by Mary Kasulaitis
The first Arizonan to be inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City was Arivaca’s own Ramón Ahumada. Although he had no children of his own, a generation of young men, too numerous to mention, proudly bore the name of Ramón, Ray or Raymond, in honor of the gentleman who managed the Arivaca Ranch for almost forty years.
Ramón Ahumada was born in Batuc in the Altar District of Sonora in 1868, the son of Jose Ahumada. His uncle, Jose Vega, was mayordomo on the Arivaca Ranch in its earliest years. That was when it was called Las Ruinas Ranch and was owned by Noah W Bernard and John Bogan. Vega brought Ramón to Arivaca when he was just a young boy, and raised him to follow in his footsteps. Ramon became mayordomo before he was 21 years old. When the Arivaca Land and Cattle Company was incorporated by Noah C. Bernard, John Bogan, George Pusch, John Zellweger and Ramón Ahumada, the principals were blessed with business savvy, personality, ambition, and in the case of Ahumada, the ability to manage cattle on a large scale. Thus the company was able to expand until it was one of the biggest operations in Southern Arizona.
In those days there were few fences and cattle roamed at will. As Phil Clarke said, “Cattle roamed from hell to breakfast before barbed wire came into general use. The cattle were wild and so were the cowboys.” The annual roundup was a community affair in which all the ranchers and cowboys gathered the cattle, separated and branded the calves. According to an extensive article in the Arizona Cattlelog, Ramón was frequently chosen to boss these roundups, because of his ability to manage cattle and men as well. “Sometimes as many as 5,000 cattle would be sorted in one day, with a crew of from 70 to 80 men. Ahumada would break his crew down into four wagons, assigning one group to work certain valleys of the Baboquivari foothills, another towards the east in the Atascosas, and so on, covering an up-country sweep 40 miles wide over countless hills, arroyos, flats and mountains. As the sorted and gathered bunches were driven in to the day’s campsite, the confusion to almost everybody would seem complete. But as the sun went down, order would gradually emerge, the calves being driven off in one direction, various bunches of 2 and 3-year old steers being merged into one driving herd, the mother cows, minus their calves, trailing off for their more familiar ranges, and other bunches going off under a little guidance from the cowboys to just where their owners wanted them. Old-timers still marvel at Ahumada’s timing…. Ahumada had a knack for handling men, assigning jobs to the various owners and cowboys alike with such courteous tact that they seldom realized they were being ‘bossed.'” Phil Clarke, who, along with Jack McVey, Luis Romero and probably many others, looked upon Ramón as his mentor, said that “Ramón was a genius at organization. Every man was assigned to a job, which included roping, branding, cutting out the strays, wrangling the remuda and collecting the beef herd. It looked like all dust and confusion, but Ramón’s men got the job done.”
“The knowledge displayed by Ahumada in the identification of cattle brands was regarded as little short of marvelous by cattlemen and cattle inspectors. The man had an uncanny instinct for correctly tracing a badly blurred brand, an instinct that was of inestimable value to owners and inspectors when the mystery of an animal’s marking required unraveling. He knew all the brands of the southwest range and would frequently sit at the elbow of a cattle inspector correctly identifying brands when there were as many as 40 or 50 different marks on a mixed herd of livestock. His identification in this respect was never questioned.” (Tucson Citizen, 1/13/26)
“Like most Mexican vaqueros, Ramón Ahumada’s horsemanship was superb. He rode with that easy grace and effortless dash which somehow inspires an alert horse to extra effort. And he frequently rode the same horse all day. The Texans who had ‘invaded’ the Altar Valley after 1914 or so, would express their disapproval of riding the same horse 60 or 80 miles in one day when others were available, But Ahumada and his Mexican cowboys’ horsemanship, compared with the stiffly erect, somewhat strained, I-am-the-boss Texas style, left each Arivaca man’s horse fresher after a day’s work than those used by the Tejanos, relay fashion.” (Arizona Cattlelog)
The Arivaca Ranch horses were of excellent stock, Standardbred-Thoroughbred crosses, imported from out of state. Ramón knew them all by name, and was responsible for training them so that they could be used on the ranch or sold to be polo ponies.
Ramón was married to the beautiful Virginia Zepeda, a member of the Moraga family, whose ancestors had included the co-founder of San Francisco and the captain of the Presidio at Tucson during Spanish times. She was the great-aunt of baseball pitcher Alex Kellner. She died in Tucson in 1954 at the age of 86.
Everyone seemed to have a story to tell about Ramón. Fred Noon was always impressed with his silver mounted saddle and bridle, which was once prominently displayed in the window of a store in Tucson and now reposes in the Arizona Historical Society Museum. One possibly apocryphal story said that when Gabriel Angulo praised this set, Ramón gave it to him, but perhaps this was only an illustration of his
Phil Clarke admired his ability to talk his way out of bad situations, telling how he once mediated a difficult encounter with some Yaqui Indians who had been found butchering a company calf. Not sure of his welcome, and noting a number of Yaquis in the trees surrounding the illegal activity, Ramon went down to have a talk. A few minutes later they had given him the loin, but he had left the Yaquis with dinner and enough jerky to keep going. No one shot him in the back and they even left the hide so it could be counted, as he had requested.
As Ramón Ahumada had lived by the horse, so he died. Luis Romero, Arivaca Ranch cowboy who was as close to Ramón as a son, told of an accident, the results of which eventually claimed his life. They were riding in the Jalisco country near Clifford Well when Luis’ horse threw him. Ramón roped it, using his 60 foot reata, but in the process was thrown off his own horse and hit his head on a rock. Six months later, he had apparently recovered from this accident when he suddenly became ill and was taken to Tucson to the hospital. The Spanish language paper reported daily on his progress, but sadly he succumbed, an untimely death at the age of 56 on January 13, 1926. Not forgotten, however, so that when the National Cowboy Hall of Fame was created in 1958, Ramón Ahumada’s name was enthusiastically submitted with the first group of inductees. And I’m sure that somewhere in Southern Arizona, someone sang a corrido in honor of Arivaca’s most famous vaquero.
Arizona Cattlelog cover article, Jan. 1958; “The Old West Disappeared,” interview with Phil Clarke in a Tucson Citizen article commemorating Arizona statehood, 2/14/1962; Old California Cowboys by Dane Coolidge; obituaries in El Tucsonense and Arizona Daily Star, 1/14/26; Fred Noon’s notes; Thanks to John Kellner, nephew of Virginia; Bob Teso, grandson of Luis Romero and mayor of South Tucson; Oscar Morales of the Moraga family, and Jerri Stone at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, Center for the Study of the Western Experience Research Center, Oklahoma City, OK.
by Mary Kasulaitis
For many Arivacans, the center of town life has been La Gitana Cantina. Besides a dance hall and saloon, at various times the building has been used for a church, a courtroom, a store, a hay barn, and a restaurant. There had been at least one saloon in Arivaca since the 1870s but not always in the current building. Sometimes there was enough business for two or more. The little building that now houses La Gitana has been a cantina since at least the 1940s, but its origins goes back to a dance hall made by Doña Teresa Celaya. She ran a saloon and pool hall next door (in what is now the ruin) from at least the turn of the century, and probably well before that time, so the south side of Main Street has always had a bar. She then decided a dance hall was in order so built what would be the rear part of La Gitana, visible in a 1905 photo. In 1915 she was using it for a private girls school, besides for dancing. Doña Teresa came to Arivaca in the mid 1880s from Altar, Sonora. Frank Krupp remembered her as “Lady Bountiful and the friend in need of rich and poor alike throughout the area. . . In addition, the Senora ran the cantina, and in that capacity was her own bouncer, and an effective one.”
