Today’s story comes from an article written by Mr. Embach, the Arizona Wool Growers’ Association secretary in 1950 about changes that were seen by one sheep owner in the state since arriving in Arizona just before Arizona changed from being a territory to the 48th state of the United States.
Jose “Tony” Manterola had seen Arizona through wet years and dry years; good and bad economic times. He told Mr. Embach of changes he had seen in the sheep business especially with salaries and finding good herders from when he first arrived in Arizona. He stated that he was paid $18 a month on his first job in the 1911-12 and six months later it was raised to $20 for he was recognized for his work ethic. In forty years, the salary for a herder had gone from that $18 dollars a month to between $150 to $175 a month. Tony also reported that finding good herders in the 1950s was not easy. Spanish herders had not been coming for 25 years, since 1924. French herders were also scarce. These were some of the best men because of their work ethic and knowing sheep, their occupation in their home countries. Tony lamented that he was thankful that still in the late 1940s and early 50s lamb was a steady demand quantity for the Arizona dinner table. Too bad that is not the case today in Arizona or across the country.
Other sheep owners also expressed similar comments in various articles read by this author. One of the biggest reported was the change in diet that the early herders agreed to was by 1950 not acceptable. Where rice was a staple in the past, that had changed for most of the herders. Now they wanted more sugar, lots of coffee, and variety of meats. While that may have been a small price to pay to keep a good sheepherder, it was an additional expense to the sheep owner with having to deliver to the sheep camp more often.
As I researched the first part of August 1921 a few items of interest on the livestock industry were reported in the northern Arizona newspapers. The biggest story was the rains. It is reminiscence of this August, 100 years later. We sure have been blessed across the state with rains this monsoon season and we still have over six weeks to it officially ends, September 30th. So, let’s see what was happening 100 years ago August.
August continued to be wet across the state. In the Flagstaff area it was reported that the Spring Valley stock tanks had been filled almost everywhere. With the precipitation the grass was doing well and the range stock, especially the cattle, were putting on weight. No one was complaining about the thundering rains that returned during the middle of the month. It was reported that the sheep range north of Winona where Jack LeBarron run his sheep brought so much rain that his water tanks filled in ten minutes. That must have been quite a storm. He was so happy that it was said he had joined the stockmen’s glee club as he said the rains will provide water for a year! The Holbrook News had also reported that northern stockmen had great cause for rejoicing with the amount of rain that had fallen. The country has some much grass that the Coconino Sun reported that it needed a haircut! Must have been good grazing for both sheep and cattle. It went on stating, “Dry Lake, one of the last of the watering places to get the benefit of the summer rains, got its full measure on Saturday.”
In the Williams News, Friday, August 5, 1921, they reported “Williams and vicinity have been visited by additional heavy rains this week. In many localities dams have been filled and everywhere range is good and crops are much improved. A heavy rain fell at Williams Sunday morning. Gutters were filled to overflowing and the fields received a thorough (sic) drenching. The Santa Fe dam received an inflow from this rain which raised its water level fully five feet. A similarly heavy rainfall was reported for the same morning from Red Lake, Main and parts of Garland Prairie. It was first hoped this same storm would add materially to the supply of water in the city reservoir, but investigation proved that neither the city nor the Saginaw dams were (sic) materially affected by the storm. Another heavy rain fell today but at the time of going to press it had not been learned what effect it had upon any of the reservoirs. Indications point to a continuance of the rainy season.
The Holbrook News reported rain was falling across the state. Tombstone had received an inch (time frame unclear), Miami had received over 5 inches for the month of July and Bisbee had received just under 8.5 inches for the month of July. What is interesting is Bisbee in 1920 only received a total of 9 inches for the year! It would be interesting to see what the totals were for 1921 in Bisbee.
The rainy weather must have lifted the spirits of some of the sheepmen as two of them were visiting family or were enjoying time trying their hand at fishing. Harlow Yaeger decided that it was a good time to try salmon egg bait on those fish in Oak Creek. Zeke Newman with his family was a visitor of his sister, Mrs. Frank Leslie in Flagstaff. Newman’s sheep outfit is in Navajo County.
