Bisbee railroad starts running

In the Feb. 2, 1889 issue of the Tombstone Daily Prospector, the Bisbee mining company started running its schedule for its shiny new railroad. The ad was approved by Ben Williams, superintendent of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Co. The ad was intended to run indefinitely: The “tf” in the lower left is newspaper-speak for “till forbid,” and means the ad will run till cancelled. (more…)

Bisbee Memorial Day, 2016

Evergreen tombstone marked with GAR medallion

To see information about a photo, hover over it or click on “show thumbnails” and then choose a photo.

Bisbee’s 2016 Memorial Day commemoration will be at 11 a.m. at Evergreen Cemetery, under the auspices of the local VFW and American Legion posts.

Bisbee holidays of the past seemed to be taken more seriously, in no small part because there were fewer of them. But 50, 100 or 125 years ago, none of them was relegated to simply three days for barbecuing.

Evergreen tombstone marked with GAR medallion

Bisbee’s Evergreen Cemetery has at least one Civil War soldier’s grave marked by a GAR medallion.

Days like Memorial Day, which was originally May 30, were on the designated day, not the nearest Monday. Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day, so called in 1868 when it was established because it was a time to decorate the graves of men who had died while serving in the army or navy.

It was established by an organization known as the GAR, or Grand Army of the Republic, Union army veterans, but the day later took in Confederate veterans and then all men and women who had made the ultimate sacrifice.

There is much that can be said about Memorial Day in Bisbee. The photo gallery at top shows the heart of the community’s story.

Bisbee gets good water source

Bisbee was booming in 1902, the year it became an incorporated city.

To keep up with that boom, it needed more water — a perennial tale in the arid West — to supplement that which was being pulled from the Mule Gulch aquifer.

Water pumped from Naco to BisbeeIn a story that would be repeated so many times in the decades before and afterward, it got its need filled through a venture with Copper Queen Consolidate Mining Co. On June 21, the first day of summer, water was pumped from the well fields of Naco — still in use today — to a tank above the Spray shaft, on Queen Hill.

It was, as the Bisbee Daily Review touted in the lead column of its next issue, “a day of rejoicing.” For the brand-new city it meant not just more to drink, and the guarantee of continued mining, but the assurance of better fire protection.


Bisbee’s hills with two names

Folks on the Lavender Jeep Tour often ask about location names, and I've been surprised at how many times I've had to say "this" or "that." Seems especially that the hills around Bisbee have two names. Some have evolved over time and some are the differences between what local say and what USGS topographic maps record.

Gold Hill, or Geronimo

Gold Hill, or Geronimo

Gold Hill / Geronimo

Interestingly, all of the hills that are on this topic can be seen from High Road. At the greatest distance is the one officially called Gold Hill, and from which emanates Gold Gulch. (Where many folks have panned a bit of gold.) Even on topo maps going back to 1902, it was known as Gold Hill, but when I was growing up, it was called Geronimo. Other natives know it by the same name, but no one seems to know why.

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Bisbee’s share of population, based on Democrats

There used to be a saying around Cochise County that if you wanted to vote in the primary election, you’d better be a Democrat. That inertia is probably why I’m still a registered Democrat. Today, if you register Independent, you can choose your primary ballot, which I think is totally wrong.

But back to the point of this article. Way back when, Cochise County was strongly Democrat, and Bisbee certainly was, though that didn’t mean the D letter after a candidate’s name would guarantee him an election. Voters looked at the man, and many Republicans were elected to office. (more…)

No end to learning about Bisbee’s history

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.One of the boxcars in which deportees were sent to New Mexico

“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.” (more…)

Just getting a city job isn’t enough

Tony Kyle, Bisbee’s newly appointed night policeman, discovered that celebrating New Year’s can be bad for your tenure.

The Bisbee Daily Review reported Jan. 1, 1907 that on Dec. 30, the man was found intoxicated in a saloon on Brewery Avenue. Someone reported the fact to his boss, City Marshal Haskall “Hank” Snodgrass, who went to the saloon and found Kyle drunk and asleep in a chair.Drunk cop discharged

Snodgrass asked him to turn over his star and the keys to the city jail, “but Kyle was in such a condition he was unable to do so,” so Snodgrass had to take them.

Kyle was appointed by the marshal, with the deal confirmed by the city council, to replace Jay. F. Wilmoth, who resigned to become constable, a post he had been elected to that fall.

Kyle had been a miner and came to his new post highly recommended. “It had been reported several times that Kyle was conducting himself in a manner unbecoming an officer, and although the city marshal investigated the reports, he was unable to get facts to prove the charges,” the newspaper reported.

With the final report, Snodgrass checked it out himself. “I want men on the police force who can be depended upon and who are looking out for the best interests of the city,” Snodgrass said.

“I want to give the people of Bisbee the best police protection I can give, and must have the best officers I can get.”

It didn’t take Snodgrass long to replace Kyle with Jack Meany.

Violin virtuoso plays in Bisbee

One of the world’s finest violinists performed in Bisbee in 1920 to a packed house. A recording of his work from that era is included below.

As the superior court in Tombstone was in the final stages of selecting a jury for the kidnapping trial of Harry Wootton in early March 1920, Bisbee was being soothed by the music of world-famous violinist Jacques Thibaud.

Violinist Jacques Thibaud played in Bisbee in 1920In what was a century-earlier version of today’s For the Love of Music classical music series held at the Bisbee Woman’s Club, this event was part of the season for the local Musical Events Club.

On the Lavender Jeep Tour, I often point out to visitors that Opera Drive got its name from the former presence of the Opera House, which did sponsor some opera, but was mainly a vaudeville house, among other more plebeian activities.

Similarly in 1920, when the columns were filled with ads for minstrel shows, this event was unusual enough to justify listing in the news article the specific music that he would be playing. (more…)