Archives of past Arizona Echos
JOSEPHINE BRAWLEY HUGHES
TEMPERANCE WORKER, SUFFRAGIST, JOURNALIST, PIONEER
By Sandra Mofford Lagesse
Josephine Brawley Hughes joined her lawyer husband, Louis C. Hughes, in “the old pueblo” of Tucson in 1872. At that time, Tucson was a Mexican village with adobe homes and numerous saloons. Arguments were settled with fists and guns.
Josephine set out to “civilize” her adobe house, which had dirt floors and no lighting. She installed wood floors and a parlor rug hauled in from San Francisco. She put in a grass lawn with flowers and built the first cistern. Then, she turned her attention to “civilizing” Tucson.
When L.C. Hughes, as her husband was called, was appointed Tucson’s Superintendent of Schools, Josephine opened the first public school for girls and became Tucson’s first woman teacher. Josephine raised money to build the Territory’s first Protestant Church, Tucson’s Congregational Church, and later, the Methodist Church.
The Arizona Daily Star, Arizona’s first daily newspaper, started by L.C., gave Josephine a platform for her temperance work. L.C. was the owner, but Josephine was the manager, bookkeeper and cashier. The newspaper’s view was against drinking, gambling, and capital punishment, but in favor of the Democratic Party and women’s rights.
Josephine’s ideas were not always popular. The Star’s employees got drunk on weekends and didn’t show up on edition day, Monday, so she changed their payday to the middle of the week, much to their disgust. Josephine also refused advertising from any business profiting from whiskey, even though saloons usually bought the most advertising space. One time, Josephine went back east, and R.A. Carples ran the paper. He was unaware of Josephine’s “rule” against saloon ads.
According to Stalwart Women Frontier: Stories of Indomitable Spirit, "‘The first paper she (Josephine) saw, she came down and gave me the devil,’ said Carples, in a bulletin published by the University Press in 1950. ‘When L.C. (Louis) came home, she climbed him. When he asked her for a copy, she said she’d burned every one soon as it came into the house.’"
The Hughes’ war against drinking was so notorious that during the Christmas custom of going from house to house, everyone went to the Hughes’ first so they wouldn’t have liquor on their breath. In 1883, Josephine invited her friend, Frances W. Willard, leader of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) to Tucson. They founded the local WCTU chapter and appointed Josephine as president. Josephine and Frances toured the Arizona Territory, setting up local WCTU chapters. “The dreaded Apache has slain his hundreds. Strong drink has slain its thousands,” Josephine preached.
The Temperance Union persuaded the legislators to pass a bill in 1884 making it illegal for saloons to sell liquor on election days and to 16-year-olds. Later, the Temperance Union got the legislature to outlaw the sale of whiskey on Sundays.
Josephine’s crusade changed to women’s right to vote in 1890, when she and her son, John, went to the National Suffrage Conference in Washington, D.C. Her friend, Susan B. Anthony, was so impressed with John she brought him on the podium in front of thousands of women and dubbed him the “Suffrage Knight of Arizona.”
As passionate in her fight for suffrage as she was for temperance, Josephine invited Laura M. Johns of Kansas to come to Arizona. They traveled the Arizona Territory, forming the Arizona Suffrage Association. “Let us secure the vote for women first,” she said, “then the victory for the protection of our homes and for the cause of temperance will follow.”
The Hughes’s power declined when L.C. was forced to resign as Governor after a political dispute and a cloud of charges of corruption. They sold the Arizona Daily Star in 1907.
In 1912, State Senator John Hughes, Josephine’s son, proposed an amendment to the Arizona State Constitution giving women the right to vote and to hold office. The amendment was signed into law by Governor G.W.P. Hunt in November, seven years before national suffrage. Josephine lost her husband, Louis C. Hughes, to pneumonia in 1915. In 1921, Josephine’s beloved son, John, also died.
In her later years, Josephine lived with California with her daughter, Gertrude. In 1925, at the age of 87, Josephine fell, breaking her leg. The injury weakened her, and in March of the next year, she died.
In her memorial tribute, Josephine was named the “Mother of Arizona” and a bronze tablet honoring her was placed in the rotunda of the Arizona State Capitol building. She was the only woman to be so honored.
For in-depth information see: “STALWART WOMEN: FRONTIER STORIES OF INDOMITABLE SPIRIT” by Leo W. Banks, “ARIZONA BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY” by John S. Goff; “TUCSON: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN CITY ” by C. L. Sonnichsen, “TUCSON, A SHORT HISTORY” by Southwestern Mission Research Center 1986, “ARIZONA TERRITORY 1862-1912: A POLITICAL HISTORY” by Jay J. Wagoner, “SUSAN B. ANTHONY SLEPT HERE” by Lynn Sherr and Jurate Kazickas.
DON ESTEVAN OCHOA:
MERCHANT, ENTREPRENEUR, FREIGHTER, PUBLIC SERVANT
By Sandra Mofford Lagesse
Many Hispanics have left their footprints across Arizona's history. One such outstanding citizen was Don Estevan Ochoa. Estevan was born into an aristocratic family in Chihuahua, Mexico, on March 17, 1831. Ochoa became a frontiersman at an early age.
He accompanied his brother's freight line between Chihuahua and Independence, Missouri. During these adventures, he became fluent in English and learned the freight business, including how to deal with both Hispanic and Anglo merchants.
Soon, Ochoa and his partner, Pedro Aguirre, owned a mercantile and freighting business in Mesilla, New Mexico. In 1856, Estevan was part of the Mesilla convention that met in a futile attempt to get territorial status for Arizona.
In 1860, he moved to Tucson and went into the freight business with Pinckney R. Tully. Tully, Ochoa & Co was a success until the Civil War. When the Confederate Army took over Tucson, Captain Sherrod Hunter demanded that all Tucson citizens take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States or leave. Don Estevan Ochoa may have been small in stature, but he was brave in heart. Dean Lockwood, an influential Anglo Tucsonan, said that the soft-spoken Don Ochoa courageously answered, "Captain Hunter, it is out of the question for me to swear allegiance to any party or power hostile to the United States Government; for to that government I owe all my property and happiness. When Sir, do you wish me to go" All of Ochoa's properties were confiscated. He took a horse and a few personal possessions, and headed out across hostile Apache country. To everyone's surprise, he made it safely to Mesilla. A few months later, the Union Army liberated Tucson, and Ochoa returned and rebuilt the company. Tully & Ochoa Co. became the largest mercantile firm in Arizona. Several hundred men hauled goods in 12 to 20 mule team wagons from all across the United States to Tucson.
Don Ochoa's other enterprises included raising sheep, manufacturing woolen items, and mining.
Don Estevan and Don Altagracia Ochoa's elegant hacienda was always open to visitors and served as the social center of Tucson. Richard McCormick, later the Arizona Territorial Governor and General Orlando B. Wilcox stayed with the gracious Ochoas rather than at an Anglo home.
Estevan Ochoa was not only an exemplary businessman but also was an outstanding public servant, serving as a councilmember from Tucson in the 5th and 6th Legislative Assembly (1868-1873) and Tucson's representative in the 9th Legislative Assembly House of Representatives (1877-1879).
Like Governor Safford, the immaculately groomed Estevan believed in "education for all." At the 6th Legislative Assembly (1871), Ochoa presented Governor Safford's bill that established Arizona's public schools. The bill passed on the last day of the session.
In 1872, Estevan served as President of the Tucson School Board when Tucson's first classes started with an enrollment of 138 males. Estevan supervised the building of the Congress Street School on land that he donated. He also donated labor and money. When the school ran short on funds, Estevan gave credit to the school to keep it going.
A devout Catholic, like many Tucson citizens, Ochoa built the first Cathedral of San Agustn.
Ochoa served as Justice of the Peace. In 1875, he was elected the first Hispanic mayor of Tucson since the Gadsden Purchase. Under Ochoa's leadership, Tucson's Hispanic and Anglo communities lived and worked in harmony.
On May 1st, 1879, L. C. Hughes of the Star wrote: "The first sound of the locomotive's whistle will be the notice of a new life for our city and its vicinity, and we look forward to the time when the last spike is driven that connects Tucson with the outside world by a band of iron with a degree of pleasure that we cannot describe."
March 20th, 1880, the Southern Pacific Railroad came to Tucson. A reception committee, a band, and a small battery of cannons greeted the dignitaries. Don Ochoa made a speech and presented an engraved silver spike to Charles Crocker, Central Pacific's Vice-president and the Southern Pacific organization's top man.
Little did Don Estevan Ochoa realize what effect the railroad would make on his life, and to the city he loved. Its shipping rates were so low freighters couldn't compete. In a matter of time, Tully, Ochoa and Company and other businesses closed. Train loads of immigrants from across the United States and the ocean flooded Tucson. These Anglos didn't understand or respect the Hispanics, and the harmony of yesteryear was lost.
Don Ochoa moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he died on October 27th, 1888. In 1940 his remains were returned to Tucson, where his name is still prominent on a street and school. For in-depth information see: "ARIZONA BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY" by John S. Goff; "TUCSON: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN CITY" by C. L. Sonnichsen, "LOS TUCSONENSES: THE MEXICAN COMMUNITY OF TUCSON, 1854-1941" by Thomas E. Sheridan, "ARIZONA TERRITORY 1862-1912: A POLITICAL HISTORY" by Jay J. Wagoner, ARIZONA PAGEANT: A SHORT HISTORY OF THE 48TH STATE by Madeline Ferrin Par with the collaboration of Bert M Fireman.
THE SPENAZUMA SWINDLE
by Sandra Mofford Lagesse
Dr. Richard C. Flower wasn’t a doctor, he was a con-man. He used the title “Doctor” with his Flower Medical Company con in New York. The company sold “snake-oil,” a liqueur with no medicinal value but enough alcohol to inebriate the user. Dr. Flower made a small fortune, until the government began to look into his business. Flower found his next scheme in Arizona.
