In the The Tribune, Holbrook, October 21, 2020, under “One Hundred Years Ago” there was an short article about the sheep industry. I have included the article below.
This is the time of year that many sheep outfits move their sheep to the Salt River area. Obviously in 1920, there would have been many sheep outfits in the state, thus the number of sheep moving. Holbrook shipped many sheep in and out of the area as many outfits were headquartered in and around Holbrook.
Today, the sheep are moved by truck. The three outfits in our state haven’t gone south yet as it is still to warm for the ewes that are pregnant. It will probably be another week before they are moved to pastures in central Arizona. I’ll post pictures later of them being shipped.
Northern Arizona’s newspapers had a fair number of references to sheep men during the months of June, July, and August 1920. References were found in the Holbrook (Arizona) News and the Coconino Sun (Flagstaff). Both newspapers were consulted, for many times they both have the same story, but the Coconino Sun (Flagstaff) would have more information than the other newspaper. For instance, the Holbrook (Arizona) News gave a brief overview of the happenings at the July joint conference of the Cattle Growers’ Association and the Wool Growers’ Association, but the Flagstaff newspaper had covered the meeting in greater detail. Of course, the meeting was held in Flagstaff.
The Coconino Sun (Flagstaff) in one article said that wool prices for the summer were down and gave the price at $0.44 per pound. I searched agricultural statistics for 1920 and found the following information. Wool prices were down from January prices of $0.50 per pound to April prices at $0.44 per pound or a 12% decrease. A further drop occurred in July with a 57% drop to $0.28 per pound. The October price for wool continued the decrease, but at a much smaller decline to $0.26 per pound or just 7%.
Prices had decreased substantially during the middle part of 1920 which forced the Navajo people back to making their own blankets. The August 20 Holbrook (Arizona) News reported that until recently the Navajos had enjoyed high enough prices for their wool that they could allow blankets to be made by eastern manufacturers. The paper stated, “But now the bottom has dropped out of the wool market and the wool of the Navajos is moving slowly, if at all, at ten cents a pound.” One can assume from this statement, that Navajo wool sold at a lower rate than wool from the other sheep found within the state.
A trader at Tuba City, John Kerley, had bought about 150,000 pounds of wool from the Navajo and he was not anticipating making a profit, but was expecting to lose about $10,000. That is about $128,197.00 in today’s money!
It is interesting how the Holbrook (Arizona) News listed information about sheepmen. They were listed as prominent “sheepmen” or just “sheepmen” with such information that they were in Holbrook for a day or a couple of days conducting business. Holbrook would have been the largest community in the area being on the railroad and had stores (H.H. Scorse, for example, written about earlier) to buy supplies for their herders and themselves. Several of the men had other information that I have included. This information was from several different weeks of the newspaper.
From Heber: George Wilbur (he had come up from Phoenix with his family and they would be guests until they went to their home in Heber), John Nelson and E. B. Newman (Newman was taking a band of sheep to the Kansas City Market)
From Silver Creek: George C. Morse (came into town, the article stated, to check out the political scene as elections were just months away), Percy Morse (brother to George) came to town with his wife. Another article found under the heading “Holbrook News Notes” commented that George was a woolgrower of Navajo County and was serving on jury duty. Since he was a freeholder in both Navajo and Apache counties, he could conceivably serve on jury duty in both counties. He told the newspaper, “feed and water are plentiful in the mountains and the sheep are doing fine.” At least for July 9th period, we have a clue as to the overall health of the range and in turn the sheep.
From St. Johns: W.A. Saunders (just stated he was a woolgrower and would be in town a couple of days).
H.H. Scorse (written about previously), John Nelson, and E. B. Newman were also listed in the Coconino Sun for July 1920 as having attended the joint meeting of the Arizona Wool Growers’ Association and Cattle Growers’ Association. I will have more information about the joint meeting in a future blog as a few facts need to be verified.
The Coconino Sun (Flagstaff) for July 30 reported the death of a 25-year old sheepherder that worked for Colin Campbell. The herder, Antonio Valencio, was struct by lightning while watching a flock of sheep 23 miles southwest of Seligman. Just goes to show that sheep herding can be a dangerous occupation.
