Sheep and Trains Don’t Mix

An article from September 27, 1902 in the Williams News caught my attention this week. The article was entitled “Wreck on Canyon Railroad. Work Train Derailed by a Band of Sheep – One Man Killed.”  The information was obtained by the newspaper at the coroner’s investigation because of the death that occurred. So here are the facts of that dreadful day. 

The article began “A backing train, a cut on a curve with a heavy down grade, a large band of sheep and an excited herder resulted in a wrecked train, the loss of one life and a number of men being badly injured on the Canyon railroad, about four miles north of Williams, last Saturday afternoon (September 20th).”

The work train had been sidetracked to allow for another train to pass, the “No.33.” (Probably that train can be identified with further research.) A small train with one engine, two coal cars and a caboose but with a steep grade was all that was needed for this accident to occur. Conductor J. O. Dodge, brakeman E. S. McClure, engineer Lumsden, fireman Price and the 12 men who made up the stringer work crew were on the train. In an area hidden from view by those on the train were a band of Frank Everett’s sheep in the process of crossing the track.

The train was progressing through a deep cut and then a sharp curve when the brakeman sitting in the cupola of the caboose with the conductor saw in front of him no more than 300 yards away the sheep crossing the track. While the brakeman reached to apply the air in the caboose to slow the train, the grade and the curve made it impossible to stop the train from crashing into the sheep. The brakeman testified that the train was going about 20 miles an hour when they hit the sheep. He also testified that the man killed was in the door of the caboose and may have tried to jump and failed.

The caboose ran about 100 feet on the ties before it jumped the track and toppled down the embankment. The two coal cars and engine continued down the track. As soon as possible those men who could help, cut the engine loose and as fast as it could the engine headed to Williams to summons the doctor and help. Once in Williams another car was quickly attached to the engine and with Dr. Tyroler, Agent Hudson and others headed to where the wreck had occurred.

A horrendous site was met by these newcomers. Dr. Tyroler was much in need as every man, except one, had been injured, some worse than others. One man had died. The doctor saw to the best care of those injured in this emergency.  It was now time to remove the shattered pieces of the caboose off the deceased. The injured men and the deceased were loaded on the train and all headed back to Williams where Dr. Tyroler would be able to better attend many of the men’s injuries.  Some of the injuries were cuts, sprained ankles and bruises to arms and legs. One man had a compound fracture of his leg.  

One of the injured was sent to Los Angeles to be further treated. Some of the men were sent to wherever their homes were for recouping.

The six member jury that the coroner had empaneled stated, “We find that the said P.H. Swan, deceased, came to his death in a railroad wreck, on the Grand Canyon railroad, on this, the 20th day of September, A.D. 1902, and said cause was purely accidental and unavoidable; and we, the jury, exonerate all parties from any and all blame.”

I found no other mention of the sheep and how many were injured or killed in the train accident. Mr. Everett is not listed in the January issue of the Williams News as a member of the Arizona Wool Growers Association nor, is he listed in any comment for the rest of 1902 or the year of 1903. Further research will need to be undertaken to determine if this ended Mr. Everett from continuing as a sheep raiser in the state. It is likely he partnered with someone too.  Stay tuned for new information that may be uncovered.

Cowboys and Sheep

The Pleasant Valley War between the Grahams and Tewksbury, cattle and sheep, is well known in Arizona history. It is an understatement to say that there were some cowboys that just did not like sheep and that was any sheep no matter who owned those white woolly creatures. Of course, there were those like George Wilbur who I wrote about in my last blog that raised both sheep and cattle but let’s not muddy up our story.

Our story today is about, well, a sheep owner!  The Candelarias had brought sheep into Arizona from New Mexico settling in the areas around Concho on over to Springerville, the Round Valley area. There were many Candelarias but only one we are interested in in this story: Don Pedro.  Our story took place sometime between 1891 and 1912. A Texas cowboy family had moved into the area and one of them thought it was fun to shoot Don Pedro’s rams.  Don Pedro tried to convince the cowboy not to shoot the rams.  Well, that cowboy, whose name is not known, shot once to many times at Don Pedro’s rams. The next thing the cowboy knew was Don Pedro had shot the horse from under him. 

