Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Father Pedro Maria Badilla - 1st Catholic Priest in Apache County

Father Pedro Maria Badilla
When I was doing my research on Genaro Acosta - the St. Johns Pioneer who built many of the Catholic Churches in Apache County, I discovered that his father Lazaro Acosta had written a biography of Father Pedro Maria Badilla - the first Catholic Priest in Apache County.   Another intriguing historical Apache County figure for me to find out more about!  I was so excited!

During my research I was put in contact with several of Genaro Acosta's descendants, including Richard Armijo of the Eastern United States - who graciously sent copies of the Biography (both it's original Spanish version - published in 1910, & the translated English version) to the Museum.   Much of the information I share here today is taken from this biography.

Father Badilla was born 29 June 1827 on a coffee plantation in Heredia, Costa Rica.   After attending the Seminary, he was ordained a priest in Leon, Nicaragua on 8 December 1851, at the age of 24.

Late in 1867 or early 1868 he traveled to Europe where he visited London, Paris, and on to Rome hoping to visit the Vatican and be blessed by the Pope Pius IX, but at the time disease was running rampant in Rome & he was unable to visit the Pope.  He then got on a ship headed for New York, spend a few days there & then went back to Costa Rica.

In 1877 he came back to America spending some time in California.  During this time his parents died and "upon the death of his parents, the priest inherited a small fortune, using his expenditures with intentions that always began with some noble purpose & to do good unto his brethren the poor, never saving anything for himself, he lived meager & this scarcity was one of his most glorious rings."  (From the Biography by Lazaro Acosta).

In the beginning of 1880 Father Badilla arrived in Tucson, Arizona Territory.  At that time early Catholic settlers in Apache County were hoping and "felt it was essential" to form a parish.  The Bishop in Tucson proposed this Parish to Father Badilla, "letting him know how difficult it would be and the dangers of not having a church available, etc.  The worthy Priest welcomed this proposition considering it to be his greatest happiness."  (From the Biography by Lazaro Acosta).

He saw to it that a church was built in St. Johns, working very hard and using some of his own money.  In addition he founded the Catholic Church in Springerville, and also in Concho - again using much of his own money.  (These churches in Concho & Springerville were built by Genaro Acosta.)

He spent 20 years serving the people of Apache County - many times traveling on foot to visit parishioners.   Father Badilla served everyone - and was loved by all of the people, including those of other faiths.  When he passed away in Concho, 3 May 1901, his death was mourned by all.  Father Badilla was laid to rest on the grounds of the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in St. Johns, Apache County, Arizona.

Here are a few of the articles I found of him in historical Apache County Newspapers:

16 June 1892 - St. Johns Herald Newspaper

18 June 1898 - St. Johns Herald Newspaper

26 June 1897 - St. Johns Herald Newspaper

19 November 1891 - St. Johns Herald Newspaper

29 March 1894 - St. Johns Herald Newspaper

27 June 1896 - St. Johns Herald Newspaper

4 May 1901 - St. Johns Herald Newspaper

This Plaque hangs in the St. Peter's Catholic Church in Springerville


Here are some links to a couple of other websites that have information on Father Badilla:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Walter G. Scott - continued

Walter G. Scott


Thanks to a heads-up from a co-worker - I found a picture of Walter Scott!  He was actively involved with the National Guard Unit "Company K" in St. Johns for many years.  They met at the Armory Building, that still stands (2013), on main street.  They had weekly drills and stayed prepared for whatever should be needed of them.
The St. Johns Herald - September 1895

Below are a couple of photos of Company K in St. Johns found in Cameron Udall's book - "Images of America: St. Johns, Arizona":

In 1898 he became a volunteer in "McCord's Regiment" during the Spanish-American War.  The regiment was mustered out at Forth Whipple near Prescott, Arizona, and spent some time there before going to Georgia.

His daughter Jessie went to Fort Whipple to see him before they left:

St. Johns Herald News - October 1, 1898

This news snippet to the left indicates they were headed to Lexington, Kentucky, but eventually they were in Camp Churchman at Albany, Georgia.  As indicated in the following letter sent to David King Udall by Walter Scott in December of 1898 - which was then published in the newspaper.

Here is the transcription of the letter:

The following is a letter from Walter G. Scott:  Camp Churchman Albany, Georgia, Dec 26, 1898.

Hon. D. K. Udall.

Dear Sir,

Yours of the 16th, inst and I was very much gratified to hear from you directly.