There was some shipping of lambs out of Flagstaff the first part of August too. Shipping three carloads and two carloads, respectfully, Jack LeBarron and Harry Gray shipped to California and got $5 a head. Looking at markets in Denver, the price was low.
A story that needs to be reprinted in its entirety is:
Old Tom Goes Gunnin’ after Young Tom. Father attempts to correct Son via the Gun Route.
According to information received by the News, Thomas Ortega, sheep man and resident of Holbrook, sought to correct his boy, Tom, by means of hot lead applied vigorously about the person. Rather primitive but thought to be effective.
The shooting took place Monday morning and resulted in a running affair, with young Tom executing a strategic retreat, closely pursued by the father, who fired as he advanced. The pursuit and retreat carried the pair across the Santa Fe tracks in the neighborhood of the ice plant and resulted in old Tom failing to make a thorough correction of the boy, due to the fleetness of young Tom.
Some say that young Tom rounded Woodruff Butte shortly before noon.
No arrests have been made.
A strange story to appear on the front page of the Holbrook News August 5, 1921!
And lastly, in Washington, a new Federal grazing law was being proposed by Chairman Sinnot of the House Public Lands Committee. The committee would like to see a “division of the western public lands into tracts to be leased for grazing upon a rental basis of one cent per acre where the annual rainfall is more than 10 inches and one-half cent per acre where the annual rainfall is less than 10 inches.” This would have benefitted many stockmen in Arizona.
I had briefly written about the joint meeting of the cattle and sheep men in an earlier blog and said I would address it later. While much was said among the two organizations it would be impossible to retell it all here. I will just highlight some of the items that were reported in the newspapers.
One of the biggest items as the second joint meeting of the Cattlemen and Sheepmen took place in Flagstaff during July 1921, was the new resolve to work together on common issues. The economic depression that had set in following WWI and the ending of the Spanish Flu, the livestock industry had been particularly hard hit and situation had only been made worse with the drought conditions of the Southwest.
Both organizations believe they could “reduce the price to the consumer and increase their own share of the profits.” Cost and governmental regulations affecting livestock owners include the tariff, freight rates, grazing fees, and cost of supplies were reducing their profits. It was believed that a “elimination or, at least strong regulation of the commission men and packers now battening on both” parts of the industry. (Sound familiar?)
The organizations adopted 18 resolutions. There was one for each: pleasantries of thanking those who helped organize the joint meeting; thanking the railroad for reduction in freight rates during the emergency; service of the railroad livestock agent; asking for postponement of congress during this crisis; to determine where the bankers will be from who will oversee the allocation of Arizona’s portion of the $50,000,000 livestock pool; endorsement of the French-Capper “Truth in Fabrics” bill (more will be forthcoming on this topic) and asking that the fund requested by the U.S. biological survey for eradication of predatory animals and rodents be allocated. Some of the other resolutions included:
To ask congress to change the present tariff bill to protect the American industry on hides, pelts, dressed meats and wool. This was an ongoing battle with foreign competition that was not in the favor of American growers. It had not been resolved at the time of the meeting. (Sound familiar?)
To ask the Arizona Tax commission at its next meeting “to reduce the tax valuations of livestock at least 50 percent and on grazing lands 25 percent.” The meeting was to take place at the end of July and updated information will be added once it has been reported. During WWI sheep were valued at $2.50 a head, then raised to $3.00. Now the rate was $8 a head (more than double what the valuation was a year ago) and with the current depression, sheepmen can not afford to pay that on their sheep. President Campbell of the Wool Growers suggested a return to $3 would be reasonable. No valuation was given for cattle!