During the 1920s, Armando Membrila remembered, “They had a pool table in the saloon. I remember my dad used to go there and shoot pool with the guys and I wasn’t allowed in there but you’d look through the door.” (this would be in the ruin, not La Gitana.) Then Teresa retired and began renting the building out. Armando said, “When the Galvez family had it they made it into a little store. They didn’t sell groceries, they sold merchandise. I remember one of the things they had were these surprise packages. You paid a quarter for a box and you might get a dollar’s worth of stuff or you might get a nickel’s worth of stuff. They used to hold dances in that little joint and they would charge admission to dance. You could go in to see, but if you started to dance a lady would come around and put little ribbons on your lapel and you would have to pay. They would sell food. They would make the food outside. Tamales and things like that.” In the late1930s the main cantina and dance hall of Arivaca was Caviglia’s Cafe at the west end of Main Street in the house most recently owned by Emily and Uno. They are making it into a dance hall again!
In the 1940s, Charlie Boice of the Arivaca Ranch used that building for a hay barn.
One time the Bar became a courtroom. In a house across the street, Cowboy Tom Reneer and Customs Officer Pat Sheahy got into an argument and Pat pulled out a gun. He shot Tom, injuring him (in an embarrassing place) but not killing him. The Sheriff came and took Pat away to Tucson, but apparently the trial was held right there in Arivaca in the bar. Some of the bartenders in those days included Foy Evans, Bill Steen, Bill Kennedy, Bill Ammonett, and E.B. Garner. In those more blatantly segregated times, mostly “gringos” frequented the bar.
Charles and Helen Brouse and his brother Bill bought the bar from Carmen Zepeda (Teresa’s daughter) in the early 1940s. The front room, now used as a restaurant, was added by Gene and Helen Louise (Brouse) Casey in the late 40s. They brought adobes from a ruin down on the Sasabe Road and built it themselves. For years the front room was the bar. Gene and Dan Solvey installed a new wooden dance floor. It was Helen Brouse who named it La Gitana, after a poem in Spanish that she liked. In about 1950, Lucille Depper, a friend of Helen’s and artist from Magee ranch, painted the first gypsy on the south wall of the dance hall. Lucille later repainted the gypsy. She was much happier with the second one, but my own best memories are of the original gypsy with her pensive gaze. In those days the bar had a family atmosphere with piñata parties in the patio and children climbing on the cottonwood logs that lined the front of the building. Every holiday was an opportunity for the community to have a dance. Bill Walls taught many an Arivaca youngster to dance. In those pre-electricity days they even showed movies! The Brouses were active in Veterans activities and began hosting parties to commemorate Memorial Day and Veterans Day, beginning the tradition that continues 70 years later.
In 1957 Marge and Fred Schwanderlik and Tony Prevor bought the bar. Many will remember the square dances called by Ralph Smith, who brought his little record player out from Tucson. Also during that time a priest would come out from town and say Mass in the dance hall, since there was no Catholic church. In those days the bar had better facilities for community activities than did the school, so most events were held there.
Louie and Emily Schwanderlik took over the Bar in 1962. Emily ran a tight ship. A sign said, “No knives or guns allowed!” and she enforced it. Mrs. Schaffner, who worked there for several years, remembers lots of dances and potlucks, with people coming all the way from Tucson. The jukebox played old time favorites like “Put your little foot” and “La Bamba.” Joe Pianka tended bar and told jokes. His visage still stands guard over the old dance floor. In the early 70’s Louie put up a sign, “No hippies allowed!” But eventually he had to give in to changing times.
Since the Schwanderlik era, a number of different people owned the bar. Bill and Ruth Larson had it from 1971-76 with their son Jack Larson. After that came Dorothy Adams, who put her face on the gypsy. Then followed Vi and Bob Leeds. The Leeds renamed it the Silver Belle Bar, which it remained for several years after Rudy and Jan Cyprian bought it in 1980. Jan Cyprian remembered it as a family place where adults and children were welcome. She had birthday parties as well as a book and clothing exchange, as there was nothing of that kind any place else in town in the early 1980s. The next owners, Mike and Kathy McCarthy, had the bar from 1984 to 86. They changed the name back to La Gitana. They renovated the front room to be used as a restaurant and moved the bar to what had been the dance hall. A door in the south wall replaced the image of the second Gypsy. The next owner was Jackson “JR” Reynolds. In the 80’s Susie Kromenacker painted a Gypsy on the east wall of the restaurant.
Over the years a number of people have run La Gitana’s restaurant, including Maggie Milinovitch and Meg Keoppen, who had it for a time in the 80s. Steve and Penny Shepherd had the restaurant for seven years from 1994 to 2001. The bar continued to be used for community activities such as the Arivaca Clinic pancake breakfasts until the Old School and Community Center facilities were up and running.
Jerry and Mary Beckham, of Tubac, had La Gitana from 1987 till 2007. He said, “I love the history behind the bar. It’s an old cowboy bar. There’s something about it that draws you. Money has nothing to do with it.” He commissioned Robert and Nancy Fricchione to make the bar of mesquite wood in 1997. The painting of the Gypsy was replaced by a colorful, dancing Gypsy done by C Hues in the front room. In 2006 Mark Stern painted a wonderful version of the Gipsy on the wall of the patio.
Much of Arivaca’s reputation as a “cool, strange little town” is built on outsiders’ perception of La Gitana. (Yelp) Chuck Bowden, local writer and “Friend of Arivaca,” put La Gitana on the map in 2006 when he named it one of the Best Bars in America in Esquire Magazine. It did have a reputation. Esquire claimed that “there were has bloodstains on the floor, bullet holes in the walls, and the occasional free dental extraction on the pool table from a pliers-wielding biker. Seriously.” Sinclair Browning had already brought attention to La Gitana in 2001 when she described it in her western novel, Rode Hard, Put Away Dead. Her main character (female) felt the need to bring in an illegal concealed .38. British writer Richard Grant’s lengthy negative description of Arivaca and La Gitana in 2003 (describing the dangers to his beautiful but armed now former girlfriend so that anyone could find her) spread the news via Telegraph Magazine to Australia and Canada, but he didn’t know the word would get back to town within a week of publication. We’re not so provincial here. So it’s not to say that La Gitana didn’t get a lot of press in the early 2000s. When Jerry decided to sell, he had had La Gitana longer than almost anyone. But who would buy it?
