Combing through my piles of sheep stories I came across a document “Early History of Livestock in Arizona.” Who wrote it, when and why is unknown. I will try to check on the source of the document and update this blog when I can authenticate its source. But it does give us some interesting tidbits about both sheep and cattle in a period starting in 1825 and to my best guess, the early 1920s based on the date 1917 used in the history. While I don’t generally write about cattle, I do need to include this little piece of information about a treaty between the citizens of Tucson and the Apaches where the Tucsonans gave the Indigenous people 100 head of cattle. Now, if this was to keep peace between the Apaches and the citizens of Tucson, I wonder if it was successful as there were reports of the Apaches during the time of the Civil War when no military was here to guard against attacks by the Indigenous people killing many settlers and stealing their livestock. This will have to be investigated further. While the history only states that cattle were given for appeasement, it is a well-known fact that sheep did not fair well in the southern portion of the state as they too were stolen for food.
Many of the stories from this report about the sheep have already been written about either in my book, Where Have All the Sheep Gone? Sheep Herders and Ranchers of Arizona – A Disappearing Industry or in earlier blogs so I will just include those facts that continue the history of Arizona’s sheep.
The commissioner of Indian Affairs reports that in 1917, there were 800,000 sheep and goats found in Navajo County. Their herds had increased even with the Army taken many of the sheep in 1859 – 1863 when the Navajo were forcibly removed from their land and taken to Bosque Redondo, New Mexico. We do know that some of the churro sheep were hidden back in canyons with some of the Navajos and it is assumed that these helped repopulate the reservation. It is these churro sheep that are the original and priced among the Navajo for their meat and wool.
Names of sheep ranchers named in the early history include the Brown Brothers, Baker and Campbell, the Mormons (none given by family name), Charlie Goddard, and Campbell and Francis. Baker and Campbell and Francis have been written about in my book, so I won’t elaborate on them. Several Mormon names are also discussed in my book as they had a wool mill at Tuba City for a short time; competition with California would force the closure of the mill. I will need to find my information on Charlie Goddard, as he is no stranger to me.
The history concludes with the statement that cattle reductions occurred in the period from 1893 to 1900 due to a severe drought by more than half. The price per head of cattle dropped to $10. What happened in the cattle business most likely occurred to some extent in the sheep business, but it has been proven in research that many sheep ranchers were able to hold on better than cattle men. It has also been stated that after this period many cattle men went into the sheep business! The history concludes that at the present time, the ranges have too many livestock and they are undesirable animals. This would have been about 1920s when the forest reserve managers began a reduction program which I have written on earlier and will add more to in the next several weeks.
Once again, I believe that the history had to be written shortly after 1917 as that is the latest date given in the report.
Sheep on the range in northern Arizona.