Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, ARIZONA
APCRP Staff Historian
Mowry cemetery and ghost town developed around Mowry Mine. According to W.J. Wray and S. Painter, Ghosts of Southeastern Arizona, 1966: "Geographical logic had nothing to do with the founding of early towns in southeastern Arizona . . . The driving force was simple survival and the fantasy of wealth from glory strikes that unhinged the minds of men."
The Mowry Mine is one of many lead and silver mines worked in the Patagonia Mountains of S.E. Arizona, probably by early Spanish laborers, under the direction of Jesuit priests. It was rediscovered in 1857 by Mexican prospectors who sold this mining claim, then known as "Patagonia Mine" the following year to a group of six shareholders. They started sinking shafts and constructing furnaces for smelting, but soon had financial problems. Two of the main shareholders sold their interests in the mine to Elias Breroot in 1859. As superintendent and principal owner, he made a number of bad, costly decisions that resulted in the sale, on April 9, 1860, of the entire "Patagonia Mine Holdings" to Lt. Sylvester Mowry for $25,000 in cash.
Sylvester Mowry, born in Rhode Island on Jan, 17, 1833, was a West Point graduate in 1852, ranked high in his class. As a lieutenant in the Army, he came west under Colonel Edward Steptoe's expedition to explore routes for a Pacific Railroad. As a result of a scandal in which he supposedly seduced Brigham Young's daughter-in-law, Col. Steptoe ordered him transferred and Mowry ended up at Fort Yuma. From there he explored Arizona's "wilds" and developed a high opinion of the territory's great mineral resources. He resigned his commission in the Army on July 31, 1858 and became the owner of the Patagonia Mine.
Mowry, who renamed the mine after himself, sold a 1/5th interest in the mine to a wealthy eastern investor to obtain money to make the improvements to get the operation going again. Between 1860 and 1862, he spent about $200,000 to construct various buildings, twelve reduction furnaces, a steam engine to work pumps and run the sawmill and various other expansions. His main interest was in mining silver, as the sale price of lead was not much more than cost of extraction. The value of silver ore shipped from the mine at that time was about $350 per ton with Mowry estimating his net profit as $100 per ton.
Mowry and regional mining camps
Historic sites in the Mowry area. Courtesy Neal Du Shane
Sylvester Mowry, by Browne.
Mowry was a champion of Territorial organization from 1857 to 1860. He was twice elected Delegate to Congress from Arizona Territory, but was never allowed to take his seat.
The Mowry-Cross duel took place, on September 8, 1859, at Tubac. Edward Cross, the publisher of the Arizonian in Tubac, editorialized that Mowy's report of rivers of Arizona teeming with fish were actually trout that grew only the size of a man's finger. Mowry challenged Cross to a duel, using "Burnside's carbines at 40 paces." The men exchanged 3 volleys, and Mowry's carbine failed to fire on the 4th. The seconds decided the former officer should get his shot. Cross laid his gun aside and folded his arms across his chest. Mowry aimed, but then shot the bullet skyward, declaring honors satisfied. The two men shook hands. Tragedy, fueled by two feuding factions in town who had been drinking from a 42 gallon barrel of whiskey, was averted.
Col. Ephrain Edward Cross, was born April 22, 1832 in Lancaster, New Hampshire, died July 3, 1863 in the Battle of Gettysburg at age 31, and is buried in Lancaster, N.H. He became editor of the Weekly Arizonian, which debuted in Tubac on March 3, 1859. It was a four page tabloid printed on a Washington hand press, shipped from Ohio. His avowed policy was to promote the resources of the area, and secure a separate government for Arizona. He and Mowry soon argued over political issues. Cross's aggressive editorial policy continued to bring political pressure on the mining company, which owned the paper.
Col. Edward Ephraim Cross. Courtesy Wikipedia
A short time afterwards, Mowry bought the newspaper. He and his friend William Oury purchased the Weekly Arizonian for $2,500.00 on July 21, 1859. They moved the paper to Tucson, with J. Howard Wells as an inexperienced editor. Two months later the newspaper suspended publication, possibly due to Wells' other political commitments.