In regards to the men from St. Johns I would say that they are regarded as among the very best in the regiment.

St. Johns Herald News - January 21, 1899
Upon the organization of the company, Fred Davis was made a sergeant and is now the first duty sergeant of the company.  Elijah Holgate is a corporal, and is now acting in the capacity of postmaster at division headquarters at Columbus.  I think they like him very well at Gen. Sangers headquarters.  Andrew Peterson has been the company clerk ever since we were mustered into the service at Fort Whipple, and has recently been appointed corporal.  These are all the men who came with me from St. Johns.  Not one of them has ever given the officers a bit of trouble, neither have they ever been in the guard house, I am very much gratified in regard to the manner in which these boys has conducted themselves.  They one and all, have done their duty without any shrinking  I do not think that any of them have ever been on the sick report and certainly none of them have ever been a single day in the hospital.  Fred Davis is by far the finest looking man in the regiment, and is also one of the best known.  For the last few week(s) he has been acting as Color sergeant, and he makes a very fine appearance at dress parade as he marches past bearing the regimental flag.  Captain Donoldson of this company together with myself are trying to have him permanently appointed “Color Sergeant”.

You are at liberty to show this letter to all our friends and particularly to the relatives and friends of these men.

Yours truly,

Lieut. Walter G. Scott,

Co. C First Territorial Regiment

U.S.A. Infantry, Camp Churchman, Albany, GA.

The St. Johns Herald - July 8, 1899

Shortly after  returning from serving in the Volunteer Regiment - he purchased the newspaper the "Safford Arizonian" and with his family moved to Graham County, Arizona where he once again worked as a newspaper editor and lawyer:

Transcription of article:  
"The Safford Arizonian has changed hands, A. D. Webb retiring and Walter G. Scott of St. Johns, Apache County taking the helm.  The Arizonian has been an excellent little local paper and Mr. Scott promises to make efforts to continue to merit the support of  Graham county--Arizona Gazette.

The people of St. Johns and Apache co., can assure the people of Safford and Graham Co., that  the Arizonian will continue to be an excellent paper, for Lieut. Scott has been connected with the Herald in the past.  

We shall be sorry to lose Lieut. Scott, from our midst, but our loss will be another's gain.

He and his pleasant family take with them the best wishes of the many friends they leave behind."

I have yet to find his death information.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lieutenant Walter G. Scott-McCord's Regiment

Today I am revisiting/updating one of my very first posts.  What a wonderful, fulfilling ADVENTURE this has been!!  Recall (or look back through the posts to the "Forgotten Regiment") that I had found a commemorative poster in the Museum for a Company of Soldiers who served in the Spanish-American War.

I was immediately curious as to why it would be in our little museum.  I was dismayed at the awful state of deterioration, and thus took photos in a preservation effort.  But I also had to to find out more.  What was this all about (and why in the heck didn't I listen in my History classes growing up!?!)

As I began researching the first thing I discovered is mentioned in my first post - and that is about Governor Myron McCord who resigned as Territorial Governor of Arizona to lead an all volunteer regiment in the war.

Governor Myron McCord of Arizona Territory
This is a whole story in itself!  But the goal of this particular "research adventure" was to find out what this Company had to do with St. Johns, and/or what it might have done in St. Johns/Apache County.  As I was perusing historical Arizona newspapers to find information on McCord and his regiment - I hit the jackpot when I came across the following little snippet of news in the Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner of 1898:

6 July 1898-AZ Weekly Journal-Miner

And there was the connection!  "Second company--C.E.Donaldson, of Prescott, captain;  F. C. Hochderfer, of Flagstaff, and Walter G. Scott, of St. Johns, lieutenants."

I could hardly contain my excitement at this discovery!  My research veered off in this new direction - who the heck is Walter G. Scott - not one of the 'usual' historical names I'd heard or become familiar with in connection to St. Johns/Apache County?!

I'd probably not heard of him because he did not stay permanently in St. Johns, and has no descendants here.  So through the mists of time his name has become somewhat lost.  He was only in St. Johns a short 10-year period from 1889 - 1899 - but MY how involved he was, and what a contributor to local history, and the early days of St. Johns.
Walter G. Scott marriage info from Ancestry Library Edition

To my dismay I have not yet been able to find a photo of him (but will not give up on THAT!)  My blog posts will show my love of photographs and visual representations.  But I have found out so much about him.  I share some of it here:

Prior to coming to St. Johns he lived in the Prescott, Arizona area where he worked for the "Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner" newspaper.  He married his bride Mary C. McClellan there in 1888.