In 1899, Dr. Flower read about Arizona opening the San Carlos Strip to miners. He didn’t know where the San Carlos Strip was, but he didn’t care. He created the Spenazuma Mining Company and sold stock for $10 a share. Flower had a sense of humor because “Mazuma” was slang for money. His company’s name meant, “spend yer money.” He advertised, and suckers flocked to his door. But he wanted more.
Decked out in New York-style western clothes, Flower set out for the San Carlos Strip to familiarize himself with the mining business and Arizona history. In Arizona, he recognized a greater potential and set in motion an elaborate scam. He purchased gold ore and shipped it back to New York. At Geronimo, Arizona, a primitive mining town of tents, shacks, and devious characters, he made friends with Bill Duncan, the hotel clerk, and Alkali Tom, a Texas train robber. With Duncan and Tom’s help, Flower found a watered grove at Black Rock, near Black Mountain. No mineral ore had been found there, but Flower didn’t care. It was the setting he wanted.
Flower purchased every worthless claim near Black Rock for a drink or a few dollars. He built a fake Western mining camp, hauling in lumber, hiring carpenters and surveyors, and authentic-looking miners to dig shafts and tunnels.
Albert Bushman, a photographer from Tucson, took pictures of the Spenazuma. With his ploy ready for the suckers in New York, Flower rushed back. In New York, he presented the authentic ore samples and stereopticon slides of the Spenazuma’s 5,000 feet shafts and its 10 square miles of gold-bearing ground.
Spenazuma’s stock climbed to $12. Dr. Flower manipulated his books and declared a stock dividend. The stock shot up to $15, and investors rushed to buy. Word of the Spenazuma gold mine spread though the East and Midwest. Dr. Flower hired H.D. Clifford to represent himself as “Commissioner of Arizona,” sent out gold-edged literature with statements from bogus mining engineers, and hired a legion of hard-sale solicitors. Money poured in, but Dr. Flower wanted more.
Pleased with their notoriety, the Geronimo citizens welcomed Dr. Flower when he returned to complete his master swindle. Flower’s “marks” (investors) from the east came by train to view the mine and get a taste of life in the west. The suckers were driven by stagecoach to the mine. They saw a crushing mill being built heavy equipment ready for assembly, blasting going on, and miners digging tunnels.
The guests were impressed when they were ushered into tents in front of piles of gold ore, bought from real gold-bearing mines, and told to help themselves. Dr. Flower was delighted. His scheme worked, and his company was now worth $10 million.
What Flower didn’t know was that George H. Smalley, a well-known reporter for Phoenix’s Arizona Republican, was doing a story on Arizona’s legitimate and fraudulent mines. When Smalley arrived in Geronimo, in the spring of 1889, he met Bill Duncan, probably the only honest man in Geronimo. Duncan and Flower’s man, Alkai Tom, accompanied Smalley to the Spenazuma. All the “miners” lay around in the shade while the superintendent sacked out in a hammock.
While Duncan stood guard, Smalley snuck into three shafts and four tunnels. He found them too shallow, and no evidence of any ore or activity. The framing for a proper mill was inadequate. He took some of the gold ore. San Carlos Strip mines produced silver, not gold. Smalley had his story, but could he get out of Geronimo to publish it?
To stop Smalley, Alkai Tom accused Smalley of being a horse thief. Shots were fired, but Smalley escaped. Smalley filed his story with the Arizona Republican, today’s Arizona Republic, and several newspapers back east.
The investors demanded their money back. Flower sent his lawyer to the Arizona Republican with the threat of a $100,000 libel suit. The newspaper’s business manager just laughed. Then the attorney tried to bribe Smalley with $5,000. Smalley threatened to break the lawyer’s nose.
Arizona Governor N. O. Murphy issued an official proclamation to Eastern investors NOT to buy Spenazuma stock. Flower was sentenced to two years on New York’s Blackwell’s Island. When he twice jumped bail of $25,000, the police chased him through North America and South America, and finally caught him in Toronto, Canada, in 1916.
While waiting trial in Hoboken, New Jersey, Dr. Flower was out on bond watching a movie when he died of a heart attack. I wonder if the movie was a Western. For in-depth information see: “ARIZONA TOWNS AND TALES” by Lowell Parker; “ARIZONA; A SHORT HISTORY ” by Odie B. Faulk, “ARIZONA STORIES FROM OLD ARIZONA!” by Marshall Trimble.
THE BANDIT WITH A BADGE
By Sandra Mofford Lagesse
The Alvord family arrived in Tombstone when Albert Wright “Burt” Alvord was thirteen, right before the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. His education came from the gunslingers and cowboys on the streets of Tombstone. He learned to shoot with either hand, became an expert rider and loved fistfights.
In 1886, the famous Cochise County Sheriff, John Slaughter, deputized the fearless Alvord to help clean out the cattle rustlers. In 1894, Alvord tamed the wild gold mining town of Pearce, twenty miles west of Tombstone. Three years later, he moved on to Willcox as their constable.
In early 1899, Alvord was also appointed deputy sheriff of Cochise County. With the two positions, Alvord had authority over most of Southwestern Arizona. The task earned him as many enemies as friends.
To handle both jobs, Alvord hired Billy Stiles and Bill Downing, a man who sometimes stepped outside the law; Alvord also hired Matt Burts, the local barfly. As Alvord cleaned up the territory, the numerous rewards he collected dwindled. To supplement his meager sheriff’s income, he planned the hold-up of the Southern Pacific Railroad with the Pearce Mine payroll.
On September 9th, 1899, while the Southern Pacific train stopped at Cochise Station to take on water, Engineer C. A. Richardson found himself staring at the wrong end of Matt Burts’s six-gun. Burts ordered Richardson and the fireman to uncouple the engine, mail car and express cars and move them away from the train. Stiles had already disarmed the Wells Fargo agent and the mail clerk.
The simple-minded hold-up men put so much dynamite in the mail and express car they blew the two cars hundreds of feet in the air. Gold coins, cash, and jewelry rained over the desert. The bandits scooped up the loot, jumped on their horses, and headed for the hills. Alvord had an alibi; he was playing poker at Schwertner’s Saloon.
The estimated take ranged from $3,000 to $30,000, even though they didn’t get the Pearce payroll, which was shipped on an earlier train. The loot was never recovered.
Alvord and the boys were so pleased with their success they decided to hold-up another train. This time, they recruited Bob Brown, his brother George, and Lewis Owens, along with two other men with criminal records, Three-Fingered Jack Dunlap and Bravo Juan Yoas.
On February 14th, 1900, the New Mexico and Arizona train from Nogales to Benson stopped at Fairbanks, about 20 miles south of Benson, to disembark passengers. The Brown brothers disarmed the engineer and fireman. Owens, Dunlap and Yoas demanded that the Wells Fargo agent come out of the car. The robbers were shocked when Wells Fargo Agent Jeff Milton opened the express car doors. Stiles was suppose to keep Milton off the train, because he was a dead shot.
Milton dropped his gun, but when one of the bandits shot a hole in his hat, he grabbed his rifle. The outlaws blasted the car and wounded Milton. As three of the crooks searched for the safe keys, Milton grabbed a shotgun and wounded Dunlap. The hold-up men took off with the bleeding Dunlap, but later, they left him alongside the road.
Dunlap lived long enough to implicate Burt Alvord, Billy Stiles, and the other hold-up men in the robbery. Stiles was released because he confessed and named Alvord as the ringleader of both hold-ups.
The citizens of Willcox were shocked. Everyone liked their good-natured prankster constable. Besides they didn’t think he was smart enough to mastermind a robbery. On September 8th, Stiles broke Alvord and Yoas out of jail. The jury felt the mandatory death sentence for train robbery was too harsh, so they found Downing not guilty.
On February 19th, 1904, two Arizona Rangers spotted Alvord and Stiles in Naco, Arizona. Again, Stiles escaped, but Alvord was severely wounded. Alvord pleaded guilty to robbing the U.S. mail. On March 3rd, 1904, Albert Wright “Burt” Alvord entered Yuma Territorial Prison. He was released on October 3rd, 1905.
Rumors that Alvord came back for the hidden loot, then headed for the Caribbean Islands, were confirmed when two of Alvord’s nieces notified the Arizona Historical Society that he died in the fall of 1910 on a small island off the Atlantic coast of Panama.
For in-depth information see: “OUTLAW TALES OF ARIZONA,” by Jan Cleere; “IN OLD ARIZONA –TRUE TALES OF THE WILD FRONTIER!” by Marshall Trimble; “ARIZONIANA-STORIES FROM OLD ARIZONA!” by Marshall Trimble.
THE NAVAJO’S “LONG WALK”
THE NAVAJO’S “LONG WALK”
By Sandra Mofford Lagesse
When General James H. Carlton became commander of the Department of New Mexico in 1862, he decided to put the Navajos on Bosque Redondo Reservation, teach the children to read and write, and make them Christians. Carlton enlisted Indian fighter Christopher “Kit” Carson to subdue the Navajos. Carson burned the Navajos’ crops, orchards, hogans, and killed their sheep. Winter brought the starving, freezing tribe to their knees.
The defeated Navajos started “The Long Walk,” up to 500 miles through snow storms from their homes in Cañyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto to Bosque Redondo in the middle of Southeast New Mexico. Death dogged their every step. Bosque Redondo wasn’t prepared for the Navajos. There was little food, no shelters, and few tools to clear and cultivate the land. The Indians dug holes in the ground for shelter and used tree branches over the top for protection.
Men, women and children were put to work clearing the flat, desolate land. With their bare hands, they scratched dirt away from the mesquite plants. It took all day to break the roots of just one mesquite plant. Yet, they cleared 3,000 acres to plant corn, melons, beans and pumpkins. With only fifty spades, the Navajos widened the acequia to twelve feet and added fifteen miles of secondary ditches from the acequia-madre canal.
Although General Carlton estimated 3,000 Navajos would live on the 40 square-mile reservation, records show 11,468 Navajos were housed at Basque Redondo. As Carlton struggled to get more food and supplies, malnutrition ran rapid. Each man, woman and child received only one pound of breadstuff per day. The women slept with the soldiers for food, but the soldiers seldom paid their debt. Old people, children and infants died.
Although Carlton wanted the Navajo village to face a plaza like the Pueblo Indians’ adobe houses, the clans were allowed to live in hogans, overseen by a headman. Carlton insisted the hogans be in a row. However, when Navajos died, their hogans were abandoned and new ones were built at the end of the row.
Their Gods seemed to be against them. Cut worms often called army worms, ruined the corn. Torrential rains and hailstorms destroyed the grain, pumpkin, musk and water melons, squash, beans, and peas. They lived in constant fear of the Comanches and Kiowas who raided their camps, killed them and stole their livestock.
The Navajos began to sneak off the reservation to get food or to return home. By March, 1865, 9,022 Navajos were at Bosque Redondo. After the Civil War, Congress turned its attention to the “Indian problem.” On April 2nd, 1867, Bosque Redondo was transferred from General Carlton to the Department of the Interior’s Indian Service. Superintendent A. Balwin Norton went to Bosque Redondo to assess the situation. He found Navajos with malnutrition, dysentery, syphilis and gonorrhea. Norton suggested that Bosque Redondo be closed, and the Navajos moved to a fertile area in Oklahoma.
The Navajo headmen were brought to Washington in April 1868 to meet with President Andrew Johnson. It was decided a Peace Commission would come to the reservation and decide the Navajos’ fate. When the headmen returned, a sacred Coyote Ceremony was held. The coyote represents one of the Navajo Holy People. For the ceremony a live coyote was captured and placed in the tribal circle. The coyote slowly walked out of the circle toward the Dinetah, the red canyons of the Navajos. This was a sign they would go home. Barboncito, a deeply spiritual headman, was chosen to speak for all the Navajo captives.
A Peace Commission led by Lieutenant General William Tecumseh Sherman, the ruthless Civil War warrior, came to Bosque Redondo. He said that the Navajos had “sunk into a condition of absolute poverty and despair.” The Peace Commission asked the Navajos what they wanted. Barboncito replied, “I hope to God that you will not ask me to go to any other country except my own. If we go back to our own country, we are willing to abide by what ever orders are issued to us.”
On June 1st, 1868, a treaty was signed forming a 3,328,000 acre reservation for the Navajos in their beloved redrock country. They received $150,000 for their rehabilitation, 500 head of cattle, 15,000 sheep and 15,000 goats. Every Navajo received $5.00 annually, and those planting crops were promised $10.00. The Navajo Reservation doubled in size by 1880, making it the largest reservation in the nation.
On June 18th, 1868, a column of Navajos, ten miles long, started “The Long Walk Home.” Today, the Navajos are internationally known for their intricate silverwork, beautiful woven rugs, and courageous WWII Code Talkers. For in-depth information see: “THE NAVAJO LONG WALK, ” by Lawrence W. Cheek; “THE LONG WALK : A History of the Navajo Wars, 1864-68” by L. R. Bailey, NAVAJO LONG WALK: National Geographic Society by Joseph Bruchac and Shonto Begay.
THE NAVAJO’S “LONG WALK”
DEATH STALKS THE NAVAJO NATION
By Sandra Mofford Lagesse
For two hundred and fifty years before the Navajo Nation became part of the United States, the Utes, Apaches, Mexicans, and some of the Navajos raided, killed, stole sheep, and took prisoners for slaves. The U.S. Army couldn’t stop the raids until General James H. Carlton took command of the Department of New Mexico. Carlton planned to put the Indians on a reservation, teach the children to read and write and become Christians. As the elders died and the children grew up, the tribe would live in peace, he theorized.
Carlton recruited Christopher “Kit” Carson to lead the campaign to subdue the Northern tribes, including the Navajos, and move them to the Bosque Redondo Reservation in East-central New Mexico. “Red Clothes,” or “Rope Thrower,” as the Indians called Kit Carson, fought Indian-style. His troops hid in wait at locations where the Indians visited. He destroyed water wells by breaking the rock edging, filling the holes with dirt or contaminating them. He burned the Indians’ hogans, food crops and orchards, and killed their stock. Those who refused to surrender were annihilated.
After conquering the Mescalero Apaches, a much smaller tribe than the Navajos, and sending them on their way to the Bosque Redondo Reservation, Kit Carson turned his attention to the Navajos. The first 200 Navajos, led by headman Delgadito, surrendered in November of 1863. The 200 Navajos—men, women, and children—walked with 473 head of horses and 3,000 head of sheep. The military rode horses. The wagons, horses and mules were to be used to carry the children, the sick and the crippled. Instead, they carried military clothing and food.
Even though the first group was given food, some died of dysentery because of the flour rations. The Indians’ staple diet was cornmeal. Unfamiliar with the white man’s flour, they ate it raw, or mixed it with water.
The 200 Navajos walked from Cañyon de Chelly to Fort Canby, now known as Fort Defiance, to Albuquerque, and then 60 miles north to Fort Marcy, near Santa Fe. General Carlton had them paraded through the streets of Santa Fe to show the citizens the defeated Navajo Nation. Their walk was also routed to Fort Union, north of Las Vegas, New Mexico. It is unknown why the first group was taken the additional 70 miles to Fort Union. From Fort Union, they continued to Fort Sumner and the Bosque Redonado Reservation. In total, the forced march was about 500 miles.
By January of 1864, 2,000 ragged and starving Navajos had lost their will to fight, and surrendered. They were also taken to Fort Canby, but supplies at Fort Canby were low and there were no blankets for the freezing Navajos. When the military gave the Navajos flour, the headmen told the tribe members not to eat the white man’s food but some did not listen. One hundred twenty six Indians died the first week at Fort Canby from dysentery or exposure.
On March 4th, 1894, in a line stretching as far as five miles, 2,150 Navajos started what is known in Indian History as “The Long Walk.” Although they did not travel the extra miles to Santa Fe or Fort Union, their plight was as bitter. Rations were scarce, and they later said, “We were just being driven.” Those too sick or weak to travel were shot. Their bodies were left behind for the coyotes and crows to feast on.
In Ruth Roessel’s book, Navajo Stories of the Long Walk Period, tribal elder Howard W. Gorman told about “(My) ancestors on the Long Walk with their daughter who was pregnant and about to give birth. Somewhere…this side of Belen…south of Albuquerque, the daughter got tired and weak and couldn’t keep up. The soldiers told the parents that they had to leave their daughter behind, ‘Your daughter is not going to survive, anyway; sooner or later she in going to die.’ ‘Go ahead,’ the daughter said, ‘things might come out all right with me.’ Not long after they had moved on they heard a gunshot from where they had been a short time ago.”
The Utes and Mexicans attacked the Navajos who fled back into the mountains until they also surrendered to the Army. A third group of Navajos walked from Fort Canby to Albuquerque, then due east to Fort Sumner. This shortened their journey to 350 miles. Yet, their horrendous walk was as great as the others. As the number of Navajos increased, the amount of rations decreased. Many also died of diarrhea or starvation. Although General Carlton estimated there would be 3,000 displaced Navajos, military records show that a total of 11,468 were walked to Bosque Redondo. But the reservation was not ready for the Indians.
Next Month: The Navajo’s “Long Walk” Part Three—Navajo’s Holy People, The Coyote, Take The Navajo Nation Home. For in-depth information see: “THE NAVAJO LONG WALK,” by Lawrence W. Cheek; “THE LONG WALK: A History of the Navajo Wars, 1864-68” by L. R. Bailey; “NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY: Navajo Long Walk” by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Shonto Begay; “NAVAJO STORIES OF THE LONG WALK PERIOD” by Ruth Roessel.
By Sandra Mofford Lagesse
Today you say “Navajo Indians” and everyone thinks of turquoise jewelry, beautiful rugs, and women dressed in colorful squaw dresses. It wasn’t always like that. The Navajo Nation was a clan with headmen and no political structure.
In 1846, the “Army of the West” won the New Mexico Territory, including Arizona, from Mexico. General Kearny promised to protect the people of the new territory from the raiding Apaches and Dinés, as the Navajos were called at that time. He didn’t realize that for 250 years the Navajos raided, killed, stole sheep, and took prisoners for slaves from the Utes, New Mexicans and later, the Anglo-Americans. The Utes and New Mexicans did the same. It was a way of life.
Between 1846 and 1864, the U.S. Army made treaties with the tribe, but they were broken by both sides. During the Civil War (1861-1865), many of the military men left the West to join their cause, be it Yankee or Rebel. The Navajo raids increased, because they took this as a sign of defeat.
On September 18th, 1862, Brigadier General James H. Carlton took over command of the Department of New Mexico. He set out to stop the Mescalero Apaches, Comanches, Kiowas, and Navajo raids. Carlton and New Mexico Territorial Governor Henry Connelly wanted the rich minerals and grazing regions of the Navajos and Mescalero Apaches to bring the railroad over the 35th parallel. This couldn’t be accomplished until the tribes were removed.
Carlton ordered Colonel Christopher “Kit” Carson, the famous Indian fighter, and his troops to establish Fort Wingate, four miles South of today’s Grant, New Mexico. The Fort was used as headquarters to launch attack against the Apaches and the Navajos.
