-^ — JO
PENNINGTONS: PIONEERS '
OF EARLY ARIZONA
PIONEERS OF EARLY ARIZONA
A HISTORICAL SKETCH
ROBERT H. FORBES
PUBLISHED BY THE
ARIZONA ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Larcena Pexxingtox (Mks. \\m. F. Scott), about 1872.
PIONEERS OF EARLY ARIZONA
A HISTORICAL SKETCH
PUBLISHED BY THE
ARIZONA ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Copyright, 1919, by
Arizona Archaeological and Historical Socieiy
THE NEW ERA PRINTING COMPANY
6 I I
Frontispiece: Larcena Pennington (Mrs. William F. Scott), about
1. Old Fort Buchanan, December 7, 1914.
2. The Pennington home on the Santa Cruz in 1861 ; a stone house
loop-holed for defense.
3. The old Apache trail, east of Helvetia, Arizona.
4. A scene in Tubac (1915), once the principal town in Arizona.
5. Jane Pennington (Mrs. William Crumpton), about 1885.
6. The ruins of the Sopori ranch house, built on high ground, and
looped-holed for defense.
7. The Canoa, an important station in early days, and the scene
of many tragedies.
8. The Sopori cemetery showing the graves of James and Ann
9. Tumacacori Mission from the Southwest, 1915-
1. Map of New Mexico and Arizona, 1858, showing old wagon
routes. Compiled from maps of the War Department, and
2. The Ferguson map of Tucson, 1862, showing original Spanish
names of streets. Arroyo Street is the original name of
3. The Foreman map of Tucson, 1872, showing American street
4. Sketch map of old Fort Crittenden, with localities named by
John H. Cady, once a soldier at Crittenden.
About the year 1832 two of the common people,
Elias Green Pennington of South Carolina and
Julia Ann Hood of North Carolina, young and of
good courage, joined fortunes for better or worse
and turned their faces westward with the tide of
emigration that followed in Boone's footsteps across
the Appalachian ranges, through the dense forests
of Kentucky and Tennessee to the Mississippi.
The young people made their first home near
Nashville, where they engaged in pioneer farming
for about five years. But the West again tempted
them; they loaded their household goods and farm-
ing tools upon wagons drawn by slow moving oxen,
and, with their three young children, Jim, Ellen and
Larcena, started for Texas, whose independence had
recently been achieved, and whose vast extent and
unknown resources attracted the adventurous spirits
of that day. After a journey of many camp fires
the hopeful and vigorous young family settled on
new land near Honey Grove, Texas, about forty
miles east of Bonham in Fannin County. Here
Pennington remained about fifteen years, farming
and freighting from Shreveport and Jefferson to
Bonham. The growing family soon increased to
twelve children, eight girls and four boys, — an ac-
2 The Penningtons
tive, resourceful, strong-willed sort, no doubt, — well
suited to the exigencies of frontier life, which in
Texas at that time was not without danger from the
Comanches, and close to the incidents of the Mexi-
But as the country became more thickly settled,
the growing number of near neighbors, wath their
fence-jumping and crop-destroying cattle, annoyed
Pennington, who, like most frontiersmen, wanted
room, and wild game, and freedom from the disad-
vantages of too close association with his fellows.
So, leaving his family behind, he cruised to the
West and South in search of still another and more
secluded home, finally choosing a location about one
hundred and fifty miles southwest, near Keechi, not
far from the Brazos River. During his absence the
mother died and was buried at Honey Grove, leav-
ing the family, the youngest a child in arms, in the
care of the older children. So, diminished by one,
the Penningtons, thirteen in number, again loaded
their wagons and restlessly pushed on to a newer
frontier. Here they remained three or four years
when it was finally resolved, early in 1857, to join
a wagon train for Golden California.
The train, which was well equipped and provi-
sioned, was commanded by one Sutton, the Penning-
tons having three wagons drawn by oxen and mules.
The road led westward bv easy stages and without
misadventure until they encountered the flooded Rio
Pecos, which they were obliged to ford. Sturdy
Pioneers of Early Arizona 3
Jim, the oldest boy, and his father's right hand man,
guided his oxen through the flood, swimming his
horse beside them and encouraging the leaders by
his speech as only he knew how^ until they dragged
the wagons through.
A number of cattle driven with the train were
drowned at this point, but the most serious damage
was to the family Bible and to the children's school
books, which were injured by the water. Once
safely through, loads were unpacked, water-soaked
articles were dried, the wagons repacked and the
journey resumed. From the Pecos the route lay
through Paso del Norte, up the Rio Grande to Me-
silla, through Cooke's Canyon and westward across
rolling plains to the boundary of present-day Ari-
zona, into which they passed through Doubtful
Canyon. From this point they crossed the San
Simon Valley, threaded the long and dangerous
x'\pache Pass, pushed on across the Sulphur Spring
valley to Dragoon Springs, crossed the San Pedro,
probably south of modern Benson, and finally, in
June, 1857, reached Old Fort Buchanan on the So-
noita, where Captain Ewell was then in command.
