by Mary Kasulaitis
Long time rancher Donald Honnas passed away this month in Sahuarita, where he and his wife Carolyn had retired after having lived for many years at Arivaca. His positive influence on Arivaca for so many years merits a story, so that he is remembered.
The Honnas family arrived in Arivaca in 1960, when they bought the Las Jarillas Ranch from Homer and Dottie Osborne. The Honnas family’s roots in Arizona go back to the late 1800s when Don’s grandmother Della and stepfather Peter Honnas arrived in the Sonoita area to do some homesteading. They had their own homestead, but also purchased others as they came up for sale by people who couldn’t make a go of it. Don’s father Cecil married Lottie Moore, who had been teaching at the Empire Ranch School in the late 1920s. Lottie’s mother, Nancy Moore, had come to Arizona about the turn of the century. Lottie was raised in Marana, where she was in the first graduating class of the high school there. Lottie and Cecil were serious ranchers who intended to make a go of it no matter what. Cecil sometimes had to work off the ranch while Lottie took care of the horses and cattle. But Lottie was also the mail carrier on the route to Greaterville. Lottie and Cecil had two boys, Ray and Donald.
Don married Carolyn Pine, whose family had been in Southern Arizona for four generations. Her great-grandfather John K. Brown, built the Sahuarita School which was founded by his wife. Carolyn’s step-grandfather, John S. Brown, raised cattle at Sahuarita. Her father, Kenneth Pine was from the Box Canyon area where his mother had property. They were among the first settlers in Santa Cruz County and donated land for the old Empire Ranch school. Carolyn was born in Morenci, but moved to Sonoita at age 4. That was where she grew up and met Don. She has 3 brothers, Mike, Walt and Bruce. The latter lived with them here at Arivaca after their father died.
When Lottie and Cecil decided to retire, they sold their Sonoita ranch, keeping their home there. When Las Jarillas Ranch came up for sale, they decided to buy it. Don and Ray brought their families to live on the ranch. In those days Las Jarillas (or Jarrillas) was about 36 sections of land with a Forest Service grazing lease as well as State land and BLM land. There was 1380 acres of private land. It extended from the Mexican border to Arivaca and from the Tres Bellotas Road to the old Buenos Aires Ranch boundary on the west side of the San Luis Mountains. Ray and his family lived at the Las Jarillas headquarters while Don and Carolyn lived in Arivaca; renting until they could get their house built. In 1962, Ray Honnas left the family business. His half of the ranch with the headquarters was sold to Lawrence and Mary Jones, and now belongs to Tom and Dena Kay.
In 1963 Don and Carolyn built a new house on a hill one mile due west of the town of Arivaca, where they raised their children, Debra, Jackie and Cliff. The kids attended Sopori and Sahuarita schools. All of them helped around the ranch. With this background, Cliff became a veterinarian and was a professor at Texas A&M University, specializing in equine science. (All the emphasis placed on education by their great-grandparents paid off.) Cliff is married to Lori Robinson. The girls also graduated from college, Debra becoming a nurse and Jackie a teacher.
Don and Carolyn are community minded, which they expressed in many ways. Don was on the Sopori School board and Sahuarita School board. Carolyn was an EMT and was involved with other activities like the Homemakers Club. The whole family was involved in church activities. They donated the land on which First Baptist Church is built. If you needed something, they would drop everything to help you, even if it was something like pulling a calf. Don is most proud of the several times that he was able to get people to the doctor in time (before the days of ambulances and helicopters.)
After 40 years in the cattle business, Don and Carolyn decided to retire. Not wanting to see their beautiful property subdivided, they sold part of it to the Chilton Ranch. The headquarters, with its cienaga on Arivaca Creek below the town, they sold to the USFWS’s Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge. That is still known as the Honnas Ranch. Down on the Arivaca creek is an old watering hole, which is still known as Honnas’ pond.
Don’s stories about ranching in Sonoita and Arivaca are now collected in a book, Happenings on the Pocahonnas: a Southern Arizona cattle ranch. Some of the valuable contributions of this book include: details of the cattle business, such as the screw worm eradication program, pulling calves and fencing. He tells what it is really like to live on the border, especially since their home was inadvertently built right on an old smuggler’s trail. Of course, smuggling wasn’t a big business in the 1960s, not like it became later. Don has stories about Arivaca that contribute significantly to the history of the area in the last half of the twentieth century. It’s a little like reading a James Herriot book, with many dog and horse stories, and a few strange neighbor stories as well. Some of his stories that illustrate life in Arivaca are published here and no place else.
Don really understood animals, of all kinds. Here is one of his dog stories (edited): “We got Old Sam fom Chris Clarke… I had always had a liking for hounds and everyone else should have that liking as well. He was a beautiful Black and Tan puppy. Everyone loved Sam for his loving and kissing disposition, his good carefree attitude, his company and his funny capers and especially when he bayed. He actually thought that he was just as good as any of the other dogs but never any better. If another dog or person got mad at him, he wondered why. He would kiss a dog in the mouth and then go kiss Jackie or Cliff on the mouth, if he could get away with it, and often times he did…When he grew up he was a big dog…Old Sam also thought he was a cow dog and I told him he was not, a good many times. When we were driving cattle he was another one of those dogs that was either in the way, way behind, right in the middle, out in the front of, or another other place he shouldn’t be. Also, when driving cattle he would stay way behind and let out a bay about once a minute. When he bayed at the cattle he always kept himself far enough away to make a good clean getaway. He thought he was helping and really enjoyed that. Other times when you were trying to corral a bunch of cattle he would be either standing, sitting or lying in the middle of the gateway or the watering trough. I would say some choice words to him and he would just stay there looking bored like, ‘I wonder what we are going to do next.’ He had already beaten us into the corral-watering trough to cool off. He really could mess up while going with you working cattle, but he didn’t really mean to. As he got older, he got fatter and slower, but to him he was just as important as any dog or human and he fit right in.” p. 74-75.
Don’s book is available at the Arivaca Library, just ask the Librarian.
by Mary Kasulaitis
Most of us are familiar with the heyday of Ruby in the 30s, when there were tents all over the hills, four roomfuls of children at the School and the regular shift changes at the mine. Back in the 19th century, Ruby was originally known as Montana Camp. The mine may have been named for the Spanish word for mountain, but probably it was named for the state of Montana. In the Lower Country there were mines named for California, Idaho, Wyoming, Vermont, Utah, Virginia, New York, Indiana and Alaska.
The area around the Montana Mine had shown promise for mining as early as the 1870s, during which time it produced gold and silver ore from near the surface. Eventually it became clear that lead and zinc would be its primary production, with copper on the side. In the early 1890s, George W. Cheyney, along with some other investors, bought the Montana Mine and set out to develop it.
George W. Cheyney, b. 1854, was a native of Philadelphia and the son of a businessman of that city. In the 1870s his father had become interested in mining in Arizona. George himself came to Tombstone in 1881, after some years of puttering around the country, and became superintendent of the Tombstone Mill and Mining Company. He married Annie Neal of Atchison, Kansas, and they had six children: one of whom, Mary Neal, later married Noah C. “Nonie” Bernard of Arivaca. Early in life, George expressed an interest in politics, and was Superintendent of Public Instruction in Arizona by 1890. Moving his family to Tucson in the early 1890s, George continued his mining interests, expending a considerable amount of energy on the Montana Mine in those years. He was appointed Postmaster of Tucson in 1898 and held that position for four years. In 1902 he was elected Probate Judge in Pima County, but acquired dropsy (edema or fluid retention) and passed away in August 1903 at the early age of 48. He did not live to see his daughter Mary Neal Cheyney Bernard pass away during the 1918 flu epidemic.
George W. Cheyney began his mining interests in the Oro Blanco country while the family still lived in Tombstone and began development of the Montana Mine in 1892. John Bogan (of the Arivaca Ranch) had made a strike there in 1891. Cheyney and his company were responsible for the little boom that ran through those hills in the 1890s. This included some Philadelphia backers. J. Knox Corbett and Louis Zeckendorf (uncle of Albert Steinfeld, long time merchant) of Tucson were also involved in the development of the Montana Mine and Camp. They had mining interests all over the state.
Bogan may have built a small mill for processing gold and silver ore in the early 90s, but Cheyney was responsible for the development of a larger operation. Cheyney determined that they needed more water for the mill. By March of 1894 they had built a dam and were waiting for rain. Before that they would have to siphon water from the creek to the well. In August 1895 they also put in a 20,000 gallon tank for water, since rains were late in coming and they were beginning to be worried.
The road to Nogales had to be improved and by December 1894 there were fifty men at work on the Nogales-Oro Blanco road. It was finished by August of 1895. Roberts and Broderick owned the Oro Blanco Stage Line which ran from Oro Blanco to Nogales, stopping at Montana Camp and Old Glory, three days a week with returns on alternate days.