Sometime in 1889 they moved to St. Johns.  Where they opened (and Mrs. Scott ran for 7 years 1889-1896)  a little hotel named "Scott House" - what most people probably DON'T know - is that the "Barth Hotel" in St. Johns - was FIRST the "Scott House!!  (Although the building was always owned by Solomon Barth)
11 Jan 1896 - St. Johns Herald News

Prior to being the Barth Hotel (as in this photo) it was the Scott House

4 July 1896-St. Johns Herald

Just some of the roles I have found that Walter Scott played in Apache County are:
  • Notary Public
  • Immigration Commissioner
  • Court Commissioner
  • Newspaper Editor for a time of the St. Johns Herald
  • Captain of a National Guard Unit in St. Johns
  • Attorney
  • District Attorney


28 July 1892-The St. Johns Herald
He was friends with Isaac Barth and there was a group of local men who sure enjoyed their fishing trips to the Black River!  Found several snippets about fishing trips to Black River.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Genaro Acosta-St. Johns Pioneer & Builder

When I first started my inventory of the files in the archives at the Museum - one of the first things I came across was an excerpt/photocopy from the book "A History of Arizona's Counties & Courthouses" - John J. Dreyfuss, Editor.  The pages about Apache County's courthouse has been copied, but in the same file someone had inserted this handwritten paper:

As I read it - my interest was immediately aroused - who was this "Genaro Acosta" - I don't recall ever hearing the name?  And then I filed that little tidbit of information away in my mind.

But as I continued my researching in early St. Johns/Apache County newspapers I kept coming across an "ad" - or as they were called at that time "professional cards" for Genaro:
St. Johns Herald & Apache News - 30 Apr 1914

And naturally my interest in this gentleman grew!  I HAD to know more!

So I spent some time online - looking at early St. Johns newspapers, and exploring Ancestry Library Edition to try and find out more about him.  And I'm so glad I did!   On Ancestry I was able to find a photo of him!  Always so happy to find a photo because the person becomes that much more 'real'!  (And he's SO handsome!!)

Genaro Acosta

I also found the following information on Ancestry:

"Genaro Acosta also built St. Peter's R. C. Church in Springerville and in Concho, AZ; the R. C. Church and courthouse in McNary, AZ; and the St. Francis [Roman Catholic] Church at the Whiteriver Mission on the Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona."

White River Mission - Genaro Acosta Contractor-1922

Another exciting little tidbit I came across - IF I am interpreting it correctly - led me to discover that I possibly lived for 22 years in a house built by Genaro!!
St. Johns Herald & Apache News - 8 Feb 1917

As I researched him I also learned a little about his father - Lazaro Acosta.  Lazaro was a very educated and talented man.  He worked as the Editor for the Spanish Section of the St. Johns Herald and Apache News for some time:
St. Johns Herald & Apache News-13 Dec 1906

 Another little snippet about Lazaro: 
St. Johns Herald & Apache News - 19 May 1910

And I read somewhere (can't find the reference at the moment) that Lazaro also wrote a biography of Father Pedro Maria Badilla - another early Apache County Pioneer:
Father Pedro Maria Badilla

Genaro and his family eventually settled in Holbrook, Arizona and that is where he & his wife are buried.
Genaro & Faustina Acosta Headstone - from

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919

Spring 1918-Spring 1919: Three waves of highly virulent and fatal influenza sweep the country. The fall-winter wave is the deadliest for the US. The pandemic kills millions and devastates entire communities. 



Influenza hit Arizona in late September. The disease probably reached Phoenix first, spreading outward to the rest of the state during the end of September. By October 11th, Flagstaff, Winslow and Holbrook were reporting epidemics. As influenza spread, public health officials were quickly overwhelmed. The epidemic peaked in the state during the first week of November; that week, the state reported deaths from influenza which were four times the state’s annual average.

City officials and residents reacted to the spread of the disease with alarm. Many Arizonans insisted that the disease was spread by dogs. In Phoenix, as police and city residents killed dogs in an attempt to prevent the spread of influenza, the local paper reported that “Phoenix will soon be dogless.” Schools, theaters and other public areas were also closed for three months.

