Ernest F. Klatt "Ernie"
Born the son of a poor dirt farmer in Crescent City, Oklahoma on February 24, 1912, Ernest Klatt moved from farm to farm living in 16 different houses by the time he was 16. Upon finishing the eighth grade he proceeded to seek his own way in the world.
As a hobo he hitchhiked to Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, where he nearly froze to death seeking refuge in a local jailhouse overnight. He then vowed to never be that cold again so he worked as a migrant farm worker traveling southward. He worked picking strawberries on a farm in Albany, Louisiana, where he met his future wife, Violet Stewart, a farmers’ daughter. He hitchhiked his way to South Florida, arriving broke and hungry. He moved into an abandoned house and looked for someone who would trade food for labor. He later related that it must have been that nickel that gave him his start.
Returning to Albany, Louisiana in 1934 he married Violet Stewart and borrowed enough money, $35.00, from his brother-in-law to buy his first car and drove back to South Florida with his new bride. When they arrived, they were down to their last ten cents, which they misplaced and had to search for in order to buy a loaf of bread.
Being an extremely honest and hard-working, saving person, he soon had a job and enough money to buy groceries. Having met some fine people who helped him along, he worked for the City of Hollywood in Florida for a few years. He saved half of all he earned, living mostly on beans and rice.
After two years, he was able to purchase a storm damaged home for $1000.00. The house was in a terrible state of repair. He fixed the home up and was able to sell it for a profit. He then started his own landscaping business and with Violet’s help, they saved their money using it to purchase real estate. Years of hard work and honesty finally began to pay off. They were able to purchase more and more real estate. The real estate increased in value.
His wife, Violet, became ill and it was recommended to her that the climate of the mountains would be beneficial to her health. So, in 1954, Ernest and Violet traveled to Franklin, North Carolina. It was in Franklin that Ernest met Ellis Soper, a chemical engineer and world traveler who had accumulated a large collection of minerals, gemstones and artifacts. Being a person who loved nature he became interested in Earth Sciences. Ernest quickly fell in love with Ellis Sopers’ collection and purchased it. It was this collection that formed the beginning of his gem shop and museum, which he names Ruby City Gems. It is presently located at 130 East Main St., Franklin, North Carolina.
Ernest Klatt passed away on November 20, 1998. His real estate empire covers seven states. It remains in a family trust consisting of three children, their spouses, and eleven grandchildren. However, the greatest gift to his family was to teach them that hard work, saving, and honest dealing does pay off. His desire was to leave each of his children and grandchildren enough to where they would never have to deal with the hardships that he endured getting his start in life. Violet Klatt passed away on June 10, 1999. Their marriage lasted 64 years. She supported him and stood by him throughout both of their lives. The store and free museum remains much as he designed it, free for all to see and enjoy.
The story of Ernest Klatts life is his eulogy. He lived a life that everyone envies and admires. He was a person with a passion for life, a love of nature, a foresight for investments, and honesty in his dealings. He had a down to earth friendliness, and a casual way of dressing that was admired by everyone he met.
Ernest and Violet Klatt are greatly missed by all of us. Ernest’s words and examples in life have left all of us better persons. A tribute to a man that made it on his own, and to his wife who stood beside him all the way. Ernest A. Klatt (son)
Today, the business is run by Kevin Klatt, his grandson. With our ever changing economy over nearly 60 years business has shifted and is coming back to the original emphasis; gem, mineral hunters and "rockhounds". A new updated healing stone section has been added as well. We carry more technical gem ID tools, and updated gem mining information is available.
"We assure you our store and museum will provide you with a fantastic visit and education of the "awe" of natures treasures found in our region and around the world." C. Kevin Klatt (Grandson)