Thursday, August 21, 2008

Home Ranch, Reese River Valley

Breaking News: Joe Walsh has created a Nevada Walsh website.

These are working notes for a blog to be on the Walsh Home Ranch, in the Reese River Valley below Austin, Nevada. See family tree at When I get it completed, I will upload it to

In a nutshell. My grandmother's uncles Patrick Henry, David J Walsh and a half-brother, William Walsh came to Austin, Nevada in the late 1860s and founded Home Ranch. My grandmother's father Michael Walsh stayed in Bantry

Michael and William's father Joseph had a wife who died in childbirth. His father remarried to Ellen Cremeen on Feb. 25 1837 at St.Finnbar's Church in Bantry Bay and they had Patrick, David, Michael, (James? and two sisters Mary & Julia?)? Somehow having a family of only four boys would've stuck out as an anomaly where the norm was eight plus children in a family.

The Nevada Walshes raised grain: wheat and oats and they sold it to the (mostly Irish) miners in Austin, NV. Paddy said grain was more valuable than gold. And he was right. It was their grubstake.

When she was a young woman, my grandmother, Jennie Walsh Reilly, used to spend summers at Home Ranch with her aunt May Sullivan; her brothers Bill and Joe worked at the ranch as well. (Possibly another brother as well) Jennie's sisters Kitty and Peig also lived at Home Ranch. There were many other folks and not-so-distant relations from Bantry living at the ranch—many Bantry women married into the Walsh clan.

Home Ranch was the stopping off place, the safe place to land for many of those post Famine Irish who emigrated from Bantry Bay. Siblings sent passage for siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and friends of the family. All were welcome at Home Ranch. There was plenty of land and plenty of work too.

Home Ranch was her first home when my grandmother came to America. She talked a lot about her uncle Bill, Paddy and his son Wild Bill, her cousin. (Wild Bill, is my correspondent Joe' Walsh's grandfather—if I have it right.) Wild Bill & Jennie were cousins. Wild Bill's son Frank was her first cousin once removed and my mother's 2nd cousin.

Young Joe (tho he be my age) is my mother's second cousin. This is where my brain melts. What is my grannie's 2nd cousin to me? Either 2nd cousins twice removed, or third cousins, whichever comes first. Bases are loaded. Top of the ninth. I'll let Ancestry. com and figure it out. His kids would be my third cousins if I have it right. It's a generational thing.

Wild Bill stories abounded in my family. I will post some at one point. A few stories made their way into some poems I wrote during the early 1980s. Suffice to say Wild Bill was a gambler and a rogue—he once sold his truck in Ione for a barrel of whiskey and a good hand of was a long walk back home...I'm sure a late night hoor was involved as well...

The family lost the ranch when it fell into decline in the late 1920s. Some blamed the foreman who was sent to San Francisco to buy a prize bull for breeding, but he pocketed the money instead and bought an inferior (sterile?) bull and the herds failed....that was the beginning of the end. Did an empire fall for lack of a bull's sperm? Or so the story goes.

After the ranch was sold, my family settled in San Francisco-Bay Area, and some drifted south to LA. We lost touch with the ones who stayed.

What survived were the stories of some of the Nevada Walshes in Colorado, New Mexico—the Manhattan Project. What stuck in my mind were the tragic stories. I remember fragments—how one Walsh fell down drunk in the snow and died. One leaned over his horse to open a gate, and his shotgun blew his head off. Another was killed by a horse in front of his wife...

Then we lost touch with the Nevada Walshes—those who stayed. But my grannie would repeat the stories. They were fragments in my head that I could never sort out. The complex relationships. Cousins marrying cousins, etc....

My great-grandparents Michael Walsh and his wife, Jane Rose Sullivan Walsh of Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland. Michael's older brother, Patrick Henry founded Home Ranch with his brothers, William and David.

Most of Michael's children emigrated to Home Ranch from Ireland including my grandmother. That is how I came to be born in America, versus Ireland. Michael stayed home to run the family farm, Coomb an-nÓr in Bantry.

Michael's half-brother William was the impetus to go out west and strike it rich. Or to become cowboys. Or ranchers. And so they did.