Along came a group of locals interested in buying it with the intentions of upgrading and operating it as a safe, comfortable place for locals and visitors to gather, like a pub but still quirky. The idea came about one day, at La Gitana’s Happy Hour, when a group started talking up the idea. The initial group included ten people, (who met for soup-potluck dinners to discuss the possibilities) but eventually it came down to just four who then formed Soup Group, LLC. The sale papers were signed in late April, 2007.
The group included Fern Robinson, Michele Fournier, Rich and Maggie Milinovitch. Fern had lived in Arivaca back in the late 80s. She left in 1991 to go back east, but always kept an eye on what was going on here. She said, “the wonderful, diverse crowd here in Arivaca fascinates me.” Michele Fournier was the only one with experience in managing a bar – her parents owned a bar back east so she grew up in the business. Rich and Maggie Milinovitch have lived in Arivaca for many years. Maggie published the Connection for many years. Rich was and is their go-to guy for all the repairs and maintenance needed. After a couple of years Michelle decided to go back to teaching. Penny Shepard had been working in the restaurant and bar and she bought out Michelle. Fern became the bar manager. Maggie is the cafe manager. Penny keeps things organized. They have redecorated La Gitana, but not too much. A lot of the work, much of it done by Rich, was restoring a 100 year old building, bringing it up to code. They have redecorated the patio and front room. Maggie’s beer cap mosaics adorn the patio and she painted the mountains on the horizon.
Having a great location for the tourist trade, as well as sometimes the only place locals could “eat out,” they reorganized the kitchen and reopened the restaurant as a sandwich bar. It is limited by its size and lack of hooded grill. They have a good standard menu with specials and desserts that are wonderful. Over the years many locals have worked as bartenders or in the kitchen. There is now a new Executive Chef, Nathan Casebolt. He was raised in Arivaca and has now come back, after cooking all over the world from Paris to Munich to Hawaii. Arivaca is now on the foodie trail!
So La Gitana is closing in on 80 years of operation. Covid took a toll, but it’s better now than ever, in terms of its community life. Live music is featured frequently. It has continued to provide fund raisers for local needs like the Arivaca Animal Clinic. It’s more than just a place for friends to meet.
by Mary Kasulaitis
Welcome to Moyza, population 67. The little sign at about milepost 11 on the Arivaca Road introduces you to a community whose roots go back to the 1870s. On Spanish maps the place name “Aquituni” may be this part of the upper Sopori Valley, where Papalote Wash intersects from the south. Nowadays an organic farm, pistachio groves and comfortable homes are scattered about, revealing a continuing attraction for the locale where Eufemianio Moyza settled in about 1879. Moyza and his mother Ramona came to Tubac in the early 1870s by wagon train from California, and found it to their liking. Not too many settlers competed with Moyza as he searched out and found a pretty hillside next to a flat valley where he could envision fertile fields and cattle grazing. Having come from the Santa Barbara area, he was used to fruit trees and green fields. He brought those to the Sopori Valley. A large garden fed his children and produced enough to sell. He built a lovely large home for himself and his wife, and provided for his married children as well.
Eufemianio Moyza was born in 1854 of Spanish and German descent. After his first wife died, he married Angelita Mejia who was from Sonora. They had eight children: Petra, Magdalena, Lencho, Rafael, Manuel, Ramon, Ramoncito and Nacho. The eldest daughter, Petra, married Ramon Badilla who was born on the Sopori. He came to live with his wife’s family at the Moyza ranch where they built their own home. Two of their children, Dolores Badilla Celaya and Lupe Badilla, told stories about growing up on the ranch in the 1930s.
“During the summer we always had a lot of people (relatives) come to the ranch and stay there for one or two months to help with the work. My uncles and my dad would get horses that were not tame and have like a rodeo in an arroyo. People would be around the edge watching and eating watermelons.
My grandfather was known as a horseman. He had two horses that I remember, one named Butterfly and one named Tommy. Sometimes he would have to bring milk cows into the corral. He would put his dog, Galafo, on one of the horses and say, “Go get the cow!” And off they would go, the dog on top of the horse. But that horse would only do that when he was wearing his saddle. Take it off and he’d keep going!
At the end of Moyza Ranch road there used to be a huge lake one or two miles long. Twenty feet deep. From there there would be a acequia or creek and water would come from there to another lake or water hole, close by the house. From there they could open the gate to get water for farming.
“Our grandfather did a lot of farming. They would plant milo maize in March and by the middle of June or July it had a lot of seeds on it and the cattle would eat that. They had a two-story barn and they would store it and feed it to them in the winter. They had several hundred head of beef cattle but they also had around forty milk cows. There was a big garden and all summer long there were the zucchini and corn and beans. In the winter there would still be a lot of chile and tomatoes. We would put watermelons in the haystack and at Christmas we’d still be eating watermelons. My uncle Manuel was called “El Verdolero.” The vegetable man. He used to take a truckload of vegetables up to Ruby and sell them. They also took them to Tucson.
“We used to have apple trees, peach, pears, apricots, a grape vine and figs. I guess it was because my grandfather grew up in California. Every year we’d go up to the Guijas in a wagon and get peaches and my grandmother would dry them or make empanadas or pies.
“My grandmother used to make pudding from the elderberry trees. We used to call it atol de tapiro. Tapiro is elderberry. The pudding is made from the berries. You soak them and clean them and put them through a cheesecloth and squeeze out all the juice. You put in some water and bring it to a boil and it has all this foam on top. They used to say that it would give you a stomach ache so you have to keep taking off the foam. Then you put in cinnamon sticks and sugar and a little bit of flour to thicken it. We still make it. My cousin Socorro and I would also go to Tubac to get the berries. You can make a tea from the dried elderberry flowers to take for a cold or fever or stomach ache.
“My grandmother used to make pudding from the mesquite beans, the pechita. At that time they had a molino (mill). My grandmother had to soak the mesquite beans and grind them and put them through a strainer. It has a very unique taste. You can use cinnamon or vanilla or eggs to make a different flavor. In October, right after the pumpkin harvest my mother and grandmother would make pumpkin candy. Then all of of would go up to the hills and get a barrel cactus and they would make cactus candy out of it. My brother would go out on horseback and drag home the largest one we could find and cut all the stickers off. It was like a pineapple. They would cut all the shell off. Inside there is a white meat. They would put it in limewater first, and then cook it with a lot of sugar. I remember it was so good.
