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.

Duckworth American Wool


Duckworth Sheep

Today, I am deviating from posting about families in the Arizona sheep industry to promote a company located in Montana that prides itself on being the only source-verified, 100% Made-in-the-USA Merino wool clothing company.  You can read more about their story on https://www.duckworthco.com/pages/sheep-to-shelf.  For those of you who do not wish to visit another website, I will post some of their information here.

In Dillon, Montana, a sheep ranch by the name of Helle raises sheep, and then they “carefully manage every part of the production process from raw fiber to finished garment. The ranch in Dillon sits one mile above sea level.  As the valley starts to warm in early summer, the sheep begin their 40-mile journey to graze in the high mountain pastures above 9,000′ in the Gravelly Mountains.  The extreme changes in altitude and temperature give the Helle Rambouillet Merino a longer staple length, more crimp and grater curvature.  The 4th generation ranchers have fine tuned this process creating a soft yet extremely durable wool for Duckworth garments.”  Their sheep have just recently come back down the mountain. As they wrote in their email “The young lambs shave grown larger and stronger, and were able to make the long journey home with ease.”  (Our two trails in Arizona are longer than 40 miles but the ewes and lambs only travel northward via the trails and are trucked back to the valley each fall).

The email continued, “After the spring shearing, each fleece is tested and given a grade to determine its end use.  The wool then travels to the Carolina’s where it is spun, knit, and dyed.  The garments are cut and sewn in three different US states, and shipped back to Montana for warehousing.

In addition to making great wool, the Duckworth Sheep to Shelf process removes thousands of miles from the traditional supply chain, resulting in a significantly smaller carbon footprint.”

Most of this information is quoted off of an email that I received from them last week.  I asked for permission to use it here as I truly believe it is important for the American consumer to think about the clothes they wear and where they are made and that includes where the fabric comes from – wool from American sheep and then processed here in the United States!  If you want to reduce the carbon footprint, what a great way to do it by buying American made products.  It keeps our sheep industry healthy, provides jobs for those raising the sheep, then all the people involved in shearing, sorting the fleeces, the transporting of the fleeces to a mill, and all those employees, etc., etc., etc.  Think of the jobs that are created in this process.  We use to have many woolen mills in this country especially when we had 55 million plus sheep across the country.  Today, there may be 6 million sheep, mostly found in the western states where there is land for the sheep to graze.  Sheep help keep our forest healthy by eating the undergrowth; that is when and where they are allowed to graze.  For helping to keep the forest healthy, sheep owners pay the forest service to graze their sheep for a few months each year and the sheep owners are told when and where and for how long the sheep can be on the land.  Forest fires have increased over the years as there have been a reduction in the number of sheep grazing.  But, this is a topic for another day.

I will close this blog reminding the consumer that the holidays are approaching and what a great time to purchase American made wool products.  There is wool that can be worn in Arizona in the summer time.  Wool quality has changed over the years.  There used to be shops in Williams that sold woolen undergarments so that would have to be a soft wool. I have talked in earlier blogs of the benefits of wool.  Please think about your next purchase.  And don’t forget to check out Duckworth Wool in beautiful Montana.







The Basque Bota

Just a quick little story about a Basque bota.  A bota is the leather bag used by sheep herders and owners for their wine.  In a story from the Espil family, they wrote me that their grandparent, Pete, would help with the Annual Wool Growers Barbecue that was at the Coconino County Fairgrounds or somewhere else.  He and older sheep men would butcher a dozen lambs and bury them in coals for three days prior to the event to feed the many people who would come for the event.  The one granddaughter of Pete wrote “that many a starched white shirt would be covered in red wine as the bota was passed from one sheep herder to the next.  It had a corked spout.  The bag was filled with wine and by squeezing the bag the wine squirted from the spout to the open mouth…a target harder to hit as the evening wore on.”

Other men also helped prepare the lambs for this event and one was Frank Auza who was involved in the cooking, etc., for many years.  He and Pete Espil probably did it together many a year. And now you have the rest of the story.


On my FaceBook page someone wrote this about a bota: Fort Tuthill was the scene of a lot of these feasts cooked by the Espils and Auza families! Each sheep camp had a Bota and a gallon of red Tavola wine. J. B Etchamendy would point it in the middle of his forehead, run between his eyes down his nose into his mouth and not spill a drop!