The original town of Mowry was destroyed by Apaches when the mines were shut down during the Civil War. Many of the several hundred men employed in the mine were responsible for fending off Apache raids. After U.S. troops were withdrawn from the region during the Civil War, Sylvester Mowry sought protection of Confederate forces under Capt. Sherod Hunter, who arrived in Tucson in 1862. However, Hunter didn't have men to spare and the Confederacy withdrew from the region several months later.
When the California column under Col. James Carleton arrived, supposedly some of Carleton's men were more motivated by getting a free trip to acquire Arizona mineral fields than by patriotic duty. As a result, Union forces of 150 troops seized the Mowry Mine under the Confiscation Act of 1862.
Sylvester Mowry was charged by the Union Government for treason by his political foe, General Carleton, for supposedly making lead bullets for the Confederates, who had soldiers in S.E. Arizona. His mines were seized and he was sent to Yuma Prison for 6 months. Eventually charges were dropped, for lack of evidence, and he was freed, but his assets were gone. He tried to issue bonds to raise money to rebuild, but that failed and he returned to London. He died there, a broken man, on October 13, 1871 of Bright's disease, a kidney disorder. He is buried in North Burial Ground, Providence County, Rhode Island. Engraved on his tombstone is: Sylvester Mowry, Son of Charles C. Mowry. Died in London England, October 17, 1871, Aged 38 years."
His obituary stated:"Hon. Sylvester Mowry of Arizona died in London, England. This is sad news for Arizona. In the death of Mr. Mowry this Territory has lost the most faithful friend it has ever had, in the person of one man. At the present hour, when all the departments of the Government combined in one great effort against him, we can ill afford to lose the advocacy of a man so influential and so earnest in our behalf. An appropriate tribute to his memory will be found in our Tucson correspondence . . .
(Excerpts). He was ordered to this country with his company at an early date, several years before we had a territorial organization. He soon after resigned his commission, knowing that he exhibited talent and ability that should be exercised in a wider field than the army afforded, and identified himself with the material interests and development of the country. He took an active part in getting Congress to organize Arizona into a Territory. But Mowry's political (Gubernatorial and Congressional) aspirations were never gratified. In fact, he was 'too smart' for the thieves. His manly, frank, outspoken way made him many enemies out of those, however, who did not, and could not appreciate the man. He had a great abhorrence for what is called 'red tape'. His bold manner and original way of thinking and speaking made him unpopular with military officers particularly with those who have only lately 'come to the surface' as the result of the late 'cruel war' many of whom would make today better, far better hostlers or teamsters, than they make officers of the American Army. Poor Mowry! The hero whose personal or political friends are saddened at the news of his demise. Times are extremely dull here at present. All hands are waiting anxiously for that 'good time coming' for 'something to turn up.'" The Weekly Arizona Miner, Prescott, Arizona, November 11, 1871.
Mowry developed south of the mine to provide housing and supplies to the miners and others who lived and prospected in this somewhat remote area. The early writer J. Ross Browne described it 1864 in his book, "Adventures in the Apache Country."
"A few miles beyond the canyon we came to a series of hills covered with a fine growth of oak timber . . . Gradually the road became better defined, and the clearings more extensive, till we came to the brow of a hill overlooking the hacienda . . . Down in the beautiful little valley of several hundred acres, almost embosomed in trees, stand the reducing works, storehouses, and peon quarters of the Mowry Silver Mines . . ."
Mowry Mine, sketched by J. Ross Browne, 1864
Sketched in 1864
Until 1899, the area was part of Pima County. Santa Cruz County was formed from Pima County. The county seat of Nogales was on the line of a railroad running from Benson on the Southern Pacific, to Guaymas in Sanora, and on the Mexican boundary. Total area of Santa Cruz County is 1,212 square miles. The 1900 census listed 4,545 population for the County. Mowry itself had 29 people on the 1910 census. The majority of names were non-Hispanic, with residents born in many states. The 1920 census had 124 people. A majority of these names were Hispanic, with many people born in Mexico.