“In May and June, right before the monsoon season, we would all go out to look for chuquita, the white sap from the mesquite tree, because after the rains started it would all be gone. And we would get big jars of it. We chewed it or we would make a tea with it. We’d dissolve it and put sugar in it. In the spring we would go hunting for covenas. There is one with a yellow flower and one with a blue flower. We would dig them up and eat the little bulb. We had prickly pear at the ranch–nopalitos. I like them raw. I burn the stickers off and then cut them up and put them in a salad. We used to go up in the hills and pick up bellotas. There was a place somewhere in the Sardina where my grandfather used to pick chiltepines.
“We used to go to Arivaca visiting with the Romeros and the Lopezes and the Caviglias. We’d play dodge ball in the middle of the street. On Election Day my mother (Petra) and uncles would go to Arivaca early and stay all day. It was like a get-together when everyone came to town. My mother didn’t get out that often so it was an opportunity to see friends.”
Life on the Moyza Ranch was busy and interesting, due to the industrious nature of Eufemianio and Angelita Moyza. But after they passed away, in 1958, the family sold the ranch. Petra bought acreage in Tucson where Dolores and Lupe lived for years. Lupe has since passed away. The homestead was divided up, sad to say, but the area is still being farmed and cattle still roam the hills. The Moyza story is now part of a new oral history project, “Capturing Arizona’s Stories,” through a grant to the Pima County Public Library made possible by the Arizona State Library and Archives. Representatives from Library interviewed Dolores for the story of her family’s homesteading operation. Few homesteaders were as successful as her great-grandparents. In time, they accomplished their dreams and more. Now their story will be part of Arizona’s memories.
by Mary Kasulaitis
As you come driving into Arivaca from Amado, at about milepost 4, you can see a small ranch a half a mile or so south of the road. That is the location of what was the Campas Ranch, situated on rolling hills. Those hills between milepost 3 and 4 are known as El Andulado, which means undulating in Spanish.
This story doesn’t really start with Matildo Campas, but it is his name on the ranch. Matildo was born in Tucson on March 10, 1861, the son of Bernardino Campas and Guadalupe Camacho, both born in Tubac. They were living in Tucson at the time of his birth, but moved to San Xavier where they farmed. They later obtained title to land near Ft. Lowell in the Tanque Verde Valley. In 1904, Matildo married Amelia Montaño de Miranda. She was the sister of Nabor Montaño, Sr , a long time resident and cattleman of the Guijas valley and Arivaca. At the time of her marriage to Matildo, she was a widow with a daughter, Rita. She was first married to Pedro Miranda in 1893 and he died in 1899. Apparently, because she had a home in Arivaca, Matildo moved here. Amelia’s family had homesteaded in the Guijas valley and she knew this part of the country well. Her family homestead is still well marked with a big corral and house, somewhat west of Arivaca Road on Pima County property. She and Matildo homesteaded the Campas ranch in Amelia’s name and proved up on it in 1919. Matildo died in 1940 at the ranch in Arivaca. It also is now on Pima County property.
Amelia’s parents were Feliciano “Nabor” Montaño and Leonides Elias Valenzuela y Alvarez. They were married in Tucson in 1863 and had many children, including Nabor Sr. who homesteaded the Montaño Ranch. Amelia was born in Arivaca in 1879.
Amelia Campas was a memorable woman, always helping people. Katherine Grantham remembers that she took care of new mothers, including attending her own mother, Martha Noon, when Katherine was born. She adopted the young son of Francisca Ortiz, Jose Angel, when Francisca died. He later changed his name to Campas—and most of us knew him by another name: Bill.
Billy was born on August 2, 1908 in San Juan, Sonora, Mexico. His parents were Gabriel Ortiz and Francisca Quijada Ortiz. The family moved to Arivaca in 1910 when Bill was a baby. He had three older brothers and an older sister. In 1913 another sister Rita was born here in Arivaca and it was of complications of that birth that Francisca passed away, leaving her young family to be raised by others. Their father took the older children and moved to California. Here in Arivaca, Charlie Bent and his wife took one son, John. Rita was taken by a Martinez family from Sonora. Bill was adopted by the Campas’ and in 1931, when he became a U.S. citizen, he legally changed his name to Campas. We don’t really know where the name Bill came from. Many years later the brothers and sisters managed to find each other and some of the families got to meet one another.
On July 23, 1935, Bill married Matilde Lopez. She was born in 1907 at Aguajito on the Buenos Aires Ranch west of Arivaca. Her parents were Refugio Lopez and Isabel Durán Lopez. She had five brothers, three sisters and a half brother. Most everyone in Arivaca knew the family: Jose, Amparo (Maria), Peregrina, Francisco “Chacho,” Matilde, Luis, Manuel, Feliciano and Isabel. When Matilde was growing up the family lived at La Canoa on the Buenos Aires Ranch, not in the Santa Cruz Valley, and later homesteaded what is now known as the Lopez Ranch 3.5 miles west of Arivaca. One of the Lopez women applied for a Coronado National Forest grazing permit when they were first being handed out, and was unsuccessful, who knows for what reason. A niece, Gloria Pacheco Lopez, still owns the Lopez ranch.
When Matilde and Bill were first married they lived on the Sopori KX Ranch when it was part of the Chiricahua Cattle Company, owned by the Boice brothers. In 1943-44 Bill held a commission as Deputy Sheriff for Pima County when Ed Echols was Sheriff. Bill worked for Charlie Boice for many years and later on they lived at Dr. Ball’s place, which by then was Arivaca Ranch property, just southwest of the First Baptist Church. In the early 40s they moved to Arivaca and lived in the Acevedo house, next to what is now the house with the old gas pump, then moved across the street to a house on the property west of Human Resources. That house is now gone. Bill and Matilde had two daughters, Rosie Robles and Alma Castillo, who live in Tucson. Rosie’s oldest son, Hoot Engle, and his family lived in Arivaca. Hoot passed away in 2013 but his widow Virginia still serves Mexican food at La Rancherita on Main Street and his daughter Sophia is busy with gardening and town activities.
Bill left the Arivaca Ranch in the mid-1950s and started working for Pima County in the Highway Maintenance department, helping Gene Casey grade the dirt road between Amado and Arivaca and from there west to 286. They also went south on the Ruby Road to the Santa Cruz County line. Bill was a jack-of-all-trades: he was a cowboy, a welder and mechanic and an electrician too. He helped wire houses when Trico brought electricity to Arivaca. He helped Tony Prevor and Joe Pianka build the Arivaca Mercantile and St. Ferdinand’s Catholic Church. He could do just about anything that needed doing. Billy was known about town as a happy go lucky person who enjoyed his friends and family. Bill passed away in early 1970. Matilde passed away in 1984.
As I write this during Womens’ History Month, I am reminded that there were any number of memorable women in the history of Arivaca, and especially in the Lopez and Montaño families.
Thanks to Rosie Campas Robles for her family’s story.
by Mary Kasulaitis
Once upon a time Arivaca had resident law enforcement in the person of William G. Poindexter, who was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1878. Village organization was in its infancy, but understandably in that era, this post was significant and it was a mark of respect for Poindexter that he was elected to the position. Poindexter was a man of many abilities.