A store at Montana Camp was being run, not very successfully, by J.B. “Pie” Allen. A.C. Bernard (brother of Noah Bernard) was the next manager, and he fell to the same fate. Cheyney suggested to J.S. Andrews that he purchase it, which he did in 1895. Andrews ran the store for seventeen years and as Postmaster was responsible for renaming the town Ruby.
Cheyney had the mill going by March of 1895. It had five stamps, with immediate plans for five more. On August 24, when they started up the mill, the engine blew up and caused considerable damage. This was repaired in short order, and large shipments of concentrates were soon being sent to the El Paso smelter for processing. Cheyney decided that he would experiment on the tailings, which carried considerable value, and erected a small cyanide plant in early 1896. He planned to double the work force, but apparently he began to have trouble. One of the principal owners from Philadelphia passed away, and with him some of the monetary support. The price of silver was dropping and the Montana Mine had not yet begun to produce in great amounts the lead and zinc for which it would become famous. It appears that Cheyney had to let it go, but not before he had paved the way for future development by improving the road and water sources and in general, putting the Montana Mine on the map. Louis Zeckendorf kept an interest and patented the Montana Mine in 1907.
George W. didn’t live to see the beautiful home his wife Annie had built in Tucson in 1905. For years it had been an eyesore in that pretty part of town known as Snob Hollow, but Gerald and Emma Talen purchased the mission revival style home at 252 N. Main and sunk a lot of money into its restoration. It is now beautiful. Annie Neal Cheyney, who passed away in 1947, would be happy to see its renovation.
References: Chapman’s Biography, numerous articles from the Arizona Daily Star and Nogales Oasis, Fred Noon’s files, Univ. of AZ mining bulletins, biography of J.S. Andrews
by Mary Kasulaitis
In the first half of the 20th century the Clarke Ranch, now known as the Montana Ranch and owned by the USFWS, anchored the headwaters of Arivaca valley. Phil and Gipsy Clarke were true pioneers who left home and family and came to Arivaca at a young age, where they met, married and established themselves with a homestead, ranch and store.
Phil Clarke was born in Ireland in 1888. He came to Arivaca in 1906 at the age of 19, looking for work on the Bernard Ranch. In an autobiography written in 1938 he remembered: “When I arrived at Arivaca I was not very much impressed. We pulled up in front of the P.O. I stood there with my big cardboard suitcase and it seemed like thirty or forty Mexicans, who were sitting in front of the store staring at me, had a good time laughing at the newly arrived tenderfoot. There were buckboards, pack burros, horses tied up to the hitching post all from outlying mining camps and ranches, that had come to town for the mail and supplies from the store—after the stage left I introduced myself to Les Farrell, the store keeper and assistant postmaster and told him I came out to get a job on a ranch…He asked all about me, why I came away out there, away from the beaten path, like h e suspected I might be hiding out from the law.
While I was talking to him a new rancher in the country by the name of (Bill) Earle came in and told me I could stay with him until I could get settled. So I got in his buckboard and went to his ranch about two miles below Arivaca. It was the old Kellner Ranch…While at this ranch I got acquainted with Dr. J.H. Ball—his farm was just south of the Kellner place. Dr. Ball was a highly educated man, spoke several languages and stressed the necessity of learning Spanish if I intended to stay in this country. He told me all about the surrounding country, the mines and the ranches, where they were located, who owned them. I worked for him during the hay harvest time, running the hay bailer, hauling the bailed hay. All the rest of the hands were Mexicans and I was learning Spanish from them very fast. After the harvest was over I went back to Arivaca to see Nonie Bernard, but he had not been out and Farrell did not seem to know when he could come, but he had some odd jobs I might do if I wanted to wait for him. I took this opportunity, put a new floor in the schoolhouse, fixed the shingles on the old hotel. I got two dollars a day for this which was 50 cents more a day than I earned with Dr. Ball.
There was considerable mining activity going on in the district. The old Cerro Colorado was working a lot of men. The Oceanic in the San Luis country, the Guijas in charge of a Mr. Bradley, the Yellow Jacket in charge of a Correy from Philadelphia, the Con Arizona whose mill was just below the Dr. Ball farm, was about to close down. In addition to these mines that were actually working, there was a lot of prospecting going on and all the camps in the Oro Blanco district were working lots of men. There was a good size store at Oro Blanco run by Charles O. Foltz, the Warsaw, Old Glory and the Austerlitz mines owned by Dr. Noon were operating.
The country was covered with a heavy growth of gramma grass and in the mountains was a dense growth of oak, white and Jack oak, and it seemed like there was running water everywhere. Farrell loaned me his horse and saddle and when I wasn’t working on odd jobs for him I rode as far as I could. I could speak a little Spanish and I visited the Bernard ranch. There I got acquainted with the foreman, Ramon Ahumada who, with his silver plated headstall, saddle all silver inlaid and beautiful horses, really fascinated me…This Arivaca was considered one of the largest ranches in this section. The whole country was wide open. The only fences were those around the homesteads of the various ranchers. It was the days of the open range, before statehood and the coming of the Forest reserve which was to be created in 1907, and after Arizona became a state in 1912 there came the state land that was reserved under the Enabling Act and the ranchers got busy and leased as much of this land at 3 cents per acre per year as they could, and that’s when the days of the open range in Arizona ended.
While I was enjoying myself getting acquainted with the people I still had no steady work. I remember debating on several occasions of going on to Los Angeles, but everyone told me when Nonie came out they were sure he would give me some kind of steady work. When Nonie finally came out and I asked him if he could put me to work, he said he would leave it up to Ramon. Nonie was homesteading at the Cienaga. He built a tow room shack and barn and established residence there in order to comply with homestead requirements and I lived with him at the Cienaga. (near the city well) After finishing building he paid me $1.50 a day and board which was very good for those days and then gave me a steady job as horse wrangler…”
Taken from a copy of the autobiography of Phil M. Clarke, courtesy of the late Virginia Clarke Cooper, Phil’s eldest daughter.
Gipsy Harper Clarke
In 1910 Gipsy Harper arrived in Arizona to teach school. A native of Texas, she had gone to Los Angeles to find work and had been recruited by Nonie Bernard, the owner of the Arivaca Ranch. After arriving by train in Tucson, she quickly took the required state examinations and was rewarded with an official certificate. A stage coach brought her to Arivaca, and the first person she met upon her arrival was a young man about her age, named Phil Clarke.
Arivaca was a company town in 1910, and the owner was the Arivaca Land and Cattle Company. Phil Clarke had hired on with them in 1907 and by 1910 they had him managing the store and holding the offices of Postmaster, Justice of the Peace and School Trustee. He was surprised to see Gipsy, for he thought he was responsible for hiring the teacher. Since she was there already, he took it upon himself to find her a boarding house and help her get acquainted. We know what went on that first week from stories she wrote later. The following is her own account of one of the first conversations she had with Phil:
“‘Mr. Clarke, have you notified the children that school is to open Monday?’
‘They’ll know when they see the school door open if they don’t know from you bein’ here.’
He unlocked the school door and pushed it open and I looked at what was to be my domain for the next… …eight months.
There wasn’t a thing in that school but filthy, ink-stained, hand whittled desks, a huge rusty iron stove without a pipe, and the teacher’s table and a bell. Not a map, nor a chart, nor a globe. Even the black-board erasers, if there had ever been any, had been carried away.
‘Where is the equipment?’
‘How d’you mean–equipment?’
‘Does the territory furnish books, paper and pencils?’
‘What’re you talkin’ about? It pays the teacher. Ain’t that enough?’
‘Do you mean to tell me there won’t even be books? Do the children buy them for themselves?’
‘Of course they don’t.’
‘Perhaps if you’d order them and put them in the sote, some of the more ambitious parents would pay for them.’
‘Look here, I’ve got that whole Cattle Company and every person for twenty miles around telling me what to order for that store; I’m not going to have you tellin’ me to start a book store!'”
But Gipsy was a self confident person, and after taking a few days to get settled, she began her first school:
“First day of school I awoke with a thrill. Outside my window Biejo was carrying out beer bottles and humming ‘La Golondrina.’ Across the patio sunlight fell on the adobe wall and a guinea hen chattered noisily.
After breakfast Rita gave me a sack of rags, some washing soap and a broom to take to school. I wore a dark linen dress and carried a red checked gingham bungalow apron with long sleeves. Bungalow aprons buttoned down the back and completely covered the dress.
All the children came to school that first morning. Uncle Beanie (Bogan) had rounded up sixty-five of them. I rang the bell and wrote the names and ages in my register with the help of Anita, an older girl who spoke good English. Then we went to work. The boys got the water. There was no well, all of the water of the village being hauled by a barrel and burro from the creek or from a well a mile up the valley. I had learned the word ‘agua’ and when I spoke it, off the boys went. We scrubbed walls, windows, blackboards, desks and the floor. The boys raked the yard and piled the rocks on the arroyo bank. At noon I sent a note to Phil asking for chalk, paper and pencils and charged it to myself. The ones he promised had not arrived.