A post office was established May 7, 1866 and discontinued July 31, 1913. It was shut down from 1880 to 1905 also. Mowry was initially called Patagonia, 1866 to 1867. When the post office reopened in October, 1905, the Bisbee Daily News reported: "Two hundred men are employed at the Mowry mines, mostly Mexicans. Mr. Donau reports the establishment of a post office in that camp a few days ago, with Mrs. Wilbur Davis as post mistress."
1906 Post card from Mowry, AZ
Ten years later, in June, 1874, the properties of the Mowry Silver Mine were auctioned to satisfy a judgment of $9,630 plus $287 for plaintiff costs owed to Nathan B. Appel. The description included: The smelting works and office, engine-room, stamps, and four dwellings situated in a westerly direction from the smelting works . . . also one house situated about forty yards north of the smelting works, also the buildings known as the store and dwelling house of the Mowry Silver Mine, situated north of the smelting works about three hundred yards. The sale . . . was held in "the village of Tucson, Territory of Arizona" and payment was "for cash in lawful money of the United States of America." (Arizona Citizen, June 20, 1874.)
Nathan Appel bought the mine for $9,000. However, he
failed to make much money. The mine was successively sold to a series of Tucson
firms, but never produced enough lead and silver to be profitable. The last
owners of record were "U.S. Mining and Smelting Co." whose last year
of production was in 1952.
But, by the 1890s, Mowry again revived with money from new mine ownership and a new smelter. It grew to 500 residents, with several stores and saloons, and a schoolhouse.
Ads in 1907 newspapers featured The Mowry Saloon in Mowry and its rival The Arcade in Nogales, Arizona. The Mowry Saloon, formerly owned by Orton Phelps, was bought by Frank Reagan of Mowry in September, 1905. He and his associates later bought The Arcade Saloon from A. E. Saxon in July 1907.
Mowry Saloon ad:
THE MOWRY SALOON, Walter Strickland Proprietor.
IT's The Place Where all the people in Mowry buy their liquor and cigars
because the best goods are always on hand.
VISITORS IN CAMP ARE INVITED TO DROP IN.
THE PALACE SALOON, A. E. Saxon, Prop.
WORST WHISKEY IN TOWN.
Back yard to sleep in when YOU GET FULL.
A local cigar salesman was mentioned in business news: (Lieut. Fleischer} owns a number of mining claims over Washington way that he thinks will someday be the means of placing him in "the rich man's class." The Border Vidette, March 16, 1907.
The Arizona Business Directory 1909-1910 listed this information: "Mowry. Postoffice and mining camp in Santa Cruz County, 14 miles southeast of Patagonia. Mail and supplies at Patagonia. Population 200. Altitude 5,500 feet. Consolidated Mining, Smelter & Transportation Co. John VIT Prout, Jr., genl.mgr. Consolidated Mining, Smelter & Transportation Co. Store Department, General Merchandize. Four Metals Mining Co., S.F. Johnson mgr. Morning Glory Mining Co. C.B.Wilson prop. Morrison J, mines and mining. Phelps O. postmaster. Worlds Fair Mining Co. Frank Powers mgr.
John Prout, listed in the above directory, was foreman of the Mowry Mine in 1905, and had his tent dynamited by Santiago Ruiz, but survived. The Oasis, October 21, 1905 said that Prout and Ruiz had "amorous eyes upon the same girl." Ruiz ended up serving 90 days in jail for morals, not the attempted murder. Prout was fired by the company.
Mowry was served briefly by a stagecoach line from 1901-1912. The Patagonia & Lochiel Stage and Mail Line was founded by an entrepreneur named Valentine Valenzuela. The stagecoach line served passengers and mail between Patagonia to Harshaw to Mowry to Washington and Duquesne and Lochiel. An article reported glowingly that: "The round trip is made in a day, over a good road, and quick time is made. The line carries U.S. Mail and express. Mr. Valenzuela is doing a fine business." The Oasis, December 28, 1901.
Patagonia & Lochiel Stage and Mail Line.
Stages Leave Patagonia daily.
Except Sunday at 7 o'clock A.M. to Lochiel, via Harshaw, Mowry, Washington and Duquesne. Returning Stages Arrive at Patagonia at 5 o'clock PM.