Coomb an-nÓr in Bantry was eventually lost to lawyers when during an inheritance struggle, two brothers fought over possessions—a farm was lost to the lawyers' fees while two brothers fought over a plough... which two brothers, I know not. But because of it, the family was divided between two countries, two continents. And the connections scattered over the vast distance of America.

Photo courtesy of Joe Walsh, my 2nd cousin once removed. Walsh family gathering, ca. 1890s?

1. Young Mary Walsh—Not Patrick's first wife, Mary Mahoney of Bantry. A daughter?

2. Patrick Heny Walsh. Judging by the posture, I think that is Paddy.

3. Paulina Gloor m. to Patrick Heny Walsh (2) seated on wagon with arms folded. But she's got her arms threaded through # 6's arms—William Walsh.

4. Young Joseph F Walsh—a very popular man. Some great photos of him riding into Austin like a movie star. Only, he was the real thing.

5. Young William Reynolds Walsh. Wild Bill, himself, the rogue.

6. Brother of Patrick. William Walsh. Did he ever marry, have children? I think he was the unmarried brother. Or is this another woman, William's wife?

7. Katherine Walsh? Joseph's wife?

My great uncle Joe Walsh (who worked at Home Ranch) and his sister Jennie Walsh (my grandmother).

My grandmother's brother Joe Walsh who also worked at Home Ranch. She came from Ireland with Joe. He became a police captain in San Francisco. His son, Ed Walsh (Ranger) used to spend summers at Home Ranch as well.

My correspondent Joe Walsh (whose father Francis/Frank) said these are his father Frank's sisters, (his aunts) Mary and Florence Walsh—I don't recognize that name. I think we conflated Florence with her mother, Bantry-born Julia Mahoney (I had O'Leary—but I think that's wrong), Wild Bill's wife and a first cousin. That was a huge scandal.

My correspondent, Joe's grandfather was Wild Bill. (Son of Patrick Henry Walsh. David J Walsh was Patrick's brother).

The repetition of family names within the Walsh clan is absolutely maddening from a genealogical point of view. Walshes repeatedly named their children after themselves, their parents, their siblings, often reversing the order of names: there was John Joseph, Joseph John—sometimes with only a middle name or a nickname distinguishing cousins from each other—John Martin, Joseph Francis... Paddy (The Boss), Patsy, Pat, all variants of Patrick Henrys (there were several of them). I've no idea how they kept track of all the Williams—one moniker survives: Wild Bill.

And all the Mary Walshes! May, Mame, Mamie, Marie... Margaret, Maggie, Peg... Eleanor, Nellie, Nell, Lena... Sometimes there were spelling variations Kathleen, Kate, Cathleen, Catherine, Catharine etc....we're not sure if they were different people or merely the accidental byproduct of creative turn-of-the-century spelling.

Tillie Paulson Walsh McNett (she remarried Gail McNett (her son's father-in-law!) in her 60s, long after John Martin Walsh died. He was the one killed by a horse right in front of her).
(c 1981 Maureen Hurley Photo)

Some pix of Home Ranch, Reese River Valley, near Austin, NV, from Joe Walsh, a long-lost relative. We found each other on the internet.

Joe says Tillie Paulson married John Martin Walsh who was the son of Patrick Henry Walsh and Paulina (Gloor) Walsh. Paulina was his great-grandfather's second wife with whom they had two sons (John Martin and Patrick Henry, Jr.).

Joe's side of the family comes from the Patrick Henry and Mary (Mahoney) Walsh. Mary died in 1883 and Patrick remarried in 1888 to Paulina, a Swiss widow from New York. She had three children from her first marriage to a cigar maker. The girls came out west, the son did not...or so we think(there are quite a few unidentified young men in the big family photo). One was Clara and the other?

I know I'm related to Tilly's family through Patrick we've finally found the common ancestors. Joe and I, after two years of corresponding!

John Martin Walsh died about April 7th, 1928 at the age of 38 while driving cattle back from Stillwater where the Walsh kept cattle in the winter. He was chasing a bull on horse when they all got tangled up and the horse fell on him.

