Queho Posse Chapter


E Clampus Vitus


Santa Fe Saloon, Goldfield, NV


Santa Fe Saloon, Goldfield

April 24, 2005


Noble Grand Humbug Wanderin' Jim Crowe has directed that the Hewgag be


sounded, and the brothers appear in sacred conclave, to honor, attend, appoint,


obfuscate, and olfactorate the historic site of the


Santa Fe Saloon


In beautiful, downtown Goldfield, Nevada.


Or at least close enough for government work.


Wherein the historic saloon shall be noted and commemorated in appropriate manner by the brothers of the


Queho Posse, Chapter 1919,


Of the


Ancient and Honourable Order of E Clampus Vitus


On the occasion of the chapter's Spring Doins,


April 22-24, 6010


{aka 2005 among the uninitiated}


Keepsake authored, researched, reconstructed, reconstituted, rewritten, and reworked by GDR Gary Buyachek


An illumination of the illustrious history of the historic watering hole known as the


Santa Fe Saloon


Of Goldfield, Nevada


As written by


GDR Gary Buyachek


Published by


The Obfuscationist Press




Nihil obstat:


Mark Hall-Patton, XNGH, DS3


Cogito sumere potum alterum.


This keepsake has been written for the elucidation, mastication, obviation,


obfuscation, and emendation of the brothers of E Clampus Vitus. It has, for those


brothers who enjoy such searches, errors of fact and supposition, only in


appropriate locations, with none affecting the general accuracy of the work as an


entire, or in any of its particulars.


On behalf of the brothers-


Vascere bracis meis.



I drink my beer among the boys


I sit down with them to play


And sometimes I got it blind


For a whole night and day


I look a rough old specimen


And I've had a rough career


Trying to make the riffle


For more than 20 year


Saloons were usually one of the first buildings erected in a fledgling boomtown. Often built ahead of churches, hotels, schools and other civic structures, a saloon was a necessity. It was said that when a new mining camp began, the population was usually 95% male with the remaining 5% consisting of sporting women.


In addition to dispensing libations, the saloon was a meeting place. Saloons were stage stops and hostelries. They often had games of chance, and some provided soiled doves. Even if the structure was only a drinking establishment, speculators, soldiers, miners, grizzled mountain men and yes, even Clampers, all fit in under its protective roof.


The Santa Fe Saloon was built in 1905, only three years after the strike that brought Goldfield into existence. In late November 1902 a Paiute Indian named Tom Fisherman came wanderin' into Tonopah with some gold. This caught the attention of William Marsh and Harry Stimler. They were both being around 20 years of age and had been unsuccessful in their quest for wealth in Tonopah. They befriended Tom (and, of course, his gold).


The two men were able to learn the gold came from a mountain 30 miles south of Tonopah. Able to obtain a grubstake from Jim Butler, founder of Tonopah, and Tom Kendall, a gaming house owner, Marsh and Stimler headed south with an old horse, a mule, and provisions for a week or so.


Wanderin' (with a striking similarity to our NGH, though without the mobile GPS unit) south and making the 30 miles in two days the young men made camp just west of the eventual site of Goldfield. On December 4, 1902 Marsh and Stimler found what they were looking for. Since it was also the day a great sandstorm blew, the first claim was appropriately named the "Sandstorm".


In early 1903, a few miners, hearing about the discovery of gold, started to come into the area. Sometime in February 1903 the new mining camp was christened "GrandPa". The area was thought to be the "Grand Daddy" of all and using a play on the names of Tonopah and Weepah, the early residents came up with GrandPa.


In 1903 miners came and went, some finding gold and others leaving for greener pastures. With more and more claims being located in the area, the miners wanted to organize the district. On October 10, a notice was posted in Dunn's saloon (where else) calling all mine owners to a meeting to be held on October 20.


At 1:30pm on October 20, 1903, Claude Smith, the District Recorder, called the meeting to order. The meeting was held on a lumber pile located at the corner of Main Street and Crook Avenue. After the meeting, the lumber pile, which was owned by a man named Hall, became a saloon. Mr. W.H. Harris proposed the name Goldfields, which was seconded by Claude Smith with the provision the "s" was dropped. This being done, the resolution was signed by the 36 qualified voters.


By early November 1903, Goldfield had one meat and grocery market, two feed corrals, two restaurants and three saloons, and a population of 150 people. By January 1, 1904, the population had grown to 350. For an area in which gold was discovered in late 1902, having only 350 residents a year later was not what you would call a boomtown.


