Hubbell Trading Post

Southwestern United States ancestral people have practiced trading for a long time. They traded long distances as evidence found in archaeological digs. Shells would come from as far away as the Pacific Ocean. Presumably there was an exchange of ideas too. Starting in the mid 1800s traders from the east came in wagons which carried a variety of goods that they hoped to trade for commodities of the local people. With the establishment of the Navajo Reservation in 1868, the Federal government made rules on trade with the native peoples. The government encouraged traders to have licenses and open permanent trading posts. One man to do so was Hubbell. He was first located two miles from Ganado and then he purchased William Leonard’s business in 1876. Thus, the birth of the Hubbell Trading Post which was in business until the 1960s by a Hubbell.  More information will be coming in the next post on the years Hubbell spent here.

Natives did not have currency and credit was extended to them with their promise to pay for any goods that they purchased at the trading post when they sold piñon nuts that they gathered, wool from their Churro sheep (it was reported that Hubbell shipped 100,000 pounds of wool to Gallup, but it is unknown was this in one year or over several years), firewood that they either gathered or cut, sheep and goats. Hubbell reportedly bought up to 10,000 lambs and goats each fall, corralled them until it was time to herd them to the railroad station in either Chambers, AZ or Gallup, NM. The animals would be loaded on rail cars to be shipped eastward. Later, the trading posts would accept handmade rugs and blankets, jewelry, carvings and baskets in exchange for the goods that the natives needed. Hubbell would bring in his goods to the trading post through his own freight business and take them to the other trading posts that he ran. He transported goods out of the reservation through his freight business.

Sheep kept at the Hubbell Trading Post as was the tradition when Hubbell owned and operated the post.

Hubbell Trading Post

The next few posts will be on the Hubbell Trading Post.  Today, just an introduction to the post with a few pictures from the National Park center. There is much to learn about Hubbell and his family as he was a friend to the Navajo and his biography is an interesting history of both him, his family and the Navajo or Dine people. J. L. Hubbell was born November 27, 1853 in New Mexico. He was self-educated and learned about the Navajo way of life, their culture and language while he was working for the U.S. Military.  He began to trade in Ganado in 1876.  He built a home for his wife, two sons and two daughters. His sons, Lorenzo, Jr. and Roman helped him run the trading post and continued upon their father’s death on November 12, 1930.  Hubbell was instrumental in getting the Navajo to weave rugs for sale at his trading post.

I haven’t finished the story of the Moroney’s, a relatively newcomer to the sheep industry and Thude’s, who were sheep ranchers in the early to mid part of the 1900s.  Their stories will follow over the next few weeks.

Southern Arizona Sheep Ranch

Just a few pictures from my trip to southern Arizona and a sheep ranch.  Dennis and Deb, the ranchers, were very hospitable.  We learned a great deal about their ranching lives and I will write more on it when I get it approved by them to ensure accuracy.  I don’t want to misquote anyone.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the pictures from their ranch.  They also have other animals, but never photographed them. These are churros.  Deb also processes the wool into beautiful yarn.

Mr. Pinchot outlines nine points for best management of grazing lands.

At the turn of the 1900s the controversy about who had the right to use the federal reserve land and cattle men making accusations that it was sheep who were doing all the damage to the forest was mentioned weekly in the newspapers especially in Williams and Flagstaff where many of the livestock men grazed their animals in the summer and Phoenix, an area that was used by both sheep and cattle men for their winter grazing area. Unfortunately, the letter mentioned in the newspaper that the secretary of the National Live Stock Association wrote to Pinchot was not printed in the paper, or at least it has not been found at this time in my research. As more of the concerns about the use of the federal reserves is found in the early newspapers, I will include them here. I have included the exact article written in the Williams News, November 9, 1901.

“Pinchot made suggestions as to a plan to which all trouble regarding grazing on the reserves can be resolved for all livestock in the western territories to the secretary of the National Live Stock Association. The secretary of the association wrote a letter in September and Pinchot responded to that letter. He was concerned with the cooperation between those grazing on public lands and the government. He wanted to insure the best management and condition of the range be maintained. He outlined nine points.

1. Consultation between the forest reserve officers and those who graze will decide on the number of livestock to be grazed on each reserve and to establish boundaries between cattle range and sheep range.