RATES OF FARE:
From Patagonia to Harshaw . . . $1.00; from Patagonia to Mowry . . . $1.50; from Patagonia to Duquesne . . . $2.00; from Patagonia to Lochiel . . . $2.50. SHORTEST ROUTE AND GOOD ROADS.
Val. Valenzuela, Proprietor.
The first school in Mowry opened in October, 1905, in a building erected by the Mowry Mines Company and described as "very commodious, well built, and nicely furnished." The building measured 36 feet x 26 feet inside. The company announced also its intention to clean up the grounds about the new building. The school building was also used as a church, with a Rev. Mr. Starr of Mowry holding services each alternative Sunday and "he has good congregations. He has ordered a fine organ which is expected shortly, when it comes there will be organized a Sabbath school." The Oasis, November 09, 1912.
Mowry School was used as a voting precinct for the election of a County Treasurer on Election Day, December 12, 1911. Due to a communication problem, the moving of the polling place to the school house, which was owned by the Consolidated Mines, resulted in a lawsuit by the losing candidate when the vote stood 12 to 2 for his opponent! He claimed, unsuccessfully, that the election would have gone to him if the Mowry vote was thrown out in a close election. A man in charge of all the buildings testified that during several years the buildings of the company at Mowry included office building, boarding house, residences, smelter, schoolhouse, etc. Orton Phelps was clerk of the elections and went with the other clerk to the school house, believing they were within the law and the place meant by the Board of Supervisors in the call for the election. The losing candidate, Republican Chenoweth, had his contest of the election turned down by the superior court of Yuma County and then the Supreme Court of Arizona. (Bisbee Daily Review, October 26, 1912.)
1909 U.S.G.S. showing the town and mine.
The first teacher at the new school was Miss Nina Harrison, and started off with 64 pupils! However, in December 1905, she was reported as being very ill. Five different teachers at Mowry, all female, were recorded in local news from 1905 thru 1919.
Medical care was a concern in Mowry. There was somewhat of a scandal involving an early doctor at Mowry. In October, 1905, The Oasis reported that Dr. C.A. McKechnie, a 71-year-old surgeon for the C.Y.R. & P (Cananea, Yaqui River & Pacific) railroad at Alamo, had decided to locate an office uptown for private practice, continuing to act as local surgeon for the railroad. Almost a year later, in September, 1906, he was brought in from Mowry, under arrest on a charge of practicing medicine without a license. He was arraigned and held to the district court under bond of $1,000. The bond was furnished and he was released. The next day he departed for Tucson. Another doctor in town, Dr. J.M. Zimmerman, the company surgeon at Mowry, treated a nine year old, run over by an empty ore cart and took several stitches in the wound, "fixing the little sufferer for recovery, which the doctor thinks will be delayed very little." The Oasis, July 14, 1906. Records show that Charles Alva Mackechnie, born July 2, 1877, died January 13, 1969, and is buried in Eldred Cemetery, Middleton, N.Y.
There were Justices of the Peace to maintain law and order. Here is an interesting example:
In May, 1906, The Oasis had a story "One Man Boarding House." It said: "Because Angel Lizarraga changed housekeepers without going through the legal process necessary to discard the first one and take the second, he was arrested this week at Mowry and brought to town to explain matters. With him came Angela Quintera, the woman who is alleged to have lately usurped the place of Mrs. Lizarraga . . . they were jointly tried in justice Gildea's court, by jury, and found guilty. The woman claimed she was conducting a boarding house at Mowry, but as the boarding house was a small tent and Lizarraga was the only boarder, well, they were fined $50 each and turned over to the sheriff to be held till the money is paid or 'served out.'"
U.S.G.S. close up map of Mowry, Courtesy Ellis Harvey
A more serious series of events occurred in September, 1906. Briefly, three Mexican revolutionaries were arrested by Rangers on the American side of the line, one in Mowry and two in Patagonia, after receiving information from Immigration Officials. They were organizing revolutionary forces among the Mexican workmen at Mowry, preparing to cross the line into Nogales, Sonora and attack the Santa Cruz jail in Nogales, Arizona and rescue Mexicans organizing forces on American territory to invade their native land. Letters were found on the three men disclosing a plot to attack Nogales, Sonora, and Cananea. The writers of the letters "appeared to have the utmost confidence that the Mexican people would flock to the revolutionary standard, should the struggle once be started." A squad of fifteen infantry men of the Mexican regular army arrived in Nogales, Sonora. Twenty-five men had been assigned to duty, but the train on which they traveled was wrecked between Torin and Empalme, killing two and injuring eight of the soldiers.
