It was late October 1911 when John (1880-1964) and Andrew (1884-1971) Getto, and their good friend Ed Frazzini purchased a 145 acre farm in Churchill County. In addition to the property, they also purchased wagons, a scraper, cultivator, and harrow, an assortment of tools, implements, harnesses, several head of horses and livestock, and about 30 tons of alfalfa hay, for $10 in gold coin. Now, 100 years later, the equipment, hay, and livestock are gone, but the family thrives and continues to contribute to the rich history of Nevada. John immigrated to the United States in 1904. He left northern Italy and came to Reno when he was 23 years old. He worked on the first reclamation project in the United States, the Newlands Reclamation Project. From there, he headed to the booming mining towns of Goldfield, Silver Peak, Mary Mine, and Tonopah, where he met Ed Frazzini, a fellow countryman. They started a small business which included a bar, mining supplies, and clothing.
Andrew, John’s younger brother, left Italy for Switzerland where he worked in a coal mine. He immigrated to the United States, arriving in Reno around 1906. He worked as a bricklayer and helped build some of the apartments around Fourth Street. A man named Galetti got Andrew interested in truck farming and tried to get him to buy some land. Andrew wasn’t interested because the land was too rocky. John talked Andrew into moving to Tonopah to work in the mines. A sugar beet factory had been growing in Fallon, so the Getto brothers and Frazzini moved to Fallon in 1911. The enterprising men set up a diner at the La Industrial Hotel which Frazzini built. Later that year, they purchased a ranch from Charles W. Foote, and started a second-hand furniture store in town. Frazzini assumed management of the furniture store in the early part of 1912, while John and Andrew took over the ranch, each taking the portion on opposite sides of the north branch of the Carson River, known as Old River, that runs between the two properties.
In June of 1912, Carolina Gillio (1888-1978) and John Getto were married. They had three children, Robert, Sr., Elena Getto Cunningham, and Elsie. Robert is very proud that he lived the first 89 years of his life in the home where he was born. Robert’s son, John, currently farms the original land, raising alfalfa hay and teff grain. A bachelor at 36, Andrew went to Italy to meet a distant cousin his the family had picked out for him to marry. Andrew wanted nothing to do with her, but he met Catarina Desolina Longo (1895-1972). He told Desolina that if she could make it to America, he would marry her. She saved for five years and borrowed money from her sister to make the trip, but had to flip a coin to decide if she would marry Andrew or stay in New York, which would be a much more exciting life than the desert life in Nevada. Nevada won, and Desolina and Andrew were married in 1923. After 41 years of bachelorhood, Andrew was married and soon became the proud father of two children, Virgil and Mary. Virgil has lived on the farm his entire life. Virgil’s eldest son, Mike, currently farms the original land, raising alfalfa hay, grain, and pasture.
Virgil says life was much harder in those early years. “They worked extremely hard, preparing and leveling their land for the new irrigation project being built at the Lahontan Dan. With horses and backbreaking work, they raised hay, sugar beets, grain, and potatoes. They also raised chickens, turkeys, and pigs; fed beef cattle; and milked cows, selling the cream for butter and feeding the skimmed milk to their animals. They were pretty much self sufficient in those early days, and raised their families in this way.” The Getto Families are being inducted into the Nevada Centennial Farm and Ranch Program in recognition of their rich history, long-time contributions, dedication to agriculture, and their commitment to the future of Nevada and Nevadans. In 2011, the Robert Getto Farm and Getto Farms were recipients of the Nevada Centennial Award Ranch & Farm Award.
This entry is from the Nevada Centennial Awards Ranch & Farm Program which recognizes agricultural families who have owned and operated the same land in Nevada for 100 years or more. Forty-seven families have now been inducted into the program that began in 2004. The awards program is sponsored by the Nevada Agriculture Plate funds, Farm Bureau, Agricultural Foundation, Nevada Department of Agriculture, Cattlemen’s Association and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. For more information about the Nevada Centennial Awards Ranch & Farm Program please visit http://agri.nv.gov/.