The road over which the little caravan passed
was a dangerous one, a guard always being placed
at night, with a double guard at Apache Pass, of
sinister hi.story. For fear of the Apaches little
hunting was done, but an occasional animal was
slaughtered out of the driven herd. The train was
well supplied with bacon, flour, dried fruits and
Pioneers of Early Arizona 5
other provisions; and with a small stock of house-
hold goods and farming tools. Progress was slow.
Fifteen miles was a good day's journey, the distance
travelled being governed by the watering places
along the road.
The Arizona of 1857 was a wilderness almost un-
known to Americans except along overland lines of
travel. There were a few squalid Mexican settle-
ments, and the Missions of the Santa Cruz valley;
beaver hunters from the north and east had crossed
it; and following the Gadsden purchase the gov-
ernment began the establishment of military posts
within the newly acquired territory, at that time at-
tached to Dona Ana County, New Mexico. Almost
all business related in some way to the United States
army. Contracts for wild hay were let by the gov-
ernment to supply the cavalry, and whipsawed lum-
ber was brought down from the mountains for the
construction of military posts under whose protec-
tion little farms began to produce home grown sup-
plies. Freighting was perhaps the most important
business of that day, military supplies, merchandise
for trade, machinery for the mines, and commodi-
ties of all kinds, were brought hundreds of miles
from East and West, by means of slow moving ox
teams. There were but few domestic cattle at this
time, although there were considerable numbers of
wild horses and cattle. These were sometimes
hunted, and sometimes were captured by means of
extended lines of horsemen converging upon cor-
6 The Penningtons
rals arranged to receive them. Antelope, deer,
bear, and wild turkeys were numerous, and the
Apaches regarded the whole of this vast region as
their hunting ground.
In its general outlines, of course, the country was
the same then as now, but in details it differed
greatly. Everywhere the plains were grass covered
to an extent unknown at the present time, the ranges
being now as a rule over-grazed. The valley bot-
toms were covered by a dense growth of perennial
Sacaton grass, oftentimes as high as the head of a
horseman and so thick and tall that cattle, horses
and men were easily concealed by it. Indeed, in
early days it was necessary to drive cattle out upon
the mesas at the time of the rodeos, where they
could be seen and handled. The uplands were well
covered with a variety of nutritious grasses, such as
the perennial black grama, and the many annuals
that spring into growth during the summer rainy
season. The abundant vegetation, both on high-
lands and in valley bottoms, restrained the flood
waters resulting from the torrential storms of the
region, so that there was no erosion in valley bot-
toms. Instead, the rainfall soaked into the soil and
made grass. Sloughs and marshy places were
common along the San Simon, the San Pedro, the
Santa Cruz, and other streams, and even beaver
were abundant in places where it would now be im-
possible for them to li\'e. The abundant grass
made range fires common, these often being set by
the Indians to drive game.
Pioneers of Early Arizona 7
In comj^arison with modern Arizona, shorn of its
grass by cattle and with its bare valley bottoms torn
open by erosion, the ])rimitive wilderness of sixty
years ago was verdure clad and beautiful, and
doubtless attractive to the adventurous Americans
who entered, j^rcsumably under the protection of
their government, just before the Civil War.
At Fort Buchanan, the hardships of the journey
began to tell upon our travelers. Some of the ani-
mals ga\'e out and Larcena Pennington fell ill with
mountain fever. The family, with their three
wagons and their cattle, were thus forced to drop
out of the train. While waiting for the stricken
sister to recover the men undertook a contract for
wild hay for the Fort, which, of course, was garri-
soned by cavalry. Laboriously, with scythes, hand
rakes, forks and wagons they completed their con-
tract, but were then obliged to wait weeks for their
pay. Meantime, the Apaches raided them and
drove off their stock, leaving them in grim earnest
in the heart of an unknown and dangerous country.
Let us pause for a moment to become better ac-
quainted with the members of this hardy family at
the time when adverse fortune called upon them to
face a life of hardship and adventure most remark-
able even among the annals of the pioneers.
Pennington, himself, was a South Carolinian, of
Revolutionary stock, and English descent. He was
an exceptional figure — tall, straight and strong,
weighing about 190 pounds. His features were
8 The Penningtons
aquiline and handsome, eyes blue, full bearded, in
later years clean shaven. He was a man of great
determination and courage in the midst of the dan-
gers that surrounded him, although, perhaps from
policy, he avoided as much as possible direct en-
counters with the Indians that overran the country.
He was a good farmer, hunted in time of need for
his family, and for much of the time kept wagons
and teams busy in the freighting business in what
is now southern Arizona. He was affectionate to
his family, and by those who knew him personally,
is described as having been a sober and very quiet
Jim, the oldest of the children, was a tall, raw-
boned, red-faced young fellow, not so large as his
father, quiet and hard-working. He was especially
skillful with oxen. His friend Oteno speaks of
seeing him unload logs from the Santa Rita moun-
tains by sending the two leading spans to the back
of the load where they pulled off the logs one by
one while the wheel oxen held the wagon in place.