J.B. Etchamendy passed away last November so he can neither confirm or deny this story. Maybe his wife will know.



Gunnar Thude and Family

The next week I will be posting the story of Gunnar Thude to this blog.  But in the meantime enjoy a couple of pictures of his family.

503367_6042811b6bf6cwl5240vld_D_96x128[1]A young Gunnar Thudeunknown man

Gunnar Thude in Arizona possibly at a sheep camp or one of his ranches.  As I obtain more information from the family I will update each of the pictures and add others.

Update: the picture above of Gunnar is at his Heber ranch that he bought from Williams Ryan, another sheep man.  Thanks for the information from one of his grandchildren, Gerald Hancock.

I have not collected all the information that I had hoped on the Thude familybut, will be talking to several of them in the next few weeks.  I was told by one of them that the April 1950 issue of the National Geographic followed Gunnar’s sheep up the Heber Reno Driveway.  I wish to share part of that story.  It is worth trying to get a copy of the issue and anyone who follows me and  would like a copy, can contact me and I will send the article to them.  I have all the National Geographic’s on CD from their beginnings until the 1990s.  I need to update my collection.

Francis R. Line wrote 50 years ago of the seasonal migration of man and beast (horse, burros, dogs, sheep and goats) along the Heber Reno driveway.  He stated, “…the annual trek means some 50 days of grueling struggle upward each spring and an equally exhausting journey downward when autumn’s snow drives the from the mountains.” The story details the herder, Rosalio Lucero, and Pablo Chaveez, the camp tender as they trek 1,547 sheep that belonged to the Paradise Sheep Co., which was owned at this time by Gunnar Thude.  As only the National Geographic or Arizona Highways can do, the magnificent photography helps the reader see the difficult terrain, the canyons, the enclosed walls that kept the temperatures hot and allowed very little breeze to give comfort to man or beast.  Each sheep outfit, men and beast, suffered from the long dry days as the sheep would have several days of no water.  Then there was the mad dash to a water hole when it did appear. The photographs also showed the beauty of the land from the mountains, the blooming cactus and flowers and trees.  The Heber Reno driveway was over 200 miles long and through the most difficult part of Arizona.  Its inaccessibility kept the sheep owners from visiting the outfits and bringing much needed supplies except maybe every ten days.  Sheep outfits that used this trail included, but were not limited to, L-4 Ranches, Paradise Sheep Co., Diamond Sheep Co., Kenneth Ellsworth, Frank Erramuzpe, Cliff and Earl Dobson.  Dwayne Dobson used the trail last in 2011.  He sold out that year to Joe Auza, Casa Grande. It is my understanding that this year, 2019, Joseph Auza, Joe’s son, used part of the trail this year and three years ago.  The two pictures are courtesy of Gerald Hancock. The first picture is Gunnar and his foreman, Eliseo Lucas.  The second picture is sheep on the Blue Point Bridge over the Salt River.

1903 AZ Wool Growers’ Assoc. Members

The following men and one woman and one outfit listed by name were members of the very early Arizona Wool Growers’ Association.  Just for your information,  there are 71 members.  What would have been interesting to know is the number of sheep each had.  There are some names missing from the list which I will comment on in the next blog.