William Gentry Poindexter had come to Arizona from California in 1862, after having spent a number of years in the U.S. military fighting in the Mexican War. Originally from Tennessee, he had joined up in Texas at the age of 22. After the War he went on to California, where he reportedly was sheriff of San Joaquin County. Upon his move to Arizona he took up freighting and carried the mail between Prescott and the Colorado River. He had a stage station and ranch at Fort Rock in Yavapai County, which was attacked by Walapai Indians more than once. He served as Sergeant at Arms in the House of Representatives in the Second Arizona Territorial Legislature at Prescott in December of 1865. Later in that decade he lived in Yuma County where he married Rosa Aros Morales in 1868. He was appointed by the Governor as a Yuma County Supervisor in 1870. In 1874 he and his family moved to Cababi (now on the O’Odham reservation) in Pima County, where they stayed for a short while, digging a well, as he said, through solid rock a distance of thirty feet.
By February of 1876, Poindexter and family had arrived in the Arivaca area and he was building arrastras at a mining camp in the Guijas Mountains, making him one of the first miners in the little mining revival that resulted in the town of Arivaca. He located the Morning Star claim. In March of 1877 he was noted as having put in a claim on the Northwest Extension of the Yellow Jacket mine, but he was also making other claims in the Guijas Mountains, northwest of Arivaca, including the Buena Vista lode. Soon after that he was part of the committee of five that organized the Arivaca Mining District and Military Company. He served as Recorder of the mining district and Captain of the Military Company. In the latter capacity, “Captain Poindexter was presented with a sword, in a speech appropriate to the occasion, which brought tears to the eyes and made every man in the company wish for a chance to make Apaches feel for that day when Bunker Hill will be at a discount.” (as eloquently reported by the Tucson Citizen, 5/5/1877)
As the mining camp grew, Arivaca began to need more organization, and W.G. Poindexter was at the forefront of the organizing citizenry. As reported in the Weekly Star (10/17/1878) “At a caucus meeting of the citizens of Arivaca township…W.G. Poindexter was called to the Chair and Mr. Lee was chosen Secretary. The following nominations were made: For Supervisor, Prof. John P. Arey; Justice of the Peace, W.G. Poindexter; Constable, James Elliott. A committee of three consisting of M.S.S. Snyder, Arey and John Bogan were appointed to inquire into the boundaries of the township and the jurisdiction of the officials.” As Justice of the Peace, Poindexter would have collected a few fees, welcome to a 54-year-old who was probably feeling the effects of years of hard rock mining. In the absence of his logbook, a look at Oro Blanco’s comparable journal reveals the kind of tasks a JP faced. Performing marriages, swearing in deputy sheriffs, issuing arrest warrents, hearing civil and criminal complaints, and holding court and making legal decisions were some of the duties he performed. Poindexter spoke Spanish fluently, as we know he was used as an official interpreter in the Oro Blanco precinct where they had moved in the early 1880s, settling near the Tonkins. This would have been a necessity as the town grew to a population of 300, a high percentage of whom were mine workers and their families from Mexico. There were some incidents in which the JP would be involved. In February 1880 an Arizona Daily Star reporter (T.H.J.) mentioned that a little disturbance originating from a football match between Mexicans and Americans was actually encouraged by the deputy sheriff, instead of being quelled. In the next issue of the paper, one J.H. Hersey advised T.H.J. “to emigrate to some congenial clime where he can rest in fancied security,” since he had misrepresented the actions of the deputy sheriff and other officers and then screened himself under an assumed name. He said the Arivaca sheriff and other officers would do the best they can to preserve the peace and are sober and competent to do their duties on all occasions. W.G. Poindexter would have done so.
By late 1879 W.G. Poindexter had built a ranch and stage stop on the Sopori Road (El Rancho de Poindexter) but the exact location is unknown. His earlier experience as a stage stop owner was valuable in this latter enterprise, which became more necessary as Poston began asserting a claim on land in the Arivaca valley in the late 1870s. In 1880 Poindexter joined with other Arivacans in protesting Poston’s claim, saying that when he came to Arivaca in the mid-1870s there was no evidence of any prior ownership by Poston, and according to the resolutions which he helped write, “That we believe it (the claim) to be a vile speculation to steal our possessions on these lands from us.” By 1881, these legal questions had brought about a serious slowdown to the mining boom, leaving only the more tenacious residents. Poindexter was out of the contested area. He and Rosa had three children, Martha, Jennie and William, all probably born in or near Arivaca. In 1884, W.G. joined the Society of Arizona Pioneers in Tucson, as one of the “Old Pioneers.” William G. Poindexter passed away on September 23, 1887, the victim of injuries received in a wagon accident some time before his death. Obituaries in the Tucson papers called him “a quiet, honest, conscientious old gentleman, respected by all that knew him” and “one of Pima County’s landmarks.” Rosa raised their children in Tucson, where she lived to see her grandchildren and passed away in 1925 at the age of 77. Most of the family moved to California.
References: Poindexter family newsletter, courtesy of Wally Poindexter; Tucson newspaper articles; U.S. historical census data. A descendant of the Poindexters found his way to Arivaca in the early 2000s and was able to see the “old homestead,” The family shared many pictures and stories with me. After the Poindexters left the Oro Blanco area, his location was homesteaded by William B. Perry in 1892 and then later became part of the Clarke Ranch, which it still is, to this day.
by Mary Kasulaitis
George Pusch’s name is on one of Arivaca’s main streets, which begins at the junction with Ruby Road and eventually becomes the Arivaca-Sasabe Road as it leaves town going northwest. So who was George Pusch, and why was his name on a street?
George Pusch was born in Germany in 1847 and came to the United States in 1865 along with a Swiss friend, John Zellweger. Both were trained as meat cutters or butchers. After a short while in New York, they decided to go west. It is possible that George had heard of Henry Miller, also a German immigrant, who was about 10 years older and who had made a name for himself in California. Miller’s enormous cattle ranches extended, they said, from Sacramento to the Mexican border! (See California Cowboys by Dane Coolidge) Be that as it may, he may have been the model that George wanted to follow, and he did! Perhaps not as extensively as Miller, but very successfully in southern Arizona. Most people have heard of Pusch Ridge in the Santa Catalina mountains, or Steam Pump Ranch in the Oro Valley area. Those are linked to George Pusch. He also had a ranch in the San Pedro Valley north of San Manuel and was a partner in the Arivaca Land and Cattle Company. He also owned many valuable properties in downtown Tucson.
After George got to California, he soon decided to go to Arizona, arriving in Tucson in 1874. Zellweger soon followed. According to George’s grandson, Henry Zipf, they pooled their resources and bought part of the Canyon del Oro Ranch, set up a steam pump and began to provided water for cattle being shipped to market. (The more they drank, the more they weighed.) They would have had a set of corrals to keep the transient cattle under control. They registered the PZ brand. Most successful ranchers had a side business such a butchering or providing a stopping place for travelers, and they were no exception. The two operated a butcher shop in Tucson for many years, providing it with cattle from their ranches. In a few years, two German girls, Mathilde Feldman and Sophie Sieling, arrived in Tucson and ended up marrying George and John. Significantly, they were always legal partners in the land and businesses that their husbands developed.