Probably a dozen children had some kind of a book and some had tablets and pencils. I had Anita tell them to ask their parents if they would buy books, and I gave each of them a slip with his requirements, after classifying them the best I could.
Many of them were acting when they pretended not to understand, for they had had good teachers and so had their parents before them. Uncle Beanie’s wife (Phebe Bogan), the finest teacher ever, had taught them.
I wrote the multiplication tables and a long list of words for spelling on one side board. After they were learned I covered the board with a sheet I had borrowed and had the children recite them. On another board I printed the reading lesson for the beginners. I passed paper and pencils to all, and when the work was finished I had every pencil collected. Then there was the singing lesson. We had fun over that. I wrote one verse of ‘America’ on the board, but as few could read it all, they memorized the words from my singing rather from the board.
That afternoon being mail day, I sent an order to Tucson for thirty readers–first, second, and third–and charged them to myself. I selected the art readers we had used as supplementary readers back home. They were expensive, but I thought the children would enjoy them. I hoped many would buy the regular books that were required on the course of study. Also I ordered crayolas and drawing paper for every child.
While I taught one section, the others had recess. Of course they made a terrific noise, threw rocks at the school and broke several windows, which made it necessary for me to keep them after school and discover who did it. All faces were blank and tongues dumb. Cipriano’s eyes were downcast. He must be the culprit. I wrote a letter to his father, saying that until Cipriano brought three dollars he could not return to school.
That night I took it up with Mr. Clarke. He laughed when I told him about the note I sent Cipriano’s father. The man was a cowboy and Cipriano made money hauling water and chopping wood, but why should he pay for windows? Why didn’t I whip him? That was my duty, controlling those boys. Why did I send them out without anybody over them if I didn’t expect something like that to happen.”
As it turns out, Cipriano does bring the three dollars and Gipsy stays on at Arivaca school. After three short months, she and Phil Clarke are married and set up housekeeping in the large house across the street from the store.
The mural by C Hues at the Arivaca Schoolhouse portrays Gipsy H. Clarke, teaching.
Thanks to Chris Clarke, Gipsy’s grandson, for her stories
by Mary Kasulaitis
We’ve heard this before and we’ll hear it again. Cattle being slaughtered by the thousands to prevent the spread of hoof and mouth disease. Scientifically known as aftosa, it is also commonly called foot and mouth disease. All animals with cloven hoofs are susceptible: cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer. Hoof and mouth disease does not hurt the meat of the infected animals and it does not affect humans. The illness produces a fever and blisters and lesions on the feet (between the toes) and in the mouth. Females may abort or develop chronic mastitis, thus both the meat and dairy industries are affected. There are several types and subtypes of the virus, each of which would require a different vaccine, thus making it difficult to control. Frequent revaccination is also necessary. Animals can recover, but while the disease runs its course the animals are miserable and weight loss occur since the animals don’t want to eat. The active symptoms, which includes lameness, may last a month. The mortality rate for young animals is high, but lower for adult animals. Therein lies the issue: to livestock and milk producers this disease can be devastating. It’s all about international economics. Originally surfacing in Europe two hundred years ago, the disease spread to Latin America where it still resides. A devastating outbreak of the virus started in England in February, 2001, and spread to France. Who knows how it got to England?
Aftosa is probably the most infectious illness in the world, and can be spread on the soles of shoes, by hand, car tires, and by the wind over distances as much as 40 miles. Imagine an international traveler, staying at a cute B & B on a farm in England, walking around the barn, hiking through the fields, and then coming home to his ranch in Southern Arizona without disinfecting his shoes. When we visited Scotland in 1999, the sign at U.S. Customs said anyone who visited an agricultural area in a foreign country should walk through a disinfecting agent to clean their shoes. But we didn’t have to, they said, so we didn’t. However, after a trip to Ireland in 2014 where we visited a farm, we spent time waiting for the Agricultural officer at the airport to check our shoes, and came close to missing the flight home. If aftosa had been incognito on that farm, we could have brought it home. And what about the shoes we had in our suitcases? No disinfecting there. This doesn’t seem to be an effective deterrent to halting the spread of a disease that has caused the deaths of millions of animals worldwide over the years.
One of the significant outbreaks of aftosa in the United States happened in California and Texas from February through July of 1924 with such repercussions that ever after measures were taken to protect the country from this disease. Governor Hunt of Arizona took steps to protect the state and banned the importation of all animals and any kind of food. That included dogs and cats. Ruthless enforcement by inspectors at the quarantine stations on the California border caused such a backup of travelers that an angry crowd tried to storm the bridge over the river at Yuma. The Fire Dept responded by dousing them with Colorado River water, which effectively turned them back. Another outbreak happened in Texas in that same year. Several influential ranchers had herds that had to be destroyed, so when hoof and mouth disease surfaced in Central Mexico in 1946, the U.S. government took drastic measures to prevent its spread to this country, and were successful.
Slaughtering the afflicted animals is the only known way of containing the disease, and since the Mexican government was not able to handle the outbreak by itself, the U.S. government decided to put up the money. A joint Mexican-American commission was set up in January, 1947. The U.S. would support enforcement and pay each and every owner for the cattle that had to be destroyed. Mexico would pay for the other kinds of animals. Kel M. Fox recounted an unforeseen complication: In those days, oxen were used by many of the small farmers. The U.S. provided mules (unaffected by the disease) to replace them, but in the meantime, thousands of small farmers with no income came to the U.S. looking for work. When the mules arrived, it appears that they walked too fast and tended to break the wooden plows that the farmers used. This meant the U.S. government had to provide steel plows. And so on…
The program consisted of a number of teams that went out into the Mexican countryside and looked for animals. The team would include an American Inspector, a Mexican Inspector, perhaps a veterinarian and soldiers to back them up. Jim Kelso, a resident of Arivaca back in the 1920s, remembered his days as an Inspector: they would go out into the small villages and look at the cattle, pigs and sheep. If they looked healthy, the team would vaccinate. If the animals had the disease, they were taken out, shot (this is known as the sanitary rifle), and burned with the remains buried in a pit. Needless to say, the farmers were not happy, but they were repaid. (As if that matters when the animal is like part of your family.) Jim remembered a woman who had a large sow. On the first visit, she refused to let the Inspectors come in, fearing the worst, so the soldiers had be called. The sow, which was hugely pregnant, had no sign of the disease, so she was vaccinated. Some time later, they returned to reinspect and were warmly greeted at the door by the woman. “Come in, come in!” she said. “Please vaccinate my pig again!” It turns out the pig had had twelve piglets. (It had never had more than two before.)
Other inspectors were not so fortunate. As the farmers across Mexico began to realize the ramifications of this governmental action, they began to resist. Mobs sometimes greeted the Inspectors and in one case, the whole team, including a large number of soldiers, was killed by angry campesinos. Another incident involved a young man from a local Southern Arizona ranch family. Robert Proctor took a year off from college to go to Mexico to work as an Inspector in 1948. As told by his brother, George (who had also been an inspector), he had been there almost a year and was about to return to the U.S. when he was sent to a small town along with a Mexican inspector, three soldiers and a guide. A mob of several hundred men and women appeared and attacked with stones and clubs. Robert attempted to get away but was beaten to death and his body buried. Later, his body was recovered and returned to his family in Arizona. George believes that this incident could have been predicted by the authorities and prevented, but for political reasons, no one was held accountable in Robert’s death. After that, a call for protection of American inspectors was raised.
It took four years, but the aftosa outbreak in Mexico was finally stemmed by the program. Procedures to maintain the health of livestock include separation of imported livestock. Line riders were hired to patrol the (frequently unfenced) Mexican border, even though the outbreak was two hundred and fifty miles south of here. One of those was Don Matheson, who lived in Arivaca, Ruby, Tres Bellotas and Sasabe during his tenure as a line rider. His job was to prevent the transportation across the international boundary of cattle that had not been quarantined for the allotted period to determine if they did or did not have the disease. He would ride the steep hills along the border between Sasabe and Bear Valley, looking for sign of cattle movement. You can imagine the difficulties. Better (?) fences were also constructed during this period. This is also just one of the U.S-Mexican issues that have formed the relationship between the two countries, and one that should not be forgotten by people on this side of the line.
As we have seen, hoof and mouth disease has not gone the way of smallpox. It is one of those elusive diseases that seem to get around all attempts at eradication. Keeping it at bay is a matter of constant vigilance. Perhaps that will be what happens with Covid19. At this point, who can say?
Manuel A. Machado, Jr. Aftosa: a historical survey of foot-and-mouth disease and inter-American relations.
Kel M. Fox, “Aftosa: the campaign against foot-and-mouth disease in Mexico, 1946-51,” The Journal of Arizona History, Spring, 1997, p. 23.
