Where do I live?

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.  

One Hundred Years Ago

Just out of curiosity I decided to look at the sheep industry one hundred years ago, June 1920.  There will be further articles I will write about, but I thought this was apropos for what is happening in the meat industry. It was astounding that what was happening in 1920 is still going on today. Looking at only the sheep industry the imports for July 1, 1919 to June 30, 1920 were as follows:

Wool 427,578,038 pounds

Mutton and lamb 16,358,299 pounds

Sheep (live) 199,549

(I will do a comparison of these numbers with July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 statistics when they are available)

In looking further into the year, the July to Oct the imports were as follows:

Wool 44,435,248 pounds

Mutton and lamb 64,623,776 pounds

Sheep (live) 94,960

Lambs waiting for their mothers being sheared.

It did not get better for the sheep men in the next quarter of the year, 1920 as the above numbers revealed. Prices for wool averaged for the July 1, 1919 to June 30, 1920 about $0.48 per pound, with the highest price at $0.50 and the lowest at $0.44.  A drop of six cents can be a lot of money to a wool grower.  Using 100,000 pounds of wool for illustrative purposes:  100,000 pounds of wool at the 50 cents a pound price, $50,000 is made at the sale of the wool. But at $0.44 he loses $6,000. Some of the sheep men relied on the wool to pay their expenses for the year. Those expenses would include the herders pay and their room and board, grazing fees, other expenses for the outfit such as shearers and transportation of the wool to the purchaser and expenses for their own family, taxes, etc.  At about 6 pounds per sheep that 100,000 pounds means the sheep grower had more than 16,000 sheep which only a few sheep men had that many sheep. Most flocks averaged about between 5,000 and 7,500 sheep from what can be garnished from the wool growers’ records.  

It was also suggested by J. R. Howard, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, writing to the extension director of Arizona, “There is no reason to believe that the demoralized condition of the wool market is more than temporary, and we suggest that you immediately get this report to every county agent and county farm bureau and urge them to advise their members to avail themselves when necessary, of credit extended through the federal reserve bank agreement and to pool their wool and hold it until the market becomes stabilized.” Unfortunately, the price of wool dropped further in 1920, selling at $0.28 a pound in the third quarter and decreasing another two cents in the fourth quarter of 1920. Looking at the wool market today, sheep growers have no market for the wool and they must hold onto it, paying for storage and other costs. Some sheep owners could not sell their lambs for a decent price either this year. They could not afford to hold onto the lambs so had to take the reduced price.

How true it is that in an article written in February 1921, it stated, “It doesn’t require an expert to realize just how much the above free competitive imports (see list above of imports of wool, sheep, mutton and live animals) have discriminated against our farmers and stockmen, and their consequent losses thus occasioned.“  The article further stated that it was about time that the American farms and ranches products have priority so a living wage can be paid” and “we must so arrange our tariff schedules on such products and substitutes as will equalize our cost of production with that of foreign countries.”  It seems we do not learn from the past.  Tariffs were eliminated over one hundred years ago hurting the American farmer and rancher and it is still going on today.  Farmers and ranchers are not paid fair wages for their products. The consumer of these products are paying more; the additional price paid goes to middle men and not the farmer or rancher.

A Thumb Nail Sketch

Browsing through old territorial newspaper one can find short little tidbits of information about people and an industry that help paint a picture. It’s what I call a “thumb nail sketch”.  Searching keys words brings up other newsworthy articles about the topic being searched that may otherwise go unnoticed. There isn’t always a great deal of information found this way, but it may give the researcher new names to look for.  Those names or stories can be crossed referenced in other newspapers of the time. Other archives may be searched leading to a more complete record of the industry.

Take for instance obituaries. The information in an obituary can give us a little information such as where and when the person was born, arrival in the country and/or into Arizona, their age at death, and their occupation.  While that may not seem like a great deal of information what it does is add names to those who were participants in Arizona’s sheep industry which may not have been known before. It may add other areas of the state to the distribution of the sheep and how many sheep were in the state at a given time. From these obituaries there may be enough information to track them through Ancestry.com and learn more about the person.  Here are just four obituaries found in the Arizona Wool Growers’ Association files:

Tom Jones, born in Wales came to the United States in 1908 and shortly after arriving in New York City made his way to Mesa. In his obituary in the Arizona Republic, May 9, 1967, it states that he was a retired sheep rancher. He died at the age of 82. A footnote to the obituary that was attached to a paper in a file of the Arizona Wool Growers Association, it noted, “Tom shipped wool through the Arizona Wool Growers Ass’n (Association) in 1951 and 1952, and thus held membership in the association. He was an “expert herdmen.”

Frank Ybanez was a Buckeye sheep company foreman who passed away May 12, 1967 at the age of 65 years. He was from France and was about to retire and return to his native country where he had a sister and two brothers. Frank was an early arrival to the state coming in 1920. It was stated in his obituary that he worked in the sheep industry in Arizona for over 40 years.

Frank Pina, 75, was in the sheep shearing business with his brother between 1926 and 1946. He died in Mesa Sunday, February 4, 1969.   He was born in San Angelo, Texas in 1894 and arrived in the Mesa area in 1924.

In an obituary for Henry Albers from the Arizona Republic, Thursday, December 10, 1970 there is no mention of his involvement in the sheep industry. The obituary was attached on a piece of paper along with a typed footnote. It seems Mr. Albers had a small sheep outfit in 1907 when the then secretary of the Arizona Wool Growers Association arrived in Arizona. Albers range was between Government Hill and Sitgreaves Mountain, north west of Maine Station on the Santa Fe. It is believed that in 1908 he sold his outfit to Charlebois. 

Tomorrow, I will share what I learned about the sheep industry in the southern part of our state from two different stories.