Hay view from Castle

Hay view from Castle
Hay-on-Wye, Powys (formerly Breconshire), Wales. The "Town of Books" (and Vaughans!)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

It's Not a Quest If You Find It

If the only things that happened were that I had a great road trip with two of my boys and a chance to show them Jacks Valley, Nevada while telling them stories of our ancestors and how we found them, then we can't be the least bit disappointed that we found no actual grave site.

We made good time and followed the paved routes closest to the original California Trail, Humboldt Route (I-80) crossing the forty-mile desert (US-95) from the Humboldt Sinks (Lovelock) to the Carson Sinks (Fallon). Then it was US-50 on the Pony Express route right into Carson City and then South, turning up the official route onto Jacks Valley Road

It was there we "saw the elephant." Actually, it was a road grader, a sight the pioneers never saw, as they were repaving the California Trail past the old Johns Ranch.

We were up and down the road, as usual, and stopped to wait three times for the pilot truck.
We'd made such good time that I thought we should go through Genoa and come back so we didn't surprise our rancher friend too early as we had arranged to be there in the late afternoon.

We got to Genoa, which I've blogged before, and it was the first time I'd been there when the Nevada State Park at Mormon Station was open. We went in and I offered  my card to pay the dollar-each fee. They only took cash and having already mentioned the rancher's name, they said I should tell him they would spot us if he paid up for us. I didn't want to push him for even three bucks at the park, so we just loitered in the entry as the rangers looked up our family and I rattled off our historical bona fides mentioning all the right names in the right places.

We were further inhibited from exploring the park as the rangers told us that a cougar had just been spotted behind the stockade wall so, "Be careful!" I was thinking that at some point that cougar would be wanting to cross the park and Genoa Main Street to head back into the hills. I thought we would just head on back up to the ranch.

I drove in with much more confidence having arranged the visit ahead of time. We asked a ranch worker and his boy for the ranch manager and the guy called on his cell for him. We waited as the boy got out his bike and explained that while the ranch was a great place to play, it was tough that he was the only kid around for miles.

The ranch manager came and introductions all around were friendly even if the rancher hadn't told his manager that we were coming again. The manager did remember me from last Fall. I explained that we were searching for any trace of a family grave plot "on the west end" of the old Johns Family Ranch outside of Washoe Indian lands. He said to let him know if we found anything. He led us on his four-wheeler with his little, black dog standing on the back. We parked just before the creek that came our of Water Canyon neither of us trusting my little Corolla to ford it well (it would have been just fine, but I've got to get me a four-wheel drive vehicle for these adventures!)

Looking Northwest towards the treeline that we thought might host some pioneer graves.
He turned us loose with a reminder to "watch for snakes" and we were off. It was hotter than heck but a little cooler up against the Sierra than it had been crossing the forty-mile desert. We struggled up through the brush hitting the major, ancient-appearing ponderosas where you would want to be buried up off the "lone prairee." There was a little trouble with cell reception and screen resolution in the bright sun trying to get to my precise GPS coordinates where I suspected a likely grave site. But we made it finding only rocks that Google Satellite had picked up as possible grave monuments.

We tried every likely shade tree that would have been around for a couple of hundred years and could see across the protected Washoe tribal lands to rule out likely possibilities there.

Piles of rocks to keep cattle from rubbing hides against the trees rather than protecting graves (or so they told us).
Looking down (with a bit of a zoom) from the "west end" of the former Johns Ranch at the edge of the rough land.
An interesting gate-latch out on the ranch.
We found no trace of a grave or family plot. And we felt good about it. It may be out there yet, but we don't think it is possible to find it without someone pointing it out. No one around seems to know anything. And as the last grave we know of was 1890, we're not going to find anyone still alive who was there.

We talked about the possibility of putting up a memorial in the Genoa Cemetery. We'll start exploring that as soon as we get the one in place in Llanfoist churchyard for Elinor's husband, John Vaughan (1789-1850). One monument at a time. A monument for Elinor could say something like:

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