My grand-uncle William from Bantry, Ireland. The guy on the right is a descendent of my long-lost Nevada relations, Bill (Butch) Walsh of Concord. He looks just like his great-great uncle Bill. I remember hearing that I had relatives in Concord so this story jives.

We always referred to Tillie's family as the Nevada Walshes. But there were more.

Walsh Family crest card sent to my grandmother from her mother Jane Rose (Sullivan-Walsh) and her son, Mikie in Bantry, she was pleading my grandmother to please write sometime.

From Home Land: Ranching and a West that Works.
Ed, Laura Prichett, Richard L. Knight and Jeff Lee.
"Words Meet Deeds on the Land" by Paul F. Starrs.

The book had some silly twaddle about Home Ranch being merely a generic term. It later came to mean just that. But let me paint a broader canvas. Patrick and his two brothers settled in the Reese River Valley in the late 1860s, and called the first Walsh Ranch, Home Ranch. That was its name. Their home.

And we have it used as a proper noun as well from the oral tradition in 1912. My grandmother always referred to Home Ranch as a proper noun. Capital letters and all. The Walsh brothers then bought out the neighboring Hess Ranch, and other ranches including Blackbird. Paddy "The Boss" bought up every canyon ranch he could find, and even homesteaded a few.

At one point, Paddy Walsh was the largest single land owner in Nevada. And the idea of designating Home Ranch—as grand central station—became critical, if only to keep track of everything. But I digress.

Then there are the Malloys who are Walshes as well...I've met them. John Malloy was last living in Elko. He and his former wife Loretta ran the Wild Pony Canyon motel in Austin, we stayed there in 1985s, then they split up and we all lost track. His (grand?) mother Nellie Malloy was a Walsh—Paddy's daughter.

Jim Champie owns Home Ranch now. He knows many branches of our family as we—unbeknownst (and lost) to each other— keep making pilgrimages to Home Ranch over the years. Jim's related to the Marin—San Geronimo Valley Champies, MacBrides, and Bundchus—I went to school with all of them —at Lagunitas School and Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo. Small world.

When we visited Home Ranch in 1985, Jim would say, "Oh some Walshes came to visit"—he didn't know who they were, and we certainly couldn't even keep track of each other. Our family was scattered like blow-wife seedlings on the four directions of the wind. So how could he, a stranger. But he knew the names of our horses.

Poet Celia Woloch and I stopped by in 1991 and again, Jim said some Walshes stopped by... Who were all these phantom Walshes, anyway? He said they were different than the last lot. I counted up to three separate groups making pilgrimages—besides my own family, that is. So the pilgrimage continues to this day. And the ranches are lost sometime in the 1930s or 40s? The ties of the Irish to the land is strong.

The Walshes came to America because, under English law, all siblings had to inherit the farm—which led to the division of land until it was no longer a sustainable agricultural unit. Coomb an-nÓr in Bantry was once a large, prosperous farm. But it was being whittled down over the generations and that only served to heighten the need for land.

And so the Walsh brothers came out west like the three muskateers for adventure and to find their fortune and managed to get a parcel of desert scrub land—which was to grow into a vast cattle baron empire.

Patrick also owned ranchland in California. Susanville, and Alturas County. Joe sent me many documents which I've read but I'm still piecing together the relations story. The land stories will come later. Bea Walsh Bible and a nephew Pat Walsh have both contacted me.

Meanwhile, below are some correspondence notes between myself and Joe Walsh, from 2007:


I came across your posting on "Walsh Ancestor Registry" dated Sep 18, 2007 and was curious about the individual you mention who came to Nevada in the 1860's and founded a ranch in /near Austin, Nevada.
I had a great grandfather " Pat Walsh " who migrated to Nevada from Bantry Bay via New York - San Francisco - Eureka, Nevada in the late 1860's and set up a ranch somewhat later in Reese River. He married twice (Mahoney & Gloor) and had children via both marriages.

Long shot, but I was wondering if this individual would be related to you somehow.

Thanks for your time.

Joe Walsh

Hello Maureen,

It is such a pleasure when you stumble across a relative while surfing the internet. I am not sure how much genealogy I would try to do without the net.

