I once figured that eventually I’d learn all the “big” stuff about Bisbee’s past. Then I’d just be filling in the gaps, like grouting tile.
Today, I was reading the transcript from the Deportation trial in 1920. W.G. Gilmore, an attorney for the defense of Harry Wootton, is making a closing argument to the jury. In part of his comments, he is trying to show how the prosecution’s testimony — all deportees — is rehearsed, since they all testify to the same thing in the same way, even if it were not possible for all of them to have seen all of the activities that are discusses.
“There were 1,200 men and some man testified, I think, that there were 50 men to the [cattle or box] car; I think they said there were 24 cars and every man — you remember that Mexican that they shot at at Orborne?” [No, I didn’t remember.]
“Every man saw that, every one. They were in box cars; they were herded in there 50 men to the car, and there were, they say, 24 cars, but every witness that Mr. [Robert] French [the county attorney/prosecutor] brought on here, saw that — except the women. That is the character of the testimony you have to consider.”
Perhaps I read it when I was doing research 15-20 years ago, but I certainly forgot it. Two days after the deportation, July 14, The Bisbee Daily Review reported it. In a lengthy article that talked about the guards on the train that took the deportees to New Mexico, the paper said that “many interesting stories were told of the trip” by the guards.
“A Mexican left the special and seemed in no hurry to get back on when ordered to do so by the guards. A good shot unlimbered his rifle and kicked up the ground behind him. Another shot followed and the would-be ‘deserter’ lost not time in getting back into his car.”
Certainly this is but one of a thousand stories of the deportation, one of thousands of sub-plots, but it’s one that should have stuck with me.
That’s why it’s so important to get all this stuff organized into a series of books about Bisbee’s fabulous history. Because it truly is epic!