Lake, Mary E. & Tom Interview, 1951 February 18. OH-01051. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
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UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 1 An Interview with Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake An Oral History Conducted by Fred Wilson UNLV University Libraries Oral History Collection Special Collections and Archives Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada, Las Vegas UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 2 © UNLV University Libraries Oral History Collection University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2018 UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 3 The Oral History Research Center (OHRC) was formally established by the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada System in September 2003 as an entity of the UNLV University Libraries’ Special Collections Division. The OHRC conducts oral interviews with individuals who are selected for their ability to provide first-hand observations on a variety of historical topics in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada. The OHRC is also home to legacy oral history interviews conducted prior to its establishment. This legacy interview transcript received minimal editing, such as the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader's understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. The interviewee/narrator was not involved in the editing process. UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 4 Abstract On February 18, 1951, Fred Wilson interviewed Mary Ellen Osborn Lake (born 1870 in Mercer County, Missouri) and her son, Thomas Lake (born 1889 in Missouri). Wilson first asked Mary Ellen questions about when she first arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1904. Much of the relatively brief interview involved questions related to the first Methodist churches in Las Vegas and the Lakes’ involvement and recollections of the locations and members of the church community. UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 5 This is the 18th day of February, 1951. Fred Wilson speaking, and I am going to talk with Mrs. R. E. Lake and her son Tom on the early history of Las Vegas and particularly history of the Methodist Church. Mrs. Lake, will you tell us about your trip into Las Vegas, first time you came? Well, I left Ontario, California on November the 6th and got into Ivanpah where we had to stay all night. I was on the train one night, and then got into Ivanpah and we stayed all night and slept out under the stars. There’s no accommodations there. And the next day, we made it in to Goodsprings and stayed all night there, and went home the next day to (unintelligible) Las Vegas on November the 9th, 1904. Tom, I think you were here just before she was, weren’t you? Yes, I come in four months before she did. I come in on August the 14th, 1904. We left Ontario, California (unintelligible) Santa Fe Railroad and come to gold, then took another train over to Ivanpah, a short line over to Ivanpah, and they picked up the freight teams there—there were two teams. My brother was driving one and Joe W. was driving the other—six-horse teams. And they were loaded with whiskey and beer and provisions of all kinds for the town. We would cross over Dry Lake and Cottonwood and Goodsprings—we were three days on the way. We got into Las Vegas on the 14th of August. That was 1904. 1904. Well, what did Las Vegas look like about that time? There was nothing up here at all; everything was done at the ranch, and there was nothing but one building, which was called a hotel. There was a store, a general store, and then there was Mrs. Stewart’s residence. And there was thirteen saloons, and that’s all. UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 6 And your father, Mr. Lake, was already here, wasn’t he? He was here then, yes. Well, Mrs. Lake, I asked you like I did everyone else, you put up a tent someplace, didn’t you? Yes, we had a tent right across from the Old Ranch house. And do you remember any other residents that are still living that were here then? No, I don’t think I do. Of course, Walter (Unintelligible) was there then, wasn’t he? Yes, Walter was here, but of course he’s passed on, and the Beals who left here many years ago. Tom, do you remember any of the kids that are still living? Yes, two of them, Victor Matuzzi and Henrico Matuzzi is the only two that I know of. Pearl (unintelligible)—do you think Pearl was here then? No. No. Pearl came in 1905—Pearl and the Westlakes. They came about 1905 sometime? Yes. Well, of course, so many people begin to come, they have children, and they were faced with a problem with a school and of course some sort of education and religion or church or Sunday school, and maybe you can tell us about where the first church was or the first thing you used for a church—the first structure you used. Well, it was the schoolhouse down on the bank of the creek. It was a tent boarded up about three feet, and the rest was a tent. Tom, I think you kinda gave me the dimensions on that one time, didn’t you? UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 7 I think it was twelve by sixteen. And you used that both for a Sunday night and a church and a school? And a school, yes. Mrs. Lake, in looking through my old clippings and notes I made, I believe there was a Presbyterian minister came here on mission work at first, didn’t he? Yes. He was here for a year. There was two here—one, Swander, his name was Swander. Yes, Mr. Swander was the Presbyterian minister who I liked. Yes. And then a man by the name of Robison. He also did that. Well, then the bishop came and decided after Mr. (unintelligible) came decided there wasn’t room for two churches, so they gave way to, maybe because he was an old man and here for his health. That was the first minister, wasn’t it, he was the Reverend J. W. Bane? Yes. And he also was a chaplain of the Las Vegas Masonic Lodge under (unintelligible) as well as the first Masonic Lodge as it stands now. Mrs. Lake, I copied some notes about the first service of the Methodist Church; it was held on June 11th, 1905 in that tent. I believe you said that tent’s down about on Main Street where it crosses a creek; isn’t that about right, Tom? That’s right. Of course, there was no Main Street then, only (unintelligible) wasn’t it? No. UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 8 There wasn’t anything there. And (unintelligible) it was completed with George F. Goodwin, Carl Swisher, and James Elaine as trustees and Mrs. James Elaine, Mr. R. E. Lake, Carl Swisher, and James Elaine as stewards. Now, I think that that—I think Tom has told me this before—that you used that tent down there for some time and then, I think that Tom, didn’t you say you moved up in that church and back of the old First State Bank in a little—? Yes, it was— Little house or something there for a while. It was a little house there that we had church in, in back of the bank. And then I think you said that for a while you moved down to a building that was owned by Mr. Levy, about three doors down from the bank. Yes. It’s on the Main Street, on Fremont Street. On Fremont Street there, down about where the Boulder Club is in there somewhere. Yes. And then, I think about that time, didn’t you have a schoolhouse around Second and Lewis? No, (unintelligible) rooming house. And so you used that for church as well as going to school, too. And I mention in here that Mr. Lake was a member of the first school board here. And I’m sorry, I don’t have a letter—I tried to find it—but I have a letter from Mr. Dan Noland who was a pioneer attorney here and returned in 1940. And Mr. Noland, in this letter, said, “I wish that you would, anytime you mention me, early days in particularly the school board, or the school system in Las Vegas, that two men (unintelligible)—[Audio cuts out]—he was a very great UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 9 influence in the early days for better schools and a better condition of living for everyone in Las Vegas.” Now, on (unintelligible) my notes that I have at the—I guess the mass must have been given (unintelligible)—? Yes. I think that’s, the railroad gave them the—? But you know, we had church before we went down to the schoolhouse in a big tent. It was a dance hall. Dance hall. It was a dance hall, and we had church— Where was it about? Oh, I think it was someplace between the railroad track and Main Street. It was right about where (unintelligible) and Stewart is. We used to have (unintelligible) there— The first church social we ever had was at my place— Your home? Tent, yes. Well, it wasn’t big enough to accommodate anybody, so we were right on the edge of an alfalfa field, and we had an ice cream social out on this alfalfa field, sit around on the ground, had ice cream and cake. Mrs. Lake, in some of these clippings that you gave me are souvenirs of the early days. I have a little program—I wonder if you’d read it for us here. “Social (unintelligible) at Fyfe’s Hall—music, games, recreation, (unintelligible) contest, refreshments. Admission, free. A silver offering will be given to help in furnishing the Methodist parsonage tent, and bring your friends.” UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 10 Tom, I don’t think that, in Las Vegas—we did have a water system in, didn’t we, I mean to the (unintelligible)? No. There wasn’t any water yet? No water. We dug our own wells. And didn’t even have—you had electric lights at that time either? No. All lamps. Well, then we get back to building—the records I have that the church on the present location of Third and Bridger was started in December, 1907, and the first church service was held December the 6th, 1908 with the reverend J. W. Bane as the pastor. Then, in 1908, a Reverend W. C. Storm became a pastor for one year. He was followed by Reverend Oscar Smith from September 1st, 1909 to February 1910, and during this period, the church acquired a new organ, and on Christmas week of 1909, the organ was first used (unintelligible) read the newspaper article about this organ. It says, “Have you seen and heard our new organ? It is beautiful, but the best part about it is it (unintelligible). We could have bought three good organs for the price of this one, but we want to give our good people nothing but the best.” Do you happen to remember the organ, Mrs. Lake? No, I don’t. You don’t remember—then, I think Mr. Smith stayed till February 1910, who was followed by Reverend Palmer—I’ve forgotten what Mr. Palmer’s initials were. E. A. UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 11 E. A. Palmer. Mr. Palmer was a doctor of philosophy—I believe it’s the only one we’ve had here in our Methodist church. His wife was a very accomplished musician, graduated Knox College. I think that under Mr. Palmer, the church made progress, didn’t it, Mrs. Lake? Yes, it did. I just happen to think that during the early years, the Methodist (unintelligible) was a community (unintelligible), wasn’t it? Yes. For just about everything. Anyone who wanted (unintelligible), and that early, we had no Catholic church according to my records. I don’t know when the Episcopal church was started. It was along about in there sometime, wasn’t it, in 1879? Yes, someplace along there. And all I have (unintelligible) that the two churches, the Episcopal church and the Methodist church offered the youth of their churches to the Catholic church until their own church was finished, which I believe was 1912. In my records, also, I have that when Mr. Palmer came, he assumed a $2,300 debt, which was paid in March of 1914—it was (unintelligible) program of the church at that time. Do you remember, Mrs. Lake, anything about that program or not? I remember we had a big dinner, and this program with music. I’ve forgotten to mention, to ask you about the other leaders in the church in the early years besides yourself—do you remember? Well, Mr. Griffith. Mr. Griffith and—he was the choir leader, if you want to call it. And any other ladies now living?— UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 12 Well, Mrs. Ball. Ms. Emily Ball. Yes. She sang in the choir and was very active in the church there. But I don’t know of anybody else that’s living now. In fact, you are the only charter member of the Methodist Church that’s still in the Methodist Church, and as far as we know now, I guess that Emily Ball is the only other member still living? Yes. Tom, do you remember anything about when they brought that parsonage over here—I thought maybe you might have? No, I was out of the country then. I was out in Galveston, Texas when they brought over. My records are, at the end of spring of 1912, a movement was started for a new parsonage—the old (unintelligible) building was purchased, torn down to volunteer labor, and shipped (unintelligible) Las Vegas and Tonopah railways. It was re-erected by volunteers, and at that time when Mr. Farmer left, which I believe was 1914, a church (unintelligible) was then worth about $10,000. I believe that Mr. Rogers followed Reverend Palmer. Then, next came Mr. Leo Kline, who stayed from 1920 to 1923, and the church (unintelligible) but we also lost the church. It was burned down, I think, in January 1922—yes, it was. Do you remember when the church burned, Mrs. Lake? January, but I don’t remember the— Were you over there and were you—? Oh, yes. You were there when it burned? UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 13 Yes, I was there. We were getting ready for a social at night in the church, and it burned in the evening. It burned completely, didn’t it? Yes. I think it was very cold, wasn’t it? Yes. And wasn’t the firemen or one of the—I don’t remember—I think it was someone in the fire department at that time told me the water plugs were even frozen. Of course, immediately after the church was burned, then members of the church started again to rebuild the church, didn’t they? Yes. And I think the money was by public—most of the money that was required was borrowed just from everyone, wasn’t it? I mean, there was quite— (Unintelligible) In fact, I have a postcard— Yes. (Unintelligible) everybody in town pledged something to— Yes. Few dollars to a few hundred. We held church in the schoolhouse then? In the high school? At grammar school, the old grammar school. Then Mr. Kline left in 1922. UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 14 ’23— Yes, it was, 1923. Then Reverend Stockton came and stayed until 1926, and Reverend M. K. Stone until ’28, and in 1928, (Unintelligible) came. And of course, in 1929, they passed the Boulder Canyon bill, and Las Vegas started to become a city. I think, at that time, we had about 2,500 population, if I remember correctly. We did have Fremont paved, I believe, from Main to Fifth, and that was all. When Mr. Reynolds came, of course, the church began to grow, and it was during his being pastor there that Dr. Park gave the organ in memory of his mother. Mr. Reynolds stayed until 1933. Do you remember anything during those years, 1928 to ’33, that you wanted to mention, Mrs. Lake? No, I don’t remember anything except I lost my husband in 1932. It was 1932—that seemed just a few days ago. I was up in the hills up here up above (unintelligible) when Mr. Lake—I don’t think it was six or eight months before that. He (unintelligible) when we’d go to the mountains, I know that. Then, when Mr. Reynolds left, Reverend W. L. Summers came for one year, and Reverend Orr, for ’34 and part of ’35, and then the Reverend Mr. Dalton finished that. And from ’36 to ’43, we had Reverend Ford Gilbert, who went overseas in 1943 as a chaplain with the Army and present lives in Las Vegas. He received a little disability in the war. In 1943, our present pastor, Mr. Brothman, came to us, and since 1943, of course, our church is growing very rapidly. And during the time we received the beautiful window that’s on the north end of the sanctuary, which was given by Mr. Tom Lake in memory of his son—isn’t that right, Tom? That’s right. That was Tom, too, wasn’t it? Thomas Robert. UNLV University Libraries Mary Ellen Osborn Lake and Thomas Lake 15 Thomas Robert, and he lost his life in the U.S. Air Corps during the war, didn’t he? In the U.S. Marine Corps. Marine Corps—wasn’t it the Air Service? Yes. That’s what I thought. Well, I guess that concludes our little talk with Mr. Tom Lake and Mrs. Lake; we’re very lucky to have Tom come up here, be with us this time. I think, not many of them here older than you, I mean, in (unintelligible) residents, is there, in Las Vegas? (Unintelligible) I think I’m the oldest one now, ain’t I? [Audio cuts out] One living in Las Vegas. (Unintelligible) in Las Vegas. The (Unintelligible) still here— He wasn’t here when I come here. Wasn’t he? No, I didn’t think so, either. Mrs. Mack Williams is still living. Now, she might not have been over there. She might have been (unintelligible). But she, I guess, it’s probably between the two of you. Yes. Yes. [Audio ends]