In all this they were guided mainly by the voice of
Jack, the second boy, seems to have taken part in
many enterprises of the time, — freighting, handling
cattle, washing gold on the Hassayampa. He was
affectionate and loyal to his family and friends.
On one occasion, at the Cooke's Canyon ambuscade
in i86i, when one of his party was wounded and
about to be left to the Apaches, though only a boy
Pioneers of Early Arizona 9
of eighteen, he leveled his rifle upon his companions
and compelled them to rescue the wounded man.
Green was a tall, quiet boy who liked to be with his
father. He seems to have been especially loved by
his sisters. He also was affectionate and loyal,
losing his life finally in defense of his father's body
at the time of the ambuscade on the Sonoita. All
of the men were especially kind and chivalrous to-
ward the women of their household, a trait consis-
tent with their southern origin.
10 The Penningtons
Of the daughters, the older took charge of the
motherless family. One of them, Ellen, taught the
younger children to read, others helped the men
with field work, sometimes they did sewing for the
officers' wives at the Fort. There were eight of
them in all, vigorous and capable, able to ride and
handle firearms, cheerfully making the best of the
hard life they were obliged to endure.
Thus equi])ped in experience and character the
Penningtons, with stout hearts, set about making a
home and a living for themselves in the midst of an
Indian infested wilderness. A ditch was taken out
of the Sonoita below Buchanan, and a small field of
corn, pumpkins, squashes, beans and vegetables was
planted. The money for the hay contract came,
more animals were purchased and the family moved
o\'er to the Santa Cruz, where we hear of them in
the old Gandara house at Calabasas in September,
1859; at the stone house near the Mexican line in
i860; on the Sonoita a few miles below Buchanan
in the same year; at the stone house again and at
the Mowry mine in 1861 and 1862. They moved
often, from restlessness, from fear of the Indians
and because of the slender advantages to be gained
here and there from a change.
At first they escaped personal injury, although
the Apaches were seen from time to time, and their
fields were occasionally robbed of green corn and
vegetables. Indeed, the Indians themselves stated
subsequently, at a time of truce, that they spared
12 The Penningtons
the Penningtons for a time because the}^ could usu-
ally steal of them the provisions the}^ needed on
their way to and from Mexico.
Meanwhile, in December, 1858, Larcena Pen-
nington married John Hempstead Page, in Tucson,
which at that time was a little adobe town of a few
hundred souls, mostly Mexicans. Mr. Page was
then engaged, in partnership with Captain Rey-
nolds, in whip-sawing j^ine lumber in Madera Can-
yon in the Santa Ritas, and in hauling it to Tucson
— a perilous but paying business at a time when the
U. S. quartermaster paid 25 cents a foot for boards.
And so it happened that, in March, i860, Mrs. Page,
desiring to escape the chills and fcxxr that then pre-
vailed in Tucson, ])ersuadcd her husband to take
her with him for the next load of lumber. It was
doubtless a jolly party — Page, his wife, the little
Mexican girl, Mercedes, whom Mrs. Page was teach-
ing to read, and Reynolds, that tra\'elled the old
road under the big mesquites, up the Santa Cruz to
the Canoa, then turned eastward and drew near to
the mouth of the canyon behind their slow moving
Self-reliant and careless, after the manner of that
day, they gave little thought to danger or to the
party of five Apaches that were c\-en then watching
them from the hills flanking the mouth of the can-
yon. They pitched their tent that night beside the
running stream flowing from the canyon and in-
stalled a few items of bedding and furniture they
14 The Penningtons
had brought along. This camp was not at the Big
Rock where still stand the ruins of a stone house
and corral, but was about two miles below. The
night passed without incident and breakfast was
disposed of early next morning. Reynolds took his
gun and went after game, while Page, about ten
o'clock rode up the canyon to see about his next load
Mrs. Page and little Mercedes were thus left
alone, exposed to the Indians, who had been watch-
ing them since the day before. Soon after her hus-
band's departure, Mrs. Page was resting in her
rocker in the tent, when her little dog began to bark.
Then a scream from the child outside, who had
been gathering bright colored oakballs, warned her
of danger. The little girl was quickly caught by
the approaching Indians and, immediately, Mrs.
Page saw them entering the doorway. She sprang
to the bed and seized a pistol that lay under the
turned-up covers, but the weapon was wrested from
her before she could shoot. She tried to run but
was stopped. One of the Indians spoke a little
Spanish, and by words and signs told her (what was
not true) that they had just killed Mr. Page as he
drank at a spring, and that the saddle they carried
was his. Mrs. Page began to scream for help, but
one of the Apaches put his lance to her breast and
threatened to kill her if she did not stop. The In-
dians then proceeded to loot the camp, cutting open
sacks of flour, scattering the provisions and making
Pioneers of Early Arizona 15
ready to go with whatever they could take away.
The camp was quickly spoiled, and the Apaches,
with their prisoners and plunder, began their fliglit.
A little way from the ruined camp they stopped to
rip open a feather bed they had been trying to carry.
Until this time Mrs. Page had remained unterrified,
feeling a certain contempt for her savage captors;
but when she saw her precious feather bed thus cru-
elly assailed, she seemed to realize fully her danger
and screamed again, but her captors once more
stopped her by threatening her with their lances;
and the party started along a well beaten trail that
led along the side of the mountain, almost north.
