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Recorded by Romelia Gomez, Field Reporter

Came to Bisbee from Cananea, Sonora, in 1902 and settled at the furthest end of Zacatecas Canyon. Her husband, an American, was an aguador (water-carrier) and had three Mexicans working for him, two of whom were Cirildo Encinas (still living in Zacatecas) and Juan Avila (now dead). Mr. Hillman  paid each of these laborers $3.00 a day and the people of Bisbee paid $4.00 a month for water, which was delivered to them in canvas water-bags which were made by Mrs. Hillman. She made them by sewing a double piece of canvas on both sides, leaving an opening at the top through which the water was poured. The water was obtained from a tank at Zacatecas Canyon by means of buckets. The water bags were strung on poles which were then placed crosswise on the burros backs (there were twenty-five burros to do the work of distributing water to all Bisbee residents). The task of these water-carriers was a difficult one, for much snow fell often in Bisbee in the winter and the steep, slippery hills were hard to climb. Mr. Hillman supervised the work on horseback.

After the water-hauling period Mr. Hillman mined a tunnel on Miller Hill with another American for two years; from there he went to work at the Sacramento Pit. The year after the World War work in the mines was very scarce, so he went to Cananea, where he worked until his death in 1922 or 1923.

In 1902 there were no houses in Bisbee, only jacalitos (thatch-covered huts). The Mexican people were much given to fiestas and mariachia (serenades), and the 16th of September was always an occasion for a parade on Main Street, speech-making and dancing at the City Park. The tejanos used to come from Tombstone to raise disturbances at a dance hall in Brewery Gulch and were much disliked by the local residents. Also, there were at that time many surrumatos here. (Spanish-speaking people from Spain and different parts of Mexico who spoke in different dialects of Spanish.)

An incident which illustrates the exciting period of Bisbee’s early days concerns three Mexicans who held up an elderly lady on Chihuahua Hill, thinking she had money. They struck her a blow on the head, then encountered her son, whom they shot at, but fortunately missed him. He somehow managed to take their gun and chase them away, after which he notified the police. The three would-be bandits, enraged and baffled in their attempt to get money, met an old Frenchman on their way up Zacatecas Canyon. Venting all their rage on this poor man, they slit his throat, for which crime they were later arrested and sentenced to prison.

The women of these times wore very long, wide skirts, frilly blouses, high-top shoes, laced or buttoned, and large hats gaily adorned with plumes and flowers.

A big fire occurred in Lowell sometime in 19… [07]. and many houses burned down, among which was Mr. Hillman’s, who was living there at the time. For a while, because of the scarcity of houses, all these families left without homes were obliged to live in tents close by the place where the fire had occurred until such a time when more houses could be erected.

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