Snow in July?

As I sit here this Sunday afternoon,  our awesome God has finally allowed the clouds to spring a leak giving us good rains  yesterday and today and a good share of the state is seeing those leaking clouds bringing much desired rains to replenish man, beast and the land. This rainstorm reminds me of when I lived in the east valley of the Phoenix metropolitan area in late 1980s and early 90s as the rains would last for hours if not for the whole day. It has been raining steady for the last five hours and it doesn’t look like it will let up from that precious moisture in the short term.

It is a good time to write about the rain and compare it  to July of 1921 when the Coconino Sun and other newspapers reported that the “Drought is Busted Wide Open.”  The livestock and range report while saying that the range looked better than in the previous six months, some areas had seen little rain.  Where the drought had been the hardest in the state livestock was still being feed. 

Snow Falls on the San Francisco Peaks!

What amazed me of all the reports on the weather was this one liner in the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff for July 29, 1921: “The Peaks received a fine covering of snow Monday forenoon while Flagstaff was being treated to another of the recent frequent summer showers.”  That must have been a sight to see in July!

Newspaper Accounts of July Rains

                             “Mr. Keyster, of the Grand Canyon Sheep Co., was in town yesterday, as happy as a lark. Said the rain they had there was a blessing. Four inches of hail, that just missed the farmers whose crops it would have damaged, covered the hills and dales; then the rains descended and the floods came, and when it was all over Government Tanks, Moritz Lake and several other tanks were filled to the brim. With 5,000 additional cattle from the desert country grazing in that section, the water wouldn’t have lasted ten days more. Now, Mr. Keyster says, the cattle, which had been hanging around the tanks continuously, have struck off for the higher country, which is taken by cattlemen to mean that they sense a wet season.

                             “Supervisors Garing and W. H. Campbell, Dr. Felix Manning and County Attorney F. M. Gold, who spent part of the week at Grand Canyon, say there was a dandy rain there and at Rainy Tanks this week. There was also rain, but not as heavy, at two or three points on the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon road.

                             “Most of Black Bill and Doney Parks have been wet down in fine shape. The section between Mormon Lake and Lake Mary had what almost amounted to a cloudburst. Autoists coming in from Phoenix say that around Bumblebee it deluged a great area.

                             “Flagstaff lawns will need no more water from the city reservoir for some time, the fine shower yesterday filling a long-felt want.

                             “At Fort Valley there was a fine rain Tuesday and another yesterday. At Buck Taylor’s ranch at Fort Valley, there was more than eight inches of hail. Buck said it looked like two feet of hail and water. His garden and corn was ruined. So far as known, the hail did only little other damage in that section.”

Farmers in the vicinity of Spring Valley were getting good rains for their crops but little water was added to the water tanks.  Farmers in the Salt River Valley downstream of Roosevelt Dam were assured that the water level would guarantee provisions for about 16 months.  It must have been good rains to have rivers and washes behind the dam give up that much precious water.

Another report stated that the drought had also broken on the Navajo Reservation.  It was looking grim on the reservation with stock dying or dead so the rains were welcomed by all, Native American and livestock. Some of the reports on the reservation were that a cloudburst hit Tuba City, Moencopi Wash was running nearly filled, and the nearly 15,000 sheep trying to get whatever water was in the mud at Red Lake should now have water to last for months.

Lightning Caused Death

With all the rain, there was one other sad note, reported in the Holbrook Tribune: a young sheepherder, his burro and dog had been killed by a lightning bolt six miles south of Snowflake. The sheepherder, Augustine Ayala, worked for the H. H. Scorse company, Holbrook. He was planning on quitting as a sheepherder at the end of the week.

While the rains we are receiving today and have received in the past week may not break our drought it surely has given us much needed rain. It will not fill up the dams that supply our needs throughout the year, it will renew the grasses for the livestock, our lawns and vegetation will be greener, and the forests will get the moisture they need to help keep forest fires at bay.

Joint Meetings, New Sheep Raisers and Wool Shipments

While July 1921 may have seemed there was little information on the sheep industry, there was some important happenings, especially in regards to the joint meeting of the Wool Growers and Cattle Growers Association. While that topic will only be briefly highlighted in this post, it really deserves a post all to itself which I will do next time. But some other happenings for the month were the announcement of new sheep raisers, i.e, births, and the amount of wool shipped from Holbrook. 

