Ira Hamlin "Hammie" Kent Oral History

Dublin Core

Title

Ira Hamlin "Hammie" Kent Oral History

Description

Ira Hamlin "Hammie" Kent Oral History

Creator

Churchill County Museum Association

Publisher

Churchill County Museum Association

Date

April 13, 1994
June 6, 1994

Format

Analog Cassette Tape, Text File, Mp3 Audio

Language

English

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Sylvia Arden

Interviewee

Ira Hamlin "Hammie" Kent

Location

13333 Stillwater Road, Fallon, Nevada

Transcription

Churchill County Oral History Project

an interview with
IRA HAMLIN KENT
Fallon, Nevada
conducted by
Sylvia Arden
April 13 and June 6, 1994
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewer and interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Churchill County Museum or any of its employees.

This interview is part of the socioeconomic studies for Churchill County's Yucca Mountain Planning and Oversight Program.


This is Sylvia Arden, interviewer for the Churchill County Oral History Project, interviewing Ira Hamlin Kent at his home at 13333 Stillwater Road, Fallon, Nevada. The date is April 13, 1994.
SYLVIA ARDEN: Good afternoon, Mr. Kent. I'm so pleased you're allowing us to interview you for the Churchill County Oral History Project. Would you first give us your full name?
IRA KENT: Ira Hamlin Kent. I was born in Fallon, Nevada, on October 12, 1910.
SA: Can you tell me where your middle name comes from?
IK: My middle name comes from my mother's side of the family. Her name was Helen Hamlin.
SA: And you kept that as your name?
IK: Right.
SA: And I understand you have a nickname that everyone calls you.
IK: Yeah, my nickname is Hammy, and how I acquired that was that when I was real small, people used to ask me my name, and I never could pronounce Hamlin, so I said Hammy, and it stuck with me all my life.
SA: I first want to learn a little about your grandparents, and let's start
with your paternal grandfather. First, what was his name?
IK: Ira Herbert Kent.
SA: Where was he born?
IK: In Lykens Valley which is about twenty miles above Harrisburg, in Pennsylvania
SA: And what was the date of his birth, do you know?
IK: He was born on August 15, 1855.
SA: Now tell me about your father's mother, your grandmother on your father's side.
IK: Her name was Mary Kaiser, and she was born on January 15, 1859, in Fallon, Nevada.

2 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: In Fallon, Nevada! So my goodness, you are a third generation?!
IK: Yes, I am.
SA: Tell me how she happened to be born here, before it was even incorporated.
IK: Well, Fallon really didn't exist at that time. She was born down here at Stillwater. Of course, later years, Fallon was started in 1902. Of course we use the word "Fallon," because people don't know what we're talking about when we say ''Stillwater," which was originally the county seat of Churchill County.
SA: Now, do you know how she happened to be born in the Stillwater area here in Nevada?
IK: Yes, her father, Charlie Kaiser, was born in Baden, Germany, in 1830. He left Germany when he was twenty years old, and he crossed the Atlantic Ocean, landing in New Orleans, the year 1850.
SA: When did he come to Nevada?
IK: He later went to California in the fall of 1850, and he located near the Yuba River in Yuba County, and engaged in mining. In 1870 he left Sacramento and traveled to Stillwater in Churchill County where he took up ranching.
SA: He must have been a very enterprising man. Did your grandmother talk a lot about him? Did you ever know him?
IK: No I didn't. He had died before I even knew anything about him. But he was a state senator here in Churchill County for some twenty years.
SA: You came from a very prominent beginning here. That's your father's parents?
IK: No, that's my great-grandfather on my grandmother's side of the family.
SA: OK, and your grandma was Mary Kaiser?

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IK: Right.
SA: OK. And your grandfather was the first Ira Kent?
IK: I.H. Kent, right.
SA: You're named after him?
IK: That's correct.
SA: Did your father have the same name too?
IK: No, my father's name was Charles Kent.
SA: Where and when was he born?
IK: My father was born here in Stillwater in the year 1881. He lived here all of his life. He took up farming as my grandfather moved more into the mercantile business. So my dad remained here on the ranch up to his death.
SA: And where did he meet your mother?
IK: She was a schoolteacher. She taught school here at Stillwater one year, and then she taught school over in Lovelock. I think, I'm not sure, but I think she taught over there for two years.
SA: Oh, so he took the teacher out of school? [laughs]
IK: That's right!
SA: And so you are then the third generation born [in this area].
IK: That's right.
SA: You're probably a first, one of the very few.
IK: Yes, I had one sister.
SA: Yes, I interviewed her.
IK: No brothers.
Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: Since you grew up in the Stillwater-Fallon area, how long did you live in Stillwater before your family moved to Fallon?
IK: Well, I lived in Stillwater up until the time that I went to college, which was in 1928.
SA: We're not going to skip over your early years. In other words, you stayed in Stillwater, you didn't move to Fallon?
IK: Well, we went in there just during the wintertime to go to high school, yes.
SA: I see. I understand that the Kent Store was physically moved when the county seat changed to Fallon.
IK: That is correct. It was moved in 1902 to Fallon. I was born in 1910, and I went to grammar school here in Stillwater, and I went to high school in Fallon.
SA: OK, so then good, you'll be able to tell us a lot about the early days of Stillwater. From your very earliest memories—when you can remember, not stories you were told—first, what kind of a house did your family live in, do you remember?
IK: Well, I don't recall the first house, because it burned down!
SA: Oh dear!
IK: Within the first year after I was born, in fact, six or seven months after I was born. So I don't recall it. The house that I grew up in, my son still lives in, right here at Stillwater.
SA: Really?! Is that right?
IK: Yes. And it was built in 1911.
SA: Where is that?
IK: It's right up within about a hundred yards of Stillwater.
SA: And how far is that from your house?

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IK: Just a mile.
SA: So we'll take pictures one time—either now or in June. That's very important. So you probably had no electricity or plumbing.
IK: Oh no. Yeah, we did have plumbing. We did have running water in the house, because we had lavatories and everything like that, because we had a water tank that was up on a tower, and we pumped water up into that water tank, which held about two thousand gallons of water, so we had plenty of fresh running water in the house. Of course there was no electricity at that time.
SA: Who set up that water system?
IK: My father did.
SA: He was an innovative man!
IK: Right.
SA: And who built the second house after the fire? Who built that house?
IK: A man by the name of Robinson, but I don't remember what his first name was.
SA: What year was it that they built that after the fire?
IK: In 1911. It was built in the fall of 1911. And it had three bedrooms, living room and dining room, and then there was a bedroom for the cook and a kitchen and pantry and dining room for the men who were working for us.
SA: So that was kind of a big operation by then—by the time you were a little boy you had a big operation.
IK: Oh yes, very big operation. In fact, the ranch was a lot bigger in those days than it is now—quite a bit of the ranch has been sold off since that time.
SA: Is this all part of that same ranch?
IK: Yes.

6 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: Are we on part of it? This is all part of it?
IK: Yes.
SA: Are we still in Churchill County? You're pretty far out.
IK: Oh yes. Churchill County goes another sixty miles east from here.
SA: Now going back again to when you were a little boy, what did the ranch look like? And specifically, I'm interested because we want to know what it was like before the Newlands Project. What did it look like when you were a little boy? Were there many trees yet?
IK: Yes, there was a lot of trees. What we call the Stillwater Slough—the Carson River actually—the Carson River flowed into what they called the government pasture, down by the old Grimes Ranch, which was a lake of about a thousand acres. When it filled, it flowed to Stillwater, and we had a rock dam right back of the house where we backed up the water and irrigated all of our place. And what is called the Freeman Ranch, which was my great-grandfather's place, Charlie Kaiser had originally, and later sold it to Freeman. But there was cottonwood trees all the way up the slough there, the Stillwater Slough. They're practically all gone. People have cut 'em down, and there's hardly any left. And then right in Stillwater, there was a lot of cottonwood trees. In fact, there was a big grove of trees that had been planted by the early settlers that come in here. They were planted in rows. They used to have their picnics in there in the summertime, and you could drive your teams down through the rows of those trees, and they had places to barbecue and everything there, in that grove of trees, but they have all been cut down.
SA: Did you see that when you were a little boy? Was that still there?
IK: Oh yes! Yeah, the trees weren't cut down until about 1925.
SA: You keep saying "Stillwater." Where was this little town of Stillwater in relation to your place here? Anything left?
IK: Yes, there's a lot of trailers up there, is about all there is—duck hunters stay there in the wintertime to hunt ducks. And there's only one person that lives there in Stillwater itself any more. But it's about two miles from right where I live back up to Stillwater.

Churchill County Oral History Project 7
SA: When did the town finally kind of disappear? Was it when the county seat was moved to Fallon?
IK: Oh no. Stillwater was kind of a community by itself, because it was too far to go to Fallon to do shopping. We still had a store here at Stillwater that my dad and mother ran, in conjunction with the ranch. They had dry goods and groceries there. When I went to school in Stillwater, the first grade and second grade, the schoolhouse is still in Stillwater. There was about, as I recall, about eighty children in school at that time.
SA: That many?!
IK: A one-room building, and the aisle separated the first four grades from the other four grades. When one grade would be reciting, we'd listen to them, and so consequently, we got to hear from the first grade clear through the eighth.
SA: Oh my goodness! What was the name of that school?
IK: It was just the Stillwater District School.
SA: And if there were eighty kids, there were quite a few families here. Were those families from homesteaders, or how did all these families come into this region?
IK: Yeah, there was a lot of 'em homesteaders, and there were quite a few people in the mining business that were living here. You see, Fairview and Wonder . . . I can't even name the other mine. There were three big mines within the radius of Stillwater here. And all the freight had to be hauled from over at Wadsworth, by team, to Stillwater. And then it was transferred at Stillwater and taken on to the different mines.
SA: I see, so that created a population here of workers.
IK: Right.
SA: Were some of them at that time—that was before the Newlands Project—but was homesteading opening up about 1907 and on?

8 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Oh yes, it was. Then there was a hotel there at Stillwater. And post office and the telegraph office was there up until the time it moved to Fallon. There was also a saloon and a grocery store. There was a livery stable there, right in Stillwater.
SA: What year did it begin to disappear, where buildings were either moved or torn down? When did that start? Did that start when your grandfather moved the store?
IK: Well, it did to a certain extent, but when I started grammar school and was going to school right in Stillwater, there was quite a few people still living in Stillwater. There was one addition: it was called Cirac Addition, which had quite a few people livin' in. And there was a Civil War veteran living there in Stillwater at the time, Charlie Adams. He lived in the Cirac Addition. I used to go over, when I was real little, and talk to him, and he used to tell me stories.
SA: Now when you were a little boy, tell me what the ranch was like: How big was it? What was going on? When you were old enough to recollect, describe the kind of ranch and what it was like. Just that early period.
IK: Well, when I was a little boy, our ranch was self-supporting. We at that time milked around 150 cows. We had anywhere from 500-1,000 pigs that we raised every year. We made all our own hams and bacons. We normally had 500-600 laying hens for eggs. During the winter months, we would have anywhere from 10-12 men working for us, feeding cattle, milking, and one thing and another. And then of course in the summer, we had probably up to 50 men, during the haying season. At that time we were farming a lot more ground than what we are today. A lot of the ranch that was being farmed in those days has been sold off. And probably farming, oh, I'd say, probably 300-400 acres more in those days than what we do today.
SA: You say three or four hundred more. What was the total acreage, do you have any idea?
IK: Well, the total acreage at that time that was being farmed was probably right around 1,500-1,800 acres.
SA: So you were born into a huge ranch.

Churchill County Oral History Project 9
IK: Right.
SA: What did it look like? Were the fields . . . .
IK: Most of the fields were quite small, because everything had to be done with teams and it was hard to level a field and move a lot of dirt, because we had no way to move it outside [of] the tailboard and the fresno scraper. That was about the only way we could move dirt. So consequently, you just couldn't move that much dirt. So the fields were quite small. It wasn't until, oh, probably into the forties before we started in making the fields a lot larger.
SA: I want to talk about the period before the irrigation project, when you were getting the water locally here. So let's stick with the ranch before the irrigation. I have several questions to ask. Number one, you had all of these animals, and how much alfalfa hay did you grow? Was there anything else beside the alfalfa hay that you were growing?
IK: Oh yes, we at that time, of course, raised wheat and barley and alfalfa hay. That was just about the extent of it, until, oh, probably about, I can't remember the exact year-1913 or 1914—they built a sugar beet factory here at Fallon.
SA: We won't get into that yet. That's after the irrigation.
IK: Yes.
SA: I want to stick with the before, so that we can contrast the period before the irrigation. How was the irrigation done on this ranch with
all these animals and crops, before the irrigation project?
IK: Well, we had a dam, as I mentioned before. We called it the rock dam, which is right behind Stillwater. When the Carson River flowed in the spring of the year, and as I stated before, the Stillwater
Slough was a tributary of the Carson River. And we dammed that water up and had several ditches coming from that dam: one ditch that went to the south of the dam, and another ditch that came to the north. And the ditch coming to the north irrigated all of our place and also the Freeman Ranch, which was originated by my great-grandfather, Charlie Kaiser.

10 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: So would it all be through the ditches that you would dig, or your people on the ranch would dig to reach the crops?
IK: Yes.
SA: Were there periods of great drought?
IK: Well, the Carson River would stop flowing, like it does right now,
anywhere around the middle of July, first of August. And consequently, there wasn't any water to irrigate with.
SA: What would you do?
IK: Well, a lot of our hay wasn't alfalfa hay in those days. It was all wild hay. We didn't have alfalfa.
SA: You didn't plant anything.
IK: No. The only thing we planted was grain. But the only hay was wild hay.
SA: Did a lot of it come up?
IK: Oh yes, wild hay would come back year after year. As soon as we'd get the water on it in the spring, it would start growin', yes.
SA: Was there enough during the drier periods for the animals? Was there enough, or did you suffer at all?
IK: No, as I recall, we never did have any problems, as far back as I can recall.
SA: So, Stillwater wasn't one of them that was in such urgent need of the irrigation, is that right?
IK: Oh no. No, in fact, the people that was on the Stillwater part of the district and the people that were on the main Carson River, they all had dams also. To build a dam, the government had to acquire our vested water rights, in order to go ahead and build the dam,
because we had all the water appropriated that was on the Carson River at that time.

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SA: Tell, for those who don't know, what does "vested water rights" mean?
IK: A vested water right is a water right that has been acquired, some people say, prior to 1910, and others say prior to 1902. In other words, an early appropriation of water, under your state water laws.
SA: I see. So that when you got water or homesteaded or got your property, there were certain water rights that came at that time?
IK: Right. And then of course after the dam was built, those water rights were sold by the government to the homesteaders.
SA: Before the project, did you have to pay for any of the water, or was it just natural?
IK: Oh no, it was natural.
SA: So you didn't have any problem with that?
IK: No.
SA: How old were you when you started to help out on the ranch?
IK: Oh, I don't remember for sure. I used to drive derrick, but I can't remember when it was. I was probably twelve or thirteen years old.
SA: Well, what about when you were a little boy? What did you do when you were a little boy?
IK: Oh, I used to help my mother gather the chicken eggs. That was about it. We always had a few ducks, and we'd feed them and the geese and the turkeys. My mother used to do all that, and I used to go help her. That's about all, because my dad would never ever let me get out with the men and work. He always said he was afraid of the horses, you know.
SA: And I understand your sister wasn't allowed to milk a cow, or to go outside where the men were.
IK: No. But I used to milk. Sometimes we'd get in trouble and get behind on the milking, and I could milk seven or eight cows.

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SA: Wow! [chuckles] As you started to get a little bigger, what were some of the chores? Did your father start giving you more chores, or did you have enough workmen and you didn't have to do too much?
IK: No, I didn't have to do too much, because like I said, we had two men that milked the cows, and we also had a man that did all the chores. Of course goin' to school, you just didn't have that much time.
SA: How did you get to school?
IK: I walked. Of course we went to school in Stillwater, it was only less than a quarter of a mile to go to school.
SA: Oh, OK, so it was close.
IK: But then later when they built the new schoolhouse, which is about a mile-and-a-half above Stillwater, I walked part of the time, and then I rode horseback part of the time. I was in the fifth grade before I went to school up there.
SA: I see. That's about when your sister was going up there, and going on a horse, is that right?
IK: Yes. The first four grades, I went to school in Stillwater.
SA: And was that when there were a lot of kids, or was that later?
IK: No, there were a lot of kids. There were quite a lot of kids, even when they opened the new schoolhouse at Stillwater.
SA: And your mother was a teacher, right? Had been a teacher?
IK: Yeah, she was a teacher one year here at Stillwater, and two years in Lovelock.
SA: Was that a help, having a mother who was a teacher?
IK: Oh, it was particularly when I got in high school.
SA: Uh-huh, but when you were little, did she see that you did your work and check it?

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IK: Yeah, she used to help me with my work. Particularly when I got in high school, she was exceptionally good with mathematics.
SA: I want to know a little bit about, first, your dad: what kind of a personality, what kind of a person, what kind of a father, so we get to know him a little bit.
IK: Well, he was very, very well-liked. The men that worked for him all thought an awful lot of him. He was very highly respected in the Stillwater area.
SA: Did he get involved in some of the community activities or politics?
IK: Yes, he run for state senator. He was in the Nevada State Senate—I think the year was 1918—for two years. I went to grammar school over at Carson City that one winter.
SA: Oh you all lived there? Did you all go there to live?
IK: Yeah, we all lived there during the legislative session, and I went to grammar school there.
SA: Did you like that, going there?
IK: Well, no, because coming from a little place like Stillwater, and then going to Carson . . . . Of course Carson wasn't very big at that time either! But it felt big, anyway—seemed big.
SA: Now let's go back a little bit. You said there was also a store that your mother and father managed. Was that store in existence when you were born, the Stillwater store?
IK: Oh yeah, but I don't remember too much about it.
SA: Did it close before you were a teenager?
IK: Oh yes. Yeah, I don't know exactly when it did close, but I don't recall hardly anything about it. I know where the building was—it burned down in later years. But I knew where the building was, and that's about all.
SA: And then they physically moved that to Fallon?

14 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: No. No, it was still here. When they left here, this store was still here. And then they had the store in Fallon, which was built in Fallon.
SA: I see, someone told a wrong story. I read they . . .
IK: No, it was built in Fallon. And the Stillwater store that was here, burned down.
SA: Now I want to stay with your childhood a little bit more. What kind of fun did kids have here in Stillwater? Did you have time for some fun?
IK: Well [chuckles] about the only thing that we used to do, we used to play marbles and had a game we called "dare base."
SA: I've never heard of that game—describe it.
IK: Well, you choosed up sides and you had one team on one side and one team on another, and you're separated probably by about, oh, thirty, forty yards. You had a line out in front of that where everybody was standing, and somebody from the other team would come down. [tape break]
SA: You were telling us about that “Dare base” Is that what it was called? And you were chasing someone. So finish the story.
IK: Well, if you could catch 'em before they got back to their own line, then they had to go in what we called "the pot." And the only way you could get out of the pot was if somebody who was real fast could run down there and touch your hand, and then you could get out of the pot. Oh, we used to play that an awful lot during recess and noon hours. And then another thing we used to do, we used to choose up sides and hunt magpies.
SA: What's magpies?
IK: Oh, a magpie is a predator bird that eats lots of the bird eggs—particularly pheasant and quail and duck eggs. We tried to control 'em. And so the school would choose up sides to see who could get the most magpie eggs. And we'd go robbing the magpie nests all around the valley here.
SA: What would you do with the eggs?

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IK: Oh, we'd just break 'em up after we brought 'em back and showed 'em to the teacher, that we got the eggs. Then she'd put it down. It was quite a thrill, or a lot of excitement, anyway. Every weekend, everybody was looking for magpie eggs.
SA: You're the first one I've heard tell that. And that was to control the population of the magpies?
IK: That's right.
SA: Now, I know from reading about you, that you are an avid sportsman. We're not going to go through the whole thing—we're going to stay with your childhood—we'll get into a lot of that later. What started you in your love of hunting?
IK: Well, my father liked to hunt, and I think in those days hunting and fishing was probably your only recreation you had. He kind of insisted that you learn to hunt.
SA: How old were you when he took you and taught you?
IK: I was seven years old. He bought me my first shotgun.
SA: OK, I want you to tell me in detail about that experience.
IK: He got me a 410 gauge shotgun for Christmas when I was seven years old. We had a little pond that's about a half a mile here from the house. So he said, "Well, you can take the shotgun now and go down there by yourself, and see if you can get a duck." There was ice on the water, but there happened to be some ducks there, and I sneaked up on 'em, and I shot and I got one duck. and I broke it's wing, and I didn't want to get my shoes wet or muddy, so I took my shoes off and chased that duck around out there on the ice, and finally caught him. My feet were pretty near frozen when I got back off the ice, but I was one proud boy!
SA: Now, before he told you to go and do that, did he teach you safety and how to handle your gun?
IK: Oh definitely.
SA: Did you have a close relationship with your dad?

16 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Oh yes. Of course he was always so busy, it was hard for him to get away to go fishing. In the fall we used to do a lot of duck hunting. And then, of course, when I was small, before I probably went to grammar school, we had a Chinese cook by the name of Toy, and he cooked for us for a number of years. He cooked for all the men, even when we had fifty men—he did all the cookin'. But we had an Indian girl to help him, who did the dishes for him. But anyway, after lunch, prit near every day, all spring and summer, he'd say to my mother, "Well, Hammy and I are goin' fishin," and we used to go down below the house there about two hundred yards, and there was a big hole there in the Slough, and we could always catch catfish. We'd go down there and we'd probably catch forty or fifty catfish and a few perch and a few bass were in there. And then Toy would skin 'em all and have 'em for dinner.
SA: So it was your food!
IK: When we'd get enough, we'd have some to eat, yeah.
SA: Now, did your sister ever go fishing?
IK: No, I don't recall her ever going fishing with us.
SA: It was the two buddies, you and your dad.
IK: Well, Toy the Chinaman and my dad used to take me down in what we called the sinks. We used to go down there fishing, when I was real little, and catch catfish.
SA: So part was relaxation, part was food.
IK: That's right, yes.
SA: What other kind of hunting did you begin to do through your teen age with your dad?
IK: Well, nothing, except ducks and geese, until I was oh, probably sixteen, seventeen years old before I started doing any other hunting.
SA: In those early days, is that when you began to have a love for that sport?

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IK: Oh yes.
SA: The whole association of . . . .
IK: Yeah, and my father always made me go huntin'. Until I was a teenager, I always had to go huntin' by myself.
SA: Oh, by yourself?
IK: Yes, he would never let me hunt with anybody, because that way, he always said that a couple kids get in trouble.
SA: Oh, one could accidentally shoot the other.
IK: That's right.
SA: Ah, so he was a smart man—protective of his children.
IK: Yeah. Another experience that I had, that I would like to mention: In 1918 we had rabies here in the valley. All the coyotes had rabies, and we had quite a few cows get rabies, coyotes had bit 'em. Dad had to destroy our dogs, because he was afraid that they'd get bit and then bite somebody. But anyway, I was going to school one morning, and I was just about, oh, a hundred yards from the school house—in fact, I was about seventy-five yards from the saloon, and this rabid coyote come down the road and took after me. And there was two government trappers sittin' on the front porch of the saloon there, and they saw the coyote comin', and they had their rifles there, and they shot him.
SA: Oh, my gosh! Now, what school were you going to?
IK: That was right there at Stillwater.
SA: So you were still in school here.
IK: Yeah, I was still—I'd have been, eight years old, I'd have been in the second grade.
SA: Oh, so you were little.
IK: Oh yeah, 1918.

18 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: Wow, were you scared?
IK: Yeah.
SA: Was that scary?
IK: Oh, I'll say it was.
SA: Did you know anyone who had rabies?
IK: No, I don't know of anybody that got bit by 'em.
SA: Now I know you said you had lots of workers, about fifty. Do you remember the kind of a mixture of men? Was there a mixture of different ethnic groups? Was there a mixture of places from where they came? Did you get to know any of that?
IK: Well, yes. The bulk of our employees were Indians from the reservation.
SA: Is that right?
IK: You see, the Indian reservation is just up the road here a few miles. We had a few white men that worked for us year-round. Most of the Indians—in fact none of 'em at that time, worked year-round. They just worked during the summertime, with haying and things like that. But the white men that worked for us, we had Portuguese that milked cows for us.
SA: Where'd they come from?
IK: They came from Portugal, and they lived here at the ranch.
SA: Did they come over to work? Did they hear about work here?
IK: Yes. Yeah, they come over to work over here in the States. And they were real good milkers.
SA: Did people send information over to Portugal saying they needed helpers?
IK: That I couldn't tell you.