The five Indians in the party were young with one
exception — an older man who spoke Spanish. They
were armed only with bows and arrows, and lances.
The prisoners were not molested except when their
captors, evidently in high glee at their success, pre-
tended to ambush them from behind trees or play-
fully pointed the captured pistol at them. One of
the Apaches melted snow in his hands for them to
drink. Mrs. Page was pushed or pulled up steep
places in the trail and Mercedes was carried pick-a-
back. Their hats were restored to them from the
plunder and fair progress was made, the savages
seeking safety in one of their camps on the San
Pedro. One of the Apaches, an ugly black fellow,
was pointed out to Mrs. Page as her future owner
and this may have accounted for the mercy shown.
The journey continued to the northeast and north
16 The Penningtons
through hilly country. Mrs. Page began, secretly,
to tear off bits of her dress and bend twigs along the
trail to guide a following party. She told the little
girl to do this also, but the Apaches stopped them
and forbade them to speak to each other again.
In this fashion they travelled all day, one of the
party staying behind to warn them of pursuit. Mrs.
Page talked a little in Spanish with her captors.
The older man said that this country was once all
theirs, but that now many of their people had been
killed by the whites — "pong, pong, pong." Mrs.
Page answered as best she could, keeping in good
courage and hoping for rescue by the j^arty she
knew must soon follow.
Just before sunset the Apache travelling behind
to warn the party of pursuit, ran up saying that the
Americans were coming. The pace quickened, but
Mrs. Page, exhausted with the day's travel, could
not go faster. As they went up a narrow ridge
with a steep slope on one side, they made her take
off her spencer and heavy skirt, again telling her
(she thought by way of warning) that the Ameri-
cans had killed many of their people. They mo-
tioned her to go on ; then as she turned and started
she felt a lance in her back and sprang forward and
fell down the steep side of the hill. The Apaches
followed, thrusting at her with lances and striking
her with rocks, until she lodged against a big pine
tree and one of the Indians stunned her with a
stone. The savages, thinking her dead, dragged
18 The Penningtons
Jier behind a tree where she might not be seen from
the trail, and taking her shoes left her in a bank of
snow. Reviving shortly after, she heard the Ameri-
cans on the trail above, and her husband's voice,
referring to the trail, saying, " Here it is, boys."
She tried to move and speak, but was too weak to
make them hear, and they passed on, being de-
ceived by the fact that one of the Apaches had just
put on her shoes. They followed this false trail
beyond the Catalina Mountains, where it was lost,
and the party went to Tucson to equip a second, and,
finally, a third expedition to rescue the prisoners.
When her husband's party had passed on, Mrs. Page
again lost consciousness and lay at the pine tree,
she thinks, about three days. Her wounds, fortu-
nately, w^ere cooled by the snow and, finally, she
To understand the heroic and almost unbelievable
effort for life now made by this young woman of
twenty-three, we must remember that she was in the
hills just east of the present site of Helvetia; bruised
with stones and cut with sixteen lance wounds in her
back and arms, without shoes, water or food, almost
without clothes, and without a beaten pathway, for
she feared to follow back along the Indian trail.
There is no doubt of the locality for she clearly re-
membered that, after travelling northeast and north
all day, just before she was attacked, she saw down
in the plain toward the setting sun, a small sharp-
pointed hill. There is but one such landmark on
Pioneers of Early Arizona 19
the route and distance travelled, and that is Huer-
fano Hill, about three miles west of Helvetia. She
must, therefore, haxe fallen at a ])()int twelve or
fifteen miles from the camp left tliat morning and
she remembered that Page afterwards told her it
was fifteen miles.
Gathering her strength for the effort, she at-
tended to her wounds as best she could, ate a little
snow to slake her thirst, then crawled down the
slope to level ground and slept. Awaking at sun-
rise she knew the directions back to camp, since it
was sunset when she was struck down. Being weak
from loss of blood, and without shoes, she was soon
unable to stand; but day by day she crept on, partly
supporting herself on her hands and subsisting on
seeds, herbage and wild onions, with snow water to
drink. Night by night (unable to lie on her back
because of her wounds) she crouched upon her
knees and arms on the ground and dreamed of
food; but when in her sleep she reached out for the
pot of beans before her, she awoke to find her hands
clutching only gravel. Once she came to a bear's
nest and longed to lie in the mass of soft grass and
leaves, but dared not and crept away. And so her
terrible journey continued for about ten days. Her
feet became filled with small stones; her bare
shoulders were blistered with the hot sun ; her head
was a mass of clotted blood ; and yet she kept on —
desperately, indomitably on, to the southward.
Then at last she came to a point on a high ridge
20 The Penningtons
overlooking the road that led into Madera Canyon
and saw below her some men with an ox team near
the camp from which she had been taken. She
could hear their voices plainly, and the sound of
blows struck on their wagon tires. She tied her
petticoat to a stick and waved it and screamed, but
could not make them hear, and they passed on.
