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The People of Seven Troughs & Mazuma





Thanks to recent postings by our members, we have gained a lot of valuable information about the towns of Seven Troughs and Mazuma. We have learned about the devastating flood of 1912 that raged through the canyons, wiping out structures and taking a number of lives with it, as well as explored the small cemeteries that mark the landscape with many unmarked graves. Now, we are going to uncover the stories behind some of those who lived in these towns, those who brought life and personality to the dusty streets and desert beaten buildings and homes.


As a note of reference, the remains of the flood victims were taken to the funeral parlors of Groesbeck and O'Brien in Mazuma. Below is an account given by P.E. Groesbeck, undertaker…







“Lovelock, July 20. -- The list of dead in the Mazuma disaster still remains at nine persons and nine were injured. Additional details fix the approximate loss due to the flood at about $100,000.

P. E. Groesbeck of the undertaking firm of Groesbeck and O'Brien of this city returned from the scene of the flood-stricken Mazuma district this morning.

"I reached Lovelock about 3 o'clock Friday morning in response to a call sent out from that place. I found no automobiles or other conveyances awaiting, and, known that the services of an undertaker would be one of the crying necessities of the hour, proceeded toward Mazuma on foot. The first automobile which I found returning from Mazuma I stopped and, explaining the situation to the driver, he consented to take me back."

"We got into Mazuma about 8 o'clock Friday morning, accompanied by a nurse and my assistant, a Mr. Bird of the Coalition Mining company. I met the officials of the mining companies, who in turn took me to the building where the remains of MRS.RUDDELL, MRS. FONCANNON, MICHAEL WHALEN, the youngest KEHOE boy and the 6-year-old son of MR. GILLESPIE of the Mazuma Hills Mining company had been placed."

"The condition of all these bodies was terrible to behold. They were bruised from head to foot and were almost completely beyond recognition. The bodies were entirely denuded when found. They were covered with debris, dirt and sand. some of the bodies, were picked up several miles from the place of residence."

"Many of the escapes from death were miraculous. The flood apparently came without warning and swept down on the victims in a moment. Many of the survivors had to be held back from rushing into the flood in an effort to rescue minor effects."

"MICHAEL KEHOE had just retired when the flood struck the building. He jumped from his bed and ran to the door. He saw the body of the smallest KEHOE boy float by him on the crest of the flood and lost his life trying to save the lad."

"The entire town, with the exception of one or two buildings located high on the hill, was wiped out. The Coalition Mining company lost nearly its entire plant and its big vault where in the neighborhood of $20,000 worth of bullion was stored. The bullion was all lost."

"One of the KEHOE children still is missing. There is no doubt but what the unfortunate child is dead. The remains are either covered with debris or have been buried in the mud."

"The remains of MRS. RUDDELL and MRS. FONCANNON were brought to Reno this morning and will not be disposed of until instructions are received from relatives. The remains of WHALEN will be brought to Reno to await the coming of his mother, who has started from his home in Illinois to take charge of them."

"The property loss is estimated in the neighborhood of $100,000."

Casualties as known:

GEORGE S. KEHOE, aged 4 years old.

JAMES C. KEHOE, aged 6 years old.

RONALD M. KEHOE, aged 1 1/2 years old.

JULIA FONCANNON, wife of Floyd.

PERRV GILLESPIE, son of Matthew, 10 years old.

MRS. KEHOE, wife of William.

MRS. McCLEAN, wife of Alex.

MARGARET O'HANLON, wife of Steve.

MAUDE EDNA RUDDELL, aged 33 years.


MICHAEL WHALEN, aged 45 years.

Reno Evening Gazette Nevada 1912-07-20”



Now on to those who lived, worked and died in the towns of Seven Troughs and Mazuma.



Matthew M. Gillespie, born January 25th, 1875 and Sara Mayne Heron, born circa 1884, were immigrants from Northern Ireland. The maiden name of Matthew’s mother was Burns. Arriving first in Canada in 1905, where son Thomas Perry Gillespie was born in May 1906, they soon made their way down to Oakland, Alameda County, California, where son Richard H. was born May 15th, 1909.


The 1910 census enumerates this family as living in Berkeley, Alameda County, California. The household consists of Matthew, wife Sara, and sons Thomas and Richard. Matthew’s occupation is listed as manager for a mining company, and at this time he and Sarah had been married for a period of four years.


