Stoddard Jacobsen dies at age 85
Carson Valley lost one of its original settlers last Saturday. He was old and frail, but still a fighter.
Stoddard Jacobsen died at Barton Memorial Hospital on Jan. 10 at the well-seasoned age of 85. His bones were weak, and he’d suffered many fractures during the past couple of years. And he had endured a lot of pain. The pain is gone now, and his family and friends are thankful for that.
But he will be missedand remembered.
The Jacobsen family tree has deep roots in the history of the Carson Valley. Jacobsen was born and raised here, and so were his parents. They were also married and buried here. Jacobsen’s maternal great-grandfather, Andrew Andersen, was the first first man to be buried in Gardnerville’s Garden Cemetery. Deep roots.
Jacobsen was the second of three children born to Bertha Heitman Jacobsen and Lawrence M. Jacobsen. During the winter the family lived in the then tiny town of Gardnerville, but every spring they moved out to the Fish Spring area to their Pinenut Ranch, which was located in a canyon east of Old Ranch Road.
His father and a business partner bought the 95-acre ranch from a mustanger back in 1906. It came complete with an 1860 vintage two-story wood-frame house on it. They raised sheep, grew lots of hay and irrigated 90 acres with water from the Pinenut Creek, which flowed year-round through the ranch in those days.
They also cultivated an orchard of 400 productive apple and pear trees. The family pressed cider out of the apples and sold it in town for 10 cents a gallon. Kerosene lamps were used for light as there was no electricity. They had no well, but had plenty of clear, clean creek water for their household needs.
The Jacobsen family lived out on the Pinenut Ranch through the growing season and occasionally school would resume in the fall while they were still out there. When I interviewed Jacobsen for a 1996 Almanac story, he told me he got to drive himself and his sister Laverne in their dad’s 1914 Dodge to the school bus stop – when he was only in the second grade! He parked the car on Pinenut Road and then rode the bus to the Gardnerville Grammar School.
There was only one other house out in Fish Spring Flat at that time. It was next to the natural spring where the big cottonwood trees are now, just south of Fish Springs Road near the fire station.
Jacobsen said, “Fritz Elges put goldfish in the spring and that’s how the area came to be called Fish Spring. My grandfather, Mathias Jacobsen, had a small freightliner, 12 horses and a couple of wagons, and he hauled freight to Bodie. It was a seven-day trip from Gardnerville to Bodie, and Grandpa brought grain and feed for the animals that worked down in the mines. Many of the mules went blind from working underground so long with no sunlight. It used to take us three hours just to ride into Carson City in a horse and buggy. We used to stop at Cradlebaugh to water the horses.”
His Grandpa Jacobsen owned most of Main Street where Bull’s Eye is located now.
“When I was a boy, I got to run the movie projector and lights on movie night at the Valhalla Hall. Although my grandfather was nearly deaf, he still liked to sing along with the old songs. Problem was, he was usually singing a different song than everyone else!”
Jacobsen reminisced about the day he and his dad went into Carson City to buy a piano for his mother. They drove an old Model T Ford truck with hard rubber tires and had to go very slowly on the way home so as not to damage the splendid piano. That piano is still at the Virginia Ranch home today.
Jacobsen was married to his best friend and the love of his life, beautiful, gentle Jewel, for 52 years before she died in 1992. Her death left a large, lonesome void in this life. He shared with friends that he believed he’d be joining Jewel after death, and that gave him great hope and peace.
They had two children, Terry and Virginia, and two grandchildren, Jon and Jennifer Jacobsen, and daughter-in-law Linda.
Jacobsen spent most of his adult life as a rancher, but he was actually a mechanic by trade. During the past couple of years, he enjoyed restoring a 1914 Dodge Touring Car, a 1947 Model T Ford Roadster and a 1947 Farmall tractor. He is well-known for his generous contributions to the community, including donating 40 acres of land to the county’s Juvenile Probation Office for the China Spring Youth Facility and another 40 acres out in the Pinenuts to the “City of Refuge,” a home for unwed mothers.
“To me, he was a very heroic character in the Valley,” said District Judge Dave Gamble, who worked with Jacobsen on the property acquisition and is a co-founder of City of Refuge.
“He was one of the old-timers who, instead of talking about things, did things.
“It seems to me to be a passing of part of an era. There are still some with his similar history around, but there are fewer and fewer. We should treasure them.”
Recalling Jacobsen’s generosity, Gamble said that neither China Spring Youth Camp nor City of Refuge could exist without his help.
“He has given far more than a cup of cold water to these kids,” Gamble said. “We are sure thinking of him and praying for his family.”
The Jacobsen family tree has been well rooted here. When Bertha Jacobsen died in 1989 at the age of 100, she was the oldest living native of the Carson Valley. Her son will now be buried near her and his father and his grandparents and great-grandparents and his wife Jewel at Gardnerville’s Garden Cemetery.
A Masonic funeral service is planned for Saturday, Jan. 17, at 1 p.m. at Garden Cemetery. FitzHenry’s Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Even though Stoddard Jacobsen is now gone, the historic Jacobsen name will live on forever through his children and grandchildren.