Again she resumed her fearful journey and in two
days more reached the teamster's camp, where she
found fire still smouldering in a log by the road-
side. Then she carried a stick on fire at one end
to her husband's ruined camp nearby, where she
scraped up some flour and some coffee yet remain-
ing on the ground. Tearing a square piece from
her clothing and putting the flour on it, she went
down to the stream nearby and mixed a little pat of
dough and baked it at her fire. After she had
eaten the bread and some of the coffee, and had
bathed her wounds, she was refreshed and slept the
night there. Next morning she started up the road
to the sawyers' camp, probably the one at the Big
Rock. As she drew near she was seen, but not at
first recognized. With clotted hair and gaping
wounds, nearly naked, emaciated and sunburned,
she was at first mistaken for an unfortunate outcast
squaw and the men ran for their guns. She called
to them that she was Mrs. Page and was finally rec-
ognized; but one. Smith, declared that she was a
spirit, unable to believe that she could return alive
after more than two weeks of such hardship. One
Pioneers of Early Arizona 21
of the men then carried lier into the cam};, where
she was fed and washed and clothed with rough but
sympathizing care, and a courier sent to Tucson for
llie messenger reached Tucson just as Mr. Page
was about to start on a third attempt to find liis wife.
He had followed the trail from the looted camp
through the Rincons to a ]:)oint bcj-ond tiie Cata-
linas. Then he returned and went out again; and
again returned for still another party. These ex-
jjcditions must ha\e taken a number of days and
roughly confirm the statement that it was sixteen
days from the time Mrs. Page was captured until
her return. After two days she was taken to Tuc-
son, where she fully recovered. The little girl,
Mercedes, captured with her, was exchanged later
by Captain Ewell for certain of his Apache pris-
oners. She grew to womanhood and became the
wife of Charles A. Shibell, well known as a j)ioneer,
and for many years recorder of Pima County.
But the desperate and almost incredible adven-
ture of Mrs. Page was only a warning to the Pen-
ningtons of disasters to come — little heeded, how-
ever, in those days when danger was the atmosphere
to which men and women were too well accustomed.
For ten years, until the remnants of the broken
family went back to Texas, the traditions of the
Sonoita and the Santa Cruz are full of their per-
sonalities and adventures. Only a year later, in
March or April, 1861, Mr. Page was ambushed and
22 The Penningtons
killed by Apaches north of Tucson while conducting
a load of goods to old Camp Grant. He was buried
where he fell, at the top of the hill beyond Sama-
niego's ranch, on the old road; and all that Mrs.
Page ever saw of him was his handkerchief, his
purse and a lock of his hair. Her daughter, Mary,
was born in September of that year, and shortly
afterward she rejoined her father's family at the
Stone House on the Santa Cruz. This location was
a most dangerous one, however, although the Pen-
ningtons were strangely spared by the Apaches
themselves while they lived here. The Indians
were at their worst during the early sixties, the
country being virtually unprotected by the Federal
government at a time when the energies of that
government were engrossed by the Civil War.
On one occasion, about this time, Mrs. Page and
her baby girl fled with others to the Mowry Mine,
which was fortified and offered protection from the
Apaches. But smallpox broke out among the refu-
gees, Mrs. Page and her baby being among those
attacked. Mowry nursed his smallpox patients as
best he knew how, but nearly starved them to death
on a scanty diet of flour and water, believing that
"no grease" should be fed to those ill of this dis-
ease. Most of the patients, however, recovered
from both the disease and the treatment. Not long
after, in June, 1862, Mowry was arrested by Fed-
eral authorities, his mine was confiscated, and he
was sent to Fort Yuma as a Rebel sympathizer.
Pioneers of Early Arizona 23
We now hear of the Penningtons, in 1862 and
1863, at the old Gandara liouse at Calabasas.
Next, they are in Tucson in 1863 ; in Tubac in 1864;
at the Sopori Ranch from 1866 to 1868; at Tubac
again in 1868; and. at Fort Crittenden in 1869.
This restless, almost nomadic, life was characteristic
of the time and reminds us of the story of Kirkland,
another pioneer of that day, of whom it was said
that after he had lived a short time in one place his
chickens would come up and suggest another move
by turning over on their backs to have their legs
But before going further with the personal nar-
rative in which we are concerned, let us jjause to
take note of the conditions that confronted the pio-
neers from i860 to 1870.
Of government there was little, except what was
enforced by each man for himself. Until Arizona
became a separate territory in 1863, the Gadsden
Purchase was attached to Bona Ana County, New
Mexico, with the only available court of justice at
Mesilla. Sometimes criminals were turned over to
the army officers at the posts, but more frequently
they were summarily dealt witJi.
Gradually, under the new Territorial govern-
ment, courts were established in the larger towns;
but the annals of the time are commonplace with
bloodshed and violence, and murderous crimes
which sometimes met with swift reprisal, but which
too often remained unpunished.
24 The Penningtons
Over all this thinly settled region hung the
Apache scourge. During this whole decade these
Indians })lundered and murdered almost at will.
