This menu page updated
August 22, 2015

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Palominas Group

The above 'egroup' is an email type bulletin-board in which only members receive email from other members of Palominas yahoo Group. You use your existing address. I am also a member other egroups and this is a good way to exchange news and get questions answered or discussed.



Brief historical facts on Palominas

Excerpts from "Early Sierra Vista; Its People and Neighbors"
(A narrative history by Jac Hein, Copyright 1983, published by Banner Printing Center, Sierra Vista) This book is now out of print.

The Earthquake of 1887 (Updated archive article))

The Gamble That Paid Off in Contentment

A little history and some photos of old Hereford.
(These are included in a photo gallery page)

Excerpts from "New Life For Grandmother", self published by Aura Jones Fike, 1958.

Some history of Miracle Valley, Arizona

Associated Links:

Here are two links to a great web site which contains a vast amount of information (historical and current) on The Overland Trail, including historical information about the Palominas area.  Many thanks to Elizabeth Lawrence for informing us of this resource.

The Mormon Battalion - San Pedro River Valley
The Seven Cities of Cibola - Coronado National Memorial

I am very indebted to Rex and Faye Wetter for providing some photos and clippings and further leads to follow up on.

I. Some History of Palominas (as included in the Southern San Pedro Valley Area Plan)

The name Palominas means "Place of the Doves".  It is from the name "Palominas de San Pedro, a name that Father Kino gave to an Indian village located by the river in what is now Mexico.

There is a reason why the Hereford Post Office isn't is in Hereford.  During WWII, the cattle business thrived.  Cattle and mail came by rail.  After the war, that market dried up.  Railroad service at the town of Hereford was discontinued and the town was dismantled.  Mail now came by truck on the 'new' highway, so the post office was moved to the new store on the highway.

The first Palominas School was located just north of Hereford Road.  The 'new' school - the little building at the corner of Palominas Road and Highway 92 - was built on 2 acres of  land donated by Mr. & Mrs. Jacob C. Baker in 1911 (thanks to Mr. Ed Francis for this correction and the supporting documentation).  The 'modern' schools you see now were built much later.

The dairy business was another big business in the early days of Palominas.  Without refrigerators, milk was delivered fresh daily to Bisbee miners, families, and businesses.

The railroad played a key role in delivering cattle, dairy, and mining products to market and services to businesses and residents.  An active railroad line travels through the plan area.

Many thanks to 'Holvoet' for bringing this book to my attention, and for forwarding the below excerpts from the book.  The Fike family has long been a part of Palominas history.

