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Emery "Shorty" Riffe

Shorty Riffe
Emery Shorty Riffe, Tucker Ranch on Bobby 1934-36

Emery "Shorty" Riffe (1864-1953)

Emery (Shorty) Riffe was born July 26, 1884, in Elko County Nevada, to Oliver and Sarah (White) Riffe, both of Lagan County, West Virginia. Oliver came west to Elko County in 1872. He purchased 160 acres including a house from John W. Williams. This property was known as Williams’s station located north and west of Jiggs, Nevada. It was here that Oliver began his sheep operation. In 1881 he returned to Virginia for the winter, and married Sarah E. White, on January 27, 1881. They both returned to the Valley in Elko County where they made their home and had their children. Rosa May born February 1882, Emery born July 1884, James Peter born March 1885, Gordon born April 1887 and Joseph James born November 1888.

Emery’s mother died in March of 1889 leaving five young children to be raised. A Mrs. Sangninet took the youngest to raise which left Oliver with the other 4 children. Oliver with the help of his hired man managed to care for the children and keep the ranch operating. Emery was even mentioned in the newspaper reporting his progress in school.

Shorty Riffe, bridling "Nigger Baby"Emery’s father Oliver eventually sold the ranch and bought land near North Fork in the same area. Then he retired in 1926 and moved to San Diego, California. He died in 1928 from injuries sustained when hit by a car after stepping off a trolley car.

In 1928 Emery (Shorty) then returned to Nevada. He came to Humboldt County, Nevada, where he purchased the Rock Creek, Tucker Place, China Creek and sheep ranch in Pumpernickle Valley south of Golconda, Nevada. He kept these ranches 2-3 years, then sold them and went to work Buckarooing. He was a Buckaroo Boss for the C S ranches in the late thirties, then went to work for Able and Curtner in Paradise Valley, Nevada as their Buckaroo Boss, and continued in that position for the McCleary Ranches.

Many colorful stories are told in the Buckaroo circle, and one told on Shorty was when he was gathering cattle out on the Owyhee Desert. He was riding in a rocky area, when he rode by this rock that stood pretty high off the ground. A rattlesnake all coiled and ready to strike anything that came by, nabbed Shorty. He rode his horse at a gallop and trot to Golconda, Nevada, which was 35 to 40 miles, got on the train to Winnemucca to a doctor.

Everyone that knew or worked with Shorty said, “he was a good man to take orders from, knew his work well and was an excellent horseman, no matter which outfit he worked for, he was dedicated and treated the stock like they were his own, very loyal to his boss. He had a lot of patience and taught many young boys the art of being good hands when it came to handling horses and cattle.

Shorty passed away May 7, 1953 in Winnemucca, Nevada.

Emery (Shorty) Riffe was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in 1990.