It has been two years since the Auza’s have been able to trail their sheep for three weeks to the area near Williams. It has been extremely dry the past two years. It was always great fun to watch the herders move the sheep the day that they went through the underpass on State Route 260 near Cottonwood. My husband and I would travel from the Buckeye area the day before to catch the action of the herders, dogs, donkeys and sheep. The sheep once they had moved through the underpass on State Route 260 would head toward the river. Today I concentrate on the donkeys who carried the camp equipment, cooking utensils, personal items of the herders, and food for the herders as well as the guardian dogs.
Just a few tidbits of information today as there has not been a great deal about sheep found in the newspapers of the 1866 or 1867. From a journey taken in 1853 that was reported in the 1866 newspaper Arizona was depicted as an ideal sheep raising area. The two-page newspaper story in the Arizona Miner, Fort Whipple, was taken from a San Francisco newspaper of a journey in 1853 by Mr. Aubry who across Arizona from New Mexico to California via the southern route of the Gila River with sheep and wagons. Aubry reported that “a large portion of the trail over which I passed-say some 250 miles west from the Rio Grande-is, for the most part, admirably adapted to farming and stock raising.” He was planning on doing another trip with sheep in 1854. Whether he undertook that trip, no information has been found at this time. While there was other information about Arizona, I only was interested in the sheep crossing our state.
Again in 1867, a journey from San Francisco to Prescott was included in the Arizona Miner, Fort Whipple as it was taken from the Examiner, most likely San Francisco but not given the newspaper’s origin. The paragraph of interest stated, “It is quite out of the question to describe in a single letter, all the advantages that Central Arizona possesses, or to enumerate the inducements it offers to permanent settlers. As a stock-raising district, no part of the Pacific (sic) to the northward can even bear comparison. Numerous grasses, of the most luxuriant growth and nutritious description, cover the country to the very summit of the mountains. For sheep, no place in the world could surpass, if equal it. As to farming, if wild grain is any criterion, this is surely the place to cultivate; for I have seen hundreds of acres of wild rye and oats at a glance, that made me instinctively look for a farmhouse (sic). Better crops I never saw anywhere, and all to be had for the gathering from the bountiful hand of nature …. The last paragraph also states that with all the wild grapes growing here the author predicted that Arizona would become a great vine producer.”
While the last part of the information is not germane, I thought it was interesting especially with Arizona having a wine producing area in the central part of the state as well as the southern.
The last piece of information to report about 1867 was what a person or family were allowed to retain in the case of a bankruptcy. Quoting from the Arizona Miner, Fort Whipple, again, “keep Household furniture, and other necessary articles, in value not exceeding $500; and in addition for those having a wife and children, 1 cow, 10 sheep, 2 hogs, 25 bushels of charcoal, 2 tons stone coal, 200 pounds of fat, 5 bushels of potatoes, 200 pounds of wheat flour, 2 cords of wood, 2 tons of hay, 10 bushels of turnips, 10 bushels of corn, or meal made therefrom, 10 bushels of rye, or the flour made therefrom, 20 pounds of wool, 20 pounds of flax, 1 sewing machine, 1 (a blurred word) in church and the wearing apparel of the whole family.
Lastly, I also stopped by Rovey Dairy today to get lamb burger and sheep cheese. Here is just one of the pictures from my visit:
My last blog should have stated that the information came from 1869 and I would be putting the news happenings for 1870 next. However, today’s blog comes from the Arizona Miner, Prescott, for 1864 as some of them just became available. There was a total of three available for the year of which two had articles on the sheep industry and one of them was attempting to influence more people to become involved in raising sheep in Arizona!
In the article, titled “The Season” it sang praise for the livestock industry and especially for sheep within the state. The article stated, “The constant freshness of the grass is gratifying to the stock raiser. The country is beyond question the finest for pastoral purposes upon the continent. Immense herds of sheep and cattle may be kept in good condition the year round without expense save for herders.”
The other article in the November 23, 1864, the Arizona Miner reported on travelers to Arizona and the difficulty of navigating the roads because of the large amount of rainfall in the past week. Two of those traveling this road were Captain Hargrave and Lieutenant Taylor and they had lost part of their large drove of sheep to either the Navajos or Apaches. In this same article Mister Huning, who will have sheep or may have already acquired them, was mentioned bring a large shipment of supplies from Albuquerque. It has been mentioned before in this blog that Huning had a store in Holbrook.
And that is 1864 sheep happenings. Really wowed you today, huh? As more newspapers are digitized for 1864, there may be more sheep sightings to write about in future blogs! So, stay tuned.
And just a different kind of sheep!
After finding a little sheep history in The Weekly Arizonian, Tucson, for 1859, the next year to carry any news was found in 1868 in the Weekly Arizona Miner, Prescott.