In 1911 the family moved to Mazuma, Nevada, but by 1912 were planning to move back to Oakland, California. On July 18th, 1912  a flash flood tore through the towns of Seven Troughs and Mazuma, washing away buildings and humans alike. Thomas Gillespie, just 6 years old, was one of the victims who drowned in the flood. The family had his body sent to Oakland, California, where he lies buried in the Mountain View Cemetery. A newspaper article in the Bridgeton Evening News (Bridgeton, NJ), July 20th, 1912, provides us with further information…


“While saving his wife, Dr. Gillespie, the superintendent of the Daily Mining Reduction Works at Mazuma, was compelled to see his oldest son drown. If he had let go his wife to save the son the wife would have drowned, and although the mother tried to prevail upon the physician to let her drown in order that her boy might live, the husband clung to his wife and finally got her out of danger,”


One can only imagine with horror and compassion the trauma and long lasting after-affects of this incident in the life of this family. No other children were born to this family, even though both Matthew and Sara were still young enough, which makes me wonder about how the dynamics in their relationship may have changed after the death of young Thomas.


In 1920 the family are living back in Oakland, California, with the household consisting of Matthew, Sara and son Richard. By this time Matthew was working as an importer. The 1930 census for Oakland shows the same information.


In 1935 Matthew and Sara were living in Berkeley, California, and by 1940 they had moved to Contra Costa, California.


Matthew Gillespie was naturalized as an American citizen in 1944.




Sara Mayne Heron Gillespie was naturalized in 1948.




Matthew died in Alameda County, California on May 17th, 1949. So far no record of death has been found for Sara or son Richard.



John S. Keheo, born in  Illinois on December 26th, 1864 and Mary “Mamie” J. Lewis, born in Colorado on December 2nd, 1884. A record of marriage, conducted in Cripple Creek, Colorado, states that John Kehoe (NOT Keheo!) married Mamie Lewis on November 27th, 1901.




Known children were Lewis, born 1904 in Colorado, Cletus, born 1906 in Colorado, George, born 1908 in Nevada, and Ronald, born 1910 in Nevada, John M. born 1914 in Nevada, and Baby Keheo, born and died 1916 in Nevada.


The 1910 census for Lassen, California enumerates the family, consisting of John, Mamie, Lewis, Cletus and George. Son Ronald would be born in 1910, after the enumeration of the census.


In 1912 the family were living in Mazuma, Nevada, and were unfortunate enough to be in the path of the flood of July 18th. For the Kehoe family the losses would be extremely tragic. Three of their sons, Cletus, George and Ronald, would be swept away and drowned, along with their friend Thomas Gillespie, who had been visiting with them at the time. Mother Mamie was also feared to be dead, but was found alive.




Unsurprisingly, the family left the Seven Troughs / Mazuma area, moving roughly 27 miles away to Lovelock, Nevada, where son John was born in 1914. In 1916 another child was born, who died so soon after birth that the little one was buried without a name.




In the 1920 census enumeration for Lovelock, Nevada the family are recorded under the misspelling of Kehab, instead of Kehoe or Keheo. The members in the household are John, Mamie, Lewis and Jack (John, Jr.).


In 1930 John is enumerated at a different address from his wife and son, possibly because he was living away from home for employment reasons. His wife and son are recorded under the misspelling of Mamie and John Kehoa. Both John and Mamie state that they are married. Son Lewis is listed as living in Reno, Nevada, lodging with the family of Victor Spencer. His first name is spelled as Louis.


Lewis married Florence Brown in 1935.


In 1940 Mamie is enumerated in Lovelock, Nevada with son John, Jr and mother Mary O’Hanley. Mamie states that she is divorced. Ex-husband John is listed at a different address, where he is working as a ranch hand. He makes the declaration that he is still married. I think this gives us a good idea regarding which of the two wanted the divorce. Son Lewis is enumerated in Lovelock, living with wife Florence and sons John and William.


John died November 5th, 1956, and is buried in the Lone Mountain Cemetery in Lovelock.




Mamie died in April 30th 1974 in Solano, California, and is buried in Lone Mountain Cemetery in Lovelock, Nevada.




Son Lewis died at Vallejo, Solano, California on September 15th, 1980.

Son John disappears from the records after the 1940 census.



