Elko, Nv. 1885. Three manuscript letters, totaling pp. on pictorial letterhead. Previously folded. Light tanning, a few small patches of minor dampstaining. Accomplished in a legible script, and accompanied by typed transcriptions. Very good. Item #1868
George Russell emigrated from Ireland in 1852 and worked in freighting and mining in California and Nevada, before opening a store at Mineral Hill, Elko County and then moving to Elko. John Ruben Bradley and his father, Nevada Governor Lewis Bradley, formed a partnership with George Russell. their holding extending in to Elko, Humboldt and Lander Counties, Nevada and Cassia County, Idaho operating under nine different brands. The partnership dissolved in 1897 after twenty-five years, but Russell continued in the cattle business, and was reported to be the largest stock holder in Nevada in 1918. The three letters present here contain discussion of property issues and the prospective sale of an Idaho ranch and stock to a group of New York investors headed by one J.J. Gordon, the addressee. The first and lengthiest letter, dated January 10, 1885, intimates several reasons behind the company's willingness to sell, and contains detailed description of the ranch, available for $200,000:
"The Idaho property is situated in Cassia County, one place called Oakley, the other place which is head quarters is fifteen miles from it on Dry Creek, with houses and all necessary improvements for stock raising. Both places is under fence and good medow land and we cut each year from 3 to 400 tons of hay on them with wagons and all necessary macheinery.... The range is suplyed with corrells at all necessary places for branding and holding cattle when necessary. There is now on the range between 6000 & 7000 head of cattle as nigh as we can figure it after making all libral allowances for losses up to this time. And there was branded on the Ranch last year 1100 calves and this year it will brand from 1400 to 1500 with any kind of avrige Spring. The percentage of losses is less and stocks get fatter than any range I know of in the North Western country. We put 27 fine Hereford Bulls on it last year and the hole stock of cattle is the best in the Territory."
The interest of the New York group seems to have kept up through the year, before their dawdling caused Russell and Bradley to pull the plug on the sale during the Fall. In May, the cattlemen were still trying to offer attractive terms for the sale, writing that, "We will sell you 1/3, 1/2 or all of the Property and will give you a reasonable length of time at a reasonable cust on Part of all of it.... It is good Payeing Property so if you want a part of all of it come out and we will satisfy you what the property is." However, by October, they have run out of patience, with Russell saying, "I am sorrey this matter has poot you to so much trouble and had you not been one of the intended investers in the Ranch I would have said some time ago let her slide." Russell also notes the results for the year on the property, and references the 1885 law and enforcement proclamation that protected homestead lands from open-range grazing, writing, "The seasons work is about over on the Range now. In two weeks more will be through shipping our Beeves and branding for the season both of which has been good. The Presidents proclamation don't affect us any, it is rather a benefit. A few such men has no right to fence in a hole country." A small but quite interesting group of correspondence on Idaho ranch and cattle matters.