How I Got My Start.
By James H. Strahan,
brother of Acenith (Strahan) Wortham.
I was born the first time in Honey Grove, Texas, June 2 1863. My father was born in Harden County, Kentucky, in 1811, near Abraham Lincoln's birthplace. My mother was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, of Dutch parents. Father was of Scotch descent. His father (my grandfather) was in the Battle of New Orleans. There behind the cotton bales, with rifles ready sighted. My father, had moved to Illinois, near Mount Sterling when he was young, but left there in 1855, and moved to Honey Grove, Texas.
In 1864, we moved to Fort Scott, Kansas. Two years later we moved to Cincinnati, Arkansas, where we enjoyed poverty for twelve years.
June 1878, with mule teams, we started out for "Arizona Or Bust," as our motto. We went by way of Coffeville, Hutchison, and Dodge City, Kansas to LaHunta, Colorado, where we saw our First Oranges and Lemons on the Fourth of July, 1878, also our first Buffalo. From LaJunta we traveled by way of Trinidad, Ratoon Pass, to Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Wingate, and Navajo Indian Reservation. We went through the Petrified Forest and Sunset Pass to Pine Springs, and by the Old Boulder Stage Road to Prescott. Near Santa Fe we camped at a beautiful spring of water, which proved to contain all the medicinal properties mixed. We had to send back two miles for drinking water. The next day we saw our first Apricots: a Mixican from Santa Fe was following a burro loaded with them. In our bunch were the famous old explorer, cow puncher and hunter, Dick Mason: also Joe and Elige Mason, George Beavers, Al and Pete Strahan, my father and mother , Lucinda Strahan, John Ricketts, Mattie Marshall, and my sisters and brothers.
Arriving at Bear Springs, we all camped. Dick Mason and I went out into the big woods to kill our first deer meat. Late in the evening we realised that we were lost and wandering farther away from camp. Night fell, and we decided to go up on a nearby hill for the night. After a few hours we heard some shooting coming from the direction from which we had just come: Also a signal light, showing us the way home. (May the Lord Throw out the life-line to lost ones today!.)
On August 12 we arrived at the end of the trail at Cottonwood, The old Strahan Ranch near by where we lived Twenty-five years among the Saloons and Gambling dens. But the Lord was watching over us. In August wife and I went to Middle Verde to a Camp Meeting, which Brother Vaugn was holding. The Lord crossed my path there and I was born again. Praise God for salvataion: it is pure and holds good today.
We were all afraid of old Geronimo and his band of renegade Indians, who would come back to the old reservation. So we had to fort up and send out our best scouts to look for signs in Redrock and Oak Creek Section. Reports came that Indians were seen crossing Cherry Creek Grade heading for Black Hills, so we sent out Dave Stanfield, Sol Johnson, and Bill Dick to look for their trail. We found that it was a false report for there were no signs of Indians. We disbanded and all went home with our belongings, till the next scare came. Our neighbors, Mr. Nichols and family, were running a dairy then and they made lots of cheese, so we lived fine while forted up. We finally got to see old Geronimo at the World Fair at St. Louis in 1904. He had been tamed and looked all right.
During the 80's Tombstone was in her palmy days with Earps, and Doc Holliday, boosters against the Clanton Fractions. But all are under the tombstones now, and where is there Victory?
My first sight of Phoenix was in August 1879. Down the Black Canyon the stage was held up three times in succession, at a turn in the canyon near Old Jack Swelling's Place.
Phoenix was a small place, a few adobe houses, Stores, and corals. Maricapa was nearest railroad at that time.
In 1902 I met old man Boblett. He left the American Ranch in 1865 and went to Blaine, Washington, where I saw him. He said he and Joe Melvin and Poker Johnson and another party were on Clear Creek, gathering wild grapes, when they got the news that Abraham Lincoln was assasinated. He said Joe Melvin jumped up, popped both feet and said it was the best thing that ever happened. Mr. Boblett took the matter up with Joe, and they went at it. Fist and skull. Joe was found on the bottom, in the sand.
I still have the Old Henry Rifle, 44 Brass Block, that Poker Johnson took to the Verde in 1860 and that figured in the Apache Wars, in Arizona. You will find it in the Museum at Riverside, California.
I would love to hear from these old Hosampers but almost all are gone. Dock Wilbur has gone. He went through California on horseback to Arizona when there was nothing between Pomona and San Bernardino. George Hance is buried in Riverside. M.H. Sherman died in Arizona when he ran for office. So many of the old timers have gone and we will soon all pass over the other side.