From: Aura Jones Fike, New Life for Grandmother, 1958, published by Aura Jones Fike, Stuart, Florida.
 In the Chapter called "Arizona" (pps. 13-20) she describes her early life and history as follows:
"My Mother was educated to be a school teacher. She loved to write stories and poems for children. It was said that she was beautiful when young. I know she was a Christian and believed that God answers prayer. After she married my father who was a non-believer, she asked God to show her what to believe in times of trial and stress and to strengthen her faith. Two missionaries passing through the lead-mine district of Missouri (where they lived and where my father worked several mines) came for a visit one day and gave mother a glimpse of the true Gospel as shown in God's Word. She accepted Jesus as her Savior and asked to be baptized.
"In my Mother's mind there was never any doubt but that she was saved and was a child of God...
"She knew that she believed and that God was true to His promises. Her life was a light in the spiritual darkness around her, where one hardly dared to speak the name of Jesus; so I learned by her example, to have the same faith that there is a Heavenly Father watching over us....
"The old ranch house into which our family moved from the mining town of Bisbee (where I had spent my early life) was made of adobe, or mud blocks. It had very thick walls with portholes under the eaves; it had been built as a fort when the Indians were still fighting for their land and their freedom. Afterwards, train robbers made it a hideout where they could guard their stolen goods, and it was said that Black Jack and his gang had stayed there once. Cowboys would take over the place at round-up time and our family moved in when they were still using it. I can remember one of them making sourdough biscuits. Where the cowboy cook stood in front of the big, wood stove, the planks of the floor were worn thin by his clanking spurs. We could see the marks made by bullets -- even a hole through the door where one bullet had been shot through. There were two big rooms, with a fireplace at each end where we gathered on cold winter days (Snow on the surrounding mountains was a common sight in winter.) Outside were bunk-houses, milk sheds, and the barn.
"Father's health had failed. He could do little to help on the ranch except look after us little girls--Edna, Aura, and Frances. The three boys--Perry, Lyman, and Homer--worked like men. They had some schooling in Bisbee but there was a space of about four years when none of us could attend school as there was no school close by. My oldest sister, Helen, began teaching school in Bisbee when she was seventeen years of age. She lived in our old home at the foot of 'Our Mountain' and rode horseback to visit us at the ranch. When she was at home, she was like a second mother to us children.
"My father died when I was eight years old, and Mother was left with all of us (except Helen) to feed and provide an education for us. Frances was the youngest and only four years old. It was Mother who carried on the work of the ranch, milking as many cows as she could with the help of her three young boys (still in their teens). Each did a man's work, as they helped with the milking and then drove the milk wagon ten weary miles up and down the hilly streets of the town, where houses sat one above the other so that it seemed almost possible for the man above to look down his neighbor's chimney.
"I bow my head to thank God for my brothers, for without their faithfulness in those early days, how different our lives would have been! Mother could never go to bed until the milk wagon returned. Often she would stand until late into the night at the old front gate, waiting, praying. Perhaps it was pay day and the boys would be later than usual. There were those about who often waylaid travelers or peddlers but never once our milk wagon.
"Truly, my Mother was sustained by a power greater than herself or she could not have endured this life of hardship on the ranch, when others about her failed. I cannot tell of all she went through, but I remember my oldest brother, Perry carrying Mother in his arms from the milking pen and laying her on the bed. We ran to her. "What's the matter with Mother?' we cried.
"' An old cow kicked her over. You kids stay around. I must go back and milk.' I remember his face, tired and drawn--but regardless of life or limb, the milk wagon must get to town somehow; there were too many babies, children, and sick folks who must have milk!
"In those days, the San Jose Ranch (named for the big blue mountains in Mexico, just over the border) was the only ranch that prospered. The San Jose milk wagon was watched and waited for, and in all those years, until I was a grown woman, it never failed to make its rounds. Even the morning my Father died -- Christmas morning--I looked out the window to see Mr. Robertson, our hired man, starting out for Bisbee to deliver the milk.
"We had been up since four o'clock--called to say a last word to Father before he left us. He thought it strange to see us all standing around his bed so early in the morning, but Mother told him in her gentle way that he wouldn't be with us long now and this might be the last time we would all be together. Shortly after we left him, he turned to Mother and told her she had chosen the right way of life and that if he had his to live over, he would be a Christian. I like to believe that it was then he made his peace with God. Because of Mother's prayers, I have faith that this is so.
"That was a sad Christmas for us all. Our presents were not taken out. Most of them had been chosen by Father and ordered from the catalog. Now that he was gone, I thought of another Christmas when I was four years old, standing in the window looking up at the big mountain back of our house in Bisbee. I had waited so long for Christmas and now that it had come, I couldn't believe that everything should look the same. There was no difference in the mountain -- what was it that made Christmas? I was to wear my new dress, have my hair curled, and hold a banner at the program that night; perhaps that was what made Christmas! I wouldn't have thought of this except for what my Father said the next day. A stranger who sat near him that night had said, 'Look at that little girl peeping out from under her banner. Whose little girl is that?'
"My father had replied, "That's my little girl!' Even now I could remember his proud smile as he told me.
"At our home up in Bisbee, Father often played the guitar and sang in the
evenings. The neighbors would gather in, and my sister Edna would stand beside my Father and sing, too. Growing up, she studied music and became a concert pianist....
"Other ranchers around said Mother had made a success because she had good men to work for her; and it was true. She believed God had sent them to her. Even when she began with the first cows up in Bisbee (when Father couldn't work hard and became the Justice of the Peace), a strange man came walking over the hill and asked for food. No one ever found out who he was. Mother gave him food and he said he would like to live with us and milk the cows for Mother. He did stay for more than a year until we moved to the ranch, then he left us. In all that time he never took no pay. He was a good man and we were sorry not to see him any more.
"Before the wild cattle were shipped out from the surrounding prairies, they
were first driven to our ranch to be watered. We three little girls had to stay in the yard until this was over, as herd after herd came by the house. They would smell the water and keep up a constant lowing day and night. Chuck wagons pulled in and and the cook-fires started; food was kept ready. In the evenings, some of the cowpunchers would come in to have some music. My sister Edna would play the piano for them to sing hymns, such as 'Rock of Ages' and 'Just As I Am,' or my brother Perry would play the guitar and everybody would sing, 'Oh, Bury Me Not on the Lone Pai-rie!'
"We girls learned to rid and would help out when there was just our own cattle to herd, for they were not wild; however, we learned which ones to keep away from when we were playing around the ranch--if they began to paw or shake their heads, we ran for the nearest fence.
"Our ranch became known down in Texas as a fine place to work and get a start in life, so Texas boys began to come to us. Mother treated them as part of the family and we all ate together around the big dining room table. To keep them happy, she had sorghum molasses shipped from Texas by the barrel. Mexican red beans were bought by the hundred-pound sack, and there was always bacon and hot biscuits to go with the molasses, and dried fruit, and canned vegetables. When the weather was cold enough, a young steer would be slaughtered for food. At mealtime, any stranger who came around was asked to eat with us; that is, unless he came walking down the railroad track--then he must chop wood and sit outside and eat at the back door."