George bought a ranch located between Mammoth and Winkelman on the San Pedro River and called it the PZ Ranch. On this ranch he built a town called Feldman, after his wife’s maiden name. Zellweger sold his interest in this ranch and bought another ranch further north. George began to acquire parcels of land methodically so that he could eventually have a large ranch in private hands. Sometimes this was known as the San Pedro Ranch and sometimes the Feldman Ranch. If anything can be said about George Pusch, it is that his ability to acquire valuable land indicated a deep knowledge and understanding of land law, as it existed then, and how to manipulate it. In other words, he was a wheeler dealer.
From the 1870s through the early 1900s, there was no fencing laws nor National Forest, so having a number of cowboys was necessary for the ranch owner especially if he had several thousand head. George never called himself a cowboy, but he loved ranching and the cattle business. When he came west, it was with a pair of red cowboy boots! One story says he was in a corral when a “wild steer took after him, and as George ran for the fence his belt came loose and his trousers slipped, throwing him flat on his face. Luckily a cowboy shot and killed the steer in time to prevent injury and as George got to his feet he exclaimed, “Py Gott, dot vas close!” (Arizona Cattlelog, Jan. 1949)
To serve the cattle industry, he was chairman of the Territorial Livestock Sanitary Board. He was also involved in politics: he served in the Territorial Legislature twice, was a member of the State Constitutional Convention in 1912 and was on the Tucson City Council. It was probably during these political years that he got acquainted with Noah W. Bernard and John Bogan, who owned the Bogan and Bernard Cattle Company in Arivaca. The three first got involved together in an Tucson Ice and Cold Storage business in Tucson. Then they formed the Pusch and Bernard Cattle Company (with Zellweger), under the brand BXP. When Noah W. Bernard died in 1907, Pusch and Zellweger bought out his rights, leaving his son, Noah C Bernard, with 500 shares in the company. The affiliated group then formed the Arivaca Land and Cattle Company, incorporated by George Pusch, John Zellweger, NC Bernard, John Bogan and Ramon Ahumada, who had been the mayordomo or manager. It was shortly before this point in time that the Arivaca Land Grant was disallowed, opening up the Arivaca valley to homesteading. Between 1911 and 1915 George showed his land law acumen and filed on 18 parcels of land as assignee for other individuals, none of who ever lived in Arivaca and some of whom were dead. After they were proved up, George, or his estate, owned the land. Most of the parcels were not the ordinary 160 acre homestead, but were 40 or 80 acres. However, they were in the valuable bottomlands of Arivaca valley. They had water. He then transferred these parcels into the ALCC. Most of these are now part of the 40s.
In 1915 the ALCC applied for the Arivaca federal townsite, which was like a homestead but for a town. Why they did this isn’t clear, but I would speculate that it was a way to corral squatters onto town lots to keep them off the ranch land, to make money selling lots, and/or to protect the more valuable arable land which they might acquire. (The townsite is situated on a shale outcropping and the rest of the soil is hard rocky clay.) Prior to application, in 1914, a civil engineer, E.C.Dietrich, was hired to survey the townsite. There were two public blocks: the Cemetery and the School, and these still remain as part of the townsite under the trusteeship of the Presiding Judge of Pima County Superior Court. The rest of the lots were auctioned off, over the years, up until they were all sold in 1968. But perhaps a major reason was because of some troubles that started back in 1908. In 1919 there was a hearing between the ALCC, George Pusch and the townspeople of Arivaca regarding the SE quarter of the quartersection that had been designated as a townsite. Supposedly it was issued to George Pusch in error, back in 1908. He had turned it over to the ALCC, and it was on this parcel that the Mercantile was built. However there were other people living on that parcel and the ownership was no longer clear. In 1908, Judge Kirkpatrick had designated 160 acres on which the townspeople could live, but had supposedly left out that SE quarter and it had not been included on an official map. It not being marked, Pusch had felt free to apply for it, and it was granted to him. In addition, Dr Ball had been issued 40 acres in error by the land office: this same 40. But he had magnanimously given it back to the government and received from it the 40 acres elsewhere that he thought he had applied for. By applying for a federal townsite, the ALCC could legally obtain the land. After the 1919 hearing, the southeast quarter of the quarter section remained in the hands of the Arivaca Land and Cattle Company, later the Arivaca Ranch. The Arivaca Mercantile, old Hotel, St Ferdinand’s Catholic Church, Arivaca Library and some homes are on that 40 acres. (Until 1950 the Hotel and Store were sold as one property, only being split into two after Marge Schwanderlik Prevor retired and sold the store.)
George and Matilda Feldman Pusch had 9 children, two of whom died in childhood. The surviving children were: Gertrude, George, Henrietta, Wilhelmina, Mabel, Fritz and Walter. (Gertrude’s eldest, Henry Zipf, was active in protecting the Steam Pump Ranch historical site in the 2000s.)
In 1915, George Pusch suffered a massive stroke which incapacitated him for the rest of his life. Mathilda was appointed as guardian of his many properties and interests. He passed away in 1921 but she lived until 1933. John Zellweger passed away in 1923, survived by his wife Sophie who lived until 1948. All are buried in Evergreen Cemetery. John Zellweger also has his name on an Arivaca street, along with the other owners of the Arivaca Land and Cattle Company, including George Pusch. There is no question but that George Pusch had an indelible effect on the development of Arivaca valley.
by Mary Kasulaitis
It could be said that Don Pedro J. Aguirre, Jr. founded the town of Arivaca as we know it. Although the area had been occupied by Native Americans, Mexican ranchers and Anglo miners for many years, when Don Pedro and his family settled here civilization arrived. They began the establishment of a real town, complete with officials, a school, post office and perhaps a church.
Don Pedro, Jr established a store in Altar, Sonora, a town on the stage route. It was there that he met and married Doña Ana Maria Redondo, the daughter of the former governor of Sonora. Dolores, Pedro’s sister, was married to Mariano Samaniego, pioneer Tucson businessman, also from Chihuahua. Eventually the Aguirres were related by marriage to many of the prominent families in Southern Arizona.
Around 1859 the Aguirres began a freighting business between Tucson and points south. Arivaca was an important stage stop on this route. It was on one of these trips that Epifanio was killed by Indians near Sasabe in 1870. Epifanio was married to Mary “Mamie” Bernard, of Westport, Missouri, which was on the Santa Fe Trail. She would later make a name for herself as an authority on Native American folklore and as an instructor of Spanish at the University of Arizona. In the 1870s her brothers, Noah W. and A. C. Bernard, followed her to Arizona. Noah soon moved to Arivaca, and with the help of his in-law Don Pedro Aguirre, Jr, began a long career as a merchant and rancher. Don Pedro and then Noah had a store in the long gray building (built in 1858) across the street from La Gitana, which has had many occupants since that time.