Joint Meeting Announced

A joint meeting between the Wool Growers Association and the Cattle Growers Association was announced and was to be held at the Orpheum Theatre in Flagstaff, the second week of July.  Due to the common interests of both organizations, a joint meeting was called to agree upon common goals and to work together for the benefit of both sheep and cattle men in the state.  Drought, short feed and other grazing troubles that the government has put on both industries compelled them to work together.  The Coconino Sun stated, “The general comment is ‘most of us are busted but haven’t found it out yet.’ Still the grim faced old cow and sheep men are not putting up a great wail, but are digging in believing that hard work and patience will again see them enjoying their full measure of prosperity.”  The Secretary of State, Ernest Hall, expressed similar sentiment during the joint meeting of the States’ Farm Bureaus.  “It commences to look as though business conditions throughout the state have been struck rock bottom and there is a feeling that Arizona will soon be on her way back to prosperity again,” he declared.  Others attending the State Farm Bureau meeting stated that it was imperative that livestock owners and farmers work together for the beneficial good of them all.

The State Livestock Sanitary Board also held meetings this week. Many of the cattle or sheep men  belong to this organizations and having the meetings in one location, allows a larger attendance and sharing of ideas.

Future Wool Growers

The Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, announced the birth of two new wool growers in the state. Both children were born in May but the newspapers were often late in publishing such information usually because of not being notified. Word did not travel as fast in 1921 as it does in 2021. The births could have happened elsewhere in the state as the men were with their sheep while the wives were often in summer or winter grazing homes depending on the time of year and had not moved with their family belongings to where the sheep would be for the season. Travel especially could be delayed if the woman was expecting soon.  It was the women’s responsibility to pack up the house goods needed each time their husbands moved the sheep and follow, usually after school was out for the summer and before school would begin in the fall to keep school age children in one school for the year.  Both wool growers had summer homes in the Flagstaff area and sometimes the birth news came from family members or friends of the family. Let’s see who these youngsters were: Mike and Vicencia (the correct spelling) Martinez Echeverria were the proud parents of a girl which they named Josephine.  Harlow Alfonso was born to Harlow A. and Rose A. Gibson Yaeger.  There is more to the story of the birth of Harlow though. In another newspaper(this article was given to me by a member of the Yaeger family), it was reported, “After trying in vain on Monday to get word to Harlow Yaeger that he was wanted at home, Stuart Campbell went to Harlow’s Diablo Canyon ranch and corralled him, to bring him back to town. The reason Harlow’s presence was so badly needed at home was because of the arrival of a young man that morning who claimed that his name was Harlow jr. (sic) and who cried lustily for his dad.”

Wool Shipped

 In other news, 29,000 pounds of wool was heading to the Boston wool market from Holbrook according to the Holbrook Tribune. Five wool growers were the shippers: Gloria Baca of Springerville; L. S. Garcia and J. Dunley, St. Johns;  J. Hancock, Show Low, and Sandoval & Son, Concha.  Hancock was shipping the most wool, 10,000 pounds. It was believed that another 31,000 pounds would be heading east in the near future by other sheep growers.

Holbrook Train Station, rebuilt in 1900. Used for shipment of wool, sheep and cattle to eastern markets. This is the building today, just one of the historic buildings found in Holbrook, Arizona.

And that is the news for the first part of July 1921.  Next blog will have more details on the joint meeting of the Wool Growers and Cattle Growers and some interesting weather correlations to today.

Fire Fighting July 1921

As we compare the news of the first week in July 1921 with present day, it seems at least one fire was burning in the state back one hundred years ago, a far cry from our situation in Arizona July 2021. The men fighting the fires in the early 1900s were not professional firefighters as we have today but ordinary men – prospectors, timber men, sheep owners and any others, who were willing to fight the fire.  These men brought their own tools, camp outfits and chuck wagons and remained fighting the fire until there were no hot embers left. Sheep men and cattle men had good reason to go fight these fires as the land being burned was where their livestock would graze or were grazing. So, we will look at that fire but look at other pertinent news about fires and what was being proposed for school children.

Big Fire

A headlines in the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff,  read “Big fire south end of forest” in the Coconino National Forest. It burned 5,000 acres!  The newspaper went on to describe the fire,

“It is a rough country, filled with box canyons, about ninety miles from Flagstaff, and 25 miles from Payson. The men had to be walked in the last ten miles to the fire, over new trails recently built by the forest service. Dave Haught’s services were requisitioned as guide, as he has busted that country for years and knows all of it. Bill Conley, Winfield Beard, A. Peck, Elmer Selck, Earl Sick and others were requisitioned with their cars to carry the fire fighters down from here.”