George Proctor, “An American tragedy in Mexico: the death of Robert Proctor,” The Journal of Arizona History, vol. 38, no. 4, p. 395.
Margaret Maxwell, “’It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it:’ Arizona’s little war of ‘24”
Thanks to Dr. Ted Noon and Don Matheson.
For more information on aftosa see this web page: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/2013/fs_fmd_general.pdf
by Mary Kasulaitis
What does it take to move to a new land, settle down, and make a success of your life? Especially when you are a middle-aged, sometime single mother from Mexico, the new land is Arizona Territory, and the year is 1886? Teresa Celaya had what it took.
Doña Teresa Celaya (later Bustamante) was from Saric, Sonora, just sixty miles below the border on the Tres Bellotas Road. She came to live in Arivaca in the 1880s because it was an up-and-coming mining camp with ranches just getting started. Things looked promising and perhaps back in Saric they weren’t. As they said, “Teresa was a businesswoman.” It is rumored that she was a “dance hall lady” back in the old days and that she had part of her ear cut off to mark her as a lady of the night. She is always pictured wearing a rebozo, but then, that was common in those days.
By 1890 Teresa owned the building just west of what is now La Gitana Saloon. Now it is a ruin, but at that time it had four rooms that faced the Arivaca Plaza or Main Street and rooms running along the west side also, with a walled area in the middle. Who built this building is not known: it may have been Teresa, but it may have been old already. Teresa had a saloon in the easternmost room, lived in some of the rooms, and rented out other rooms. Over the years, a barbershop run by José Membrila, a shoe repair business owned by George Clark, and a store run by the Gallegos family were two of the businesses. Even into the 1950s that building was roofed and plastered. Then in the early 1900s she built a dance hall next door, which now houses the La Gitana saloon. By the time she died, she also owned the building across the street, which became Double L Feeds, and more recently owned by the late Laurence Smets.
Teresa was the mainstay of Arivaca for at least forty years, when the town was like a little Mexican village and everyone, Hispanic or not, spoke Spanish. Frank Krupp, Sr. of Nogales, remembered her as: “the Lady Bountiful and the friend in need of rich and poor alike throughout the area. She was the first visiting nurse service, helped to attend the sick and bury the dead, and acted as friend and midwife to many a woman far from real medical aid…She ran the cantina and in that capacity was her own bouncer, and an effective one.” Gipsy Harper Clarke remembered staying at Teresa’s place when she first arrived to teach at the Arivaca School. Armando Membrila remembered a strong personality, a funny lady, who kept stray children in line with a cane, while she smoked cigarettes. She would get the little girls to dance while she sang. Her little dog, Pipo, was very protective. Doña Teresa lived in Arivaca until her death in 1937 at the age of 102. In 2004, her descendants returned to Arivaca with good memories of their tenacious great-grandmother.
It is possible that the old Catholic chapel, El Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, was built at Teresa’s behest, when priests from Nogales came to promote the building of churches in the early 1900s. The best picture that exists, taken in 1916 by the cavalry photographer, was donated to the Arizona Historical Society by her family.
Teresa had several children, pictured here in about 1895. One daughter (top right), Carmen Zepeda, went on to become well known in her own right. Carmen Zepeda was a beautiful, accomplished and very independent woman. Born in Saric in 1874, Carmen came to Arivaca with her mother and helped her with the rentals. Fred Noon remembered her as one of the first women to drive a Model T Ford, all alone, a big accomplishment given the frequency of tire repairs. Carmen was briefly married to Charlie Wilbur (uncle of Eva). About the time of World War I, Carmen opened a one-room store near the Tumacacori Mission on the Nogales road. At that time “practically in the middle of nowhere,” the store sold everything from toothbrushes to salt licks, pinto beans and everything else. As time went on, she added more rooms, cabins and a filling station. Soon the area was being known as Carmen, as it is to this day. She retired at the age of 83, and passed away at the age of 93 in 1968. Both Carmen and Teresa are buried in Arivaca cemetery.
References: Fred Noon notes, remembrances of Armando Membrila, Nogales and Tucson newspaper articles, Pima County records, and information donated to the Arizona Historical Society by the family of Teresa’s daughter, Dolores Bustamante Landeros (the little girl in the photo). This is a reprinted article.
by Mary Kasulaitis
In recent weeks, a lot has been said about Marian Mikesell, (especially by her good friend Sheila). The sign on the Arivaca Farmers’ Market has been redone, in memory of Marian, who inspired its creation. But in this day (weeks, months) of Covid19, maybe there is no better person to remember, in terms of what she did for the Arivaca Community. An inspiration for us all. When you see something that needs to be done, do it! Most of this article comes from her obituary in the October 2010 issue of the Connection, shortly after her death at the age of 89.
Everyone must have their favorite memory of Marian Mikesell…there’s not room in this issue for all the stories we (old timers) have about her, so hold those thoughts as we just touch on a few things about her life. Then you can tell those tales around the campfire from now on!
Marian* was born in Grosse Point Park, Michigan on 11-21-1920, one of three girls born to Helen Bourne Joy Lee (the daughter of Henry B. Joy, once head of Packard Motor Company and granddaughter of James Joy, President of Michigan Central Railroad, and on mother’s side, the great granddaughter of Michigan Congressman John Newberry) and Howard Baker Lee, an amateur golfer. Always active in the Daughters of the American Revolution and other civic organizations, Helen had a strong personality. She divorced Howard over his golf game and she and the girls moved to New York, where Marian had her schooling, and then to Rhode Island. That was where Marian survived a hurricane that came up the Westerly River, about which she wrote a story. Then she married and moved to Tucson in 1947 where her husband was stationed at Davis Monthan. She raised her five children in Tucson: Helen, Linda, John, Henry and Jimmy, where she was involved in DAR and the Arizona Society of Mayflower Descendants. She had all kinds of documents on her ancestry. She loved being outside in the natural world, farming and gardening. She became seriously involved with raising pigeons, chickens and turkeys and worked in the Pima County Fair’s poultry division. (Later in Arivaca when she had a flock, she had a few people come over to help her kill 52 chickens! Once they were cleaned and plucked, an all-day job, she distributed them to whoever wanted them!)
With her powerful heritage, Marian was always an independent person, so in 1959 she got a divorce. In the late 60s she took the children and drove to Alaska, when there weren’t good roads; in the days when you had to take extra car parts with you and know how to use them. This trip was one of the highlights of her life. She always loved traveling–there was an early trip to Russia with her Grandma, but later she made trips to Greece and Australia with her daughters. On a trip to Zimbabwe, she, characteristically, took off on her own. She had a rebellious streak. Marian was one of those self-sufficient, pioneering types that needs to put down roots in her own land.
So, when the 40s came up for sale in the early 1970s, Marian bought a prime piece of Arivaca Creek bottom land for her farm, originally in partnership with John Arnold and David Simms. Soon she was going it alone. She raised Angus cattle, chickens, geese, and had a big flower garden. Ed Wallen built her house, but for the most part Marian did her own work, using a tractor and other equipment, and at the age of 89 had refurbished a walk-in cooler for meat. Her son Jimmy lived there too and grew bananas in his 3 greenhouses.
Right off the bat, she got involved in the Arivaca community. Back in 1981, she made the very generous donation that enabled the Arivaca Clinic to have its own building and probably enabled it to exist. She remained on the Board of AAHS for many years. She was involved with the Arivaca Homemakers (later AFCE) helping to maintain the Old School. She saw the need for a preschool and built a ramada for the young mothers to use as a play and teaching area.
Marian also gave money to whoever she thought needed it. Innumerable unmentioned people were helped by her. One time, however, it backfired. She donated trip money (not a small amount) to a young man who claimed to have a sick son in California. When he returned and was lounging at La Gitana, she asked him how his son was. What son? he asked, forgetting who she was. Marian went out to her truck and retrieved a pair of scissors. Soon his pride and joy of a long blond ponytail was lying on the floor! Don’t mess with Marian.
Wherever you looked, Marian was involved, especially if it had to do with landscaping, such as at the Clinic or Community Center. Throughout her long life, Marian kept busy, sewing, doing crafts, being supportive of her community, giving people jobs working on her place. She survived lung cancer and numerous bouts with pneumonia until it finally took her. We miss her STRONG quirky personality, her opinions about how things should be done (whacking bushes at the Community Center, ripping my favorite vines out of the Library courtyard!) what to do with morning glories (she hated them), her runaway cows that could low-crawl under any fence, her eggs, her guardian geese, her devotion to the DAR, her hats, her antiques, her pugs, the Sunday morning trips to the Coffee Shop to get the paper and her favorite latte. Toward the end of her life she commented, You know when you get old, you can go to parties and eat all the cake you want!
So, in this centennial year of her life, be like Marian, grow your own food, be a do-it-yourself-er, spend your money judiciously, travel (if you can), help people, notice what needs to be done, and cultivate a community spirit, but don’t lose your own!