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SA: Couldn't tell. But you had Portuguese. I hadn't heard that.
IK: Oh yeah, we had four or five.
SA: Just the men, without families?
IK: They were just single men. Of course the Indians, they all lived at the reservation, but they would come down. We had breakfast at six o'clock in the morning, and they would be down here at six for breakfast, and then we had dinner at noon, at twelve o'clock, and supper at six o'clock. After supper—they either came down with a horse and buggy or horseback—and then they'd go back home up to the reservation.
SA: Did you eat with the men?
IK: No, we didn't. My mother and dad and I and my sister ate by ourselves.
SA: But the cook would bring you the food, so your mother didn't have to do all that cooking.
IK: That's right.
SA: I want to know a little about the Indian reservation. First, did the Indian children go to school with you, or did they have their own schools?
IK: They had their own school, but there was a family that their father was part white, and that was after the schoolhouse moved up above Stillwater there. And they lived just about two hundred yards from the schoolhouse, and that family all went to school with us. Otherwise, all the Indians went to school up where the Indian mission was, and the Indian schoolhouse up there.
SA: Oh, alright, tell me, I had not heard about the Indian mission,
IK: Yes, they had an Indian mission. It was Baptist.
SA: So they had like a Baptist school where they had the children go?
IK: No.

20 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: Was it a public school?
IK: It was a public school for the Indians, yes.
SA: I see, it had nothing to do with the Baptists.
IK: No. But they had a Baptist church there.
SA: OK, so it was a government school, just like yours.
IK: Right.
SA: So they were separated.
IK: Right.
SA: What did the Indian reservation look like then? I see very modern houses when I drive by.
IK: Well, most of the houses up there at that time were just one-room cabins, is what they amounted to—probably ten-by-twelve up to maybe twelve-by-sixteen cabins; normally just one room; and they slept on the floor; and they used rabbit skins made from jackrabbits, blankets, which were very, very warm. We had a couple of Indians here that I really was very close to. They used to take me in their house. Otherwise, most of 'em didn't.
SA: Mostly was it separated communities, with the white and Indians?
IK: Oh, not necessarily, no.
SA: Did the Indian kids play with the white kids?
IK: Well, no, because see, they went to school up there and we were down here.
SA: So you don't wander around.
IK: We were too far apart. See, up there at the Indian school, it's probably five miles, roughly, from Stillwater. So we was too far apart. But the Indian boys and one Indian girl that went to school right there by our schoolhouse, we used to play together. In fact, we've

Churchill County Oral History Project 21
been friends all of our lives. In fact, they're all passed away now, except two of 'em. In fact, I was down and visited with one of 'em here just a few weeks ago—he's a little younger than I am, but we've kept in touch.
SA: Besides working on the ranches, what other ways did the Indians earn their living?
IK: That was just about it. Yeah, there was two big ranches: our ranch and the Freeman Ranch, that employed quite a few people. And they employed practically all the Indians off the reservation. Or, there was a few of the Indians that did work up toward Fallon on some of those ranches, but I would say that this ranch and the Freeman Ranch employed the bulk of the Indians, yes.
SA: How big was that Indian reservation?
IK: You mean in square miles?
SA: No, in terms of population, how many houses, how many families.
IK: Gosh, I couldn't . . . .
SA: Hundreds? Or less?
IK: Oh, I would say probably there was three or four hundred Indians up there.
SA: That many?
IK: Yes.
SA: About how many are up there now?
IK: I haven't the slightest idea. I would say probably fifteen hundred.
SA: That much?
IK: Right. I could be mistaken. I'm not sure about that.
SA: Where's the bulk of their living quarters? I just drove through and saw a little bit.

22 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Well, it's all through the reservation. They've got the homes all through the reservation.
SA: Have there been any problems through the years, or do the people live peacefully all together?
IK: Oh yes, there's never been any problems to my knowledge. Somebody might get drunk, and something like that, and wreck his car, but I mean that's normal for white or any people.
SA: Do any of them start their own businesses or make a living . . . . I know there's one, the artist on the reservation who's quite a prominent artist, who has the gallery.
IK: Yeah. Well, there's a few of 'em that have been carpenters, and there's some that have been painters. But most of 'em follow farm work. Of course a lot of the younger generation now, they're workin' in all kinds of places.
SA: Going off to college?
IK: Yeah, and workin' in the banks and things like that.
SA: Good. OK, they're moving into the town.
IK: I'm speaking about back thirty, forty years ago, even then there was a few of 'em that did work commercially.
SA: And there are probably a lot more opportunities for education?
IK: Oh yes. You see, then, about the only school was the Indian schools for 'em to go to. Now they can go practically anywhere they want to go.
SA: When did the Baptist mission go into the reservation?
IK: That I couldn't tell you.
SA: As long as you can remember?
IK: As long as I can remember, yes. And I can remember going up—the old road going to Fallon used to go right up by the Indian mission

Churchill County Oral History Project 23
and on into Fallon. I can remember going to Fallon in a buggy and a horse, and it'd take one day to go up, and we'd do our shopping and come home the next day. My grandfather and grandmother lived there in Fallon, and we would stay with them. But the mission was there then, and I was probably only five or six years old.
SA: So are most of the Indians on the reservation Baptist, or only some?
IK: Well, they used to be. Now, I don't know exactly.
SA: I know a lot of the ranches and homes hired Indian women to do the laundry, and still do.
IK: Oh yes. I remember we had an Indian girl—of course, she wasn't a girl—her name was Maggie, that came down prit near every day. Her husband's name was Little Jake, and he worked here on the ranch, and she used to come down and did all the washing. She did washing for the men besides the cookhouse, and for our family. She was a real large woman and they used to come down in a spring wagon. Jake would sit up on the front seat of the wagon, and she would just sit on the floor in the back. [laughter] Another thing I recall, she used to love to eat gophers.
SA: Oh my gosh!
IK: She'd give me five cents for a small gopher, and ten cents for a big gopher. I used to take a bucket with water and go around and try to drown the gophers and get 'em to come up and catch gophers for her. Oh, maybe I'd get a couple or three, and she'd give me ten cents a piece or five cents, whichever.
SA: That's funny. You started to say something that intrigued me about your grandparents living in Fallon. Did they move there when the store was started in Fallon?
IK: Yes, right, in 1902. They lived there 'til their death.
SA: Did they build a house?
IK: Yes, they built a home there, right.
SA: And then you said you would go in with a horse and wagon?

24 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Yeah, and then we'd stay there. They had a corral 'right there in town where we'd leave the horse. Then in later years when Dad was even freightin' from Fairview and Wonder, they used to drop freight off there and leave the horses there at the corral.
SA: Where was their house located?
IK: Oh, it was on Center Street about, oh, a hundred yards from the store.
SA: So it was close, right in town. Is it still there?
IK: No, it was sold after their death. The house is still in existence. It's down in Old River District. Some people have it.
SA: It was moved?
IK: Moved, yes.
SA: Now, is the store that's in Fallon the original store?
IK: Yes, that's the original store.
SA: When your grandparents died, then did your father run the store in Fallon? Who ran it after they died?
IK: My uncle, Ira L. Kent. That was my dad's other brother.
SA: OK, your uncle was also out here.
IK: Yeah, he was active in the store all the time. My dad was just active in the ranch here at Stillwater. And he [Uncle Ira] ran it after their death. In fact, he was running it, more or less, before they passed away.
SA: Did your father ever run it?
IK: No.
SA: When you would go into Fallon to visit, did you go into the store?

Churchill County Oral History Project 25
IK: I can't remember. Well, I do, yes and no. I remember going in there, but I can't remember anything particular about it.
SA: Nothing special to remember?
IK: Nothing special about it, no.
SA: Do you always remember taking trips into Fallon?
IK: Well, of course, see, I wasn't born until 1910, so it was probably 1915 or 1916 before I ever went into Fallon that I can remember.
SA: Of course. When you would go in, what would it look like?
IK: As I recall, I remember the railroad tracks, and I remember the courthouse. There used to be right there at the intersection of Maine and Williams Avenue, a water fountain there where you water your horses at. There was a rooming house there that belonged to Sanfords on Maine Street. I can remember there was two or three saloons along there on the west side of the main street. And that's just about all I can recall.
SA: OK, we'll go more into it when you went in for high school. Back to the ranch and to kids' fun: Did you go swimming in the ditches?
IK: Yeah, I learned to swim in a ditch. [chuckles] Of course that was after the irrigation project. We had a flume that went across the slough, and the water run real swift. We'd get in the top of that flume and the water would run swift enough that even though you couldn't swim, it would take you through the flume, and the flume was probably a hundred and fifty feet long.
SA: When was that?
IK: Oh, that was probably about 1918 or 1919.
SA: So that was after the irrigation project?
IK: Yeah, that was after the irrigation project. I don't remember what year it was, 1920 or around there, maybe before that. I guess it was 1918, they thought there was oil here in the valley, and they dug a lot of oil wells—speculation, I think, mostly oil speculation. And I

26 Ira Hamlin Kent
recall one of 'em that was out here in what we call "the pass." Tex and Glenn Reynolds—they came from Oklahoma. And they were workin' on that oil rig. I went over to get the mail, and as I started across the street there, it was dirt and dust, I saw a couple of greenbacks there, and I picked 'em up—it was two $20 bills! And so I went into the store to get the mail and I told Miss Greenwood who ran the store that I just found these two bills. I said, "You keep 'em here, and if somebody comes along and claims 'em, you give 'em to 'em."
SA: Boy, you're honest!
IK: So a couple of days after that, Tex Reynolds who was working out here on the oil rig come in and he told Miss Greenwood that he had lost his pay check. She asked him how much it was. He said, "Well, I had two $20 bills." "Well, Hammy found 'em, and here they are." So she gave 'em to him, and he handed her back one twenty and he said, "Give this to Hammy."
SA: [admiringly] Oh!
IK: But I kind of got off onto another thing there.
SA: That's alright. The oil, that is something important. Did your family ever speculate in oil?
IK: Not to my knowledge. But I was gettin' back to swimmin'. They also dug an oil well right there in Stillwater. They hit hot water, and then a geyser. When they hit this geyser, it scalded a couple of men—it didn't kill 'em.
SA: Was this when they were digging for oil?
IK: Yeah. Later, it was just a year or two after that, they made a big outdoor swimming pool from this water.
SA: Oh, really?!
IK: And we used to go over there and go swimming every evening.
SA: Oh, what fun! How big was it?

Churchill County Oral History Project 27
IK: It was about fifty feet wide and about a hundred and fifty feet long.
SA: Wow! Was there grass around it? Cement around it? What did it look like?
IK: The swimming pool itself was a cement swimming pool, and it
started out at about eighteen inches deep and went to about six feet deep.
SA: Oh, any pictures, any photographs?
IK: It had concrete walk all the way around it, and then they had another room over there where you'd go over and take a shower before you went swimmin' and after you got out of the swimmin' pool if you wanted to.
SA: Did they charge you to go?
IK: Yeah. I can't remember how much it was right now, but it didn't amount to much.
SA: Did people come in from Fallon?
IK: Oh yeah, Nina remembers coming down to Stillwater, going swimmin'. Oh, people used to come from Fallon and all over to go swimmin' here.
SA: Oh, what fun! Now this was outdoors, or indoors?
IK: It was outdoors, but they did have an indoor swimmin' pool, but it was deep. They would never let us kids swim in there. It was probably, oh, four foot deep, probably, to about eight feet deep.
SA: Oh, I hope I can find photographs of that.
IK: I can show you where that is. But the old outdoor one was all filled-in years ago.
SA: How long did that stay in existence, about?
IK: Oh, the outdoor one probably stayed in existence, oh, six or seven years, maybe longer. And then the health department got after 'em

28 Ira Hamlin Kent
for not draining the pool, you know, and all the things you have to do. So he just filled it in.
SA: Did any of the Indian kids come to swim?
IK: No, I don't ever recall many of 'em coming.
SA: Did you ever go ice skating on the sloughs?
IK: No, I never did ice skate. I don't know why. I guess I just never ever learned to ice skate.
SA: Not something that appealed to you?
IK: No, it just never appealed to me.
SA: Do you have any recollection of . . . . I know you were very, very young when the Lahontan Dam was completed. You were only four. But do you have any recollection of anything.
IK: No, not a bit.
SA: What's your earliest recollections afterward? Did you go and visit? Did you go to the Lahontan Dam recreation center?
IK: I don't have any recollection of it at all.
SA: As you were growing up, did you begin to see changes due to the Newlands Project? Did they start to create different ditches? Did new things start to happen during your years on the ranch here, until you went to Fallon?
IK: Well, there was more and more people. There was lots of places, forty and eighty acres, around the valley here.
SA: The homesteading?
IK: Homesteading, yeah. They bought the water rights from the government and took up 40 or 80, and some of 'em, 160 acres. The bulk of 'em are around 80-acre places. And they could raise a good family at that time, and live pretty comfortably.

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SA: Did you get to meet any of them? Did the schools increase in kids?
IK: Well, the town schools did, but they didn't down here. I would say the Stillwater School started to fall off about the time that I got out of grammar school, which was 1924. There was only two of us graduated from the eighth grade. People had started movin' away. People started buyin' up their neighbors' and things like that.
SA: Oh, in other words, one would have eighty, and then buy the next neighbor's?
IK: Right.
SA: I see. When did that start?
IK: Oh, it probably started in the late twenties. And then, of course, after we went through that bad Depression in the early thirties . . . .
SA: Oh, we'll get to that after.
IK: It really escalated then.
SA: Did your family homestead?
IK: No. My grandfather bought this place from the Sanfords. The present ranch that we have today is part of that, and then I have some acreage that belonged to my Great-grandfather Kaiser, where I bought in 1935. Then I also have an acreage that belonged to Cirac, who owned the hotel and the saloon; and also from a person by the name of Paris who homesteaded eighty acres.
SA: Paris, just like the city in France?
IK: Uh-huh, he was a Frenchman. He homesteaded or took up eighty acres and bought the water rights from the government. That was in 1915. [tape break] And he couldn't make a go of it, so he borrowed four thousand dollars from the Bank of America, and then left the country. They never did know where he went to.
SA: Oh, my goodness!

30 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Anyway, I also own that at the present time.
SA: What year did you buy that?
IK: Oh, I bought it about ten years ago.
SA: So that's pretty recent.
IK: Yeah.
SA: So now we're going to go back. I did not ask you, I want to know about your mother. What kind of a woman and a mother was she? Tell me a little so I can get to know her a little bit.
IK: Well, she was born in Sierra Valley, and she went to grammar school and high school in Sierra Valley in Loyalton. I'm not positive, but I think she went one year to the University of Nevada, and she also went to Stanford. Then she taught, as I said before, grammar school in Lovelock and Stillwater. She and Dad were married in 1907. She used to go out with Dad and do a lot of ridin' out to the mountains. They used to run mustangs.
SA: Is that right?!
IK: Yes, catch mustangs, rope 'em.
SA: She did that? She was like a cowgirl?
IK: Yes, she used to like to ride. And then, of course, after I come along, that kind of curtailed all that. [laughter] But she was a strict mother, very strict. You toed the mark, believe me!
SA: Was she stricter than your dad?
IK: Oh yes, by far.
SA: She was the disciplinarian?
IK: Yeah. Yeah, Dad would hardly ever say anything to me, unless you really got out of line. [laughter] I remember—speaking of getting out of line—I remember I was probably six or seven years old, another boy that lived here on the ranch, his dad worked here on the ranch,

Churchill County Oral History Project 31
and he was maybe a year older or younger than I was, and we decided one day we was gonna build a fire. So we [laughs] lit one of the hay mangers afire. Then we couldn't get it out.
SA: Oh my!
IK: And Dad just saw it or something, or some of the men did, and they got it out. And we run and he went home. I run in the house. I remember I hid under the sofa. Daddy come in the house—boy, he was mad! He drug me out from under that sofa and he sure did give me a whipping! [laughs]
SA: Well, you could have created a lot of damage!
IK: That's about the only time I can really remember that he really ever got after me.
SA: What were some of your mother's main interests?
IK: Oh, she used to love to hunt arrowheads. And of course she played bridge. They had a bridge club in Fallon—that was a little bit later on when she had a car and could drive to Fallon. And she belonged to the P.E.O.
SA: Did you kids go to hunt arrowheads with her?
IK: Well, Ethel did. I never did. I never did get much interested in it, until later years. Yeah, I don't know, there was always somethin' else I wanted to do.
SA: Uh-huh, hunt or fish?
IK: Yeah. Somebody'd say "huntin'," or "fishin'," I was ready to go!
SA: Do you remember when your sister was born, because you're five years older.
IK: Oh yeah, very plainly. I remember we had an ice house. At that time they used to cut all their ice there on the slough in the wintertime, and had a big ice house. It was probably, oh, 20 feet deep and 12 feet wide, and probably 20 feet high, and they'd fill that with ice every winter, and covered it with sawdust to keep it from thawing. I

32 Ira Hamlin Kent
was out there at the ice house with my uncle, and that was my mother's brother. He disappeared and he said, "You stay here." Pretty quick he come back and he said, "You've got a baby sister." I can remember that just as plain. So he took me to the house.
SA: And you saw the little baby?
IK: Yeah. I remember that alright.
SA: Did you have to help take care of her a little bit as the big brother?
IK: Not that I remember. [laughs]
SA: Was there someone to help your mother?
IK: No.
SA: Your mother took care of her, and you were busy outside.
IK: Yeah, gettin' in trouble.
SA: So you didn't get in fights with her or anything?
IK: Oh, I suppose we did, but I don't recall.
SA: You were quite a bit older.
IK: Oh yeah, I was five years older.
SA: Now, going through your school years, you went through the eighth grade here?
IK: Right, in Stillwater. I graduated from Stillwater Grammar School.
SA: As you were going through school, did you begin to determine areas of the schoolwork that you liked and areas that you didn't? Areas that you were more talented at? What were you discovering by the time you reached the eighth grade?
IK: Well, really, nothin', I would say, up through the eighth grade, because I don't know, you're too young to make up your mind on anything you want to do.

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SA: Sure. Did you enjoy the ranching aspect?
IK: Yeah, I did. I used to like to ride. Yeah, I used to go out to the mountains with the buckaroos in the summertime and do quite a bit of ridin'.
SA: By the time you were in eighth grade—let's see, how old were you then? About twelve?
IK: Let's see. No, I would have been fourteen in October—I was thirteen when I graduated.
SA: So by the time you reached thirteen, what were your responsibilities on the ranch? Were you given any special areas?
IK: No, nothin' special. Used to help whenever they needed some help—little things, you know, around. And I used to help with the cattle. I used to ride quite a bit.
SA: Did you like that? Was that your favorite?
IK: Oh, I loved that.
SA: Where did they do the branding?
IK: Oh, we did the branding here at the ranch.
SA: Did your father begin to teach you that?
IK: Oh yeah, sure. And then we run sheep at that time, too. We ran more sheep than we did cattle, at that time.
SA: Tell me about that.
IK: Well, we ran two bands of sheep, which was about thirty-five hundred ewes, and we ran 'em in two bands.
SA: Where?
IK: In the Stillwater Mountains here.
SA: Was that range land?

34 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Yeah, that's BLM [Bureau of Land Management] range. Of course at that time, it wasn't BLM, it was . . . .
SA: Just open?
IK: Yeah, open range.
SA: Was there any competition? Were others doing the same thing?
IK: Well, yes, you used to have competition from other sheep operators. They had these sheep outfits that would move. They'd come out of Idaho and go clear down into Arizona in the wintertime.
SA: Oh! That far?!
IK: Yeah, they'd trespass on us. And of course in those days, the way you controlled the water, you filed on the water and appropriated your spring, under the state law. If you had a spring appropriated, under the state law, you controlled all the grazing within a three-mile area of that spring. So Dad appropriated these waters so that they overlapped one another. If one of these outfits got in on ours, they could have them arrested for trespassing, see.
SA: So, did he ever have to do that?
IK: Yeah. I recall a couple of cases.
SA: Is that right?! Did they give you any trouble?
IK: Oh no. You go in the county courthouse and you swear out a
warrant for their arrest for trespassing. And then the sheriff would go out and serve it.
SA: Isn't that interesting. Was it because they didn't know? They'd be coming through?
IK: Oh no, they didn't care—just didn't care.
SA: About how many sheep did you have?
IK: We had about thirty-five hundred ewes.

Churchill County Oral History Project 35
SA: Now tell me, with the ranch, where did you sell the animals? Did you sell it for wool, for meat?
IK: Of course we sheared the wool. The wool was sold.
SA: Was the shearing done here?
IK: Yeah, it was usually hauled into Fallon and put on a railroad car. There'd be wool buyers come around and buy the wool. And then the lambs, the bulk of 'em went to San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Walter Schilling, they had a big slaughterhouse down there in Santa Cruz. And also Moffitt—they had a big packing house in San Francisco. They had buyers that come in here.
SA: I see, they'd come right to your ranch?
IK: Oh yeah, we had a scales here, and the lambs or the cattle would be weighed right off the scales, and then we'd deliver 'em into Fallon for 'em.
SA: Big operation. Now, who actually did the shearing of the wool, and how?
IK: That was contractors. There'd be contractors come through the country. They'd call ahead or write a letter ahead, and set up a date when they'd be here to shear, because they moved right around the country, and that's all they did.
SA: I'd never heard that!
IK: Oh yeah, that's the way all the sheep were sheared in those days.
SA: Oh my goodness. Did you ever watch them?
IK: Oh yeah, sure.
SA: How'd they do it?
IK: That was all done by hand in those days. Of course now they do it by electric shears. It was all by hand in those days.

36 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: Now how many needed to work on one? Did one have to hold it while one cut it?
IK: Oh no, one guy holds it and shears it at the same time.
SA: Oh my goodness!
IK: Oh yeah, it's quite a knack.
SA: Oh, I would say!
IK: There'd usually be eight to ten shearers in a crew.
SA: Wow. Now, you had a lot of sheep.
IK: They would shear up to a hundred sheep a day, apiece—a good sheep shearer would.
SA: How long does it take the sheep to raise another . . . .
IK: One year.
SA: Every year?
IK: You shear 'em every spring.
SA: How long did your father's ranch keep on with the sheep and the wool?
IK: Oh, we had the sheep up until World War II. World War II, the Navy had the base out here. That's when the Navy base went in over here. They had air-to-ground gunnery. In other words, one plane would fly, pulling a target behind it, and then the other plane would come in and shoot at that target. And they were shootin' against these mountains. So the Navy took all the use of all these mountain ranges where we run our sheep during World War II. So for five years we had no place to run our sheep. So when they took it, we sold all the sheep.
SA: Oh, because that was federal land?
IK: Yeah.

Churchill County Oral History Project 37
SA: I see, so then you had to sell them.
IK: Yeah.
SA: Were you able to sell them easily?
IK: They all went to California, the sheep did. But then after the war, instead of going back in the sheep business, it was awful hard gettin' sheepherders. We went into cattle fully—cattle, instead of back into sheep.
SA: Did you ever sell the sheep for meat?
IK: Oh yeah, sure, the lambs. Yeah, you see, you get about 50 percent at that time—I don't know how it runs nowadays—but we had about 50 percent twins. So in other words, say 3,500 ewes, well, you'd probably end up with, oh, probably 4,500 lambs. Of course you kept part of the ewe lambs for replacement for your old ewes, you know. And then of course you culled all your old ewes out, and they all went for mutton, and then your lambs all went for your lamb.
SA: Who actually was responsible for the sheep business here?
IK: My dad.
SA: Was he the main one who supervised all the workers?
IK: Oh yes.
SA: He was the one who knew everything?
IK: That's right.
SA: So he was pretty smart in ranching?
IK: Yeah.
SA: Was it something that he learned from his. . . .
IK: Well, from his father.
SA: So he always knew, just like you learned, from yours.