Some other notes from the book that might be of interest to your readers follow:

""When I (Aura) was ten years old, it was discovered that I had not yet learned to read or write. I had attended the first grade in Bisbee when I was five, but there were sixty children in the room and I took a nap each day and seemed not to have learned anything. Mother, now realizing that something must be done to educate her growing children, sent four of us with our sister Helen to attend school in Los Angeles. We found a sweet little six-room, rose-covered cottage with bearing fruit trees (orange and fig) in the yard. The rent was seven dollars a month! It was in Vernon, which was then a lovely neighborhood with schools, a good library, and churches. This was an answer to my Mother's prayer.
God had shown her where to send us and that He had a good place for us. We lived there in what was, to us, a Garden of Eden which God had provided.
"It took me an extra year to get through the first grade (an unusual record, I am sure). My first grade teacher took a fancy to me, and I was more assistant than a pupil that year. My next to teachers pushed me ahead, so that I was in the fourth grade when we returned home to the ranch. By that time, a one-room schoolhouse had been built in the little border town of Naco and we went to school there. Ten years later, I returned to teach in this same little town. I was a young lady and a graduate of the Arizona State Teacher's College in Tempe.

"I was not engaged but was in love with an exceptionally talented, witty and
clever young man of Christian character and integrity; Franklin D. Jones was his name. I married him in 1915 and at the time of his death fourteen years later, his name was known from coast to coast as one of America's brilliant young lawyers...
"I was fifteen years old when this young man was first called to my attention. He was being carried off the football field at a game between Graceland College and the Leon, Iowa High School. My first thought was that whether he was dead or alive, it would be something to get all the mud cleaned off the poor fellow.
However, two hours later, at the Athenian Literary Society meeting, it was
announced that the opening speaker for the affirmative would be Frank Jones. I began to pay attention, not because of what he said but because this was the same young man who had been ploughed under the mud -- and he was clean! Why he fairly gleamed! There was enchantment in the very thought of his transformation!
His broad forehead toped with blond hair, his blue eyes and fair skin made him seem handsome to me. But he took prind in the fact that he was 'homely;' said that he lacked in beauty, God made up by giving him brains....
"Again, my dear Mother, always guided by God in what she did, sent four of us children -- Lyman, Homer, Edna and myself (with my youngest sister Frances following later in each case) to Iowa where, in the little town of Lamoni, there was a junior college which offered a three-year preparatory course also. To this the four of us were assigned....
"This was my Mother's church college. The four of us were welcomed heartily into the student body where there were others from country districts and who, like us, must work hard to get adjusted but who, on the other hand, knew many things not learned in school which were important in meeting the problems of life. My teachers, knowing my background, led me gently and prayerfully through Latin, Algebra, Medieval and Modern History, Science and Literature, to mention only a few subjects in my three-year course. ...
"Three weeks before school was out (we were soon to return home to Arizona), the phone rang one Sunday evening and Frank and I made our first date to attend church together. ... Frank was always popular with the girls, but he had not been 'keeping steady company' with anyone, so when we began 'going steady,' it seemed to portend a romance of serious nature.
"When I arrived back at home on the ranch, I received a letter from Frank which was to be shown to my Mother. It was a letter asking her permission for him to correspond with me. I was hesitant about showing here that letter, for if she said 'Yes,' then I felt sure that when I grew up, he would be the one I would marry. Mother said 'Yes, write to him, but you mustn't keep steady company with anyone, for you are too young.'..."