But this is not the end of the story by any means. Don Pedro was unable to seek legal justice and came up with a better idea to stop the cowboy.  A friend was asked to report to Don Pedro when the Texas cowboy and his family had their next family gathering. How long of a wait this was is anyone’s guess?

When the family gathering was reported, Don Pedro went to their ranch telling those with him he would be back in thirty minutes. Continuing to ride to the ranch house, Don Pedro asked to speak to the patriarch of the family.  Now, with little English spoken by Don Pedro and the patriarch speaking little Spanish, one would think that the conversation would be difficult for either to understand the other.  But Don Pedro had no trouble in getting the family patriarch to understand him. As the story goes, Don Pedro told him that every man, woman and child that was present at the ranch that day would be killed if he was not out in the thirty-minute time he told his men about. The patriarch did not believe Don Pedro and threatened to kill him. But Don Pedro’s plan was now revealed to the patriarch and his family as he was directed to look out the window and see Native Americans had surrounded the ranch house while Don Pedro had been inside.

Moral of the story: do not mess with Don Pedro! He would not be intimidated by Texas cowboys nor would he allow his livelihood (i.e. killing of his rams) taken from him.

A beautiful day for a trip to a old sheep ranch

A bright blue sky, a few wispy clouds, temperatures in the low 80s made for a perfect day trip spent on the rim and in the White Mountains. Leaving early last Wednesday, we drove for three-hours to Heber with a stop in Payson at the Beeline Café for breakfast. The reason for our trip today – a visit to George Wilbur Ranch!  My husband and I were met by Gerald and Gunnar Hancock who graciously took us on this adventure.

George Wilbur/Ryan/Thude ranch

The ranch has had a few owners since it was first started in 1885. George Wilbur was the original owner. Later it was owned by Bill (William) Ryan and his family.  Ryan bought the property from the widow of George in the 1940s. Gunnar Thude in turn bought it from Ryan and he sold it to his daughter, Elma, in the late 1960s. Gerald and Gunnar are grandsons of Gunnar Thude and Elma Thude Sanudo was their mother.  The present owners are in the process of remodeling – house, barn, workshop, root cellar and other places – to be made livable. As much as can be is being preserved as it was when it was used by Wilbur, Ryan, Thude and Sanudo.

One of the biggest changes that have been made at the Wilbur homestead is the solar system (seen on the picture above), allowing for electricity in the house and other buildings. Some cosmetic changes have also taken place. The floor in the cabin had to be replaced and so did the flooring upstairs. The bed in the upstairs is one that Gunnar told me he remembered sleeping in when his mother owned the ranch. 

Elma and Carlos Sanudo’s ashes have been scattered over the ranch. Gunnar told me that he would like his ashes scattered over the rocks he remembered playing on.

All four of these families grazed sheep here and on forest permits in the surrounding area. Sheep grazed these lands up to the late 1990s when Elma Thude Sanudo sold her sheep outfit to the Auza Sheep Company in Casa Grande. Today, sheep may graze for a day or two on the land and use the water tanks that have been here from early times. The tanks have been expanded over the years.

                               

Sheep before shearing or tagging taken in 1984
Sheep summer of 2018 or 2019.

I am thankful that I was able to visit this unique ranch with its connection to the sheep industry.  The Hancock’s drove around the area for a glimpse of the sheep that are grazing in the area, but we had no luck in finding them.  Another visit is planned soon as one of Ryan’s granddaughters wants to visit and I would love to have her stories to go along with her family’s time at the ranch.  Maybe sheep viewing will be on that trip. So, stay tuned.

Wool Growers’ Happenings: Summer 1920

Northern Arizona’s newspapers had a fair number of references to sheep men during the months of June, July, and August 1920. References were found in the Holbrook (Arizona) News and the Coconino Sun (Flagstaff). Both newspapers were consulted, for many times they both have the same story, but the Coconino Sun (Flagstaff) would have more information than the other newspaper. For instance, the Holbrook (Arizona) News gave a brief overview of the happenings at the July joint conference of the Cattle Growers’ Association and the Wool Growers’ Association, but the Flagstaff newspaper had covered the meeting in greater detail. Of course, the meeting was held in Flagstaff.

