Disaster Strikes on the Sheep Trail!

Raising sheep had its hazards and the one which most sheep raisers dreaded was when the snowstorms hit their flocks when they were on the trail heading to winter grazing pastures.

While this year at the end of December, there doesn’t look like we will have lots of snow, it was a different situation in December 1898. In the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, an article from December 31st stated that disaster struck in the Mogollon Mountains to a few of the sheep raisers as their herders with their bands of sheep were making their way to winter grazing in the central part of the state, mostly the Verde Valley the week of December 23rd. Harry Scorse from Holbrook on the first day of the big storm was caught unprepared and had one of his feet badly frozen and suffered greatly from the exposure out in the snow and wind. His sheep faired even worse as he lost a considerable number of them. Another sheep raiser, Julius Wetzler, turned his sheep loose as the storm hit his outfit at a most unfavorable place in the Mogollons. Upon gathering his flock, he found that he also lost a great deal of his flock from starvation. Hugh Campbell had several bands of sheep on the way to the Verde Valley but was feeding them hay and his losses have been slight in comparison to Scorse and Wetzler. The fourth sheep raiser that had his sheep also out during the storm was those belonging to H. C. Yaeger. He had reported no losses in his bands. He reported that the snow in the Verde Valley was melting and his sheep were finding plenty of food.

A week later the weather was warming and it was reported that if it stayed warm, the grasses would start to grow resulting in plenty of feed for the flocks the winter of 1898-99.

And thus we learn a little more about Arizona’s past sheep history!

H. H. Scorse

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: