Nevada State Journal, Reno, Nevada page 13, Sunday, March 8, 1959
Generous Native of Nevada, 73, Gives Collection to Elko Museum by Mel Steninger
Roger Bruffey, at the age of 73, has done a lot of living and seen a lot of history -- and thanks to his generosity, the historic mementos of his life will endure as symbols of the colorful early days of Northeastern Nevada.
Bruffey, who was born on the Pine Valley ranch where he now lives in retirement, recently donated a variety of accumulated articles to be placed in a museum in Elko contemplated by the Northeastern Nevada Historical Society.
The assortment ranges from dozens of old guns to one of the earliest models of the Howe sewing machine to an early vintage Dodge touring car.
Bruffey recently signed an agreement with Dr. Tom Gallagher of Elko, president of the historical society, transferring ownership of a long list of symbols of Nevadacana, with the understanding they will be displayed in the proposed museum.
Gallagher has declared his group hopes to have the museum constructed in the city park at Elko within the next year - and Bruffey's articles will take their places in the public display along with several other items already pledged to the museum.
The Bruffey Ranch nestles in a narrow canyon some distance north of Eureka and its residents have taken advantage of the secluded location in the resistance to the innovations of changing times. Roger Bruffey is the only member of the family still living on the ranch and he lives there in much the same fashion he did four decades ago.
When a visitor descended into that secluded canyon he senses a transformation in time as well as location and finds himself looking at the entranceway to the mining camp of Mineral Hill not a great deal unlike the way it was during the heyday of the camp.
Roger's father, Theodore Brison Bruffey, constructed the long, rambling adobe house when he first settled on the rance in 1872 and it has been altered by nothing but the weather during the 86 years since.
Indian Labor Used
Roger displays obvious affection for the old house and takes considerable pride in the fact his father, who utilized Indian labor in the construction, made his "dobies" without the use of straw.
The senior Bruffey first saw Nevada when he camped at Bailey Springs in 1854 on his way to California.
Then, like so many of the early day Californians, he returned with the backwash to Nevada. He worked for a time as a wheelwright for the Overland Stage Line at Roberts Creek Station. While there he was associated with a blacksmith names George S. Henderson, father of Judge A. S. Henderson of Las Vegas.
In 1869 the elder Bruffey went to Mineral Hill, where he operated a saloon until 1872 when most of the mining camp was destroyed by fire. At that time Bruffey held a mortgage on a place homesteaded by John Davenport in Pine Valley and when the homesteader was unable to make his payments Bruffey foreclosed and started work on the adobe house that still stands as a landmark to his ability.
Place for Miners
He built the house as a stopping place for the miners and teamsters on their way to Eureka, Mineral Hill and the old town of Union. The Bruffey place also became a favorite spot for miners who "became leaded" and believed a sure cure was promised by a few weeks at Bruffey's bathing in water from the mineral hot springs and drinking sour milk "to eliminate the lead in their systems".
There were four boys and two girls in the Bruffey family and Roger's other sister, who died last fall in northern Iowa, was born Oct. 10, 1869 as the first white baby in Mineral Hill. The other daughter, Mrs. Ida D. LeNord, lives in Fernley.
Roger, the only surviving son, was born in December of 1885 and spent his entire life on the old ranch.
He remembers his father telling how Mineral Hill was first discovered by Jim Ward, John McDonald and Dave Northy and how Ward had operated a ranch at Lamoille but had forsaken a ranching career for the promise of mining riches in association with his prospector friends, McDonald and Northy.
Another favorite story of his father's was how Mineral Hill originally was a part of Elko county, but was switched in 1873 to Eureka County by legislative gerrymandering. Elko County's delegation to the state legislature that year was striving to have the state university located in Elko and secured the support of the Eureka legislators with an agreement to transfer the rich mining camp to Eureka County.
Roger's father and men named Edwards and Whalen led the opposition to the plan because they realized the transfer would mean increased fares for the Mineral Hill area. Despite their efforts, however, the bill to locate the University of Nevada at Elko was passed and in due course the Mineral Hill residents became taxpayers in Eureka county. Roger says he can still locate the survey markers that were set out when the transfer was made.
The old Howe sewing machine is believed to be one of the original models of this innovation. Roger told members of the historical society the machine was swept away in a flood that claimed nine lives when it ravaged Eureka in 1874. It was found by the husband of the woman who had lost it. He located the machine some days after the flood and some distance downstream. Roger's father subsequently purchased the machine from the family that retrieved it, and his mother, whose maiden name was Sarah Juitor, used it for a number of years.
Roger also has a complete set of wheelwright tools that his father left to his brother, Alan, who in turn passed them on to Roger. The tools have seen considerable use in recent years in keeping the spoked wheels of the several early-vintage Dodge vehicles owned by Roger in good repair.
A one-room cabin that was removed from Mineral Hill to serve as a tool house on the Bruffey ranch is the symbol of a tale of the rise from rags to reaches of the son of a hired gunman for the Consolidated Mineral Hill Co.
The small cabin was the home in Mineral Hill of Al Baker, who fell victim to the mining company gunman, Tom Kelley, in the course of a dispute over a promising strike made by Baker.
Kelley was hired by the company to "persuade" prospectors to sell such promising strikes to Consolidated Mineral Hill Co. If he couldn't secure the mine peacefully, he was instructed to secure it otherwise.
Kelley approached Baker regarding such a "deal" shortly after Baker made his strike, but made little progress on the peaceful approach. Kelley followed instructions and provoked an argument. During the course of the "fight" Kelley shot the unarmed Baker in the back.
The camp was outraged but Consolidated Mineral Hill was a powerful influence in the town and although a trial was held, Kelley was never convicted. He later went to Butte, Mont. where he worked in a similar role, and after a short time the "occupational hazards" of his line of work caught up with him and he was killed.
Mining company officials felt an understandable obligation to Kelley's widow and a son born to the couple at Mineral Hill and the company financed the education of the soon as a mining engineer.
This Mineral Hill son of a mining company gunman took good advantage of that education and Cornelius F. Kelly, who died May 12, 1957, in New York City, served as chairman of the board of Anaconda Copper Mining Co. from 1940 until his retirement in 1955. He was 82 year old at the time of his death.
(The writer is indebted to Mrs. Edna Patterson of Lamoille for information contained in notes on the Bruffy Ranch, taken from the files of the Northeastern Nevada Historical Society.)