38 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Yeah, that's right.
SA: Did you ever work with the sheep?
IK: Well, yeah, I used to tend camp for 'em.
SA: What does that mean?
IK: Well, we had two sheepherders and two bands of sheep. They stayed in the mountains, and then according to state law, they can only be by themselves for five days. And so every fifth day, we'd take groceries to 'em, because they had no way to get groceries. I'd take the groceries out and spend all night, usually, with 'em, and then come back the next day.
SA: Did you use Basques?
IK: No, we always had white men. We could never speak any other language except [laughter] English, so it was kind of tough to hire somebody that couldn't . . . .
SA: . . . speak your language. So that was an interesting period.
IK: Yeah.
SA: So you had the sheep. You mentioned you had lots and lots of pigs. What did you do with the pigs?
IK: Oh, I don't know, they were hauled into Reno. There was two packing houses in Reno: Nevada Packing Company, and Humphrey Supply. We used to send the pigs into Reno. We'd sell 'em, and they'd go to Reno, and that's where they'd be butchered, and hams and bacons made out of 'em at Reno.
SA: That's the convenience of being here—you're so close to Reno. You're not so isolated.
IK: Yeah. Of course we're eighty miles, so it isn't that close, from the ranch here.
SA: Oh, that's right, you're pretty isolated.

Churchill County Oral History Project 39
IK: Yeah, quite a ways.
SA: That's right! [laughter]
IK: See, everything had to be shipped out by rail in those days.
SA: Then you had to get your things to Fallon to the railroad. So did you use big trucks?
IK: Oh no.
SA: What did you use?
IK: The cattle, we drove 'em. The sheep, we drove 'em.
SA: Oh, OK, you were on horses and you would drive them in.
IK: Right.
SA: That's before it was a big city. That must have been quite a scene.
IK: Oh yeah, railroad came into Fallon. They had what they called the stockyards there. They'd load all the sheep or the cattle or whatever it might be, on the railroad cars.
SA: Oh, what a picture! How long would it take you to drive them in there?
IK: Two days.
SA: Incredible! Are there any pictures?
IK: No, we don't have any pictures at all.
SA: Would you just camp on the ground, or did you have a wagon?
IK: No, we used to go up to what they called the Ayers Place, and their ranch was just to the west of Nygren’s. We had arrangements made with them, and we'd leave the cattle or the sheep or whatever it might be, there overnight, and they'd feed 'em. Then the next morning, take 'em on into Fallon to load on the railroad car and then go on out.

40 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: Would you sleep at the Ayers and eat there?
IK: I don't recall what they did—I imagine they must have. I never did help drive any of 'em in.
SA: OK, you didn't do that. It's very picturesque in my mind, to envision all that. You mentioned something about turkeys. Were turkeys raised on your ranch?
IK: Oh yes. Dad always raised anywhere from 500 to 1,000 turkeys.
SA: Oh my gosh! Tell me about that.
IK: Well, turkeys, about half of 'em were usually killed for the Thanksgiving market. The other half for Christmas market. The l.H. Kent Company, my father's dad, they bought pretty near all the turkeys that was raised here in the valley. There was lots of turkeys raised here in the valley. And they shipped them out by railroad car. And they went to San Francisco, mostly. It was a big business here.
SA: So all the local people would mainly sell the turkeys to your . . . .
IK Grandfather.
SA: To Grandfather, and they didn't have to worry how to sell them.
IK: No.
SA: I see. And how were they sold? Who killed them? Did they have to be cleaned?
IK: All you did was, they stuck 'em to kill 'em, you know—they stuck 'em with a sharp knife in the top of the head, which killed 'em instantly. And then when you stick 'em like that, it makes 'em kind of loosen up their feathers. Then you picked 'em dry. That's all you had to do, was just pick 'em, and hang 'em to cool out.
SA: Who would do that?
IK: Well, normally the ranchers themselves did it.

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SA: Well, who did it on your ranch?
IK: Oh, everybody. I remember I did it, and I remember Dad doin' it, and my mother. Oh, there was two or three of the Indians up there that used to come down and help pick.
SA: My goodness. So that was quite [a production]. And then of course you kept some for yourselves.
IK: Oh yeah.
SA: Tell me how you celebrated your Thanksgiving.
IK: Well, Thanksgiving we use to go up to Fallon to my grandparents for Thanksgiving dinner.
SA: How long did it take to get there?
IK: Well, after, oh, I'd say probably 1916, we had a car, and we'd drive it down. But even then, it'd take quite a while to get to Fallon.
SA: Did you have to get all dressed up?
IK: Oh, I should say I had to dress up! Had the whole family: my dad's sister, Mrs. Wallace, and she had three children; and Ira L.—that was Dad's brother—there was three boys and a girl in that family; and then of course they always had some friends come in. There was usually thirty to thirty-five there for Thanksgiving. I don't think I was over about, oh, maybe ten or twelve years old, they started making me carve a turkey.
SA: You're kidding!
IK: They always had two big turkeys to carve, and my cousin who was two years older than I, he had to carve one, and I had to carve the other one.
SA: Did you botch it the first time? Or did you do a pretty good job? [laughter]
IK: Well, I don't remember whether I did or not, but I got pretty good at it. But Christmas we always had at home.

42 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: Oh, tell me about that.
IK: Well, Christmas, Mom always had a Christmas tree. And of course there was just the four of us, and Christmas was always at home. We never did go anywhere for Christmas.
SA: That was nice to have your own family. Did you make gifts for each other? Did you buy gifts?
IK: Well, we didn't have very much for Christmas, to tell you the truth. [chuckles] I got a doll in there—in fact, I had two of 'em [laughter] that I can remember, and had a doll buggy. There wasn't many things that . . . .
SA: Was there music in the house? Did you sing carols?
IK: Oh yeah. Mom had a phonograph, and used to play carols and things like that.
SA: Was there any dancing?
IK: No, no, no. My mother never did dance. My dad used to like to dance, but she never did.
SA: Did he?! And she didn't?
IK: Uh-uh.
SA: Were there any musical instruments in the house?
IK: No. Well, yeah, she had a piano, but she couldn't play it. I don't know, a teacher tried to teach me piano lessons, but they didn't take. And then my sister, she had to take piano lessons. She also took violin lessons, but they didn't take very good either. [laughter]
SA: But you had fun, you enjoyed it?
IK: Oh yeah.
SA: That sounds very good. What about Fourth of July celebrations? I understand that was always a big deal.

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IK: Oh, they always had a big celebration right here at Stillwater.
SA: What'd they do? Describe it.
IK: Well, we always had a big barbecue and had horse races. Every Fourth of July they had a lot of horse races here at Stillwater.
SA: Describe—where did the horses race? Did they have a track?
IK: No, they run on the road up there. Of course they were all dirt roads. They used to run a quarter of a mile, which was right from Stillwater up a quarter, which is where the road turns to go down to Freeman Lane. That was a quarter of a mile, and that's where they used to run the races. People used to come from all over the valley down here for the Fourth of July. This was a big celebration here on the Fourth.
SA: Did they have a parade?
IK: No, no parade.
SA: Did they have fireworks?
IK: Yeah, they had fireworks.
SA: Where did the fireworks come from? Were they homemade?
IK: I couldn't tell you, I don't remember. No, I think we bought 'em, because I can remember [we] used to buy these packages, these little firecrackers. They'd come in a package about, oh, maybe two inches high and a couple inches wide, and they was all little bitty firecrackers.
SA: How did you set them off?
IK: With matches.
SA: Oh! Did anyone get hurt or burned?
IK: I don't remember. But those you could hold one in your hand and I don't think it'd hurt you. [laughter] But I can remember that. They always had a big barbecue and a picnic, you know.

44 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: About how many would be there?
IK: Oh gosh, I haven't any idea. I imagine probably three or four hundred people, probably.
SA: Wow! So instead of in Fallon, they'd come here?
IK: Oh yeah. Nina says she can remember coming down here.
SA: Oh, I'll have to ask her. That sounds like a lot of fun.
IK: See, they had that barbecue and picnic right there where I told you earlier where that big grove of trees was, where they used to drive the wagons into it.
SA: I see.
IK: I have pictures of what the street looked like in those days.
SA: Oh good, I want to look at it and see about copying it.
IK: I recall one Fourth of July, I wasn't very big, but they had a horse race and this horse that Dad had, they raced from the west side, coming back towards Stillwater, and there was a lot of cars parked right where you turned to go into the ranch there. And those times, cars were all open cars, you know. And there were a couple of Indian women sitting there in one old car. And this horse, he come down there, and he made the turn and he jumped clear over the top of the two Indians settin' in the car [laughs], and headed right straight for the barn. He was in a hurry to get home.
SA: Oh my! Did you have your own horse?
IK: Oh yes.
SA: Tell me about your own horse. When did you get your own horse?
IK: Oh, I had several of them. The earliest horse that I [remember], we called him Roanie—he was a roan-colored horse. And then I had him for quite a while. And then I had a horse that Dad had used here on the ranch. He let me have him. His name was Tommy, and I rode

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him probably, oh, last four years I was in grammar school, and probably a big part of the time I was in high school.
SA: Really? You took him with you?
IK: No, when I was here at the ranch.
SA: I see. So did you always have a horse?
IK: Oh yeah, always had a horse.
SA: Now going back to the irrigation project, you said they started to dig more ditches after the project came in. Did you have more ditches? Or were ditches built around for the project?
IK: Well, they were built around through the project, but I don't recall too much about that.
SA: Or the ditch riders?
IK: Yeah, I remember the first ditch rider we had. [laughs] He used to ride the ditch, he had a buggy—one horse and a buggy. He'd come down here to the ranch every day to check the water for us and the Freeman Ranch, see how much water we had. He was in a buggy, but I don't remember 'em building the ditches.
SA: But as you were getting up in your high teen years, after the project was finished, can you remember that there were less water problems once the project was completed, in the years when you couldn't get it before? Did it change here?
IK: I don't recall.
SA: Nothing changed on the ranch when that started?
IK: No.
SA: Didn't make it any better?
IK: Well, it made it better for a while, and then we had that drought in 1932 and 1933, and we didn't have any water, practically, for two years.

46 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: In other words, that even affected the water you had before the project, it was so bad?
IK: Oh yeah, because see, the water we had before the project all went into the Lahontan Dam.
SA: Ah, diverted it?
IK: Yeah, diverted it. See, it was the Carson River. And see, when they built Lahontan Dam, well, we lost all that water.
SA: Oh, so you weren't so happy about it here.
IK: Well, and they didn't really make that much difference to us.
SA: I see, it didn't help so much here.
IK: No. The only thing that helped us, we had water to last longer in the fall, because when we depended only on the Carson River, the middle of July, first of August, we'd be out of water. And of course that was one reason most of us went for—my parents went for—the reservoir, is because that way we'd have storage water that we could irrigate on into August and September and October.
SA: Now you said they went "into the reservoir." What does that mean?
IK: Well, they wouldn't have went along with building the reservoir, I don't think, if they hadn't been able to get water later in the year.
SA: In other words, they voted for it, or they supported it?
IK: Supported it, yeah.
SA: OK, I get it.
IK: And being as we had these vested water rights, we didn't have to
pay for anything—the construction of the dam or anything.
SA: OK, so they gave you some benefits in return?
IK: Yeah.

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SA: Now, because you could get more water in the fall, did it change the way your ranching was?
IK: Oh yeah, definitely.
SA: Describe slowly how that was changed. You mentioned sugar beets.
IK: Well, yeah, they built the sugar beet factory, we rose sugar beets, and then started growing alfalfa hay, which we couldn't before, because we were dependent on the water. And they started growing a lot of cantaloupe. My father growed cantaloupe down here at the ranch. And also, we had forty acres leased to some Japanese people from Colorado that were growing cantaloupe for the seed. They wanted the seed.
SA: Let's stay with the cantaloupes a little bit, because that's such a unique part of Churchill County, the Hearts-O-Gold. So tell me, do you remember when [tape cuts out] I want you to start at the very beginning, if you can recall, and tell us about the cantaloupes coming here, and your father was leasing land to a Japanese family.
IK: Well, my dad raised a few cantaloupe. He had, I don't remember how many acres, fifteen, twenty acres. And then getting enough help with the cantaloupe was a problem, with all the rest of the farmwork we had. Two Japanese people—I don't recall their names—were from Denver, Colorado. They came in and leased forty acres of ground from Dad to grow cantaloupe. They wanted the seed to take back into Colorado—that was the Hearts-O-Gold seed. They had big flats up there that they took the seed and dried it. The cantaloupe themselves, they threw them all onto a wagon and Dad hauled them down to feed the pigs with.
SA: Oh! They didn't even want to eat them?! Or sell them?!
IK: No. Well, the ones that were split, you know, you take the seed out. So that's all it was raised for. They raised 'em for the seed and we got the cantaloupe, and we fed the pigs with the cantaloupe.
SA: Did you ever learn how they heard about that here?
IK: No, I don't.

48 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: Probably was publicized in some agricultural bulletin?
IK: I imagine, yeah.
SA: So how long did your dad raise them on this ranch, and then what did you do with them?
IK: Well, he only raised 'em for a year or two, because getting ‘em hauled into Fallon and everything, it just was too much of a job, because it took too long a time to get 'em into Fallon.
SA: Oh, that's right, in those days it was still . . .
IK: Yeah, it was all dirt roads from here into Fallon.
SA: Ah, and they would spoil.
IK: The Japanese, they had that forty acres leased for three or four years, and raised seed. And then I remember one year that Dad put in watermelon and he had about ten acres of watermelon [chuckles], and there was no market for 'em.
SA: How come?
IK: Well, there was just no place to ship 'em. So at that time he had about six, seven hundred pigs, so he just turned the pigs into 'em. I can remember going' out there before he turned the pigs in, takin' a big knife, and you split 'em and eat the heart out of one, and if it didn't taste good, split another and eat the heart.
SA: So they weren't too sweet, not too good?
IK: Yeah, the ones that didn't taste good, we just didn't.
SA: Did they sell any watermelon in the store?
IK No.
SA: What about cantaloupe? Did they sell cantaloupe in Kent's Store?
IK: In Fallon? Oh yeah, sure. Most of them were shipped, those cantaloupe that were brought in there were all shipped out. There

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was people up on Swingle Bench, called the Swingles, and they shipped carloads of cantaloupe clear to Chicago and New York.
SA: Oh my gosh! Now, did Kent do what they did with the turkeys, buy from the people and then ship it?
IK: That's right.
SA: So people here didn't have to worry about shipping.
IK: That's right.
SA: How long did that go on?
IK: Probably when they quit was about the end of World War II.
SA: And now let's talk about the sugar beets a little bit.
IK: Well, the sugar beet factory opened the first time, and they just couldn't get enough sugar beets raised to run the factory long enough. They also had a lot of blight in the beets, and it didn't prove very successful. I think they run it two years, if I remember. And then they closed it down, and it sat there for several years, and my grandfather and Bob Douglas and E.S. Berney—I don't remember if there was anybody else—they bought the factory and got a lot of people to plant beets again. They even got beets planted over around Susanville, tryin' to get enough beets to run the factory. Well, they run it for two years, and it just wouldn't pay off. They couldn't get enough beets.
SA: Oh, to make it worthwhile.
IK: Yeah, they could only run the factory, as I remember, about thirty days, and they figured they had to have enough beets to run it for two or three months, and it just never would work, so they closed it down. Later, they sold all the machinery out of the factory and tore it down.
SA: I understand also that raising sugar beets takes a lot of hand labor.

50 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: It does, yeah. Yeah, I remember when we had sugar beets the second time, Dad had about fifty Mexicans here, workin' in the beets. We had about three hundred acres of sugar beets here.
SA: Now when was that, about?
IK: I don't remember, I was in high school.
SA: Do you know where they got the Mexican workers?
IK: It was contract labor. In other words, you contracted with somebody that furnished the Mexicans.
SA: And that didn't work out?
IK: Yeah, I was in high school. I was probably about sixteen years old.
SA: So then you started to raise the alfalfa hay with the irrigation, right?
IK: Right.
SA: So were new ditches built to take care of these new products?
IK: Yeah.
SA: But you don't remember that?
IK: I don't remember when they built all the canals, no. They probably built all the canals when they was building the dam, I would imagine.
SA: With the project then, and you were getting water now through that, except for those drought years, was there a pretty steady supply of the water?
IK: Yeah, there has been up until the last few years. The last few years—well, we've been in drought for the last six, seven years now. Well, we were in a drought for seven years, and last year we had a good year, and then this year we're back into it again. The Bureau of Reclamation is all over us for not complying with their regulations. Oh, they're makin' it so difficult it's just practically impossible to farm any more.

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SA: We'll get into all of that in depth as a separate thing, because I'm sure there's a big story there.
IK Oh yeah, a lot of it.
SA: We won't mix that up with this early period. Now, when you were getting the water, I understand they charged for the water, or were you rationed water, or was it according to how many acres? How did that work?
IK: They had what they called bottomlands and benchlands. The bottomlands, they figured that 31/2 acre feet—that's like down here, bottomlands-31/2 acre feet of water for the year, for the season. And benchlands would have been like up in the sandier soils—they got 4 ½ acre feet of water.
SA: What happened if you used more?
IK: They wouldn't let you use more. Well, in the early days, they didn't restrict you. In the early days of the project, they let people have practically all the water they wanted. But in the later years here, they held them down to what their entitlement is.
SA: Is that because you have to call and they turn it on? They control?
IK: Right.
SA: Are you rationed according to how much land you have?
IK: Oh yes, so many acre feet of water per acre.
SA: And then you pay more?
IK: Well, you pay for every acre foot of water you get.
SA: So through that period, what about trees? Did your father plant orchards and trees to give shade on the ranch?
IK: Well, he had two orchards. I can't remember him plantin' trees, because the cottonwoods were all down through here. But we had two orchards.

52 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: What kind of fruit?
IK: Mostly apple.
SA: What did you do with the apples?
IK: Oh, they used to can 'em and dried 'em.
SA: Make apple pies?
IK: Yeah, make apple pies and applesauce. They had a garden, and the corn, they used to cut it off the cob and dry it for use in the wintertime.
SA: They grew corn?
IK: Oh yes.
SA: Did you grow corn also to feed the hogs and feed the animals?
IK: No, we didn't then—just eatin' corn. And they always had a berry patch, raspberries and gooseberries.
SA: Oh, that sounds good!
IK: I used to help pick them. I used to hate to pick them gooseberries, because they're always sticky. [laughs]
SA: Oh, and the pricky things?
IK: Yeah.
SA: Oh my. So now, let's take you into high school. When did you move into Fallon to go to school?
IK: First year, when I was a freshman, there were people up here by the name of Garth Patterson that lived just about a quarter of a mile from where we lived. We sold 'em that place that they had. We sold it to Mrs. Patterson, and Garth was one of the sons, and he was a senior in high school when I was a freshman. And he was driving back and forth to school. So Dad arranged with him to take me in to school.

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So my freshman year I rode back and forth with Garth Patterson to school.
SA: How long did it take?
IK: Oh, it took prit near an hour to go in and an hour to come back. But then the second year, he had graduated from high school, so Mom and Dad rented a house in Fallon and Mom and my sister and I stayed in Fallon, there in school, and Ethel went to grammar school in Fallon, and I went to high school. And then on weekends, we'd come home.
SA: When you first started high school, riding with your friend, and going into Fallon to school, how did it feel? How many kids were in the class? It was a pretty big school, compared to here, wasn't it?
IK: Oh yeah. Yeah, it was pretty good-sized. Well, you're kinda lost—particularly the first year, or the first few months. But then there was lots of other—well, they were practically all ranch kids that was goin' to school. There was no buses in those days here.
SA: No buses yet?
IK: Oh no, everybody had to find their own way to get to school. After you become acquainted with people, you made friends, and it was just the same as any other school.
SA: OK, the first year you were driving with your friend, so you were coming back home. But could you and your friend stay to participate in any school activities and drive home a little later?
IK: Yeah, he was playin' football, and I used to go out and watch him.
SA: Did you get into sports?
IK: Yeah, I was in track, but that was in the spring of the year. And so he was in track too. He was throwing the discus and shot put, so I went out for track.
SA: So in the football, you would just watch? You didn't mind that?
IK: Oh no.

54 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: And were there changes in Fallon you could observe when you were first commuting that one year?
IK: Oh, I wouldn't say a great deal, no.
SA: Now then you go and you move in. Where did you move and what was the house like? It was rented?
IK: Yeah, it was a rented house.
SA: Did furniture come with it?
IK: Yeah, it did. The house belonged to a barber there in Fallon. He and his wife owned the house they lived in and the house next to it. We just rented it for the school year.
SA: How did you feel about that? Did you miss the ranch?
IK: Oh yeah, at first. Of course I had cousins there in Fallon.
SA: And friends by then, your second year.
IK: Yeah, and friends too. And then the second year, my junior year when we moved in, it was in a different house.
SA: You moved?
IK: Back into Fallon the second year.
SA: I see, went home for the summer, and then . . . .
IK: Yeah, but we kept the same house rented for the next three years.
SA: How did your dad feel about you all being away? He was too busy to wonder?
IK: Well, I don't know, he never said too much.
SA: And he had a cook there, so he wasn't missing anything.
IK: Yeah. But we came home every weekend. Mom had a car, and we'd drive.

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SA: She drove?
IK: Yeah. We'd drive home on Friday after school.
SA: And go back Sunday night?
IK: Sunday night, yeah.
SA: Were there more amenities in the house in Fallon? Was your house kept pretty up-to-date on the ranch?
IK: Oh yeah, it was kept up. And the second house that we had, Mom had her own furniture in there. There were two bedrooms, and Mom and Ethel was in one bedroom and I was in the other.
SA: Did you have electricity by then?
IK: Oh yeah, sure. In fact, we got electricity down here at the ranch, it was probably about 1922, 1923, along in there, when we got electricity down here.
SA: And wasn't it earlier in Fallon, because of the Lahontan Dam generation plant?
IK: Yeah, they was generatin' electricity.
SA: So they got it earlier.
IK: Yeah.
SA: And you had inside plumbing and everything?
IK: Yeah.
SA: What did the kids do for fun? What did a teenage boy do for fun in high school?
IK: Well, there wasn't a great deal to do at that time. I went out for football the second year. Of course I never made the team, I was always too little. But I went out for it every year, though. And I was on track team every year. I used to like to go to dances and they used to have quite a few high school dances in those days.

56 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: And you learned to dance and liked it?
IK: Oh, yeah, certainly. And they were very, very strict. When you danced with a girl, you didn't get close to her, you held her away. And if you got too close, you got called, too! In fact, you couldn't walk down the hall in high school and take hold of a girl's arm or anything. You'd get kicked out of school for three days!
SA: We need to bring him around again. [laughs]
IK: I'll say, we had a really tough principal. Oh, he was really rough.
SA: How were you doing in your subjects?
IK: I did pretty good. I probably averaged about a "B" grade.
SA: What subjects did you like the best and what did you like the least?
IK: I liked English the least [laughs], and I liked mathematics the best.
SA: Did you take after your mother?
IK: I guess so.
SA: She was good in math.
IK: In fact, after I went on to college, mathematics was always easy for me.
SA: Oh, so that you inherited that part from her.
IK: I suppose. It has been easy for me. And I took two years of Spanish. I liked Spanish.
SA: Oh, you liked the language?
IK: Well, we had the Mexicans here at the time with the sugar beets.
SA: Oh, so you were the one to communicate with them?

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IK: Well, we had the guy that was over 'em all—he spoke English, he was the only one. But I used to like to go down there to the bunk house where they all were, and try to talk to 'em.
SA: Oh, great!
IK: And our Spanish teacher was Spanish, and I learned a lot from her. She was really patient with me. She was probably one of my favorite teachers of all the teachers I had in high school.
SA: Oh, how nice. Did the population change while you were in high school, or was it staying pretty much the same?
IK: You mean here at Stillwater?
SA: No, at Fallon, in high school.
IK: Oh, it was growin'. Our class, when we graduated in 1928, there was forty-eight students graduate. It had grown, oh, quite a bit in the four-year period.
SA: So for three years you spent the school terms living in Fallon.
IK: Right.
SA: What else can you tell me during those years to add to the knowledge of what it was like in Fallon and any effects from the year-long water when it wasn't a drought?
IK: Well, the three years that I went to school up there, my grandfather insisted that I come to work at the store.
SA: Oh, OK, I want to hear about that.
IK: After school, we'd get out at 3:20, and I'd be down at the store at 3:30. I worked in the hardware from 3:30 until 6:00. He closed at 6:00.
SA: Oh my, so grandfather was a disciplinarian.
IK: Yeah. And some Saturdays that they were pretty busy, he'd ask me to stay in town and I'd work on a Saturday.