2. Local associations will assign ranges to each livestock person, but this is subject to approval.

3. Those grazing on the reserves along with the local associations will be responsible for adherence to the terms of the permit and prevention of fire and over-grazing. (how is this processed – herders having camp fires, number of days on each section, number of sheep?)

4. Sheep owners will have exclusive rights to the grazing area assigned and this will also apply to the cattle owners.

5. These permits will run for five years.

6. State residents will have rights over those trespassing and out-of-state owners of sheep.

7. Any questions arising during process will be decided locally and on their own merits in each separate case.

8. These grazing permits are generally summer assignments and provisions will be made for transit routes.

9. The emphasis of the government policy will be on regulation rather than prohibition except for the interest of over-grazing from all populations. Pinchot thought that these suggestions needed no further comments as it was to be to the best interest of all parties. These regulations would accomplish several things – 1. No monopolies; 2. Allow for new men to take up the livestock interest and not be shut out of the reserves; and 3. Each man would want to keep his range in good condition since he had it for five years and could probably renewal it.

FYI – Pinchot was the first chief of the United States Forest Service from 1905 to 1910.


Over one hundred years ago – sheep in Tucson area.

Last night I was presenting “History of Arizona Sheep Industry Since Territorial Days” to Tucson’s Corral of the Westerners and one of the gentleman, James Klein, came in with pictures of sheep taken in the Tucson area in 1917 and early 1918.  I love when I am able to get these historical pictures.  Southern Arizona wasn’t a big area for sheep.  Research has shown that many thousands of sheep were trailed across the southern portion of the state to California in the 1860s and 1870s, maybe the 1850s, but that date has not been documented, just suggested since we know sheep were taken to the miners in California after the gold rush began. One of the pictures was also of a large herd of cattle, but it was very grainy and very hard to see the cattle so I decided not to include.

I would love to know more of the family who took the pictures and if they knew anything else about the sheep.  The family was here as one daughter had tuberculosis and was being treated.  They were here for a very short period of time as she died in Feb. 1918.  The scrap book had other pictures and early postcards of their visiting various places around Tucson.  There were some early postcards of San Xavier del Bac and downtown Tucson.


Good rains reported for mid 1901 ensures good grazing range for all livestock!

Reading weather reports as they appear in the early newspapers help to tell the history of the livestock industry in Arizona. When the snows had been good, it meant reservoirs were filled and much of the water then goes into the rivers and ends up in the Salt River Valley.  Summer rains are also important to both cattle and sheep and when the rains slack off, the sheepmen and cattlemen become concerned about the forage for their animals and where they will obtain water for them.  With a heavy snow fall in the winter of 1901, it appeared that the land was drying out and the livestock men were becoming concerned for their livestock and livelihood.  But at the end of July a very heavy downpour of rain northwest of Williams made at least the sheepmen feel jubilant, especially James Walsh who had come into town and reported the good news. All reservoirs were filled and running over by the heavy fall of rain.

The next week another article in the Williams News appeared stating that the rains had been heavy over the northern portion of Arizona every day for the past two weeks. No data was given for the amount of rainfall, but it was reported that all dams and reservoirs were full and in fact they were overflowing. The newspaper assumed that the ranges were assured for a year at least.

At the end of October another interesting article appeared concerning permitting the grazing of sheep on the forest reserves of Arizona.  But it seemed that the Department of the Interior so no reason to bar the sheep. The Snips and St. Johns Herald newspaper reported that keeping the sheep off the reserves was really only a fight between the sheep and cattle men. Drought had hit the state and the cattle men were using their influence to convince the residents in the Salt River Valley and especially the farmers that the sheep were denuding the forests and causing the drought. The newspaper went on: “If our friends in Phoenix would learn the real fact in the case they would know that we have not lessened the water supply. We are just as much in favor of water storage as they are. The more water is stored the more rains we will have. The more rains we have the better the range, and the better our crops, though few they be”. As was reported in the Williams News, the Snips and St. Johns Herald continued “But fortunately we have had a good season and there is plenty of water and plenty of grass. Facts are stubborn things, and this one gives the lie to the hatched up theory of those who claimed that the sheep were causing the drouths. But we truly hope the strife has ended and that henceforth we know no north nor south, but only Arizona, a unit.”

In November the forest reserve question is raised again as how best to allow all livestock to graze on the reserves. I will post this in my next blog.