The Coconino Sun (Flagstaff) in one article said that wool prices for the summer were down and gave the price at $0.44 per pound. I searched agricultural statistics for 1920 and found the following information. Wool prices were down from January prices of $0.50 per pound to April prices at $0.44 per pound or a 12% decrease.  A further drop occurred in July with a 57% drop to $0.28 per pound. The October price for wool continued the decrease, but at a much smaller decline to $0.26 per pound or just 7%.   

Prices had decreased substantially during the middle part of 1920 which forced the Navajo people back to making their own blankets.  The August 20 Holbrook (Arizona) News reported that until recently the Navajos had enjoyed high enough prices for their wool that they could allow blankets to be made by eastern manufacturers.  The paper stated, “But now the bottom has dropped out of the wool market and the wool of the Navajos is moving slowly, if at all, at ten cents a pound.”  One can assume from this statement, that Navajo wool sold at a lower rate than wool from the other sheep found within the state.

Navajo Weaver

A trader at Tuba City, John Kerley, had bought about 150,000 pounds of wool from the Navajo and he was not anticipating making a profit, but was expecting to lose about $10,000. That is about $128,197.00 in today’s money!

It is interesting how the Holbrook (Arizona) News listed information about sheepmen.  They were listed as prominent “sheepmen” or just “sheepmen” with such information that they were in Holbrook for a day or a couple of days conducting business.  Holbrook would have been the largest community in the area being on the railroad and had stores (H.H. Scorse, for example, written about earlier) to buy supplies for their herders and themselves.  Several of the men had other information that I have included. This information was from several different weeks of the newspaper.

From Heber: George Wilbur (he had come up from Phoenix with his family and they would be guests until they went to their home in Heber), John Nelson and E. B. Newman (Newman was taking a band of sheep to the Kansas City Market)

From Silver Creek: George C. Morse (came into town, the article stated, to check out the political scene as elections were just months away), Percy Morse (brother to George) came to town with his wife. Another article found under the heading “Holbrook News Notes” commented that George was a woolgrower of Navajo County and was serving on jury duty.  Since he was a freeholder in both Navajo and Apache counties, he could conceivably serve on jury duty in both counties. He told the newspaper, “feed and water are plentiful in the mountains and the sheep are doing fine.”  At least for July 9th period, we have a clue as to the overall health of the range and in turn the sheep.

From St. Johns: W.A. Saunders (just stated he was a woolgrower and would be in town a couple of days).

H.H. Scorse (written about previously), John Nelson, and E. B. Newman were also listed in the Coconino Sun for July 1920 as having attended the joint meeting of the Arizona Wool Growers’ Association and Cattle Growers’ Association.  I will have more information about the joint meeting in a future blog as a few facts need to be verified.

The Coconino Sun (Flagstaff) for July 30 reported the death of a 25-year old sheepherder that worked for Colin Campbell.  The herder, Antonio Valencio, was struct by lightning while watching a flock of sheep 23 miles southwest of Seligman.  Just goes to show that sheep herding can be a dangerous occupation.

A week later the paper reported that George L. Pratt was in Flagstaff from his ranch southwest of Winslow. He had shipped several carloads of lambs to the Kansas City market.  This is the second mention of shipment of lambs. 

This gives us a glimpse into some of the wool growers and the health of the sheep industry during the summer of 1920.

Sheep at the Verde River

The Joe Manterola Sheep Company gave me the two pictures of his sheep crossing a flooded Verde River in the early 2000s; I think I was told 2005. The other picture is his sheep crossing the river when it was not at flood stage. This picture was given to me by George Groseta. Quite the contrast!