“As prices of livestock on foot have declined approximately 60 per cent in 12 months, consumers of the state are to be asked through chambers of commerce, and other civic bodies to demand a corresponding reduction in retail prices of meat and meat products and to insist that Arizona products, all things being equal, be given preference so that the industry will benefit and the money be kept in circulation in the state.” This is an interesting resolution and one that can be compared to 2021 and the livestock industry. Drought had affected the state and many livestock had been lost, leaving the owners with less cash but the same number of bills to pay. Prices of meat have skyrocketed during the pandemic as well as other grocery items with the ranchers and farmers still not being paid enough to carry out their livelihood. While farm relief has been given, many of the farmers and ranchers I have talked to tell me that other costs are still going up and what they can get from the government will have to be paid back. This was the same with the portion of the $50,000,000 livestock pool that was available to Arizona’s farmers and ranchers back in 1921: it was a loan with interest. While drought insurance can help alleviate the situation in the short term, many times, other entities will raise their costs to the farmers/ranchers and the insurance really does little good in either the long or short term.
Two resolutions dealt with railroad freight rates: knowing in advance the rate so contracts could be made and asking that with all the livestock to be moved in the fall that the present emergency rates remain; and agreed that the freight rates were prohibitively high and asked that the interstate commerce commission revoke the recent 35 per cent increase on western growers and the 25 percent on Mountain Pacific growers. This is a portion of the livestock business I know very little about today and do not know what freight costs are. Railroads no longer haul livestock and the trucking industry moves many of the animals between summer and winter grazing pastures, to feed lots and to slaughterhouses. How much truckers get paid for hauling livestock will be an interesting subject to investigate. Stay tuned!
The final resolution asked for a reduction in grazing fees on all national forests for all livestock with the forest in unfortunate conditions for grazing animals. This had been addressed in an earlier blog. Today the Arizona forests are doing better than they were at the beginning of the year with the recent rains received in the mountain country of the north and east. Pastures in the southern portion of the state is beginning to recover. While the summer monsoon has arrived, it will help grown the grasses in the short term but will not eliminate the drought in one season. Rivers are running dry with some have been dry for a few years: Little Colorado River is a good example of running dry this year and previous years in the Holbrook area. Dams are empty or have a limited capacity of water for using for farming. It will take successive years of winter receiving heavy snowfall in the mountains to begin to fill our reservoirs. Forests need that winter precipitation as well as the summer rains to be healthy. A side issue to grazing fees was the usage of the trails by non-residents and how that affected the ability of sheep to have adequate grazing as they trailed for the more sheep on the trail reduced the overall quality and quantity of the grasses for those who followed on the trails.
The last commonality of the two organizations was the question of the commission rates for the sale of sheep, lambs and cattle. The sheep men have formed their own commission house, the Wool Growers’ Commission Co., to reduce the cost to them. There were several localities for the company. While the formation of the commission company did lower the cost other commission houses were charging it was asked by President Campbell to frequent the Wool Growers’ Commission Company. Wool commission houses also charge exorbitant rates and it was suggested that a committee be formed to investigate a warehouse facility where the wool could be collected from all wool growers for the strict purpose to sell wool when the conditions would be in their favor. Until that time, the wool could be stored.
One of the last issues addressed dealt with wages paid for the herder and camp tender for the sheep men. This is not a topic that I have investigated with only three families still in the business today in Arizona. It is a subject that I do not believe is fair to ask these families and write about. If I ever can pursue this topic without getting into particulars of the families, I will write about it.
Over the course of the two days many spoke but their comments came back to those highlighted above. The meeting was not all business either; there was entertainment from wives of some of the attendees, dinner, dancing, and vocal music performed. Officers were elected for both organizations in separate meetings.
Some of these issues presented here are still of concern of both organizations especially with the usage of the forest for grazing and grazing fees paid each year. The livestock are a helpful solution to our forest burning each year as does logging of them. The foreign importation of wool, cotton, etc., does not help the American producer competing against government subsidies in these other countries. Another issue still present today is the producer not receiving a fair share of his hard work with packing houses making the larger profit. The consumer is paying more but the producer is getting paid less and less and still has his same expenses as before. A movement is beginning to have consumers buy directly from the producer through farmer markets, roadside stands, and stores established by the producer that operate like a grocery store with their products available: milk, cheese, lamb, and beef. This cuts the middleman from the equation and is a win-win situation for the producers. I would rather buy locally which reduces my carbon footprint and help those in my community. And that ends what was happening July 1921.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.