Where to you start when you try to explain who you are and how you came to be? Since the Irish are at their best when telling a story, I will just jump in with events that took place in the past year or so. This story will tie in with 2 pictures that I have attached that I hope you enjoy.

Late last year I decided to get a mini–family reunion together of relatives in the Bay Area that I have had contact with many times thru the years, yet seem to see less as we get older.

By the way your asked how old I am. Just turned 53 this last October. Have 3 sisters (couple are a few years older and one is a couple years younger).
So, in October of 2006, we all met (about 60 or so ) in Pacifica, California (Walshes, Browns, Gonzales, etc etc etc ) to swap stories & memories. Many pictures where taken, enjoyed and then put away.

Jump to early this year when I made one of my 3 or 4 yearly visits to Reno, Nevada (I seem to always be drawn to Nevada - usually sorry to return to the bay area) to do some snooping around at the Nevada Geneology Center on Virginia just down from UNLV.

I never get my hopes up high and if I come across a picture or article, that normally suffices until the next time I stumble upon something. So there I am going thru large stacks of articles / photos which held little interest to me when I overheard the staff behind me using words such as, "Reese River", "old ranch house", & "Walsh". I waited a minute or so and then went over to inquire as to their conversation.

It turns out that they were just going thru a re-catalog process of much of the material on site and just happened to be going thru a binder labeled "Walsh" while I was there. I waited for them to finish on this material & they were then kind enough to bring it over so that I may review the contents.

Among the many items of interest (letters, documents, photo ) was a photo of a Walsh gathering that I date from around 1895 – 1905 based on some of the people who were labled on the reverse and dates of births and deaths that I have.

That photo includes (I believe) an individual that I think is one of the brothers of my great-grandfather. I have census records that indicate that a David .J. Walsh lived with for some time Patrick Walsh out at Reese River (was listed as his brother) and was killed in a mining accident.

I did not know when I first looked at the photo who this person was since he was not one of those identified on the back of the photo but I remembered seeing a photo from my own family reunion last year in which my cousin from Concord, William (butch) Walsh seemed to have more than a passing resemblance to this individual.

I still cannot be sure for certain - but based on his position in the picture of being right next to Paulina (Gloor) Walsh – he must be someone close to Patrick Walsh.

It is funny how even in family pictures, a sort of hierarchy exist. My grandfather was way down sitting below not in a position of authority which goes with how the Walsh ranch legacy played out.

It is this kind of research that has me looking for more. Current items I am looking for include a story from a second cousin in Santa Cruz that my dad’s middle name of "Cornelius" came from one of Patrick Walsh’s half brothers. His name is said to have been Cornelius W. Crowley (a person of that name lived in Reese River at the same time) but I have yet to find any more info on this story.

(NB half brother would be David and my great-grandfather Michael Walsh of Bantry. MH)

I always try to find at least 3 different ways to verify information or family stories before I put it in my family tree. I am in the process of putting all my info up on FLICKR (photos & documents) and will drop you an email when I am finished.

You mentioned in your email of meeting William (wild bill) Walsh. Perhaps you met my Uncle Joe Walsh (real name was William Joseph Walsh) since my Grandfather, William Reynolds (Wild Bill) Walsh died in 1946 and you mentioned that you were born in 1952.

Hope you enjoy the photos and look forward to speaking again and perhaps meeting in the future.

Second Cousin Joe – many times removed

Hi Joe

RE Patrick Walsh out at Reese River (was listed as his brother) and was killed in a mining accident.

I do remember hearing this story...from my grandmother and yes, I think the brother part is right... I'm gonna have to find that chart I did with my grandmother in the late 1960 as I don't remember all the details. The gravestones in Austin will help untangle some of the dates.

My 2nd cousin, Michael Collins' second wife, Laura, also did a later family chart in the 1970s as she was completely at sea trying to figure us all out.

What I'm trying to figure out is how/why your branch drifted away from ours...we're a huge, but fairly tight family... you might have to send me your family tree too so I can figure it the other Walshes in Santa Cruz don't ring a bell. Are you closely related to "Woolly" Bill Walsh, then?

