Marye Family Papers

Identifier: 84-07

Scope and Contents

A major part of the Marye Family Papers documents Helen Thomas' acquisition and management of the S Bar S Ranch (S-S), and the activities of the Nevada Silver Centennial Committee and the Virginia City Trust Foundation. Additionally, there is material which documents Helen's father's business and diplomatic careers, and her mother's social prominence.

The S-S papers detail the negotiations leading to the purchase of the ranch and provide extensive specifications and drawings of the reconstruction of the main house in 1948. The many newspaper clippings document the ranch as a focal point for Helen's entertainment. There is also a court deposition made by Thomas in which she testifies about her ranching operations. Thomas deeded the ranch to the University of Nevada-Reno in 1970, at which time a title report was prepared. The report is part of this collection and provides a factual evaluation of the ranch's use and value, as well as excellent photographs of the land and buildings.

The Nevada Silver Centennial celebration commemorated the 100th anniversary of the discovery of silver in Virginia City. Helen Thomas and her friend Phyllis Walsh were founding members of the committee which organized and founded this event. The event is represented in this collection by minutes of the committee, bylaws, an outline of activities, a program for the cornerstone ceremony, and news releases. Thomas and Walsh were also members of the Virginia City Foundation Trust which was established to restore and preserve Virginia City. Trust records present here include minutes, a proposed restoration plan submitted by Thomas C. Watson Advertising Agency of Reno, receipts and disbursements, correspondence, and news clippings.

Helen Thomas was very proud of her Marye heritage and in particular of her grandfather George Thomas Marye, Sr., and George Thomas Marye, Jr. It was Miss Walsh's desire to have a Marye room dedicated to their memory on Helen's behalf in the College of Agriculture at the University of Nevada, Reno. To that end, one folder of biographical material was gathered by Walsh and is part of this collection. Newspaper articles, a letter appointing George Jr. as U. S. Ambassador to Russia, sections of published personal histories and other material are present. Of interest are copies of the documents for George Jr. receiving the Order of Alexander Nevsky, dated Petrograd, February 29, 1916, one in Russian and one in French. Also included is a scrapbook of clippings about the Marye financial interests in San Francisco and about social activities of the Marye and Thomas families.


  • 1814-1985
  • Majority of material found within 1916-1958



Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

The Marye family (pronounced “Ma-ree”) traces its American roots back to Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland. George Thomas Marye, Sr. went west to California in 1849 where he made his fortune in real estate, banking, and business in San Francisco and later in Virginia City, Nevada. His son George Thomas Marye, Jr., 1846-1933, carried on his father's business concerns, and in 1914 was appointed the United States Ambassador to Russia by President Wilson. Accompanied by his wife Mary Alice Doyle Marye, 1870-1946, George was one of the last two foreigners decorated by Czar Nicholas II with the Order of St. Alexander Nevesky. While in Russia, Mary worked with the Red Cross war relief effort, aiding refugees from Poland and war-torn Russia. The Maryes left Russia in 1916 because of George's health, shortly before the Russian Revolution.

Helen Martha Marye Thomas, 1906-1970, was the daughter of George and Mary. She grew up in their homes in Washington D. C. and Burlingame, California, and was a skilled equestrienne. She was married to William Daniel Thomas, Jr., a naval commander, and had one daughter, Marye Helen Thomas. After her divorce in 1938 she began looking for a ranch to purchase in Nevada and located a piece of property in Wadsworth, Nevada on the Truckee River. Helen bought the ranch from Joe Gardella in 1939 and added to the house and buildings on the property. She named the ranch the S Bar S; it was the scene of extensive entertainment and a base of operations for Helen's and Phyllis Walsh's many civic activities. The S Bar S Ranch was deeded to the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Agriculture in 1970 to serve as a field laboratory. Helen Marye Thomas died March 24, 1970.

Phyllis Walsh, 1897-1985, was Helen's longtime friend and helped manage the ranch. Together they were active in founding and running such organizations as the American Women's Voluntary Services, the Nevada Silver Centennial Committee (to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of silver), and the Virginia City Trust Foundation (to help preserve and protect historic Virginia City).


0.8 Linear Feet (2 boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



George T. Marye, Jr., 1846-1933 (wife Marie Alice Doyle Marye, 1870-1946), was U.S. Ambassador to Russia, 1916, and a Nevada and California businessman. Daughter Helen Marye Thomas owned the S Bar S Ranch at Wadsworth, Nevada and was active in many civic organizations. Papers related to Helen Marye Thomas and her parents. Included are records related to her father's term as U.S. Ambassador to Russia and his businesses; the purchase, construction, and maintenance of the S Bar S Ranch; Thomas' involvement with the American Women's Voluntary Service, Nevada Silver Centennial Committee, and the Virginia City Trust Foundation; and records and clippings about her mother's social activities.


The Marye Family Papers are arranged into the following series:

Series 1: George T. Marye, Jr. and Marye Family

Series 2: S Bar S Ranch

Series 3: Virginia City Foundation Trust

Series 4: Nevada Silver Centennial

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Special Collections Department in 1980 by Phyllis Walsh.

Separated Materials

Photographs found in the Marye Family Papers have been transferred to the Special Collections Photo Archives as collection number UNRS-P1988-04.



Guide to the Papers of the Marye Family
Susan Searcy
December 1987
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)