Stories from the Muddy

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Osborne Leland Gentry

          My first memory in life is of Papa Gentry.  Grandma, Gladys, and Papa, Osborne Gentry, lived in a little house behind where Sugars Café is now located in Overton.  It was set back away from the road and there was a huge front yard, or so it seemed to me as a little girl.  There were several tall palm trees in the front yard as well as other trees.  It was here that Papa lifted me up to look into a hummingbird's nest.  I must have been about three or four.  I am the one credited with giving him his name.  Mother said she came to my crib and told me we were going to go see Grandma and Grandpa.  I said, "Papa," and the name stuck.  It was my second utterance after, "Cow, cow."  What can I say, I grew up on a ranch.

           Osborne Leland Gentry, was born 9th child of Henry Gentry and Martha Ellen Syphus, on March 12, 1900, in St. Thomas, Clark County, Nevada.  This is what Papa had to say about his own life, in his own words, as recorded by Betty Lewis in 1962 in the shade of the cottonwood trees at Tassi:  My parents came first from Panaca, Lincoln County, Nevada, to Mesquite to settle in the Mormon settlement.  They were there a couple of years, then crossed the Virgin River and settled in St. Thomas, Nevada.  Dad ran a freight line to Kingman, Arizona, which I barely remember. 

Before quitting the freight-line, Dad started a general mercantile store in St. Thomas.  He ran it for nearly thirty years, and also operated the U.S. Post Office.  Mother was the President of the Moapa Stake Relief Society, a job she held for many years, and until her death.  She also ran the hotel, raised six children, and was a practical nurse, taking care of the ill, births, and deaths.  My living brothers as children were Samuel Bruce and Harry Syphus and my sisters were Christine Nellie, Della, and Laura May.

            My first memory is of an outdoor meal to welcome Dad home from a freight-line trip.  I may have been six or seven.  Paiute Indians are always in my early memories—they were in general friendly and a nuisance.  I loved the outdoors and usually owned a couple of dogs and a horse.  I hold many happy memories of my animal friends.

            I was in on building the first Valley of Fire road.  Uncle Levi Syphus, Harvey Frehner, and his father, Albert, and myself were the main workers.  Harvey used 20 horses at a time on v-shaped railroad rails for scraping that road.  I was just a swamper (helper).
            During the days of Queho, the most feared and sought after Paiute outlaw in southern Nevada, I got in on the excitement.  He became an outlaw to white men and Indians alike because a white man didn’t pay him his wages.  He killed two men down in Boulder, and Reiner Hannig brought the word to St. Thomas.  A posse went out hunting him, but never found him.  The sheriff, Frank Waite, searched for him for twelve years, to no avail.     
                About this time, Washington, D.C. sent word to my father to take a message to Harry Armithage, a river boat man, who was camped five miles up on Bonelli Ferry.  The message was to get boats ready for survey engineers so they could start surveying Boulder Canyon for a dam.  My father sent me horseback to deliver this message.  I was plenty scared as the old Colorado River was Queho’s stomping grounds.  When I arrived at the Armithage's camp, he was okay, but the night before, his little black dog had raised a big fuss all night.  The next morning, he found tracks going up the river bank.  We were sure it was Queho.

            I had an experience that helped teach me a lesson to believe God helps guide the young and foolish.  My brother Sam and I each ran four-horse teams with wagons, hauling freight to the surveyors in Boulder Canyon.  One pitch black, stormy night, we camped in the mouth of the canyon on the bank of the Colorado.  The next night on return trip through the canyon, we moved our camp to higher ground.  It was another stormy night, and during the night a flash flood came barreling down past us.  If we had camped in the identical place of the night before, we would have been swept into the Colorado River.  I have never camped in washes or canyons since.
            During the big flu epidemic of 1918, Dad got it bad, and it left him with a bad heart.  He never fully recovered.  In 1921, he died.  Mother followed him shortly after, in 1925.  She wasn’t well after Dad’s death and Laura and I traveled with her quite a lot as she felt better traveling.
            In 1929, Laura had sheep and I helped her in the sheep camps out in Gold Butte country.  During WWI, Dad owned the Bronzell Mine in the Arizona strip.  The ore had to be hauled off the mountains by mules, then the big ore wagons hauled it off.

            In April 1931, I met Gladys Gates Meining, a young Colorado widow, and her four year old daughter, Betty Louise.  They had come from Salida, Colorado to live with her father, Ed Yates, at Seven Springs on the Arizona strip.  I helped them move out there.
I married Gladys March 26, 1933.  Robert Gibson performed the ceremony in Las Vegas at the home of Edith and Wally Frehner.  We went to Catalina for our honeymoon, leaving Betty in St. Thomas with my sister, Della Whitmore. 

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