In both Tucson and Phoenix, police arrested residents who ventured out in public without a gauze mask. Officials believed that masks prevented the spread of the disease and had required people to wear these to prevent the spread of the disease. When they passed these requirements, city officials and scientific experts were unaware of the fact that influenza is spread by a virus which is small enough to pass through a gauze mask.

The disease struck the Navajos especially hard. Joseph Schmedding, a trader, who entered a Navajo reservation a few weeks after the epidemic had erupted said that he found 30 Indians, young and old, lying dead in abandoned hogans. In Tuba City, the school was converted into a hospital and the wife of a Navajo trader wrote “for miles around every good winter hogan was deserted [because people feared the infection]. The living moved out into the rain and found what shelter they could in temporary camps.”

The economy also suffered. By late October, reports indicated that mining productivity for the state was off as a result of the pandemic.

After peaking in early November, the disease slowly waned during the late fall and early winter. By the late spring, it had begun to disappear from the state.

From:  United States Department of Health & Human Services


27 March 1919 - St. Johns Herald

 Apache County News Related to the Flu



Expense List for the Spanish Flu - St. Johns - 1919

 I found this original sheet of paper in the Archives of the Museum today.  It is what got me thinking about Apache County and the Spanish Flu.  Edition after edition of the St. Johns Herald & Apache News during this time period list deaths in the area from the Influenza.  I'm sure this was during the period when St. Johns was worst hit.

The aforementioned Dr. Bouldin is not on this list - but it is dated February of 1919 and the doc didn't return from France until June of 1919.  He is mentioned in articles related to the flu after that time.

4 March 1920 - St. Johns Herald

Thursday, August 1, 2013

More on Doctor Bouldin

Just wanted to add a few more items of interest that I found on Dr. Bouldin.  This is an excerpt from the "Transactions of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama":

In this same book it looks as if he attended the Physicians & Surgeons school in Atlanta, Georgia.

During WWI he joined the Medical Corps and I found articles in the historic St. Johns newspapers both of his leaving & his return:
21 March 1918

5 June 1919

Today (August 3, 2013) at the museum I found another treasure - a photo of Doctor Bouldin's wife Ora!!  Beautiful lady!

Ora Bouldin

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dr. Bouldin - Apache County Superintendent of Health

Dr. Thomas Jefferson Bouldin
So this week's adventure involves Dr. Bouldin - a name I remember my Grandma Nielsen mentioning in the past.  This week in talking with the President of the Historical Society (Nestor Montoya) he informed me that someone had come in during the week and donated Doctor Bouldin's old medical books, and one of his ledgers.  Mr. Montoya knew I would be excited about it and I WAS!!!  And of course I immediately wanted to know MORE about this man!  I was so excited that the museum had his photo - because the more I learned about him, the more I wanted to know what he looked like!

He made $100 a month for his County Position-1917
I knew that he was a local doctor from hearing his name mentioned by the older generation - but what I DIDN'T know was that for years he was the Apache County Superintendent of Health!  He traveled all over Apache County attending to sick and injured residents in the early 1900s!  He also was in the U.S. Medical Corps during World War I !

He was born in  1879 in Alabama (on FindAGrave it says he was born in Warren County Tennessee - but everywhere else I have found it lists Alabama as his birthplace.)

As I searched the Census records and historical St. Johns newspapers - I found that he was  in the St. Johns area for years (He is listed on the 1910, 1920, and 1930 Census in St. Johns).  As far as I can find he had at least 4 children, 3 sons and a daughter.  I do know that by 1930 he was divorced (listed on the 1930 Apache County Census for St. Johns that way) but had his 3 sons who were by then in there 20s living with him.  He died in 1939 and is buried in the St. Johns Westside Cemetery.

Apache County Herald 26 June 1919
I found a newspaper article of him treating a Typhoid outbreak - most of the victims were workers on the Lyman Dam.   Another worker at the dam, Frederico Gonzales,  got his hand smashed and Dr. Bouldin had to amputate two of his fingers.

I will continue to look for more information on him, as my curiosity is definitely aroused!!

Some of Doc Bouldin's books that were donated

Above are some of the books that were donated to the Museum/Historical Society; and below is his ledger, and one of the 'index' pages from the ledger.

Dr. Bouldin's Office Ledger-1929

One of the 'index' pages from ledger-1929

I just had to include this little blurb that I found in one of the historic newspaper on the Arizona Digital Newspaper Program website - The Apache County Herald  10 May 1919:
Wow how times have changed! 


Photo of Dr. Bouldin's Grave (from