Eventually, one leader was sentenced to two years at Yuma Territorial Prison by a U.S. Court. Some of the others, organized by a group in St. Louis, for providing arms to these "revolutionary forces" were condemned to death and shot in Mexican jails. This ended the attempted revolution for some time!
1963 Building in ruins - Mowry
Mowry adobe ruins - 2015
The destruction of the adobe buildings by elements and man had a devastating effect. The mine was described later in 1873, after Mowry's death in a report by Theodore F. White, Surveyor on staff on Surveyor General Wasson of Arizona Territory.
"Having got through with our work we started back for Tucson . . . and soon thereafter started for the Patagonia mines. We passed over much interesting country to reach there, and on our return we came by the old town of Santa Cruz in Sonora, and thence down the Santa Cruz Valley, passing in every mile place of dread interest, because of the tragic history connected with them, for it was in this direction that the Apache devils, until the present season, committed their most frequent outrages and had it pretty much their own way . . . On the flat is located the smelting works now in a dilapidated condition of the old Mowry mine, and the houses, which lodged the workmen. Along side the works runs a gulch in which water is found, pure, sweet mountain water, that has been 'distilled from God's thunder-clouds and filtered through his everlasting hills.' To the north, about half a mile over a gently ascending road, is the Mowry mine. We passed in going to it, Mowry's house and store, with corral attached. They told me as we wandered through these deserted rooms of an Indian siege it sustained. The weekly Arizona Miner, November 15, 1873.
Map of Mowry Mine. Courtesy Tom Guilleland.
Mowry cemetery was begun about 1857 as a burial place for victims of violence from Apache raids. White's report noted that after Mowry was released, and the mine turned over to its original owners, "They suffered much from Apache depredations, and many lives were lost in the vicinity; a graveyard near the mine has some thirty buried in it, nearly all killed by Apaches."
There are fifteen documented burials in the main Mowry cemetery and one, of Orton Phelps, outside this cemetery, referred to as Phelps Gravesite. Some of the grave markers are unreadable. A stone inside an iron fence seems to mark the grave of "Paul Cota", yet nothing else could be determined about him.
Paul Cota headstone
Graves at Mowry Cemetery
Some graves are for known victims of Apaches. The most famous incidents were ambushes of Dr. Elliott H. Titus and his guide, a Delaware Indian, in a pass near Mowry Mine in 1862, and deaths of J. B. Mills and E.C. Stevens in December 1863 in the same place.
These deaths were described in lurid detail by John Ross Browne, a writer, traveler, artist, and government agent! Browne was born February 11, 1821 in Beggars Bush, Dublin, Ireland and died December 9, 1875 in Oakland, California, from appendicitis that developed as he rode a ferry from San Francisco to Oakland. He died that night at age 54. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California. He and his wife Lucy Anne had ten children, but only five were alive in 1907.
He was drawn to the West from his first visit there and moved his family to Oakland, California in 1855. He traveled extensively and wrote a series of articles for Harper's Monthly Magazine from October 1864 thru March 1865. They, along with his pen and ink sketches of various mines, buildings, and people, became a book, Adventures in the Apache Country, first printed in 1869.
Browne was also a secret agent for the United States, investigating fraud and corruption in federal agencies, such as in the IRS in San Francisco and federal custom house in San Francisco.