58 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: So now I want to hear about that in detail. By then you were how old?
IK: Fifteen.
SA: First I want you to describe the inside of the store. Tell me what was in that store beside the hardware.
IK: Well, on the south side of the store was one department. It was all groceries, and you could charge your groceries in there. In fact, everybody charged their groceries, and they delivered 'em at that time.
SA: How many worked in the store?
IK: On that side there was probably six or seven men.
SA: Wow! All men?
IK: And women. They had a candy counter—just one girl worked there, and it was probably, oh, forty feet long, all kinds of different candies.
SA: Really?! Were you allowed to take any?
IK: All you wanted to eat, but you didn't eat very much—you got all you wanted! [laughter]
SA: I didn't know that—so they had all this candy.
IK: Yeah. And then in the back part of that, they had a meat department where they sold meat. And then they had a cashier's desk between it and the hardware. And they had overhead what do you call them… tubes to send the money.
SA: Oh, where it looks like pipes. Is that right?! That big a store?!
IK: Yeah. Then in the center was the hardware. And then on the north side was what they called the "cash and carry." They didn't charge anything at all—everything was cash and carry.
SA: Oh, they just set the place where you could just pay and take it.

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IK: In other words, you went in there and the prices were probably five percent cheaper.
SA: Oh, how interesting! I'd never heard that.
IK: Then on the other side, where they let people charge. And then in addition to the store, across the street they had a big warehouse where they had all kind of farm machinery and things like that.
SA: Oh my gosh, they sold that too?!
IK: Yeah. And then down on the northern part of town, they had the lumber yard and a feed yard where they sold mixed chicken feeds and seed.
SA: Now how far from the store was that area?
IK: It would be four blocks. It was right on the railroad track.
SA: So how many people worked for your grandfather?
IK: Oh, there was about a hundred and twenty.
SA: Wow, that was a big operation for those days.
IK: And they had an alfalfa mill where they ground alfalfa meal. In fact, they had two of 'em at one time there.
SA: Oh my. And you took care of hardware?
IK: Well, I just worked in there during my high school years.
SA: Working at the counter?
IK: Yeah.
SA: And so he taught you?
IK: Yeah. Later years, I ran the lumber yard after I got out of college. In fact, I was their head bookkeeper there for number of years too.

60 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: We'll get to that whole story. Now, back to the store when you were in high school. Did you observe the kind of people who came in and what they were using the hardware for?
IK: Most of 'em were farmers. There wasn't too many people livin' in Fallon at that time. I don't know how many there was, seven, eight hundred people probably is all. It was mostly farmers, because, see, there was all these 40 and 80 acres, maybe some 160 acre places—very few big places. There was only four or five big places in the valley, and there's still only four or five big places. But they'd come in, all kinds of hardware they'd want, you know. You learn quite a bit about the hardware part of it, and you also learn quite a little bit about the machinery. We sold some machinery parts right there at the hardware store.
SA: Did your grandfather pay you?
IK: Yeah, I got twenty-five cents an hour. [laughter]
SA: Were you allowed to save that, in your own account?
IK: Oh yeah.
SA: I mean, you didn't have to turn it over to your folks?
IK: Oh no.
SA: You could have that, so that gave you an incentive.
IK: Yeah. On Saturdays I worked ten hours, and I got two-and-a-half [$2.50]. There was a lot of money in those times!
SA: Did you resent it, or did you just accept it? Did you like it? How did you feel about it?
IK: You mean workin' in the store?
SA: Yeah.
IK: I liked it.
SA: It suited you?

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IK: In fact, I remember in the summertime I never worked in there—I always worked here at the ranch. In fact, I stayed mostly out in the mountains with the cattle and the sheep.
SA: Oh, in the summers when you were out of school?
IK: Yeah.
SA: So you were busy.
IK: I remember one summer, one of the hardware clerks was going on a vacation, and another one got hurt, and they only had one clerk left there—they had three clerks normally. And I was out at the mountains, and Dad sent somebody out to get me, because they only had one clerk in there, and it was so busy.
SA: Oh, and they needed you!
IK: So I came in and helped 'em for about two weeks, stayed with my grandpa and grandma until the help got back.
SA: Is this still while you were in high school—fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen?
IK: Yeah.
SA: More kids today should do that, right?
IK: Yeah.
SA: You said you spent summers. Is that the first time you spent whole summers at the camps? Before you used to supply the camps.
IK: Yeah, well, that was later. That was after I was out of high school.
SA: OK, so tell me about the summers in high school, going to these . . . .
IK: Well, I used to go out there . . . .
SA: Where's "there"?

62 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Well, it's out here in these mountains.
SA: How far from this ranch?
IK: It's eighteen miles. And we went horseback out.
SA: Now who's "we"?
IK: The buckaroo and myself.
SA: Oh, that's when you went with a buckaroo.
IK: Yeah, his name was Dave Sanford. Dad would send me out there with him, and we'd take pack horses and take some barley for the horses and groceries to eat.
SA: And what was out there? What were you going to do?
IK: Just a cabin. Well, we packed salt around for the cattle.
SA: So this was still range land before the military took it over.
IK: Yeah, right. And [we] moved cattle around, and one thing and another, like that.
SA: Where did you sleep?
IK: We slept there in the cabin.
SA: Did you like that?
IK: Oh, it didn't bother me until one episode we had. Dave and I always slept together, we had a bunk bed there.
SA: Did you like him? Did you both get along?
IK: Oh yeah, real good.
SA: How old was he?
IK: Oh, he was probably fifty-five, sixty years old.

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SA: Oh, he could be almost your grandpa!
IK: Yeah. And he would lower the boom on me if I got to playin' around too much. But I remember one night—we had a dirt floor in the cabin, and we'd go to bed at night—I always slept next to the wall, and he slept on the outside. And we'd climb into bed—you never throw the covers back, just climb in. And this night I went to go to bed, and for some reason, I never knew why, I threw the covers back, and there was a rattlesnake in the bed.
SA: Oh my gosh!
IK: I hollered! [laughter] Dave picked up something—I don't remember what it was—to hit the rattlesnake, and he crawled down between the bed and the wall, and he had a hole, a gopher hole down there, and he crawled down the hole. So we stayed up all night, boiling water and pouring down that hole. [laughter] Boy, after that, we sure was awful careful. But of course there's quite a lot of rattlesnakes out there. In fact, prit near every day or two, we'd kill a rattlesnake.
SA: Is that right? Was anyone ever bit by one?
IK: No. I had one or two strike at me—in fact, I had one strike at me one day, and struck right between my legs. It was pretty scary. Another time when I was out there in the summer, I was ridin' along ahead of Dave and it was real early in the morning, and there was a big rock there, and the horses always stepped over that rock—it was in the trail. And the horse started to step over that, and there was a rattlesnake on it, and he made a big jump and threw me off. I'd heard the rattlesnake rattle, and boy, I was really crawling', trying to get out of the way.
SA: Oh my! Now this is almost ending, but you also went to sheep camp, you said, in the summer. Or is this the same, sheep or cow?
IK: Yeah, sheep or cow.
SA: And you'd go how many summers?
IK: I did it for three summers.
SA: For three summers, until you were out of high school?

64 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Yeah.
SA: You mentioned to me something about wild horses or mustangs. Tell me about that.
IK: We probably had, I would estimate between 1,000-1,200 wild horses on our ranch. In 1928, they were so thick that they were eatin' up all the feed. We had to bring the cows home early, and we brought 'em home about the first of July, because the grass was gone. So Dad said, "Well, we can't put up with this any longer." At that time you went to the sheriff, and you put up a bond that if you killed somebody's horse, you'd pay for their horse if you shot somebody else's horse. So Dad bought me a brand new rifle, a 253 thousand and a case of shells.
SA: How old were you now?
IK: I was seventeen years old. And he said, "You and Dave go out there"—Dave was a buckaroo—"I want you to kill as many of them horses as you can." In thirty days we shot six hundred horses. In later years, we kept after 'em.
SA: What did you do with 'em? What happened to 'em?
IK: Well, at first, we were gonna skin 'em. (laughs] A hide was worth about three dollars. So that didn't pay, because it took us too long to skin 'em, and on a steep hillside, you get 'em half skinned, and they'd roll away from you. So then we started to takin' the manes and the tails, roaching them for the hair. The hair on the mane would bring $1.75 a pound, and the tail hair was $1.25 a pound, which would bring about $3.00 for the hair off of a horse. Actually, we made good money, because we were shootin' twenty to twenty-five horses a day.
SA: Oh my. And the manes, who bought these? Where did you sell them?
IK: There was a guy by the name of Jim Law that had a store there in Fallon. He used to buy all that horse hair from us. Of course the horse hair in those days was used in men's lapels, on their suits, and in the seats of cars—it was all horse hair, in with the springs. So that was your market for the hair. We just had to eliminate those horses.

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SA: Well, how did you do that?
IK: By shooting' em all.
SA: I know, but how did you get rid of the carcasses?
IK: Oh, we just left 'em.
SA: And then predators would come?
IK: Yeah, predators ate 'em. And all the horses we shot, we shot in a two-year period there, about nine hundred horses, and there was only one branded horse that we ever shot. And the man that the horse belonged to lived down in Dixie Valley. So Dad told him that I'd shot his horse, and he said, "Oh, I lost that horse about five, six years ago. He got with a bunch of mustangs. He was no good anyway. You don't need to pay me for him." [laughter]
SA: So you only had to pay if they were branded?
IK: Yeah. Otherwise, they was just wild horses. And that was the reason he took out that bond, with the county.
SA: He was being honest.
IK: In case you killed somebody's horses, then you was under a bond to pay for 'em.
SA: Was this a whole summer that it took to do this?
IK: Thirty days.
SA: Oh my gosh!
IK: You have no idea. The day that we rode into camp, started shootin' those wild horses, sittin' right at the cabin door, we counted over three hundred horses in one canyon. There was just horses everywhere. People just don't realize what it was. In fact, they just beat the country out. In fact, it took quite a few years for the country to come back, because those horses had beat it out so bad, bein' in there twelve months of the year.

66 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: Yeah, they were really wild.
IK: Oh yeah, and then they'd eat the feed down bad, and then they'd start pawin' it, and even pawed it out by the roots.
SA: Oh my! So you did a favor for a whole bunch of people.
IK: Well, we figured we did. Of course a lot of people nowadays would say, "No, no." But they don't know what the conditions were.
SA: That's right. I mean, when you don't know, you just look at a horse and think it's a horse.
IK: And we protected the range, too, by doing so. If we hadn't have done it, they would have probably eaten up ail the brush, they were so thick. People just don't realize how . . . .
SA: Is that the only time you had to do that? Did that clean out the bulk of them?
IK: Yeah, and we got 'em down to numbers where . . . . We like a few horses, you know, because they keep trails open, and you like to see 'em. But when you get numbers like that . . . .
SA: Yes, it's like other animals that they have to take to an island or do something.
IK: Yeah. In fact, there was no deer in that country at all. The horses were so thick that they ate up all the feed and there was no deer. I was sixteen years old before I ever saw a deer in the Stillwater Mountains.
SA: Is that right?!
IK: Yeah, and today we've got probably 400-500 deer out there, and we also have antelope. But the horses were so thick that they had just taken all the vegetation.
SA: Well, what I want to do now, Mr. Kent, is to just review what we're going to do in the second interview, because we're going to have another session in June. I want to look at photographs and take some photographs of you around your ranch. We'll be covering next

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time, many things, including more details on your very active life in the hunting and fishing. You've won a lot of awards, you've been very active in many things that we're going to cover. I will also ask you about this wildlife viewing area, and CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps]. So what we're going to do today, I want to thank you for this first session—but it's just a first session. You have so much to tell us from your varied lifetime here. It's been a great pleasure. So we'll end it now, and we'll leave the tape just where it is for June, and we're going to shut it off and set a date.
IK: Thank you.
This is Sylvia Arden, interviewer for the Churchill County Oral History Project. The date is now June 6, 1994, and this is the second session of an interview with Ira Hamlin Kent.
ARDEN: Good morning, Hammy—I think I can call you Hammy now. I'm glad to be back for a second session with you. I thank you for allowing me to come again. I want to start this second session with your years after high school. First of all, tell me about graduation, and then what you did after you left high school.
KENT: I graduated from high school in 1928. As I recall, there were forty-eight of us graduated from high school that year. During the
summer, I enrolled in Armstrong College, located in Berkeley, California. They had a four-year course that you could do this whole thing in three years. In other words, we went by quarters. So I entered in September of 1928, and went straight through for three years, and graduated in 1931. While I was enrolled in the college, I joined the Sphinx fraternity and was president of it for two years while I was in college. I graduated from college with a degree in business management and I had a minor in accounting.
SA: It showed you had leadership qualities early. A couple of questions: How did you learn about the college? And was anyone else from Fallon or this area, that you knew, there?
IK: I really didn't want to go to the University of Nevada—for some reason I wanted to go to a business college. Ellen Mills, who worked for the l.H. Kent Company, had graduated from the Armstrong

68 Ira Hamlin Kent
College a couple of years before that, and she recommended it very highly. We wrote quite a few letters to different people who had graduated, and everyone recommended it exceptionally high.
SA: That sounds like a very wise move. Did you come home summers?
IK: We just had two weeks vacation at Christmastime, and also between the spring break and the summer break. That was the only vacation we had for the whole year.
SA: Did you live on campus?
IK: No, I lived in a fraternity house.
SA: How did it feel for a young man from kind of a rural area, going to a college and living in a fraternity house? How did you take to that? How was it at first?
IK: Well, at first I was kind of lonesome [chuckles) it being the first time I'd really been away from home, outside of going out to the mountains a lot. I seemed to adapt to it real quick, because there were a lot of my other fraternity brothers that were there were from rural California, and we had a lot of things in common. There was also a boy there from Yerington, so there was a lot of things in common that we had, which made it a lot easier.
SA: Did you make friends that stayed friends with you?
IK: Yes. I had fraternity friends . . . . In fact, one of 'em was here to see us only about two years ago. He's about my age, and he lives down at Live Oaks, which is down by Marysville. Then there were others that we used to visit with, up until we all started gettin' older and we've kind of lost track of one another, or we've all passed away—I don't know which.
SA: Now, when you went to take this business course, did you have in mind the Kent Store?
IK: No, not necessarily. I felt that anyone that's going to be in any kind of business, even in the ranching business, should have a good knowledge of business administration, and it certainly has helped me through the years—particularly the accounting part of it.

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SA: It sounds like you were a very practical young man at a very young age.
IK: Well, [chuckles] I probably was. I don't know. You did those things a lot on impulse. When I was going to high school, I thought I wanted to be an engineer. By the time I got out of high school, l'd lost all sense of trying to become an engineer. It just didn't interest me that much.
SA: When you were finishing your college, then what did you do?
IK: When I finished college, I wanted to go to work for a while in some kind of a business to further my experience. So I first went to the Fallon Bank and applied for a job. As I recall, I think they were paying sixty dollars a month for tellers at that time. My grandfather, who was the main owner of the l.H. Kent Company told me I'd better come and work for him. So I went to work for them, as I recall, the first of April.
SA: What year?
IK: In 1931, and as a bookkeeper. I worked there for the I.H. Kent Company up through 1942.
SA: That was through the Depression, part of that time?
IK: Yes. In 1932, all the banks in Nevada went broke, except one bank, the First National in Reno. I think there was another bank out in Ely that didn't go broke. But it was really a catastrophe to the whole valley here. There was no banking facilities, and so the I.H. Kent Company more or less took on the job of banking facilities for the valley here. The only money that the farmers were receiving was money from their cream checks. The creamery here was still in operation here at Fallon, and the sale of eggs and produce to the I.H. Kent Company, and their alfalfa hay and grain was all
purchased by the Kent Company. We cashed all the checks for the people. Some of them would have some checks or money coming from other sources, and we acted more or less as the bankers until such time as the First National Bank put an office in Fallon.
SA: Were you the one in charge? As an accountant, were you the one handling all that?

70 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Yes, I was in charge.
SA: So you had a major role there.
IK: I certainly did.
SA: Let's start when you first started with them. That was in 1931?
IK: Right.
SA: Tell me the scope of the store at that time.
IK: Well, we had the alfalfa mill, which was located down on the railroad tracks. We had a portable mill, and then also a mill there that was a stationary mill.
SA: What does it mean by "portable mill"?
IK: Well, it could be moved. In other words, we could move it out into the country. It had originally been down here at Stillwater, but it had been taken back into Fallon and set up again.
SA: In other words, if ranchers wanted to cut their hay and bring it to you, they could use your mill?
IK: We bought all the alfalfa hay from the ranchers.
SA: I see, before anything was done with it.
IK: Yes, it was all cut and put into a stack. All the hay was stacked loose in those days. We purchased the hay from out of the stack. We had someone haul it by hay wagons and teams to the alfalfa mill, where we ground it, and the hay was then sold . . . . Well, back up a little bit. When it was ground, we sacked it in hundred-pound sacks. It was loaded in railroad cars and shipped to different places: California, Texas, and some was even shipped to England, Sweden, and Norway. [Those] are some of the places I recall it was being shipped. We shipped normally one car every day, a fifty-ton car. So we were moving a lot of hay out of here at that time, when you consider that it was all hauled in there by teams and hay wagons.

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SA: Now, let me ask you this: Let's go back a little bit, because this is kind of an amazing story, because people think of the Kent Store just as a store where you can buy a few things. It was much more than that. Who was the person or persons who made all of these contacts of where to sell the hay, especially abroad? Who did this?
IK: Primarily, my uncle did—lra L. Kent. He made contacts with people in San Francisco. And from there, we built up a trade and our name became known around the country as producers of high-quality alfalfa meal, which was used in chicken and turkey feeds, cattle feeds, and et cetera.
SA: Did you also advertise in newspapers or farmers' magazines?
IK: Not that I can remember.
SA: Is there anywhere evidence in paper of some of the
correspondence, some of the business papers or things to show this? This is such wonderful archival, historical material, for such an unusual business out of early Fallon. Where would that be?
IK: Well, it possibly could be in some of the old papers of the Fallon Eagle or the Fallon Standard. There would probably be stories about us shippin' this alfalfa meal overseas.
SA: Uh-huh, but I don't mean just the newspaper. Were there business records, shipping records?
IK: I don't know if there's any left or not. You might contact Robert Kent, who had all the papers that were left there at the l.H. Kent Company. He may still have some of the information on 'em, but I would have my doubts that there's any of it left.
SA: I guess when you're doing something, you don't know it's going to be historically important.
IK: No, that's right.
SA: How many people were working for the Kent Company in those early years of the thirties when you were there?

72 lra Hamlin Kent
IK: Well, in addition to the alfalfa mill, we had the lumber yard and a feed mill where we sold feed for chickens, turkeys, and calf feeds, and et cetera. Also, we carried cement and seeds of all kinds. In addition to that, we had the grocery store where we had a cash and carry on the grocery side, which I think I mentioned previously, and the charge account. Then we also had a hardware within the same building. And then we had the equipment dealership for John Deere equipment. We also had a shop over in what used to be the Wallace Building, where we did some repair work on cars and trucks.
SA: So tell me how many people, in different divisions, were working? You probably employed most of the people in Fallon.
IK: Well, at that time we were probably employing a hundred and fifty people, yes.
SA: You were really important to the economy of Fallon!
IK: That's right.
SA: What was the population here, of the town, about, in 1931?
IK: I would imagine it was probably about 1,000-1,200 people. I couldn't say for sure.
SA: Did people come from all over to buy from you, from all over parts of Nevada that didn't have a place like that?
IK: Oh yes, we did a lot of business down in Hawthorne, and on down into Mina. We shipped food and building materials clear down into Tonopah, Round Mountain, Manhattan, Austin, Eureka. And at that time we were shipping a lot of cantaloupe—a lot of cantaloupe were raised here in the valley, and we were shippin' them all around the state. And in the fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas, we handled probably 50 percent of the turkeys that were grown here, and they were shipped to San Francisco and also around to different towns within the state of Nevada.
SA: I read in some things I was reading about the early days of the store, where they had pumpkin pies and coffee that they were serving?
IK: Oh yeah, we did that.

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SA: Was that while you were there?
IK: Yes, that was during Thanksgiving time.
SA: Tell me about that.
IK: Well, it was just kind of a, I suppose you'd call it an advertisement to get people to come in—free pumpkin pie and coffee.
SA: That sounds good!
IK: Yeah, it brought a lot of people in to do shoppin' and so forth.
SA: Was yours the main place where people shopped? Was there much competition then?
IK: ln 1931 I can't remember if Safeway was in Fallon or not. Skaggs was in Fallon, and then there was the Fallon Mercantile Company. As far as the meat part, Fallon Slaughter and Supply Company, which was located right across the street from the Kent Company.
SA: At that time, were many of the families that had come into this
region, families that had come in during that homesteading period, through the mid-twenties, where a lot of the new ranches started and a lot of new people coming in? Before that period?
IK: Well, I think the Kent Company probably financed prit near every homesteader that came in here, in one way or another, because we gave an awful lot of credit and we were probably the only operation that could give credit to the extent that we did, because we could take their alfalfa hay and put it through the mill. We could use their grain and grind it, and we bought their turkeys, we bought their cantaloupe, we bought their eggs. So we could take prit near anything they could raise. And so consequently we could extend a lot of credit, and these early-timers, I think if it hadn't been for the Kent Company, 90 percent of them would have never made it.
SA: That's what it sounds like. That's very important. Were there many that couldn't make it, either because of the soil or their own limitations? Do you know of some where maybe they couldn't raise enough of the things that you wanted, or . . .

74 lra Hamlin Kent
IK: I think everybody was gettin' along pretty good up until the Depression hit us in 1932. When the banks went broke, lots of 'em had mortgages on their places. California Bank of America had a lot of mortgages on places here in the Fallon area. The Fallon National Bank, which went broke, that was a Wingfield chain of banks. There was a lot of 'em went broke during 1932, 1933, because they couldn't pay off those loans, and they were foreclosed on.
SA: I see, so they lost.
IK: And they lost everything.
SA: Oh, how sad.
IK: Yes.
SA: And then did others come along and buy the property? lt was probably pretty cheap then.
IK: Oh, for the next two or three years, there was not a great deal of farm property moving, because people just didn't have the money and they were scared of the economy. It was probably in 1935 or along in there, 1935-1936, these properties that had been taken over by various institutions commenced to be moved again. But they were really sold at depressed prices. For example, I purchased two hundred thirty acres with a vested water right on, from the California Lands, for seven hundred dollars, which was practically nothin', but still was a lot of money in those days.
SA: Still, you had it, and no one else did.
IK: And some of these places that had . . . . Oh, they were real going places purchased for, oh, l'd say eight, ten, twelve thousand dollars, where if it hadn't been for the Depression, they'd been worth three times that amount.
SA: So did a lot of people leave the area then, the ones who lost?
IK: Right.
SA: How did it affect the Kent Store, the Depression years?

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IK: Well, we immediately opened up a bank account in San Francisco with the American Trust Company. We were in real good financial shape at the time, so we weathered the Depression real good. lt was tough goin' for a few years, because we were carrying so many people on the books. But we survived, and I think it was mostly through the alfalfa mill where we could move the products out of the valley—it saved us all.
SA: Uh-huh, and brought money into the town.
IK: Yeah, brought money into the economy.
SA: Where were you living during this time period?
IK: After I graduated from college, I lived with my grandfather and
grandmother, up until the time Nina and I were married.
SA: Where were they living at that time?
IK: They lived right there in Fallon, just about a block away from the store.
SA: Is that house still there?
IK: No, it was sold and moved out. Some people down in Old River District have it.
SA: I see, in other words, the whole house was moved?
IK: Yeah, the whole house was moved,
SA: So you lived right close to the store, which made it convenient. I bet you worked long, long hours.
IK: Yeah, we went to work at seven o'clock in the morning and worked 'til six. That was supposed to be closing hours. Of course, being the bookkeeper, I hardly ever got out before seven, because we had to close the day's work up every night before we left.
SA: No such thing as a forty-hour week!
IK: No. [laughter] There was lots of seventy-two hour weeks.