For a time, in 1 86 1 and 1862, even the United
States troops were withdrawn and the Apaches, be-
lieving this to be from fear of themselves, became
bolder and more murderous than before. Truces
with the goxernment, in which good behavior was
promised in return for rations, were always broken;
and the unsettled policy toward the Indians accom-
plished nothing toward their reformation or control.
The settlers in fact had a \'ery poor opinion of the
military protection which was afforded them at this
time and for the most i)art took the matter into their
own hands. With what determination they did
this is attested by the annals of such men as Pete
Kitchen and William Rhoades, King Woolsey, Bill
Oury, and many t)thers like them, who held this
country at a time when it was practically abandoned
by its own government.
The commerce of southern Arizona at this time
related mainly to mining enterprises and to the
troops. Mining macliinery, supplies for military
posts and manufactured articles for trade all had to
be expensively freighted from tlie nearest landing
places at Guaymas and A\ima, or overland by way
of Texas. Government contracts for wild hay for
the posts, and for lumber, were an important source
of revenue to ach-enturous takers. High prices
offered for corn and other farm products stimu-
Pioneers of Early Arizona 25
lated agricultural industry near the military posts;
and the first herds of American cattle were brought
in from Texas to make rations for the presumably
The main route of tra\el at that time was the
California overland road which traversed southern
Arizona from east to west and wliich connected with
military posts, mining camps, and irrigated valleys
throughout the region. Oxen were used at first for
freighting purposes. They were strong and gentle,
did not stray readily, and rec]uired no harness,
which was very expensive in those days. They
made the best draught animals as long as there was
abundant grass for them along the road. In time,
however, as the grass was eaten out, and feed had
to be carried, niules and horses, which eat less, re-
placed the oxen. Freight rates were 7 to 8 cents a
pound from Yuma to Tucson; and 9 to 10 cents a
pound from Yuma to Calabasas. From Tucson to
Calabasas the rate was i cent, and from Tubac to
Tucson ^ cent a jxnnul. The U. S. quartermas-
ters paid 2^2 to T^y> cents a jjound for corn; and 25
cents a foot for rough pine boards from the Santa
Under such conditions and with such incentives,
the Penningtons, like others of their time, engaged
in whate\'er afforded the best returns for the time
being, moving frequentl}^ as convenience or interest
required. From the records of the time and from
the testimony of a few yet living who knew them,
26 The Penningtons
we gather a scant account of their varied and active
life. In December, 1859, Jim Pennington located
a homestead on the Santa Cruz and in 1865 testifies,
" I have lived upon the same at all times only such
as I was compelled to leave on account of Indians
and the unsettled condition of the country." In
August, 1 86 1, Jack Pennington appears at Cooke's
Canyon in New Mexico in the ambush of a wagon
train enroute for the Rio Grande. In the course
of the fracas one of the party was wounded and
about to be left behind, when Jack, who was but a
boy, with his le\'elled rifle compelled his companions
to place the wounded man in a wagon, thus finally
saving him. In 1864 we again hear of him wash-
ing gold on the Hassayampa; and finally, in 1870,
he came back from Texas to aid the broken family
to return there.
The main occupation of the family was freight-
ing, and the Penningtons, with their heavy wagons
and teams of twelve to fourteen oxen, were much of
the time on the road. Thus we hear of them — Jim
in a fight with a small war party that ambushed him
and captured his oxen, on his way to the Patagonia
mine; and on other occasions at Oatman Flat on the
Yuma road. Much of the time the men were cut-
ting lumber in Madera Canyon in the Santa Ritas
and hauling it to Tubac where there was a sawmill,
to the Cerro Colorado and other mines for timbers,
and to Tucson. At Tucson for a time they operated
a saw pit in the street originally called the Calle del
-*— t —
Portion of Official Map of the City of Tucson, S. W.
Foreman, Surveyor. Approved and Adopted June 26, 1872.
Sidney R. DeLong, Mayor. William J. Osborn, Recorder.
Traced from Original Map Sept. i, 1915, by A. L. Enger.
Pioneers of Early Arizona 29
Arroyo. As the name signifies, this street was, at
least partly, in an arroyo or dry water course that
lay immediately to the south of the old walled town.
This depression, or arroyo, was conveniently util-
ized as a saw pit by throwing across it timbers on
which to sujjport the \nne logs, which were then
whip-sawed into boards by men standing, one in
the arroyo and the other on the log above. In
course of time, when the streets of the old Mexican
town were renamed, the Callc del Arroyo was called
Pennington Street after the men whose rude place
of business it was; and so it remains to-day. It was
while hauling lumber to Tucson, in August, 1868
that Jim Pennington finally met his fate. Camping
by the road north of San Xavier, his oxen were
stolen by Apaches during the night. Next morn-
ing he and his teamster pursued the Indians, but
were ambushed in the hills west of Tucson and Jim
was killed. He was buried first at Tucson, after-
ward at the Sopori Ranch, where a wooden head-
board still marks his grave.
Of the women — those who waited anxiously at
home for the news of disaster that they continually
expected — we also catch occasional glimpses.