Dr. Elliott H. Titus was killed in 1862, age unknown, along with a Delaware Indian, referred to as "Delaware Joe"; both are on the APCRP roster for Mowry Cemetery. They were riding thru a narrow canyon near Fronteras, when they were waylaid and fired upon by Apaches, who were concealed by the banks and grassy tuffs. The Delaware was killed by the first fire, at close range. Dr. Titus dismounted from his horse and fought his way on foot about two hundred yards up the canyon. One of the Apaches shot him thru the hip from behind. He wasn't mortally wounded, but shot himself to death in the head to avoid the tortures they usually inflicted on their victims. Afterwards the Chief supposedly said they were about to give up the chase when Titus was shot in the hip and claimed that Titus was a brave man and he did not permit the body to be mutilated. Browne stated:
When it is considered that the common practice of these wretches is to hang their victims by the heels to a tree and put a slow fire under their heads, few men of generous feelings will be disposed to pronounce judgment upon the manner in which Dr. Titus ended his life. Under all circumstances, I believe it is best that we should live as long as we can, for while there is life there is hope; but no man really know what he would do in such a case as this. (Adventures in The Apache Country, 1869.)
The Apaches killed two more men in that same canyon, which was about three miles from the hacienda of the San Antonio Mine on the trail to the Patagonia or Mowry Mine. (Note: No maps can seem to pinpoint this location.) A Mr. Yerkes was preparing breakfast in his cabin on the morning of December 29, 1863. J.B. Mills and E.C. Stevens stopped on their way to the Mowry Mine. Mills was employed by Sylvester Mowry and about to turn over the management to Stevens. They were en route from Santa Cruz to Mowry, a distance of about 15 miles, and the cabin was nearly halfway. After some breakfast, they mounted their horses and rode off toward the canyon. A short time afterwards, two Mexican boys ran to Yerkes and told him they'd seen fresh Apache tracks forming a trail into the canyon and they'd also seen the two Americans on horseback entering the canyon. They heard gunshots and Yerkes and three American employees at his house immediately seized their arms and rode out to the canyon. They found the bodies of the two men by the roadside, naked, except for a portion of their boots, and disfigured with wounds. There were arrows scattered around and in their bodies. Stevens was probably killed at the first fire and seemed to have fallen from his horse. Mills was thirty yards to the left, on the slope of the canyon, by a tree behind which he had evidently made a stand. Marks of a desperate struggle were all over the ground and Stevens' body had been lanced in several places. His death wound was from a rifle ball at the first fire. Mills was pierced with balls, arrows, and lances, showing 17 distinct wounds, most of them mortal.
Sketch by Browne, 1869
Stevens and Mills were buried in Mowry Cemetery close in a row with the grave of Titus, with a board at the head of each with simple inscriptions of name and death date. However, Stevens did not remain in Mowry Cemetery, a fact largely unknown. A news article from the Roman Citizen, Rome, Oneida County,
New York, January 06, 1865, stated:
The remains of Edward G. Stevens, who was killed by a band of Apache Indians, near Sonora, Arizona Territory, on the 29th day of December, 1863, as noticed by us in March 1864, arrived in Rome, N.Y. on Thursday morning and were buried on Friday afternoon, December 30, 1864. Mr. William Stevens, brother of deceased, left San Francisco on the 13th of March, and was engaged from that time until August 28th, in securing the remains and bringing them back to that city. He then started for home by way of the Isthmus, and arrived in this village (Rome, N.Y.) on the day above named. Edward G. Stevens was 35 years and 4 months old at the time of his death. He had been in the employ of the Overland Mail Company, as agent at Fort Yuma, and held other important positions of trust. He was a man of remarkable energy and business capacity, and was well and favorably known throughout California. His untimely death was deeply regretted.
The headstone on Edward G. Stevens' grave in Rome Cemetery, N.Y. reads: "Edward B. Stevens, Killed By The Apache Indians in Arizona Territory, December 29, A.D. 1863. Aged 35 years."
At the base of the headstone is inscribed "S.B. Stevens". He was Edward's father and his son may share the grave, with his parents, as the other side of the stone reads: "Samuel B. Stevens, Born in Boston, July 12, 1805. Died in Rome, May 10, 1884. Elizabeth Tibbis, Wife of Samuel B. Stevens, Born in Rome, December 2, 1810, Died June 30, 1896."
