Bisbee’s share of population, based on Democrats

There used to be a saying around Cochise County that if you wanted to vote in the primary election, you’d better be a Democrat. That inertia is probably why I’m still a registered Democrat. Today, if you register Independent, you can choose your primary ballot, which I think is totally wrong.

But back to the point of this article. Way back when, Cochise County was strongly Democrat, and Bisbee certainly was, though that didn’t mean the D letter after a candidate’s name would guarantee him an election. Voters looked at the man, and many Republicans were elected to office.

Distribution of Democrats in Cochise CountyIn May, 1904, Arizona was gearing up for sending representatives to the presidential conventions. Citizens of territories could not vote in federal elections, but they could participate in the conventions, and the Bisbee Daily Review, a Democrat newspaper (in that day, it actually mattered; in fact, Bisbee’s first newspaper, in 1888, was named the Democrat), was whipping up the politically interested.

The Cochise County Central Committee had met in Bisbee on April 23 and had called for a county convention to be held in Tombstone on May 14 to elect 30 delegates to represent the county at the territorial convention in Tucson May 23.

Apportionment of delegates

The Bisbee meeting apportioned delegates to Tombstone based on the population of Democrats in each community. A total of 105 delegates would attend, with 40 of them coming from Bisbee, which was both the largest population center and the largest party stronghold. Douglas, which was an up-and-coming smelter and railroad town at the time (both major Bisbee mining companies had built their facilities by that time), was second, with 15 delegates.

Tombstone, the county seat, added 10 and Bisbee’s borderlands suburbs, Naco and Osborne, also had a total of 10. As can be seen, the greater Bisbee area had almost half of the votes.

The Review included a series of editorials in its May 1 edition to discuss the upcoming meeting, including a warning to stay focused on “the common enemy,” the Republicans, who were very likely to be manifested in the ever-popular visage of Teddy Roosevelt. Continue reading

Start of Charleston Dam idea?

For as long as I can remember, I have heard of the Charleston Dam project, once apparently considered a part of what would become the Central Arizona Project.

The CAP, of course, is in full swing today, providing water from the Colorado River, through a series of canals, to Phoenix and Tucson, and perhaps soon to the Green Valley area courtesy of the aborning Rosemont mine.

Crops cartoon

The Review ran this cartoon during the time it was promoting participating in the work to get federal money for watering the San Pedro River Valley.

The Charleston Dam, which was to be located somewhere near the erstwhile Wild West town of Charleston on the San Pedro River, was designed to capture water before it wended its way to the Gila River and thence on to the Colorado.

While the massive CAP was a concept for decades, it wouldn’t get funding for quite a while. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Charleston dam was once authorized for construction for water conservation and flood control [in the Colorado River Basin Project legislation of 1968], but a review of the project in 1977 recommended it be removed from the project and the concept went no further.

About 20 years ago, I took a trip up the San Pedro in Mexico (it originates in the Cananea Mountains) with Gene Brust. The ejidos, or communal farms, that line the river in Mexico have extensively dammed and put to beneficial use the waters of the San Pedro, perhaps accounting for the reduction in the river’s flow over the past decades. That, of course, would have made the Charleston Dam less tenable. Continue reading

No end to learning about Bisbee’s history

I once figured that eventually I’d learn all the “big” stuff about Bisbee’s past. Then I’d just be filling in the gaps, like grouting tile.


Today, I was reading the transcript from the Deportation trial in 1920. W.G. Gilmore, an attorney for the defense of Harry Wootton, is making a closing argument to the jury. In part of his comments, he is trying to show how the prosecution’s testimony — all deportees — is rehearsed, since they all testify to the same thing in the same way, even if it were not possible for all of them to have seen all of the activities that are discusses.One of the boxcars in which deportees were sent to New Mexico

“There were 1,200 men and some man testified, I think, that there were 50 men to the [cattle or box] car; I think they said there were 24 cars and every man — you remember that Mexican that they shot at at Orborne?” [No, I didn’t remember.]

“Every man saw that, every one. They were in box cars; they were herded in there 50 men to the car, and there were, they say, 24 cars, but every witness that Mr. [Robert] French [the county attorney/prosecutor] brought on here, saw that — except the women. That is the character of the testimony you have to consider.” Continue reading

Just getting a city job isn’t enough

Tony Kyle, Bisbee’s newly appointed night policeman, discovered that celebrating New Year’s can be bad for your tenure.

The Bisbee Daily Review reported Jan. 1, 1907 that on Dec. 30, the man was found intoxicated in a saloon on Brewery Avenue. Someone reported the fact to his boss, City Marshal Haskall “Hank” Snodgrass, who went to the saloon and found Kyle drunk and asleep in a chair.Drunk cop discharged

Snodgrass asked him to turn over his star and the keys to the city jail, “but Kyle was in such a condition he was unable to do so,” so Snodgrass had to take them.

Kyle was appointed by the marshal, with the deal confirmed by the city council, to replace Jay. F. Wilmoth, who resigned to become constable, a post he had been elected to that fall.

Kyle had been a miner and came to his new post highly recommended. “It had been reported several times that Kyle was conducting himself in a manner unbecoming an officer, and although the city marshal investigated the reports, he was unable to get facts to prove the charges,” the newspaper reported.

With the final report, Snodgrass checked it out himself. “I want men on theh police force who can be depended upon adn who are looking out for the best interests of the city,” Snodgrass said.

“I want to give the peoeple of Bisbee the best police protection I can give, and must have the best officers I can get.”

It didn’t take Snodgrass long to replace Kyle with Jack Meany.