In November of 1862, Carlton ordered Fort Sumner to be built at the Pecos River Valley, known as Bosque Redondo. The new Fort would be 165 miles from Santa Fe in east-central New Mexico. It would serve as a reservation for the tribes and would block the “great plunder trail” of the Comanches and Kiowas.
Carlton was considered a humanitarian. His plan for the Indians was to move them to the Bosque Redondo reservation, teach the children to read, write, and accept Christianity as their religion. They would learn new ideas, habits, and a new way of life. As the old people died, Carlton reasoned, so would the old way of life. The tribe would learn to live in peace.
Little by little, Colonel “Kit” Carson and his troops brought the Mescalero Apaches to their “brutal senses.”
• On February 1st, 1863, General Carlton notified the Adjutant General of the Army, Brigadier General Lorenzo Thomas, that “the Mescalero Apaches have been completely subdued.” Four hundred Apaches were sent to Bosque Redondo.
• Next, Carlton turned his troops on the Navajo Nation. Colonel “Kit” Carson’s troops and Ute trackers moved to Cañon Bonito, the site of Fort Defiance.
On June 23rd, 1863, Carlton issued an order that any Navajos not surrendering to the Army and moving to Bosque Redondo by July 20th, would be considered at war with the U.S. Army. After July 20th, “Kit” Carson destroyed all the Indian planting fields and grounds, burned their orchards, slaughtered the flocks too large to drive, and destroyed 2,000,000 pounds of grain.
Thirteen Navajos died, and twenty women and children were captured. Carson allowed the Utes to sell the woman and children to Mexican families rather then take them to Bosque Redondo.
In January of 1864, Kit Carson and Captain A. W. Pheiffer delivered the last blow to the cold and starving Navajo Nation in the snow covered cliffs of the Navajo strongholds and sanctuaries at Cañon de Chelly and Cañon del Muerto. Captain Carson marched with 400 men to block the West entrance of Cañon de Chelly, near Chinle. Captain Pheffer and his smaller command blocked the East entrance to Cañon de Chelly, known today as Cañon del Muerto. By now, the Navajos, who had lost their will to fight, surrendered.
Although some fled to other parts of the country, the military recorded that a total of 11,468 Navajos relocated. Navajos were walked, depending on their route, from 350 miles to nearly 500 miles to Basque Redondo to join their bitter enemies, the Mascalero Apaches. In Navajo history it is called “THE LONG WALK.”
Next Month: The Navajo’s “Long Walk” Part Two--Death Stalks the Navajo Nation. For in-depth information see: “THE NAVAJO LONG WALK, ” by Lawrence W. Cheek; “THE LONG WALK : A History of the Navajo Wars, 1864-68” by L. R. Bailey.
JOSEPHINE SARAH MARCUS EARP
By Sandra Mofford Lagesse
“Tombstone” brings to mind Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. To Josephine, it meant the beginning of a half century of life with Wyatt Earp.
At eighteen, Josephine Marcus ran away from her prosperous German Jewish family in San Francisco to join a theatrical group, the Pauline Markham players.
The group traveled to Prescott, Arizona, where she met John H. Behan. John fell in love with the black-haired, dark-eyed beauty and asked her to marry him. When the traveling group owner returned the runaway back to San Francisco, John followed to meet her family. With the family blessing, they were engaged, and John headed for the boomtown of Tombstone to set up a business before sending for Josie.
In 1880, Josie traveled to Tombstone by stage with Kitty Jones, wife of Tombstone’s attorney, Harry Jones. Josie said she stayed with the Jones family, but records show her using the name Josephine Behan when sending a letter to her family in San Francisco. (In those days, cohabitation wasn’t frowned upon.)
When the politically minded John was running for sheriff, he presented his fiancée to the prominent citizens of Tombstone, among them was Deputy Sheriff Wyatt Earp.
By 1881, Josie’s engagement was over. John wasn’t going to marry her. He wouldn’t set a date for their wedding, and his business investments had failed. They had to sell her engagement ring and borrow money from her father.
Wyatt Earp began to court Josie. She knew he was married to Celia Ann Blaylock Earp. Yet, she accepted being the “other woman” in Wyatt’s life, and also accepted life with a man who would stand up against the toughest men in the country and shoot it out.
Wyatt’s wife, Celia, claimed that he ruined her life. She committed suicide in 1888 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery at Superior, Arizona.
John and Wyatt became bitter enemies. After the March 15, 1881 stage holdup, Sheriff John Behan wanted to release Luther King. Wyatt gained Luther’s confession by lying about Doc Holliday’s girlfriend being killed on that stage.
After the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Josie said, “When I saw Wyatt’s tall figure…can you imagine my real relief at seeing my love alive? I was simply a little hysterical.”
Though the Earps and Doc Holiday were publicly vindicated for the shootings, Virgil Earp was wounded and later Morgan Earp was killed. Fearing Wyatt would be next, Josie pleaded with him to leave Tombstone with her, but he refused. Wyatt felt his first responsibility was to escort Morgan’s body and Virgil to their parents’ home in Colton, California. Then he planned to return to Tombstone and Josie.
Wyatt killed Frank Stilwell at the train stop in Tucson. With that act, Wyatt had stepped outside the law. A warrant was issued for Wyatt, but it was never served.
Wyatt returned to Tombstone only to tie-up business ends. Before he left Arizona, he revenged the killing of Morgan and the wounding of Virgil.
Josie said, “These killings were not a matter of good versus bad…but the tragic outcome of some very complicated struggles for political and economic power.”
Because the violence in Tombstone made the national headlines, Josie’s parents wanted her to come back to San Francisco. Wyatt and Doc headed for Colorado and Josie returned to San Francisco. “I left Tombstone with a sense of relief and glad Wyatt had got safely away,” Josie said.
Wyatt joined Josie in San Francisco and they moved to Gunnison, Colorado.
Years later, while Wyatt and Josie passed through Globe, Arizona, on their way to California, Wyatt ran into John Behan on the street. When Josie asked Wyatt what happened, he said, “I knocked him cold.”
For half a century, Josie followed Wyatt through a happy and adventurous life from Colorado and Utah’s mining camps, to the society of California’s thoroughbred racing, to the gold fields of the Yukon. As Josie put it, “I had gone with him on every trail he had ever taken since those days at Tombstone so long ago.” Time and poor health made them finally settle in Los Angles, California.
Wyatt Earp died Sunday, January 13, 1929, in Josie’s arms. His ashes rest in the Hills of Eternity Cemetery in Colma, California. Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp died in 1944 and is buried with her beloved Wyatt.
Note: Though there is no record of Wyatt and Josie’s marriage, she stated in her book that they were married beyond the three mile limit by the captain of Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin’s yacht. (Lucky was a flamboyant character in California’s history.)
For in-depth information see: “I MARRIED WYATT EARP,” collected and edited by Glenn G. Boyer and “WYATT EARP FACTS-VOLUME TWO, CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH OF WYATT’S WIFE, JOSEPHINE SARAH MARCUS” by Glenn G. Boyer.
CORA VIOLA HOWELL SLAUGHTER A PIONEER WIFE
PART 2 (PART 1 below)
By Sandra Mofford Lagesse
Against her mother’s wishes, Coral Viola Howell married John Horton Slaughter on April 16, 1879. It was love at first sight when she saw the fearless ex-Texas Ranger, twice her age, with his two motherless children.
The Slaughters and Viola’s kin moved to Sulphur Springs Valley, near Cochise’s old stronghold. They provided beef cattle for the San Carlos Reservation and ran a small market at Charleston, a mill town south of Tombstone.
In 1883, the Slaughters sold everything and headed for Oregon, but John began to hemorrhage because of his asthma and tuberculosis. Immediately, Viola brought him back to Arizona’s dry, hot desert.
That year, they bought the 65,000 acre San Bernardino Mexican land grant, 65 miles SE of Tombstone and 45 miles SE of Bisbee. It straddled the Arizona Territory and Mexico line. John supplied beef to the Santa Fe Railroad.
Ranching was not easy for the Slaughters. Beef prices fell, and the 1887 earthquake leveled all buildings on the ranch.
Viola and John moved into Tombstone so the children could get an education. They loved children, and through the years, they raised and educated numerous waifs. In 1886, “Aunty” Slaughter, as they called her, had a rainbow of children--Black, Anglo, Indian, and Mexican.
John served as the Sheriff of Cochise County (1886-1890). Viola and the children often went with him on numerous official duties. They were there when John arrested Juan Lopez, a murderer. At lunch time, Lopez’s handcuffs were removed so he could eat. John’s left-handed deputy walked near Lopez’s free right hand. Lopez could have grabbed the deputy’s six-shooter. Realizing that, Viola offered the deputy another hardboiled egg. Instead of turning away from Lopez, the deputy reached behind him. Viola kept a firm grip on the egg until the deputy realized what was wrong.
John was offered a third term as sheriff, but Viola objected. She told him, “Mr. Slaughter, I do not think I could stand another term.” She wanted to go back to ranching. “We’ll go out there and put our shoulders to the wheel. We can’t give up now, and I can help…just you give me a plain house with wide board floors, muslin ceilings, and board finish around the adobes. That’s all I want.”
Together, John and Viola built an empire. The ranch’s peak production reached 10,000 saleable cattle a year. An artesian well irrigated five hundred acres of orchards and farm land. The ranch had a post office and small store.
When John drove cattle out of Mexico, Viola would take her saddle, ride the train to Hermosillo, and join the drive.
One time, Viola heard Apaches had killed John in Mexico. Rumors of hostile Indians in the area didn’t faze the determined woman. She headed for the border in a wagon. The third day, she saw John riding toward her. She was so relieved she grew sick and almost fell out of the wagon. However, the stalwart pioneer said, “By the time Mr. Slaughter rode up I was sitting up, straight as a ramrod.”