76 lra Hamlin Kent
SA: Oh my. Did you get a lot of satisfaction from your job? Were you satisfied working there?
IK: Yes. Yes, I was. I really learned a lot, an awful lot. My grandfather was quite a businessman, and a sharp businessman—also, my uncle was. I certainly benefitted from working under the two of them. lt was probably the best experience l've ever had in my life.
SA: Oh my. Now you said you were working under your uncle and your grandfather. I want to know more about your grandfather in that period when you worked with him, because then you would really get to know him, looking at him not just as a grandfather, but as a businessman.
IK: "I.H." as everyone knew him, was really a shrewd man. He was very, very outspoken. I've heard him stand and cuss somebody up one side and down the other, and then turn around and pat 'em on the back. He was a very strong politician. He was a Democrat, and I've heard him sit there and pick up the telephone and call Key Pittman on the telephone, who was a Nevada senator, and just give him holy Hell about something, and he wouldn't back up. I mean, what he thought, he said, and he never backed up an inch.
SA: How old was he at this time when you started working there with him?
IK: He was about seventy-two, seventy-three years old.
SA: Youthful, energetic man?
IK: Oh yes. He was over there every day to the store. Of course his son, Ira L., was also in the office there and took care of the credit and so forth. And I.H.'s son-in-law, M.H. Walsh, was the head of the groceries and hardware, and he was a really sharp businessman and knew merchandise real well.
SA: Was your grandfather the head of all of this? Was he the one who oversaw?
IK: Yes, he was, until, oh, the last few years of his life. He would come over and have his two bits to say every day, and then go home. But lra L., my uncle, took over active management of it probably, oh, l'd

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say probably around 1936, 1937, he really started takin' over the active management of the whole operation,
SA: And did he fill the shoes of his father?
IK: Yes, he certainly did. He was very sharp and really knew the business from one end to the other.
SA: Now where was your dad during this period?
IK: My father was running the ranch out here at Stillwater.
SA: OK, he was the rancher. He spent all his time on the ranch?
IK: He was the rancher, right.
SA: OK, you said you lived in that house until you met your wife. When did you meet her and when did you marry?
IK: Well, Nina's brother worked for us there in the Kent Company, and she came into the store to meet her brother to go home. She was working over at J.C. Penney's, and she come into the store to ride home with him. That's when I first really knew Nina. We went together for about two years before we were married, and we were married in October of 1935.
SA: And where did you make your home after your marriage?
IK: Just prior before I got married, I bought a house down on Churchill Street in Fallon. As I recall, I think I paid eighteen hundred dollars for the house, and it was a one-bedroom home. The house is still there, and it was a really well-constructed house, all hardwood floors. The house had no furniture in it, and we had a couple of boxes that we used to put our things in until we could buy some furniture.
SA: So you weren't making a fortune at the Kent Store. [chuckles]
IK: No, I was making a hundred and twenty-five dollars a month. That was after five years of working there.
SA: Oh my! [chuckles] Now, how long did you stay at the store?

78 lra Hamlin Kent
IK: I continued working there. ln 1939, Leo Pinger, who was the manager of the lumber yard, had a heart attack and passed away, and so Ira, my uncle, asked me if I would go down and run the lumber yard. I, of course, had a little experience with lumber operations through all the accounting work that I had been doing, and so I moved down there and took over the active operation of the lumber yard and the warehouse, which was also located there at the lumber yard. And then the war came along and-
SA: Let’s back up to the lumber yard. Was there a lot of construction going on? Tell me about that business.
IK: This was just before the war started, and so there was a lot of contracts going on around these different government agencies—particularly down in Hawthorne, there was construction work starting. And a lot of the mines were still going yet, and we were furnishing materials to mines all around the state.
SA: Did you ship it yourself? Did you have your own trucks?
IK: Yeah, we had our own trucks, and we hauled the lumber directly to the jobs. And then as the war started heatin' up, there was more and more contracts in Hawthorne.
SA: What was going on in Hawthorne?
IK: That was the naval ammunition depot.
SA: Oh was it?! OK. When was that established there?
IK: I don't know. I think it was established in the twenties—l'm not sure of the date. But the ammunition depot at Hawthorne, you see, was the largest ammunition depot, I think, at that time in the United States.
SA: Oh, that's new information.
IK: So there was a lot of construction work going on there. The government had practically froze all building as far as home buildings, because the lumber was needed for defense purposes. So I had a contract with one of the lumber mills in California to use all their surplus lumber. What I mean surplus, there was a box

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manufacturing business, and what they didn't use for their box manufacturing, I could use for defense purposes. So the end of each month, they would send me an inventory of what lumber that I would have available for sale for defense purposes. And it normally run about four million board feet of lumber a month.
SA: Now, did they then bring it here?
IK: No.
SA: You sold it from their place?
IK: Yes. Everything, you had to have a . . . oh, a priority, I guess you'd call it. I can't remember the exact name for it now, before you could even purchase the lumber. ln other words, it had to go to defense purposes.
SA: I see. Did you need a government form for that?
IK: Yes. And so this four million board feet of lumber that was made available to me, I sold primarily to contractors who were working on the Navy base in Hawthorne. Even sold some lumber down to Las Vegas that went into the Nellis Air Force Base, which was being constructed. Lumber also went out to Gabbs where that big mill was being put in. And even sent some lumber over to Susanville to the construction of the new ammunition depot at Herlong, California. So most of the mines in the state had to be closed down because they could not qualify to get lumber, and so consequently they just had to shut down—outside of the copper mine at McGill and Ely. They continued operation.
SA: The government needed the copper?
IK: Needed the copper, right. Otherwise, it was pretty "closed case" as far as the sale of lumber for home construction—it was just out.
SA: It sounds like you were handling all of this without touching the lumber?
IK: Yes.
SA: Was it all through paperwork and contracts?

80 lra Hamlin Kent
IK: Paperwork. Well, we were probably getting anywhere from five to six train carloads of lumber into the lumber yard every day, where we would unload 'em and put 'em onto trucks to go on to Hawthorne.
SA: OK, I see, they would come to Fallon, and then you would direct them to other places.
IK: Yeah. And of course some we shipped direct, right from the mill, like down to Las Vegas. lt was shipped by rail directly to Las Vegas.
SA: So you had to handle many details.
IK: Oh yes, yes. At that time I had around forty employees right there in the lumber yard. And today, I don't know how many they have, but nothing comparing to that.
SA: ls it still going on?
IK: The lumber yard is still in operation.
SA: Oh, we'll talk about that. The lumber yard, but not the store?
IK: No, the store has been closed.
SA: What does exist? The lumber yard. Anything else?
IK: Just the lumber yard is all.
SA: Were you always able to get help—especially in the busier days—from this region? Or did you have to look to other places to get some of your help?
IK: No, we got help. lt was all local. A lot of the people were farmin' and they'd come in and work for a day or two, some of 'em would. It helped them along and it helped us along. And then there was others that hadn't been drafted yet, and they were still workin'. We really didn't have any problem as far as labor.
SA: Now, how long did you stay in the lumber yard?
IK: I was there until 1942. My dad wanted me to come out here and help him. Well, during those years I had purchased, as I previously

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stated, two hundred thirty acres of ground, and I had about a hundred and fifty cows of my own. And my father said if I was gonna keep those cows, I'd better be starting' to take care of 'em. He didn't have time to take care of 'em. And so Nina and I moved out to the ranch here. Then about that time my Uncle Ira become quite ill.
SA: The one that was running the store?
IK: The one that was running the store. So I was out here part of the time, and in there part of the time, helping him out. Then—l don't remember the exact year—but around 1945, he become quite ill—in 1946, maybe it was—and I was back in there, running the whole operation, until his sons got out of the service.
SA: How many of his sons were in the service?
IK: He had three sons, all in the service: Tom, Kenny, and Bob.
SA: Did they bother you about the service?
IK: No. Well, being as I was running the lumber yard there that was selling all the merch and all the lumber to the government, and then with my livestock and everything, no, I was not. I did try to enlist one time, and they told me no. I wanted to try to enlist in the Navy as a procurement officer, but they told me what I was doin' was more important.
SA: They couldn't take everyone away, right?
IK: No.
SA: Getting back to the ranch, how long were you and Nina living here? I don't know what you were living in, but you said both of you came back to live at the ranch.
IK: Yeah, we lived up right where you turn in up at the mail box.
SA: OK, that first house?
IK: Yeah. We lived there until 1946- 48, when we built this house.
SA: You built this house while you were staying here on the ranch?

82 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Oh yes. ln fact, we lived at the ranch all the time after we moved here in 1942.
SA: I see, even though you went back to work at the store.
IK: Right.
SA: Would you commute every day?
IK: Yeah, I drove in and back every day.
SA: Were the roads pretty good then?
IK: Oh yeah. This was oil road [gravel road sprayed with oil (Tr.)].
SA: OK, so you lived here and you were working part-time here. When you came back to live on the ranch, had it changed very much from your early days here?
IK: Oh yeah, things really changed, because during the war years, we just didn't have the men that we had previously had. We moved away from the horse days to the tractor days. Where it used to take us fifty men to put up our alfalfa hay, we were gettin' by with thirteen, fourteen men.
SA: And you were able to gather up enough?
IK: Yes, mostly . . . . Well, I wouldn't say mostly, but probably a third of 'em were high school boys.
SA: Oh, working during their summer days off?
IK: Yeah.
SA: Oh, that's good. So Kent always helped the employment situation in Churchill County.
IK: Oh yeah, we have. Yeah, we changed, like I said, on our haying operation, where we used to pitch the hay by hand on the wagons and haul it in. We had a loader that picked up the shocks right out of the field and loaded them right to the wagon, which did away with a lot of the help that we had previously had. ln fact, we used to have

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to run seven or eight hay wagons to the stock, where we cut that down to three by the use of tractors and machinery.
SA: Where were you selling all that hay? Still the same as before?
IK: Well, we fed most of our hay.
SA: How many animals were here then?
IK: Well, up until the war, we run two bands of sheep.
SA: How many in a band?
IK: Seventeen hundred ewes in a band. Then the war came on. We had to sell the sheep because the Navy base out here at Fallon took over the public lands which we had been runnin' our livestock on, for air-to-ground gunnery. And in addition to the sheep we had been runnin' a couple hundred head of beef cattle. And then we were still in the dairy business, so it was quite a rounded-out enterprise. What hay we did sell, we baled it right here at the ranch and sold it baled, and it was shipped to California.
SA: Since we're talking about the military coming in, when that base was built, it must have been very mixed emotions here, since they had to take some of the land that you needed. What were the feelings when the base was coming in?
IK: Well, it was a very controversial issue, because where they put the base took in quite a bit of the agricultural land in the valley. There was quite a lot of mixed feelings about 'em doin' that. There was so much area of ground that wasn't in cultivation that could have been used, instead of the ground that was used.
SA: Why was this land selected, do you know?
IK: I couldn't tell you. I think it was probably political.
SA: Oh, because it did infringe, didn't it? Didn't they have to buy out some places for people to move?
IK: That's right.

84 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: And it's so close. Does the sound of the planes disturb animals and people?
IK: Yeah, I think putting the base where it was, was more or less political, myself.
SA: Did you have a vote?
IK: Oh no! No, no! Politics, under the table. [laughs]
SA: So that was pretty tough on you.
IK: Well, it didn't affect us so much as it did . . . It did and it didn't, because . . . . It did affect us due to the fact our livestock operation couldn't operate. And not only ours, but others here in western Nevada were also affected the same way, because the Navy took over all that land, federal land to use for air-to-ground gunnery.
SA: I see that would make a difference, especially since this was meant to be an agricultural region. The whole purpose of the Reclamation project was to keep it that way.
Now during that period did you and Nina have any children?
IK: Yes. Our first son was born in 1939, Gary. And our second son, Bruce, was born in 1946, I think.
SA: I think I have that. Where were they born? ln a hospital in Fallon?
IK: No, in Reno. St. Mary's Hospital in Reno—both of 'em were born.
SA: And she was able to get there in plenty of time?
IK: Oh yes.
SA: Was this house built when your first child was born?
IK: No. See, Gary was born in 1939, and we were still livin' in Fallon. Bruce was born in 1946, and that was just about the time this house was built.
SA: That's right, you had to wait for the war to be over to build, because you couldn't get construction materials.

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IK: Well, yeah. And it was even real hard, still, to get material, because this Korean deal was cookin' at the time, and lumber was real, real hard to come by.
SA: So now I want to get back . . . . You were spending part-time here and part-time in the store after your uncle died. First we're going to go back to the store. How was that progressing through the war? What other effects, and how many years did you stay at the store, managing it?
IK: Oh, I was there probably about a year, as I recall.
SA: And what year, again, was that? Was that during the war?
IK: Well, it was right at the end of the war.
SA: Had it affected the store?
IK: No, I don't think it affected it at all. In fact, our business had been exceptionally good all during through the war because so many new people had come into Hawthorne—ammunition depot work—and out at Gabbs.
SA: Were they starting to build the air field here?
IK: Yeah, and the air field was in operation here. The town was growing. Our business was growing with it.
SA: Were you able to get more help so you had enough help there during that period?
IK: Yeah, we never was troubled with help. Well, there was a lot of older people that were never drafted, because the draft age ended at forty-five.
SA: Or if you had a certain number of kids.
IK: So there was a lot of people who were over forty-five who filled in. And we never had any problems as far as labor was concerned. Had more problems on the ranch part of it than we did in the store part, because, well, we just couldn't pay the wages that was being paid by contractors. We couldn't compete, labor-wise.

86 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: What was the feeling here during the war? With so many going in, was there a feeling of concern? Were there changes in the town because of the war going on and so many having to leave?
IK: Oh definitely, definitely.
SA: Especially a small town where everyone knows everyone.
IK: Yeah. And so many of 'em were getting killed. It was really the sad part of the history of the county and the state. Two of the boys that I used to run around with a lot, one of 'em was Wayne Van Voorhis who graduated from Annapolis—and the Fallon base is named after him, Van Vorheis Field. Of course they now call it the Fallon Air. But he was killed in action, and his brother was captured in the Philippines and they never did hear anything more from him. So there was a lot of that. lt was really a sad time in the history of the town.
SA: Yes, of course the whole country. You stayed about a year at the store, and then when your cousins came back from the military . . . . They came back safe?
IK: Yes, all three of 'em.
SA: Did they have to go overseas?
IK: Oh yes. Bob was in the Marines; and Tommy was in the Navy, and he was on a destroyer; and Ken was in the Air Force and was a
gunner on—l don't know whether it was a B-17 or what.
SA: Did they all come back right after the war?
IK: Yes, they all came back and Bob and Tom become involved in the store. Just a short time after that, their father passed away. I never did have anything more to do with the store because they took over . . .
SA: So you came back to stay at the ranch?
IK: Yeah . . the active management of it. Then my father passed away in 1948, and so I spent all my time here at the ranch from then on.

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SA: Where was your mother? Was she still alive?
IK: Oh yes.
SA: She lived here?
IK: Yes, she lived up where Bruce lives now, up where I was born.
SA: Did she live there alone?
IK: Yes, she lived alone.
SA: Was she a pretty strong woman?
IK: Yes, very strong. She got along real well by herself, and she lived there by herself. In fact, she was at home up until about two days before she passed away.
SA: How old was she when she died?
IK: She was eighty-seven.
SA: I bet she enjoyed her grandsons?
IK: Oh yes, very much, very much. [Tape change]
SA: We're going to start this new tape concentrating on your years now, where you were spending your total time on the ranch. And I want you to start telling me when you came back, some of the things that were happening. And let's talk a little bit about the water, if there were any problems.
IK: As I recall, I think it was about 1946 when I come back full-time on the ranch. My father was still alive, and I took care of the livestock part of it. I tended sheep camp, and we had two bands of sheep, and we ran a couple hundred head of cows. I took care of all the livestock, and my father took care of the ranching part of it.
SA: Where was the sheep camp now?
IK: Well, we run the two bands of sheep in the Stillwater Mountains, and we brought 'em in here on the ranch only to lamb. We lambed here

88 lra Hamlin Kent
at the ranch in February in sheds, because that gave us a larger lamb when you wean, because it had a little more age on 'em.
SA: Explain that a little better to me. They had a little more what on them?
IK: A little more weight.
SA: In other words, you could feed them?
IK: Well, you see, by having an early lamb, most of the sheep operators could not lamb until the weather got good, because they'd lose the lambs. So most of 'em didn't lamb until probably the last of March, first of April. Well, in our case, where we had the sheds, we'd bring the ewes, when they get ready to drop their lambs, we'd bring 'em inside and keep 'em inside for twenty-four hours, until the lamb gets dried off. Then they could be turned back out. In other words, we could sell these lambs along about the first of August, which was a month or two ahead of the normal run of lambs being sold.
SA: I see. So where were these sheds?
IK: These sheds were up at the other place there, right where you come into the ranch here.
SA: OK, near where your first house where you lived was.
IK: Yes.
SA: And when you took them to the sheep camp, did you stay with them?
IK: Oh no, we had a sheepherder for each band of sheep. Of course they would be moving every day or two, on account of following' the feed. According to Nevada law, you had to go to the camp at least once every five days to make sure that the herder was alright. And of course you had to take him groceries, because he packed all his camp on burros. So that was one of my jobs, once every five days to go to each sheep camp, and I'd take a pack horse with groceries and go to each camp and take 'em groceries. And I normally would stay all night at the camp and come back home the next day.

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SA: I heard people say they would go up to the sheep camps, but I didn't know it was a law. That's the first time l've heard that.
IK: Yeah, within five days, you had to go every five days to make sure that the man was alright and everything.
SA: So how many sheep camps did you have?
IK: Two.
SA: And who were these sheepherders? Was it hard to find them? Who were they?
IK: Well, both the herders that we had were white men. Most of the herders, a lot of the herders were Basque men, but the herders we had were both white.
SA: Were they local men?
IK: Well, one of 'em was local, and the other one, I don't recall even where he came from. He was with us for a long time—in fact, he was still with us when we had to sell the sheep, when the Navy took over the operation. ln fact, both herders were still with us.
SA: So this is before the military took over. What year are we talking about then?
IK: This would probably have been 1943, 1944, and that was about the time that the Navy base got started out here, and we had to sell the sheep.
SA: But until you sold it, you were in charge of going to the sheep camps.
IK: Yeah, taking care of the camp tenders.
SA: And the cattle.
IK: Yeah.
SA: Now, what was your role after you had to sell the sheep?

90 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Well, we couldn't run any cattle out, because the Navy had all of our range outside of just a little portion south of here, which we could run about a hundred and fifty head of cows on in the wintertime. Otherwise, we had to run all the cattle inside, within the fields. And so we didn't increase our cow numbers until after the war was over and the Navy gave us back the use of our range. Instead of going back into the sheep business, we went into the cow business. It was just too hard to get sheepherders, and so we decided that the cattle business was the best, and we could take care of 'em ourselves, and it was easier to get help as far as the cattle were concerned.
SA: Now, did the cattle stay then within your own ranch? Or were there still some grazing lands you could take them to?
IK: Well, at the end, like I said, when we got our range back from the Navy, that's when we purchased more cattle and got back into the cow business.
SA: Tell me about the cow business.
IK: Well, [laughs] what do you want to know?
SA: Well, where were you selling them, and how many did you have? And how did you sell them? Were they at auction, or corrals?
IK: When we first started out we just had what cattle that had been here on the ranch, approximately a hundred and fifty head. When the Navy turned the range back to us, we purchased – I can't remember now—two hundred and fifty head of heifers, over by Yerington, to build up our cow herd again. Our calf crop was kept, the heifers were kept, so that we could increase our herd. We wanted to get our cow herd up to around seven hundred head of cows, which took several years to do. When we weaned our calves, we fed 'em hay here on the ranch until they got up to around seven hundred
pounds, which we would sell as feeders. Sometimes we fed 'em on out until they were ready to be butchered, and sold 'em as fat cattle.
SA: Now, several questions for people who aren't ranchers and are going to be looking at the interviews: Where and how did you sell your cattle? The auction house wasn't here.

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IK: No, there was no auction yard. Moffitt Supply, Moffitt Meat Company, run a big slaughter house in San Francisco, and they purchased practically all the cattle that was raised here in Churchill County.
SA: Would they see them, or they had been dealing with you?
IK: They fed a lot of their cattle. They owned a lot of property around and fed cattle. They would contract feeding. Different ranchers had hay, and they would buy the cattle and take 'em to that ranch or this ranch.
SA: Would they physically come, send someone?
IK: Oh yeah, they had a man stationed right here in the county that took care of the operation, right.
SA: Were they your biggest buyers?
IK: Yeah, they were the biggest buyers. There were other buyers, but we had a couple of slaughter houses in Reno at the time: Nevada Packing Company, and Humphrey Supply Company, who also purchased cattle and hogs and lambs.
SA: And were you the one in charge of all that, in charge of the cattle on the ranch?
IK: After my father died, I was, of course, in charge.
SA: In charge of the entire ranch?
IK: Right.
SA: That's kind of a big responsibility, but you were up to it by then.
IK: Well, yes, but I had had all the business experience with the Kent Company, which gave me a good background to start with.
SA: As your little boys were getting a little bigger, did they start real early, like you did, helping around?

92 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Oh yeah, they had their chores to do, chickens to feed when they come home from school. We had one milk cow for milk for the house, and they both learned to milk and took care of the chickens. They had their chores to do.
SA: Did you hire Indians to help you on the ranch, from the Indian Stillwater Reservation?
IK: Oh yes, we've always hired Indians to help us. In fact, back at that time, we had more Indians than we did white men workin'. In fact, I don't think there's ever been a time that what we haven't had an Indian or two working for us. In fact, right now, we have two working for us.
SA: Did any of the Indian women come and help Nina with the laundry or the cleaning?
IK: No, Nina did all of her own housework up until the last few years. The last few years, we have had an Indian woman who comes once a week and helps her with the house work.
SA: Now let's talk a little about the water. Were there periods when you had problems with getting enough water for your ranch? How did that progress during the years of the ranching?
IK: Well, yes, we had a bad drought. The early thirties there was a bad drought and we were really short of water. And, oh, in later years we've had a year or two, 1965, 1967- I don't remember the exact years—but there's been years that we've had drought years, but nothing like it has been up until the last seven or eight years have been by far the worst we've ever had. A lot worse that even it was in the thirties.
SA: Of course that affects the whole project, doesn't it?
IK: Oh definitely. It definitely affects the whole project.
SA: Have you ever had a time you couldn't get the water you needed?
IK: Oh, yes. Well, just a year before last, we were only allocated 28 percent of our irrigation water. And then last year we had 100 percent and this year we're back to 57 percent.

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SA: Oh, my.
IK: So, it's been really difficult. In farming, it's probably the last few years that have been the most difficult of any time in my lifetime because you never knew where you were going and you couldn't get crops back into production and it's been very difficult.
SA: What are some of the changes you've had to make because of the difficulty in getting the water?
IK: Well, we had to leave more ground out of cultivation than we ever did. ln fact, we've had, I guess, up to three hundred acres out of cultivation because we didn't have enough water to go to get it all back in. Alfalfa fields have died out more or less through the drought and we've had to plow them up. And now we just don't have enough water to get them back into production again. So it's been real difficult for the whole valley. It's in the same fix, same condition.
SA: Since we're on the water issue, I want to stick with it a little bit. So the worst drought is the last seven years. What does the future look like as far as the water problems are concerned because I understand there's a lot of other issues dealing with Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake and . . .
IK: Of course, the issue as far as the water is concerned is there just seems to be no end to the lawsuits that have been filing against us in one way or another by the Pyramid Lake Indians and then also the Bureau of Reclamation, their stand that they're taking and Senator Reid's settlement bill which really has hurt the whole economy of the valley because I feel that we have been deprived of our water when we're supposed to be getting 3 ½ acre feet of water. Of course, the drought has had an effect on that, too, but the B.O.R. [Bureau of Reclamation] moved in and even though the water's running down the Truckee River, it's going for endangered species. And the endangered species act has hurt us very badly.
SA: ls that Pyramid Lake with the fish thing?
IK: Yes. Yes. Yes.
SA: Are they winning that?

94 lra Hamlin Kent
IK: Well, they've won practically all of it so far.
SA: What is the settlement bill?
IK: Well, the settlement was to give the Pyramid Lake Indians additional water and the cities of Reno and Sparks additional water.
SA: Because of their growth?
IK: Yes, the growth. And they keep growing and demanding more water.
SA: Oh, my.
IK: But as far as agriculture is concerned in Churchill County, I think it's practically gone, or will be gone. They're going to buy up a lot of this agricultural ground to acquire the water rights for the wildlife. Before all this came about, there was enough rain water coming from the farms and ranches to maintain the marshes. And with the drought and the rain . . . the settlement that was put into effect, there's practically no water that goes to marshes now. And so now they want to buy up the biggest portion of the agricultural land in the valley to get the water off of them to furnish for the marshes, which is going to make the valley look like it did a hundred years ago practically.
SA: Now, who is the leader in this? Is it your officials?
IK: Oh, yes. Definitely.
SA: Whoever is the governing officials?
IK: The government, yes.
SA: You don't have representatives that are fighting for the agricultural part of it?
IK: No. They're not fighting for us. They're fighting for the Indians and . . . .
SA: How do you vote in the people who can help your cause?