The newspaper further stated that the fire had started in two places at once and had been fueled by winds blowing below the Mongollon Rim the previous days. At the time of the newspaper going to press, a cause of the fire was unknown. To the detriment of the stockmen in the area already suffering from the drought which kept their sheep and cattle from good winter grazing, the area of the fire also was where J. D. Newman, John Verkamp, D. W. Hudson and the Clear Creek Cattle Co. grazed their stock, further hindering these men’s economic recovery of poor lamb crop and wool as a direct result of poor winter feed,

Earlier editions of the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, that year also mentioned fires. In the March 11 edition, it had been reported that the forest fires had started early for the southwest. In the first ten days of March, six fires had been reported in Arizona and New Mexico. Fortunately, these fires were not extensive and did little damage. Two of the fires in the White Mountains had exceed 25 acres as they were fanned by high winds which always made controlling fires difficult. The forest service was anticipating a severe fire season due to the lack of precipitation over the winter months. Fast forward four months to July 1921, and a fire had consumed 5,000 acres. 

In that same March 11th edition of the Coconino Sun an intriguing article appeared: “To Teach Boys and Girls Fire Prevention Methods.” The Fire Marshals’ Association of North America wanted to secure legislation making the teaching of fire prevention methods to school children compulsory. The Forest Service and the United States Department of Agriculture strongly agreed and they hoped that such knowledge would make the task of protecting the forests easier.  “The whole question of adequate timber supply for the future needs of the American people, the chief forester points out, hinges on the protection of our forests. ‘Millions of acres of tree growth,’ he declares in urging the need for a law of this kind, ‘are destroyed each year by fires, and as a result of these repeated burnings we have in the United States today 245,000,000 acres of cut-over lands that are only partially restocking and more than 80,000,000 acres that are wholly non-productive. A great majority of the forest fires are man-caused, and therefore preventable. There are things which every child should know, for it is on them that the heaviest part of the future burden of curtailed timber resources will fall’.”  The paper reported that one eastern state, New Jersey, was the only state to have passed the compulsory teaching of fire prevention to school children. It was expected for other states to follow suit. Do you wonder if Arizona was one of the states that passed such legislation?  My next research project! But I digress.

Continuing further in the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, the April 15th edition continued to bring fire awareness to the public. Francis A. Chisholm, the County Agricultural Agent wrote, “In the past ten years 4800 fires which burned over 297,176 acres were reported on the National Forests of Arizona and New Mexico, according to District Forester Franck C. W. Pooler, of Albuquerque. Of this number, 45 per cent were man-caused and the remainder resulted from lightning. It cost the Forest Service and cooperators nearly $100,000 to extinguish these fires while the actual loss in timber and forage runs well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.” The district forester reported that these lightning caused fires were less damaging in area than those caused by human carelessness.  Maybe teaching school children and adults about fire prevention would be a great idea!

Firefighting Today

A lot has changed in firefighting in the last one hundred years. Just like today, a fire can be pushed in an instant by gusting winds into an area that is hard to manage by firefighters on the ground. Those canyons and chasms can only be safely reached by the air support of water tankers today.  One hundred years ago, the ordinary men, many of whom were livestock owners, would be the ones traveling into that canyon with primitive firefighting equipment. How they managed to keep the fires under control with unsophisticated equipment just goes to show the hard work and determination of the men fighting these fires as this was the land that provided their grazing for their animals. They wanted to protect it for it was their livelihood. They did not or would not intentionally destroy the land that provided for them and their families. Why would they? 

With the high spring winds that come each year and seemingly has not stopped this year and the excessively dry conditions which create a double hazard to fighting fires, why does the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and other governmental agencies put such tight restrictions on the number of animals on the land, how long the animals can graze that land, and when they have to move?  Is it better for a balance between grazing and forest management then to see the forest burned up? What about the wildlife that also are killed in such forest fires and the loss of grazing lands in their future? See two pictures below. I am sure that there are many more on the internet that could be added here. Wildlife and people do not win in such an environmental catastrophe. Environmentalists have had too much say in the management of our forest lands. Livestock raisers do not want to destroy the land that allows them a livelihood.  They build water tanks and provide salt links for their animals but the wildlife also take advantage of these too. They were environmentalists before the environmentalist even knew what that word meant. It is ludicrous to even think that farmers and ranchers are not good stewards of the land! 