Viola was a gracious host to all the ranch visitors--neighbors, friends, passersby, lawmen, and military officers.
In 1901, they helped found Douglas, Arizona, 18 miles west of the ranch. The Bank of Douglas and the Bank of Tombstone were some of their numerous investments.
On May 4, 1921, John, who was ill and sitting by the north window of the main ranch house, sensed something was wrong. He asked his foreman to check on the horses and then moved to the bedroom, out of sight. Moments later, a bullet hit where he had been sitting. Outside his foreman was killed. The target had been John. That fall Viola insisted they move to Douglas. Their grandson took over the ranch.
John died on February 16, 1922, at 81, but Viola stayed in Douglas, and became a legend in her right. In 1939, at 78, Viola was the Grand Marshal of the Douglas Rodeo parade. Riding sidesaddle, she raced through the streets.
In 1941, Addie, Viola’s adopted step-daughter, came to visit. Addie suffered a heart attack and died. On March 1941, one month later, the grieving Viola died, at age 80.
For in-depth information see: “STALWART WOMEN, FRONTIER STORIES OF INDOMITABLE SPIRIT,” by Leo W. Banks; “NOTED PIONEER WOMAN IS DEAD,” in Arizona Daily Star (April 3, 1941); THE COWGIRLS,” by Joyce Gibson Roach; “ARIZONA WALLS, IF ONLY THEY COULD SPEAK, ” by Judy Martin; ARIZONA BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY,” by John S. Goff..
CORA VIOLA HOWELL SLAUGHTER
A PIONEER WIFE PART 1
By Sandra Mofford Lagesse
Behind every successful man is a good woman. And Viola Slaughter was behind the famous Arizonian John Horton Slaughter.
Cora Viola Howell was born in Missouri in 1860. After the Civil War the Howell family moved west, Montana, Nevada, and then New Mexico, during the Lincoln County War.
In New Mexico, nineteen-year-old Viola met a widowed, ex-Texas Ranger twice her age. It was love at first sight for both John Horton Slaughter and Viola Howell.
John stayed at the Howells’ ranch while waiting for his first herd of cattle to arrive from his brother in Texas. By the time the herd arrived, John had convinced the family to join him in Arizona.
Viola, an expert horsewoman, using a sidesaddle, rode alongside John on the cattle drive to Arizona. During the trip, Viola and John decided to get married.
Viola’s mother, Mary Ann, bitterly opposed the wedding. But Viola’s pioneer spirit, inherited from her great-great grandfather, Daniel Boone won out. The couple wed in Tularosa, New Mexico, on April 16, 1879.
The Slaughters and Howells settled in the Sulphur Springs Valley, near Mont Glenn, Cochise’s old stronghold in Southern Arizona. They lived in a two-room house with dirt floors. John’s two motherless children, Addie 6, and Willie 19 months, came to visit from Texas. When it was time for the children to return to John’s brother, Viola refused to part with them. “I became so attached to them in just a few days that I began to dread the time when I must give them up,” Viola told a reporter.
At Charleston, a mill town south of Tombstone, they opened a market. John also contracted with the government to supply beef to the San Carlos Reservation. Viola would sit on the fence and watch a young lieutenant who, according to Viola, “hardly knew a cow from a bull” reject the cattle for one reason or another. John, being the shrewd business man he was, would slip some of the rejects into the next group. By the end of the sale, very few rejects were left.
Later in life, Viola admitted that at first, she was scared to death. “I was even afraid gopher mounds were graves.”
Another time, Viola and John were traveling by wagon from Charleston to Calabasas when three scoundrels on horseback appeared on a rise ahead. Grabbing the reins, she whipped the horses and headed straight for them. “I whispered to Mr. Slaughter to get his gun and he answered calmly, ‘Why, Viola, I saw them. I have my gun.’ …To our great surprise, those three bandits turned tail and ran.”
Life was hard for the struggling ranchers, especially in 1881. On the trek back from New Mexico with a herd of cattle, Viola, John, Addie, Viola’s brother, Stonewall, and thirteen others were caught in a three day blizzard. There was no shelter, not even tents. Viola wrapped Addie in a buffalo robe in the bottom of the wagon. “She was the only one…who escaped having some part of her frozen. Mr. Slaughter had an ear and I had a foot frozen. …Often in the morning we could hardly turn over for the snow on us,” Viola said. On top of that, cattle prices fell that year.
In 1883, the Slaughters sold out to buy a cattle ranch in Oregon. While traveling by stagecoach, one of the drivers suggested that John let him carry John’s money because of the rough characters on the trip. John assured the driver that he could handle his own money. But in private, John slipped off his money belt and Viola slipped it on.
En route to Oregon, John began hemorrhaging because of his asthma and tuberculosis, so they turned back for the hot dry climate of Arizona.
That same year, they bought the 65,000 acre San Bernardino Mexican land grant. The property stretched through Arizona Territory’s southeast Cochise County into Mexico. “I shall never forget the first sight of the ranch,” Viola said, “the valley stretching far out before us down into Mexico, rimmed and bounded by mountains all around. Nor shall I forget the thrill of knowing that it was all ours, our future lay within it. It was beautiful.”
Next Month: Cora Viola Howell Slaughter - Part 2
For in-depth information see: “STALWART WOMEN, FRONTIER STORIES OF INDOMITABLE SPRIIT,” by Leo W. Banks; “NOTED PIONEER WOMAN IS DEAD,” in Arizona Daily Star (April 3, 1941); THE COWGIRS,” by Joyce Gibson Roach; “THE STORY OF DOS CABEZAS, ” by Phyllis de la Garza.
THE WICKENBURG MASSACRE
TO PUNISH THE GUILTY
PART TWO ( part one last month below)
by Sandra Mofford Lagesse
In the gray dawn of November 5th, 1871, seven passengers and a driver heading to San Francisco on the Wickenburg stage never realized that destiny would cost six of them their lives and change Washington’s attitude toward all the Southwest Indians. Murdered were John “Dutch” Lance, the driver; Frederick Loring, a 21 year old journalist returning to Boston from the Wheeler expedition; Charles S. Adams, the Prescott agent for W. Bichard and Co. returning to San Francisco; Peter M. Hamel and William George Salomon, also returning home from the Wheeler expedition; and Frederick Shoholm, a jeweler who liquidated his business in Prescott to move to Philadelphia.
Mollie Sheppard, a madam carrying a substantial amount of jewelry and $15,000 from the sale of her Prescott bordello, and William Kruger, an Arizona Territory Army Quartermaster clerk in route to Ehrenberg with $30,000 to $40,000 in military funds, were the only survivors of the massacre. Later, Mollie died from her wounds. Aaron Barnett, an eighth passenger, joined the stage at Wickenburg but two miles out realized he’d forgotten something and walked back to town. This saved his life.
Eight miles out of town, the stagecoach was ambushed from three sides. Millie Sheppard and William Kruger huddled on the blood-soaked coach floor. When the firing quit, they slipped out of the stage, dropped into a gully, and ran for their lives. The bushwhackers followed. Kruger bragged that he’d wounded two with his “deadly shot” while holding up the fainting Mollie. According to Mollie, she threatened the bandits with a broken whiskey bottle. Whatever the truth, the desperados retreated.
A Wickenburg posse went in hot pursuit of the killers, but the bushwhackers scattered and the posse lost their trail. Eastern politicians and newspapers had been sympathetic to the Indians. Now, Indians had brutally murdered the up and coming Boston journalist Frederick Loring. Washington insisted that the assassins must be punished and the Indians confined before there could be a lasting peace.
Captain Charles Meinhold and twenty men left Camp Date Creek to track the murderers. After several days, they returned. General George Crook’s Adjutant, Captain Azor H. Nickerson, reported that Meinhold was unable to “determine definitely whether the perpetrators were Indians or Mexican bandits or both.”
Even though the stage driver cried, “Apaches, Apaches, Apaches” before he was killed, suspicions ran rapid. Did the Apache-Mojave Indians (today’s Yavapai Indians) from the reservation at Camp Date Creek do it? Did the Mexican gang headed by Joaquin Barbe do it? Did a combination of renegade Indians and Mexicans do it? Did a combination of renegade Indians and Mexicans backed by government employees and crooked businessmen who profited from Indian trouble do it? Did white men from Prescott who wanted to rob Mollie Sheppard of her money and jewels do it? Did the surviving passengers, William Kruger and Mollie Sheppard, kill and rob the other travelers?
General George Crook from Fort Whipple took charge of the investigation. After several months, he arranged for a council meeting with Chief Irataba at the Camp Date Creek reservation with the intention to arrest the ringleaders of the massacre. A skirmish broke out, and Crook and his soldiers had to retreat. Later, Crook and Chief Irataba met and came to an agreement. Crook would grant amnesty to the assassins, except the ringleaders; the council would point out “bad Indians” if they caused trouble and help punish the offenders. Crook had already killed two of the ringleaders and one was in the stockade.
George Bryan, John Burger, Phoenix deputies Joe Tye and Milt Ward, James Grant, Doc Park, and George Updyke believed that the renegades Joaquin Barbe, Trini Gonzales, Ramon Cordova, Ernando Hernandez, and five more Mexican ambushed the stagecoach. Deputies Joe Tye and Milt Ward escorted Joaquin Barbe and another Mexican out of town. They were shot to death by the deputies during an argument.
Sheriff T. C. Warden and Deputy Joe Tye arrested Ramon Cordovo. Someone hanged Cordovo in his cell after breaking in and cutting the shackles that fastened him to his cell. Deputies Joe Tye and Milt Ward arrested a wounded Mexican that was later knifed to death by a fellow inmate. John Burger shot a Mexican to death when the Mexican pulled a knife on Burger for accusing him of being one of the assassins.
