Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

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Some Thoughts About History

By: George A. Brunson (Globe, Az. 2009)


In my ‘almost’ seventy years I have pretty much learned that, throughout time, historical events are noted and recorded in specific ways!


(1)  By the one it happened to,

(2)  By the one who saw it happen, and,

(3)  By the one who heard about it happening.


I then followed that line of thinking and found that in (1) it depended on how severe it was, how legal it was, and, pretty much, how moral it was for the times. Then in (2) it depended on what they thought they saw, by how close they were to the event (friend or not of the subject) and just how much they felt they could share of what they thought they saw. Then in (3) it appears that this persons account will depend on pretty much all of what is noted by (1) and (2) as well as to the personal opinions of the person who heard what they thought they heard about the incident.


It, therefore, appears that the ‘history’ we read today is dependent upon all of the above plus the new ‘political correctness’ requirements, the opinions and personal thoughts of the writer, and, what they expect to gain from the reporting/recording of it.


It brings us to a point where we probably should always question what we read or hear as ‘historical fact’ and make up our own minds on just how much we can safely depend on the various authors providing what we read and hear!


Case in point: The ‘numbers’ involved in the ‘Camp Grant Massacre’ of 1871! The numbers of the dead, the attackers, and, the plotters are pretty much all different depending on who was telling or writing about who did what! If one was on the side of the Indian – many many dead, wounded or stolen as captives! If on the side of the Army reporting it there was a high number of women and children killed but not much said about the males! If on the side of the public, not many were killed and it was a needed deed at the time! If it is the government it is a politically terrible thing and we ‘must’ do something about it! Even if the Government had just recently burned Atlanta, scorched the earth and killed many, many people and then said to each other “it was a good thing”! The President at the time of Camp Grant was Grant, the same one who ordered the destruction during the Civil War!


About the only way we can get things right is to try to think as if we were there in that time and place and be honest about what we see and hear! Then, even in that case, since we know the writer will take certain liberties depending on what he thinks or feels is ‘a good thing’ or ‘a bad thing’ we can’t really trust them to put out ‘actual’ history!


I have, therefore, decided to try to go over a historical subject and treat it as if it were a crime then look for ‘evidence’ then present it as if it were a case to you, as the jury, and see if common sense and logic could possibly prevail.


The Pleasant Valley War


No, not the entire war, just a couple parts of it. There has been a lot written by a lot of authors who have done both very good and pretty bad in their research but it seems they were all interested and involved in their subject to some extent!


For example, the Newton – Middleton Cabin and the Tewksbury Ranch where John Tewksbury and his employee William Jakobs were killed are both shown as being ‘different’ cabins in ‘different’ locations with ‘different’ background possibilities at both (or all three) of them!


The Newton – Middleton Cabin was originally built by William Middleton in 1875! 


On September 6, 1881 it was attacked by Indians who had ‘jumped’ the Reservation and they killed George Turner and Henry Moody during the fight at the cabin. OK, this is true, it did happen! It even notes the ‘other cabins around it’!


In the spring of 1882 it was again attacked by Indians and the Middleton's finally gave up and moved out selling to George Newton and J.J. Vosburg. It can now be referred to as the ‘Newton’ cabin or even the ‘Middleton/Newton Cabin’ if one likes. But, what happened to J. J. Vosburg? Isn’t he the one who created the ‘Flying V Ranch” which is less than a mile from the Newton Cabin? He sort of disappears from all the narratives!


On August 9, 1887, the Ranch was again attacked! John and Ed Tewksbury along with Jim Roberts and W. B. Edmundson were in the cabin with George Wilson when Hamp Blevins, John Payne, Thomas Carrington, Robert Glaspie and Tom Tucker (Per various authors) rode up on the cabin. Note that these are ‘cowboys’ riding up to a ‘cow ranch’ – or was it? Why didn’t they stop by the Flying V if they were hungry and looking for ‘Old man Blevins’ who was allegedly killed in their corral? Hamp Blevins and John Payne were killed during this fight!


On August 10, 1887, the ranch house was burned down (Per same authors) by Charlie Blevins, Tom Carrington, Al and Ed Rose, Bill Voris, Miguel Apodaca and Lewis Parker.