* Marian’s name is spelled Marian.
by Mary Kasulaitis
It has something for everyone, our Merc. At least, that’s the goal of the current owners, Mary and Roger Beal and Andrea Morondos. The Merc provides affordable food, produce, meat, fresh bread and pastries, as well as hardware supplies and unique items which you may expect to find in a country grocery store. A Mercantile is supposed to be able to provide everything the community needs, not just groceries. They try to satisfy a clientele that includes large families and single folks, country-types, city-types, people on food stamps and those with gourmet tastes, as well as hunters, tourists, vegetarians, and those who need pesticide-free food. Not an easy task, and a long ways from the fresh beef, beans, coffee and flour that were all the Mercantile once provided.
There has been a store in Arivaca since at least the early 1870s, when Pedro Aguirre made Arivaca a stage stop. Noah W. Bernard, his nephew by marriage, came here in 1877 and became the storekeeper and Postmaster. The town grew and Nonie grew with it. He prospected for mines and established a ranch in partnership with John Bogan. He built a store, in which he sold the beef he raised and became wealthy on the two enterprises. We don’t know exactly when he built his store but it appears in a 1907 photograph taken by Mrs. Leslie Farrell, with Les in the doorway. This building is now Jack Baker’s Double L Feeds. One of the better-known storekeepers was Phil Clarke, who came here in 1906, hired on at the store, learned the trade and then opened his own store at Ruby. The storekeeper usually served as the Postmaster also.
In 1912, Noah was dead, but his ranch was doing well. The Arivaca Land and Cattle Company, made up of his son, Noah C. Bernard, John Bogan, George Pusch, Ramon Ahumada and other partners, was the major ranch in the Arivaca Valley. They decided to build a new store building, east of the older store, on the current location of the Mercantile. In those days, Arivaca was almost a company town and most of the folks in the town worked for the Arivaca Ranch. There were other ranches and plenty of mines, but there was also competition down the road with stores at Oro Blanco and Ruby, besides at the smaller mining camps like the Warsaw, Old Oro Blanco, and Old Glory. In 1916, the Arivaca Land and Cattle Company applied for a federal patent for the town of Arivaca, but the quarter of a quarter section on which the new store sat was (is) not in the townsite, but on the ranch property, despite appearances to the contrary.
From then on, the store kept on doing business and stayed in the hands of the Arivaca ranch owners. Armando Membrila remembered that Cecil Burg and his mom and uncle Ira clerked in the general store there for awhile in the late 20s. He thought it was before the Boices took over because when they took over they brought Herb Mills and his family in. The last one Armando remembered before they left Arivaca was a man named Mr. Poe and his son Alton. He also remembered, “There was a guy from Nogales, he was a Mexican fellow–he did the bookkeeping–a young guy. He couldn’t speak English very well. The general store had two gas pumps with tanks up high and the Gitana bar had one gas pump.”
When the Boice family came here in 1931, the store came with the ranch. A number of folks worked for them as storekeeper, including Bob Grantham, who met Katherine Noon there at the store in 1936. Ernesto Salazar worked here for a number of years in the early 1940s and then moved to Sasabe where he operated a store. Later he and his wife, Flora, opened the Rancher’s Mercantile at Amado. Eva Gonzalez Grimm worked in the post office for awhile when Ernesto had the store.
In 1947 the Boices sold the store to Melvin Hoefle and his wife Minerva. Melvin owned a sheet metal business in Tucson, but had been convinced that Arivaca was an up and coming place in 1947, potentially even an artists’ colony. He and some partners, Edwin Kreitemeyer and his wife Irene, along with Richard Chambers of Tucson planned a Club here, known and actually incorporated in 1947 as the Arivaca Community and Country Club. They renovated the house across the street from the store (now Casino Rural/Helping Hearts), which was included in the sale, and turned it into a club building and gambling house. Its large front rooms and high ceilings seemed more like public rooms, as indeed they had been when that building was a hotel in its earlier days. Eva Grimm remembered going to a dance there. Krietemeyer and his wife worked at the store and Irene was Postmaster. Mr. Krietemeyer came to a sad end when he drank some Clorox. Irene tried to stay on, but after a few months she moved away. After that, Gene Casey was the storekeeper and Postmaster for a while, leasing the store until 1951 when Mr. Hoefle sold the store.
The next owners were Sally and Fred McGinn, who came to Arizona for his health and thought the Arivaca store would be a good investment. Fred wanted to live in the country. They had five children and lived in the building across the street from the Mercantile where they also had Church of Christ services. In those days there was no indoor plumbing. Sally remembers the mirrored bar in the front room that still remained after the exodus of the Hoefles. The McGinns moved to Colorado after only three years here, but their oldest son, Fred, fondly remembers his childhood here with its burros and piñatas, cowboys and horses.
Tony Prevor and Marge and Fred Schwanderlik had come to Tucson from Illinois after World War II for Margie’s health. They’d never had a store before they owned Mexico Way, which was on the Old Nogales Highway. Arivacans like Helen Brouse often stopped by to gas up on the way home. Helen invited them to come down to a dance at Arivaca, and so they did. Margie loved Arivaca right away, and they thought for a while that they might buy La Gitana from the Brouses. That fell through, but about that time the McGinns put the Arivaca Mercantile up for sale. Margie, Fred, and Tony bought it in partnership in 1954. The house was included.
Tony remembered: “The store was quite old fashioned in those days with high shelves in the main room, accessed by a rolling ladder. The other room was devoted to saddles and harnesses, which dated back to who-knows-when. There were even buggy whips! There was no electricity and the iceboxes were run with big butane generators.” They sold a little of everything that people might need: food, hardware, paint, clothing, stationary, dishes, jewelry and even religious goods, but they got rid of the tack. Because of the dirt road to town, people were more inclined to buy things here. In those days the storekeeper was also the Postmaster, and Margie was so appointed. She took that very seriously and even attended Postal conventions.
On January 31, 1956, in the early morning hours, the store (with Post Office) burned down. No one ever determined the actual cause, but it was a crisis at the time. Without missing a beat, they opened the store and Post Office in the front room of Marge’s house across the street. By that same evening, Tony had brought shelves and groceries from Mexico Way. Fred Noon and Gene Casey had retrieved the old Post Office boxes from the abandoned store at Ruby and installed them in Marge’s house. Life went on as usual for the rest of us. Hard work went into the restoration of the store, and Tony rebuilt it, with the help of Joe Pianka and Bill Campas, much as it appears today. All that remains of the old building is one interior wall.
Marge and Fred were divorced in 1956 and Margie kept the Arivaca property. They changed the name of the store to Marge’s Arivaca Mercantile. She and Tony Prevor were married in 1967. Marge’s brother Bill Poznecki with his wife Helen bought the store from the Prevors in 1972 and built the house next door to the east. Their daughter Joan and her husband Bill Anderson ran the store until 1979 when the Minards arrived in town.
Darrell and DeYette Minard were looking for a place to be self-sufficient. They had been living in Payson but it was too cold and rocky, in Darrell’s opinion, for a good garden. One night, DeYette had a dream about a bell ringing. On a map, she saw the shape of a bell, and it seemed to her that Arivaca was where the clapper would be. They took this as a good sign and came down to see what was available in “Arivaca Lakes Estates.” Lakes not withstanding, Darrell decided this would be a good place where his family could be together and he could do some truck farming. At the same time, daughters Andrea Morondos and Mary Beal and their husbands Oly Morondos and Roger Beal were looking for a change in their lives. Things seemed to fall into place. The store was for sale, but the post office was separate by this time. Owning the store would provide a built-in job for several family members. So they all moved here and Andrea and Mary and Mary’s husband Roger Beal began a partnership that has lasted 40 years. (Oly has his own landscaping business) They weren’t storekeepers when they came, although Mary did have a marketing degree. Everybody did have certain expertise that allowed them to work together toward the common goal, that of making the Mercantile into the best store it could be in this place, and also provide an income for themselves. Mary said the very thing that makes this community diverse makes it very difficult to provide something for everyone. Roger said they were forever changing things in an attempt to meet community needs. Andrea and Mary shop here themselves. They weathered economic cycles, kept an eye out for new trends, and at the same time made the Mercantile truly the center of the community, a forum for information and assisting with fund-raising for town organizations. They have all participated in the community in other ways. Andrea and Oly are the mainstays of the Bahai community, Roger has been a pillar of the Fire Department, and what would Halloween be without Mary?
The years rolled on, Darrell and DeYette passed away. But now times have changed. Roger, Mary and Andrea decided to retire and after 40 years there are fresh faces at the Mercantile!
