A Few Tidbits of Sheep History – Week of May 6th, 1921

There was not a great deal of news for the sheep industry for this past week one hundred years ago if only one newspaper is cited. So, using three different newspapers of northern Arizona and some news from the week before from each of these – The Coconino Sun, Holbrook Tribune and Kingman Miner, the following tidbits were found.

The Coconino Sun reported for the week of May 6th that the sheepmen were doing well in Navajo County. The newspaper had been told by local sheepmen that the conditions of the range and the sheep were excellent.  The sheepmen had reported very few loses in comparison to other areas of the state. The Candelaria’s had boasted that this had been the best season for them. A little later in the Coconino Sun, the newspaper picked up a story that was first reported in the Holbrook Tribune. From earlier reports the range was in fair condition over in Navajo County and two tidbits in the paper confirmed that the sheepmen were hopeful that conditions would remain throughout the summer.  The first report concerned Fred Purcell who had unloaded about 4,000 sheep in Holbrook that he had on the southern range in the Salt River Valley. Due to weather conditions, these sheep would have normally been trailed in 1921 and not put on railroad cars. Purcell had a summer range near Heber. From the Concho area in the county, Juan Candelaria and Sons had shipped wool from the Holbrook station back east. The numbers for his shipment, however, had to be in error as the newspaper stated that Candelaria had shipped 450 sacks of wool, amounting to 11,000 pounds. One sack of wool would have only been 24 pounds and most wool sacks were a minimum of 400 pounds.  This was not reported in any other newspaper and I have not found the Holbrook Tribune to verify the story.  So, a correction will be made if I do find that there is an error.

Continuing with other tidbits of sheep business happenings, there was sad news. In the May 6th edition of the Coconino Sun, the death of Harvey Hudspeth, a well-known sheepman in the Williams area was reported. In an earlier article in the Holbrook News, April 15, a reprint of an article from the Kingman Miner, it reported that Hudspeth was in the process of shearing 15,000 sheep along with The Grand Canyon Sheep Company (20,000 sheep), Cole Campbell (18,000), and the Aubrey Investment Company, (6,000). Mr. Hudspeth had been in Nelson to ship his wool to eastern markets. His death occurred when as he was crossing the tracks, his automobile was struck by the No. 9 train at Nelson.  It can only be surmised that Mr. Hudspeth had not seen the train as he had lost the sight of one of his eyes a few years ago and most likely, he just never saw the train coming.

Mr. Hudspeth, second man from the left. Photograph courtesy of the Williams Historic Photo Project.

Many of the wool raisers were shearing in the northern portion of Arizona where the winter had been mild. Feed was not in abundance on the normal winter grazing areas and the sheep men were looking for greener pastures for their flocks. Recent rains in April held promise that the grasses would be good for the flocks the summer of 1921.

Another sheep man also passed during the spring of 1921 – H. H. Scorse, age 71. He died from injuries he sustained in a hotel fire at Mesa. Mr. Scorse was originally from Chedder, England and came to the United States at an early age. He was well-known in the Holbrook area having a mercantile store and his ranch was south of town. He raised a family here. He was known for many things but one that stood out was his contribution to the Smithsonian Institute of Native American pottery. And the last tidbit of sheep happenings was not Arizonan news, but it does say something about the industry.  It had been reported by the “United States public health service has just bought 2,500 sheepskin coats for the tuberculous patients in its hospitals, so that they may be able to sit out in the air and the sun this winter. It’s the fresh air that counts”.  Just goes to show, how sheep had an impact in our country.

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