Filed Under Biography

John Jarvie’s Historic Ranch

Not all hospitality is returned in kind. In the case of John Jarvie, the outlaws to whom he was so obliging went on to rob and murder both him and his son.

In 1880 John Jarvie and his wife Nellie Barr moved from Rock Springs, Wyoming to the burgeoning settlement of Brown’s Park. Jarvie set up a general store, post office, and ran a river ferry that crossed the nearby Green River. Jarvie became well known for his sagacity and kindness to all those who lived in the region, even the Wild Bunch outlaws. Such associations did not serve him well in the long run, but his kindness did, and his legacy has continued to today in Uintah and Daggett County.

John Jarvie was born in Scotland in 1844. As a young man after being beaten soundly by a mine supervisor, Jarvie elected to immigrate to the United States as a stowaway. He arrived in America in 1870 and settled in Rock Springs, Wyoming.  After several years as a businessman in Rock Springs, working as a Saloon Owner, Jarvie met residency requirements and became a citizen on October 8th, 1875. In 1880 at the age of 36, Jarvie married Nellie Barr, 22, and the couple moved to Brown’s Park, the present location of John Jarvie’s Historic Ranch.  Jarvie opened a general store, moved the local post office to his property, and ran a ferry that crossed the Green River.

Jarvie sold to everyone in the region, even notorious outlaws. One location on the historic ranch in particular, a storage cellar, was thought to have housed criminals like Butch Cassidy when they were on the run from the law. One notable event on the Ranch in 1895 termed the “Outlaws’ Thanksgiving Dinner” saw a dinner of gratitude  between several notorious outlaws including Billie Bender, Les Megs, Butch Cassidy, Elza Lay, Isom Dart, and the Sundance Kid. The meeting was jovial and in celebration of Jarvie and other residents in Brown’s Park tolerance of the outlaw’s activities. In light of their warm relationship, it is tragic that Jarvie and one of his sons eventually lost their lives to outlaws.

William King and George Hood, hearing false rumors about Jarvie’s great wealth, came to the ranch on July 6th, 1909. Jarvie was alone, his sons having taken jobs on other farms, and his wife having died of Tuberculosis in 1895. Jarvie was known for his generosity and tendency to feed visitors so he set the table for three. The outlaws did not return his kindness. They forced Jarvie to open his store safe and took the contents, a $100 bill and a pearl handled revolver. Jarvie fled the store and was shot in the back and head. The outlaws placed his body on a boat and sent it down the river. Details of the murder slowly tricked out. When reports circulated of two men trying to change a $100 bill in Rock Springs, Jarvie’s son Jimmy pursued the outlaws voraciously. Jimmy was on their trail at an Inn in Idaho when he was pushed from a second-floor balcony and fell to his death. The criminals were never apprehended.

Jarvie left a powerful legacy which was seen in the obituary written for him in the Vernal Express. There he was praised as a “the sage of the Uintahs, the Genius of Brown’s Park, and the Wizzard [sic] of the hills and rivers. He was not only a man among men but he was a friend among men… He was as broad and generous and far reaching in his good deeds as the stream which he knew and loved[.]”

Images

John Jarvie
John Jarvie John Jarvie's hair became white at a very early age, in his twenties, and his large beard contributed to his sage reputation. Source:

Photo 1: BLM. “John Jarvie of Brown's Park (Chapter 3).” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Accessed April 18, 2023. https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/blm/ut/7/chap3.htm.

Overhead View of Historic Ranch, 1978
Overhead View of Historic Ranch, 1978 Source:

 U.S. Department of the Interior. “NPGallery NRHP Archive Search.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Accessed April 18, 2023. https://npgallery.nps.gov/nrhp/

Dugout Cellar possibly used as hideout for Outlaws, 1979
Dugout Cellar possibly used as hideout for Outlaws, 1979 Source:

 U.S. Department of the Interior. “NPGallery NRHP Archive Search.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Accessed April 18, 2023. https://npgallery.nps.gov/nrhp/

Location

Metadata

Samuel Pulsipher, Brigham Young University, “John Jarvie’s Historic Ranch,” Intermountain Histories, accessed June 13, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/770.