3. In the chapter of her book, entitled Florida on pps 53-54, she notes that she has a daughter who attended Eastman School of Music and a son who graduated from Virginia Military Institute where he won the Garnet Andrews Prize. He was in the Navy and was on a P.T. boat at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. He helped in the rescue of injured men during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He also went through the Battle of Midway.

Note: Aura's mother was Lydia Laura Letitia Hopps and her father was Walter Moses Fike. Aura's brothers and sisters were Lyman Walter Fike, Edna Fike, Frances Fike, Perry Fike, Homer Fike, and Helen Fike. Aura was actually related to two different Fike families. Her maternal grandmother was Mary Jane Fike (apparently no relation to Walter) and her maternal grandfather was Josephus Bradford Hopps. I am in touch with a couple of families who are related to and are very interested in this Fike/Hopps family. Mary Jane, according to her diary, spent quite a bit of time in Naco. If there is any information on this family, I would love to see it and will pass it on.

Aura became a missionary when she was of retirement age and most
of the book deals with her experiences on the mission field in  Caracas,
Venezuela, Washington, D.C., Florida, Los Angeles, New York City, and the
British West Indies.

The Earthquake of 1887

This article was delivered to me as a photocopy from a newspaper; however, I can't determine from which newspaper or when it was printed.  The by-line for the story is Pat O'Hare. See updates 1 & 2: [(1)Update 6/4/2003: Contacted by a visitor to the web site who informs me that the story appeared in the local Western Forum monthly newspaper, possibly the 9/98 issue.  The Western Forum is no longer being published.]
[(2) Update 5/27/2010: Contacted by Mr. Tom Plunkett of Sierra Vista, AZ who provides the following additional information: "....another newspaper account you might be interested in citing on your website.  The article was written in The Decatur Daily Review Illinois, May 6, 1887."  The link to this article is included here: tucson-az-earthquake-destruction-may-1887  . Our thanks to Mr. Plunkett.]

The first article mentioned above is this one:


"April 27, 1887 Was the day THE EARTH SHOOK"
(my note: the actual date of the earthquake was May 3, 1887 - what took place on April 27?)

"A major earthquake tremor stopped all the clocks in Tombstone at 3:06 p.m. May 3, 1887.  It sounded like the explosion of dynamite echoing through the town, with the earth shaking violently.  People ran screaming into the streets, merchandise and glassware crashed to the floor from their shelves, gaping holes appeared in buildings on Allen Street.  A reporter from the Tombstone Prospector newspaper pulled out his watch and counted the 35 seconds the earthquake lasted.  Eight minutes later, a second shock of about two seconds; a third shock was hardly felt, about 4:15 p.m.

Water spurted up out of the ground in great fountains out in the middle of the desert.  Ten miles from Tombstone, a lake covering an acre of ground completely dried up in 20 minutes, as reported by the Tucson Citizen Weekly Newspaper of May 4, 1887.  Some old timers say the San Pedro River's course was changed from South to North that day, that it went largely underground and locals say that the sound of rushing waters may still be heard from the inside of a cave near the site of Charleston.

The water line snapped between Tombstone and the water storage tank in the Huachuca's, where the shock had lasted fully three minutes.  Fires surrounded the horizon, smoke shut out the Sun.  The many large mesquite trees that had dotted the open range were burned to their roots.  All the grass was destroyed and many cattle died of starvation.

Deep underground, William F. Staunton was working as a mining engineer in the Toughnut Mine.  After a loud explosion and a thunderous roar, loose rock came crashing down from the walls.  He told his partner, "It's an earthquake, get under something quick!"  to which he retorted,  "Lord knows, I'm under enough already!"

Charleston was hit hard.  The quake there lasted only thirty seconds, but the ground shook so violently that every building in town was damaged.  Many of the adobe homes fell into the river and were swept away.

There was a rush of water in Sulphur Springs Valley.  Water shot up into the air to a considerable height, 4 or 5 feet in width, and extended fully 100 feet in distance.

In Bisbee, the Prospector's correspondent, W.F. Banning, said that boulders rolled down the steep solid rock canyon walls of the town for ten minutes with reports like cannon shots, beginning at 3:12 p.m. and lasting ten minutes.