Meanwhile, Don Pedro had established a ranch and named it the Buenos Ayres (original spelling Ayres). He had the pick of all the land in the territory, and chose the land for his home that is now the headquarters of the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge. Originally a stage stop, this ranch was to become a showplace of the Territory. In the early 1880s he built a lake, which enabled him to irrigate crops of corn and beans. He raised both cattle and sheep. In June 1891 he obtained one of the first homestead patents in the area, and by 1903 he had 1100 acres of patented land in the Altar Valley.
In the 1870s the Aguirres were living in Arivaca. Ana Maria and Don Pedro had two daughters, Margarita and Beatriz and a son, Jose Maria. Ana Maria died in 1886. Beatriz married Robert Wood and Margarita married Manuel Redondo. Jose Maria married Carlota Garcia and they had a boy, Pedro and a girl, Anita. Sadly for poor baby Anita, her father died in a fistfight in 1904, three days after she was born and during the party that celebrated her birth. Anita grew up to marry Leonard Hamilton and became the mother of Diane Charlotte Hamilton Caviglia, after whom our Caviglia-Arivaca Library is named.
Another of Don Pedro’s brothers, Indalecio, had established himelf in Arivaca. Don Pedro built a home in Arivaca or, according to one source, renovated an existing house. This house was unfortunately razed to make room for the (new) Post Office but we have a photo of it.
In 1870 he reportedly presided over a meeting in Arivaca in which a council, marshal and other town officials were chosen. There was an attempt to locate, map, and incorporate a townsite in 1879. Don Pedro’s civic interests extended to Pima County, and in 1878 he was elected to the Pima County Board of Supervisors. He was one of the first members of the Arizona Pioneer’s Historical Society.
There was a statewide move to establish schools spearheaded by Governor A.P.K. Safford. In 1879, Don Pedro was instrumental in establishing the Arivaca School District and built the Arivaca School at his own expense. Mary “Mamie” Bernard Aguirre may have been the first teacher, but we don’t have documentation. She had moved to Arivaca about that time from a previous post near Benson where Apaches were raiding. However, she was recorded as teaching at Arivaca in 1884. According to the 1880 census, there were about 300 people living in the area at that time; many of them single men but there were enough children to warrant the presence of a school. Later Pedro was responsible for the…building of another school at the Buenos Ayres Ranch.
Don Pedro’s business interests were extensive. In 1882 he was involved with the establishment of the Arivaca Land and Cattle Company and a suit to clarify title to the Arivaca land grant, but was not able to acquire any land as a result of it. It took till 1902 for the Supreme Court to make a final decision, and they disallowed the grant. Sometime in the early 1880s, the Aguirre family apparently left Arivaca and moved to the new hacienda at the Buenos Ayres Ranch. As was the custom with many ranchers who could afford to do so, they also had a home in Tucson. Left in Arivaca were Noah W. Bernard and Yndalecio Aguirre, who carried on with the businesses started by the older Aguirres. The widowed Don Pedro (age 66) married Magdalena Ortiz (age 16) in 1901 and had two more children, Elena and Amalia. At his death in 1907, Don Pedro was eulogized as one of the most prominent pioneers of Southern Arizona. The two older girls, Margarita and Beatriz, and his wife Magdalena inherited the Buenos Ayres Ranch and sold it to La Osa Land and Cattle Company.
Friends of the Arivaca Schoolhouse and Historic Townsite, Inc. is the custodian of Pedro Aguirre’s old Schoolhouse, now on the National Register of Historic Places.
(Let’s hope we can keep track of all the Pedro Aguirres that appear in this story. For an interesting account of the greater Aguirre family, see Echoes of the Conquistadores by Yjinio Aguirre, Journey of the Heart by Annette Gray and “In the land of good winds: an informal history of Buenos Aires Ranch,”by Betty Leavengood, The Journal of Arizona History, Vol 47, No. 1, Spring 2006.)
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.
by Mary Kasulaitis
She was the subject of a novel and they made a movie about her, but still, Lucretia Roberts is not a household name in Southern Arizona. Well she should be, for Mrs. Roberts was the first woman deputy sheriff in Arizona and perhaps the United States.
It took some time for the newspapers to notice that Lucretia Roberts had won the election for Constable in Canelo (Canille), Arizona. I suppose they thought it wasn’t possible for a woman to win an election for that kind of position, so the Nogales’ Oasis newspaper didn’t mention her by name. However, the forward-looking state of Arizona, as it was enacted in 1912, allowed women the vote. During the first election in the fall of that year, women made the decision and Mrs. Roberts put on her badge, joining Helen Eason for Justice of the Peace. When the results were in, Sheriff William McKnight of Santa Cruz County commissioned her as Deputy Sheriff, thus making her the first in that office in the State.
For some time, it seemed to be a joke, with the Tucson Citizen claiming that “she is an energetic woman and make a good officer not withstanding the fact that many people believe a woman hardly suited to the office of constable.” (Nov 18, 1914). But Lucretia put on her gun and took her job seriously. Perhaps her first task did not involve enforcing laws, but ensured that she received public attention. The Oasis recounted: “Mrs. Margaret Finley and Mrs. Lucretia Roberts, our Canille constable, had a thrilling experience Thursday morning with a couple of wolves. They heard some cattle bawling in a canyon close to Mrs. Goodin’s place. They soon had their cow ponies saddled and rode over to see what was the trouble when they saw the wolves hamstringing a calf. Mrs. Finley soon had her rope down and in pursuit, but the constable trusted to her .45 with which she is some expert and her quick aim soon brought down Mr. Wolf. After making several circles, Mrs. Finley soon had her prey at the end of her rope. Everyone one around Canille is loud in praise of the bravery of both ladies.” (11/19/1914)
The next year, Lucretia returned to the East, from which she had come, and received the attention of the New York Times: “Underneath her big sombrero, Mrs. Lucretia Roberts, Constable and Deputy Sheriff of Santa Cruz County, Arizona, has invaded New York City with Mexican hair lariat and a 45 Colt revolver. However, there is nothing about the little woman, who wears cowhide boots and a tan riding suit, that should cause any uneasiness to the quiet citizens of this metropolis. Rather is she of the type that might suggest the Boston schoolteacher on an outing. Soft spoken in her speech and gentle in her manner, the only woman holder of an elective office in Arizona has pitched her tent for several days at the Hotel McAlpin. Yet underneath her quiet demeanor there is an apparent confidence of ability to handle affairs. Mrs. Roberts said last evening that she had come here to gather funds to build a sanitarium for consumptives. . . She owns a homestead site of 160 acres and has ten saddle horses and 250 head of good cattle. She said last night that she lived ‘in the saddle’ and loved out-of-doors life…Speaking of her election, Arizona’s only woman Sheriff said, “It was a sort of a joke vote in Santa Cruz County a year ago in November. I was elected over two cowpunchers, G. Byerley and John Yost, by three votes to one for them, it being the first time the women voted in the State; but it hasn’t turned out to be a joke for many, for you will remember that we put the State on the dry side in the last election. We women don’t know much about the ballot, but we sided right on the main issues and put them through.’ Speaking of her work as a Constable she said: ‘Most of our arrests are of bad Mexicans and bootleggers. Of course, I can swear in any man at any time as an assistant and they jump at the chance.’ She told of a ride of sixty-five miles from Canille to Bisbee between 7 o’clock in the morning and sundown recently, when she and another deputy, Harry Rafferty, captured a Mexican who had stolen cattle from a neighbor.” (12/4/1915)”’And,’ said Rafferty when he got back, ’if any one thinks our Canille sheriff can be equaled on a long ride, just let them follow her and they’ll have another think.’”
