April, 1958

Indian Springs

"Few Places in Southern Nevada bring memories of so many incidents of historic and romantic interest as Indian Springs, 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Although the once important ranch home is almost swallowed up by the extension of Nellis Air Base, the name still brings pleasant memories to us. The first we knew of it was in 1876 when Joseph Yount and Charles Towner stopped there when in search of help to recover several work horses that had been run off by a band of renegade Indians while the Yount and Towner families were camped in the Amargosa desert in Nevada.

The Yount and Towner families had been living in Oregon engaged in breeding fine horses, but were becoming rather dissatisfied living so far away. So when they heard of a big strike at Tombstone, Arizona, they were intrigued and decided to seek greener pastures. They left for Tombstone taking a herd of valuable horses with them to this far, remote southland. Their first real trouble came when the Indian raiders drove off their work horses and left them unable to travel further and it became necessary to seek help.

When they reached Indian Springs, then owned by an INdian known a 'Whispering Ben,' Mr. Towner was so taken with the wonderful spring and the adjacent rich farm land that he 'dickered' awhile with the Indian and soon was the owner of the ranch. Mr. Yount was told by the Indian of another ranch over the mountains back of Indian Springs and he made a trip to see it (The Manse Ranch) and soon both families were settled in their new Nevada homes and Tombstone was forgotten.

Mr. Towner had gotten some very fine grape cuttings from the Las Vegas Ranch, had developed a fine vineyard on the Indian Springs ranch and had ideas of starting a lucrative wine business. On one of his infrequent trips to the Las Vegas Ranch he first came to the Kyle Ranch, about two and a half miles north of the Vegas Ranch, and found there a most horrible sight. Outside the cabin, lying dead in the sun lay one of the Kyle brothers while just inside the door lay the other brother - they evidently following a drunken argument, had pulled the trigger at the same time and both had hit his mark.

After assisting the Stewarts, owners of the Las Vega Ranch, in burying the dead, Towner started for his home at Indian Springs, saddened by what he had seen. The first thing he did when he reached it was to dig up every grapevine at Indian Springs and years afterward he told us that there had never been one on that ranch since."

Towner and his son were familiar figures in Las Vegas after we came here, and the son was a member of Vegas Lodge 32, F&AM, about 1910 or 1912 as the records of the Lodge will verify. The Towners sold he ranch to the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad and George and Belle Lattimer came there to live, and in the summer of 1906 another very tragic accident occurred there.

Mr. Lattimer was bitten on the arm by some poisonous insect, and the arm swelled badly and became very painful. His wife realized that he must have medical care so she made the best bed she could in the wagon, hitched up the team and started on the long ride to Las Vegas late in the afternoon of a fearfully hot day. The Lattimers had a young Indian boy living with them who helped with the ranch work. His name was Coachie Siegmuller and his parents lived at the Moapa Indian Reservation. Coachie was left in charge of things while the Lattimers were gone.

When Bell and her husband reached Vegas they came to me for help and I got the Railroad Physician to look after the suffering man. he sent them to Los Angeles on the evening train as blood poisoning had set in and he was afraid that the man might lose his arm. About a week later the Lattimers returned to Las Vegas, George being on the way of complete recovery.

While they were gone, a day or so after they had left the ranch for medical help, Coachie was sitting on the front steps. He noticed a small cloud of dust in the road to the ranch and kept a close watch on whatever it was. Later he was horrified when he identified the man approaching as 'Wild Bill,' a bad Indian of whom Coachie was very much afraid, so he quietly got out of sight as Wild Bill reached the porch, on the north side of the house, and sat down to rest.

From a sitting position Bill finally stretched out on his back and was soon sound asleep. Coachie was afraid to be alone with the visitor and also felt that it was his duty to protect the home of his friends so he slipped into the kitchen and took down the rifle from its nail behind the kitchen door. He crept noiselessly around the house, rested the muzzle of the rifle on the porch rail and shot Wild Bill through the head. Then he started for his parent's home at the Reservation where in about 10 days he was arrested for the murder of Wild Bill. He readily admitted the shooting, but seemed to think that it was a good deed and that he should be rewarded instead of punished. He spent three years in the Carson City prison and after his release, lived a peaceful life. The question as to whether a person should be punished for doing what to them seemed to be a good deed is still unanswered.

When the Lattimers neared home they smelled Bill long before they reached the house and all that they could do was to shovel him into a gunnysack and bury it in the little burial plot.

Governor Emmett Boyle used to tell a story which was connected with the end of this story.

A few days after the Lattimers had buried Wild Bill, Emmett Boyle, who was then the State Engineer, drove up to the ranch in the evening on his way from Reno to Vegas. He saw Belle in the lower part of the ranch tossing some good sized hogs back into the pen from which they had escaped. When she seemed to have finished this duty he asked her if he might have some supper and a bed for the night. She invited him to stay with them for the night so they went up to the house. While she was preparing the meal he noticed she kept gong to the window to sniff the evening air. Finally, Emmett asked what the trouble was and she promptly answered, 'Them damn dogs has dug up Wild Bill again.'

In 1910, Mr. and Mrs. Ira McFarland bought the Indian Springs Ranch and made it into one of the beauty spots of Nevada. Delphine lived there in a tent house for several summers as while living there she was completely free from the trouble of asthma. Someday before very long it will be known far and wide that the climate of Southern Nevada is the most healthful giving of any in the country.

There is much more to the history of Indian Springs, but this is all that Fabulous can give its readers this week.