In early 1904, the introduction of the leasing system jumpstarted the area. This same method had caused great growth in Austin and Tonopah. The leasing system was inaugurated by Lucien Patrick, John "January" Jones and Zeb Kendall. They formed the Goldfield Gold Mining Company and leased the January and February claims. Their return during the one-year term of the lease was over $350,000.


The lease system worked to bring resources to bear on known claims. A company was incorporated similarly to a mining company, but its only resource was a lease, usually from six months to a year, of a proven mine. Sometimes stock was issued. The lease company would pay the owners of the mine from 20 to 25% in royalties, and could expect significant returns if the mine was successful. Over the course of the boom in Goldfield, over 100 lease companies were active operating the mines. Sometimes there would be more than one company working different parts of a claim.


The system was successful because of the geology of the Goldfield area. Ore deposits, when located, tended to be rich, but played out quickly. Some of the leasers were never successful. In at least one case, the Reilly lease on the Florence mine, the leasers were unsuccessful until the last 90 days of the lease, when they located a rich deposit, and shipped over $900,000 in gold ore to California.


In January 1904, Goldfield's post office was established and by that summer the population swelled to near 8000. In addition to miners, saloon men, merchants, gamblers, speculators and silver-tongued devils, came to Goldfield to get their share. Some of the noted residents of Goldfield were Jack Dempsey, Diamondfield Jack Davis, Tex Rickard, Wyatt and Virgil Earp.


On September 12, 1905 the first train pulled into Goldfield with 300 people expressing their pleasure with bells, horns and cheers. The O'Keefe stagecoach, which had previously been the basis of transportation, was draped in black with a sign that read, "At Rest." It was not unusual to celebrate the coming of the railroad in any community, but what made this celebratory event unusual was that the train pulled into the Goldfield Station a half hour after midnight on a Tuesday morning. The celebration lasted three days and Goldfield now had the Iron Horse in its stable.

 September of 1905 also saw electricity brought to Goldfield. The power plant was located on Bishop Creek, Inyo County, California. It took eight months of actual construction to deliver power to Goldfield and on September 19, 1905, the first lights were lit. In a span of just one week Goldfield had a railroad and electricity. What a week that had been.

With the population growing the need for more saloons became imminent. 1905 saw the building of the Santa Fe Saloon by Hubert Maxgut. The saloon was built closer to the gold fields then it was to town. Later this would prove to be a wise decision. Today, the saloon still has the original Brunswick Back Bar, made in Brunswick, Maine. The original bar room, with some additions, remains as it did 100 years ago.


The Santa Fe Saloon served more than drinks to its thirsty patrons. For other appetites, the building had cribs in the back. Hubert Maxgut was a man who knew what his customers wanted and strove to supply it.


Saloons, gaming houses and the amount of money floating around Goldfield made the need for law enforcement evident. Virgil Earp became the Deputy Sheriff in Goldfield while his brother Wyatt worked in Tonopah. The Earps were known to follow mining booms. They often became part owners in local saloons, gaming houses and some have even said, brothels.


On occasion Wyatt would come down from Tonopah to visit his brother, on occasion staying two to three months with Virgil. Unfortunately, the tenure of Deputy Sheriff Virgil Earp was short lived. Virgil contracted pneumonia, and died in Goldfield on October 19, 1905 at the age of 62. Purportedly, his last words were "stay here and hold my hand", spoken to his wife Allie.


Though Virgil passed away in Goldfield he is buried elsewhere. His final resting place is in the River View Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. Though there are no records of the fact, it would be hard to imagine Wyatt and Virgil not having a drink in the Santa Fe. Today, the Santa Fe Saloon commemorates this unprovable fact with a mannequin of Wyatt in its bar room. Somehow the room seems safer.


One of the biggest events in Goldfield history happened on Labor Day, September 3, 1906. Joe Gans, the black champion from Baltimore, Maryland known as "The Old Master", and Oscar Matthew "Battling" Nelson, who had emigrated from Denmark to Illinois as a child, each laid claim to the lightweight title. Gans, who had undiagnosed tuberculosis, had a record of 6 losses out of 145 bouts in 15 years of professional boxing, but was 8 years the senior of Nelson, who had been fighting since the age of 14. Nelson was noted for his ability to withstand punishment, once having prevailed in a bout in which he was knocked down 49 times. The fight was considered a major event in the boxing world.


The purse was $33,500 and the undisputed lightweight boxing title. A group of businessmen led by Tex Rickard, who owned the Northern Saloon, put up the purse and made arrangements for the fight to be held in Goldfield. In the future George Lewis "Tex" Rickard, the man who built Madison Square Garden to stage prizefights, would promote Jack Dempsey, also a one time resident of Goldfield. After a prosperous career in promoting prizefights, Rickard died in 1929 of appendicitis.