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IK: Well, agriculture is such a minority in Nevada. Today we don't have much to say. We used to have a lot to say.
SA: I see. In other words, this is through the state legislature?
IK: No, this is federal. In other words, we have the senators . . . the two senators that are both elected. They're both from Las Vegas.
SA: These are national issues.
IK: Yes. Yes. Yes. They're both from Las Vegas. Las Vegas predominates the state.
SA: All the gaming and the gambling and the hotels.
IK: And the population.
SA: I see.
IK: A million people in Las Vegas and so we're very much a minority. As far as agriculture is concerned in Churchill County, its days are numbered in my opinion.
SA: Oh, my. That's kind of heartbreaking. You have two sons. Did your sons go into ranching and are they ranching with you?
IK: Gary, my oldest son, helped here on the ranch until they went to college. And he seemed to be allergic to everything. He had allergies and hay fever and he really suffered from it. And we knew that he was going to have to get away from the ranch and so he went to the University of Southern California. He had been down there about a year and a half and he called and said, "l want to come home." He was taking engineering and he said, "l just don't like it. I'm not going to be an engineer." And so Nina called his advisor and he said, "Well, I think it would be a good idea for Gary to go home and get his thoughts together." And so he came home and I had a piece of new ground that I wanted to level, so I put him on a tractor and a carryall. He spent six months leveling that piece of ground. And by the end of that six months, he knew for sure he wanted to go back to school. [laughter] So he did go back to school again and graduated from the University of Southern California and decided he wanted to go into the real estate business. He had to get

96 lra Hamlin Kent
away from the ranch on account of his hay fever and his asthma. And he came into Reno and went to work selling real estate. He just didn't like to sell real estate. He was more interested in the appraisal work. And so he started doing a lot of studying for appraisal. He had to work for somebody appraising for seven years before he could apply for an MAI. At the time he took the examination, there were only 2500 MAl appraisers in the United States. In other words, you can appraise anywhere in the United States when you received this degree.
SA: Was that a master of arts in appraisal.
IK: Yes. Something like that.
SA: Where did he go to study that?
IK: Well, he studied there in Reno and also went back to Southern California to take courses during the different times. And he finally got his MAI and was in Reno. He was doing a lot of business in Las Vegas so he decided they'd move to Las Vegas and he has an exceptional business in Las Vegas. Bruce, our youngest son, stayed on the ranch and he has helped me all the time. ln the last four or five years he's taken over active management of the ranch.
SA: He's good in all of the things?
IK: Yes. And he lives here on the ranch and lives in our old home. And
he's doing a real good job as far as managing the ranch.
SA: Does he have a family?
IK: Yes. He's married and has two daughters. One of them is a beautician in Fallon. And the other is the shift boss for Hertz Car Rental at the Reno airport. She has done real exceptionally well with Hertz.
SA: They're not going to be cowgirls?
IK: No. No. Neither one of them, I guess. And Gary also has two daughters and they both live in Las Vegas.
SA: Oh, so you now have a lot of girls in the family.

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IK: Yes, four girls. One of Gary's daughters just graduated from the university and she is learning the appraisal business with her father.
SA: Oh, that's very smart. Now, when the girls were younger, especially your son here on the ranch, did they participate in the ranching? Did they ride horses and participate in it?
IK: Oh, yes. They were in 4-H. They used to rodeo in the 4-H rodeos. Both of them did. Yes.
SA: That's interesting. Now, from the time you were seven when your father gave you your first gun, you became an expert and loved the hunting. Let's carry through on something you loved so much as you were growing up, your hunting experiences.
IK: Well, I think hunting and fishing have been my recreation, my love. And l've always been interested in wildlife. When I was going to college, I had a fraternity brother whose father was the fireman at Berkeley. And they had a blind out on the San Francisco Bay. And he and I used to go out there.
SA: What did they have?
IK: They had a duck blind out on San Francisco Bay and we used to go out there and hunt ducks every chance we got.
SA: You brought your gun with you then?
IK: Oh, yes. And anyway, after I got out of college and came back to Fallon, I became very involved in the Greenhead Hunting Club. Going back, my father bought me a membership in the Greenhead Hunting Club when it was first chartered.
SA: What is Greenhead Hunting Club?
IK: It's just a social hunting club.
SA: Is it a Churchill County club or is it statewide?
IK: Well, the members are. There are members statewide, yes. It's a stock company and my father bought me a share of stock in it. It was

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organized in 1919. And to my knowledge, I'm the only living member that is one of the original stock owners.
SA: Wow. Where are they home based?
IK: We have what is called the government pasture south of Fallon. We've had it leased for hunting for years, all through the years clear up until now.
SA: How much land is there?
IK: Oh, that marsh. I don't know how many acres there is. There must be fifty thousand acres in that marsh ground.
SA: Oh, my! ls there a lodge, too, or a place where you . . ?
IK: Well, there was places where hunters brought their trailers and stayed during the hunting season and had little cabins there. They called it "Poacherville".
SA: Poacherville. How far out of Fallon is this?
IK: Oh, it's about ten-twelve miles out of Fallon ... south of Fallon.
SA: Is there a marker? Does it show you?
IK: No. There's a sign as you're going out the highway. After you go by the Dodge lsland Ranch about two miles, there's a sign that says "community pasture" I think it is. Or something like that. And anyway after I got out of college and come back, I was president of the Greenhead Club for two or three years.
SA: How old were you when you were president?
IK: Oh, twenty-three, twenty-four.
SA: Were you one of the youngest or were there a lot of young people in it.
IK: Well, there were quite a few young people in it.
SA: What was your role as president?

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IK: Well, we always had a couple of what they call "shoots" each year. They chose up sides and counted the ducks . . . so much each duck counted. And then the loser of the side had to pay for the dinner for the other side. And it was quite an affair. I think at that time there were 150 members in the club. I don't know how many there are today.
SA: I'm sure all men.
IK: Yes. Oh, yes.
SA: Any women now?
IK: I couldn't tell you. I don't know. I was reading an article in Outdoor Life about Chukar partridge which was a bird in the Himalayan mountains in India. And this article described the terrain that to me resembled what it looks like in the Stillwater Mountains. And I thought, well, if them birds survive there, then they might survive here. So I got in touch with a fraternity brother of mine in San Francisco, involved in export-import business and I asked him if we could get some chukars.
SA: How old were you when you were inquiring about this?
IK: Well, this was in 1933.
SA: Oh, my!
IK: So he finally come up with . . . we could have live trapped one hundred chukars . . . wild chukars live-trapped and put on a ship, delivered to San Francisco, for six hundred dollars. So at that time I was only making a hundred dollars a month, but I went for it.
SA: Really. You were probably single yet, right?
IK: Oh, yes. [laughter] Anyway, we ordered the birds and they were supposed to have been put on a steamer that would be ten days from Calcutta. [tape cut] They were put on this tramp steamer and they were forty-five days en route from the time they left Calcutta until they reached San Francisco. I had thirteen birds left alive. The rest had all died coming over. And l'm out six hundred dollars. So we brought

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the thirteen birds down to Stillwater here and fortunately there were six pairs and one extra male. [laughter]
SA: Where did you take them?
IK: We had pens and we started raising the birds.
SA: Oh. Here on your ranch?
IK: Here on the ranch.
SA: Do you have pictures? Any photographs of them?
IK: No, I don't have any. But anyway, there wasn't much known about them. And we would take the eggs from these chukars and gather them everyday. And when we'd get about a dozen eggs, we purchased a bunch of banty hens and we'd set them under a banty.
SA: You just figured what to do?
IK: Well, yes, there was a lot of guesswork. Nobody knew too much about it.
SA: Who was "we"? Who was doing it with you?
IK: My mother and I. She helped me with it.
SA: Your mother and you?
IK: Yes. Yes.
SA: Oh, how fascinating!
IK: And anyway, we would set these eggs under these banties. I had about a hundred banty hens that I had purchased around from every place that I could find them.
SA: Did they settle on the eggs?
IK: Yes, the banties set on the eggs and we'd set about ten-twelve eggs under each banty. And they would hatch the birds. And so it seemed like when the birds were got about three or four weeks old, they

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were getting sick and they were getting coccidiosis from the . . from the chickens. They'd get coccidiosis and die. So we then learned that as soon as these banties hatched these chukars, we'd take them away from them and put them in a box with a light bulb for heat to incubate the little birds. And we ended up the first year with raising about a hundred birds as I recall.
SA: Were they meanwhile being all kept in cages on your ranch?
IK: Oh, yes. All kept in pens. And from those first birds we kept a few more for breeding stock and some of these birds were sold to Churchill County and some were sold to . . . I can't remember the exact number of counties. But we sold a few to each county and they were released. And then the next year we did a little bit better and a little better. And we'd sold breeding stock to other people and they started getting into the business.
SA: How did you advertise to sell it?
IK: Oh, we sold them to the various county commissioners.
SA: People you knew?
IK: Yes. People we knew. In fact, every county within the state of Nevada, in one way or another, acquired some of our chukars.
SA: Was there an excitement about this?
IK: Oh, yes. People were quite interested in them. By 1935 there was enough other people that got involved in the raising of the chukars that we quit. But when we first started selling these birds, we were selling them for six dollars a piece. And the people that wanted to buy pairs to go into business, we were getting fifteen dollars a pair for them.
SA: You didn't recoup your money very quickly. [laughter] You didn't do it for the money.
IK: No, I don't think that we ever did make any money out of it because the death loss we had at first and building the pens and everything, but it was the satisfaction of seeing these birds take ahold. Some parts of the state they didn't take ahold at all like down in Clark

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County, they didn't do any good. Northern Lander and Humboldt County, they didn't take ahold. Elko County they didn't . . . or Ely County. But Churchill County and Southern Lander County and Storey and Mineral, Washoe, Northern Nye County, they really exploded there.
SA: So then people started to hunt them and kill them.
IK: Well, we had the first open season in 1948, and they had it open for three days for three birds per day as I recall it. And from then on the birds really took ahold. ln fact, I think in the fifties and sixties, our populations were probably greater in the state than they have ever been. And of course, this drought that we're having nowadays, they've really declined.
SA: Do you stop hunting when they do?
IK: Oh, no. Last year, in my opinion, they should have reduced the season by quite a bit. They had the longest season they've ever had
on record which I think really has hurt our breeding stock.
SA: Who decides on the length of the season?
IK: The Nevada Fish and Game department.
SA: I see.
IK: But then getting back to my hunting experiences, I had always loved to hunt deer. The first deer that I ever saw in the Stillwater Mountains, I was sixteen years old. There were no deer in these mountains at that time. The first time I ever hunted a deer, I think was around 1930 when I was going to school and one of my fraternity brothers and I came up and went out to Austin and hunted deer. And we got a deer and we were really proud of that. But then I never killed a deer myself until . . . oh, I can't remember for sure, but it was in the latter part of the thirties before I ever shot a deer. We just didn't have deer. There was none around. And then the deer population really started. All at once, it was just exploding. And in the forties we had deer and numbers really building up in the fifties. There was deer everywhere.
SA: Did someone bring them in?

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IK: I don't know if it's different . . . no, nobody brought deer in. I think it was in a different way that we was raising our livestock.
SA: More green stuff to eat?
IK: Well, the years back prior to the thirties, prior to the Taylor Grazing Act which was enacted in 1932. It was a federal grazing law. There was definitely too much livestock on the public lands and it was overgrazed and it was in bad condition. So after the Taylor Grazing Act went into effect, it cut the livestock numbers down a great deal from what they had been. And there was more concern about the ability of the land to produce forage. I think that was a start of when the deer numbers started coming up. And the deer numbers probably hit their peak in the fifties and sixties. And of course, the drought that we're going through in the last seven years has put a big decline back in the numbers again which goes right back to the same thing . . . the forage production.
SA: It affects so many things.
IK: But I really love to hunt deer. And there was, oh, about a half a dozen of us that used to go every year. But in the last few years, of course, I haven't hunted any deer. Well, I did, too. I killed one last year right here on the ranch.
SA: I understand there's a limit of how many you are allowed to have?
IK: Yes. Yes. Oh, I don't remember when it went into effect, but you just went in and bought a deer tag. But you could only shoot one for the season . . . one buck. But back during the fifties, they had so many deer that you could get special tags for different places. And I think at one time you could have killed seven or eight deer per person, there was so many deer.
SA: Did you ever do that?
IK: No. I never did shoot over one. But now it's all on a drawing . . .
SA: A lottery?
IK: A lottery deal. And if you get drawn every other year, you're fortunate.

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SA: Oh, my goodness! What did you do with the deer?
IK: Well, we ate them. Yes. Deer meat's real good, yes.
SA: Would you skin them and cut them?
IK: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes.
SA: Freeze some of them?
IK: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes.
SA: Did you take your sons?
IK: Oh, yes.
SA: And do what your father did?
IK: Oh, yes. I started both boys hunting. They were both about, oh, l'd say about seven years old . . . about my age when I started hunting. And both of them became very good . . . good shots. And of course, Gary has never hunted as much because he's been in Las Vegas, but Bruce dearly loves it and followed right in my footsteps.
[laughter]
SA: Do you do a lot of that together?
IK: Yes, we do. But then going back, the first year Nevada had a sheep hunting season with a drawing was 1952. They were going to issue fifty tags on a drawing and they were all in the Las Vegas area. And Nina, my wife, put in as well as I did. She was drawn number one on that drawing.
SA: Really! [laughs]
IK: And I was drawn as fifty-one. [laughter] Well, anyway Nina went.
SA: Did she hunt?
IK: Yes. And the season was only for three days and we had a guide that was a buckaroo and he didn't know anymore about shooting than we did. And anyway, she didn't get one. And we did see a

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sheep. But that interested me in sheep. And so in 1957 a friend of mine who ran a commercial fishing operation in Alaska asked me to come up to Alaska and go sheep hunting with him. And that's when I first become involved in hunting sheep. I killed a Dall sheep that year. And that really got into my blood. And I hunted sheep every year thereafter.
SA: Up in Alaska?
IK: ln Alaska I hunted. I hunted in the Northwest territory. I hunted in the Yukon. I hunted in Alberta. I hunted in Montana. I hunted in Nevada. I guess that's all.
SA: Who did you go with?
IK: ln Montana for sheep with different guides. You'd hire a guy to go hunting. In fact, l've got three grand slams. A grand slam is a DaII, a stone, a desert ram, and a Bighorn ram which comprises a grand slam. And I had three grand slams.
SA: Is that in one hunting season?
IK: No. No. That's during my lifetime of hunting. And there probably isn't over a dozen people in the United States that have three grand slams.
SA: Now, was there an organization or a journal or a newsletter? How did you know where all these places were where you could .. . ?
IK: Well, advertising. See, these outfitters advertised.
SA: Was there a certain publication that you got?
IK: Oh, yes. In all your sporting magazines. Yes. In all your outdoor sporting magazines.
SA: Were you the only one in your hunting crowd that did all of this from your Greenhead Hunting Club?
IK: Well, see… no, no. This has nothing to do with the Greenhead Hunting Club.

106 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: No, but I thought maybe hunters in that club would be interested in . . . .
IK: Oh, no. When you go sheep hunting, you always hunt by yourself with your guide.
SA: Oh, you went with your guide. I see.
IK: Yes. Then you go with a guide or an outfitter.
SA: So it'd be quiet, not too . . . .
IK: Yes. Oh, yes. The sheep eyesight is equivalent to about an eight power field glass system. And they're probably one of the toughest animals that there are to hunt.
SA: Well, describe one of your hunting expeditions. What you would do, where you would stay, how you would do this.
IK: Well, l'll take one that was up in the Yukon. I hunted in the Yukon three different times with the same outfitter, Dennis Callison. And he used to take four hunters at a time. When I say he took four hunters, he had four guides and each guide took a hunter. He was the outfitter that put the thing together. His outfit was out of White Horse so we flew from here or I drove up there twice.
SA: Where is White Horse?
IK: White Horse is in the Yukon.
SA: Oh, OK. You drove there.
IK: We drove up there. That's on the Alcan Highway.
SA: Who is "we"?
IK: Nina drove up with me and then flew on up to Alaska to Anchorage to visit her sister while I was hunting. I flew from White Horse out to his base camp with a float plane. On a float plane you land on water, you know. And then from there, you'd be out at Dennis's base camp where his home would be, and his four guides and his horses, and

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so we'd take pack horses. And from there you'd go with your guide and you camped out.
SA: Did you have little pup tents? He would set it all up?
IK: Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes, you hunted from out of the camp each day.
SA: You cooked over an open fire?
IK: Yes. Yes. And that's more or less how it works. ln fact, one hunting trip that I was on, that was down in British Columbia, there was four hunters, a cook, and a horse wrangler, and four guides, and an outfitter and we had twenty-eight head of horses. Altogether it took us three days to pack from the highway back into where we was going to hunt. And then we were back in there hunting for two weeks and three days back out again.
SA: Oh, my. When you . . . when you would shoot one of these, how did they bring it back?
IK: They were all skinned out right at the time and then . . .
SA: Right where . . . wherever you shot them?
IK: Yes. Yes. They were skinned out. And the meat was always eaten right there.
SA: Oh, you cooked them?
IK: Oh, yes. Because we were camped out there for a couple of weeks.
SA: So did you have a camp and you would just ride out and come back?
IK: Yes. Right.
SA: So you cooked it every night.
IK: Oh, yes. See, we had a cook at the camp.
SA: Oh, that must have been wonderful.

108 lra Hamlin Kent
IK: Oh, yes. And sheep meat is the delicacy of all your wild game animals.
SA: So you didn't bring anything home?
IK: I have brought a little home a time or two, but it's too hard to get home.
SA: Mainly it's the sport of it.
IK: Yes. Yes, it's the sport and the trophy you have, you know.
SA: So the guides are locked into verifying for the trophy?
IK: That's right. Yes. It's trophy is what it is.
SA: Oh, how fabulous.
IK: But the meat is a delicacy. The sheep meat is. It's really exceptionally good.
SA: Boy those adventures because your love are the highlights of your life.
IK: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And besides the sheep, l've shot two mountain goats and five or six caribou and a moose and a bear and . . . oh, hunting is, like I say, has been my life.
SA: So about how often would you do this? Once a year would you go hunting?
IK: Oh, yes. Once a year. And a couple of times twice a year.
SA: As things got where you could get away.
IK: Yes. Yes.
SA: Did your son ever do that?
IK: Oh, yes. Bruce, the first time he went sheep hunting he was sixteen and he got a sheep.

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SA: Oh, my!
IK: And he got involved in it. And he also has two grand slams.
SA: Really?
IK: Yes.
SA: Oh, so he's followed in Daddy's footsteps.
IK: That's right. That's right.
SA: Did your dad ever do that?
IK: No. No. My dad hunted deer a little bit, that was all. ln fact, I think Dad only killed two deer in his lifetime. There weren't no deer here.
SA: I see. I see. And so you read about the sheep in one of these bulletins and it intrigued you, or did you know someone who had done that?
IK: Well, I had known about it, you know, you read these stories in Outdoor Life and Field and Stream . . . any sport . . . [magazine].
SA: Did you know anyone else who had ever done that?
IK: No. At the time I started to hunt, I didn't know . . . no, it just interested me.
SA: That's fascinating. And when's the last time you did that?
IK: The last time I went sheep hunting . . . let me think. The last time I hunted sheep was 1989. I hunted up in Alaska.
SA: What time of year would you go?
IK: lt's normally in August. Well, down here in the States, the season normally here is in October. But in Canada and Alaska, it's normally August because by the time September comes around, it's too cold.
SA: Yes. And it starts to get dark.

110 Ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Yes. And it gets cold.
SA: And here you had almost all light.
IK: Yes. Yes. Yes.
SA: That sounds like a wonderful, wonderful experience.
IK: Oh, yes.
SA: Now, tell me a little bit about your fishing experiences. I know in the early days you went with your Chinese cook.
IK: Yes.
SA: Well, let's bring it up to your adult life.
IK: Well, I really didn't do too much fishing except with my mother over to Sierra Valley in California where she was born. Her folks lived over there. And we used to go over there in the summertime for a week, ten days, maybe two weeks, and she'd visit her folks and they had a lot of trout fishing in the creeks over there. My cousin who lived over there and I used to go fishing practically everyday. We sure kept everybody supplied with fish, too. [laughter] And then after that, we didn't do much fishing here in Nevada until, oh, after I got out of college, used to do quite a bit of fishing out in the creeks around Austin.
SA: The Toiyabe Forest and Kingston areas?
IK: Yes, right. Right. And then we have gone up on the Oregon and Washington coast salmon fishing probably ten-twelve times. My wife and I and our families have all gone. We haven't done near as much fishing as I have hunted.
SA: The hunting is more your favorite, right?
IK: Yes. And in fact, even last year I went back to North Dakota pheasant hunting . . . took Gary and Bruce with me. That was in October. And then in December, Bruce and I went down to Texas quail and turkey hunting. So I'm still hunting.

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SA: Good. l'm glad to hear that. That's wonderful. lt kind of ties in a little bit. l'm curious about the wildlife viewing area out here. [tape break]
IK: The wildlife area out here, the refuge part, was set into a refuge in 1948. There was three of us delegated by a committee by the county commissioners to choose which area was to be for the refuge and which area was to be for the public hunting ground. Jim Woods and Rollie Kolstrup were the other two on the committee. We met with the Fish and Wildlife people from Washington D.C. and we reached an agreement that where the present wildlife refuge is would be alternated with the open public hunting ground. One year, it would be a refuge and the next year it would be open hunting. But after all the papers were drawn up and everybody signed the dots and everything, they would not go with that. They wanted the refuge to remain in the same place. But I was very much opposed to their putting a refuge in to start with. ln fact, I fought it very hard. My reasoning was that we practically had a refuge in here already because so much of the water was inaccessible, you had to either get there by boat or walk to do any hunting. And after the refuge was taken over or opened up, they practically ruined the hunting because they put a road around every lake there was down there and all the tules were killed so there's no habitat for the birds. ln my opinion, it's done nothing but steadily go downhill every since they took it over in 1948.
SA: What kind of wildlife is there in that area?
IK: Well, a lot of shore birds and ducks and geese. Oh, practically all the species of ducks . . . green-winged tailed, blue-wing tailed, cinnamon-tailed, a shoveler, a redhead . . which is this big nesting ground in here . . . used to be a big nesting ground for the redhead. A canvas back, wigeon, pintail, mallard, and has been a few scup in here, gadwall, and of course white geese, lesser Canadian honker, and the Canadian honker.
SA: Boy, you sure know your birds. How many people come to visit the viewing area?
IK: I couldn't tell you.
SA: Do you see many cars coming or buses?