The last picture has been my observations of the sheep crossing the river as you can view in previous posts and in media. It was dangerous for both sheep, donkeys, guard dogs and herding dogs plus the herders to cross the river at flood stage. Notice that the donkey’s ears are just above the sheep’s head in the first picture. Mr. Manterola told me that the sheep were going every which way and they were fighting to get the flock across the river where the trail was for the northward movement toward Flagstaff-Williams area. While I would like to see sheep, donkeys, dogs and herder crossing during flood stage, I would be so worried for any of the animals or men. Flood waters are nothing to joke about and can easily sweep all down the river away from protection or worse, death. This would have been the last crossing the outfit would make before arriving at their summer grazing destination.

Wool Growers’ Happenings: Summer 1920

The months of June, July and August 1920 had a fair number of references to sheep men of northern Arizona in the Holbrook (Arizona) News and the Coconino Sun (Flagstaff). Both newspapers were consulted for the Holbrook newspaper gave a brief overview of the happenings at the July joint conference of the Cattle Growers’ Association and the Wool Growers’ Association, but the Flagstaff newspaper had covered the meeting in greater detail. Of course, the meeting was held in Flagstaff. More information about this meeting will appear in a future blog as a few facts need to be verified.

Wool prices were down from January prices of $0.50 per pound to April prices at $0.44 per pound or a 12% decrease.  A further drop occurred in July with a 57% drop to $0.28 per pound. The October price for wool continued the decrease, but at a much smaller decline to $0.26 per pound or just 7%.   That $0.50 per pound would be equivalent to $6.44 today which I sure all sheep raisers across the world would like to see this year! Even the low end of $0.26 would equate to $3.35 today!

Prices had decreased substantially during the middle part of 1920 which forced the Navajo people back to making their own blankets.  The August 20 Holbrook (Arizona) News reported that until recently the Navajos had enjoyed high enough prices for their wool that they could allow blankets to be made by eastern manufacturers.  The paper stated, “But now the bottom has dropped out of the wool market and the wool of the Navajos is moving slowly, if at all, at ten cents a pound.”  One can assume from this statement, that Navajo wool sold at a lower rate than wool from the other sheep found within the state.

A trader at Tuba City, John Kerley, had bought about 150,000 pounds of wool from the Navajo and he was not anticipating making a profit, but was expecting to lose about $10,000. That is about $128,197.00 in today’s money!

It is interesting how the Holbrook (Arizona) News listed information about sheepmen.  They were listed as prominent “sheepmen” or just “sheepmen” with such information that they were in Holbrook for a day or a couple of days conducting business.  Holbrook would have been the largest community in the area being on the railroad and have stores (H.H. Scorse, for example, written about earlier) to buy supplies for their herders and themselves.  Several of the men had other information that I have included. This information was from several different weeks of the newspaper.

From Heber: George Wilbur (he had come up from Phoenix with his family and they would be guests until they went to their home near Heber), John Nelson and E. B. Newman (Newman was taking a band of sheep to the Kansas City Market)

From Silver Creek: George C. Morse (came into town, the article stated, to check out the political scene as elections were just months away), Percy Morse (brother to George) came to town with his wife. Another article found in Holbrook News Notes commented that George was a woolgrower of Navajo County and was serving on jury duty.  Since he was a freeholder in both Navajo and Apache counties, he could conceivably serve on jury duty in both counties. He told the newspaper, “feed and water are plentiful in the mountains and the sheep are doing fine.”  At least for July 9th period, we have a clue as to the overall health of the range and in turn the sheep.

From St. Johns: W.A. Saunders

H.H. Scorse (written about previously), John Nelson, and E. B. Newman were also listed in the Coconino Sun for July 1920 as having attended the joint meeting of the Arizona Wool Growers’ Association and Cattle Growers’ Association. 

The Coconino Sun (Flagstaff) for July 30 reported the death of a 25-year old sheepherder that worked for Colin Campbell.  The herder, Antonio Valencio, was struct by lightning while watching a flock of sheep 23 miles southwest of Seligman.  Just goes to show that sheep herding can be a dangerous occupation.

A week later the paper reported that George L. Pratt was in Flagstaff from his ranch southwest of Winslow. He had shipped several carloads of lambs to the Kansas City market.  This is the second mention of shipment of lambs. 

This gives us a look into some of the wool growers and the health of the industry during the summer of 1920.

Forest Fires July 1920 and a little sheep.

