This is a recollection by my grandmother Pearl Sielaff Radcliffe who was born in Gold Hill Nevada in 1887. She wrote this for the Nevada Centennial Celebration but never sent it in:
My Father August J. Sielaff left his home in Germany as a boy of 13 years and went on a ship as a sailor. This took him around the world and on his last trip as a sailor he came a sailing vessel around the Cape Horn and up the coast to San Francisco. From there he went to the Comstock in the early 1870’s. He, having been a sailor, knew about rope and found work as a “ropeman” in the mines.
In 1877, he went back to Germany to bring Miss Alwine Lietz back to Gold Hill where they were married that May. They were the parents of five children, all of whom were born before 1900 in Gold Hill. The oldest was Gus. J. Sielaff, a graduate of the University of Nevada as a civil and mining engineer. He was later a Head Geologist for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Next was Ernest E. Sielaff who was a conductor for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Then there were three daughters. Alwine E. Sielaff was a math teacher at Reno High School and Selma Sielaff was also a teacher, mostly in California. Both were University of Nevada Graduates. I, Pearl Sielaff Radcliffe, am married to Arthur D.
My earliest recollection of my father was as a ropeman for the Crown Point and Belcher mines. However, he spliced ropes and fixed cables for the cages of other mines on the Comstock. I used to go to the rope houses where he was.
One thing I remember was an accident in the Alta Mine. Two men were trapped below and my father was sent for. First a cage with a bird was lowered into the shaft to see if there were any gasses. Then they lowered my father with a rope and both men were safely brought up. The late Governor Emmett Boyle’s father was superintendent of the Alta mine at that time. My father was a friend of the John Mackeys, the James Fairs, the Williams Sharon’s and Adolf Sutro who built the Suro Tunnel. He was also a friend of Senator Jones, and I as a child had his great- grand daughter as a playmate. My father was also a school teacher in Gold Hill at different times and, while he was not a politics, he was a member of the short lived Silver Party. He also belonged to the Gold Hill Mines Union and the Masonic Lodge.
My mother, a gentle soft-spoken woman was ever ready to lend a helping hand, especially in the case of a sick child. The late Charles Gorman as a youth was a frequent visitor in our home and called her Mother Sielaff. My mother passed on in 1900 and my father with his three daughters moved to a house he built on Maple Street in Reno in 1901. Even after we moved to Reno, he was still called on to fix cables in the Comstock mines. He passed away in 1933 at my home in Reno.
I will always remember the time the V & T Railroad had a picnic train from Virginia City, all along the line to Carson City then Bowers Mansion. There were some passenger cars but, mostly there were flat cars with seats built on both sides and two rows of seats down the length of the car in the middle. The train stopped at all the little places along the way to pick up passengers and after dark we returned home. Each person was let off the train at the stop nearest their home. Places like the Mound House, Scales, American Flats, Gold Hill and finally Virginia City.
My husbands father, Lucius K. Radcliffe was at one time a train dispatcher for the V & T in the Gold Hill depot. My husband Arthur D. Radcliffe was also from the Comstock, born in Virginia City in 1878.