112 lra Hamlin Kent
IK: Oh, occasionally they'll have a bus out there. Oh, maybe on a weekend, you'll see two or three cars, but due to the fact that they don't have hardly any water left in there anymore, there's not that much of an attraction because there's not that much for people to see.
SA: While l've been here on your ranch interviewing you, I've seen some of the wonderful birds you're talking about around your ranch.
IK: Yes. I believe that outside of the numbers, we probably have more of a variety of the birds right here on the ranch that joins the refuge than what the refuge has. And in fact, song birds, you very rarely see any in the refuge and we have a lot of them here on the ranch. And of course, we have a lot of quail and quite a number of deer here on the ranch. And for individual species of birds, we have far more here than the refuge does.
SA: Well, I know l've been enjoying them. Now, what we haven't talked about is wintertime in this region. And tell me what it is like in the winters and if you have had any hard winters here on your ranch while you've been here.
IK: Well, going back to when I was a boy, every winter my father cut ice on the ponds here. And that ice would get sixteen-eighteen inches thick. Today, it's very rare that you will ever see ice over a couple of inches. In fact, you don't get enough ice even for the kids to skate on anymore. But as far as hard winters, the winter in 1936-37, Nina and I was living in Fallon and I recall that the snow was so deep on Maine Street there they had it piled up that it was about six to eight feet high right in the middle of the street so if you went from one side of the street to the other, you had to crawl over this snowbank. Nina and I didn't have anything to heat our house with except a fireplace. And we'd like to froze to death until . . well, we did have a kitchen stove, a wood stove. But we'd to like to froze to death until we could get an oil stove put in that house. It was terrible. And that winter, it got down into the thirty below zero area. And then the winter of 1948 and 1949 I think was a lot worse. ln fact, it probably was one of the worst winters we've had. All of our cattle were out on the mountain and it started to snow and it kept snowing and finally the snow got about three feet deep in the hills and was about eighteen inches to two feet deep here in the valley. And we knew we had to gather our cattle. And in the daytime the warmest it ever got in a six week

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period was, as I remember, zero and from zero on down to thirty-five and forty below zero at night. [tape break] Very unusual . . . very unusual. And we had to gather all those cattle because they had nothing to eat out there and all the food . . . the grass and brush was covered with snow.
SA: Were you living on the ranch then?
IK: Yes. Yes. And four of us started gathering our cattle and we were six weeks in that time trying to gather them all. We finally ended up we was thirteen short and presumed they were dead. And that spring along about April, they showed up and had made it. But they had what they called the "hay lift" that same winter. The snow was so bad out around Ely that they had flying boxcars that they brought into the Navy base out here and they'd load them with hay, fly out to Ely and so many of the cattle and sheep are isolated, they'd fly over them and drop the bale of hay out for them to eat.
SA: Oh, my goodness! Were you able to travel on the roads? Were you able to get to your animals? What transportation did you use?
IK: Well, out here on our range, no. We could just get to the foot of the hill and we had to go horseback. We'd leave every morning at daybreak and you didn't dare get off your horse during the day. And the snow was so deep that you'd get your feet wet and you'd get frostbitten. So you'd sit in that saddle until sometimes at nights you'd get home eight or nine o'clock. In fact, one night it was two o'clock in the morning before we got home. And you'd be so stiff that you couldn't hardly straighten up. The night that we got home at two o'clock with lrving Sanford and I picked up a bunch of cattle down toward Frenchman's and started toward Mountain Well with him and it started to snow as we picked him up. And you couldn't see over about a hundred feet. We followed the cattle instead of going where we should have gone. We finally ended up over in the head of Diamond Canyon and it was dark. And started down Diamond and finally I recognized a bluff and I knew we were a long ways from where we should be. So we turned the cows loose and started back to the truck. And we went over the highest mountain peaks in the whole range right there that night and the horses gave out and we just had a terrible time getting back to the truck.

114 Ira Hamlin Kent
SA: Oh, my goodness. When the weather got below zero, did the water supplies freeze?
IK: Oh, yes.
SA: How did you handle water for the animals?
IK: Oh, the cows eat snow. They don't do good on it. They get by, but all the water troughs were froze solid. ln fact, there was just a solid block of ice in every trough. And the cattle, they'll eat snow and get by, but it's hard on them. They shrink up pretty bad.
SA: So how many winters was it like that?
IK: Just the winter of . . . it started in December of 1948 and went into the January and February of 1949.
SA: Were you pretty much restricted to the ranch? Were those roads into Fallon cleared or were you able to use them?
IK: We had to clear them here on the ranch, but the roads into Fallon were cleared so you could get into Fallon. But the only way you could get around out in the mountains was horseback. Of course, out in the eastern part of the state, they were even feeding their cattle and sheep right on the highway. The highway department had cleared off the snow and of course, there wasn't any travel, so they would . . . some of those places they were dropping the snow right on the highways for the sheep.
SA: Dropping the hay? Dropping the hay and they would come to the roads?
IK: Yes.
SA: Anything else that you want to tell me about the winters?
IK: Well, since then we haven't really had any hard winters. When Gary was in high school, we had one with heavy snow storms. lt was the last heavy one I remember. There was about eighteen inches here at the ranch, but I don't remember what year it was. But we just haven't had the snow and the cold winters. We've had some winters

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it got cold down below zero, but nothing real bad like it was in those two winters.
SA: I want to take you back to the war years for a few topics. The first one, you mentioned there were some hardships and I know gasoline was rationed and it cut down your travelling. During those years, how did you get water for your cattle?
IK: As I stated previously, the Navy had all of our range except the southern part of it. And we could run cattle there only in the wintertime. So to pump water, my dad would take a barrel of gas out, which is fifty gallons, and leave it at the well. And I would go every day horseback and go out and start the pump. And it was six miles over to the well and six miles back. So I had to go everyday whether it was snowing or how cold it was, it didn't make a bit of difference. But after I had done that for a few days, I thought, "Gee, l'm wasting a lot of time just going for a ride." So I thought, "Well, l'll start setting some traps." Coyotes were worth about ten or twelve dollars apiece for their hides and cats were worth about the same. So I started setting traps out so that when I'd go out, I'd have a string of traps, and when l'd come home, l'd come home a little different way. And during that winter, I caught approximately a hundred coyotes, which was real good money for those days. And about a dozen or fifteen bobcats.
SA: Wow! Who skinned them?
IK: Well, I skinned them all. When I'd find them in the trap, I would kill them and skin them right there and then tie the hide on behind my saddle horse.
SA: Who bought them? Who bought these skins?
IK: Oh, there was a lot of hide buyers that would come around in those days. And usually in the spring, they'd show up and want to know if you had any hides to sell. And you'd do a lot of dickering with them. They'd start out at eight dollars and you'd finally get them up to about what they was worth. [laughter] And it was quite a process.
SA: I've never heard about that. Did they find you here on the ranch?
IK: Oh, yes. Yes.

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SA: Really?
IK: Well, word gets around by word of mouth that I was trapping and I had some hides and . . . .
SA: How many traps would you be setting?
IK: Oh, I had about sixty traps set out.
SA: Wow! Were they wired cage-like traps?
IK: No. No. Spring traps. Number three spring trap. I recall one time I got sick. I had the flu. And Nina had been out with me a few times and she knew pretty well where the traps was. I had been in bed for a couple of days and I told Nina . . I said, "You better see if I got any coyotes in the traps." So she took the car. We only got ten gallons of gas a month for the car, so we didn't use it very much. But anyway, she took the car. And Gary at that time was only . . . I don't know, five or six years old, along with her. First set of traps she come to, I had a bobcat in it. So she didn't have any way to kill the bobcat, she forgot to take the twenty-two. So she got the tire iron out and finally hit the bobcat in the head with the tire iron and got the cat. And then she came back and got the twenty-two and she went on around and she had five more coyotes. And when she got back to the house, she come in the bedroom and said, "Well, you better come out and look in the trunk of the car. I'm not too sure that all of them coyotes are dead." [laughter] But they all were.
SA: Oh, it must have been a mess in the back of that car.
IK: It was in the trunk of the car.
SA: Right. Did you have to clean that up?
IK: Yes. Yes. A little bloody.
SA: Oh, my. lt's amazing to me how your mind works because you catch all these opportunities and think of very creative ways to use your time.
IK: Yes.

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SA: It's a wonderful story. One of the things I don't think I asked. When you first were coming out to the ranch, what kind of roads were there between here and Fallon?
IK: Well, as I recall when we first used to go to Fallon was in a buggy. I think I mentioned it earlier in my first interview, it was all dirt roads, you know. We used to go in with horse and buggy.
SA: Right. When did they oil the roads and then pave the roads?
IK: ln the fall of 1936, I believe it was. It was when they oiled the road down to Stillwater.
SA: Was that under WPA or any plan?
IK: No. No. The Dodge brothers had the construction job.
SA: Oh, Dodge Construction.
IK: ln fact, the bridge that goes over Stillwater there, they had just poured the concrete when it turned cold and it froze all the concrete. And they had to re-pour the bridge again which cost them a lot of money.
SA: I'm very impressed with the superior road driving out here to Stillwater. Was that when the wildlife viewing was put in and the government was back there? When did the really modern road that comes out here . . . close to your place. When did all that get put in?
IK: Well, that road was rebuilt . . . I don't remember now . . . seven or eight years ago. The original road that the Dodge's put in 1936-37 deteriorated so bad that it was like driving through a mine field zig¬zagging back around the pot holes. And people down here in Stillwater are kind of minority because there's not that many of us. [laughter] Couldn't get the state to rebuild the road. And we kept trying and trying. And we were way down on the list as far as a priority so I got up a petition. And I said, "We get enough people to sign this petition, maybe we can get something done."
SA: You were a leader again.

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IK: So I got up the petition and I had everybody here in Stillwater sign it and business people that had business to do out here and also everybody in the Indian reservation signed it. And I took it over to the governor. And it was Governor Bryan at that time. And I said, "l have this petition to rebuild the Stillwater Road." And he called over and had the state highway engineer come over and he questioned him about the road and he told him it was real bad. And he says, "Well, move the priority up to the top." So the next year we got our road resurfaced and we have a real nice road coming out here.
SA: So people have to be very grateful. While we're still in those years around the war and pre-war, one of the things that Churchill County is looking for is more information on the CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps]. Do you have any recollections or knowledge or firsthand information about that period when they were here?
IK: Well, yes. We had a CCC camp right west of Fallon right at the Y where one road goes toward the college and the other road goes
toward Reno. It's at about where Western Auto Supply is.
SA: Oh, yes.
IK: And that camp, the boys there did work on the irrigation project. Pretty near all the structures that were in the project here at the time were all wooden structures. And they took out those wooden structures and put cement structures in. ln fact, if you look on a lot of these structures, you will see CCC on them. They did a lot of good work here in the valley, and really helped the irrigation project. And after it was abandoned, they put one of the buildings up for sale out there and our present home is from one of those CCC buildings. lt was 120 feet long by 20 feet wide and we cut it into three pieces and brought it down to use for frame for our present house. There was another CCC camp at East Gate. And that camp, the boys were doing work on the ranges working on springs . . . opening springs up, putting troughs in, building fences . . . drift fences, fences between operators and such as that. I recall one day I was out there horseback and they was building what they call the Laplatta fence.
SA: What kind of fence?
IK: Laplatta drift fence at the head of a canyon. And a little boy there, he probably didn't weigh 110 pounds, had this cedar post and he's

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trying to pack it up the hill. And the post probably weighed two hundred pounds. And he'd pack it about ten feet and drop it. And I said, "Hand me the post and I'll put it here in front of my saddle and pack it up the hill for you."
He says, "Oh, no." He said, "lf I did that, I'd be in real trouble." He said, "l have to pack that up there myself." [laughter] It was kind of amusing at the time. But the poor guy, he was sure suffering for it. It was in August. Hot. And he was really sweating it out.
SA: Oh, my. Were most of them quite young?
IK: Yes. Yes. He was probably about eighteen years old.
SA: Eighteen. Were any of different ethnic groups that came?
IK: Any what?
SA: Did you see any different ethnic groups like any Mexican or black kids from the South?
IK: No. No. I don't recall any black boys being there, colored boys. They were all white boys. Most of the boys we had here from the East coast . . . a lot of them were from New York and New Jersey and back through there. In fact, when the camps closed up . . . I don't remember now, but there were a dozen or fifteen or more that stayed right here at Fallon and married and were going into business and were real successful business people.
SA: Do you know anyone yet from the CCC? I sure would love to interview someone. I can't seem to locate any. If you should think of any, you'll let me know.
IK: All right, I will.
SA: Because that would be good to interview them for their personal experiences.
IK: The museum might be able to tell you if there's anybody alive yet.
SA: Well, they haven't been able to tell me.

120 ira Hamlin Kent
IK: Oh, they haven't been able to find any?
SA: No.
IK: Well, they've probably have all passed away.
SA: Maybe.
IK: I just can't think of anybody right off-hand.
SA: Now, when you bought that building, was it like a barracks?
IK: Yes.
SA: Was it built pretty sturdy?
IK: Oh, yes. The floor was a double floor and the rafters are two by six's and the floor joists are two by six's. lt was really built strong because there was a lot boys sleeping in each one of them. And of course, they had a cookhouse.
SA: Did all of them sell?
IK: Yes. They all sold.
SA: They all sold fast?
IK: Yes.
SA: Was it first come, first serve? Auctions?
IK: No, it was on a bid.
SA: On a bid . . auction bid. You're the first one who's told me anything about that. That's pretty interesting.
IK: Yes.
SA: Over the past few years, I've been working with the Churchill County museum and I see them as one of the finest examples of a rural museum. I understand you had some role in the start of that. Can

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you begin from the beginning and tell us what you know about the start of that wonderful museum?
IK: Yes. Safeway store was located in what the present museum is now.
And evidently the store was in the wrong location or something because they didn't have it open too many years and decided they should move it back downtown because it was affecting their business. So they closed the store up and it sat idle for a couple of years, and a friend of mine from down at Newport Beach, California, by the name of Alex Oser came here at the ranch hunting a lot. ln fact, he was up here, oh, eight or ten times every fall and a few times during the summer. And he said to me, "Hammy," he said, "You know that Safeway building out there, they want to sell that. And I think I can buy it." He said, "What would it be good for, for the county?" At that time, the library was looking for a new building. And I said, "Well," I said, "it would make an awful good library." I said, "Churchill County is looking for a building to house a library, and I think that if it could be acquired, it would make a real nice library."
He said, "All right." He said, "I'll see if I can make a deal with Safeway." Well, it went on for about a year and a half and Alex called me one day on the phone and he said, "Well," he said, "l just bought that Safeway building." He said, "Now what are we going to do with it?" [laughter]
I said, "Well, they already built a library. They passed a bond issue and built a library." I said, "But Churchill County really needs a museum."
He said, "Do you think it'll go over?"
And I said, "Yes, I do." I said, "We've got some very influential people around Fallon here that have been very interested in having a museum." And I said, "I'm sure it will go over."
And he said, "Well, if you're sure it'll go over," he said, "l'll come up and l'll donate the building to the Churchill County for a museum." Which he did. And when we got the Safeway building, the floors were in terrible shape, the roof leaked, and it looked like it was kind of a bad deal we had walked into. But with cooperation of everybody and donations and the county stepped in and started helping. lt was tough for the first couple of years because we just had so much to be done to get it off the ground floor. And Willie Capucci and Doris Drumm and Grace Kendrick and my wife, Nina, and . . . oh, I don't know. I'd hate to miss somebody's name, but there were a lot of people . . . the Luke brothers . . . they were all involved in this. I think it's probably one of the outstanding museums

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we have in the state of Nevada. And that was kind of the history of how we acquired…
SA: Not only the finest in Nevada, but of the rural museums almost anywhere, you know.
IK: I imagine it is.
SA: It is. Now, when the building was turned over to the county, was there already a historical society or did that start after the building was given to the county?
IK: I can't say for sure. Nina probably could tell you.
SA: All right.
IK: Bud Berney was also interested in it at that time. And Willie Capucci and Doris Drumm and Bud and a few of them were really pushing to have a museum. I had never even thought about it until this all came up. ln fact, I hadn't even gotten interested in it.
SA: Now, when the building was turned over, were collections already being accumulated through a historical society or did that all start with the building? Do you know that?
IK: Well, I would say most of it started when we got the building. At first, we wanted to keep the museum to things that were local within Churchill County. And there was a lot nice things that were here in Churchill County. ln fact, one of the things that led Mr. Oser to go for the museum was the fact that the Luke brothers had probably one of the best arrowhead collections that you could find anywhere. And when Alex talked to them, they said that they would be happy to donate their arrowhead collection to the museum. And Alex said, "Well, we'll see if we can't have a special room set up for that collection." Well, in the meantime, one of the Luke brothers died and the other brother had remarried and evidently he must have left his collection to his wife because the museum didn't get any of it.
SA: Oh, what a shame. I understand that you had some earthquakes in Churchill County. Did you experience any of them?

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IK: Yes. The first earthquake that I recall was probably about 1933 or 1934. I was living at my grandfather and grandmother's house in Fallon. And we had an earthquake during the night and my bedroom was right over the top of the furnace. And I was sure I was going to end up in that furnace. It certainly did shake the house. And then I think it was the same year or the following year, we were fishing down to Walker Lake and had an earthquake that day. And the lake all at once was great, big waves, and the cars on the shoreline were jumping up and down. And it was quite a sight. lt's the first time that I ever saw a car jump up and down. Then in 1952 we had three.
SA: Three!
IK: The first one came about four-thirty in the morning on . . I think it was July 6. I had let my men lay off for the fourth and was just about to finish up on irrigating. And I got up and I was standing at the front door here waiting for Gary to go help me change the water. We had one more change to make. Gary was sitting in an overstuffed chair and putting his shoes on. And we didn't have carpets in here, it was all hardwood floors. And that earthquake hit and I hollered "Earthquake!" And it knocked me out of the front door and I landed on my hands and knees on the sidewalk in front of the house. And the waves were running, I would say, between ten and twelve feet high . . the ground waves were. Because from where I was laying on the sidewalk in front of the house, I saw the chimney from the fireplace and chimney from the furnace room both blow over and I didn't know whether they went into the house or out of the house. And I was hollering at Gary, "Are you all right?" But he couldn't hear me. And as I found out later, it knocked him out of the chair and he was sliding across the floor. And he'd get pretty near the fireplace, then the wave would go the other way and he'd pretty near go out the window and back and forth. And Nina could hear me
hollering . . trying to holler at Gary. She was in bed and she was trying to get out of bed and she couldn't even get out of bed. But anyway, the mountains out here lit up just like Christmas time. They later said that it was on account of the friction of the rocks . . .
SA: Really?
IK: Sliding together, that it lit it all up. And in the fields the next day, there was big piles of sand that looked like anthills only they was ten or twelve feet across where the water had come from up from real

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deep down and pushed that sand up there. And the irrigation ditch that we had the water in was turned upside down. When Gary and I got out there to try to change the water, there was no ditch left. The bottom of the ditch was up higher than the sides of the ditch. And we started to walk across there and all at once . . . it was still kind of breaking day and we got into water clear up over knees. And I said, "We better get out of here," which we did. And we had two dogs and they left and we never saw them for a couple of days. And the horses were whinnying and the cows were bawling. And it uprooted big cottonwood trees right above the house here. Took them up right by the roots. lt was really something. ln our refrigerator, we had a gallon jar of milk and it turned that jar of milk upside down. And we tried to do that afterwards and couldn't do it. So it twisted the refrigerator enough to turn that jar of milk over upside down. And we had one dish left in our whole house. There was so many people coming in and out of here, it was hard to keep up with. But the next morning, my nephew called . . he was working on a paper in Sacramento. And he said, "l see your picture in the paper." A photographer from the Sacramento paper was in our kitchen, which we didn't even know, and taking pictures of all the broken dishes on the floor. And Nina happened to be standing there. That's how he happened to know it was our house.
SA: He came all the way up here to Stillwater, up here to your place?
IK: Yes. And it emptied the water troughs that the cattle drank out of. Threw all of the water out of them. The irrigation canals . . . the district canals, most of them it had just emptied them. And a lot of them it turned them inside out up through the Indian reservation. As it turned out, that first earthquake, the corner of our house was right under the fault.
SA: Really? Did you know there was a fault here?
IK: No. We never knew it.
SA: Was there ever another earthquake here before that 1952 one.
IK: Not to my knowledge. [tape break] The Wildlife Shop, which also was on the earthquake center, it turned over a fifty ton press, threw butane tanks out of the back of the pick-ups. So it was real severe. And our artesian well up here where my men live, it broke the pipe off down

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about forty feet underground. And the artesian well up where Bruce lives, it shut it clear off and it has never filled again.
SA: So it was worse here than in the town of Fallon.
IK: Oh, definitely. Definitely.
SA: Did anyone get killed or badly hurt?
IK: No. Nobody was killed. But out at the Navy base, the boys out there thought that they were being bombed and several of them got hurt jumping out of the windows out of the dormitory. But in town, a Las Vegas bus had been parked in the alleyway between the Sagebrush and the Willow Hotel. And it just pulled away when the earthquake hit. Part of the Willow Hotel fell down into the alley or somebody probably would have gotten hurt. We were real fortunate, we were real fortunate nobody was seriously hurt.
SA: What did it do to the animals?
IK: It frightened them awful bad.
SA: Did some run away?
IK: No. Of course, they're all fenced in. We had an awful lot of aftershocks and about two weeks after that, an Indian who was working here for me by the name of Frank Dyer. He and I were moving a bunch of cattle, and all at once they stopped. And our saddle horses stopped. About the time they stopped, the earthquake hit. And they could feel it before we could. The horses stood with their legs spread out bracing themselves because they evidently knew what was going to happen. As soon as the quake was over, they walked on again.
SA: Oh, that is an amazing story. I'll look at the pictures after the interview.
IK: And then in August we had another earthquake which followed the Stillwater mountains on the west side. And that one didn't do as much damage to us as it did further up the road a ways. At my mother's house, the first one didn't hardly do anything and the second one tipped her refrigerator over and did quite a lot of things.

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But about halfway up toward Perazzo's, it split the highway open. And then there was a lady coming home that night from town and she had imbibed a little bit, and she drove with two wheels right into that fault which is about three or four deep in the middle of the highway. And like to scare her to death, I guess. And going back to the first one, up where my mother lived, she had a lot of chickens and she lost all of the chickens. The fault was so bad right in there where the chicken yard was, they all fell down in the cracks. Never did find any chicken again.
SA: Now, was she alone when the earthquake happened?
IK: Yes. She was alone.
SA: How did she handle that?
IK: Oh, she made it all right. It scared her a little bit.
SA: Probably scared about all of you.
IK: Yes. As much as anything.
SA: I didn't realize the earthquake was that bad.
IK: And then in the December of that same year, we had another earthquake and it followed the Stillwater mountains at the base of the hill on the east side. It didn't shake as bad in here as the other two did. But the captain at the Navy base here at Fallon who was a very good friend of mine, called me that morning after the earthquake. And he said, "Hammy," he said, "we want you to go out with us and we're going to fly that fault and take pictures of it. We want you to go along to tell us the names of the various canyons and so forth." And so they flew down here and picked me up and we flew out to Dixie and we photographed the whole fault from back of Fairview peak clear on down the Stillwater range of mountains to where the fault ended and back up on the other side of the valley. There was a small fault along there. And the whole thing was photographed and we flew for six hours. And I would sure like to know where those pictures went because nobody's ever seen them that I know of. And it might pay to inquire with the Navy people and see if they've still got those pictures because they should be in the museum.

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SA: I understand that you were on the Carson City District Advisory Board. Do you want to start from the very beginning and tell us your involvement in that board?
IK: Yes. I was elected to go on the board, I can't remember the exact year, but it was probably about 1954. And I have served ever since on the Carson City District Advisory Board. And during that time, I served as chairman for several years. And of course, now under the Clinton administration, the board has been done away with. But my term on there has been very rewarding and I have learned a lot about different livestock operations within the Carson City district.
SA: Now, because I don't know anything about it and what you just told me doesn't give me very much light, I'm going to ask you a few questions so that you can give more details. Who did the advisory board give advice to and what are some of the things you covered and what were your responsibilities?
IK: I'll start out by saying that to be elected on the board, there were people who were using the federal lands. The range users have the election and you are nominated by your peers and that is how you become a board member. Under the Taylor Grazing Act, it was set up that the advisory board would give advice to the Bureau of Land Management personnel on range projects . . . well, originally we gave advice on range projects and livestock numbers. ln fact, our position was real strong because we could practically tell the district manager that we wanted a certain project done and he would have to go through with it. But then in later years they amended it so that we were just advisors. At first, we weren't advisors. We gave information as to what they should be doing. And at the time I went on the board, in the Carson City District there was only five employees. And I might say today I don't know how many there are, but it's over a hundred doing practically the same job. And we got a lot done back in those days, also. After we came on the advisory board, the district manager would have different projects lined up that he wanted to do during the year. They would be brought before us to give him advice as to whether they should do them or shouldn't do them. And most of the projects were acceptable. Once or twice we got into projects that we wouldn't approve. And I was very pleased that if we didn't approve a project, they backed off from it and dropped it.

