Grace Loomis

It was while Lester lived in Reno that he met his childhood sweetheart Grace Grant Williams. She was originally from Benton, California, a small mining town near the California-Nevada border north of Bishop and east of Mammoth Lakes.

Grace's father was a banker, and her family lived in a big two story house on the edge of town. It was a beautiful home with a large garden. As youngsters, Lester and Grace created imaginary houses from cardboard boxes and pretended that the other neighbor children were there own.

When Lester left Reno to embark on his youthful adventures, he didn't see Grace for two or three years. Whenever he visited Reno to see his sister Flora, he always called on Grace. Her mother claimed that Grace never cooked a square meal until Lester arrived, and then she cooked up everything in the house.

Later, after living in both California and Oregon, Lester returned to Reno, working for a while in the sheriff's office, and later for his brother Charles. Late one evening, Charles asked him to go to Milford, California, to pick up some money from their father. Lester left Reno on horseback, arriving in Milford at around 9:00 PM; he began the return trip about midnight. It began to snow, and about ten miles outside of Reno he became snowblind. Luckily, a stagecoach came by and took him into town.

Being snowblind was very painful, like having both of his eyes full of sand. Grace came and took care of Lester for the four days he lay in a dark room recovering, constantly bathing his eyes in cream.

A short while later they were engaged, and on August 25, 1886, they were married in a large ceremony in Grace's home. Half of the town was present; everyone that they could fit into the house. The Reverend Lucas presided. Lester Loomis, who at 23 years of age had already lived in four states, driven stage coaches and freight wagons thru Indian territory, and been a sheriff in two counties, was scared to death that day as he descended the stairs of the bride's home. But it was the start of a new era in Lester's life, and the beginning of a partnership that would span fifty years.

Lester had furnished a house across the river a week before they were married. He had been planning for months ahead. When Grace looked the house over the next day, she found a crate of eggs, bacon – enough food to last six months. According to the Captain, "It almost knocked her silly".

Their first child, Elizabeth Louise, was born prematurely on Christmas Day, December 25, 1887, in Los Angeles. Captain Loomis was so thrilled that he danced a jig with his neighbor in the family's back yard. Sadly, she died two months later on February 21, 1888. Their second child, Hazel Grace, was born May 22, 1889. Their only son, Earl Lestwill Loomis, was born on January 25, 1891; he died a few months later on September 19, 1891. Ruth Florence was born on June 17, 1892. Their last child, Anna Dorothy, was born on January 15, 1896.

Hazel married Orval Thomas, my great uncle, in 1911 in Portland, where her father was building a cemetery. Their first child, Lester Loomis Thomas, was born on July 20, 1912, and spent much of his young life at the Ranch. Daughter Thelma (see photo - Thelma is on the right) was born in 1914.

Ruth Loomis married Todd Viets. They had four children: Hazel (1911), Grace, (1913), Peggy (1915), and Lois (1926). Their third child, Rose Luella Viets, later known as Peggy, was born on the Ranch in 1915. The story of her birth, said to be the first white baby born in those mountains, is told in "The Baby and the Sundial".

Shortly after the family moved to their new home in the mountains, Anna Loomis met Norman Ross, a ranger on the West Fork. They were married September 14, 1914.

[Initial Version 02/01/07]
[Sources: Lester Journals, Elsie Corwin Stories, LA Times]