Damon and Hannah Goodmanson and boys Mason and Graham are from Northwestern Minnesota, where Damon worked in the snow and mud of road construction. They came to visit her parents in Benson a couple of years ago, and decided Arizona was for them. Fortuitously, real estate agent Mark Wiley is Damon’s long time good friend. Mark had already been in Arivaca a couple of years so Damon decided to come see him in his new neighborhood. Damon said he loved Arivaca right away. Mark gave him a call when the Mercantile was about to come up for sale so Damon could think about what it would be like to own a general store. By then, they had already moved to Arizona. Once the decision was made, Damon began working in the store so he was already familiar with most everything by the time they took over. December 16, 2019. Hannah is still working as an accountant in Tucson but hopes to be working in the Merc here soon. We hope their tenure in the Mercantile is long and successful.
by Mary Kasulaitis
Bernardo Caviglia arrived in Arivaca in 1887. He was born in Genoa, Italy, and had come to America in 1876 with several other Italians. After spending some time in Nevada and Leadville, Colorado, they settled near Tombstone. Bernardo told the story this way: “Of course we had to travel through a very bad Indian country where we heard of three men having been recently killed but the Indians did not bother us. One Indian was even so kind as to take me up behind him on his horse and ride me for a short distance. He wanted me to get on in front but I objected. We were walking and driving a couple of burros in front of us with our blankets, etc. Guess the Indian just wanted to see if we had any money or not and when he found that we had none he decided he had allowed me to ride far enough.
“We threw in our lot with five or six Italian farmers from California who were supplying Tombstone and the country between there and the San Pedro River (with vegetables) . . .We had a few cattle too. We were on the roundup in 1883 when Geronimo was out on a raid and several Mexicans were killed just across the line. Never had any of my stock stolen either by Indians or rustlers but had a man come into my house and steal some money and a pistol. Have a good idea who it was but that did me no good, things went on just the same. . .”
Bernardo moved to Arivaca in 1887. He first homesteaded in the canyon where Arivaca Lake now lies. Nicknamed Bartolo, the mountain behind the lake and a well are named for him. (There was also a Bartolo Avancino, who had lived with Bernardo)
In 1893 he married Pastora Vega of Oro Blanco. They had one son, Angelo, who was born in December of 1894. Pastora died in childbirth. Bernardo said, “We had only been married 10 months and 12 days when his mother died and I have been a widower ever since.” He purchased the Rita Mora homestead above Alamo Park, east of Arivaca, and lived there for some time. Bernardo started a store in Arivaca, in what is now the Culling residence on Main Street. He was a frugal and careful man, and at the time of his death owned many parcels of land in Arivaca valley. Besides those properties mentioned, he owned the Calera Ranch, about four miles north east of Arivaca, and several in Tucson, including the Parkview Hotel. In an interview with Mrs. George Kitt in 1928, he said, “Arivaca is not as it used to be. When I first came there were lots of ranches around but now they are all eaten up by the big companies. We manage to make a pretty good living though and when I get real tired of the store I lock it up, put the key in my pocket and come to town.
Bernardo died August 6, 1932 and is buried in the Arivaca cemetery. The rest of the family carried on.
Bernardo’s brother, Angelo, had come to San Francisco and had a nightclub there. In the 1906 earthquake he lost everything and soon found his way to Arizona where he had bars in Bisbee and the Clifton-Morenci area. He died in Pirtleville in 1941 and was buried in Douglas.
Bernardo’s son Angelo followed in his uncle’s footsteps and constructed a bar and cafe on the corner where Arivaca Road meets the Fraguita Road. (Lately the corner house renovated by Nell Smets.) Known as Caviglia’s Cafe, it was built only after the teetotaling Bernardo had passed away in 1932. Ray Caviglia remembered that Jose Garcia (Chochi) built the cafe and remodeled the house to the east.
Angelo Caviglia entertained the whole territory. He had tardeadas and horse races, dances and barbecues. Armando Membrila recalled a typical activity: “Whenever they had a fiesta they had horse races at Alamo Park and everybody would go to Alamo Park for a barbeque and the horse races. There was a straight stretch of ground where they used to race. In fact, Arthur Noon’s horse raced against Caviglia’s horse one time. Caviglia had a beautiful horse. They called him El Vallo because he was a light tan. Arthur had a horse called El Rentito because he was a black horse, a beautiful horse, and they raced. In fact my sister Martha’s boyfriend, was the jockey for Arthur’s horse. His name was Lorenzo Bareda. Anyway, Arthur’s horse lost badly. El Vallo was a real good racehorse. He was long and sleek and El Rentito was just a little cowpony. I guess Arthur Noon just put him up there to give the people a race. Because he lost by about five or six horse lengths. El Vallo raced quite a few different horses and he always won. He never lost. They took real good care of him. He was just a real sleek, long racehorse. He ran against other horses until they all decided they couldn’t beat El Vallo so they quit racing him because they had to bet money, you know. And El Vallo was just too good of a horse. I remember that particular race because my dad got real enthused about it and so did we. Most of the times when there was a feast day like Día San Juan they would have a barbecue or something.” People came from Sasabe and Buenos Aires, Ruby and Amado to party with Angelo.
Angelo also maintained the Calera Ranch, assisted by his Encinas cousins. He also built the reservoir at milepost 3 on Arivaca road, known as Caviglia Tank.
Angelo had married Luz Encinas from Oro Blanco. They had seven children. Around 1940, when Arivaca appeared to be on the downswing, Angelo decided to sell out. He moved his family to Tucson where the prospects appeared better. There he opened another bar.
Angelo and Luz’s son, Ramón (Ray) married Diane Aguirre Hamilton of Tucson. Diane was the great granddaughter of Pedro Aguirre, who was one of Arivaca’s founders and who built the old School. Diane was very involved with historic preservation in Tucson, but passed away of cancer in 1994. The Caviglia-Arivaca branch of Pima County Public Library is named in her honor.
Ray Caviglia passed away on June 20, 2005. Ray had always been very interested in Arivaca history and helpful to those who listened to his stories about growing up in Arivaca in the 1920s and 30s. His surviving children are Ron, Gary, Debbie and Cathy and many grandchildren. His sister Bernardina and his brothers Simon and Arthur have also passed. Brother Albert survives them.
Ray and Diane Caviglia interviews, Armando Membrila interview, Arizona Historical Society biofiles
by Mary Kasulaitis
Many of you have read Eva Wilbur Cruce’s memoir, A Beautiful, Cruel Country, in which she tells of her childhood on a ranch three miles west of Arivaca. If you were living in Arivaca in the 30s and 40s, you would have heard about Eva Wilbur Cruce in a less flattering way: she was accused of stealing cattle and finally went to jail for killing a horse, not her own, and branding its colt.
Eva Wilbur was born February 22, 1904, to Agustin and Ramona Vilducea Wilbur. Agustin’s father, Dr. Reuben Wilbur, had come to Arizona sometime in the 1860s and practiced medicine in Tucson, also taking the post of Indian Agent and physician at San Xavier. He married Rafaela Salazar in 1873 in Tucson. They had three children, Agustin, Charles and Mary. In 1877 Dr. Wilbur made a land claim on the western edge of what was then the Arivaca Land Grant, choosing a site downstream from town, near a mill site owned by promoter John McCafferty.* Wilbur purchased horses and cattle and began ranching. Tragically, Dr. Wilbur died of pneumonia in 1882 at his family home in Massachusetts, leaving his wife and children in Arizona. They lived in Tucson and left the ranch to the care of neighbors Bob Paul and the Luisa Figueroa family. The latter took care of the livestock, branding the horses and cattle and keeping a count of numbers, until the time when Agustin was old enough to take over. Agustin’s brother Charles and sister Mary were also involved with the ranch.
In the early days there was open range: cattle and horses ran wild. Great roundups were held with all ranchers participating, separating the cows by brand and then branding their calves. Ranchers would own a small piece of their own land, either by homestead or County land claim with a water source and then let their cattle run on unclaimed public domain land. Beginning about 1906, the Forest Service determined what would be National Forest and began to issue permits for grazing use. Ranchers who had been grazing their cattle on this land had first choice, however, Agustin did not get a Forest grazing permit. Reportedly, he may have had one and lost it, or he may never have had one. He had a place called the Cochi ranch, because of the pigs he raised, near the border several miles to the south of his house. This land ended up in the Jarillas Ranch’s allotment. However, he could still run cattle on this land until it was all fenced off, probably about 1920. When Arizona became a state, much of the federal public domain land became state land. Ranchers, including the Wilburs, obtained grazing leases on this state land. With the regulation of government land and fencing, there was no more open range. Small ranches that did not have Forest allotments or State Land in conjunction with their private land could not survive as ranches, since they could no longer feed many cattle. The larger ranches frequently bought them out and sometimes they were forced out. This was a time of change.
During the 1920s the Arivaca Ranch and the Jarillas Ranch consolidated, but they had financial troubles and the ranch was mortgaged. There was a bad drought in 1920. Then the depression hit. In 1931, the Arivaca Ranch was bought out by the Chiricahua Cattle Company, owned by the Boice family. The youngest brother, Charlie Boice, was put in charge of the Arivaca Ranch.