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SA: I have a couple of questions because I need some clarification again. The Carson City District, what does that area cover? Because you're here in Fallon. What is the Carson City District?
IK: The Carson City District included all of Churchill County, all of Mineral County . . . let's see, Esmeralda County, Carson City County, Storey County, Washoe County, part of Mono County in California, and part of Lassen County in California.
SA: That's a huge area. I'm glad that you told us that. Now, the other question I have because I want more specifics. You talked about projects. Select a few major projects that you feel were maybe some of the most worthwhile that you helped see get through. Describe some of the projects.
IK: Well, some of the fencing projects I think that we pushed for along these highways. The highway department wouldn't fence some of the highways and we as a board felt that these bad spots where cattle were crossing the highway and people were getting killed, had to be fenced. And we really pushed for them. And then we'd have fencing projects between two different operators and the operators weren't getting along. And one of them would say, "Well, too many cows of yours are on my property." And too many are on somebody else's property. And we would really push hard to get fences between the two property owners so that it would end these disputes and the drifting of cattle.
SA: And how long did you serve on that board?
IK: Approximately forty years.
SA: Oh, my gosh! Were you the main one from Fallon? The longest one from Fallon?
IK: Oh, yes. I was by far the longest one there. In fact, I have been the only one from Fallon since . . . oh, I guess since I went on the board.
SA: That's remarkable. And then you were voted by your peers in all those counties?
IK: Right. Right. Right.

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SA: Were you involved in some organization where you got acquainted with all of these people before you were on the board?
IK: Oh, no. No. It just seemed like I knew so many people around different places and they knew who I was and that we were ranchers and interested in the resources.
SA: Well, that's quite an honor that I know you deserve. Now, another committee that you belong to that I want to hear a lot about is the United States Agriculture and Conservation committee. Can you tell me about your participation in that?
IK: Yes. Senator Bible was in the Senate at the time and President Kennedy was just elected. And Senator Bible called on the phone from Washington and wanted to know if I would be willing to serve on the Agriculture Stabilization Committee from Nevada. And I said, "I would be pleased to." There was only three that are appointed on that committee. So I accepted the appointment and I served during Kennedy's administration up until the time he was assassinated. And then under President Johnson. And Johnson, while he was in his office on his full term. So I served for eight years on the Agriculture Stabilization Committee.
SA: Now, tell me in some detail what kind of activity you participated in on the committee and how you did it and what was accomplished.
IK: Well, we met once a month.
SA: Where?
IK: ln Reno. Our office for the state was in Reno. And at that time we had county offices in practically all the counties in the state. And each county has a county manager. And programs that the county would think should be instigated in a lot of instances were brought before the state committee for a decision on whether they thought they would be all right for land leveling or cement ditches. And those were probably two of the most popular projects. It all had to be done on private land. None could be done on federal land. ln other words, somebody that had a Forest Service or BLM permit could qualify for that. Even the water wells come under it. Like I say, the two other items were probably the most used items. And it was on a cost sharing basis. The state was allocated so much money each year.

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Say, for example, we were allocated $300,000 for the year for conservation practices such as leveling land and drain ditches or whatever. And then we . . . the state reallocated those funds back to the different counties. Our allocation was based on how much work the county did within that county. Some counties are small and didn't have too much agriculture, so they didn't have much use for the funds or couldn't qualify for a lot of the practices while other counties would use considerable amount of the money. Also, they had programs wherein you couldn't plant a certain amount of grain. And we had to approve them. Oh, there were numerous practices like that . . . that came under our jurisdiction. It was real interesting and something different.
SA: It’s amazing to me how many things you were doing and I don't quite know how you did them all and I know you did them all well. But tell us now about the Nevada Cattle Association that I know you became a leader in, starting from your first involvement until now.
IK: Well, I joined the Nevada Cattle Association in the late forties or early fifties. I don't recall exactly when. But I was always more or less active in it. And Les Stewart had been president of the Nevada Cattle Association. He lives at Paradise Valley out of Winnemucca. He approached me and said, "How would you like to become president of the Cattle Association?" Well, it was kind of a
bombshell because I had never even given it a thought. Well, in the first place, you have to be vice-president for two years. And then you move up to being president. Well, I said, "Let me think about it." So I saw him a couple of hours later and I said, "Yeah. I'll accept it." And I said, "I know it's going to be a lot to handle, but I think I can handle it all right."
SA: What year was this?
IK: Well, let's see. I become vice-president in, I think, it was 1970. And I was vice-president for the two years. And then in 1972, I was elected president of the Nevada Cattlemen Association. At that time the association didn't have much funds and the president had to pay his own way every place . . . every place you went. If you fly back to Washington, you footed the bill. It was taking about four days out of every week taking care of being president of the Cattle Association.
SA: Wow.

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IK: ln addition to that, it cost quite a bit of money, too. And so at the end of my two year term as president, I told them "We've got to change this some way or another." I said, "You can't keep asking these people to put up their own time and their own money being president." And so we enacted the . . . I don't know what you call it, but from there on the president would be reimbursed for his expenses as being president. And probably the highlight when I was in there . . . they were gonna boycott meat.
SA: Who's they?
IK: A lot of the general public that had been eating meat. And so We- I say we. The president of the Nevada Cow Belles, Marie Stewart, and myself got a bus chartered and we took a bunch of the protesters on a tour to a slaughter plant which is over in Yerington. We had arranged this ahead of time and the people who owned this slaughterhouse took them through and showed them all about the meat from the time it was killed until it would come out in steaks and how it was all cut up and everything. And you know, these people had been very vocal. And of course, we explained to them on the tour our cattle operations and so forth which most of them didn't know anything about. And after the tour, they dropped the boycott, so that was one of the highlights, I think, of being on there.
SA: And you mentioned the Nevada Cow Belles. Tell me, what is that?
IK: It's an organization made up to a great extent of wives of the Nevada cattlemen. It's no longer called the Cow Belles. It's the Nevada Cattlewomen now.
SA: Oh, OK. [laughs]
IK: It was changed from Cow Belles to Cattlewomen. But they have been a great help to the cattle industry and the cattlemen. Oh, something will come up in Washington or over in Carson City during the legislature and we need help. And they'll write letters and call on the telephone and things like that. And they have been a great help to our industry.
SA: Now is that a county-wide or a state-wide . . .

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IK: The Cow Belles are made up county-wide and state-wide. In other words, there's . . . the Cow Belles in districts, you might say. There's a district in Elko, Winnemucca, Churchill County, one over at Gardnerville, and one in Ely. And anyway, there is the state Cow Belles which all of these districts belong to. And then from the state Cow Bells, it goes to the national Cow Belles which is made up from cattlewomen from every state.
SA: That's interesting. I didn't know much about that.
IK: And they have a convention at the same time that the national cattlemen have their convention.
SA: Oh, that's smart. That sounds very interesting.
iK: Going back to when I was on the Nevada Agriculture Stabilization Committee, probably one of the highlights of being on that
committee, they asked us to come back to Washington for a meeting. And in fact, they asked all of the state ASC committees to come back to a meeting. And we had a meeting that one day and they spoke about programs. And they said, "Well, we're going to have a surprise for you the next day." And we had no idea of what the surprise was. But the surprise was that they took us in buses to the White House and we met President Kennedy out on the lawn in back of the White House. And he come around and shook hands and talked to us, and we spent a couple of hours there with him. And following that, when President Johnson was president, we were also invited back there. While we were back there during President Johnson's tenure the dinner was at the state house. It was the first time, we were told, that they ever had people in our category do anything like that. The whole cabinet was there with their wives and they visited with us. And it was really quite an occasion.
SA: Tell us about the Nevada Tax Commission that you have . . . or are serving on.
IK: Well, I had served on it. I was appointed on the Nevada Tax Commission when Governor O'Callaghan took office. Governor O'Callaghan appointed me on the commission to represent agriculture.
SA: What year?

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IK: I don't know. It was the year that Governor O'Callaghan [laughter] was elected governor of Nevada. And I served for the eight years that Governor O'Callaghan was on there. During that time the legislators changed . . . instead of just agriculture, I represented both agriculture and livestock. At that time, they reduced the number of people that were on the commission, also. And we also served as a state board of equalization during that time up until they changed the makeup of the board. I served all through Governor O'Callaghan's term and Governor List reappointed me and I served through his term, and I was serving on Governor Bryan's term when I resigned. And the reason I resigned is because it was getting kind of difficult for me to get around. So I thought I had better quit while I still could.
SA: How long ago was that that you quit? I mean recently or quite a while ago . . . .?
IK: Oh, it's been about ten years ago now.
SA: Oh, quite a while ago.
IK: Yes.
SA: So you served at least eight or ten years?
lK I served thirteen years.
SA: Thirteen years. Tell me some of the decisions on tax that were handled during that time. What do you do when you're on the Nevada Tax Commission?
IK: Well, the Nevada Tax Commission sets the rates. Well, it's changed during the period of time I was even on the commission. But we have to take the assessments on all the utilities, decide the assessment value on utilities, which would take in power companies, telephone companies, railroads, airlines. In other words, United Airlines flies across Nevada, we get that portion of where the plane is in Nevada. And then we set evaluations on livestock. Of course, livestock is no longer taxed, but at that time we were setting evaluation for livestock. All farming, all agriculture. We heard the complaints of the various entities. We had to approve the tax rate for all the counties and the cities within the state of Nevada.

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SA: Wow.
IK: Of course, my part of it . . . I acted on everything, but I was supposed to be the expertise for agriculture and livestock while I served on the board, April 1971 until October of 1984.
SA: I know that you've also been active in other organizations and have won awards. Do you want to tell us about those?
IK: Yes, I was elected by the Society for Range Management as rangeman of the year. And that was for the state of Nevada [tape was severely degraded in this section, and so a chunk of approximately 30 seconds was cut]. I twice have been elected cattleman of the year by the Nevada Cattlemen's Association which is, I think, a very high honor because I do not know of anyone that has been nominated for cattleman of the year but one time before.
SA: Now who nominates and what is this organization?
IK: The Nevada Cattlemen's Association.
SA: Oh, I see. Ok. So this is also a state-wide organization.
IK: Yes. Right. Right.
SA: And you're going to have to give me those dates later.
IK: Well, the first time was 1975. I was nominated as cattleman of the year. And I was again last year, 1993.
SA: Oh. Congratulations.
IK: Then I happened to be a member of the Lander, Wyoming, One Shot Antelope Hunt Club which is quite an honor. It has been in existence since before World War II. And of course, they didn't have any hunts during the war. But it is made up of mostly dignitaries which I can't say / am, but in Nevada I am only the fourth person who has been asked to join this club. The others.. one is ex-senator Cannon and one is ex-senator Laxalt.
SA: Oh wow, senators… What does it mean . . . Lander, Wyoming, One Shot Antelope Hunt club? Tell us.
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IK: [degraded section. According to old transcript, Kent said “You have but one shell to kill your antelope with and if you miss, you are done and at the banquet that night”] you get a prize of a laughing antelope given to you. And you have to dance with an Indian squaw that night. [laughs] So, it's a lot of fun and it involves a lot of people. You meet a lot of dignitaries that you certainly wouldn't in everyday life.
SA: When that event comes, is that where everyone who is anybody goes there for that occasion and there's so many dignitaries?
IK: Well, no I wouldn't say so. It isn't advertised very much. It's quite a thing. [degraded section. No text missing this time] And they have a big dinner after the shoot that night. And host everybody. And in my case, I shot at this antelope. It was just six-thirty in the morning. lt was just breaking day and I hit the antelope and we saw him go down. And we thought he was dead. Each hunter has a guide that's with him. So we drove over there. The darn antelope was gone. So anyway, I was one of those that had the laughing antelope and had to dance with the Indian gal that night. Then you had to give your reason before all these people why you missed the antelope and so forth. And oh, there were probably five hundred people there at this banquet. So I got a telephone from the motel. And I had the telephone sitting under the desk and under the podium. And so when I walked up there, I reached under the podium and picked up the telephone and I dialed. And I said, "How are you tonight, Mr. Weatherby? ... Roy Weatherby? Oh, you are? You're feeling fine? Well, that's good. You know, I'm here in Wyoming tonight and I was on that One Shot Antelope Hunt. [degraded section] –from you. Well, the darn thing, I shot this antelope and that bullet disintegrated that antelope. And I want to know what kind of bullets you're selling." And people got the biggest uproar out of that. [laughter]
SA: Did you think of that yourself?
IK: Yes.
SA: Oh, you're pretty clever. Do you know what year this was?
IK: I don’t remember…
SA: Did you go with anyone? Did you go with a group?

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IK: My wife went with me. No. No. You're not invited as groups, you're invited individually.
SA: Oh, so you're invited to go.
IK: Oh, yes. It's invitation only.
SA: OK. I'm glad you said that. In other words, not just anyone can go.
IK: Oh, no.
SA: How many are invited each year about?
IK: They have normally around eighteen people. And there was three to team. (A woman calls out from the back “1985”)
IK: 1985 was when it was. And there was three to a team. And they have six teams each year who shoot. And the team I was on was representing water for wildlife.
SA: Oh, that's really wonderful.
IK: And then I'm also a member of the Grand Slam Club. Member number fifty-seven. To go in with the Grand Slam Club, you have to have completed a Grand Slam which comprises of a Dall ram, a stone ram, a desert bighorn, and a bighorn ram. And I have three Grand Slams.
SA: Three Grand Slams!
IK: There are probably about five hundred and fifty members that belong to the Grand Slam Club as of now that have completed one Grand Slam or more. I doubt if there's over a dozen people in the United States who have three Grand Slams.
SA: We'll also have to get those dates. You're quite a hunter.
IK: I also at one time, when I lived in Fallon, belonged to the Fallon volunteer fire department.
SA: How many times did you have to go to fires? How many years did you serve on that?

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IK: Oh, I think I was only on there about two years until I moved back out to the ranch and then I resigned from it.
SA: You'd have to. You couldn't hear their siren.
IK: No, I say not. And that was quite an experience, too.
SA: Any special fires that you can remember? Anything exceptional?
IK: No, not right offhand. I don't recall anything that was exceptional. I do remember that the first one that got to the firehouse always got to drive the fire truck. And the siren went off one morning about four o'clock in the morning and I don't know how I got dressed and got to the fire department so quick, but I got in there and had the fire truck all ready to go . . . it was all started up before anybody ever showed up. And I thought maybe I had been dreaming [laughter] because nobody come and it seems like I sat there for an hour and I probably didn't sit there over a minute or two, but . . . .
SA: And the place burned down by them [laughter]
IK: Yes. Then I've been sixty years as a Mason.
SA: Wow. Anything to tell about your years in the Masons?
IK: No, I never held any offices while I was in the Masons, but I was given a sixty-year pin here two years ago.
SA: Were you the only one that got a sixty-year pin?
IK: No, Lem Allen got one.
SA: Oh, I'm going to interview him later this week.
IK: And Frank Woodliff.
SA: Oh, I interviewed Frank.

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IK: And I was a trustee in the Stillwater School District for a term when we still had the school down here in Stillwater. Outside of that, that more or less covers it.
SA: Well, one thing I know . . . you haven't just been sitting around with all that you've done in your many years. Now, I want to get to the present. And I know that just these last few days, even today, you've been very busy getting ready for a certain meeting in Reno tomorrow. So do you want to tell us about that and tell us some of the issues currently that are being discussed in Churchill County?
IK: Yes. As you all know when Senator Clinton went into office, he put Bruce Babbitt in as Secretary of the interior. For some reason or another, he seems to have it in for the people in the West although he comes from Arizona and was governor of Arizona at one time. He has stated that he's going to make a reform to the livestock range users. He's also trying to reform the mining industries. And I don't know who will be next. But on June 8 we're having a meeting in Reno . . . a hearing . . . which covers the Department of the Interior’s… what was put in the federal register on the management of the federal ranges and also the proposed increase in grazing fees. The proposed grazing fee will increase the fees that we pay. It will double it. In other words, it will be a 100 percent increase which is pretty hard to absorb.
SA: What is it now and what is he recommending that it be? So we can have a better feel for it.
IK: The grazing fee is now is [distorted] $1.96 per AUM which is Animal Unit per Month. In other words, a cow grazes for a month, it's $1.96. And it will be doubled to $3.96 over the next two years. To listen to that, it doesn't sound like it's very much. In other words, roughly four dollars for your feed that you're getting. But that doesn't take into consideration . . . we own all the water. It's been appropriated under state law. We have all the maintenance on all of our waters. We have miles of fence between us and neighbors and drift fences that we have to maintain. In our case, we have about thirty miles of fence we have to maintain. We have about twenty-five miles of pipeline we have to maintain. We have about seventy-five springs that we maintain. Ten wells. And then, of course, we have to have a buckaroo with the cattle year-round. And using the truck . . . our stock truck. Going on these bad dirt roads doesn't last very long. In fact, we have to replace our truck every four years. And it'll probably

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have a hundred thousand miles on or a little over in a four year period. Replacement value is $25,000. And also, our calves, when we wean them from off the desert ranges weigh on average about 375 pounds. And if you have that same calf being weaned out of a pasture on private land, that same calf will weigh anywhere from 550-600 pounds. And your calving percentages in the mountains where we get an eighty percent calf crop . . . eighty to eighty-two percent, we're doing well, while on a cattle ranch within a permanent pasture on private ground, you'll probably have a ninety-eight percent calf crop. And then with the terrain we have in the mountains, we have to use about twice as many bulls as you would if you had them in pastures on private land. So it costs us a great deal more to run on the public land than it does on private land.
SA: What do they charge on private land? Just so that we can have a . . . .
IK: Well, a cow and a calf, the way that they have figured this out . . the government has figured it. It'll run you about twelve dollars. That's an average for all over.
SA: What do you figure here?
IK: Right here a cow and calf would probably cost you around fifteen. But it is costing us right at fifteen dollars to run it on that federal land. But we are weaning a calf that is a 100-115 pounds lighter than the one off the private land.
SA: Why is that? Not as good food?
IK: Well, not as good feed. Not as good feed.
SA: Not as good feed. OK.
IK: So when you figure that calf at eighty or ninety cents a pound, you see how much more it costs us. If we have to use twice as many bulls, a bull average costs us $1500 for a bull and we have to use two bulls. So it costs us $3000 for the bulls against $1500 for the one on private pasture. And when you add these things all together, it's really cost us a lot of money. But the government will not accept the fact that we are doing all this maintenance and not giving us

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credit for it. All they look at is the fee. That more or less summarizes the whole thing.
SA: So what is this meeting now that's going to be today. Who will be attending that. Was there a public notice or . . . ?
IK: Yes. Anyone can attend the meeting. The environmentalists will be there because they're pushing to get all the livestock off the federal range lands. That's what they have been trying to do for quite a few years. And the sportsmen will probably be there because it's going to affect them. If they push the livestock people off the public lands, a lot of these waters will disappear as no one will take care of them and they'll all dry up and it'll have an effect on the wildlife. And of course, all of the livestock people who run on public lands, I'm sure are going to be there to make comments upon the… that have been set out in the federal register on the proposed Rangeland Reform.
SA: Where is this going to be held?
IK: It will be held at the Peppermill Hotel in Reno starting Wednesday at eight o'clock in the morning and it will continue all day until everyone gets an opportunity to make any remarks about it.
SA: Well, that's fair. In other words, everyone can make remarks.
IK: Yes. That's right.
SA: Everyone. That's fair. And so you have to go the night before?
IK: Well, we won't. We'll get up early and go up.
SA: You'll get up real early and go there?
IK: Yes. Yes.
SA: So what other issues are there? I know that we talked a little about the water issues and then the issue of the grazing lands. What other issues are you facing?
IK: Well, the Endangered Species Act. Of course, right here, so far we've been fortunate to a certain extent. Within the valley it has affected us greatly because Pyramid Lake has the cui-ui fish which

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is endangered and they're wanting our water to feed the fish. And all over the United States, the Endangered Species Act has really gotten out of hand. You take the spotted owl. Look what it's done to the timber industry. And, oh, fishes of all different kinds. Babbitt's even talking about taking all of the dams out of the river up in Washington and Oregon so that the salmon can have a free run to go back up the rivers. And, oh, it's just one thing after another. It's just . . . the environmental issue is fine. We have been environmentalists, people in the livestock industry. If we didn't take good care of our ranges, we wouldn't have anything. And we've been running for 120 years on the same land. And if we didn't take care of it and . . . .
SA: Are there some… as in many things, some who spoil it for others who don't take care of it? I mean does that happen?
IK: Well, yes, there are spoilers in everything. And there probably . . . in the livestock industry, we probably got less than one percent.
SA: Oh, that's all.
IK: And that's the only ones they want to look at. ABC was out here in Reno when one of Babbitt's...
SA: You mean the television station?
IK: Yes. From New York. Were out here when Babbitt was in Reno here a couple of months ago. And they wanted to come out and see one of these ranges that was being used. And so they were sent out here.
SA: To your place?
IK: Yes. And Bruce and I took them out to the mountains and showed them where cattle were grazing and everything. And they spent about three hours taking pictures and so forth and said they would be aired on some evening show at six o'clock. But they never were showed because they didn't see what they wanted to see. They wanted to see something that beat out and they didn't see it.
SA: So they didn't put it on.

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IK: Never put it on. And that's happened to us before. In fact, we had the Geographic magazine come here and wanted to go out to the mountains. And we spent a full day with them out there. And they gave us the worst rundown you could ever see. It was unbelievable. They never said a thing in there of what they were told or what they saw. They just tried to destroy the industry.
SA: Oh, that's too bad.
IK: Yes.
SA: Before we end this wonderful interview, is there anything more? I know I do want to ask you this before we end because I know there are all these problems which makes it look kind of pessimistic. I think you have a beautiful, beautiful ranch here and a lovely location. What do you see in the next decade in Churchill County? People are moving in who are looking for a place away from crowds and crime and it's less taxes, of course, here. What do you see in the future, what Churchill County will be like in the next decade?
IK: Well, it certainly won't be agriculture. Under the proposed settlement
that Senator Reid put through, wildlife is supposed to acquire probably close to two-thirds of our water. And there'll be very little agriculture left in the valley. And I suppose the Navy base and if they put the prison in which they're talking about.
SA: Were they talking about a prison?
IK: A federal prison.
SA: Where?
IK: Up north of Fallon about six miles. Supposed to be the biggest
federal prison that's ever been built in the United States.
SA: So close to Fallon instead of out in the desert?
IK: I don't know if it'll go through or not, but as far as agriculture in Nevada is concerned, particularly Churchill County, it's just about through in my opinion.

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SA: That's sad because that's why the Newland's project was started because this was such a ripe area for agriculture.
IK: Yes. And you know what irritates me is that it's an old project and still the government doesn't try and help us. You know, if they'd help us cement these cement ditches, we could get by with a lot less water than what we do. We have a lot of evaporation. And to meet the criteria that they set down, it's pretty near impossible with these old dirt ditches. And they don't want to help us. They're not interested in helping us. All they want is to take the water away from us. Another thing, too, is this clean water act legislation before Congress right now. If we irrigate one of these fields, the water that comes off the end of the field has to be just as pure as the water that enters the field under this new proposal that they have. And that's pretty near an impossibility. You can't do it!
SA: Well, what do they use the water for that it has to be so pure. Can't it be reused on your land?
IK: Yes. But they think they should stay pure all the way so that if the ducks drink it, it won't contaminate them or it won't contaminate the fish or what not. I don't know. It's just regulation on top of regulation. And well, they're trying to regulate that we shouldn't use pesticides. We shouldn't use commercial fertilizers. How are the people in the United States going to live? What are they going to eat if we can't . . today, we . . . each farming family produces enough food for a hundred or more people. And if we have to do away with all these things, we're not going to be able to produce that food. In fact, the American public's going to have to all go back to farming again. Can you imagine that? [laughter] Like it was a hundred years ago. And so many of these environmentalists want to put the country back to where it was 100-150 years ago. It's a very bad, very bad issue.
SA: Well, one thing that I know from not only what I read about your grandparents and your great-grandparents, but from this long interview with you, you all have certainly lived a very fulfilling, rich life in developing and contributing so much to this region. And on behalf of the Churchill County oral history project, we're very grateful to you for all that you've shared in this interview that will help many others in decades to come to see what it was like, what it could be

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like, and what your contribution has been. And so I want to thank you.
IK: Thank you.

Original Format

Audio Cassette

Duration

Part 1) 2:19:00
Part 2) 3:35:38

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Files

Hammie and Nina Kent.JPG
Hammie Kent Lecture recording 1 of 1.mp3
I.H. (Hammie) Kent Lecture on Stillwater.docx
Kent.docx
Hammie Kent Oral History 1 of 2.mp3
Hammie Kent oral history 2 of 2.mp3
Hammie Kent - Early Ranch Life.mp3
Hammie Kent - on the Kaiser and Kents.mp3

Citation

Churchill County Museum Association, “Ira Hamlin "Hammie" Kent Oral History,” Churchill County Museum Digital Archive: Fallon, Nevada, accessed September 22, 2021, https://ccmuseum.omeka.net/items/show/192.