The fight was on and the purse was displayed as freshly minted $20 gold pieces in the John S. Cook Bank. There were 13 men considered for the referee position, including Bat Masterson, but the job fell to George Silar. The arena was built in a vacant area, near what is now Miners and Fourth, with seating for nearly 8,000. Tickets carried a price tag of $5.00 to $25.00 a seat, a significant cost in 1906.


Spectators for the fight came from all over the country. The Tonopah and Goldfield Railroad had to lay additional track to accommodate 300 Pullman sleepers. The day of the fight was clear and sunny and the bout was held in the afternoon.


The fight lasted 42 rounds. It only ended when Nelson committed a foul by landing a low blow to Gans. The lightweight championship was decided again for Joe Gans. For his trouble Gans walked away with $11,000 while the loser received $22,500. The two fighters would meet again twice for the championship, both times in 1908, with Battling Nelson winning the subsequent encounters.


As with most mining towns, Goldfield had its share of fires. There were fires in 1905 and 1906, but it was the disastrous fire of 1923, though, that changed the face of the community forever. The fire started on July 6, 1923 when a still exploded in the house of T.C Rea at 6:40am. It quickly spread to the Brown and Parker garage, across the street from the Goldfield Hotel. The inferno eventually consumed 25 blocks, with 150 families losing their homes and 200 structures destroyed. As resident John Koontz described the scene he saw when he returned home after the fire, "I didn't recognize the town…to me, it was just desolation personified."


Fire was unfortunately not the only enemy of Goldfield. A flash flood in 1913 caused considerable damage. After raining all morning on September 13, a deafening roar was heard about 2:15 in the afternoon. Soon the source of the noise became evident, a wall of water estimated to be fifteen feet high barreled down on the town. Houses were literally picked up and carried by the waters, some over a mile from their original locations. A large safe was swept away, never to be found. Among those killed was Mrs. Mary DeGarmo, who had gone back into her house to get her purse. Her body was found seven miles north of Goldfield.


And what of the Santa Fe Saloon when the fires and floods were occurring? Its location proved fortuitous, being away from the main business district. By not being built where most of the business was in 1905, the saloon survived the various conflagrations and floods.

Unfortunately Hubert Maxgut would not live to know he built his saloon in a safe place. On August 27, 1912, he was killed by F. M. Brown in a gunfight.

The shooting was a direct result of a fistfight between the two men that took place in front of the saloon. Hubert had accused Jim Hudson, a blacksmith and friend of Brown, of acting in an offensive manner toward a little girl in the neighborhood. Maxgut hit Brown three times causing two ugly gashes on his face. With a couple of on-lookers and Mrs. Maxgut getting between the two men, the fight was disrupted at this point.


Bleeding profusely, Brown entered the Santa Fe Saloon to clean his wounds. He went to the west end of the bar and filled a basin with water. While washing the blood from his face he noticed bartender Cris Tenkelsen hurrying from behind the bar. Brown then looked up and saw Maxgut, standing in the doorway, his pistol in his right hand with the barrel resting upon his left hand to secure a good shot. Instinctively Brown and Tenkelsen dropped as the trigger was pulled. The bullet flew between the two men and buried itself in the nearby wall. While Maxgut was taking aim for his second shot, Brown pulled his own gun, and without taking aim fired. With a scream Mrs. Maxgut hurled herself in front of her husband but was a fraction of a second too late. The bullet entered Maxgut's right side, piercing both lungs, and came out through his left side just below the heart. The shot proved fatal, and Hubert Maxgut now rests in the Goldfield Cemetery. Two weeks after the shooting Brown was found innocent by reason of self-defense.


After the demise of Hubert Maxgut, a Mr. Mantel bought the saloon. Mantel sold the saloon in 1917 to Joe Fuetsch, who owned it until 1946. The business was then purchased by Fred Bremmer and a Mr. Worm. Between the years 1946 and 1976 the saloon was sold to Ben Hicks, who sold it back to Clyde Bremmer, the widow of Fred Bremmer (yes, Clyde was a female). Clyde then sold it to a man named Grogan who then sold it back to Clyde Bremmer. Jim Marsh purchased the saloon from Clyde Bremmer in 1976 and is still the proprietor.


What would a story be without knowing what happened to the two prospectors who founded Goldfield, nee Grandpa. William Marsh became a politician and served on the County Commission, as a State Assemblyman and finally in the State Senate. Billy Marsh died on June 15, 1938 and is buried in Tonopah.