The Wickenburg Massacre changed the treatment of the Indians. In the winter of 1875, the beaten Yavapai Nation was marched across Arizona to the San Carlos Reservation. For in-depth information see: “DRENCHED IN BLOOD, RIDGED IN DEATH, The True Story of the Wickenburg Massacre” by R. Michael Wilson; “OUTLAW TALES OF ARIZONA” by Jan Cleere; “OLD WEST, Adventures in Arizona” by Charles D. Lauer; and “ROADSIDE HISTORY OF ARIZONA” by Marshall Trimble
by Sandra Mofford Lagesse
Traveling by stagecoach through the Arizona Territory in the late 1800s was not only hot, dusty and cramped, but also dangerous. Indians, Mexicans and white men often lay in wait to rob and sometimes kill the passengers. Such was the case for seven passengers and a driver on the Arizona Stage Company run between Wickenburg and Ehrenberg.
In the early morning of November 5, 1871, Aaron Barnett boarded the coach with the driver and six sleepy passengers from Prescott as it headed out of Wickenburg on the La Paz Road.
John “Dutch” Lance, a driver with only two weeks experience on this trail, sat atop the doomed stage. Next to him sat Frederick Wadsworth Loring, a 21 year-old journalist returning to Boston from the George Wheeler expedition that studied the terrain and water locations for the military.
Charles S. Adams, also seated on the top roost, was the namesake of Adamsville, Arizona Territory and was currently the Prescott agent for W. Bichard and Co. He was on his way to San Francisco to his wife and three children because of an illness in the family.
Inside the cramped coach, Peter Hamel and William George Salmon, also heading home from the Wheeler expedition, were returning to their families in California.
The only woman aboard, Mollie Sheppard was on her way to Panama. A madam, she had $15,000 cash from the sale of her Prescott bordello and a substantial amount of jewelry.
Frederick Shoholm, a Prescott jeweler who also had sold his business, was on his way to Philadelphia, by way of Panama.
William Kruger, a clerk for the Arizona Territory Army Quartermaster in route to Ehrenberg on military business, carried $30,000 or $40,000 in military funds. Kruger was suspected of selling army equipment and mules for a generous personal profit.
A couple of miles out, Aaron Barnett remembered business he hadn’t completed. The stage stopped so he could walk back to Wickenburg. This saved his life.
To pass the time, Mollie spread her expensive fur cape over the backless bench in the middle to play “Freeze-Out,” a popular poker game. Their firearms were stashed under the cushions for comfort.
Eight miles out of Wickenburg, the coach started into a wash. Men jumped out from behind the bushes. Bullets peppered the air. Dutch Lance shouted, “Apaches!” before he died and dropped the reins. The panicked horses swerved off the road.
A bullet hit Loring in the chest, puncturing a lung and sending him off the top. A lance in the chest finished off the young journalist.
Bullets smashed Adams’ spine, paralyzing him and leaving him to the mercy of the outlaws.
Inside the coach, Shoholm died still holding his cards. Hamel fell dead over Mollie’s fur cape. Salmon jumped out of the coach and ran for the rocks, but was shot down.
William Kruger, a wound in his shoulder, and Mollie Sheppard, three bullets and slivers from the stage in her arm, were the only survivors of the massacre.
According to Kruger, he shoved Mollie to the coach floor and covered her body with his. When the second round of bullets stopped and it got quiet, he pushed Mollie out of the bloody coach, and they ran for their lives. The gunmen followed them. Kruger bragged that he’d wounded two with his “deadly shot” while holding up the fainting Mollie.
According to Mollie, she threatened the bandits with a broken whiskey bottle. Whatever the truth, the desperados retreated.
The driver of a mail wagon found the couple along the road. Horrified by Kruger and Mollie’s story, he made them as comfortable as possible and rode one of the horses back to Wickenburg for help.
Peter Hamel and George Salmon had been scalped. Because Salmon’s body was so mutilated the posse buried him at the holdup sight. The other bodies were taken to Wickenburg for burial. Later, Salmon’s body was reburied beside the others.
Mollie Sheppard, clinging to her precious fur cape with eight holes in it, and William Kruger were taken to Camp Date Creek for medical help.
The murder of Federick Loring, Boston’s promising young journalist, at the hands of Indians sent shock waves through the East.
Next Month: The Wickenburg Massacre - Part 2: “A CAMPAIGN TO PUNISH THE GUILTY.”
For in-depth information see: “DRENCHED IN BLOOD, RIDGED IN DEATH, The True Story of the Wickenburg Massacre” by R. Michael Wilson; “OUTLAW TALES OF ARIZONA” by Jan Cleere; “OLD WEST, Adventures in Arizona” by Charles D. Lauer; and “ROADSIDE HISTORY OF ARIZONA” by Marshall Trimble.
KING USSERY –- BANDIT
by Sandra Mofford Lagesse
Stagecoach robberies were as much a part of Western history as the Colt Revolver. The Arizona Territory alone had 133 stagecoach robberies between 1875 and 1903.
Arizona named Usery Mountain (an altered form of “Ussery”), Usery Pass, and Usery Mountain Regional Park, just east of Superstition Mountain, after the bandit King Ussery. King was actually his first name, not uncommon in the 1800s.
King Ussery is believed to have robbed the stagecoach running from Globe to Florence at Riverside (present day city of Kelvin) on December 20th, 1891. The desert was so dark that night; no one could identify the lone bandit. The road agent got the express box, and then asked if any gold bullion was aboard. When Les Middleton, the unarmed driver, said the stage wasn’t carrying any gold, the robber sent him, his passengers, and the U.S. mail on their way.
One month later, January 5th, 1892, a lone bandit robbed the stage from Florence to Globe at the same place near Riverside. The highwayman insisted that Mr. Goff, the driver, throw down the express box and “demanded” the gold bullion the stage was carrying. Reluctantly, Mr. Goff obeyed. When the gunman ordered Goff to move on, he snapped the reins and the stage started to pull away until a shout rang out. Goff reined in the team of horses then realized the shout wasn’t to him. Another robber was hiding in the brush. Goff whipped the team into motion, and they disappeared into the night.
Wells Fargo was shipping two gold bars, according to them, worth two thousand two hundred fifty dollars. Wells Fargo put up a reward of three hundred dollars. Sheriff J. H. Thompson, Deputy Pemberton, and two Indian trackers from Gila County met Deputy Marshal Drais and Sheriff Truman of Pinal County at the robbery site.
The road agents had rubbed out their tracks, but Thompson identified the shoe of a packhorse. Before the lawmen lost the trail in the falling snow on Pima Mountains, Thompson spotted a wire hanging from a partially sunken tree in the Salt River. One of the bandits had attached a gold bar to the end of a piece of barbed wire and lowered it into the water. Blood on the wire indicated that the robber had cut his hand. The Globe doctor identified the blood as human and said he had treated King Ussery for a wire cut. The lawmen began to search for King Ussery.
Sheriff Thompson put two-and-two together. Earlier, Ussery and his friend Henry Blevins had beat-up and robbed a toll-gate keeper on the eastern slope of Pinal Mountain. Thompson figured Ussery was the holdup man and Blevins was hiding in the bushes. Blevins was arrested at his Salt River home. Deputy Pemberton later found the second bar beside a log lying in a muddy marsh by Blevins’ house.
In late January, a party rode into Florence and reported seeing Ussery and Jack See. Pinal County Sheriff Truman followed the outlaw’s trail from Gila County to the Arizona canal, where Ussery and See separated, with Ussery heading to Mesa City. See joined Ussery later and the two tried to fool Sheriff Truman and his posse into thinking they were heading for San Diego.
Ussery doubled back, his family farmed in the Salt River area and ran cattle in today’s Usery Pass to the Tonto Basin and they hid him. Sheriff Thompson heard that Ussery had been seen at his mother’s. Thompson set a trap and captured Ussery at his mother’s home.
May 7th, Henry Blevins was found guilty of the stagecoach holdup and sentenced to two years in Yuma’s Territorial Prison. Blevins appealed and was found guilty a second time with a new sentence of seven years. May 26th, the Pinal County Court dismissed the case against King Ussery, but a new grand jury was summoned to hear the case again. He was found guilty and sentenced on November 22nd, 1892 to seven years in the territorial prison at Yuma. Governor Hughes pardoned King Ussery on October 21st, 1894.
For five years, Ussery was still in and out of trouble. On December 25th, 1899, he went back to Yuma Prison to serve ten years for stealing a valuable race horse. He served seven of the ten years and was released. King Ussery was never heard of again. For in-depth information see: “ENCYCLOPEDIA OF STAGECOACH ROBBERY IN ARIZONA” by R. Michael Wilson; “TALES OF ARIZONA TERRITORY” by Charles D. Lauer.
BILL WILLIAMS, MASTER TRAPPER
By Sandra Mofford Lagesse
Since 1953, the “Bill Williams Mountain Men,”--businessmen, judges, doctors, and ranchers from Williams, Arizona,--dressed in buckskin outfits, moccasins and fur caps, have an annual Rendezvous Ride. They cross 200 miles of Arizona’s rough mountains on horseback and lead pack horses for six to seven days to raise charity and scholarship funds for Williams High School graduates. At the finish, they march with pride in Phoenix’s or Scottsdale’s Rodeo Parade. What kind of a mountain man would warrant such respect that a mountain, a fork, and a town would be named after him by other mountaineers?
Red-headed William Shirley Williams was born in North Carolina in 1787. The Williams family moved to the untamed town of St. Louis, where he grew up to be a Methodist missionary to the Osage Indians.
Bill married an Osage woman who gave him two daughters. Living with the Osage, he learned to respect Native American legends, ceremonies, and superstitions.