Charlie Boice arrived in Arivaca during this time of change and he himself brought about many of the changes, particularly the redirecting of Arivaca Creek. He bought some of those small ranches. I have been told that some of the small ranchers felt they were forced out, but if it hadn’t been by Charlie, it would have been by someone else, such as the Pima County Assessor. They either had enough land for a ranch or they didn’t.
Central to this story is the claim that Eva Wilbur Cruce made regarding the “land baron” she referred to in a 1995 Arizona Highways article. She claimed he wanted her ranch and tried to force her out. Allegedly, this person was Charlie Boice. But the Wilbur Ranch conflicts had not started with Charlie Boice and the Chiricahua Cattle Company. Under different ownership, the Arivaca Ranch and the Jarillas Ranch had been buying up small ranches and homesteads for years, including those in the vicinity of Wilburs such as the Morenos and Earles. In 1895, Eva’s grandmother, Rafaela Wilbur, sold 320 acres of the Wilbur ranch, a substantial amount, which eventually became part of the Jarillas Cattle Company.
Eva Wilbur was raised on the family ranch. She did not attend school in Arivaca, but when she was a teenager she was sent to convent school in California. That is where she was living in 1933 when her father was killed after being thrown from a horse. Her mother had already passed away in 1932. Eva returned to Arivaca to take care of the ranch and married Marshall Cruce in Tucson later that same year.
The 30s were very different times from when Eva was growing up. When Agustin died, the Wilbur ranch apparently had some 700 head of horses and 250 cows. That was far too many livestock for the amount and quality of land they had, so allegedly, they were still acting as if there was open range. Reportedly, her horses and cattle were running on other people’s land. Because of this, someone shot a large number of them and left them in piles all over the range, not on her land. Eva attributed this event to Charlie Boice, but she never filed a formal complaint. However, the fact is, she had not confined her animals: they were on other people’s land and there were a lot of them. Even in 1941, when the Gills bought the Figueroa place, her cattle were on their range. The surrounding ranches had to fence her animals out, rather than the other way around.
Although Eva claimed a wealthy cattle baron wanted her land and was trying to drive her off, others said if she was referring to Charlie, he didn’t need her land, he had plenty already. Besides, her land wasn’t the best. Charlie already had several good perennial water sources just to the east and upstream of her land, so he didn’t need it for water, either, although she claimed he did. For whatever reason, Eva believed that he was out to get her because she was a woman and apparently she set out to get even.
In July 1936, Chiricahua Cattle Company cattle were said to have strayed onto her property. Believing that she had stolen them, Charlie Boice requested that the cattle inspector, Ed Echols, investigate. With a search warrant, Echols and some CCC cowboys seized eleven motherless, newly branded calves. Eva protested. It went to court, mainly to decide if the seizure was valid. The Tucson Citizen said there was “a fiery battle in justice court.” Eva won the first round. She was able to convince the jury that the calves’ mothers were on the premises and/or that she had a bill of sale for two of them. An appeal was filed and again Eva won. The cattle were returned to her. In October, 1936, Boice filed a complaint that another calf was stolen from him and concealed on the Wilbur Ranch. This too was returned. Eva and her husband, Marshall, filed a complaint alleging damages to the sum of $10,000 against Charlie. The wheels of justice moved more slowly this time and the case of Cruce v. Boice was not dismissed until January 1939, but Eva did not win that case. Things were not over yet. The major case in which she was convicted and sent to jail did not include Charlie Boice as either defendant or plaintiff.
In 1942 Eva was charged with killing a horse that didn’t belong to her and branding its colt. This mare belonged to Carlos Ibarra, a former resident of Arivaca. Eva and her cowboy had been seen with it. Cattle inspector Richard Merchant was called in. Apparently he went with trepidation, given Eva’s reputation. He found the remains of Ibarra’s mare, and a colt, newly branded with Eva’s brand. In the trial, Eva said it was hers and that they had roped the mare, which tried to get away and hurt itself. They shot it to put it out of its misery. There was some question as to who had shot it. Mr. Cruce said he did. The brand had been cut out. Eva said she had preserved the piece of hide with the brand on it to prove whose animal it was, however, Mr. Cruce’s coon hounds must have eaten the piece of hide because it was gone. Eva said she had to cut the brand out of any animal that died and tack it up on the fence so that everyone would know whose animal it was that died. This, after all the court cases with the CCC, was to prove she hadn’t stolen it. The jury did not believe this story and found Eva and her cowboy guilty of taking and killing the horse of another person and branding a horse belonging to another person. Because her cowboy had done what he did on her orders, he received a lighter sentence. Besides, he said Eva told him what to say. Eva was convicted on several counts. She appealed it to the Arizona Supreme Court, which denied her appeal. Eva spent around a year in jail, and afterwards she must have continued to seek revenge. In the Arizona Daily Star article accompanying her obituary, Eva is quoted as saying that no one knows what she did to get even with Charlie Boice after she got out of jail. Apparently she did something. In Eva’s attempt to get even with Charlie, her revenge touched everyone in the valley.
Eva claimed to be just a poor innocent woman, taken advantage of by the evil cattle baron, and forced to defend herself. However, Eva was not a lone woman; she was married to Marshall Cruce and had brothers and sisters and an uncle and aunt. She was not without support, unless they couldn’t or wouldn’t provide it. In addition, her father’s reputation had preceded her: allegedly, even before Eva took over, people would customarily go to look for missing animals at the Wilbur place, although as far as I know, Agustin was not charged with any crimes. When Eva took over the ranch, her father had just died, the result of an accident involving a horse. Apparently he had been thrown off and landed on a stick, and was perhaps dragged. The cowboys said, “the horses finally got even.” In her own words Eva described her father’s abusive ways, towards herself and animals as well. Which abuse she perpetuated upon her own horses, despite her claims to the contrary and her latter-day protests of love for them. Upon seeing the title of Eva’s book, my father said, “This country here is the best cattle country in the world. It’s beautiful country. It’s not cruel. It was the Wilburs who were cruel.”
Perhaps Eva thought everyone was her enemy. She developed a reputation of someone who might shoot first and ask questions afterwards. When she came to the Gills to claim her strayed cattle in 1941, she got out of the car with a gun in her hand. Others reported that they only saw her at a distance, riding with a pistol on her hip. Eva became known as “La Pistolera.” Large “no trespassing” signs went up on her property. “Don’t go near her place,” my father warned. “She’ll shoot you.”
When I was growing up in the mid 50s, my friends and I would occasionally ride by Eva’s place, despite the parental admonitions, where I saw her horses being starved. She did not have enough land for all the horses she had re-accumulated by then, because she apparently let them breed at will. Nature is brutal in those conditions. I remember seeing her starving horses, with nothing to eat and the bark stripped off trees as high up as they could reach. We children wanted to cut the fence, to let them get out, but of course, we did not. A cowboy told me he saw one of her stallions actually break the fence down so the mares could get out and get something to eat. This was not an isolated event, because she apparently did not limit the number of horses she kept, and the herd was confined in a relatively small area. When the U.S.F.W.S. bought her place it was terribly overgrazed. When she died in 1998, coincidentally, a front-page article entitled, “Animal cruelty trial opens over horse’s death,” sat alongside her obituary in the Star. At first, I thought the two articles were related.
One of the issues I want to address in this article is whether or not Eva’s horses were what she claimed. Were they or were they not “Spanish Barbs.” In the early days, most all horses had Mexican ancestry. Horses with similar ancestry could probably be found near Magdalena, Sonora to this day. After her grandfather bought them in the late 1870s, he also purchased a thoroughbred stallion. After Dr. Wilbur died, the horses were on open range for at least 30 but possibly 50 years, with opportunity to interbreed with other horses, most of which had a similar ancestry. Supposedly, there were about 700 horses when Eva took over the ranch in 1933 . In 1943 perhaps 70 remained, although she had paid taxes on only ten. From the 1940s until the early 1990s when the Refuge bought the property, the horses were confined and lived on what they could find to eat on her small property. With the limited diet, they became stunted. Natural selection took over. The horses she sold in the early 90s were the result of starvation, isolation, and forced inbreeding. If they were interesting looking, it is for reasons that no responsible horse breeder would have chosen. I often think that the ones who survived were descendants of those who survived the shooting back in the 1930s. In other words, the smarter, quicker ones.