St. David was shaken for three full minutes.  Buildings collapsed and part of the schoolhouse was ruined.  Water was dumped out of irrigation ditches.  The water level changed abruptly on the day of the quake, and artesian ponds suddenly appeared in the valley adjacent to the village.  Fearing aftershocks, the community slept outdoors that night.

Shortly after 3:00 p.m. in Benson, buildings began to sway and several developed large cracks.   Waves of aftershock played with a Southern Pacific engine like a child's toy, pushing it to and fro on its tracks.  Residents rushed into the streets, fearing that they would be crushed by toppling buildings.  The Whetstone Mountains were covered with fire and smoke which many assumed represented volcanic activity.

In Tucson, huge boulders came crashing headlong into the valley from the Santa Catalina Mountains, striking together like flint to catch the grasses and dry wood afire.  For several days, the citizens saw nothing but smoke and fire, believing that their beautiful mountains had been destroyed.

Strong shock waves had reached out 400 miles, from Northeastern Mexico at Bavispe, Sonora (the epicenter of the quake), north to Phoenix (where it rang church bells), southern Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas.  In 1977, the late Professor John S. Summer, Dept. Geo-Sciences, U. of A. estimated that it would have measured about an 8.1 on the Richter Scale, which was not invented until 1935."



(First appearing in the Arizona Highways magazine, September 1950 - written by Weldon Heald)
(This article also appears in every menu at the Palominas Trading Post)

"One morning last February, as I rattled along State Highway 92 in the ranch truck, I saw the Secrests' station wagon parked beside the road ahead.  Frank and Peggy stood by it with cameras set and were peering down the highway.
"What's up?" I asked as I pulled to a stop. "Expecting a parade?"
"Better than that," said Peggy excitedly. "Our house is going by in a few minutes."
"The store too," added Frank.
"This I've got to see," I said, easing myself beside them.

It wasn't too long before a distant roar  grew louder and louder, then suddenly around the bend in the road came a giant truck doing at least 50 miles an hour.  On its broad back perched jauntily a white house with a green roof.  It whizzed by us.
"Frank!  Frank!" shouted Peggy, I didn't have time to get a picture of it."
"Neither did I," said Frank, "but here comes the store. Get ready!"  Another truck, another who-o-sh, and the store flashed by.
Both Secrests feverishly snapped shutters at its rear end rapidly disappearing down the road, for this was an event in their lives worthy of record.  And on those trucks was their gamble in a new country - southeastern Arizona.

There was no turning back now.  Frank and Peggy Secrest had gone ahead and done what thousands of people dream about but few have the courage to do.  They had sold their home and business in Pasadena, California, and bought a few acres in the little Arizona community of Palominas on the desert a mile from the Mexican border.  There, 18 miles from the nearest town, they hope to live the rest of their lives under the peaceful, wide-spreading Arizona sky.

But the Secrests were not taking flight from work.  Far from it. The war surplus buildings from Ft. Huachuca which whizzed by us that February morning were eased into foundations and converted into their home and the community's first general store: The Palominas Trading Post, Frank Secrest, Proprietor.  Now they find the world still very much with them, but it is a different kind of world with a life geared to those who make their living outdoors in the sun, wind, heat and cold of a semi-arid land.

The grand opening was in June.  That morning Peggy finished painting the white buildings a smart combination of buff with orange trim and Frank installed the last shelf and piled up the final can.  They stopped, a little out of breath, and looked at each other.  It had been a tremendous job and already they had learned that on the desert you do many things for yourself if you want them done at all.
"This is it," sighed Peggy.
"Keep your fingers crossed," said Frank.
And together they turned and opened for the first time the door of the Palominas Trading Post.

The people came from miles around: San Pedro Valley  ranchers, miners from the Huachuca's, cattlemen, dudes from the guest ranches, and a sprinkling of newcomers from the East.  They all ate cake and cookies, drank fruit punch, and admired the store with its shiny new counters, shelves, refrigerators and deep freezers.  In fact, they stayed on to make the opening one of the biggest and most enthusiastic social events Palominas had ever known.  The day was a success.  Frank and Peggy went to bed tired that night, wondering whether a store in the desert was a practical proposition which would support them the rest of their lives, or just a beautiful dream spun out of wishful thinking.  They had staked their future.  Would they win or lose?