Bill and Paul Ballio, also married to an Osage woman, opened a trading post. The Williams and Ballio Trading Post failed because they couldn’t say “no” to friends or relatives. Bill later opened his second trading post east of the Osages to trade with the Kickapoos.
The death of his wife shook him so badly, Bill abandoned his faith, sold his trading post, picked up a muzzle-loading, long-barreled flintlock rifle, and headed for the solitude of the mountains. He trapped between the Osage Mountains and the Rockies; an area where loners seldom survived.
As a fur expert from his trading post days, “Old Solitaire” as some called him, always arrived at the trapper’s rendezvous with bundles of the finest pelts from his secret trapping grounds. “Bill Williams, Master Trapper” was branded on each pelt.
In 1825, Bill heard the United States was negotiating a treaty that would deny the Osage the rights to their lands. He returned to St. Louis to protect the interests of his daughters. Bill negotiated a provision in the treaty for the forty-one children and grandchildren with white fathers and Osage mothers to receive 640 acres each. The government also paid the Osage debts due the defunct Williams and Ballio Trading Post.
Later, the Government ruled that the treaty didn’t give the allottees ownership of the land, just the right to live on it for the rest of their lives.
At the age of thirty-eight, Bill came west as a guide and interpreter for George C. Sibley’s expedition to chart a road from Missouri to Santa Fe. The route they charted is practically the same route that later became the “Santa Fe Trail.”
Bill joined the Vrain expedition down the Gila that same year. For several years, he wandered and trapped beaver along the Mogollon Plateau, from the Little Colorado River, to the Petrified Forest, to the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. During his Arizona travels, he lived among the Apaches, Navajos and Pueblos, and learned their languages.
Other trappers remember “Old Bill” as a weather-beaten, six-foot-one beanpole with deep smallpox marks on his parched face. Whether from sickness, an accident, or age, Bill staggered from side to side like a drunk, and couldn’t hold his rifle steady. He had acquired Indian ways, believing that dreams foretold the future. He ate raw meat, a habit gross to civilized men, but, a camp fire in hostile Indian country could cost a mountain man his life.
In spite of his afflictions, Bill was a dead shot and expert horseman, using short stirrups and leaning like a hunchback over his horse’s back. He could run along a stream with six five-pound bear traps on his back. Many mountain men lost bets against Bill’s deadly shot or racing against the red-haired rider in knee-high buckskin breeches.
Bill decided to settle down and open a trading post in Taos, New Mexico, but either the call of the unknown or the frustration of haggling over prices sent Bill back to his mountain life. Before he left, he unraveled bolts of calico, worth one dollar a yard, tossed them into the street and roared with laughter as the local women scrambled for the goods.
For in-depth information see: “OLD BILL WILLIAMS, MOUNTAIN MAN” by Alpheus H. Favour, “EARLY ARIZONA, PREHISTORY TO CIVIL WAR” by Jay J. Wagoner.
THE FATHER OF ARIZONA
by Sandra Mofford Lagesse
Charles Delbrille Poston arrived in Arizona in 1854. Two years later the Gadsden Purchase was signed, making everything south of the Gila River part of the United States and Arizona part of the New Mexico Territory.
When the Mexican soldiers left and the Indians returned to their mountains, Charles Poston led a group of brave miners into Tucson. They established headquarters in the abandoned fortress of Tubac, with Poston as the “alcalde” (magistrate). He reopened the abandoned mines in the Cerro Colorado and Santa Rita Mountains and purchased the Arivaca Ranch. In two years, they mined a fortune in silver.
The Territorial Capitol at Santa Fe was so far away the residents of the Gadsden Purchase area had no voice in their government. Arizona delegates Charles Poston, Sylvester Morley and Sam Heintzelman spearheaded a fight to separate from the New Mexico Territory. Letters signed by prominent citizens stating they had no laws, courts, votes, or representation in any legislative body, were presented to Congress. But Congress wouldn’t listen. A petition signed by 1000 residents was presented. Still, Congress wouldn’t listen. When ten bills for Arizona’s admission as a new territory had been ignored, the Gadsden Purchase residents held a conference, drew up a constitution and named themselves the Territory of Arizona. The U.S. Congress never recognized the new territory or Arizona’s delegates.
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, southern sympathizers left the army, depleting its forces. Cochise’s Chiricahua Apaches went on the warpath. Poston’s brother, John Lee, was murdered at the Cerro Colorado Mine and Charles barely escaped with his life. Poston, Morley and Heintzelman pushed harder for separation from New Mexico.
John S. Watts, the New Mexico delegate, approved the Arizona Organic Act introduced to Congress on March 12, 1862. It gave New Mexico the rich Mesilla Valley and Arizona the Apache lands. An enormous chunk of silver from Arizona quashed the political debate that the new territory would take funds from the war effort.
Charles Poston met with Congress in December, 1862. Mowry had been arrested as a southern sympathizer. The “lame duck” Congress members agreed to vote for and fill the political positions of the new territory.
On February 24, 1863, President Lincoln signed the bill, making present day Arizona: THE TERRITORY OF ARIZONA. Poston was appointed Indian agent, named “Father of Arizona”, and elected Arizona’s first delegate in Congress.
Charles Poston’s continuous adventures become famous not only in Arizona but throughout the world. However, like many of the founding fathers of Arizona, time, age, and poverty caught up with him.
When Whitelaw Reid, later the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, wrote an article about visiting Charles Poston, the “Father of Arizona”. Telling how he was living in an adobe hut facing an alley in downtown Phoenix, the Arizona Twentieth Legislature (1899) granted Poston a pension for life for his public service.
Poston died in 1902. On April 1925, Arizona Governor George W. P. Hunt and 1,500 people attended the rites when Charles Poston’s body was moved to Poston’s Butte, formerly Primrose Hill.
For in-depth information see: “ARIZONA TERRITORY 1863-1912, A POLITICAL HISTORY” by Jay J. Wagoner; “ARIZONA, A CAVALCADE OF HISTORY” by Marshall Trimble; “EARLY ARIZONA, PREHISTORY TO CIVIL WAR” by Jay J. Wagoner; “ARIZONA, A PANORAMIC HISTORY OF A FORTIER STATE” by Marshall Trimble.
TOMBSTONE’S ANGEL OF MERCY
by Sandra Mofford Lagesse
A customer in Nellie Cashman’s Russ House complained about the food, and Doc Holiday overheard him. Doc rose from his chair, drew his gun and said, “What did you say about Miss Nellie’s food, Mister?” All the blood drained from the man’s face, as he replied, “Food’s delicious. Good as I’ve ever tasted.” Doc smiled and holstered his gun, “Yes, that’s what I thought you said.”
In “the town to tough to die,” miners, lawmen, and famous desperados ate at Nellie’s place. “There’s no cockroaches in my kitchen and the flour is clean,” she would brag. Meals cost twice as much as her competitors.
Miners would say the “Lady” with a soft Irish brogue had a big Irish heart, because she fed and grubstaked miners that were down-on-their-luck. Others would say she was a true pioneer and a shrewd businesswoman.
When Nellie arrived in the West, she caught the gold fever. It influenced her for the rest of her life. In 1880, she heard silver had been discovered in Tombstone and left her famous Delmonico restaurant in Tucson to prospect in the booming mining town of Tombstone. Boom towns were nothing new to Nellie. This was her third.
In a town of hardcore miners, the sharp tongued Nellie, only 5 feet tall weighing less than on hundred pounds, had a no nonsense business attitude that demanded respect. Her multiple businesses in Tombstone included The Nevada Boot & Shoe Store, the Tombstone Cash Store and the Arcade Restaurant and Chops House.
A devout Catholic, Nellie felt every miner needed a place to cleanse his soul and a place to heal his body. In a matter of months, she collected enough funds from everyone, including those in the red light district, to build Sacred Heart Church of Tombstone and a county hospital. If a miner couldn’t afford the hospital, she cared for them in her hotel.
John Clum, editor of the Epitaph wrote, ”If she asked for a contribution—we contributed. In fact, we would have felt offended had we not been allowed an opportunity to assist in some way in each one of Nellie’s benefits.”
When Nellie’s brother-in-law died in San Francisco of tuberculosis in 1881, she brought her ailing sister, Fannie, and her five nieces and nephews to Tombstone.
The dry desert air helped Fannie’s tuberculosis and the two sisters worked shoulder to shoulder. They opened the Delmonico Lodging House and the Russ House, a combination hotel and restaurant. Fannie died of tuberculosis a few years later. Nellie became “Mother” to her beloved nieces and nephews, put each through school and visited them when they grew up. Her favorite nephew, Mike Cunningham, helped found the Bank of Bisbee.
Nellie was a good Christian woman with a sense of right and wrong. When a grandstand was being built and tickets sold to watch five convicted criminals hang, she was appalled. Nellie persuaded the Tombstone mayor and sheriff to impose a curfew to keep a drunken crowd from rioting. Then she convinced some of her miner friends that no matter how monstrous the crime, “people should die with dignity.”
In the wee hours of the morning, Nellie and her friends destroyed the bleachers and every night for two weeks after the hanging, two miners stood guard over the five graves so the bodies couldn’t be snatched for medical cadavers.
When the price of silver dropped, the miners’ wages were reduced by 50 cents a day. Furious, the miners blamed E. B. Gage, superintendent of the Grand Central Mining Company, for their troubles and planned to kidnap and lynch him. Nellie heard about the plan, so she drove to Mr. Gage’s house. After a few minutes she left and slowly drove through Tombstone. At the town limits, she whipped the horses and raced to Bisbee, where Mr. Gage crawled out of the back of her wagon and boarded the train.