Apache incidents did not end with the massacres. A news article from The Arizona Sentinel, December 13, 1873, had the headline, "Apaches at their Old Tricks." Six Apaches came to the old Mowry Mine on November 23, 1873, and raised a white flag. The only man there "made a virtue of necessity" and let them come in. One man, speaking Spanish, said they were Cochise Apaches and wanted some articles then in sight, and "the best thing he could do was make no fuss about it, and thereupon he took the same view of it." They took a revolver, some blankets, and a few other items, and "went on their way rejoicing probably to their stock ranches in Sonora!"
The lonely grave of Orton Phelps sits at the start of the road to Mowry Mine. He was a prominent citizen in Mowry in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was born in Pennsylvania on in 1860 (according to 1910 Census, yet his D.C. gave his birthdate as June 8, 1846 in Vermont) and died October 24, 1916 from "cholera morbus" and chronic gastritis. His Death Certificate lists his occupation as "Expert Mechanic". He was married, to Minette, and apparently had some type of stables and early blacksmithing shop at the crossroad.
One year before Orton Phelps' death, The Border Videtta, May 26, 1915, noted: Judge O. Phelps of Mowry has sold his home place at Mowry to Messrs C.P. Mayers and Jeff England. The sale includes all of Judge Phelps' cattle. Judge and Mrs. Phelps will give possession immediately, but will continue to make their home at Mowry, where the judge is in charge of the Mowry Mining Company's extensive properties. He and Mrs. Phelps will occupy the big company's house on the hill. "
Judge O. Phelps of Mowry and Justice of the Peace, called "Judge Phelps", was often in the news for political activities and for other events. In 1912 he resigned as postmaster at Mowry, and the local paper commented: "There is an opening for someone in the vicinity who desires to accommodate the neighborhood." The Oasis, August16, 1912.
One incident involved Phelps and his wife: "One day last week Mrs. Orton Phelps of Mowry, while riding horseback, was thrown by the saddle turning and suffered severe injury, slightly dislocating her hip joint. And Mr. Phelps, while doing carpenter work, some weeks ago, cut his food, by an axe slipping off the helve, and has been under surgical care also. The gentleman and lady named can bear testimony to the old adage that 'troubles never come singly.'"The Oasis, November 25, 1905.
The widow of Orton Phelps, Minette, was mentioned in a 1922 news article as receiving $9,000 from the County Supervisors for rent of a blacksmith shop for road camps.
Orton Phelps grave. Often mistaken as the Mowry Cemetery, which is approx. 1/4 mile northeast.
Today, only a few crumbling adobe buildings and some treacherous mine shafts and the unkept cemetery remain at Mowry. As pointed out by W.S. Wray and J. Painter:
"Silver declined nationally in the mid 1880s and mining activities slowly subsided . . . Between 1884 and 1891 silver was not coined by the federal government, causing its value to drop steadily. By the early 1900s, many towns slowly began their demise. The streets became less crowded, the noise of the stamp mills no longer clanged; and the incessant music from saloons was finally stilled . . . The local citizenry just up and called it quits . . . a few 'diehards' usually hung on for a while and scrounged the tailings left by others. But soon they too moved on. --The 'last hoorah' of a town was probably quick and silent, saddle a horse, pack a mule, or load a wagon--the place was empty." (Page 367)
Due to the proximity of the Mexican border, visitors are advised to travel with EXTREME CAUTION in this area.
Observe the historic active mining community that it once was.
Directions: Take highway 83 south from I-10 to highway 82 at Sonoita. Travel S.W. on Hwy. 82 to Patagonia. Travel on Harshaw Road and F.S. Road 58 to F.S. Road 49. Turn right there, past Harshaw to FS Road 214 and a sign pointing off to the left for Mowry. A quarter mile in on FS-214, you will see some adobe ruins to your left and a small dirt road. Park here, explore the ruins and follow the main road on to the slag heap. A mine shaft is a hundred yards past the slag heap and right on the main track. Follow the Google Map by Neal for locations of Orton Phelp's lone grave at the intersection to Mowry, and the main cemetery on a hill past the mine. "Take nothing but pictures - leave nothing but footprints."
Judy Bryant, proofreading, participation & reflections.
Neal Du Shane, historic maps, photographs, editing.
Bonnie Helten, APCRP Certified Coordinator, proofreading, contributions & interpretation.
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