A week later the paper reported that George L. Pratt was in Flagstaff from his ranch southwest of Winslow. He had shipped several carloads of lambs to the Kansas City market. This is the second mention of shipment of lambs.
This gives us a glimpse into some of the wool growers and the health of the sheep industry during the summer of 1920.
George Wilbur was a sheep man in the early days of the industry in Arizona. He built these buildings sometime in the early 1880s. They were marked on a 1885 Forest Service map, thus the buildings are younger than 1885. No sheep in the pictures, but I will post more information about George Wilbur soon.
The Joe Manterola Sheep Company gave me the two pictures of his sheep crossing a flooded Verde River in the early 2000s; I think I was told 2005. The other picture is his sheep crossing the river when it was not at flood stage. This picture was given to me by George Groseta. Quite the contrast!
The last picture has been my observations of the sheep crossing the river as you can view in previous posts and in media. It was dangerous for both sheep, donkeys, guard dogs and herding dogs plus the herders to cross the river at flood stage. Notice that the donkey’s ears are just above the sheep’s head in the first picture. Mr. Manterola told me that the sheep were going every which way and they were fighting to get the flock across the river where the trail was for the northward movement toward Flagstaff-Williams area. While I would like to see sheep, donkeys, dogs and herder crossing during flood stage, I would be so worried for any of the animals or men. Flood waters are nothing to joke about and can easily sweep all down the river away from protection or worse, death. This would have been the last crossing the outfit would make before arriving at their summer grazing destination.
An update to an earlier article “Where do I live” – A friend sent me some information about H. H. Scorse after he read the forementioned blog. He told me that there are still Scorse in the Holbrook area. Obviously Scorse had lived a while in the Holbrook area as the H. H. Scorse Mercantile building was built in 1890. He leased the building in 1896 to Julius Wetzler for the Wetzler Brothers mercantile store. They ran their business for four years then in 1900 it was operated as the Henry H. Scorse mercantile. There are several older buildings in Holbrook with the Arizona Rancho built in 1881 and the Navajo County Sheriff office building was built in 1882. The former building was used by the Hashknife Cattle Company. These are the two oldest buildings I have found at press time; there may be older ones.
Scorse built a second building in 1922 as it was a trading post in the 1960s according to my source anad is owned by Paul Ortega today. I’m glad these old buildings have been preserved. I can’t wait to see them myself. Pictures of Scorse’s buildings:
In the June 11, 1920 Holbrook (Arizona)News an interesting article about H. H. Scorse appeared. As I was scanning the newspapers for 1920, I had noticed an ad that had appeared for several weeks for H. H. Scorse, but never gave it much thought. It does not say much as one can see.
I always look at the advertisements in the old newspapers because many times the store will be selling woolen products for both men and women. They also may sell wool, pelts, or fleeces. It does not mean that the owners of these stores are in the wool growers’ business, but they may have connections to those that do. Patterns for woolen outfits have been given which are always interesting to look at them. Once in a while, there would be an advertisement for selling of sheep. Pierre Aguirre, located in southern Arizona and written about previously, was a sheep man and he was selling fine thoroughbred bucks. The advertisement below was placed in the Tucson Citizen.
But, getting back to Scorse, not remembering his name as a member of the wool growers’ association, I did not assume that he was a sheep grower and did not pay much attention to his ad. I only went back and copied the ad after reading this about H. H. Scorse:
“H. H. Scorse, a sheep grower, went before the State tax commission to find out where he lived. It was a question whether he lived in Pinal or Navajo counties, inasmuch as his flocks (emphasized added) ranged in both counties. The question of residence arose when Scorse paid his taxes in Pinal county lasts year, remitting a portion to Navajo county. Navajo refused to accept the payment and the matter was carried to the tax commission. The commission decided Scorse shall pay his taxes in Navajo county. That county, however, will make proper distribution of taxes to other counties, according to an affidavit to be submitted by Scorse showing the time during which sheep ranged in other counties.”
Further research found that Hasket, in his “History of the Sheep Industry in Arizona” published in The Arizona Historical Review, 1936, lists Scorse as having sheep in the Navajo County between 1891 to 1906 period. At no time in my research have I found what was the name of his sheep outfit, the number of sheep he had or the trail he may have used to bring his sheep up to Navajo County. His name does appear as an attendee for the joint Cattle Growers’ Association and the Wool Growers’ Association that was held in July 1920 in Flagstaff. I will be writing more about this joint meeting as soon as I have put all the puzzle pieces together for the many complaints and resolutions that the two organizations agreed upon at the meeting.
