Wool Industry Nov. 1881

In my research yesterday looking for any information on the death of George E. Johnson, who I previously wrote about, I find an interesting article on the status of the wool industry for the state dated November 18, 1881.

From the Weekly Arizona Miner, Prescott – “Papers in Southern Arizona have been very generously giving Northern Arizona credit for having 150,000 head of sheep. They could have made the number 350,000 head, and still have been below the mark. Recently C. P. Head & Co., through their agent, Hon. Hugo Richards, shipped from Holbrook, per Atlantic and Pacific R. R, 19 cars of wool weighing 300,000 pounds. This is the largest shipment ever made from Arizona, and reminds us very forcibly that a woolen factory should be established here, and thus save the exporting of wool and the importing of woolen goods. With a Territory of 40,000 white inhabitants and as many more Indians, we cannot but conceive that the establishing of a woolen factory would pay beyond calculation. Some of the finer woolen fabrics might be brought in from States, but such goods as the miner, teamster and laboring man requires, together with blankets of all grades, could be manufactured in Arizona at a great saving. We earnestly call the attention of outside capitalist to this rare chance for investment.”

In the same newspaper on page 3 we find this – “The largest single shipment of wool ever made by any Arizona firm is that of C.P. Head & Co. They shipped a few days since from Holbrook, per Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, 300,000 pounds, making a train load of nineteen cars.” This piece of information was also found in the Arizona Weekly Citizen, Tucson, dated November 20, 1881 under Prescott Paragraphs. It was common for newspapers to run stories from other newspapers within the state and out-of-state.

Author’s note: If we use 8 pounds of wool per head of sheep that would calculate to 37,500 sheep owned by C.P. Head and Co.

In searching the Tucson newspapers for October and November 1881, no substantiation of the number of sheep given by Southern Arizona newspapers was found. That does not mean that the information is incorrect; it just means that it has not been found yet. Although, usually one newspaper picking up information from another was written about fairly quickly so that is suspect. On the other hand, no mention of which newspaper contained the information that the Weekly Arizona Miner reported about. Phoenix newspapers have not been checked for this date. Holbrook did not have a newspaper that early, so no help there. On October 30, 1881, the Arizona Weekly Citizen, Tucson, reported on an article from the Miner stating, “the wool industry of northern Arizona is taking an important place alongside of the most formidable enterprises. Sheep can be brought to the Territory from either direction and herded upon the fine, juicy grasses, so abundant. The increase is estimated at 70 per cent. The wool of 2000 sheep will more than pay the expenses of herding, etc., therefore it will be seen at a glance that here is a chance for safe and remunerative investment.”

What is exciting about these articles is the early dates, October and November 1881, and the number of sheep already in the state. Sheep had began to be trailed here in the mid 1970s. Could it be possible that the number of head of sheep surpassed 150,000 or even 350,000 in just a few years? And, another question raised is who is C.P. Head & Co.? Haskett’s “History of the Sheep Industry in Arizona” written in 1936 lists those in the business in 1890 to 1906. C.P. Head & Co. was not on the list. In ten years, C. P. Head either sold out of the sheep business or the name was missed by Haskett. It will be another mystery to solve.

In conclusion, more historical facts have been learned about the sheep industry in Arizona and there are still more questions coming from these facts. So, stay tuned for updates.