Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McGriff Ranch

Evey, Wixon, McGriff and Griss
According to a 30-Oct-1909 Las Vegas Age article, John F. Evey tapped into an artesian basin to produce one of the strongest flowing wells in the valley. Local news on page 4 of the 03-Dec-1910 Las Vegas Age claimed that he would “be remembered in Vegas as the owner of the greatest of the artesian wells developed in this valley to date, on what is now known as the Wixon ranch.” According to the map titled Las Vegas Valley showing Artesian Wells, the Wixon Ranch was located in Section 10, Township 22-S, Range 61-E which is a 160-acre parcel, now bordered on the north by Warm Springs Road, on the west by Amigo Street, on the south by E Robindale Road and on the east by Paradise Road (east of the intersection of I-15 and I-215.)

After finding a general location of the ranch on the early McWilliams artesian well map my initial attempt was to search the Nevada Division of State Lands database to find the initial "owner". However, there is only one patent listed for any of the 16 40-acre parcels that make up section 10, Township 22S, Range 61E... and it's not for the Evey / Wixon / McGriff farm. My next try was the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM's Nevada Land Records Search. Feeding the township, range and Mt Diablo meridian, requesting a Master Title Plat, and then chosing section 10, I found a map that showed the ranch's location. This provided patent #174779, which could then be fed into the BLM's Land Patent Search engine (using serial patent number) to find a patent issued to John F. Evey on 1-Feb-1911.

In a March 1911 newspaper article, Mr. Wixon is commended for the improvements he has made on the ranch. This suggests that Evey paid the balance on the land, and received his land patent just after selling to Mr. Wixon. Wixon doesn't appear to have stayed long, as in 1914, E. C. McGriff took over the ranch (LVA: 24-Mar-1914.) Mr and Mrs McGriff (LVA: 24-May-1913) previously lived on the Stewart ranch. Upon taking charge, the newspaper says that “Mr. McGriff has planted some orchard and is preparing to considerably increase the acreage of alfalfa.”

A 1936 map of the Las Vegas Vicinity still shows an arrow pointing toward the McGriff Ranch, south of the city. However, a 1954 map of the Las Vegas Valley shows the property to be owned by T. M. Griss who applied for water rights in 1951.

Although there is no indication when the property transferred from McGriff to Griss, a visit to the country recorder's office, looking at property record #16-45-2 shows that

  • In 1952, Griss sold to Lucille F. Athearn
  • In 1962, the property transfered to Maxwell L. Rubin and Angelus Industries, Inc and then to Arthur Liebert
  • In 1962, the land transferred to Star Investment, Co and to Menlo Inc.
  • In 1964, it was transferred to Yeltro Corporation and Ambassador, Inc.

The property went from Yeltro Corp / Ambassador, Inc to Clinton Ables, who sold it to the Hughes Tool Company in 1968. Looking at the history record, after searching one of the low parcel numbers within the old ranch area (such as 177-10-110-001) using the Clark County Assessor database shows that the land was finally subdivided into housing lots in 1986.

Land Resarch Tools

A good place to start, if you want to find out about early Las Vegas ranches is the University of Nevada, Las Vegas or UNLV online Digital Collections. An advanced search is available that will allow you look through the Southern Nevada and Las Vegas, History in Maps collection.

Search using keyword artesian and you'll receive links to maps of

One of the more complicated parts of researching an old ranch is to identify exactly where it was located. As an example, look on the early artesian well map and you can find the Wixon's ranch several miles south of the city.

  • Numbers close to the ranch will show you that it is in section 10
  • Left and right text indicates that the ranch is in Township 22 South
  • Top and bottom text indicates that the ranch is in Range 61 East

Once you know the location of the ranch, you can go to the Nevada Division of State Lands website and search the patent database to see who received the first state land patent. Note that this doesn't mean this was the first settler on the land... it was just the first person who was able to completely pay for it!

In addition to the land patent search from the state of Nevada, you can also search the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM Land Patents database.

If ranch owners filed for water rights, they can probably be found on the Nevada Division of Water Resources web page. After going to the Water Rights Database, you can search by permit, certificate or owner name.

Several ranches are shown on the early artesian wells map. You can chose the family name from any one of these, and use it to

A reference tool that may, or may not, be helpful is the Clark County, Nevada Assessor Property Records webpage. This database shows current, and recent owners. Some parcels contain historical owner information. However, it can be tricky to find it. To do so, you need to find past parcel identification numbers. For example, while very early records identified parcels by Section, Township, and Range, more recent records use an 11-digital parcel number.

To see if a parcel contains historical information in the assessor database, start by going to the Clark County Assessor Records and Maps webpage. The Parcel Map Index contains submaps for Clark County. If you can find the general area of your parcel, you will get a 5-6 digit number. As an example, the Wixon Ranch, used in early posts, falls in sections 177-10. These five digits can be used in a Parcel Maps Inquiry. Once you select a more detailed base map within this ranch, you can look for an 11-digital parcel number (I generally look for the smallest number available.) One of the lots in this submap, that we believe would fall within the old Wixon Ranch is 177-10-110-001.

Feeding this Parcel Number into a property records parcel number search will provide the current owner record. Above the record, click the Ownership History and you will find

  • A current parcel number of 177-10-110-001
  • A prior parcel number of 160-780-001
  • An 80-acre parcel owned, prior to 1971, by the Hughes Tool Company!

Flowing Wells

According to the City of Las Vegas web page, Las Vegas is Spanish for “The Meadows.” Around 1912, surveyor J. T. McWilliams created a map of artesian wells. The map pinpointed about 100 "flowing wells" and at least a dozen areas of "cultivated land."

If you know where to look, researching the history of these old ranches can be fun. This blog will be dedicated to trying to find out about some of the early Vegas ranches, who lived there, and how long they lasted.