She was put in jail for her own good

“A drunken woman was saved from instant death in the railroad yards yesterday morning by Officer White and Clerk of the City Court Frank Thomas,” the Bisbee Daily Review reported Feb. 4, 1912.

Jailed for her own good“The woman, who later gave her name, after much hesitation, as Margaret O’Donnell, was standing on the track, and was apparently held spell-bound by an approaching train. She was reached by the officers just in time to prevent an accident.”

She was arraigned in Judge High’s justice court on charges of drunkenness. The officers testified that she had been in a state of “intoxication or semi-intoxication” for some time and complaints had been made about her.

“At first she refused to give her name, disputing the court’s right to ask her name, but when she was threatened with imprisonment for contempt of court, she tremblingly gave the name of Margaret O’Donnell.”

High sentenced her to 60 days. She was expected to be taken to Douglas and given employment on the county poor farm.

“As the woman appeared to have lost control of herself, it was deemed an act of mercy to place her where she would be unable to satisfy her diseased appetite for intoxicants.”

We can hope that “intoxicants” weren’t as easy for inmates to acquire then as they are today!

Not all falls in the mines were fatal

This is the first item for a future book tentatively titled “Death in the Mines.” It will look at fatalities in Bisbee’s mines prior to about 1920. At least everything I can find. These items will be found under the category “Death” as shown in the top row on this page. (Or under the top pulldown menu on your smartphone.) Each item will include an introduction and then the report from the newspaper, more or less verbatim.

The Cochise Review was a predecessor to the Bisbee Daily Review. At this time, it was run by William Kelly.

The Cochise Review, Feb. 2, 1901

William H. Loftus, a miner in the employ of the Copper Queen company, fell down the man-way at the mine on Thursday night. He fell a distance of twenty-four feet and sustained a badly lacerated scalp and several bruises. He was at once removed to the hospital and will soon be able to resume his occupation.


First strike in Bisbee – newsboys!

While the Bisbee Daily Review, under any ownership, was loath to say anything good about strikes or unions, there was one time it did so gleefully – when the paper carriers for the archrival Bisbee Evening Miner went out on strike.

Miner newsboys on strikeThe Review reported Sept. 18, 1902 that “the first strike in the history of Bisbee is on. The smelter and mine continue to operate as usual. The stores are not closed and trains continue to run, but the delivery system of the Miner is sadly crippled.”

We can rest assured that the use of “sadly” was tongue in cheek.

“The Amalgamatedd Association of the Indepenent Order of Newspaper Carriers has walked out. Notice was served on the Miner management last evening and if you don’t get the Miner, you may know that the tie up is complete.”

The first issue was wages. The Miner paid $8 per month, while the Review paid $10, “but the Miner management claimed the Review carriers had to deliver more papers.” Continue reading

Daughter kills father to protect her honor

An 18-year-old Douglas girl killed her 57-year-old father in Douglas on June 8, 1902, the Bisbee Daily Review reported the following Wednesday, in order to protect her honor. A coroner’s inquest the day after the shooting declared her justified in the shooting and the young woman was “exonerated of all blame.”

Daughter kills fatherThe daughter told officials that her father was attempting to assault her at 5 o’clock that morning, she found a revolver and shot him. A bullet “took effect in the head, lodging in the brain,” killing him instantly, the paper said.

The inquest developed other evidence leading up the crime. The prior Wednesday, the man, identified as Fayette Janeway, had attempted to assault his daughter, Ida, “but was repulsed after a hard struggle.” The same thing happened two days later.

The two lived with a brother of the girl, who was away on Sunday, and the man made three attempts to assault his daughter. On the third attempt, “just as he was about to grab his daughter she pointed a revolver at his face and fulled the trigger. Janeway dropped over dead, a victim of his own unnatural lust.”

Ida was bearing up bravely “under the trying ordeal,” the paper said, adding that “the people of Douglas extend sincere sympathy.”

Angry Bisbee crowds were hot to lynch murderers

We’re all familiar with the story of the Bisbee and Tombstone mob that broke John Heath (Heith) out of jail and strung him up from a telegraph pole for his role in the Bisbee Massacre. The deed was immortalized by a photographer.

But hundreds of Bisbee residents were ready to lynch a couple of the other perpetrators of the heinous crime as they were being brought from Clifton, where they were captured, to the county jail in Tombstone.

Had Sheriff Jerome Ward not been aware of the potential of facing an angry mob, the lynching would have come to fruition, hanging two of the six men months before their expiration date.

The massacre had taken place on Dec. 8, 1883 and that night the perpetrators left town under the light of a full moon. The posse wouldn’t catch their trail until the next morning. The five men split up, heading to eastern Arizona, New Mexico and two destinations in Mexico, taking their meager booty along.401px-TombstoneinTombstone (1)

The two who went to the Clifton area, James “Tex” Howard and Comer W. “Red” Sample, had among their share a watch that could be identified. And it was. The local constabulary of (what was then) Graham County arrested them and called for Cochise County officials to come get them.

The Sacramento Daily Record-Union, in its edition of Dec. 22, reported that around Tombstone and Bisbee, “rumors were rife and threats openly made” that Tex and Red “should not live to enter the jail.”

The report, datelined Tombstone, Dec. 21, said that “upon the arrival of the regular stage last night there were fully 300 men in and about it, it having been noised about that the Sheriff would arrive with them.”

“It was well known that since the departure of Ward for Clifton a party of men from Bisbee had been at Fairbank,” the story said. Fairbank was the closest railroad station to Tombstone at the time.

“Their only object could have been the lynching of the prisoners,” the newspaper report continued. “Under the circumstances, it looked as if their threats would be carried out.” Continue reading

Copper Queen Hospital ‘high tech’ a century ago

Though a small-town facility, today’s Copper Queen Community Hospital has garnered national attention for being ahead of its time in many ways, including its use of the best technology for medical care.