May be an image of animal and nature
Photos by Marina Amaya Diaz

Weather, Grazing Fees, and Financial Pool to Help Stockmen

Little was mentioned about individual sheep men during the middle of June 1921, but there was some important business being conducted to help the livestock owners, both sheep raisers and cattle men, to be able to survive the continued downturn in the market and drought conditions. In the coming weeks, more will be said about this as the cattlemen and sheep raisers join together in their annual summer meeting to discuss what was common problems for both and make resolutions to fight some of the injustices that both organizations perceived and how best to handle as a joint force.

Weather Conditions Still Causing Havoc in the Livestock Business mid-June 1921

There were few mentions of the sheep industry during the second and third week of June 1921. No newspapers in southern Arizona mentioned sheep, but the cattlemen were thinking of borrowing money to assist them in moving their livestock to greener pastures in California, Kansas and Texas.  Shipments of cattle to Mexico had stopped when it was realized that the United States government would tax cattle brought back into the United States. It stands to reason that if there were flocks of sheep in the southern area, they also would need to be relocated due to the prevailing drought but I have no information to confirm this hypothesis.

Grazing Fees reduced

Good news was received for both cattle and sheep raisers as grazing rates on the White Mountain and San Carlos Apache reservations were being reduced for the summer.  Sheep which usually graze there are assessed at 40 cents for the summer would now be assessed 23 cents and yearlings at 29 cents.  Cattle was also reduced to $1.40 per head from $2.40.  Stockmen were cheering as it was evidence that the government was lifting a part of the financial load from the already over-burdened industry.  Senator Cameron, Arizona Senator, was credited with the reduction in grazing fees for both industries. It was estimated that there would be a savings of $100,000 to cattlemen and $10,000 for sheep raisers. The commissioner of Indian Affairs, Ex-Senator Burke, North Dakota, waived advanced payment of these fees until the close of the year.  It was believed that this move would keep many livestock businesses from failing in Arizona.

Financial Pool to Help Stockmen

Another piece of good news received by the stockmen in Arizona and the west was that two groups would each raise funds to help the livestock industry across the country.  J. P. Morgan and other eastern financiers from New York, Philadelphia, Boston and other locations had agreed to raise $25,000,000 as half of a pool for making loans to the livestock industry. The other $25,000,000 will be raised by western bankers. A committee from each group meet in Chicago to determine the conditions for the loans. The funds would be advanced to banks in the stock raising sections or cattle loan companies. Sheep raisers and cattle growers were eligible to apply for funds. The newspaper, Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, reported that “Interest charges would be at current rates with maturities six months on the paper. While about two years are required for the turn-over on the livestock, it was said loans would be subject to renewal at maturity which would make the paper eligible for rediscount by federal reserve banks.”

In another article, it was stated that western congressmen and officials of the federal reserve had asked congress for immediate loans up to $100,000,000 to help the livestock industry in the west. The money would come from the profit made by the federal reserve the previous year. President Harding was said to be in favor of such a plan. With the approval by the President and major banks, it was believed that congress would sanction the plan. The plan was to allow stockmen to have money for at least three years, perhaps five, for the loans. Interest would be required on the loans.

The Coconino Sun, Flagstaff stated, “It would be a godsend to both cattle and sheep men, many of whom owe their local banks for money borrowed for last year’s operations. Very few cattle growers but what need borrowed capital to carry them through this and probably the next three years, the time it takes to produce a beef animals for the market. The sheepmen, also, need money, to build up depleted herds and tide them over until production begins to show a profit again.” (This is a correct quote from the newspaper! It is an awkward worded sentence but I did not want to change it. I think it is clear what the newspaper was trying to state.)

Other news for the middle of June 1921 was that the Babbitt Bros. Sheep Co. arrived with four bands of sheep.  Lou Charlebois had also arrived the first of the week from Wickenburg and would remain in the vicinity until cold weather made it necessary to take his sheep south again.