0201This is the ‘Middleton/Newton Cabin’ photo per Dan Thrapp as received by him from Leroy Middleton. In 1881 Leroy would have been seven years old – think he really remembered the place?


(Note the hillside directly behind the cabin)


The following photo was taken by myself in 2009 and appears to be the only place the cabin could have been on Cherry Creek!


This was taken at the ‘upper Tewksbury Ranch site’ above Cherry Creek about one and one half miles from the Graham Ranch property.






This is what it looks like if you put the cabin in it!



This is where the Middleton Cabin ‘really’ was:


Just ahead of and to his right (he is facing away from you) is the Monument to Hamp Blevins and John Payne. The ruins of the house are farther to his right behind the fence.



Note that there is NO HILL in the background!


It follows then that the cabin identified by Thrapp, Leroy Middleton, Arizona State Historical Society, and, Clara Woody (et al) simply is not the ‘Middleton Cabin’ but in reality the John Tewksbury Ranch Cabin considerably nearer to Young. (Just north of where the James Dunning Tewksbury Ranch site was and about a mile and a half from the Graham Ranch property)




This picture was taken probably in the 30’s or 40’s and shows the house after it was taken down and moved southwest, log by log, to the head of a field about one half mile away due to flooding in the area where it ‘was’. Both of these properties are currently owned by Frank Chapman of Young, Az.


Another noteworthy comment was made by Jane Eppinga in her article for the ‘ARIZONA SHERIFF’ Autumn 1991edition titled “The Pleasant Valley War was anything but” on page 34 where she states Jim Tewksbury said, “No damned man can kill a brother of mine and stand guard over him for the hogs to eat him and live within a mile-and-a-half of me”! (Emphasis by myself) This is interesting since James Tewksbury was a brother of John Tewksbury Jr., and, James Tewksbury Sr. and John Jr’s cabins were within 500 yards of each other before John’s was moved, and, James had pigs at his place!


0807Makes one wonder just ‘who’ this marker is for.


Especially when it is only about 200 yards from the ‘original’ location of the John Tewksbury Cabin!!


It is in an old Indian ruin where the dirt is easy to dig, and, within view of the ruin of the old James Tewksbury Sr. Cabin which the next photo shows as well as some of its ruins still under the trees.


Since James Tewksbury Jr. built his ranch about six or seven miles farther down Cherry Creek near Crouch creek it appears that we now have a ‘third’ cabin and it appears to be the one that confuses everyone.


This ‘third’ cabin was a two story log cabin built low down on the creek bank. There, however, aren’t any real hills around it that one could attack the cabin as well as to see and shoot someone across the creek.


This is a couple of photos of this ‘third’ cabin!





Henry Pullin was my Uncle by marriage; my Aunt was Lilly May Saunders Pullin!


Note the lack of hillsides around this place!


I suppose I would have to present the following questions:

John Tewksbury and his hired hand went out to ‘tend ‘horses’? Why were they ‘tending their horses’ at their brothers house?


If they were both shot by the Blevins who were ‘up on a hill’ then where did the hill go and how did they manage those shots at that distance?


If John’s wife was also down at James House (lot of people down there that morning) how could she have seen them fall at that distance and so far across the creek?


And, lastly, after she saw them fall through the trees and across the creek she managed to walk that distance and dig holes in the solid rock of the creek bottom to bury them?


Somehow I just don’t feel comfortable with this scenario!


Seems like it would make more sense if the Blevins attacked from the hill side up by Johns house and found him and his help gathering horses on his ‘own’ property, the wife ‘seeing’ them fall from the window (or doorway of her house) and, finally, actually walking out and digging in the soft dirt of an Indian ruin to temporarily bury them so they could be found later when help showed up!


Another minor point I would like to make – back in the 40’s and 50’s there was a road that came up Cherry Creek right by that lower Tewksbury cabin that I actually rode/drove on! That road today is closed due to someone’s has put a ‘grave site’ in it!


Seems like history got changed again!



From this 1977 gravesite photo if you walk maybe a hundred yards north to the creek then look back across the creek you would have seen the lower James Tewksbury Cabin. (Photos Courtesy Dick Pierce)


As stated earlier – I don’t claim to know what happened for sure, just curious about the ‘facts’!


You should always make your own judgments!


Photos contributed by: George Brunson, Richard Pierce, and all Black & White Photos courtesy Gila County Historical Society.


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