They didn't know throughout the long hot summer, but the Trading Post seemed to fill a need and almost immediately became a center of community life.  Kids swarmed into the store at all hours for ice cream and pop, and customers materialized out of the empty Arizona landscape, made their purchases, and remained to sit on the broad porch out of the sun to discuss the latest developments in cattle, mining, crops, weather.  Peggy's gift shop and lending library, which took up one whole side of the store, became a favorite meeting place with the women of the community.  By fall, the Secrests and the Palominas Trading Post were a part of the life of our valley, and it is a little difficult to remember now how we got along before they arrived.

But life for these transplanted city dwellers in their new desert setting hasn't all been easy.  In spite of station wagons, electric power, radios and butane, Frank and Peggy are pioneers - true descendants of the adventurous Americans who settled the old west.  There have been hardships, setbacks, and times when the Secrests wondered why anyone ever thought this stark, uncompromising country was worth taking from the Apaches.  But after a hard day, perhaps they would watch the sun set in a flaming sea of clouds behind the Huachuca Mountains, see the stars flash out like a myriad of tiny searchlights in the darkening sky, and feel the silence of the desert night descend over them like a velvet cloak.  Then they knew why they had abandoned the city to become pioneers in a new land.  However, we bring our habits, like our furniture, along with us.

"I'll never be satisfied until the place is green and covered with trees," exclaimed Peggy who was originally a New Englander.  Forthwith, she carefully nursed a little patch of lawn, put in a modest garden and planted fruit and poplar trees. All throughout the long hot summer Peggy watered and cultivated her miniature oasis.  Then tragedy struck: a neighbor's cow wandered in, made a clean sweep of the flowers and cropped the foliage from the infant trees.  That day Peggy would have exchanged for one small city apartment with a potted geranium in the window.  But the pioneer spirit wasn't broken.  Once more flowers bloomed around the house and the trees were bravely putting out new shoots inside cow-proof wire cages.

The San Pedro Valley was peopled 10,000 years ago by red-skinned pro-genitors of modern Indians, and it has a lively and picturesque background of history dating back four centuries.  This land has seen resplendent Spanish conquistadors in shining armor; black-robed and brown-robed missionary priests; stalwart trappers in buckskin; bitter and bloody Apache Indian wars; hell-raising mining camps; cattle rustling and Mexican border skirmishes.

The Secrests are proud of the historical marker placed by the Dons of Phoenix on their property. (Note: now since removed)  Its inscription records that Coronado and his army passed through there in 1540 on their quest for the Seven Cities of Cibola.  Frank and Peggy like to believe that the great handsome Negro, Esteban, and Fray Marcos de Niza too, cut across their front yard a year before the Spanish Captain-General.  Such events seem to identify the newcomers more closely with their adopted land.

The Secrests came from Pasadena where Frank had built up a blind and window shade business for 25 years.  They were friendly people and always busy with social activities in the city.  Frank has a fine tenor voice and sang and plays the piano and accordion.  They were both actively associated with a little theater.  I asked Peggy what compensation she and Frank had for all they left behind them.
"Its hard to put into words," she said thoughtfully, "but we haven't missed the city.  The people are friendly down here.  We have our music too.  There are parties, dinners, square dancing, radio and most of the other things we had.  But the constant strain and hurry are gone and we're not tired all the time.  And then," she swept her arm toward the valley, "we have that."

I looked out over the green meadows along the river where cattle grazed in the shade of great cottonwoods and willows.  Beyond, the tawny desert stretched up to the bold promontories of the Mule Mountains shining red, brown, yellow, and ochre against the blue sky.  I could understand what Peggy meant, for this country has gotten under my skin too.  But she is right - you can't put it into words.

January 10, 2001: Changes have continued to take place since the writing of this article, proprietors have come and gone.  Since John and Pam Waters have established ownership, obvious changes have transpired: the addition of a dining room and other interior changes.  It won't stop at this - plans are in the making for continued renovations to meet the demand of a steadily growing clientele.  Additional services are also being researched in an attempt to keep pace with the needs of a growing  community.


Excerpts From "Early Sierra Vista; Its People and Neighbors"

(Page 9, 10)
In the late 1890's, north and east of the tiny border town of Naco, Walter and Lydia Fike and his brother Homer Fike had established their homesteads.  They'd also purchased land from Peter Johnson and others on this side of the border to form the San Jose Ranch, which extended from the city limits of Naco to the San Pedro River.  The Fikes got into ranching in a big way due to a couple of very productive water wells they owned at the original homesite south of Deer Point, the southern tip of the Mule Mountains.