Since we started this article with weather, we shall end it with weather.  It was reported that Spring Valley was one of the fortunate ones to have good rains for three days in a row. Heavy rains were still needed to fill the stock tanks with water, however. Too many livestock were using the same water tanks and rains were needed to fill these same tanks. Some livestock men had already begun hauling water to fill tanks where the livestock had been located when brought north. The newspaper reported though, “The rains this week were pretty general in northern Arizona. The long drizzly rain Monday night and all-day Tuesday assured us of a good grain crop. Old-timers say to get a rain like it in the middle of June is almost unprecedented, and some of them insist that it is a forerunner of a very dry July.”  What is interesting about this statement is many of the sheep raisers I had interviewed for Where Have All The Sheep Gone? Sheep Herders and Ranchers in Arizona – A Disappearing Industry had said the same thing about too early rains brings a dry summer. With the dry conditions now in the state, lets pray for a good monsoon season whenever it might start and let it not end until the last day of September.  Then, we need to have a good snowfall this winter in our mountains with a snow melt that will add to the livestock water tanks, reservoirs, and rivers. 

A mixer of sheep on the Rovey Dairy Farm, Glendale, Arizona

Dry weather continues in the state of Arizona.

Weather for the first week of June hadn’t changed much for some areas of the state.  Carlos Castillo, the Holbrook sheepman, had been in Flagstaff the first of the week. His sheep are on the range near that city. Castillo was concerned for he reported dry winds have done much damage to the range in that Holbrook section and more rain is badly needed. Sounds like 2021 is repeating what happened in 1921.

Shipments of sheep into Kansas City was down from last week by 500 sheep, from 7,000 to 6,500. This number includes all western states. Prices for lambs were 25 cents lower than the week before too.

On a positive note, there were two new brands issued for the sheep outfits of Bankhead & Henderson and Granville Fain. Someone was doing well or hoped that the weather would change for the better.

As to the fire danger, Fire Chief L. R. Lessell, of the Coconino Forest service office, reported 31 fires in forest for the first six months. Sixteen of the fires burnt less than a quarter of an acre and the others burned up to ten acres. Not wanting to jinx 2021, I will refrain from commenting on fires in the state.  I do know that fire mitigation is on many people’s minds and hopefully a fire mitigation program using sheep and goats can be accomplished here in Arizona.

And here is your sheep fix for the weekend courtesy of Rovey Dairy Farm in Glendale, Arizona.

Poor Range Conditions Continue

As I began to write this blog, I thought, well, not much going on for the week of May 20 and 27th, 1921. But then a story of the sad shape of the industry emerged.  

Range conditions were still poor as the drought had not broken across the state.  A snowstorm the middle of the month, the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, reported it to be “worth millions to the stockmen and ranchers of this section of the country and will do much toward relieving city water conditions. (This would be referring to Flagstaff). There was about a foot of it, all wet and juicy as any melon ever cut by the stockmen.”  A week later another soaking rain was reported.

But range conditions varied across the state. While one article mentioned that cattle were starving north of the Grand Canyon, that statement would hold true for any sheep on the ranges here. In my previous blog, you may have seen, I talked about the “illegal” stockmen from Utah who were using the range to the detriment of the Arizonans.  The Arizona stockmen had reported the range in “deplorable condition, having been stripped bare by the trespassers from Utah.”  The newspaper reported that “two years ago, this range had plenty of feed, but once the stockmen from Utah found it, it had been rapidly turning to sand and dried sage brush.”

In consequence of the poor condition of range pastures during the latter part of 1920 and the first five months of 1921 in Arizona, cattle and sheep came through the winter with greater losses and in poorer condition than usual. The mortality of cattle was reported at 100 per thousand, compared with 25 per thousand last year and 61 per thousand, the ten-year average. The loss of sheep was reported at 115 per thousand, compared with 53 per thousand last year and 43 per thousand, the ten-year average. The mortality of lambs were particularly heavy, estimated at 100 per thousand. This compared with a loss of 50 per thousand during 1920 and 81 per thousand, the ten-year average.

The last week of May saw little improvement in ranges as the rainfall was only light to moderate with no appreciable amounts added to the rain gauge. The southern portion of Arizona was suffering the worst as the area had received no appreciable amount since the week of April 6th, almost two months ago. Stock water was low due to no run-off from the storms. Livestock had been dying because of lack of water and poor range feed. Only two areas within the state were said to be good: Near Flagstaff and Pinedale.  Sheep were improving now that they had arrived on the summer ranges. Shearing that had taken place in the north showed that fleeces were not up to standard in quality or weight.

The Coconino Sun, Flagstaff reported little improvements in sales of wool. Freight rates from Phoenix to Boston were still exorbitant amounting to ten per cent of the present market value of the wool. Wool from San Francisco was half that cost to Boston. C. J. Babbitt said that it was unfair especially since wool is not a perishable commodity and needed no special care from the transportation companies. He cited the fact that cotton from Phoenix paid less than wool and believes that Arizona needed to fight the high transportation costs for wool.