John Trenchard, one of those who was in the flood at Mazuma, and died 17 hours later, was born August 18th, 1858, at Fairton, Cumberland County, New Jersey. His parents were Theophilus Trenchard and Sarah. John married Ida Mayhew, daughter of Daniel & Caroline (ALLEN) Mayhew, and sometime in 1899, after the birth of son John, they moved West with their family. An article in the Bridgeton Evening News (Bridgeton, NJ), dated August 26th, 1899, tells us that John and family were living in Colorado, where John suffered losses to his furniture business in the Great Fire of Victor, Colorado. They do not appear in the 1900 census, which leads me to believe that they were again on the move at that time. They eventually settled in Los Angeles, California, where they were enumerated in the 1910 census, along with children Caroline, Sarah and John. Not listed was daughter Catherine, who was an adult and lived elsewhere. In 1910 John was also enumerated in Mazuma, where he was conducting business as a merchant. By 1912 the family would be living at Mazuma. After the flood a number of news reports were sent by telegram to their family members back in New Jersey and reported in the local newspapers. Wife Ida lived until after 1940, as she was enumerated in the 1940 census for San Mateo, California.



Maude Edna Ruddell was a sister of Mrs. Reese, who was married to Dr. Reese. It has been reported that both Dr. and Mrs. Reese and their five children were killed in the flood. The newspapers of the time reported that Maude was a native of Canada, but according to her great-grandson, Tim Ruddell, she was born in Indiana. Another fallacy is that she is one of the victims buried in the little cemetery at Seven Troughs. Again, great-grandson Tim corrects this erroneous information and informs us that she is actually buried in an unmarked grave at Mountain View Cemetery in Reno, Nevada.


Maude was born as Maude Edna Buckles in South Bend, Indiana in 1879, a daughter of Francis Marion Buckles and Minnie Whiteman.


Reno Evening Gazette

July 25, 1912

Page Three




“Sad and impressive were the services held this morning over the remains of Miss Maude Edna Ruddell whose funeral took place from the mortuary parlors of Groesbeck & O'Brien on West Second Street.


The deceased was postmistress at Mazuma and she was one of the victims of the disastrous flood there, which carried nine people to their deaths.


Miss Ruddell was aged 33 years. Rev. Samuel Unsworth officiated at the funeral. The interment took place in Mountain View Cemetery.”









@ 2013 Cindy Nunn. All Rights Reserved.














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Interesting reading, but I think there is a mistake under the Keheo part.  It says they moved to Lovelock, 400 miles away.  The text is a little unclear, but I'm inferring the move was from Mazuma to Lovelock.  Lovelock is not 400 miles from Mazuma.  I don't have the exact distance on hand, but Seven Troughs to Lovelock is about 27 miles. 

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Oh crap! Thanks for the heads up, Ed. I was working on three maps at the same time and must have mixed up the info., LOL! You are correct! It is 26.5 miles between Seven Troughs and Lovelock.

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In 7 Troughs the Pioneer Saloon ( Springer and Bangs) was a very noticable building. It appears that Springer was a silent partner most of the time. Thomas E Bangs was born in Canada in 1857. He came to this country in 1878. The 1900 census shows him living at Rye Patch in the household of Issac M. Springer. They are both listed as miners and Bangs relation to Springer is partner. The 1910 Census shows Bangs as saloon keeper - he also has borders listed as living with him. The boarding house must have been in the back of the saloon - no other address for Bangs. In 1910 Springer is no where to be found. His wife Ada is listed as head of household in Lovelock with 3 kids shown as married. Bangs got into politics in the 1913 - 15 time - Reno papers showed him as going to Democratic conventions and meetings. 1920 census shows Bangs living in Los Angeles, married and working as a carpenter. I believe that Springer may have put up some $ to get the saloon started but was not involved in day to day operation. I can find nothing (yet) connecting Springer to the saloon. The trade tokens from the saloon have only "T. E. Bangs  Seven Troughs NV" on the front. After Bangs went to LA I did not follow any further. Springer next time -  any further info on Bangs will be appreciated.      

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Issac M Springer was born in Iowa in 1860. The 1900 census shows him living at Rye Patch with wife Ada and 3 kids. T E Bangs also lived with them. Springer and Bangs were listed as miners,Bangs being listed as partner to Springer. By 1910 Bangs is listed as saloon keeper and Springer is no where to be found. Ada is listed as household head with 3 kids. Springer may have put some $ up to get the Pioneer Saloon started. I find nothing connecting him to the operation of the bar on a daily basis. He shows up in 1920 census as living in Lovelock as a farmer, status is married. Ada is listed as divorced also in Lovelock. August 1927 Ada marries George Kafader in Lovelock. Issac next shows up in the 1930 census as living in Mina, retired and still listed as married. His son Harry had a mining operation in Mina. Harry is listed twice in the 1930 census. Listed in Mina and in Reno living on Arlington Ave. I believe that Issac is a good example of the comment about who wanted the divorce. More digginig to be done.

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