The History of the Quilici Ranch goes back to 1881

One of the Dayton ranches I haven't written about in the past is the Quilici Ranch. The ranch has been in the same family since 1881. The ranch has been handed down from father to son and finally from father to daughter. The ranch is now known as the Quilici-Selmi Ranch. The ranch is still family operated.

Luigi Quilici came to Nevada and was here a while before he bought the ranch. Luigi brought his three oldest sons, Victorio, Duilio, and Salvatore with him the first time he came to America. His younger sons, Smeraldo and Luggero, eventually followed. Luigi's wife refused to move to the Dayton Ranch because she had heard of the hardships some of the other Italian wives had endured on the Nevada ranches.

Around 1916, Victorio sold out his share and followed his other brother Salvatore back to Italy. Victorio traveled back and forth to Italy and eventually settled in California. Smeraldo and Duilio stayed and ran the ranch and never returned to Italy. They are buried in the Dayton cemetery.

Lugerro, the youngest of Luigi's sons, came to Dayton in 1921 when he was 23. He stayed 10 years and went back to Italy. He married Rita Quilici Selmi's mother in Italy. They had three children; Salvatore, Rita, and Ledo. Luggero inherited a share of the Dayton Ranch, so he came to Dayton and sent for his wife and children a year later. Nunzia, Lugerro's wife came in June 1948 with her little children. Sal was almost nine, Rita was seven and Ledo was five. The youngest of the family, Larry was born in America in 1954. It was a painful transition for the family as it was very primitive on the ranch. They had left comfortable surroundings in Italy.

Going to school was hard on the children who had just immigrated, as they didn't speak English. Sal and Rita were put in the same grade "so we could console one another." Rita says they were behind because they couldn't speak English, but they were ahead in math. Rita says, "Boy, we could sure whip them in math."

The entire family had to work and still work to keep the ranch going. The kids all had chores to do. They raised hogs, grew potatoes, hay and wheat. The potatoes were raised to sell in Reno. As children, Sal and Rita said the worst job was sorting potatoes in the cellar.

The one thing that was apparent in those days was that the ranches all depended on one another for help. They all helped in getting in the crops at harvest time.


To celebrate Nevada Historic Preservation month, the Dayton Museum is open all of May from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

The Dayton Museum is located on Shady Lane and Logan in Old Town Dayton. The Web site is Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-8382 or 246-0441.

• Ruby McFarland has lived in Dayton since October 1987, she serves as a board member of the Dayton historical society and a docent at the museum.


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