My story starts with some ancestors, Luke Syphus and Christiana Long, living in Nevada as early as 1864 in Clover Valley, Nev., east of the Humboldt Range, (presently Barclay). Over the years they moved to Panaca then Mesquite before they ended up in St. Thomas, Nev. that was once under water from the building of Hoover Dam. From the waters receding one can now see the foundations of the home and business that my great great great grandfather, Luke Syphus family lived in and owned. My grandmother, Afton Whitney, was born in St.
Thomas, Nev. in 1906. My grandfather, Joseph Hannig was born in Mesquite, Nev. in 1905. With Hoover Dam being built the town was evacuated and my grandparents relocated in Las Vegas, Nev. and other relatives moved elsewhere.
Grandfather Hannig worked for the Union Pacific Railroad in Las Vegas starting in the 1920’s. One story in my family history is of “Old Mouse” who went on the warpath in the 1890’s and the part my great great grandfather, Luke Whitney had in his capture. When an Indian went on the warpath, he was a menace to not only the white settlers but also his own tribesmen. The trouble started with “Mouse’s” squaw and another Indian. Mouse killed the Indian and then started to kill white men when and wherever he was able. This started around Las Vegas Springs. He was pursued to Bonelli Ferry on the Colorado River to the White Hills mining district where he killed up to nine white men. As food became scarce, he returned to St. Thomas and hid in the red ledges of the Valley of Fire. The St. Thomas and Overton citizens became aware of his presence when he began gathering something to eat out of their gardens and chicken coops. They didn’t care so much about the loss of a few chickens and produce. However, they did not like to meet such a man when out watering their fields by night. The white people went to the Indians and demanded the capture of “Old Mouse”. So they organized the Indians in groups and Luke Whitney was put in charge of one of these groups of Indians. They tracked “Old Mouse” for days but he was hard to track in the sandstone formation. This went on for some time, and due to hunger, “Old Mouse” decided to make a run for it in the night. They picked up his tracks and chased him down a long mesa and overtook him. He would not give up until they had killed him. This is the same Indian that Mouse’s Tank in Valley of Fire was named.
My grandmother, Afton, tells of a story that occurred with her mother in St. Thomas in 1887. “At this time, St. Thomas was beginning to be settled the second time. The valleys from Pioche to St. Thomas were infested with desperados and outlaws. It took a day to carry the mail to the mining camps and a day for the return trip. Since, “Alf”, Julia’s husband, had to be away every other night, he built a platform high up in a cottonwood tree, and there Julia had her bed. The nights when her husband was away the young bride climbed up to her perch in the tree, pulled the ladder up after her and lay, trembling with fear as the drunken desperados rode the streets shooting their guns and yelling out foul language.
Joan Reil, my mother was born and raised in Las Vegas as were her brothers. Two weeks after I was born, 1959, we moved here. Two of my sisters still live in Las Vegas. My children were born and raised in this beautiful fabulous city. I have pictures of the service station my great grandfather owned in Glendale, Nev., pictures of the home my grandparents built and owned on So. 9th Street in Las Vegas. I don’t know how to get them on the computer. Thanks for letting me share.