During Nellie Cashman’s lifetime, she made millions but gave it away to the needy. As Nellie said, “It gives me a great deal of pride to go back to every place I’ve ever been and look folks square in the eye and know that I’ve paid my bills and played the game like a man.”
For in-depth information see: “NELLIE CASHMAN AND THE NORTH AMERICAN MINING FRONIER” by Don Chaput; “HIGH-SPIRITED WOMEN OF HE WEST” by Anne Seagraves; “NELLIE CASHMAN PROSPECTOR AND TRAILBLAZER” by Suzann Ledbetter; “ AMIDST THE GOLD DUST, WOMEN WHO FORGED THE WEST” by Julie Danneberg; and TRAILBLAZERS, TWENTY AMAZING WESTERN WOMEN” by Karen Surina Mulford.
THE ONE-EYED POLITICIAN
By Sandra Mofford Lagesse
Behind every political decision is a story. This is my favorite. It’s part of Arizona folklore that may or may not be true.
In 1889, the Maricopa delegates planned on presenting a bill at the fifteenth Arizona Territorial Assembly Session in Prescott to move the territorial Capital from Prescott to Phoenix. To get enough votes to pass their bill, they had been lobbying behind the scenes before the session.
The Yavapai delegates got wind of the plot to steal their Capital, so they too did some lobbying. They finally had enough votes to block Maricopa’s bill, but they underestimated their opponent. When the Maricopa delegates realized that the vote count was close, too close, they pulled some political skullduggery.
Several days before the assembly was called into session, the Maricopa delegates made their way over to Granite Creek and the boudoir of a “lady of the night” called “Kissin’ Jenny.” One of the Yavapai delegates always spent the night at Jenny’s during the legislative season. The prominent legislator had lost one eye and wore, with great pride, the only glass eye in the territory.
The night before the important vote, this legislator joined his fellow colleagues at a bar on Whisky Row for a few drinks before heading over to Jenny’s. It seems that after they went to bed, he placed his glass eye in the glass of water on the bedside table before he blew out the kerosene lamp. The next morning, the water glass was empty. Jenny said she had gotten thirsty in the night and drank the water, glass eye and all.
That morning, the Yavapai delegates missed their tardy colleague. Every vote was crucial, so they headed for Jenny’s place to get him. When they got there, the one-eyed politician refused to join them. He was so vain that he refused to appear in public without his glass eye.
The Yavapai delegates recognized the political shenanigans. They pleaded with (and maybe tried to bribe) Jenny to give back the eye, but she couldn’t…or wouldn’t. The one-eyed delegate was absent that day, but his glass eye did show up later.
On January 21st, 1889, the fifteenth Territorial Assembly was called to order. Legislative Act #1 was passed by a slim margin, and the Arizona Territorial Capital was moved to Phoenix.
For in-depth information see: “ARIZONA, A CAVALCADE OF HISTORY,” by Marshall Trimble.
THE SISTERS OF ST.JOSEPH OF CARONDELET
by Sandra Mofford Lagesse
In 1870, Sister
Monica and six convent nuns accepted Bishop Salpointe’s invitation
to come to the untamed Arizona Territory to establish the St. Joseph
Convent and Academy for Females in Tucson. They were a
courageous group, and I believe even if they had known what
hardships and danger were ahead, they still would have accepted the
Sisters Monica Corrigan, Ambrosia Arnichaud, Hyacinth Blanc, Emerentia Bonnefoy, Martha Peters, Maxime Croisat, and Eupbrasia Suchet were nuns of The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Missouri, an order that dated back to France in 1650. The order was--and is--a religious society that valued “individual conviction and inner strength dedicated to the service of God and of the neighbor.”
Clad in traditional black Catholic habits, the seven nuns, raised in a convent with little outside contact, set out by rail from St. Louis to San Francisco. Sea sickness plagued the nuns on their voyage from San Francisco to San Diego. After a short layover at San Diego, they continued on the seven day trip to Fort Yuma in an uncomfortable wagon. The swaying wagon made the nuns “seasick” again.
In 1870, fording the swift Colorado River into Arizona was dangerous. The nuns, clad in layers of heavy clothing, almost drowned when an accident dumped them into the river while they were crossing.
The Vicar General of the Vicariate of Arizona, Father Jouvenceau, and a driver met the half-drowned sisters at Fort Yuma to escort them the rest of the way to Tucson.
For eleven days, the tiny band of nine followed the Gila River to Casa Grande. When they stopped at the few ranches along the way, ranchers told them stories about the brutality of Cochise and his raiding band. The fresh graves of daring pioneer families along the way from Yuma confirmed the ranchers’ stories.
An escort of sixteen mounted troopers from Ft. Lowell met the party at Casa Grande to escort them through the 200 miles of Chiricahua Apache country.
As the party trudged toward Tucson, rough and woolly miners, seeking safety, joined them.
When armed men from Tucson arrived as additional escorts because of fear of a large band of Apaches in the area, the nuns had to deal with more tension than just Indians.
In a land where there were few women and even fewer Anglo women, the lonely miners, soldiers, and single Tucsonians began to court the nuns. The marriage proposals only added to the anxiety of the spiritually-focused women.
On the evening of May 25th, the group reached Picacho Peak. They had to go through Picacho Pass; a perfect place for an Indian attack. Surrounded on all sides by shouting armed guards, the nuns’ wagon raced through the moonlit night, bouncing wildly over the rough trail. If there were Indians, they didn’t show themselves.
On the evening of May 26, 1870, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet arrived in the “Old Pueblo” of Tucson to the chiming of church bells, cheers, a torchlight parade, fireworks and a fine supper.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet had fulfilled their destiny. They had faced seasickness, a raging river, the threat of an Indian attack, snakes, blistering heat, wind storms, drenching rain, cold desert nights, and the howls of coyotes (they thought they were wolves). The devout nuns had not detoured from their devotion to God’s will and their neighbors on earth.
For in-depth information see: “TUCSON, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN CITY” by C.L. Sonnichsen;; “THE STORY OF ST. MARY’S HOSPITAL, 1880-1980” by Leo G. Bryne and Sister Alberta Cammack, C.S.J.
DOC SMART’S GANG VANISHES
Between 1887 through 1922, Southern Arizona’s only passenger train, the Sunset Express, ran from Los Angeles to New Orleans, and had six holdups in Arizona. Doc Smart’s gang carried out the Sunset Express’s first robbery, and then mysteriously vanished.
On the night of April 27th, 1887, the Sunset Express was running 45 minutes late, heading west toward Tucson, when Engineer William Harper and Fireman James Clauncey saw a shadowy figure swinging a red lantern ahead. A warning track torpedo burst under the big wheels as Harper brought the powerful engine to a screeching halt in front of upraised railroad ties rammed between the tracks.
Suddenly, bullets began to fly, piercing the engine’s boiler. Two masked men appeared along side the train and ordered the engineer down. With a gun in his back, Engineer Harper walked to the express car. He told the men in the car to open the safe and step out, or bandits would blow up the car.
Fast thinking, Wells Fargo messenger J.P. Smith quickly opened the safe, and stuffed $5,000 into the unused stove, before he opened the express car door and leaped out. The outlaws were furious when they found only a few bills left in the safe. To escape, they uncoupled the sleeping cars and stole the engine, and express and mail car.
When the Sunset Express didn’t arrive in Tucson, a relief train was sent out. The Express was found stalled 14 miles east of Tucson. The mail and express car were ransacked, but the $5,000 was still in the stove. The passengers and crew were found five miles east of the engine. Papago Indians tried tracking the robbers, but they couldn’t find any tracks. Had the robbers vanished into thin air? Tucson’s newspaper reported the robbery and declared J.P. Smith a hero for saving the $5,000.
Doc’s gang struck again four months later, robbing the Sunset Express one-mile east of the first robbery.
Engineer James Guthrie had boasted that no robbers could hold up his train. When he didn’t pull the brake at the sight of the red lantern or sound of the torpedo blast, the gang opened fire. A bullet flew past the fireman’s nose, slicing off half of his mustache and burning his lip. Too late, Guthrie pulled the brake handle. Wheels screamed and sparks flew, as the engine roared onto the uplifted ties. It halted and then flopped over on its side against a fifty-foot high crest of railroad fill.
Not taking any chances this time, the desperados blew the express door with a stick of giant powder. When they saw their arch enemy, J.P. Smith, one of the bandits said, “Smithy, the stove racket don’t go this time.” It took a pistol whipping before Smith revealed the safe combination.
The robbers escaped with $3,000 in U.S. money and $1,000 in Mexican silver. The sack of Mexican silver was found at an abandoned camp sight. Meantime, Doc and his boys were spending the loot in Texas.
Four months later, the outlaw gang hit the Sunset Express a third time, just east of El Paso. This time, Wells Fargo messenger Smith got his revenge. He shot and killed two of the bandits, Emerson and Meyers. The dead bandits were traced back to Mrs. Green’s boarding house in El Paso. Mrs. Green’s son, George D. Green, alias Willis, confessed.
On trial in Tucson in January 1888, Willis explained about the first robbery. After the gang disconnected the passenger cars, they rode the train to the outskirts of Tucson, got off, and put the shot up engine in reverse. It had enough steam to get a mile west of Papago station before it stalled. Thus the bandits left no tracks at the train sight. Mystery solved!
When Doc Smart heard he was sentenced to life in prison, he shot himself three times in the head. The soft bullets didn’t penetrate his skull, and his wounds weren’t serious. After three months in Yuma prison, he was moved to the federal prison at Columbus, Ohio. Green spent five years in Yuma prison.
Author’s Note: My thanks to Arizona State Historian, Marshall Trimble, for telling me about his “Bad Dude” relative, Texas outlaw Charlie Small, who was accused of participating in the robberies. Charlie was later killed by a Texas Ranger in Langtry, Texas.