Harry Stimler operated a brokerage and promotion firm in 1906. He was involved with mining ventures and eventually had an office in the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah. Being the son of a white man and a Paiute mother, he once dressed as an Indian in New York City to attract customers and sell stock. On August 21, 1931, apparently without provocation, Franklin A. Hall, a Tecopa storekeeper, shot Stimler and then turned the gun on himself. Harry Stimler passed on to the Golden Hills on August 22, 1931, while being transported to Barstow. As with William Marsh, Harry Stimler is buried in Tonopah.


Goldfield's heyday lasted only a few years. By the time of the 1923 fire, most of the residents made homeless accepted the half-price tickets offered by the railroad, and left the area. The town has continued to serve as the county seat for Esmeralda County, allowing Goldfield to survive, but only as a ghost of its boom years self


Time passes, days go by and the years slip further away from the glory times in Goldfield. Queho Posse member Jim Marsh purchased the saloon in 1976, and has kept it going. It may be the oldest continually operating saloon in the state of Nevada. It is fitting this tale ends with a Marsh finding a town and a Marsh keeping it going. And it is only right that the current owner of the Santa Fe Saloon is a Clamper.


When I was a youth and to college went


I spent all the money my father sent;


Fitting up my mind for societee


By filling up my bowels with bad whiskee;


And I fitted up myself so spendidlee,


That now, I am always on a D.B.D. (Damn Big Drunk).




Goldfield and the Santa Fe Saloon have known many characters over the last century. From the Earps to Tex Rickard, many have gone on to great acclaim in this history books. One, though, whose fame was somewhat more localized, was Heine Miller.


In 1927, Heinie Miller was working his claim near Columbia Mountain. He drilled into a hole loaded with dynamite, causing an explosion. The terrible accident cost Heinie his eyesight, but did not stop the determined miner. Heinie's cabin was near the Santa Fe Saloon and to accommodate his disability, his friends ran a continuous wire from his home to his mining property, a distance of three miles.


Heinie had many friends. One was Joe Fuetsch who owned the Santa Fe Saloon. For years, Heinie would have breakfast at Fuetsch's place, then begin his walk to his claim by picking up the wire guide. For eight years Heinie left each morning on a walk that would take about an hour, "give or take 10 minutes", as he put it.


Heinie, by himself, sunk a hundred foot shaft and then tunneled horizontally about forty feet. It was in this tunnel that Heinie discovered a gold vein that paid $20.00 per ton. The blind miner had an uncanny ability to determine the kind of rock he was working by tasting it. For example, he knew the fresh taste of waste dacite and could determine its difference from that of strong mineralization, vein material, or high-grade ore.


The word of a blind miner actually working a gold mine caught national attention. Heinie appeared as a guest on popular radio shows such as "We the People" and "Death Valley Days" as well as a spot on "Ripley's Believe it or Not." These appearances gave Heinie much needed financial support for his mining activities.


By the mid 1930's, Heinie had stopped using the wire. He was able to walk the trail by instinct, working his mine without any assistance. He did the drilling, loading, blasting, mucking, hoisting to the surface, and even tramming to his dump site, all on his own.


The loss of eyesight did not stop romance. In the late 1930's he married a widow in Goldfield. A few years later they moved to Southern California, where Heinie went to the Golden Hills in 1950 at the age of 62.


Heinie Miller was a unique individual with ties to the Santa Fe Saloon. Though the accident cost him his eyesight, Heinie never gave up working his mine and gave aid to a widder by marrying her. A miner of whom true Clampers could be proud.



The following sources were used in putting this keepsake together and to provide direction to any Clamper educated enough who would like to read further.


The Complete Nevada Traveler by David W. Toll. Gold Hill Publishing


Early History of Goldfield Nevada; As Written by T.A Rickard compiled by S. & N. Sirnes. Domain Enterprises


Goldfield by Hugh A. Shamberger. Nevada Historical Press


Goldfield-Boomtown of Nevada by Stanley W. Paher. Nevada Publications


Goldfield; The Last Gold Rush on the Western Frontier, Sally Zanjani, Swallow Press


Goldfield Remembered, The Goldfield Historical Society


It Happened in Nevada by Elizabeth Gibson. A TwoDot Book by Globe Pequot Press


Nevada This Is Our Land by Nancy Christian Miluck. Dragon Enterprises


Roadside History of Nevada by Richard Moreno. Mountain Press Publishing


Saloons of (Old and New) Nevada by Raymond M. Smith. Silver State Printing


The Saloon on the Rocky Mountain Frontier by Elliott West. University of Nebraska Press


True West Magazine Website; www.truewestmagazine.com


Violence Was No Stranger by James A. Browning. Barbed Wire Press


Special thanks to Goldfield denizen Alan Metscher for providing the information on the killing of Hubert Maxgut and the life of Heinie Miller.

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