I don't recognize the names, Gonzalez & Brown.... I know many of my 2nd cousins, some more than others. But there are also quite a few I don't know... If we're close to the same age, you'd think we should know each other.... Did you ever come to any family functions? Name some of your first cousins...see if that rings a bell.

It seems everyone moved to the Bay Area after the ranch was lost, and most of the Walshes had already moved to SF anyway. The ranch was not the only US landing point for the Walshes. From what I can remember, only 3 Walshes stayed in Bantry, the rest came here, and all were my grandmother's siblings, with the exception of her Aunt May and possibly that half brother or half uncle we're all so confused about. Patrick, himself.


My direct line to Pat Walsh of Austin, Nev is:
My father was: Francis Cornelius Walsh ( married to Stella Gonzales )
My grandfather was: William R. (wild bill) Walsh (married to Julia O'Leary )

My great-grandfather was: Patrick Walsh (married to 1st wife Julia (NB MARY) Mahoney)

I have first cousins in Concord California. We are trying to plan a visit back to Austin in the Spring of 2008 for their mom (Gertie Walsh ).

I also have a second cousin in Santa Cruz who I conversed with a few years back via email a couple of times and was nice enough to supply some wonderful information.

When I started to do my genealogy research sometime back, I realized that I would have to focus on just the immediate family since like good Irish Catholics, the list of connections just kept growing.

A quick note regarding Mary Walsh who worked on the Manhattan Project: She was my dad's sister, and when she passed, was layed to rest in the Bay Area (we had a traditional Irish wake in Concord, Ca an was enjoyed by all) I have attached for your pleasure a picture of my Aunt Mary & Aunt Florence when they were children. Hope your able to open the picture and view it.

I will send you a more detailed accounting of my current family and what I know of the Walsh's via the Pat Walsh connection It is not much but I treasure all that I have collected.

Your Second Cousin,
Joe Walsh

Hi Joe,

Believe it or not, you are my 2nd cousin once or twice removed. Pat would've been my great-granduncle. We've mostly lost track of the Nevada Walshes. No one was very good at keeping in touch.

My great uncle Joe came to Austin with my grannie, Jennie Walsh (Reilly) in 1912. They didn't have enough money for the train fare (it cost $5) from NY to Battle Mountain so Jennie took the train and Joe worked his way to Nevada by way of Galveston.

Someone from Home Ranch came to get her in a buggy—probably Pat or his son, Wild Bill who once sold a truck in Ione for a barrel of whiskey and a good hand of cards,

Most of the family moved to San Francisco when the ranch was lost. Someone went to San Francisco to buy a bull and decided to pocket the money and returned with an inferior the herd failed.

Before that, they made a lot of money selling grain—mostly oats—to the comstock miners in Austin as grain was more valuable than gold.

We still make pilgrimages to Home Ranch. My uncle John took the visiting Bantry cousins, Noel and his two sons, to Home Ranch last September. Jim Champie owns the ranch. Ironically Jim is related to people I grew up with and went to school with in West Marin—The San Geronimo Valley—Forest Knolls. The McBrides and the Bundchus (as in the wine, Gundlach Bundshu). Jim has some photos of our family—even knows the names of
the horses!

The last time we were in Austin with my grannie, in 1985 (I went back again in the 1990s), we stayed with the Malloys, who are cousins of yours. John Malloy's wife, Loretta was the one who stayed in touch until they got divorced. I heard he was in Elko selling real estate. We used to stay in touch with Tillie Walsh but lost touch when she moved to Reno. I heard she died years ago. I remember her when I was a child at weddings. I remember Wild Bill too. (This is wrong—I'm referring to my grand-uncle Bill.)

Do you know the story about my first cousin once removed, Marie/Mary Walsh who worked on the Manhattan Project? We got postcards from her from Los Alamos. I went there in the 1990s. They still talk about the ghost of her sister Julia (or Mother? Or Florence also went by Julia???) at the International Hotel in Austin....seems she's brewing coffee at odd hours.