By 1913, the San Jose Ranch was running three to four hundred head of steers, two hundred and fifty head of horses and a massive dairy operation, supplying the busy mining town of Bisbee.with fresh milk and cream.  At one point the San Jose Ranch had a hundred and fifty hired hands to work the ranges, do the farming, and operate the dairy.

When the Fikes settled in the valley, the area now known as Palominas was called "Sod Town."  Probably, because of the rich soil and the moisture the valley received when it rained, the green grass grew better there than anywhere around and sod was a precious commodity in those days.

Other ranchers in the area included Bostic Williams and C.H. Martin.  And about the time when the Frys settled near the fort, Frank Moson was moving his family from their place near Lewis Springs to establish the Y-Lightning Ranch, west of Hereford.

Before Hereford became a railroad stop, wild cattle from both sides of the border were rounded up and driven in cattle drives to Willcox, the nearest railroad hub, where they were sold.

About the time Oliver Fry had decided to move his family from Texas to Garden Canyon, near the main gate of Fort Huachuca, Samuel Leiendecker was settling with his family on a hundred and sixty acre homestead west of Palominas.

In time Leiendecker, who had moved to Cochise County from Pasadena, California, had expanded his land holdings to 640 acres, a full section.  During the ensuing twenty-five years, he continued to acquire additional property and eventually controlled two thousand, six hundred and forty acres of prime grazing and farm land in  the fertile valley.

Some of the rock houses, adobe buildings and stone structures built by Leiendecker are standing and a few are still in use.  When he was seventy-nine years of age, he completed construction of the last building.  In 1956, at the age of eighty, Samuel Leiendecker passed away.  Three boys and a daughter survived to continue ranching the Leiendecker spread.

After Samuel's death, Urbane Leiendecker gave one thousand, three hundred and twenty acres of the prime farm land to A. A. Allen Revival Inc., which was named Miracle Valley.  Later on, three hundred and twenty acres of the Leiendecker property on the north side of the highway were subdivided and sold as homesites.

Samuel Leiendecker's son Paul stated, "In 1938 I prophesied that this land will some day be the Valley of Refuge."

(Pages 38, 39)
The year 1887 was the year of the earthquake in the Arizona Territory and the July 22, 1934 edition of the "Bisbee Daily Review" gave this accounting of Henry Pyeatt's experience during that historical event:
"On the day of the earthquake the (Pyeatt's ) bride was alone in their ranch home, and Pyeatt was at the general store in Palominas.  This was a long building.  He, Jimmy Duncan, a cowboy long since dead, old Cap Kelton, a captain in the federal army and then a line rider in the customs service, and Frank Tweed, the storekeeper, were sitting under the porch on the long verdanda facing east, swapping tales."
"Tweed and Pyeatt were sitting on a pile of lumber, and Kelton was ensconced in the only chair there was to  be had in the establishment.  They were first startled by a distant rumbling like thunder in a clear sky. Then, without warning, some of the plaster from the adobe structure fell from above their heads, barely missing them."
"They ran off the porch and out to the plaza.  The world seemed to be in a swirl.  They ran back to the house, and it seemed that the corner of the building was going to hit the runners.  At the same time it looked as if the waves of the ground were going to swallow them."
Pyeatt says he was leading that mad chase during the earthquake, and he was conscious that Frank Tweed and Jimmie Duncan were right behind him.  'We ran like wild calves,' Pyeatt laughed.  He had just been married on the 28th of April and that was only on May 3.  'I had to laugh afterwards,' he says, 'It was so funny the way we acted.  I wouldn't run now, for it would be no use.  Old Cap Kelton didn't run then.  He just moved away from the adobe wall and said, 'Don't get excited, boys; it's nothing but an earthquake.' "
"All of the running happened in about fourteen seconds, Pyeatt discovered afterwards, for an old man in Tombstone had timed the earthquake. 'Just about the time the earth quit shaking, I quit running, ' Pyeatt says, 'but my knees were still shaking for some time afterwards.' "

(Page 58)
As homesteaders and settlers moved into the valley between the Huachucas and the Mule Mountains, small communities came into existence.  Palominas, Hereford, Huachuca Siding and Garden Canyon became more populated and with the railroads came settlements like Lewis Springs and Buena.