C. B. Genung relates that in April, 1864, he
found the Pennington women, with two boys and
little Mary Page, living in Tubac. Except for
them the place seemed to be abandoned at that time,
and the danger from Indians was great. Every
morning the two boys, with guns as long as them-
selves, carefully reconnoitered each side of the path
to the spring froni which the women then carried
the water supply for the day. The Sopori Ranch,
Jaxe Pennington (Mrs. Wm. Crumpton), about 1885.
about ten miles from Tubac, was also their abiding
place from 1866 to 1868. This was an extremely
dangerous location, being in the path of Apache
war parties passing to and from Mexico. The
ranch house was fortified, with stone walls sur-
Pioneers of Early Arizona 31
rounding it and with the walls pierced by port holes
for guns. They were ne\'er attacked here although
the dove and turkey calls used by the Indians as
signals were sometimes heard. One morning the
youngest sister, Josephine, picketed her favorite
pony a short distance below the Sopori Ranch
house, but she had not reached the door before an
Apache ran out from the bushes, jumped on the
horse and made off with him.
Notwithstanding the danger, these brave women
made the most of a hard situation. They cultivated
a small field in the adjacent creek bottom, irrigating
it from a ditch that flowed close under the little
rocky hill on which their fortress home was perched.
Under the walnut trees that fringed the ditch they
did their washing, and many an hour was passed
in sewing, which was all done by hand.
A small separate building was set aside as a
schoolroom, and here the older sister, Ellen, who
had gone to school in Texas, taught the younger
children with the help of the Bible and the battered
school books that had been brought through the
Pecos years before. For amusement they had to
depend upon themselves. They had little inter-
course with Americans except for occasional passers
by, from whom we have several accounts of them
at this time.
Oftentimes, at the Sopori, at the close of day,
when the men were due to return from a freighting
trip, the women would watch and wait with dread
Pioneers of Early Arizona
and apprehension, fearing disaster, until the crack
of the long whip and a well known voice encour-
aging the oxen, would finally reassure them.
There was much fever in this region also, in early
days, due to the grass grown and swampy condition
n — III
1 U. Bvt Maj.CHVaili quarters
2 Adjutants quarters 3. Cody's kitchen
4 Commissary deportment 5. Ouartermosters stores.
6. Guord house. 7 CaC quortcrs, I- USCovalry
8. CoK quorters, \^ US. Ca/alry
9. Cook house, CoC 10 Cook house. Co K Wimshed)
1 1 . Suds row 12. Lt Garrett^ quarters
13. Officers quorters 14. Sutler's store (Stevens iYo-k«)
I 5. Old suds row 16 Pennington home
17. &\xt^aiion corroll 18 Quchonon conifnissory
Old Fort Crittenden.
of the river bottoms, with consequent mosquitoes
and malaria. A sister, Ann, died here in 1867 and
was buried in the Sopori Cemetery.
At about this time, also, Ellen, the older sister,
Pioneers of Early Arizona 35
married one Barnett, who was a member of the first
Diminished in numbers, the Penningtons drifted
back to Tubac in 1868 and to Fort Crittenden in
1869, probably hoping for greater security there.
But in June, 1869, the Apaches again took heavy
toll of this devoted family, this time killing the
father and Green, now grown to manhood. These
two were at work in their field on the Sonoita about
fourteen miles below Fort Crittenden. The father
was plowing, with his rifle slung to his plow-
handles, while Green was repairing an irrigating
ditch some distance away. Just after the older
man had turned back on his land, the savages in
ambush shot him down from behind. The boy
might have escaped, but not knowing that his father
was dead, remained to fight off the Apaches. He
was mortally hurt, but finally reached the ranch
house where he remained until rescued by cavalry
from the fort, to which the alarm had been carried
meantime. Green, and his father's body, were
brought to the Fort, where eight days later the
young man died. These two, father and son, were
buried in the cemetery on top of a little hill just
above the railroad cut nearest the site of old Fort
Buchanan. Mr. Sidney R. DeLong, then quarter-
master of the Fort, read the burial service over
With the loss of their father and two brothers, the
broken family now ga\e up the unequal contest with
Pioneers of Early Arizona 37
adverse fortune. The remaining sisters, with a
young brother and little Mary Page, now put their
slender belongings together and came to Tucson.
Here they made a last effort to escape from this
land of tragedies and outfitted for California. At
the Point of Mountain, twenty miles on their road,
the widowed sister, Ellen, became ill of pneumonia
and the party returned to Tucson, where Ellen died.
A little later, brother Jack, who had gone back to
Texas some time before, came for them, and they
returned with him shortly after. Only one of the
original party found the way in later years to Cali-
fornia, the land of promise for which they had set
their faces years before.
Mrs. Page remained in Tucson, becoming the
wife of William F. Scott in 1870, and living un-
eventfully at the old home on South Main Street
until her death, March 31, 191 3, at the age of 76
This plain chronicle of pioneer life in old Arizona
contains little of romance to commend it even to a
sympathetic reader. True, the story is ennobled by
the heroism and unselfishness which appears in it
from time to time, — Jack, refusing to leave a
wounded companion to the savages ; Green, sacri-
ficing his life to help his father; the older sisters,
taking charge of the motherless family; the men,
constantly in danger to secure the necessities of life
for those dependent upon them. But in the main,
to those who lived it, the life must have seemed bar-
38 The Penningtons
ren and disappointing at best, and purely tragic at
the last when death put an end to the contest for so
many of them.