Commenting in the Bisbee Daily Review: “I don’t like the east,” she said with much emphasis, “Too much noise in the streets and too many short skirts on the women. Give me Yuma every time.” (5 Dec 1915) Not withstanding, she had her two sons educated in New York.
In the 1950s one of her sons wrote a novel entitled Star in the West about Lucretia’s experiences in Santa Cruz County. Verifying the actual events is a bit difficult after all these years, but newspaper accounts jibe with many of them. In the 1960s Debbie Reynolds and Andy Griffith starred in a movie based on the book, called Second Time Around. Neither the book nor the movie is easy to come by these days, but keep an eye out for them!
By Mary Kasulaitis
This is the story of two pioneer teachers in Southern Arizona. They were the kind of tenacious self-sufficient teachers that used to be prevalent in the rural schools of Arizona. Of necessity, they were tough, and they didn’t let a little hardship get them down.
John Freeman McDole was born in Ohio in 1854 and attended Northern Ohio Normal School (Teachers College). He began teaching in 1877. In a a few years he married Sophia Wehrmeister and they moved to Kansas and then Nebraska where John practiced other professions and they had four children: Bess, Mathew, Hugo and Ruth. Shortly after Ruth’s birth, Sophia died. John then married Sophia’s sister, Bertha, and they had one son, Paul. John went back to teaching briefly and then he and the two older boys moved to California where he raised cantaloupes. In 1909 they all came to Tucson. Initially he worked for the railroad but then he went back to teaching until he retired in 1928. In those years he taught at Pesqueira School, Amado, Tanque Verde, Bolivia, Zinc and finally Arivaca School where they taught 3 years (1925-28) and then John retired.
Bertha was a force in herself. She had to be, because for many of the years that she and John were married they were separated, for economic reasons. Born in Ohio, she also attended Northern Ohio Normal School and began teaching in about 1876. She put in 18 years in Ohio, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. After her sister Sophia died, she married John Freeman McDole in 1893 and they raised their son and his four children. They came to Tucson in 1909, when John got a job with the Southern Pacific railroad. Apparently they kept a house in Tucson while going hither and yon to teach school. In her “Reminiscences of a Pioneer Teacher in Arizona, 1910-1930,” Bertha said she realized she would have to teach again, so she sent her credentials to Phoenix and received a life certificate to teach in Arizona. A job was advertised at Rillito (between Tucson and Marana) which she secured. After having taught in a nice high school in Missouri, she was shocked at the conditions. She remembered, “Away we sped across the desert for about two miles to a shack, the dirtiest place that I was ever in. I think all the flies for ten miles around had come to greet us. I slept in a bed with a girl about 12 years old whom I think had not had a bath since she was born. The next day I managed to get a room (of my own) about 10×5 feet, no door, just room enough for an Army cot and a few pegs to hang my garments on. I made a little coffee and ate a little canned stuff that I had brought from Tucson…There were no textbooks, only ones that had been discarded from Tucson schools. ..it was a terrible experience…the next year I went to teach in the Amado school, on the Antonio Amado Ranch. The school was in a ramshackle old ranch house infested with mice and rats, quite an improvement on the Rillito school. I was there alone. In the east end of the house was a room for me, at the west end was the schoolroom. There was a better class of children. Mr. Amado retained the middle part of the house where he and his wife stayed from time to time to look after the ranch. One night the horses on the ranch seemed to make a terrible noise. I looked out and saw the hay barn was on fire. I dressed, took my revolver and my flashlight and went to the nearest Mexican shack. I could rouse no one–the fire was raging, the horses stampeding. Finally I fired my gun. At once the whole shack was alive. The fire was finally put out but Antonio never said ‘thank you’ to me.” Bertha went on to teach in Tucson schools and also Tanque Verde, Pantano, Vail, Arivaca and the Las Moras ranch school belonging to Joe Ronstadt, in the Baboquivaris just north of Sasabe. Ronstadt was a great supporter of education. Bertha commented that he let John, who had retired, come help her teach and told them all about the historical background of Las Moras. She said, “It was the most enjoyable school we ever taught at, excepting Arivaca.” Unfortunately she didn’t elaborate on that! Bertha retired in 1930 after 20 years of teaching.
John passed away in Tucson in 1937 and Bertha in 1942, and both are buried in Evergreen Cemetery. They had been active in the founding of First Christian Church in Tucson.
In the meantime, the children were busy with their own lives. Eldest daughter Bess McDole Prather said, ” My mother and father were both teachers and they believed in women doing things. I never learned to cook or sew when I was growing up.” (Arizona Republic, Oct 22, 1973) She did other things. She and her husband moved to Casa Grande in 1920 and Bess lived there the rest of her life (except for the last years in an assisted living place in Scottsdale.) She taught elementary school, had three sons, divorced, opened a women’s accessory store, got involved in politics, was the Postmaster in Casa Grande for 27 years, retired and became a stockbroker. She became involved in women’s rights and issues, using women’s clubs as a platform, but went all the way to the national level in many of her fields of interest. She was a feminist. She lobbied for the Equal Rights Amendment with Alice Paul. She helped Margaret Sanger organize birth-control clinics. She was ‘Woman of the Year” in Casa Grande in 1962. She was a Parliamentarian, which is “an expert in rules of order and the proper procedures for the conduct of meetings of deliberative assemblies.” A list of Bess’s accomplishments would be very long, all because she followed her parent’s advice to “do things.” Bess spent her last years in an assisted living place where she ran the library for the residents and read every book before she allowed it to be on the shelf. (Perhaps she didn’t realize that Librarians aren’t supposed to censor the collection!) She passed away in 1981 at the age of 96. Her three sons and their descendants survived her. There isn’t room here for the exploits of the other children, but needless to say, they were “doing things” as well. It’s a family tradition.
My thanks for these stories go to Rev. Jean Rogers of Tubac, who is Bess’s granddaughter and who does things.