November 14 , 2017Look Ups
Return to Research Index
Return to WPA Index

Recorded by Helen M. Smith, Field Report

I was born in Texas in 1862 and first came to Arizona in 1882, stopping at Tombstone. I was a young married woman then with three children. My husband had run cattle in Texas, and he came to Tombstone in hope that he might get hold of a range there, believing that there might be considerable money in cattle to supply the nearby mining towns.

Tombstone was considered quite a wild and wooly place, but nothing unusual happened to us while there. All the excitement seemed to be stirred up among a class of people to which we did not belong. Ordinary persons were as safe on the Tombstone of that day as they are today. There were bad men in plenty, horse and cattle rustlers, smugglers, and the like. There was a great deal of smuggling going on in those times. Mexican smuggled money across the line to buy goods, and then smuggled the goods back. White men stole cattle in Mexico and ran them across to the United States. That sort of thing was quite usual and accepted.

Fred White was the first town Marshall, and was killed accidently while in discharge of his duty. There had been too much of the “shooting up the town” sort of thing, and officials were determined to put a stop to it. They decided that everyone must disarm while in town. Curly Bill refused to do so upon his arrival in town, declaring that no one could tell him what to do or what not to do. When the Marshall attempted to disarm him by force, Curly started to tender him his gun, butt foremost. There was an old trick known to bad men of that time by which one extended a gun in that fashion, and then quickly spun it on one finger until the muzzle pointed toward the other, when death was sudden and sure. Wyatt Earp noticed the position of the gun, and grabbed Curly quickly from behind. Taken by surprise, Curly struggled, and his gun was discharged, killing Mr. White. Curly was tried, but was able to show that the whole thing was an accident, and was dismissed.

While in Tombstone we got acquainted with Buckskin Frank Leslie. He was quite an agreeable man when he wished to be, having a good voice and a fondness for singing, and being an interesting conversationalist.

It was after we left that Frank Leslie committed the murder which sent him a prisoner to Yuma. He was a bad gunman always, but usually took care to keep on the safe side of the law, or to be in such a position as to talk his way out of trouble. In this event, too, he thought that he had all things planned to escape the results of his misdeed, but he slipped. He had been at his ranch in the Swisshelms with a young man named Hughes, and a woman. They were all drinking together, when the supply ran short. Leslie rode away to procure more. Upon his return he saw something in the conduct of his guests which made him suspicious. He shot both the woman and Hughes, leaving the latter for dead out on the hills. But Hughes recovered enough to make a ranch, where he told the whole story. His evidence convicted Leslie and sent him to prison. I never learned what became of the man after his term was served.

We made no attempt to get a start in cattle, believing that the rustlers made such an attempt impracticable. My husband hauled wood for a living, during several years.

In 1887 we went to Phoenix, but stayed there only a short time, traveling on to the Flagstaff country. There we got a chance to contract the hauling of lumber to Phoenix, in partnership with another man. I decidedly did not like the looks of this other man, and begged my husband not to undertake partnership with him, but my husband laughed at my fears. The children and I traveled with my husband in his trips back and forth, in our covered wagon, as did the family of his partner. We had some great times in this travel. I remember making a low chimney of rocks over which I placed a piece of tin, then building the chimney higher with another piece of tin over it. I put fire above and below the pieces of tin and put my bread between them. In this manner I could cook bread which was really good to eat. We used sometimes to be able to find wild currants with which we made most excellent pies.

At one of our camps an Indian rode up. After helping us to do some work on our wagon, he made signs that led us to believe he wanted sugar. When we offered it, he tasted it and shook his head. We then offered salt, upon which he nodded violently. We gave him most of our salt which he carefully tied up in his shirt tail with a piece of string, before riding on.