From Flagstaff: H. E. Campbell, D. M. Francis, C.H. Schulz, T. E. Pollock, E. S. Gosney, Jos Dent, Thos Sayers, Wm. McIntire, Frank Bearsley, Anton Kline, Babbitt Sheep Co.
From Williams: C. C. Hutchinson, Cap P. Smith, T.J. Evans
From Winslow: J. X. Wood, N. S. Bly, E. A. Sawyer, Perkins and Campbell, Jno. Noble, Richard Hart
From Jerome: J. F. Daggs
From Phoenix: E. B. Newman, W. H. Campbell, H. C. Lockhart
From Bumble Bee: M. Maxwell
From Ash Fork: Chas Howard
From Mesa: Daniel Mahona
From Tempe: L. D. Yaeger
From St. Johns: W. H. Gibbons, J. T. Leseuer, J. B. Patterson, Petereson and Co. Jones Bros., A & B. Schuster, Pena Bros, Padilla Bros., J.R. Armijo, Anastaeni Chavis, Jerry Gonzales, Jesus Peralto, Mrs. E. B. Perkins, Sylvester Perlto, Dionicio Duran
From Concho: Pedro Montario, Santas Ortego, Cheney & Sons, Ambrosio Candaleria, Joan Candaleria, Rosela Candaleria, Pedro Candaleria, Leandro Ortego
From Show Low: James E. Porter, Wm. Morgan, Burr Porter, Robert Schott, James Scott, George Schott, Wm. B. Campbell
From Snowflake: Joseph E. Stock, Ezra West
From Adair: Williard Whipple
From Pinetop: W. N. Amos, Geo Amos, Clarence Morrow
From Pinedale: E. Thomas, Jr.
From Mesa City: John Nelson, Longmore Bros
From Holbrook: Martin Brochier, Jno. R. Hulet
From Heber: Archie Cameron, Dan Mahona

Mr. Gosney’s answers Mr. Bark

Mr. Gosney after being shown the interview printed in the December 5th newspaper stated, “Mr. Bark is certainly the champion anti-sheep agitator of the west. He seems to have fought the sheep industry so long and so hard that he is ready to believe and quote as true every wild rumor and is unable to state real facts involved in the question.” Mr. Gosney addressed all of Mr. Bark’s complaints leaving nothing out of his remarks: the drought, the number of sheep driven into the Salt River Valley, the abundant range feed this year, and the benefits sheep men added to the local economies of their counties.

Mr. Gosney first began that it was common knowledge in Arizona that a five-year drought was just broken when the territory had an abundant fall of snow and rain in the last twelve months. He further stated that there never has been or will there ever be 200,000 sheep driven to the Salt River Valley. (the two men’s numbers don’t seem to agree as Mr. Bark stated 300,000 and Gosney said 200,000 of which the newspaper never asked for correction).

Sheep from New Mexico had been brought into the territory Gosney said, agreeing with Mr. Bark’s statement. The reason that sheep came from the neighboring state was the range feed was very abundant and Arizona’s sheep could not feed on all of it. In answer to Bark’s claim that “sheep destroying the ranges and leaving nothing behind is pure nonsense,” Gosney said. The range was so abundantly covered with feed that the sheep would not have been able to eat even a “one- tenth” of it as they were trailed south. Gosney continued, “In fact nine-tenths of the feed on the southern ranges consumed by sheep could not be harvested by cattle or any other kind of stock; because it is inaccessible to water and only lasts for a short time, when it is abundant, then gone.” As for Bark’s comment that sheep have put the cattle men out of business, he adamantly disagrees as he also had interest in cattle and two factors eliminated his cattle: “climatic uncertainties and the activity of the numerous rustlers.”

Gosney also refuted the claim that the Salt River Valley watershed has been harmed by the sheep. He stated that the farmers in the Verde Valley would be the first to notice the reduced flow of water and they have not complained.

Gosney left nothing unturned in his refuted remarks to the claims by Bark. He made two last points on the benefits of the sheep men within the state. The first is that sheep were taxed in their home county and any sheep from Apache, Navajo or Coconino counties would have been illegally assessed in Maricopa County and this should be looked into as to why it was done. Sheepmen do pay their taxes and the totals paid by them in their home counties would be easily accessed for verification of this truth.

Gosney finished his defense of the sheep industry with the following: “The importance of the sheep business to the territories is generally underestimated. The income from this industry is (was) more than a million dollars and the great number of men employed annually and the heavy expense of caring for sheep and wool, all of which is(was) expended in the counties and districts where the sheep graze for the time being, makes it a matter of importance to the territory and to the people of those localities. The sheepmen are (were) among the best citizens of the territory. They are (were) imposing on no one, and they as well as the industry deserve fair consideration and treatment, and we sincerely hope the people and press of the territory will not be misled by intemperate agitators, into class or sectional strife.”

“If we are prepared for statehood let us prove it by being honest and fair to every citizen and every industry within our borders.”

This was the end of the two men’s square off as nothing more was printed in the newspaper for 1903 or the beginning of 1904.