Following the Arizona earthquake of 1887, some of the physical characteristics of Cochise County changed drastically.  The San Pedro River, which had been a sizable flow of water supporting irver transportation, suddenly went dry as the water went underground.  Shortly thereafter, many of the mines on the east side of the San Pedro and those around Tombstone became flooded and large scale mining was discontinued.  Towns like Charleston and Fairbank were vacated as miners departed for more promising territories.

(Pages 130, 132, 133)
In 1937, another cowboy/wrangler settled in Cochise County.  He'd been here before as a member of the Machine Gun Squadron of the 1st Cavalry at Camp Harry J. Jones in Douglas.  That was a temporary assignment.  This time he came back for keeps.

James Bond was sixteen years old when he decided to leave Texas.  That was the summer of 1922.  He'd heard tall tales about the opportunities in St. Louis, so he "hoboed" his way to the town that became known as "The Gateway To The West".  When he got there, he found out there were indeed lots of jobs, but none for a sixteen year old.

One day outside the post office in St. Louis, he spotted the recruiting sign promoting the charms of the horse cavalry.  When he visited with the recruiters, they painted a very exciting picture of Army life at Camp Harry J. Jones in a place called Douglas, Arizona.

While reminiscing, James Bond said, "They told me, 'You'll soldier in the morning and afternoon.  Then at night you'll get a pass and a horse so you can go across the border into Mexico for cold beer and lots of pretty girls.'  Well, I was very fond of horses and liked to ride and it all sounded good to me, so there and then I signed up.  Of course I told a little fib.  I was just going on seventeen but I told them I was eighteen.  The next thing I knew, I was with the 1st Cavalry Division. My pay was twenty-one dollars a month but two dollars of that went for laundry.  What I got was nineteen dollars, cash.  Out of that, I sent ten dollars each month to my mother back in Rocksprings, Texas.  That still left me nine dollars a month for necessities and pleasure.

The moment James Bond arrived at Camp Jones in Douglas, he was labeled with the nickname "Tex". He's gone by the name Tex Bond ever since.

In 1937, Tex returned to Cochise County and went to work cowboying for the Rancho del Rio at Hereford.  Later on, he worked at the Y-Lightning Ranch.  According to Tex, the Y-Lightning was the best dude ranch....the best saddle horses and cowponies.... and for his money, F.B. Moson, owner of the Y-Lightning, was the best horse trainer in the county.

Leaning back in his reclining chair, the well-preserved Texan, turned cavalry soldier, turned cowboy, remembered, "It was at the Y-Lightning Ranch that I met Patsy Higgins.  She had come out from her home in Indiana to visit cousins here.  One day they stopped by the ranch and all I saw of her that day was the top of her head.  Well, a few weeks later, the Mosons were looking for a girl to work on the ranch and I suggested that they go get that little gal that was here with Rose Clinton.  I'd heard that she was looking for a job.  Sure enough, they hired her.  A couple of months later, I gave a party for a dude guest and invited Patsy.  I was playing guitar and singing and it was a real fine party.  Finally, one of the fellas there said,, "You know, Tex, Patsy likes you.'  Well, after that, I started dating Patsy and in 1943, Nora "Patsy" Higgins and I were married."

During the war, Tex was drafted and he and Patsy went to Fort Smith, Arkansas, but only for six months, when they returned to the Y-Lightning Ranch.
Being a wrangler on a dude ranch didn't allow Tex and Patsy much time together, so they left the Y-Lightning and hired on at the Thompson cattle ranch in Hereford.  The owner, Arthur Thompson, was a millionaire from Chicago, who made his fortune by inventing the Thompson lockwasher.  Tex and Patsy stayed on there in Hereford for six years.  And their son James R. Bond was born.

Tex purchased a home in Palominas, where they have lived ever since, and decided to try his hand at mining.  He went to work for Phelps Dodge in Bisbee on the track gang at $1.76 an hour.



Call for help on history pages:
We really need help with this section.  If you are a long time resident, or know one or more long time residents, please contact Doug Snyder for information to include on these pages.  If you know of any books that include even a slight amount of history of the Palominas area, please let me know.  There are many questions I have about the name origin, early settlers, farmers, and ranchers, historic buildings (that no longer exist), old photographs, newspaper clippings, etc.


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