Fires were raging in Arizona the month of July, 1920, but from what was reported in the The Holbrook (Arizona) News and the Coconino Sun (Flagstaff) one wonders if we are repeating the same scenario again 100 years later. But upon further reading “Raging Forest Fires” the size of the fires was relatively small in comparison to the fires this summer where 100,000s of acres are burned with the loss of buildings, i.e., homes. The largest fire in 1920 consumed over 5,000 acres in comparison, but nevertheless they still thought the fires had burned to much forest and land. Any loss of forest land is devastating!

In the Coconino Sun (Flagstaff) July 16, there appeared an article entitled “Raging Forest Fires.”  Information included how many acres had been burned, the cause if known and how many men were fighting the fires in some cases.

Forest fires have been raging in several places in the Coconino National Forest during the last few days of the week of July 4 and into this week of July 12, burning over 5,000 acres of land. These fires were under complete control this past Tuesday night of July 11.

The fires in the Tusayan National Forest have been even more extensive. A fire in the Saginaw tract, northeast of Williams, had burned over more than 2,000 acres on Wednesday, July 14, and it was still raging along a 4-mile forest.

Three other larger fires in the Coconino forest were listed in the order in which they broke out:

Dead Man’s Flat had burned over 1,500 acres of uncut timber of the forest reserve. It took 40 men to put out the fire which was believed to have been set by sheepherder.

The Greenlaw Fire located southeast of Flagstaff near the road to the Cliff Dwellings has burned over 900 acres of which over half the forest had been cut.  Most of this forest land belonged to the A.L.&T. company. The cause of this fire was unknown. Even though the fire was smaller than Dead Man’s Flat it took 75 men to handle it.

The last fire in the Coconino forest is the Black Bill Park fire which has burned over 2,000 acres, all forest land and uncut timber land. One hundred men and three days were needed to get it under control. Unfortunately, the fire was started by Nestor Garcia, Campbell & Francis sheepherder, who was bringing a band of bucks through. Nestor threw away a burning cigarette stub catching the grass on fire. He fought the fire a few moments, then gave up and left it without reporting it. He was arrested and had a hearing before Justice of the Peace R. J. Kidd, who fined him $25 and gave him a 90-day suspended jail sentence.

Another fire was called Dry Lake, near Fred Garing’s ranch. It covered 300 acres, of partly uncut lumber, partly private land and the rest University and A.L. & T. land. It was reported as a very stubborn fire to fight and took 69 men to handle it.

This article appeared in the Coconino Sun (Flagstaff) for July 16th. It was not uncommon for the newspapers back in early Arizona times to include such topics of interest to the community at large. It is included here in its entirety:

Preventing Fires on Farm

Experience has shown that fire prevention should be universally practiced. The farmer, however, should give special attention to the elimination of fire hazards and the adoption of protective methods. This is true for several reasons. In the first place, his house, barn and outbuildings are usually constructed of combustible materials; being more or less isolated they are subject to lightning strokes; kerosene and gasoline are likely to be stored about the premises and used for light and power; he must fill his barn with hay, straw and feed which are subject to spontaneous combustion and last but not least, he is usually outside of the protection of a fire department. Too often a fire once started in a farm building results in a total loss, while the owner stands sadly by with his family and his neighbors, and wishes that he had taken some of those precautions which he had been considering.

Now you may wonder why a website devoted to the history of Arizona’s sheep industry would include information on forest fires. The forest reserves were home to the sheep in the summer and burning of the forest would not be beneficial to any sheep rancher. He would lose his grazing land maybe for a year or two until the grasses had sufficiently recovered to allow grazing once again. The fire could be in areas that where the trailing of the sheep occurred each spring and fall and thus there would not be sufficient feed for the animals while on the trails. Concern for his flock every summer in years of drought, thus making the forest more susceptible to fires, was never far was the sheep rancher’s mind. He could lose a band of sheep. There were reports of herders and the dogs, who helped keep the flocks together, had been killed by lightning. Obviously, forest fires are detrimental to the environment and thus affected domesticated livestock and forest animals. In this time-period, fires were just as deadly as they are today!

And that is the news from July 1920.