A few sheep owners were mentioned: R. Tom Brown, E. H. Duffield, Harry Henderson and George F. Campbell.  Brown had brought his bands from their southern winter grazing area to an area near Mormon Lake. Duffield, previously a trainmaster, from William, was visiting old friends in Flagstaff for part of the last week in May. Mr. Henderson, previous sheriff of Coconino County, had arrived from Wickenburg where he had wintered his sheep. His sheep would arrive soon and he had grazing for them near Bellemont and Grand Canyon. Harry, told the Coconino Sun, “the hills down near Wickenburg have commenced to hair out with grass in good shape but the desert country is still bare.”  George F. Campbell had arrived the first part of the last week in May from his sheep ranches in the south. His sheep are on the road to their summer range east of Flagstaff. Harry Henderson has not been found in the newspapers before, but D. W. Henderson was listed as attending the Wool Growers’ Association annual meeting in July 1920. Are they the same person?  R. Tom Brown and George F. Campbell were both attendees of the mentioned conference as both served on the Advisory board of the Coconino National Forest for the Wool Growers’ Association. Duffield was not listed as attending the meeting so it may give a starting date for his beginnings in raising woolies.    

Arizona Supreme Court – Illegal grazing fees charged on Utah livestock owners -May 1921

Some weeks there is lots of news about the sheep industry-the men moving their sheep or shipments of lambs and wool, how many are being shipped and the amount of wool by different wool growers and then other weeks there is absolutely nothing or maybe just one story. The biggest story and the only story this week one hundred years ago was the rendering of a verdict by the Arizona Supreme Court declaring that it was illegal to tax sheep, goats, herds of cattle and horses from another state grazing on land in Arizona. Now that was a big concern to livestock raisers in Arizona who already were having hard times with the drought, low prices for their animal products – meat, wool, pelts, high supply costs, high freight costs and higher taxation.  These were the concerns for both the sheep men and cattle men in Arizona and would result in a joint annual meeting which took in July, but more on that meeting later. First let’s look at what brought about this decision of the Supreme Court of Arizona.

A resident of Utah, James Smith, had taken his case to the Arizona Supreme Court when he was charged in Mohave County by W. P. Mahoney, sheriff for illegal transporting sheep and grazing them on land in Arizona without paying grazing fees. Mohave County attorney and the chairman of the board of supervisors had gone to Phoenix in March to present to the Supreme Court of Arizona the county’s issue with Utah residents, like Smith, from grazing on land that they felt should only be used by livestock owners who are residents of their county or of the state. The local county court found Smith guilty and he was ordered to pay an undisclosed fee. So far this year, Mohave County had collected $15,000 from Utah sheep men. In question also were the grazing fees collected last year, in the amount of $20,000.  

The newspaper reported, “The decision of the state supreme court is a great disappointment to this county. Every year many thousands of sheep and cattle are driven across the line from Utah and graze in this county, crowding the stockowners who live here.”  Assistant County Attorney for Mohave County, George W. Harben believes that unless relief from the encroachment of Utah stock growers is afforded to Arizonan’s own residents north of the canyon, there is likely to be blood shed there, as a lot of bad feeling have naturally been engendered. “An attempt will be made,” Mr. Harben said, “to have the governor make for a special session of the state legislature to request for the enactment of a new law covering this matter.”  The newspaper speculated that a new law would be in the form of an assessment against the invaders for the expense of policing the border.  

Fourteen other Utah sheep owners had been charged and were scheduled for trial in Fredonia. It was unclear whether these trials would be held at the time of the writing of the article.  

This encroachment by Utah sheep and cattle men was taken up in the joint meeting of the Arizona Wool Growers’ Association and Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association in July.  It was put forth as a resolution to get the state legislation to act to prohibit or restrict access to the area north of the Grand Canyon.  So, obviously the governor never called for a special session of the state legislature or the legislators were in no hurry to help provide relieve to an important industry within Arizona. It will be a topic to watch for in future newspapers.


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.

