Chronicler: S Laucivica
Interviewer: William Douglass
00:08- Born in Spain, 1891. Was 20 when he came to US. In Spain (Guernica) he was a baker for 4 years. A guy told him about how much money he could make in the U.S. so he decided to come here. Only knew about California, not Nevada. His brother loaned him $200 to be repaid in gold. Came via boat, NYC, took 5 days by train to get to Winnemucca. They were left in Winnemucca, decided to stay. There were no Basque hotels at the time (1911), went to the Basque saloon. He and his friend went to Elko on the word of a Basque, but stopped in Battle Mountain and worked on a ranch. He worked as a cook. He rarely ever left the ranch, stayed for four years with Jenkins Ranch. He and a friend decided they wanted to go buy their own ranch in Jacks Creek. Bought sheep (1918), previously only had a few cattle. Went up into the hills and cut down a lot of pine trees for posts and for customers (mines and cords for $10). An incident with a mare stopped them from cutting wood anymore.
10:04- Borrowed money to buy sheep. Borrowed from Joe Savala to buy the sheep. Started out with 900 sheep, and was able to mix his sheep with the guy he bought them from. They took the sheep down for lambing, Tuscarora. A guy he knew from the Jenkins Ranch he saw out on the road and he gave him a suggestion of where to lamb. Had 1500 when he sold his ranch in Jacks Creek. He sold the sheep to AG Company. Went back to work on Jenkins Ranch. Had to do it because they passed a law that sheep owners had to be citizens. Sold the ranch for $7500. When he went back, made $60/mo for Jenkins for a couple years. Was the foreman then, not just a cook. Took over the job from his brother in-law (sister's husband). Got married at Jenkins Ranch, she was Basque. She worked in the hotels, was in US for 5 years before they met.
17:08- Decided to lease Jenkins Ranch from the owner with his brother in-law. They did that for 5 years. Operating the ranch. Afterwards, went to Lamont and went into business with his brother in-law. He bought into brother's ranch, later bought more ranches. He didn't have any sheep, just cattle. Had that ranch 8 years (1928-36). Did pretty much everything on that ranch. In '36 he quit the business and went to Elko. They were extremely broke, due to the Depression and his brother was a difficult man. In Elko, he leased the Star Hotel for $150/mo. and ran it for several years. Business was good, many Basques were there at that time. Then, Basques wouldn't leave Elko county, would stay in the hotels all winter. Cost $45/mo. in the hotel, made $75/mo. No tourists in the Star until after WWII. Business was real good, didn't want to buy the hotel after five years. Afterwards, he bought another ranch in Lamorrow
26:31- The cattle ranch in Lamorrow. Bought cheap, had it for 7 years. Had 600 head of cattle, about 350 sheep, never had to herd them because they were on the ranch. A different brother in-law was on the ranch with him as a partner. How he came upon the ranch. Didn't let anyone know he was buying the ranch except his wife and brother in-law. $2000 down, $16,000 total selling price. Started to buy little lambs and raise and sell them. Eventually was able to buy the cattle, at one time had 1800 sheep. Also, sold hay. About the ranch situation. What he did on the ranch, called it Rankins Ranch. Was there from 1939-47. Sold to Louie Peterson because they were happy with how much money they had. Sold for $120,000. Came back to Elko, mostly just bought land and built apartments and houses and sold/leased them out.
33:34- Then, in 1949 they bought the Nevada Hotel from Red Alice. He moved the hotel via rollers to the other side of the tracks. Cost $1800 to move the hotel, had to build a new foundation. During the move, still operated the hotel. The house got stuck on the tracks, railroad had to help get it off. Ran the Nevada Hotel for 3, maybe 4 years. Not as good business in the Nevada Hotel, but smaller hotel (14 vs. 32 rooms). Always fed herders whether or not they had any money. Knew they would pay him back eventually. Sold the hotel to his daughter and son in-law and retired. Just hung out and did more real estate development. Helped his sons take care of business, they took it all over.
40:28- The hotel would find jobs for the herders, kept clothes and possessions for the herders when they were out on the range. Would send laundry to the laundry house to clean the clothes and hung them up. Would help herders with banking, medical care, legal help. Often, he would also keep money for the herders for safekeeping. Often would also help send money back to Spain, would also loan some of them (trustworthy ones) money short-term. Took them to the store sometimes, any other way he could. The herders and ranchers would stay in the hotels in the winter. He was never discriminated against, he figures that was before his time. Very rarely he would have problems with fights. First Basque club in Elko, picnics. Not many, mostly only on 4th of July and not really a Basque picnic. Somehow, the club is affiliated with the Basque national government.
50:28- The Basque hotels in Elko: Overland, Telescope, Nevada, Star. Other businesses owned by Basques in Elko: Bluejay Bar, Amistad Hotel, Creighton Hotel, The Silver Dollar, a store owned by other Basques, was another saloon where barbershop is (1969). In 1931, there was a big snow storm. Got down to 30-40 below zero. All winter there was tons of snow, had to cut trails for the horses. Last week of March there was 3 feet of snow, was very hard to break the track in the snow to bring hay to the cattle. After giving hay to cattle, couldn't turn around. A lot of big ranchers lost a lot of cattle; some even lost all their cattle.