But to continue the story. I remember when I left home packing my blankets and hunting some one to boss me. I was fifteen when I joined Bob Steadman's thrashing crew at Joe Melvins. I recieved the job of bucking straw with old Joe and a white mule that would stop about the time I was under the carrier: then Joe would fork him: then he would buck for sure enough. At $2.00 a day I soon had enough money to buy me a needle gun. I quit the job and went deer hunting. I killed two find deer in the Red Rock Country.
Then I began to prospect. I soon found a close friend and associate Duncan McKinnon. John and Rod have gone on to return here no more. We used to go as far as the Old War Eagle and Gladiator Mines, in the Bradshaw Mountains to do assessment work. One fall our old friend, Dick Maloney, accompanied us. We were loaded with booze and very little grub. At the time when this mine was sold for $14,000 dollars, I was supposed to have part of the proceeds, but my brother got the money and I got the proceeds, all is over for I forgave him. He died with a paraletic stroke.
In 1876 my brother Pete was working at Spring Creek for the Casner brothers, who had sheep and horses. One morning one of the cowboys was missing, also $5,000 dollars in gold that the Casnor brothers, kept in tin cans around the place. They trailded the thief across the mountains. They caught him near Winslow without the gold. He said he had lost it. At last they hung him to a tree. When he was almost dead they cut him down, but he would not tell where the money was. They tried him at court in Prescott, and he came clear. Five years later a poor sheepherder on the Mongolion Mountains found the $5,000 dollars in gold. He took the buckskin sack of gold to the Casner brothers and turned over every dollar to them. They rewarded him with a twenty dollar gold piece.
In the days of gold, in '49 we would often hear of the Grand Canyon and Old John Hance, who discovered the Bright Angel Trail. We also heard of Old Man Ashur, who died at the foot of the trail in Grand Canyon. He was prospecting the asbestos mine and got caught in the rocks. Six days later he was found dead with his log book and notes.
Each day in 1894 while we were at the Grand Canyon, the rest of the party and I went to the bottom of the canyon and stayed all night. We caught fish and drank muddy water. John Hance would thrill the Boston Tender-foot with stories. The rim of the canyon, straight above is a scenic wonder.
All the Old timers and young have heard of "The Last Man," Zane Gray's story of the Tonto Basin Fued where twenty men were killed in the cattle and sheep war between the Tueksberry and Graham families. Relations and friend of both sides joined in. All is peace now and "The Last Man" is gone.
On March 20, the Verde Valley was full of wild flowers, grass, cattle, horses and cowboys, all in the prine of life. I decided to take a vacation for thirty days. As I was the only one who knew the destination, I left Seligman at six O'clock in the evening going through Ash Fork, Williams, and Flagstaff. The snow was falling fast in the mountains at Canyon Diablo. The train was held up by two bandits. Buckey O'Neil was Sheriff of Yavapai County at that time. The next morning the posse arrived on the scene and took the trail through the snow. They followed the bandits up into Utah where they met in a running fight. One was killed and one was captured. When they were bringing him back through Denver he jumped off the train at Ratoon Pass and got away for awhile. In his escape he found a school teacher in the hills who was also lost. After taking her home the officers took him to the Prescott Jail. I arrived at Prescott after thirty days of vacation. The bandit arrived the same day. The school teacher was at his trial and followed him all the way. He was sent to the penitentiary. She followed him there. After three years she landed him safe outside the walls. They were married and made a happy couple.
When my brother was deputy under Jake Henkle, as sheriff, a man on the Middle Verde tried to kill his wife. They were estranged and he was very jealous. He slipped in one night and split her head with an Ax. A posse was soon after him. Two nights later about 9 p.m. he came to my house tired, hungry, and worn out. We gave him supper. When he was done with his meal we arrested him. At eleven p.m. the posse came in. He thought they were going to hang him. He asked for a pencil and paper. He wrote: Dear Mother-, I am going to take a long journey. I will never see you again. Lovingly, Your Son. His mother was in Virginia. We demanded the peace with the men, and took him to Prescott, 45 miles away. He was sent to the penitentiary for fiftenn years, and widow got will and was married to Mr. Albright. She was a good housekeeper for him when I last saw them.
In our bear hunt, Dave, Al, and Dumas killed a silver tip in November, the year Harrison was elected president. It weighed 800 pounds. Al killed the largest deer, 200 pounds dressed.
My father died at eighty-three, mother at seventy-five. They are sleeping in the graveyard, the whole plot of which they donated to the community forever in their will.
00OO THE END OO00
WRITTNE BY- James H. Strahan.
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