Arivaca Town Founders: Noah W. Bernard and John Bogan

by Mary Kasulaitis

Bogan and Bernard. Those two names were linked together more often than not in the days before the turn of the 20th century in Arivaca valley.

Noah W. Bernard, “Nonie,” as he was called, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on January 4, 1853, the son of Joab and Arabella Bernard. There were ten children in the family, several of whom were to make their mark on frontier Arizona. The family moved to Westport, Missouri where the father became a prosperous merchant. Westport (near Kansas City) was on the eastern end of the Santa Fe Trail. It was there that Epifanio Aguirre, the brother of Pedro, met and married Noah’s older sister, Mary (Mamie) Bernard. The Aguirres set out for Arizona in 1866. But when Epifanio was killed near Sasabe in 1869, Mamie returned to Westport. In 1874 Mamie, her children, and her brother Noah made a permanent move to Arizona, arriving in Tucson. She began teaching in the public schools here while Noah began to establish himself in business. Mamie taught in Arivaca School and may have been the first teacher there.

Noah joined his in-law, Pedro Aguirre, in Arivaca in the fall of 1877 at which time he was 24 years old. As Arivaca was a convenient stage stop on the route to Altar, there was a need to develop businesses to support it. Although Don Pedro helped him get started, Noah was ambitious and was soon doing very well for himself. His store, known as N.W. Bernard and Co., was in the building that is across the street from La Gitana. J.E. Curry became his partner. They carried general merchandise, miners’ supplies, hardware and lumber. He grubstaked many who were prospecting for gold and silver in the Arivaca area, but also filed for his own claims. Most Arivaca residents at that time were in the mining business.

Noah was there in 1877 when the Tucson Weekly Star took a trip out Arivaca way. “On our route (was) the Arivaca Ranch where we were heartily greeted by our old friend N.W. Bernard, who is doing a good business in the merchandising line as well as being good-hearted in proportion to his size, say about six foot eight. . .” (12/20/77) He and John Bogan went into partnership in ranching and other businesses from the mid-1870s until Bogan sold out to Bernard in 1894. Bogan and Bernard was a well-known cattle business, and the two would later become part of the Arivaca Land and Cattle Company, with headquarters where the Arivaca Boys Ranch is now. It was the largest ranch in the area, and the most powerful. The ALCC was the mover behind the attempted acquisition of the Arivaca Land Grant in the late 1800s (which did not happen) and subsequently the Townsite.

One must remember that there was open range in those days, with cattle intermingling and roaming at will until roundup time. What mattered was the amount of cattle you could own and manage and what water you could control. In later years, Noah’s mayordomo was the famous Ramón Ahumada, who became a member of the Cowboy Hall of Fame and whose abilities as a ranch manager were widely known and acclaimed. Ramón was also on the Board of the Arivaca Land and Cattle Company.

On April 10, 1878 the first Post Office was established in Arivaca, with Noah as Postmaster. He went back to Westport and married Amy Price. They had four children: Noah Curry, Ned, William, and Amy. Mrs. Bernard died in 1900. Noah became involved in politics, serving as a Pima County Supervisor and later as the Representative to the Territorial Legislative Assembly from Arivaca in 1895. After he moved to his Tucson house in 1897 he was a representative from Tucson to the 21st and 22nd Legislative Assembly in 1901 and 1903. He was a member of the Legislative Council for Pima and Santa Cruz counties in 1905. He died unexpectedly in 1907 at the age of 54. His son, Noah C. Bernard, also known as Nonie, took over management of the Arivaca ranch until about 1920 when the ranch was sold. There had been familial and financial difficulties. His wife had died in the Flu Epidemic, so he took his little daughter and moved to California.

John W. Bogan, his brother A.E. “Beany” Bogan, and sister-in-law, Phebe Brink Bogan all became well known in Southern Arizona. John was born near Sacramento, California in 1855, and worked on the Southern Pacific for a year or two. Having come from gold rush country, he was ambitious to strike it rich. According to his obituary, “On the first night of his arrival here (in Tucson) he slept in Bill Oury’s horse corral, on about the same spot where he later spent several years as assessor for Pima County. Oury’s corral occupied the present court house site.”

Bogan arrived in Arivaca in 1877 and soon began mining. He was involved with the Yellow Jacket Mine and patented a number of others. He became involved with N.W. Bernard in the cattle business and also other endeavors, both in Arivaca and in Tucson. He built a house in Arivaca on Main Street (next to the Post Office) and one in Tucson.

He married Katherine Stewart, also originally from California, whose father was mining at Olive Camp (Twin Buttes). They had two boys, Ivo and J. Stewart. At the time they were married he was working the Bear Valley Ranch. “The Arizona Daily Star noted, “He is stocking his place rapidly, having bought recently 500 head of stock cattle. Mr. Bogan is on his way to wealth and no one deserves it more.” (3/29/87). When homesteads were being taken up in Arivaca valley, after the settlement of the land grant claim, Bogan attempted to file a Desert Land Entry (320 acres) on a part of the cienaga. Other settlers protested that this land had water year-round and was not really desert. The court agreed with them and disallowed his entry. Two regular homesteads were filed on that parcel of land. Other than that, Bogan did in fact do very well with both mining and ranching, as did his brother, A.E. Bogan. Albinus E. Bogan, known as “Beany,” was involved with the Oro Blanco and Sorrel Top mines, as well as many other business interests. A.E.’s wife, Phebe Brink Bogan, came to Arivaca in 1879 with her father, who was with a mining company. (Her father, a Civil War Veteran, died of malarial fever in 1883 and is buried in Arivaca Cemetery.) Educated at a convent school in Tucson, she returned to teach at Oro Blanco and Arivaca schools. Later she taught Spanish at Tucson High (Fred Noon was in her class) and authored a book on Yaqui Indian Dances.

When John W. Bogan became Pima County Assessor in 1898, the family was living in their house in Tucson. He also served as Pima County Treasurer. Mrs. Bogan was active in the social life of Tucson. John Bogan was disabled with rheumatism in his later years. He passed away July 22, 1928 at the age of 72 and is buried in Tucson.

John W. Bogan was one of the movers and shakers of this area in the late 1800s. As he said in 1900, of the country surrounding Arivaca, “I do not suppose there is a hill, canyon or valley in it that I have not been in.”
*This article is an updated reprint from a previous Connection. Read more about the Arivaca Ranch in the series of that name in the Southern Arizona Connection and the January 2016 article on the Townsite.

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