I owe the next several stories to Lonnie West who read an earlier blog and commented on it. Through that comment we exchanged emails and he proceeded to send me more information on his family – Amos. From one of the articles he sent, I decided to do my own research of the first newspaper mentioned and what a wealth of information awaited me to read, digest and write about. This newspaper, The Holbrook Argus, 6-19-1897 was a compilation of events in Apache and Navajo Counties of northern Arizona, the people who settled the area with pictures of these men and some women and pictures of other events that took place. It will be days before I can relate all the information to you, but let’s get started.
The paper began giving some basic facts about Navajo County. It stated that there were about 75,000 cattle and 100,000 sheep. Further, it believed that the section north of the Little Colorado, with an occasional ranch and/or settlement would remain a grazing country forever. Think about it, the year is 1897 and thousands of sheep and cattle roamed the northern portion of the county. Today, sheep may be gone except what is found on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations but there are still cattle in the area.
The paper also looked at the livestock industry for Apache County. Here though sheep really outnumbered cattle; 15,000 cattle to 98,500, sheep. Previous years had not been good for either sheep or cattle in Apache county though. Drought during the previous years reduced the number of livestock. (it makes me wonders if there were that many sheep and cattle, how many were there before the livestock men reduced their herds?) An abundance of rain fell in 1896 and the ranges were covered with lush grasses. The winter snows saw heavy snow falls in the mountains during the winter of 1897 and the rains that had started in June had given hope to the livestock men as they gazed out on the land. It looked like the future was promising for good grazing. That particular portion of the paper ended on a high note stating that herds were being increased instead of decreased.
I find it fascinating that sheep outnumbered cattle two to one in these two counties. It would be interesting to find statistical information for the next years to see how the numbers fluctuated in both cattle and sheep. Ah, research is so fun!
We will leave our story for the moment. There is much to write about for the sheep industry in the days ahead.