Another issue I want to address is Eva’s credibility as a resource for Arivaca history. Eva’s book is a memoir, and memories can be faulty. There are many factual errors. For example, she says Charles Poston officiated at the marriage of her parents, when he was actually living in poverty in Phoenix. Phoebe Bogan was not married to John, but to his brother, A.E. Bogan. In the corrido story, Eva claims to be five years old when she saw Nonie Bernard and his wife Mary. She must been older than that, because in 1909 they weren’t married yet. Eva made the claim that Ignacio Pesqueira, Governor of Sonora, stayed at her grandfather’s house when he removed himself from Sonora in 1865. There is no evidence that her grandfather even lived in Arivaca at that date, since he made his first land claim in 1877. Local stories say that Pesqueira’s men stayed in the Guijas valley, in a place appropriately named Pesqueira Canyon. I question most the chapter on the Indian exodus. This appears in no one else’s stories or documents, and in fact my grandfather, Arthur Noon, had said he remembered very few Papagos (O’Odham) in the Arivaca area when he homesteaded there in 1910. Besides, the O’Odham were not forced onto the Reservation, but received it as a guaranteed tribal ownership of their homeland, protected from incursions by outsiders. Reportedly, Eva spent little or no time in Arivaca itself, so she cannot be relied on for anything other than her immediate environs at the ranch.
In the testimony Eva gave in 1943 at her trial for horse killing, you see a very different woman from the one in the book: one who visits her ranch perhaps once a month, who does not know how many horses she has, who thinks her grandfather came in 1868 but isn’t sure. A woman who, on the witness stand of a trial in which he is not implicated, accuses Charlie Boice of killing her horses, but who had not filed a complaint against him even though, she said, the sheriff asked her if she wanted to. Although Charlie was not involved in the 1943 case, Eva continually brought up the previous legal actions. But Eva didn’t even know when Charlie Boice came to Arivaca. She couldn’t remember what happened ten years before when she was administrator of her father’s will. Significantly, there is no mention of a mortgage on the Wilbur ranch being held by Charlie Boice, as she later claimed in the Arizona Highways article. In short, she was someone who was apparently not a responsible caretaker of her own land or her own animals, who didn’t handle her business dealings properly, and who was a convicted felon, all the while blaming someone else for her troubles.
What Eva has in A Beautiful, Cruel Country is not reliable Arivaca history, but a memoir. It was an opportunity to reinvent her life on the ranch to gain the respect she didn’t have in Arivaca. And it was another opportunity to get even.
See “A Fenian in the Desert: Captain John McCafferty and the 1870s Arivaca Mining Boom” by Mary N. Kasulaitis, in The Journal of Arizona History, Spring 2006.
References: A Beautiful, Cruel Country by Eva Wilbur Cruce; Charles D. Poston, Sunland Seer by A.W. Gressinger; Pima County Superior Court records; Arizona Supreme Court records; Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Citizen articles; Reuben Wilbur file at Special Collections, University of Arizona Library; Arizona Historical Society Library clipbook and Wilbur files.
Also see “La Pistolera” by Leo Banks in the Tucson Weekly, August 1 and 8, 2002.
by Newell Searle
edited for the Connection by Mary N. Kasulaitis
Herman and Ella Searle were the kind of pioneers every historian loves. Educated and articulate, they kept diaries and wrote letters. With these in hand, territorial Arizona comes to life.
Herman Searle came to Arizona during the silver boom in the late 1870s. Newspaper stories reported fabulous mines. Everyone expected to get rich, Herman among them. He arrived in the Oro Blanco district in 1878, then bought or filed his first claims in January, 1879. One claim caught his attention. With money from savings and Philadelphia investors, he set up the Arizona Southern Mining and Milling Company in 1881. Herman got $151,000 of capital stock. Wealth and position seemed close at hand.
Herman was born in Cattaragus County, New York, in 1848. Hungry for a grander life, he left his family’s farm in 1866, lied about his age and enlisted in the Army. When he finished soldiering , Herman went to business college in Rochester, New York, found work and married his employer’s eldest daughter, Ella Newell. Thirteen months later they had a son, George Samuel Searle. Four years later, with Ella again pregnant, Herman left his family to buy silver claims in Mexico and Arizona. Ella, George and Herman Jr. did not see Herman for five years.
In the Oro Blanco Mining District, Herman teamed up with Don and Will Picket, Nat Crocomb and Tom Tonkin to develop his silver claim. His mine was in a remote site (in Mexico, actually, but then believed to be Pima County) reached only on horseback and mules. The men lived in a camp, known as Searleton, until the mine was opened, then set up quarters in the tunnel.
Herman met Ella, George and Hermie Searle at the Tucson train station in October, 1881. They had left a comfortable life in New York for an Arizona silver camp. For 10 year-old George, this was a boy’s paradise. Within months, he paired up with Arthur Noon and the two became friends for life. Life in the wild among miners and teamsters left a deep impression on George. When he wrote his memoirs, 40 years later, he recalled events and people with exact details of time and place.
Like all miners, Herman gloried in the potential of his claim. However, crude frontier life might be, it must have felt like the threshold of success. His letters reflected optimism. In newspaper reports, he made buoyant, expansive statements. In December, 1883, miners in the district elected him justice of the peace. He held court in the lean-to room at the back of his adobe house.
But silver prices began to fall in 1884. The pockets of silver near the surface didn’t lead to a mother lode below. There was silver enough to entice investors, but not enough to pay off their loans. The mine was a hole that swallowed Herman’s money, ambition and pride.
Gone. Everything he had worked for. His life’s savings and the money of Philadelphia backers. Herman closed his mine in August, 1885, and took a three week buckboard trip to Cananea, Mexico, to look for work. Down and back, he dodged Apaches that raided in Mexico. He returned, empty-handed. Two weeks later, he and Ella left for Calabasas. They packed their belongings into Herman’s buckboard and a wagon borrowed from Adolphus Noon. He hoped to land a job on the railroad but didn’t. They moved to Nogales in 1887, then to Bisbee a year later where Herman ran the railway express office. Three years later, the Searle family returned to Rochester, New York. All except George, who left in 1895. Arizona mining remained a bitter memory for Herman. He seldom spoke of it. Failure meant shame and both were hard to bear. After his wife died in 1918, he bought a printing company that made money. Herman died in 1928.
Ella Newell was born to a middle class family and grew up in Rochester, New York. Her self-educated, successful father was a man of generous public spirit who made civic betterment his cause–an impulse that Ella inherited. A year after she graduated from Rochester Free Academy, in 1870, she married Herman Searle. For five years, Herman worked hard and built up a picture frame business. Ella kept house, raised their first son, George, and took an active role in the Sunday School movement. She and Herman had reached the threshold of a comfortable, respectable middle-class life. But silver fever hit Herman. He sold out his business, moved her to his parents house and left for Mexico before the birth of his second son. Ella didn’t see her husband for five years.
Reunited with Herman, Ella and her boys reached Oro Blanco by stage coach in October, 1881. They moved into a two-room adobe house with a plank lean-to on the back. A far cry from her father’s house in Rochester, New York! But she had spirit. Before long she and Emma Noon, Genoviva Crocomb, Bee Noon and other women in camp organized a Sunday School for all the children, American and Mexican. Children called her “the boss Jesus lady.” The women of Oro Blanco made the camp a community, a place of such fond memories that children, like George, recalled the tiniest details 40 years later. Working together, the women put on Christmas parties. They put up a community Christmas tree. The women made paper cornucopias for the children and filled them with treats.
Ella took a more realistic view of mines than Herman or the other men. She had her doubts, perhaps. In July, 1883, already three months pregnant, she rode to Herman’s mine. Her only visit. Then, as now, it was a hard, hot ride to the border across low mountains and deep canyons through cactus and ocotillo to the place where Herman and the men worked so hard. For this, the men went to great trouble to entertain her in as much style as they could. Ten days later, Ella boarded a train in Tucson to pay a long visit to family in New York.
Raising children proved difficult. Mining camp temptations lured George outside and away from his mother’s rein. He spent his days among miners and teamsters instead of books. And those wild Noon boys! When Ella bore William in 1884, twelve-year old George ran to Dr. Noon’s ranch to fetch him to deliver the baby. Sadly, Herman Jr. died of typhoid at the age of five. Ella taught school in Oro Blanco in 1884-5 and 1886-87 to support the family when Herman’s mine failed.
Ella and William left Oro Blanco in 1887, following Herman to Bisbee where they all lived in a box car for 10 months until a house could be built. Ella didn’t leave the cramped quarters for seven weeks while she nursed William and then George through scarlet fever.
When the family returned to Rochester in 1894, Ella settled back into Rochester society, re-established old friendships and took an active part in the growing suffrage movement. She lectured women’s groups on frontier life in Arizona, and took a protective interest in the WCTU chapters of Arizona until the end of her life. Ella Searle wrote letters to Emma Noon and other Arizona friends until her death in 1918. In later life, George Searle wrote a memoir of his Oro Blanco experiences. His last letter to Arthur Noon was in 1938, the year before George died. William Searle, born in Oro Blanco in 1884, told the Arizona stories to his sons and grandson. And when they were able, they visited Arizona, and met the descendants of the Noon family. They took a hike over the hills to Searleton and the site of Herman Searle’s mine.
Newell Searle is William Searle’s grandson. Thanks to the Searle family, who wrote memoirs, told stories, and didn’t throw out their old letters, we have a wonderful picture of life in this part of territorial Arizona.