There are other bootleg stories about my grandmother and her Aunt May, who would've been Pat's sister? When the coppers came, she took the bathtub gin they'd bottled and put it between herself and the baby, on the bed... She also smuggled guns out of the SF jail where my grandfather was under sherriff in her skirts. They smuggled guns to NY in suitcases, then onto Liverpool to Ireland for the revolution. My grandfather knew de Valera, and we've a photo of Liam Mellows, who was later executed, in our lower field.

One of my favorite stories was when May and Jennie had fur coats made from Home Ranch coyote skins (there's a photo of the skins on the barn wall). and when they wore them in San Francisco all the dogs followed them growling. They had to get rid of the coats fast.

Some of the Nevada Walshes moved to San Leandro and we had a reunion the 1970s but then lost touch again. My aunt Jane Reilly was going to school with Linda Ryan who knew some Walshes and sure enough, we were related.

One time I was teaching poetry up in the Alexander Valley, near Healdsburg. CA, and it was St Patrick;s Day. The mothers brought in food and we were all joking how everybody was Irish and started swapping names. I said, "I'm a Walsh." One mother said, So am I." I said my family came from Cork." She answered, "Mine too." Then it got fast and furious. Bantry Bay. The hairs stood up on my arms. Austin.

Yep. Home Ranch. Yep. Wild Bill was her relation. I'd been teaching her daughter and never knew we were related...but she and I had bonded as she was really talented (genius runs in the family along with everything else from alcoholism to depression).

Now it's your turn to fill in some blanks as we really have lost the information on Pat's families. I remember my grannie telling me about him and the two marriages. You've got hundreds of 2nd & 3rd cousins in LA and the greater Bay Area, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Carmel, Graeagle & the Sierra foothills; Bantry, Tralee; Manchester, Cardiff.

We just had two funerals. Ed Walsh (Joe's son) lived in Hawaii. If you ever go to the Big Island, Toad Hall (the victorian on the bluff by Napoopoo, overlooking Capt. Cook Bay was built by Big Ed or "Ranger" Walsh. We had a brilliant wake at St Ignatius. It was Big Ed's death that prompted me to get some family history down and send that fragment to the Walsh Family tree web page. Any your side was one of the holes...

All those Walshes in the graveyard below Austin are ours. Have you been there? The ranch was founded by several brothers including Pat. It was a joint venture. I don't know if he was the first to arrive. The date we have is 1867 for the founding of the ranch.

There is an oral history project through the University of Nevada of the people who owned it after it was sold...they got all the credit, and many of the facts were wrong.

Was Pat the one who was a half brother to the rest of them? Seems his father had two families, the first wife died, and there was a boy, it could've been Pat but he was raised as a full brother wit David and Michael.

Wild Bill was a blacksmith and made all the wrought iron fittings and barn latches that are still use use today.


PS I think we're actually 2nd cousins (once or twice removed?) as Patrick was my great grand-uncle...we've probably met over the years at weddings and funerals. I distinctly remember looking up to my granduncle Bill, and he seemed taller than the sky, it was after a funeral, maybe at Star of the Sea... he was one of my favorite grand uncles, kind (& shy).

(NB I think I've conflated two generations of Bills...which I've fixed...)

2 comments: said...

Our family home during summer of 1964. It was a great summer. Dad and partners bought ranch and ranch house at tax foreclosure auction. I came out in summer of 64 to harvest and bale hay. Partners were trying to make it into a working ranch and resale it before the next years taxes had to be pay. for my family it was an adventure. Thanks for the history line on the ranch.

Maureen Hurley said...

Wow, blast from the past. Were you part of Jim Champie's family? I went to school with Paul Bundschu, Jim's cousin. They were related to Jack & John McBride, and Mo Champie, all classmates of mine at Drake High School, in San Anselmo.

A woman from the Zapattini (sp?) family, he was the ironsmith on Third Street, in San Rafael. His daughter? was staying with Jim Champie in 1983. Small world.

What's even more amazing is that some of our family photos survived the different owners. Jim had a photo of Duke, a stallion plowhorse, he showed me. It was in the old house.

Do you have any photos from 1964, stories, or memorabilia? I can post my email in another comment or you can find me on Facebook Messenger or Twitter (mohurley2).