The earliest Arizonan newspaper with any information on the sheep industry comes from The Weekly Arizonian, Tucson. It is also the earliest newspaper for Arizona or the earliest digitized! The year – 1859. There was only a hand full of entries reporting sheep happenings.
One sheep man is named, Elias C. Brevoort, Esq. He had purchased “the well-known Reventone Ranch on the Santa Cruz River.” He planned to build a large dwelling house with large corrals, outbuildings and a store. The newspaper said, “This is undoubtedly the best stock raising ranch in the territory.” It went on to state that he planned on stocking the ranch with one thousand head of cattle, besides sheep and hogs. We can surmise one piece of information from this little article and that is the Reventone Ranch had been a ranch for some years. Previously it had livestock from the statement – “the best stock raising ranch in the territory.” What we don’t know is who were the previous owners, how large the ranch was/is, and what livestock they raised.
Brevoort’s name appears in an article stating he came commanding a detachment of soldiers at Ft. Buchanan in 1856. I have not proved or disproved that this is the same man but seems likely given the name. If he had been the officer who brought troops to Ft. Buchanan that maybe how he secured the contract to supply meat to the military men stationed there as this article was found three months later: “Good Beef – The officers and soldiers at Fort Buchanan have ere this been treated to some eatable beef. Last week Mr. Geo. D. Mercer who has charge of the “Reventone ranche”, drove to the fort a lot of fine, fat young beeves, the first supplied under Mr. Brevoort’s contract – The digestive organs of the troops were no doubt somewhat astonished at first!”
We also can locate him in the area in the 1860 federal census showing he lived along the “lower Santa Cruz, Arizona and New Mexico Territory.”
His name only appears in two more newspapers stating that the federal government was annexing his property for his misdeeds during the Civil War. These two articles appeared in 1870 and then there is no other information found so far in later newspapers. I am researching more on the Reventone Ranch from an early travel account in 1864 but have not received the book yet. More details will be forthcoming if there is anything of interest to report.
Another entry stated that in a battle between bands of Navajos and Apache, the Navajos lost four thousand sheep. That would have been a lot of sheep at this time.
My last blog stated that the Weekly Arizona Miner, Prescott reported in 1868 that Arizona was the second wettest state besides Oregon in the West. We were not a state in 1868 but a territory, and in 1859 Arizona and New Mexico were one territory but I digress. Ten years prior, in 1859, there was a little different feeling about the rainfall for Arizona. I quote the article from The Weekly Arizonian, Tucson, in its entirety. “Arizona is a fine country for stock-raising, where ever permanent water can be secured – were it not for Indian depredations and Mexican thieving, the raising of cattle, sheep, and mules, would be a lucrative business, and when those evils are abated the immense pastures of this Territory will be covered with stock for the streams that do not furnish sufficient water for irrigating purposes will water thousands of cattle, and the hills which cannot be cultivated bear grass in abundance.”
A noted difference between the two newspapers was that while both newspapers agreed that the Native American people were a problem, The Weekly Arizonian, Tucson, also cited the Mexicans as a problem. Was the Mexican problem resolved in that 10 years? Or weren’t they a problem in the Prescott area?
The last article about sheep for 1859 stated that 46,000 had passed near Tucson as they were being moved from Texas to California. That was a huge flock of sheep! So little information for someone who wants to know more. The researcher in me wants to know: who owned them, were they owned by one person, two or more; how many men were needed to move that many sheep, how long had it taken them to get from where ever in Texas to Tucson, where was this location in Texas, where were they going in California, had there been problems with the Apache as they crossed, and more questions continually pop into my head. But sadly, there was no other mention of these sheep in the other editions of that year’s newspapers.
And that is the sheep happenings for the year 1859.