Not all newspapers were digitized for that year so we can only report on what issues are available, of course. The August 15th edition has already been posted here on this blog about Arizona being a good stock country and the second wettest state after Oregon. I don’t understand how we could have been the second wettest area, but I just report what was written! So, while that is hard to phantom, the newspaper carried an article from the Los Angeles Star stating that Arizona had great advantages as a sheep country. One of their reasons was stated that the territory had no “clover burr” which would get into the sheep’s wool and reduce its value. The Los Angeles Star continued, “The day will come yet we have no doubt, when all the vast plains between the Juniper Mountain and the Colorado will be covered with flocks and herds; when the sheep will be driven to the banks of the river and there shorn, and the fleece dispatched at once by steam to market. The opening of the navigation of the Colorado river is as essential to the prosperity of Arizona…” There is no need to continue the negative commentary regarding the Native American living in Arizona as it does not add to our story; just suffice it to say, the newspapers thought that the Native American was a detriment to raising livestock in Arizona.
Finishing out the year two editions of the Weekly Arizona Miner for December 19 and 26 reported Campbell & Buffam, who were merchants of Prescott, and Jas. Baker were driving a large herd of sheep from California and they and their sheep would arrive soon in the area. We were told nothing more and looking into the next years papers again that were available for 1869, we know that the sheep arrived as in July 1869 they were shearing and proud of the amount of wool their sheep had produced. We also find that Jas. Baker was off again to purchase more sheep but this time he was going to New Mexico to make his purchase.
Slim pickings for 1868 but as more digitized newspapers are made available more information on the early sheep industry may come to light.
It takes time to read all the newspapers across the Territory for each year and then assimilate that information. Of course, there were not many newspapers in the early years, so it goes a little quicker but as more towns set about having a newspaper, it will take a little longer to look through each of them. So, stay tuned for 1869.
In the Weekly Arizona Miner, Prescott, February 1869 comes the following story about raising sheep dogs. While the story was written about the practice taking place in Texas, I am sure that it could have taken place anywhere, but I will leave that to my sheep friends who can debate the article.
Quoting from the newspaper – “In the course of some conversation in relation to dogs, Governor Anderson of Ohio, related a Texas practice in training dogs with sheep. A pup is taken from its mother before its eyes are opened and put with an ewe to suckle. After a few times the ewe becomes reconciled to the pup, which follows her like a lamb, grows up among and remains with the flock and no wolf, man, or stranger dog can come near the sheep, and the dog will bring the sheep to the fold regularly at half-past seven o’clock in the evening, if you habitually feed him at that hour.”
Just a fun little story to end the week.
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.
One of the earliest newspapers in Arizona, The Weekly Arizona Miner, Prescott, had an interesting article claiming Arizona as good stock country. Here is the article in its entirety.
“It may not be generally known that Arizona is one of the best grazing countries in the world, but it is a fact. Over a year ago, Mr. Herbert Bowers called our attention to a matter that should be made known. He said, that for a sheep county, this Territory was superior to any section of the continent, from the fact, that in the whole Territory, there is not to be found a “burr” of any description, consequently, the wool which can be produced here would surpass that of all other countries. Then, again, our climate, (or rather climates,) is so mild, that shearing could be done at almost any season of the year, without fear of (as is the case in other countries) whole flocks being chilled to death by cold blasts. Nothing but fear of Indian depredations has kept people from bringing flocks of sheep here, and we would be departing from the truth were we to say that no such fear need deter people from doing so any longer, although, were sheep and other stock brought here and properly guarded, they would be as safe here as in California. So long as depredatory bands of hostile savages roam over the Territory, so long will our people suffer loss of property by them, and we are not idiots enough to expect perfect immunity from these raiders until enough population comes to, and settle in, the Territory to overcome and quiet the scamps. The military serve a very good purpose, but they are too few in numbers to hunt down and capture all the two-legged coyotes in the Territory. When the railroad is built, when our mines become developed, and protection for life and property is guaranteed, people who now look upon Arizona as a hot, dry, useless country, will see their mistake. In fact, no country in the world possesses more advantages than does Arizona, and instead of it being a “dry” country, it is, next to Oregon, the wettest country on the Pacific Coast.”
The article was from August 15, 1868! I left the article as written by the newspaper and its opinion on the Native American problem as they saw them at the time. As to whether Arizona was the second wettest “country” after in the 1860s still needs to be researched.
As I am presently researching the Weekly Arizonian, Tubac, in 1859, I hope to find some story or stories about the sheep industry which would be the earliest in the territory. So stay tuned.
