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Phil Metschan Tobin
hil M Tobin
Phil Metschan Tobin (1901-1976)

Phil Metschan Tobin was born in Portland Oregon on April 28, 1901. His parents were C.L. and Effie Sweester Tobin. C.L. Tobin was born in Bucyrus, Ohio, he engaged in banking and ranching and passed away in 1957. Effie Sweester was born in San Rafael, California and married C.L. Tobin in Winnemucca, Nevada in 1910. Her father, Frank Sweester was the first president of the First National Bank in Winnemucca. Effie Tobin passed away in 1947. Phil Tobin attended schools in Reno, Nevada, Winnemucca Nevada, Portland Oregon and the Portland Academy.

Phil first came to Nevada in 1904 and was reared in Winnemucca, Nevada. He grew up on his father’s ranching properties at the Banks Ranch near Winnemucca and later with his twin brother Frank managed the ranch, which was five miles from town. Later after 1922 sometime they bought the ranch from their father. Phil worked as a buckaroo for various early Nevada cattle ranches including Squaw Valley and Pitchfork Ranches. Ranching had always been young Tobin’s prime interest, later working for the Bidart’s in Humboldt County. According to Kelley Pearce, who ran cattle with Phil in the 1920s and 1930s Phil was a buckaroo right from the start. One night they had just finished dinner and someone tossed out the dishwater. The innocent act started a 600 head stampede. Phil and Kelley jumped on their horses bareback to get them stopped. Another time they were herding about 800 head of cattle in to a corral when a whistle on a nearby switch engine blew and the resulting stampede went about 10 miles before he got them stopped. His brand was a bar inside a circle and many of the cattlemen around Winnemucca referred to the ranch as the ‘Circle Bar’.

Phil Tobin married the former Edith Hansen, daughter of Jack W. and Elizabeth Henney Hansen, in June 1926 at Auburn, CA. Mrs. Tobin was born in Auburn, her father was a miner from that area and was born in Placer Co. California. He went from Bodie, CA to Tonopah, NV in the early 1890’s. Phil and Edith Tobin had two sons, Phil Jim and Glenn Joseph, the latter was a teacher and a coach at Tonopah at Gabbs, NV.

Phil served in the Assembly at the Nevada State Legislature in 1931 and in the State Senate from 1933 to 1936. Tobin has the distinction of having introduced the bill which legalized gambling in Nevada in 1931. Little did he realize then what changing effects this bill would have on his state. Tobin was not your average politician, he was more likely to be found outside the Capitol rolling a Bull Durham cigarette, he was foremost a cowboy. He introduced the legislation to regulate illegal gambling that was rampant in those days and bring more revenue to the then poverty stricken state. In fact, he has said that the real reason he ran for office is because the ranchers were having problems with irrigation dams along the Humboldt River and he wanted to resolve that conflict. He served as secretary for the Taylor Grazing Board of Nevada. He also served as a member of the Humboldt Co. School Board and Winnemucca Masonic Lodge.

Phil Tobin grew up cattle ranching and spent his entire life in pursuit of that industry. He had a lifelong reputation as one of the outstanding stockmen of the area. Pete Pedroli, a former cowboy, butcher and longtime friend remembers Tobin as a ‘good roper. good blacksmith and a good horseshoer. He fixed his own saddles and was a good windmill fixer too.’

Phil says he was too busy hustling cows to get into the gambling business, besides, he remarked, ‘The cattle business is the biggest gamble there is - the odds are always bad.’ At the time of his death, the Gaming Commission chairman said, ‘I just loved that man. He was a beautiful, beautiful guy. He was an old buckaroo, just as real, as common, as honest and as square as a man could be.’ Later Pete Pedroli recalled Phil this way: ‘He’d never asked you to do anything he wouldn’t do. He was one of the best fellas Nevada has ever had.’ He passed away in 1976.

Raymond Phil Tobin was inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in September 2010.

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