 miles south of our ranch.  Then he started to work for the Nevada State Highway department in 1943 and continued with them until 1953 when he retired at the age of 60, on a part time retirement.

Las Vegas was starting its building boom by then, and we had a chance to sell our ranch at a good price. It was hard for me to make up my mind about selling as I loved ranch life and there were so many memories dear to my heart because we had raised our family there except for the years we had spent in the mining camps. I knew Ralph wasn’t too well and in order to keep up the ranch, he would have to work harder than he should. Also our three flowing wells were going down, and we would have to pump to keep enough water to raise crops. While our sale was going through we went to St. George to look for a home. We didn’t find a place we liked. Then we looked for a place in the Moapa Valley. We found a nice home in Overton, Nevada for sale with a big fenced yard for our big dog “Bozo.”  I found pasture for “Grey Boy” just above town.  I felt more contented that I could take our dog and my saddle horse since I still loved to ride.

left to right: Howard, Laverne, Bert, Elsie, Lorraine, Keith, Calvin, Ralph.


We moved in July 1953 to Overton, Nevada.   We made many new friends and the fishing on the Muddy River where it flowed into Lake Mead was very good. This made Ralph happy because he loved to fish.  His brother Stowell and family had moved to Logandale from Vegas before we moved so he and Ralph had many happy hours fishing on the river.  Stowell’s boys bought a boat soon after we moved to Overton, and then Ralph and Stowell would go on the lake to fish.  Ralph’s sister Maude and her husband also loved to fish.  They would come down from St. George, where they lived, to go fishing with us.  Then we spent July and August fishing the lakes in southern Utah.  Maude and Abe often joined us.  We had many good camping trips, fishing and seeing the beautiful parks close by.  Also we took three trips in the northwest and into Canada, Wyoming, New Mexico and Arizona.


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