Many of the viewers to this webpage have contacted me about a variety of topics from help with finding a shearer, to having information about your family or knowledge of those in the sheep industry in Arizona. Thank you for reaching out to me. I would love to contact each of you for more details. With that said –
To the woman researching Col. Thomas Thorp – I have seen information about him in early newspapers of northern Arizona but none of the editions said he was in the sheep business. I will remember his name as I continue to research the early newspapers. As for him leaving his wife alone with a child and the family flock of sheep, she would not have been the only woman in Arizona left with sheep while her husband was gone for any of a variety of reasons. One woman’s husband died leaving her with very young children, a child on the way, and a flock of sheep to tend. I am researching that family as I comb the early newspapers of western Arizona. I hope to add to what they know about their family but have only found one short sentence about her which stated the death of her husband. The family was unsure as to that date and now we have confirmation to that fact. It leaves open questions as to where he was buried, if she took his body back to their remote ranch, and the obvious question, the sheep. How long did she have the sheep, did she have help besides her children, etc., because we know she remarries and the couple went into cattle. There is a short article in one of the newspapers about herders working for a person with her last name. I cannot confirm if it was her but the time period does fit. But research does take time and I am sure more will be discovered somewhere in the newspapers of that part of the state! I also know of at least one other woman left alone with the family sheep while the husband was gone.
That answers at least a part of the inquiries I have had the past two weeks here. Some of the inquiries I have answered via email to that individual. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions. You further my research along as I now have more names to keep in mind as I scourer the papers.
Keep those inquiries coming and your comments! I try to answer each one in a timely manner.
Several short tidbits of information about the sheep industry to finish off the year 1885.
The St. Johns Herald, St. Johns, Arizona, June 1885, had this information on Don Antonio Gonzales who was introduced in an earlier blog. Briefly, he had fallen heir to wool and mutton earlier in the year of 1885 that had been valued at least $50,000. The newspaper stated that, “The friends of Don Antonio Gonzales have forwarded to Governor (Frederick Augustus) Tritle a petition signed by most of the citizens of St. Johns, asking that he be appointed a member of the Board of Wagon Road Commissioners of Apache County, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Ebin Stanley. Mr. Gonzales is a man so well known throughout the county that the simple fact of his appointment will be sufficient guarantee that the interests of the people will be conscientiously looked after. We hope the Governor will make the desired appointment. Many advertisements in various editions of the newspaper showed that Don Antonio Gonzales had a store in St. Johns.”
Another piece of information found in the June 25th edition of the newspaper was the ad from Holbrook for the sale of Merino bucks. Jewett & Munson had a store in Holbrook and had shipped from California 400 Spanish and French Merino Bucks that were advertised to be “heavy shearers and are used to being herded on the range; are suited to Arizona ranges and climate. Will be sold cheap in lots to suit.” This is not the first time that an ad for Merino sheep has been found in the northern Arizona newspapers.
Prior to the sheepmen organizing into the Arizona Sheep Breeders and Wool Growers Association in 1886, a least one county, Apache County, had their first preliminary organization meeting in September 1885. At that meeting they resolved to hold a convention for permanent organization and the election of officers that November. And our dear sheepman, Antonio Gonzales, was made the temporary secretary of the organization. The St. Johns Herald’s newspapers from the end of October to the end of November have been destroyed or at least not digitized. It has been impossible to follow up on whether the organization did meet the first day of November and there are no other newspapers that have discussed this organization. It could be that with the state Arizona Sheep Breeders and Wool Growers Association founding in 1886 took the forefront of the mutual interest for the sheepmen across the state and county organizations went by the wayside. It would be a year before the state organization would be organized. It can only be speculated that there was no interest by the sheepmen in the county to form a local organization or the state organization took precedent. Once again, no other record has been found of the county’s association. Further research may uncover what happened to the Apache County Sheepmen’s Organization.
Another little tidbit of information about the county was found in the column “Local News” about Robert and James Scott. These two men are well known in the sheep business and from the little snippet we learn that they were pioneer sheep raisers in the county and owned large ranch interests near Show Low. They were in St. Johns on business. The “Local News” column has many little one-line pieces of information that mentions who was in town and usually lists their occupation but not always.
The last piece of information for closing 1885 is the death of one of Antonio Gonzales sheepherders, Jose Lusers. At the initial writing of the death in mid-August, no suspect was given, just a very detailed accounting tracing the bullet through the sheepherder’s body; way too much gory detail for me! The rest of the year’s newspapers that can researched did not have other information on Lusers’ death. It may be found on who was the killer when other northern Arizona newspapers are researched for 1885 and the beginning of 1886. Unfortunately, we don’t find any St. Johns Herald again until April 1886.
We can now close the year 1885 from information taken from the St. Johns Herald. So, until next time, happy trails!
Saturday, March 5th, Gunnar Thude along with his daughter, Elma Sanudo, were inducted into the Arizona Farming and Ranching Hall of Fame (AZFARE.org). It was a great evening, and it was amazing that so many of the members of the two families were able to attend, even two from Denmark and Gunnar’s hometown. A few pictures from the event.
I was honored to be able to help these two families get nominated and inducted into the Arizona Farming and Ranching Hall of Fame. If you want to read more on this family, please see an earlier blog.