That includes its use of electronic medical records, digital imaging, which can send everything from x-rays to CT scans anywhere in the world to be read by experts immediately and telemedicine, which links patients here to specialists in stroke, cardiology, trauma and much more, in real time.

But I was amazed to discover as well that the Copper Queen was an advanced hospital more than a century ago. The Bisbee Daily Review reported in October 1910 that a 3-year-old Benson girl, who had swallowed a 5-cent piece 10 days earlier, had been brought to the Bisbee hospital after all other attempts to remove the coin had failed.

Probang used at Copper Queen Hospital

Here’s an illustration of one type of probang, at right in photo, that was used by Copper Queen doctors to remove the coin.

Her physician, a Dr. Powell, tried to use a stomach tube to remove the coin from her esophagus, but was not able to capture it. He suggested taking her to the Copper Queen to take advantage of the facility’s x-ray machine.

“The wonderful rays showed plainly the location of the coin which was directly opposite the collar bone in a vertical position,” the paper reported.

The coin was so large that it couldn’t complete its trip to the stomach and had been there long enough to become “firmly seated.” The little Martin girl (no first name given) could not swallow solid food, but could take milk or water.

At the Copper Queen Hospital, the girl was put under ether. Several x-rays (at that time, the X was capitalized) were taken and doctors used a probang, an instrument designed to remove obstructions from the esophagus, without success. In fact, the bristles on the end of the instrument were bent. Doctors tried the procedure three times, all without success.

(I wondered about the spelling of the word that came out “probang” in the paper, but it’s an actual term. It is a device invented in the 17th century by a Welshman, W. Rumsey. It is about 12-14 inches long and has bristles or a sponge on the end. The one in the illustration at left (it’s the instrument on the right) has a sponge; the one used by Copper Queen doctors had bristles. It is probably a variant on the word “probe.”

(Click on the illustration to increase its size so you can reach the names of the various instruments.)

If one won’t work, try two

When they discovered the probang wouldn’t move the coin, they took more x-rays, with the instrument in place. “The rays showed that the coin bent the end of the probang in such a way that it could not draw the coin back.” Continue reading

Art imitates life, Mexican Revolution style

Recently I started rereading a novel of the Mexican Revolution, which opened with a scene that was a bit overblown in detail. Or so I had thought the first time through, until I had come across a real event in my research for a book for this series that encompasses how the Revolution impacted our area.

Mariano Azuela is best known for his novel “The Underdogs,” (Los de Abajo), which chronicled the gritty, dismal life of soldiers in Pancho Villa’s army. A physician who had served with Villa, Azuela wrote most authentically of that turbulent time in Mexico’s history.

Tents at Naco

These are tents of the 10th Cavalry, pitched at Naco near the time of the incident at Tintown.

He also wrote a pair of novellas on the same theme, “The Flies” (Las Moscas) and “The Bosses” (Los Caciques.) “The Flies” opens with a family trying to escape from a war-threatened city: “Mama, my canary!” shouts the quite spoiled and obnoxious (my opinion) elder daughter, Matilde.

Marta [the mother] trotted after her, puffing, lugging a heavy valise and the bird cage. . . .

Matilde put her lips to the cage.

“Darling, lover, give me a kiss.”

The little creature was beating its wings nervously against the bars.

Would people escaping imminent battle worry about a caged canary? I thought not. Bring your valuables, yes, and that which you needed to survive the next indefinite period. But a bird? Hardly. Not there. Not then. Continue reading

How many people lived in Bisbee?

A perennial question I get relates to Bisbee’s population, generally in the form of “how many people lived here?”

One semi-answer that has floated around for years is that Bisbee was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. That would be news to the folks in Denver and El Paso.

A search of census records I did many years ago showed that Bisbee was never the largest city in the state, in term of the decennial count, but that has a problem in two areas: It only was taken every 10 years, so what if Bisbee was bigger during the middle of a decade, and it only counted the incorporated city. Much of Bisbee’s population lived outside the city limits.

Bisbee population in 1916

That should read “Fred A. McKinney’s.”

Fortunately, there are alternative sources of population counts, and I just came across one from early 1916, in the form of an article in the Bisbee Daily Review about the second city directory being put together by Fred A. McKinney. The morning newspaper reported Feb. 23 of that year that canvassing for the directory had been completed and it was at the printers.

It would show 22,744 people in the Warren District, a gain of 16% from the population when the first directory had been completed two years earlier. Continue reading

What did miners earn at the time of the Deportation?

In reading (or writing) about the Bisbee Deportation, it’s easy to get lost in what wages for miners mean. (Not to mention the more specific definition of “miner,” as opposed to other mine-related jobs, that was used at the time.)

In looking through a copy of Engineering & Mining Journal for Jan. 1, 1916, I came across this chart showing what workers in the various mines earned, depending on their jobs and depending on the price of copper. Continue reading

What Bisbee did for Easter 100 years ago

Easter as it was celebrated 100 years ago in Bisbee and the holiday of today may not be as different as one would suppose.

Easter in 1912 was commemorated on April 7, and The Bisbee Daily Review of that day said that “Easter time, like Christmas, is dedicated primarily to the children, and so the question of finding something which will interest and amuse them is important.”

Going to church on Easter

This front-page illustration tells a tale that is every bit as relevant today: It's time for a break from politics.

And thus follows a short article about painting faces on the eggs. One difference, it seems, was that many painted eggs at that time were simply for display and would take on their normal use thereafter. The paper says, “if the eggs are to be played with, it is better to boil them first.” Today, that goes without saying. Continue reading