Thursday, March 31, 2016

Wellspring of History

March 26th 2016 we celebrated the history of Gold Butte focusing on the most notable characters Arthur Coleman and William Garret. We came together to rebury Art after some miscreant disturbed the final resting place of this early prospector. We did our best to right this wrong and reburied Art’s remains, to rest once again alongside his longtime friend William Garret.  

The circumstances that brought us together were appalling at best, but like the resilient pioneers who settled this country, we made the best with what we had, and rose to the occasion. The event will be remembered by all those who rattled down the road to headquarters hoping to partake in the history, available to those willing to seek after it. Our history is infused within the desert hills, just a part of the landscape as the Joshua trees and weathered buttes.

The well of history was brimming in the desert winds, proffering its narrative to those willing to partake. The reward was a refreshing treat whose succulence could never be recreated. One day those who knew of the way it was, will not be here to share it with those of tomorrow. For the wellspring of history, if not recorded, revisited and remembered will one day dry up.  It was in the spirit of remembrance that we gathered and celebrated Art Coleman and Bill Garret.

We first reburied Art and reworked the graves in hopes to protect from future marauding intruders. After the graves of both men were cleaned up we held a simple ceremony to rededicate the final resting place. Duane Magoon presided over the service. Gene Houston gave the opening prayer. Myself, Dustin Nelson, gave the eulogy. Lindsey Dalley dedicated that graves. The closing prayer was given by Shem Teerlink. It was a simple affair but seemed fitting for the good ol’ boys for which we gave tribute.

(Click here to read my eulogy)

After the service we had a pot-luck lunch and gathered to share stories and memories of Art and Bill and of the many who have lived their lives within the backdrop of Gold Butte. For me, eating potato salad while visiting with friends, stirring up stories from the past, in the very place where many of those stories took place, is about as good as it gets.

I spent most of my time visiting with Norm Tom who wore quite a little leather off the tree chasin cows alongside many of the cowboys in Gold Butte. He told me stories of Jimmy Hayworth when he worked for Howard Hughes, of my uncle Moose Whitney when he was out here running with my Grandpa Don Whitney and many other cowboys and city folk who thought they were. Kicking our boots in the dust of Gold Butte and being able to point to the very washes where Norm remembered working cows and making camp is a memory to….well, write about.

One of the highlights of the day was when the Jacobs family arrived bringing with them Art’s original Model A Ford. The story I got was that Art left the car to the Jacobs family in his will and it has remained in the family ever since. James Jacobs, the son of Slat, towed the car out. He said if he had had a little more time he could have got it running and drove it out. Running or not, it was most excellent to see the old car reunited with this rough and rugged country. The Jacobs family use to have the ranch just below the Nay’s at the bottom of the mountain on the Arizona Strip side.

When all was said and done and folks started to pack up and leave, I speculate they left with more than they came.  To the casual passerby, who fails to behold these hills imbued with its historical perspective, the contrast of human and nature can seem a stark contradiction. But for those who understand and appreciate what has transpired within these surroundings, there is an insight which pulls in harmony the contrast of humanity and nature to reveal a more vivid landscape and an accompanying desire to conserve it. It is these community events, where we celebrate our history that ensures our public lands stand resolute.