This Week in April 1921

This week in 1921 was a slow week in the wool industry across the country, or was it? The wool trade was active but not lucrative for the wool growers. Tariff legislation was still in the debate stages in congress and it was thought that it would not help the situation for wool growers of the west. A great deal of wool was being held in warehouses in the east and buyers of wool were not eager for the new clip that was accumulating in the west. The buyers were only willing to advance five to ten cents a pound to the wool growers; a much lower amount than they had advanced last year. This money was used to pay outstanding debt that the wool growers had accumulated and would be used to fund their expenses for the coming year.  

What a difference just a few months could make in the industry when it looked as if at the end of January, the wool growers were going to receive between 30 and 35 cents a pound for their wool. The Boston wool brokers, Salter Bros., had written to M. I. Powers and the Babbitt Brothers that they saw a considerable improvement in the wool market for the next several months and had told their buyers to pay as much as 35 cents a pound in order to get ready for the new clip that would be coming in the next few months from the western wool growers. I wrote about this in an earlier blog.

The tariff legislation was asked for by the National Wool Growers’ Association at their annual meeting in Salt Lake City. The association asked for: 1. An import duty be placed on foreign mutton and lamb., 2. Import meats be branded as such., 3. A petition be filed with the interstate commerce commission calling for a reduction in livestock and wool freight rates.  There were other items that the association also wanted but those three can be easily dealt with here.

In reading the newspapers for the first few months of 1921, railroad rates were reduced at least for Arizona. The Corporation Commission of Arizona agreed with the Wool Growers that a reduction in rate was needed to ship sheep north instead of trailing them in the spring after shearing as was the normal practice of sheep owners. Feed along the trails was inadequate to allow for survival of many of the sheep already in poor condition from the poor winter range conditions in the deserts where the sheep graze while lambing and being sheared.  The reduced rates would be allowed for a specific time period, time enough for all the sheep to be moved northward.

Another outcome of the weak wool market and drought conditions was seen in the wages that was agreed upon by both the sheep owners and the cattle men who were in a similar situation with no market for the cattle. Separately both organizations had agreed to pay $45 a month for help.  ($45 in 1921 would be equivalent to $604.19 in today’s dollars; not a great deal of money.  What is not discussed is the fact that both the cowboy and herder received room and board; makes a big difference when that is factored in.)

And that is this week in 1921.

“Mutton Cured and Smoked at Home as Good as Pork”

In 1921, the sheep industry was in dire situation as I wrote about in my last blog. The cattle industry wasn’t doing well either. However, an article appeared that was supposed to encourage the consumption of more mutton. In the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff for February 25th, an article gave a recipe for cured and smoked mutton! The article stated that the United States Department of Agriculture believed, if farmers cured and smoked mutton it could be as delicious as pork. In 1921, the government agency stated that only 3.9 percent of the meat used in the United States was lamb or mutton. The newspaper stated, “This is partly due to the fact that there is a popular impression among farmers that after a sheep is slaughtered, the only domestic use of the flesh is eating it while it is fresh. As a consequence, the farmer’s family grows very tired of mutton before the carcass is consumed.”

The Bureau of Animal Industry within the US Department of Agriculture had done some experimental work in the curing and smoking of mutton. The directions for home curing mutton was as follows:

“The first essential in curing is to be sure that the mutton is thoroughly cooled. The meat should never be frozen, either prior to or during the period of curing.  The time to begin curing is when the meat is cooled and still fresh; the proper time is from 24 to 36 hours after killing. Because of the high shrinkage incident to curing, only large pieces, such as the legs and shoulders, are suitable for treatment.

“Mutton may be cured by using any good brine formula, but dry-cured meat is better for future use than brine-cured and requires less work. However, danger from rats and other vermin is less in the case of brine-cured meat. Both methods of curing are very successful if care is taken to see that each operation is executed properly.

“Following is the method of dry-curing mutton: For each 100 pounds of meat use 7 pounds salt, 3 pounds sugar or syrup, 2 ounces red pepper and 2 ounces black pepper.

“Mix all ingredients thoroughly, then rub the mixture well over the meat and pack it away in a box or on a table. Allow one and one-half days cure for each pound of meat the pieces average. After the meat is cured hang it in the smokehouse.”

And, that is how it was done in 1921! I think I will just buy mine fresh from Rovey Dairy in the Phoenix metropolitan area. And if you don’t live in the Phoenix area, there are farmer markets in Cochise County that carry lamb and beef from Dennis Moroney. Fry’s food also carries US lamb but won’t be as fresh as from Rovey Dairy or 47 Ranch (Dennis Moroney). So eat that lamb. It has lots of protein.