New Ruess Clue

If you’re enjoying the search for Everett Ruess and his possible connection to Lamar Haines Wildlife Area, you’ll love this clue.

“Two teens in a small Ford pickup stopped and offered to take Evert [Everett Ruess was calling himself Evert Rulan at that time] and his entourage to the ranch one of the boys owned on the southwest slopes of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff.”

That’s Philip Fradkin in his 2011 book, “Everett Ruess: His Short Life, Mysterious Death, and Astonishing Afterlife.”

I checked the book out from my local library and eagerly devoured pages 69–70, describing the encounter between Ruess and the “two teens.” They were Tad Nichols and Pat Jenks. The latter had just become owner of a place he called “Deerwater Ranch.” He would later sell that property to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and it would become a wildlife area—the very property I’m investigating, and the place whose possible connection with Ruess is haunting me.

“They decided to transport Evert, Curly, and Pegasus [the latter two are Ruess’s burros] to Jenks’s 160-acre ranch, which had been given to him along with the truck by his wealthy father. … Known as the Veit Ranch after its initial 1892 homesteader and as the Deerwater Ranch to Jenks, it was Shangri-La to Evert.”

Well, there it is, isn’t it? I know Jenks’s father bought the property and gave it to his son—I’ve seen the deeds. I know it was called Veit Ranch, after its first homesteader. So this passage of the book sounds like great evidence that Everett Ruess was, indeed, a guest on the ranch then known as Deerwater and now known as Lamar Haines Wildlife Area.

Or is it? One thing this sleuthing has taught me is to check sources. It’s much easier to quote someone else’s work than to do your own digging. When you quote someone else, you trust they did the legwork. What if they didn’t? Then one person’s error gets reprinted as fact by the next person. I’ve seen that again and again as I’ve researched the wildlife area’s history.

So, what are Fradkin’s sources for these authoritative statements about Veit Ranch/Deerwater Ranch? How come he sounds so sure? Stay tuned …

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