McBride and Sons,
A Comstock Legacy
In June of 1931, on the heels of the Great Depression and the repeal of Prohibition, Versal McBride purchased the Bucket of Blood Saloon and opened for business . What started as a small 12 stool bar in 1931 to this day continues to be owned and operated by the McBride family. Since its inception, the McBrides built The Bucket of Blood from what was once little more than a room the size of a single car garage, she has grown into the establishment you see today. Versal McBride built the old Bucket with the help of family and friends and later passed control of the Bucket on to his son Donald.
Donald McBride was born Feb. 1, 1928, in Winnemucca to Versal and Marie McBride. “He moved here when he was 3 years old when Dad bought the Bucket,” said his son Marshall McBride. “He grew up here during the mining days and saw it transform into a tourist attraction. He liked the uniqueness of the community and the people who lived here.” He attended the Fourth Ward School before graduating from Virginia City High School in 1946. He married Jeannie Rae Butterbaugh in 1949.
Throughout his life, McBride took great interest in Virginia City, helping to organize a precursor to the Chamber of Commerce in 1962, serving as an honorary member of the Comstock Historic Commission and on the board of Piper’s Opera House.
Donald McBride also helped organize Bonanza Days and the Virginia City Camel Races, helping to turn the Comstock in a tourist attraction. He and several others organized Bonanza Days. They brought in all the actors from the show. It was a big three-day celebration and more than 100,000 people attended the event, gridlocking the town for days as the stars of the show came to the Bucket of Blood. In honor of the celebration, McBride had gold-and-silver belt buckles engraved with each star’s name. Each buckle included a $20 gold piece struck from the Carson City Mint. The total cost of the buckles was more than $3,000.
McBride went on working, helping his sons run the Bucket of Blood, which has been operated in the family since 1931. Even after he passed control of the saloon on to his sons in 1998, he was still a regular visitor.
“Having the saloon was more than a job for him, it was a good part of his life,” “He really enjoyed the visitors who wanted to know the history of Virginia City and Nevada.” Marshall McBride
Don McBride was a longtime fixture behind the bar at the Bucket of Blood Saloon and organizer of some of Virginia City’s biggest celebrations, and some say his ghost happily haunts the Old Bucket, hangin’ around to help out on the busy days, or just waiting to greet you as you walk on in….
Though Don’s wife Jeannie passed away in 1994, she never left his heart.
Don McBride passed away in April of 2006 at the age of 78
Don McBride dedicated his life to Virginia City and the Comstock, and his Sons now carry on that Legacy as his sons Steve, Marshall and Don now run the Old Saloon with their kids, and their kids , and so on……..
and the Legend lives on……….as to this day,
McBride & Sons continue to own and operate this Virginia City landmark.
So next time you’re in Virginia City, be sure to make time to stop in and say hello. Come in and ‘Belly up to the Bar’ and stand where the likes of Mark Twain and other historical figures once stood, and imbibed!………
and ask the bartender to pour ya an ice cold ‘Bucket-o-Blood’
Odds are that man, or woman, is likely to be a McBride……