There were compensations here and there ; and it
is interesting to learn from the pioneers themselves
the motives that led many of them to accept and
even prefer the hardships and dangers of the fron-
tier. Pennington himself seems to have wanted
elbow room, and freedom from the constraints of
too close association with neighbors. Another ex-
presses it by saying that many of the pioneers hated
civilization. Some of them came to Arizona from
the South after the Civil War in order to get as far
as possible from the dominion of the government
that had defeated them. One old miner, referring
to his youth in Arizona in the sixties, said: "Oh,
we were just young fellows out for a time." Tom
Gardner said, in the same strain, " Well, you see,
there was lively minin' then, lively hoss racin' and
lively fightin ' — everything was lively." Genung,
tiring of the constraints of San Francisco in the
days of the Vigilantes, said that it was excitement
and adventure and freedom that attracted him to
Arizona. Adventurousness, therefore, love of free-
dom and hatred of restraint, were qualities that
characterized many of the men. As to the women,
there were but few American women in the country
in those days, and these, as a rule, not from choice,
it is safe to say. Usually they chanced here through
militarv connections or some adverse fortune that
Pioneers of Early Arizona 39
diverted them from the California road. Without
the society of their kind, often without the comforts
of life, without the relief afforded by active adven-
ture, and often in danger, they had no choice but
As a class the pioneers were an essential factor in
early development. They constituted an indepen-
dent citizen soldiery that cooperated with the troops
while the country was being reclaimed from the In-
dians. They brought in military supplies; fur-
nished hay and lumber to the posts ; and in many
cases were more effective than the soldiers them-
selves in expeditions against the Apaches. Many of
the older mines were located and worked by them;
and the possibilities of agriculture were also grad-
ually shown. All this pa\'ed the way for civilized
government, for immigration, and, finally, for the
development of mining and agricultural industries.
Too often the character of the pioneer unfitted him
for the quieter conditions which he made possible.
Too often, again, he was so broken by a life of
hardship that he derived little benefit from the re-
sults of his own labor. Let us, then, looking back
over their eventful lives, give them due homage for
what they have accomplished for us in meeting the
dangers and in overcoming the difficulties of our
m-t* lay- ; » 1 ' . ^^. ^
„ c '^
!- h— o
Pioneers of Early Arizona 41
Letters of C. B. Genung, May 31, 1913, and June 9, 1913.
Court of Claims of the L'nited States : Indian Depredations No.
31 12, pp. 4-59.
Court of Claims of the United States : Indian Depredations No.
3112, pp. 60-182.
Court of Claims of the United States : Indian Depredations No.
31 12, pp. 248-332.
Court of Claims of the United States : Indian Depredations No.
7363, manuscript copy.
Across America and Asia, p. 13. Pumpelly.
The Apache Country, pp. 152-155. J. Ross Browne.
New Tracks in North America, Vol. II, pp. 100-102 (December
3, 1867). Bell.
Diary of Samuel Hughes.
County Records of Pima County, Arizona :
Land Claims No. i, p. 51.
Land Claims No. i, p. 59.
Letter of L. E. Barnett, October I, 1869.
Mrs. Scott's account of her capture by the Apaches ; taken by her
daughter (Mrs. R. H. Forbes).
Copy of a portion of Sam Hughes' diary, mentioning the Pen-
ningtons in 1859.
Narrative of Jane Pennington (Mrs. Crumpton), Santa Cruz,
Cal., May 18, 1916.
Narrative of John H. Cady, December 8, 1914.
Pennington notebook, by R. H. Forbes, containing various nar-
ratives and notes relating to the Pennington family.
Pacific Wagon Roads. House of Representatives ; 35tb Congress,
2d Session. Ex. Doc. No. 108.
Los Angeles Star (Cameragraph), containing Arizona News in
1861. (Original in Bancroft Library, Berkeley, Cal.)
Manuscript map showing overland wagon notes of travel through
New Me.xico and Arizona.
C. B. Genung's map and letter, showing main line of travel about
42 The Penningtons
Map (Cameragraph, 2 parts) of the Military Department of New
Map (Cameragraph) of the Territories of New Mexico and Ari-
zona ; by the Office of the Chief Engineers, U. S. A., 1879.
Map of Arizona Territory (Cameragraph) by authority of Gen.
O. B. Willcox, 1879.
Map (Cameragraph) of Southwestern New Mexico, by the Office
of the Chief of Engineers, U. S. A., 1883.
Official Map (Cameragraph) of the Territory of Arizona, com-
piled by Richard Gird, 1865.
Johnson's Map (photograph) of the United States, in 1858, show-
ing the Gadsden Purchase as Arrizonia.
Skeleton Map (blueprint) of Southern California, Engineer Office,
Military Division of the Pacific, 1874.
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