I am finding that early sheep raisers also were involved in other businesses such as owning a store, banking, or were a local politician. Wool growers’ were involved in their communities as I stated when I wrote the family histories in Where Have All the Sheep Gone? Sheep Herders and Ranchers in Arizona-A Disappearing Industry.
The picture below was sent to me and I do not know by who or when. I do not have any details about the picture. Does anyone recognize the people in the picture? It definitely was taken near the San Francisco Peaks as they can be seen in the background. Maybe Lockett’s Meadow. Had to be very early in the 1900s.
Thanks for any help in identification of this picture.
In an earlier blog, “Early Stock Raisers in Southern AZ” I had written about a few sheep men in this area of Arizona. In an newspaper dated five years earlier from southern Arizona, The Arizona Citizen, August 19, 1876, I found more information about sheep men who were raising sheep for themselves or the sheep were in their care and owned by someone else. It was disappointing not to have how many sheep each of the men had with the exception of McGary and his brother, who went unnamed.
The headline was “Sheep Grazers Encouraged.” Governor Safford, Charles McGary, Pedro Aguirre and George Allison were the subject of this article. The article stated that between the men they had thousands of sheep. The sheep had arrived from California sometime in the past year. The article discussed the fact that theses sheep had arrived “more or less sick and many had died.” It continued “Perhaps some had not proper care but it is believed that fine California sheep must go through acclimatization with more or less fatality, before a permanent healthy growth is secured.”
The Governor had his sheep under the care of Mr. George Allison along the Santa Cruz. Allison also had his own sheep grazing here. Stafford was pleased with his sheep and those of Allison saying that “they look very thrifty and (he) fully believes they have passed through the necessary acclimatization and hereafter will be healthy, and says he has the highest hopes that they will prove very profitable.”
Nearly four thousand sheep of Mr. Charles McGary and his brother are on the Sonoita and have been been for nearly a year. They had lost many old and young sheep when a winter snow storm hit right after 1,500 lambs had been born. McGary told the newspaper the week of August 19, that the band was doing very well and he was satisfied with the care that they had given the sheep and hopes that with this care the sheep will “retain their present good health.” McGary believed that sheep should be sheared twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall.
Mr. Pedro Aguirre, for the past few months has been in charge of the fine sheep brought to Arizona by Larkin W. Carr, and now owned by Lord & Williams. He was in town this past week and reports that the sheep were in good health and were daily improving. He has not given any medicine besides moving them about and giving “them common sense care.”
Safford, Allison, McGary, and Aguirre all believe that they now have the experience needed to import sheep from California which will result in bringing them to a healthy condition much sooner. Further the newspaper reported, “They are all convinced that sheep will prosper in this county as well as any place they ever knew”.
One year later, in an article dated August 18, 1877, the newspaper, The Arizona Citizen, stated that the Governor had rented his sheep to Pedro Aguirre giving him 10,000 sheep in his charge. It seemed that Aguirre had a system in place that insured the well being of sheep brought into the territory. The article stated that Aguirre’s flocks were “almost constantly moving which gives the sheep a clean place to sleep and fresh feed all the time.” This may be the reason that Safford assigned his sheep to Aguirre. The newspaper account was unclear as to how many of these 10,000 sheep actually belonged to Aguirre as we know from the information above that Aguirre was taking care of the sheep that Carr brought into Arizona. It should also be noted that a week earlier, Aguirre had put an ad in the newspaper in which he stated he had many thoroughbred Spanish and French bucks for sale ranging in price from $10 to $20. Thus, some of those 10,000 sheep must have belonged to Aguirre or he was selling for owners.
One final piece of information from the August 18, 1877 newspaper, Mr. R. B. Campbell, a rancher near Crittenden, was on his way to California to purchase a minimum of 2,000 head of sheep. Campbell also believed that the pasturage in Arizona was the best where he was located and believes that the sheep will do well. He was going to ship the sheep as far as Yuma and then would trail them across to his ranch.