Donald Lee Bradshaw was born in the spring on March 16, 1926 to Ethel Ramona (Hardy) of Bunkerville, Nev. and Ruben J. Bradshaw. He joined his sister Helen, his brother Jim, and his sister Meryl.
After Don came Betty, Joseph and Kathleen. Like the majority of babies in that day, Don was born at his home, in Elgin, Nev.
Don attended school with his brothers and sisters in the one-room school in Elgin, Nev., house built by his grandfather, James Webster Bradshaw. He graduated from Lincoln County High School, Panaca, Nev. in 1944. In those days, the kids boarded with other families during the week and rode the train home to Elgin on the weekends.
Growing up on the ranch at Elgin, like their father and grandfather before them, the Bradshaw boys, Jim, Don and Joe, learned the definition of hard work. Alongside their father they raised cattle, alfalfa and other crops to support the family business.
About 1944, Don enlisted in the United States Military and was on his way to serve his country when much to his dismay, his father, R.J., intervened and Don was turned around and sent home to help run the ranch.
Don was 23 when he met his future bride Barbara Jean Knudson at a Christmas party. They were formerly introduced by his cousin Lewis Bradshaw. Barbara was a pretty young nurse working at the hospital in Caliente. She and her girlfriend Marci McGee (also a nurse), were on their way west in search of nursing jobs, and as Barb tells the story, Caliente was where their money ran out and jobs were available. Barbara and Marci were among several young nurses that stayed in Caliente and married local young men.
Barbara and Don were soon married in Las Vegas, at the Little Chapel of the West, April 15, 1950. After their honeymoon, they moved to their first home in Caliente. At that time, Don worked for the Union Pacific Railroad as a telegrapher. They also lived a short time in Yermo and Kelso, Calif.
In August of 1951, their first child was born; a son named after his dad, Donald Lee Bradshaw, Jr. Then the following year, a daughter Lynn; sons Loren, and Luke and youngest daughter, Valerie completed the family.
One of Don’s biggest highlights was running for County Commissioner in 1954. He campaigned well and was elected. Don was Lincoln County Commissioner for 12 years. Don’s main accomplishments as commissioner were fixing the crossings on the road from Caliente to Elgin. He was also instrumental in putting in the dirt road across Kane Springs.
In 1966, Don moved his family into town buying a home on Lincoln Street so the kids could go to high school. Until then, all five children had attended the one-room schoolhouse at Elgin.
Don’s big push in the 1960s was the “Carp Flat fields”. The “Carp Flat fields” were those of blood, sweat, and tears. Hauling hay for $10 a day taught his sons Lee, Loren and Luke, hard work and responsibility.
In 1980, Don started his water project, the underground pipe and the pond was put in. Water was piped from the creek to establish the pond.
1982 was the year the “Apple Orchard” was begun. Planting 2500 apple trees with the help of his sons and sons-in-law during the winter/spring of 1982 was quite a feat.
The apple orchard became Southern Nevada’s largest “certified organic” orchard at that time. Don acquired the nickname “Johnny Appleseed”. When the trees started producing apples, U-pick season began and every fall, families came from near and far to enjoy the pond, picnic, and pick apples.
In the fall of 1986, Don added the swinging bridge over the pond. You could say he always had wonderful ideas and big dreams for the family ranch.
Being a rancher, Don was very interested in precipitation and weather. For 40 years he reported the weather from a station based in Elgin.
One of the many gifts our (father and) grandfather left for his family and friends was preparing a place for them to gather. He took the dirt, the water, the rocks, and with a dream, a creative spirit, and the seeds of an apple, put them all together and built our “family ranch.” Grandpa and Grandma both enjoy the times the family and friends gather here. It’s a little piece of heaven on earth.