My fears of my husband’s partner soon took definite form. They quarreled on several occasions. It seemed to me that the partner, who said his name was Whittaker, was a man of violent temper and emotions. One night after we had retired to sleep in our wagon, his partner called to my husband to come out for a minute as he wished to discuss certain things with him. I begged him not to go, but he only laughed as he pulled on his pants and went out. I listened breathlessly for a few minutes, and soon heard voices raised in anger. I rose quickly and started to dress. About that time I heard the sound of a dull, sudden blow, and then a moan from my husband. When I reached his side Whittaker had left camp, escaping on one of our own horses. He had struck my husband over the head with a large shovel. He died before morning and I was left alone in the desert with five children and the family of my husband’s murderer; and the birth of my sixth child only a few months off.

Whittaker’s wife left the country and nothing was heard of her for some time after. Whittaker could not be found until five years had elapsed, three of which he spent in prison for another offense. Then he was caught and brought to Prescott for the trial of the murder of my husband. His wife was wanted as witness, but could not be found. We learned that he had not been in communication with her since his flight. He did not deny the killing, but pleaded self defense. He showed old knife scars on his body, which he had told us were the results of Indian fights, and claimed that these scars came from previous encounters with my husband. There was only my word against his, and he was given seven years for manslaughter, only four of which he served, being freed on pardon.

I learned that Whittaker afterward went to the vicinity of Tombstone where some of his wife’s relatives were living, and hauled wood for the mines. He was killed there when he was thrown from a high piled load of wood to the ground between the wagon and the mules, one of which kicked him in the head as he fell. And so he died as my husband had died, of concussion from a blow to the head. This was in the vicinity of Bisbee. I heard that his wife was not aware of his death until some months after.

After my husband’s death I took up my residence in Phoenix. I lived in a long adobe house which still stands, between Jackson and Madison streets, I believe. It was owned by an old man, Linville, who was a pioneer of the region. I remember that Mr. Linville’s father had buried a considerable sum of money on his place, and after the father’s death the family dug up the whole place looking for it; but so far as I learned, with no success.

Phoenix looked much as Agua Prieta does now—a few adobe houses and dirt roads. They were just putting the doors and windows in the Inhrs (?) Hotel when we arrived. I lived ten years in Phoenix, being acquainted with the whole population for a part of that time. I lost a child while there, with diphtheria. We worked hard to make a living, the older children helping as much as possible. Fortunately times were good, and so I was able to get by.

I saw all kind of life while there. Indians were plentiful, the women in bright colored calico dresses, with a sort of cape affair made of mens’ bandana handkerchiefs sewed together—the women loved these in various colors; the men in blankets and white men’s britches and shirts. I have seen dead horses hauled across the river from Phoenix, and the Indians immediately skin and eat these animals. They were furnished smoked meat by the Government, but fresh meat seemed to be a necessity with them.

I was in Phoenix when the Edmunds act requiring marriages between all men and women living together, was passed. It brought some difficulty to parts of the town, and to some of the Mormons who resided in the vicinity.

In 1890 there was a parade designed to show the progress of the locality. I remember that they had an old Indian, naked except for a breech clout, squatted on a pile of sand under a greasewood bush, with a young Indian from the Indian school, decently clad, and working, for a contrast.

In Phoenix I married the second time. My husband was Sam Bailey, who served four years as constable there, and was a charter member of the Elks club of Phoenix. We were afterward divorced, and he died later.

I came to Tombstone in the nineties, again, but did not stay there long. For awhile we lived in Safford. I had a queer experience while there. Believing that I possessed some psychic power, and as a way of earning money to support my children, I had taken up fortune telling when first a widow. This profession I have followed off and on since. At Safford a young man came to me one night to have his fortune told. I read the cards, and saw some shooting, two men killed and one wounded. I told him of this, and he told me that he and an elder man had come into Safford to rob a bank; but he was fearful after what I told him, and would not go on with the project. I told him that if he would abandon it I would say nothing; I also advised him to go home, where I saw a grey-haired mother waiting for him. He admitted that this was true also. Whether his story was true or not, I never saw him again, and there was no bank robbery.

When my children were grown I married again, Mr. William Spicer, with whom I made my home in Douglas where we lived until his death in September of this year.

USGENWEB NOTICE: These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by any other organization or persons. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material must obtain written consent of the archivist or submitter.

Cochise County AZ Gen Web © 2017 - All rights reserved