Violin virtuoso plays in Bisbee

One of the world’s finest violinists performed in Bisbee in 1920 to a packed house. A recording of his work from that era is included below.

As the superior court in Tombstone was in the final stages of selecting a jury for the kidnapping trial of Harry Wootton in early March 1920, Bisbee was being soothed by the music of world-famous violinist Jacques Thibaud.

Violinist Jacques Thibaud played in Bisbee in 1920In what was a century-earlier version of today’s For the Love of Music classical music series held at the Bisbee Woman’s Club, this event was part of the season for the local Musical Events Club.

On the Lavender Jeep Tour, I often point out to visitors that Opera Drive got its name from the former presence of the Opera House, which did sponsor some opera, but was mainly a vaudeville house, among other more plebeian activities.

Similarly in 1920, when the columns were filled with ads for minstrel shows, this event was unusual enough to justify listing in the news article the specific music that he would be playing.

Thibaud, who later in life would play with the likes of the virtuoso cellist Pablo Casals, already had a top reputation, both at home and abroad. He had extended his tour of America and that, reported the Bisbee Daily Review, “has been a source of widspread gratification. Thibaud is the one great representative of the fine French school of violin playing and his following in this country has assumed extraordinary proportions.” Continue reading

This must have been embarrassing, take 2!

Published a blurb the other day about the Bisbee newspaper having some fun at the expense of the Bisbee Fire Department, so now it’s time to give local law enforcement equal time.

Seems that back in 1904, a couple of boys from the state Industrial School at Benson (that was the reformatory for juveniles), not only escaped, but made off with a couple of horses.Boys rode off on Rangers' horses

“Not the least interesting part of the story is that the horses are the property of the Arizona Rangers,” reported The Bisbee Daily Review. One of them belonged to Ranger Wheeler (didn’t specify whether Harry or Frank) and the other to Ranger Eastman.

The Rangers had parked their horses at the school stable while they took care of business in town. Some time during the night, two of the oldest boys at the facilities, who were “trusties,” made their way to the stable, saddled up the horses and rode away. Continue reading


Liberty Valance and Bisbee Deportation

Was listening to Gene Pitney’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” while reading the transcript from the Deportation trial in 1920 and realized there was a line in the song (which wasn’t used in the movie, by the way, but was based on the same plot), that characterized the belief of many in Bisbee back in 1917.

The Jimmy Stewart character was a lawyer, said to be the kind of man the West would need to tame a troubled land. But, the song says:

“When the final showdown came at last, a lawbook was no good.”

As with all analogies, this one will break down under close scrutiny, but it does seem a bit odd that Jimmy Steward is lionized (by the public in the movie and the movie-going public) for going out of character and accepting a gun from a fellow townsman, then using it, while in the case of the Deportation, men are indicted for their actions in the “final showdown.”

What is your take on this?

This must have been embarrassing!

This must have been embarrassing for the Bisbee Fire Department! Here’s a blurb from a 1920 Bisbee Daily Review, printed in its entirety:

Bisbee Fire department responded to an alarm from the Horace Mann junior high school yesterday. Crew No. 2 got there first, but as the truck turned up the hill from Tombstone Canyon Road, the driver killed his motor and was forced to back down.

No. 1 then arrived and succeeded in getting a little further up the hill, but the driver stalled the motor on a sharp turn to avoid hitting the wall.

In the meantime the school children put out the fire.

Sheriff Wheeler feted by Bisbee residents

Just a few days after A.S. Embree was found not guilty of rioting during the 1917 strike in Bisbee — don’t know if the timing was coincidental — the community honored Sheriff Harry Wheeler with a banquet at the Country Club south of Warren attended by 300 “leading citizens.”

The organizer of the Deportation lamented being rejected by the army, lambasted Embree, complained about President Wilson’s Mediation Commission report and showed his usual modesty.

Harry Wheeler illustration“My friends, you pay me too much honor in this matter,” Wheeler said. “There were scores of men in that drive the morning of July 12 who are entitled to more honor than I; who did more than I that day for the district and our home fires. I merely did my duty. I couldn’t shirk. You could. But you didn’t.”

The Bisbee Daily Review reported Dec. 6 that attendance at the banquet “overwhelmed the committee on arrangements and there were not enough places for the guests at the long tables. Continue reading

Embree not guilty of IWW offenses in Bisbee

When Wobblie leader A.S. Embree returned to Bisbee after the Deportation, he was arrested and tried for inciting a riot. The jury quickly agreed that he was not guilty.

You can read this article as a Kindle ebook if you prefer. It’s available here.

The first of many trials

After the Bisbee Deportation of July 1917, there would be trials (and tribulations) for participants on all sides. Most of the court trials would go nowhere.

Most well known, of course, is the 1920 trial in Cochise County Superior Court of one particular man who had participated as a deputy in the deportation, and who was chosen to be representative of the hundreds who had been indicted. The jury found Harry Wootton not guilty because of a successful argument of the “law of necessity.”

Embree acquitted by supreme court jury of rioting

This headline mistakenly refers to the superior court as the supreme court. The article gets it right.

What is not as well publicized, however, was the trial held immediately in the wake of the deportation of one A.S. Embree, a leader among the IWW strikers in Bisbee, who was charged with instigating a riot.

Embree was to be found not guilty by a Pima County Superior Court jury on Dec. 1, 1917.

During the trial, which had been moved to Tucson at Embree’s request, Cochise County Attorney John Mason Ross told the jury that the Bisbee strikers “attacked a Mexican workman in presence of defendant,” the Bisbee Daily Review reported the following day, “and when defendant led a party of pickets to a laundry at Bisbee and the pickets were alleged to have threatened to blow up the building.” Continue reading