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

Saturday, July 13, 2013

When Lyman Dam Broke!

An old grainy copy of a photo of the construction of Lyman dam.  It isn't labeled with a date so not sure which construction - but guessing from other photos I have seen of the '2nd' or reconstruction of the dam - I would say this is from the first time.

I know I have come across photos of a flooded St. Johns after the dam break - but can't recall where - when I find them again I will add some.  But I DID come across a wonderful typewritten copy of former St. Johns pioneer resident Elda  W. Brown telling her memory of the night it went out.  I included an excerpt below:

In April of 1915, now that’s a long time ago, I was a teenager, a junior in high school.  We had a dance one night as school was closing.  It was such a fun dance.  Everyone was happy and had a good time.  We’d gone home and been asleep an hour or so when we heard someone screaming, “Get up quick the dam’s gone out!”

We were more scared [than] ten years before in 1905, another dam had gone out, a much smaller one.  The Salado Dam a few miles below this one.  This dam was much bigger than the Salado and we didn’t know how much of the town would be covered with water or washed away.

I’ll never forget the terrible roar that water made as it rushed nearer and nearer to town.  It was so dark!  We had no electricity or street lights.  All that could be seen was a lantern bobbing as people rushed here and there to see that everyone was warned and safe.

Jennie Palmer, a school teacher, lived just below the dam near the little old adobe school house that still stands on the hill.  She had come down to the dance and left her three children with her friend, Mrs. Ray, who also had three children.  Jennie had asked the engineers and others if it was safe to live there.  They assured her that it was safe, the Dam couldn’t go out!!!  When Mrs. Palmer got back up there, her three children and her home were gone.  Mrs. Ray and two of her children were also drowned.  Dewey Ray, a little older, had been able to hang onto a big tree until morning when he was rescued.

Mrs. Saavedra and her tiny baby were also drowned.  They lived a little further down north.  Her husband had left that day to find work.

The horror of that night as everyone watched helplessly as the water roared past!

The houses near the river were all flooded.  Two large lumber houses on the east side of the river, by the bridge, were picked up and torn to bits by the swirling torrent.  Cows, sheep, chickens and all kinds of animals were drowned.  Men who had horses near were able to ride below the town and save most of the cattle and horses in the fields, when day light came the water was still rushing by.

I remember so well how quiet, sad and helpless people were the next day and for many, many days after.  The men were helping to find the bodies of those who had drowned.  Mrs.  Saavedra had been carried many miles from her home.  Her baby was only one half mile away…

The others were found along the way.  The body of little Louise Palmer, five years old, was never found.  Men hunted up and down the river for many weeks.  Louise’s parents hunted for a long time after, always hoping.  

The funeral was such a sad one.  The Palmer’s only three children gone.  I always thought that they could have taken their loss easier if the body of Louise could have been found.  The Rays hadn’t been around long.  Theirs was such a sad funeral, the mother and her two beautiful little daughters in caskets.  Some of Dewey’s family came to be with him and took him with them.

The farmers had the hardest time, some few moved away but most stayed and worked harder.  My husband, Albert, said his father with his five sons hauled 317 wagon loads of trash off their alfalfa field in the big field below town.  All of the fences were swept away and to be rebuilt.

The top of the dam was still standing for some days like an arch over that big hole.  The force and pressure of the water had pushed out the bottom of the dam where there was quicksand.

The state helped to rebuild the Lyman Dam as it is now.  It stands after all these years and the people have prospered.
The night the dam went out there was a young boy, Fred Schuster, who had recently come from Germany.  He was staying at the Barth Hotel upstairs.  He had washed his feet in a tin tub the night before and left the water by his bed, when he heard the screaming to get out quick or be drowned, he stepped in the tub and said,  “Oh ---- it’s too late, I’m gone…”

Read this article in its entirety at Arizona Digital Newspaper Program

I also came across a couple of  old Territorial School Registers - this one is from 1911 and the teacher is none other than the above mentioned Jennie Palmer.

Palmer Children Headstone at St. Johns Westside Cemetery - from

Some additional information that I came across on August 31st at the Museum:

 A photograph of Mrs. Ray and her children along with the following "Caption":

"Mrs. Reese (Wilden) Ray and her children, LIly (4), Ethel (6), Hazel (9) and Dewey (17).

Mrs. Ray and family came to St. Johns early in the year 1915.  Her husband had died the year before and leaving two older girls, Olga and Olive, in Colorado, she traveled here for Dewey's health.

  They were at a friend's house below the dam when the dam gave way.  The two younger girls Lily and Ethel, were carried to safety by Mrs. Ray.  She returned to the flood waters for Hazel whom she had left behind.  Dewey accompanied her, having already escaped the waters once.  And the three (Mrs. Ray, Dewey and Hazel) were all drowned.

 The two younger girls and Olga are presently living in California.  Olive Ray Bryant died January 7, 1977 in Ft. Pierce, Florida where she is buried beside her husband Barney Beers Bryant." Caption submitted by:  B. B. Bryant (grandson); Corpus Christie, Texas

Ray Headstone at St. Johns Westside Cemetery - from

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Barth, A Piece of History

Jacob Barth - son of Solomon Barth
So much wonderful information on the Barth's and early St. Johns History.  I just had to include the transcription of this article in its entirety.  Makes me 'pine' for days gone by.....

The Barth, A Piece of History
By Linda Ritchie (White Mountain Independent)

ST. JOHNS –A little bit of history is slipping away.  Its going is unnoticed.  The last remnants of the Barth Mercantile and Hotel will soon be gone.

Before the turn of the century Solomon Barth and his wife, Refugio, opened a store in St. Johns.  It was known as a general merchandise store, the Barth Mercantile.  Through the years the store grew.  Its face changed, but never its location.  In those days general merchandise was most anything a person required.  The store carried hay, grain, staples (groceries), household items and “ladies and gents furnishings.”  The merchandise came to St. Johns by wagon and horse from points east.  The Barth family had its own freight outfit to haul in supplies.  As the time passed, other freighters entered the business.  And with them they brought a wider variety of goods.

Occasionally a drummer would call.  With team of horses, a loaded buckboard wagon, the man who “drummer up” business would stop at the Barth.  There was never any chance the traveling salesman would make the next town by nightfall, so the drummer always rested in St. Johns.

Sugar, coffee, and flour were sold in 100 pound bags.  The sugar was brown sugar which becomes rock-like in the dry weather.  For those that wished smaller than 100-pound portions, a hatchet was provided so the customer could help himself. 

Lining the walls were rows of shelves divided into a variety of cubbyholes.  There were stacked the Levis, jackets, and boots.  Hidden, not to shock the modest, were the union suits, long underwear made of cotton and wool.  And from the ceiling dangled pots, pans, and other kitchen wares.  Everything a person needed could be found or ordered at the mercantile.

“Miss Clara,” Clarita Barth, managed the store and hotel from 1902 until its closing.  She may have established a record for job tenure, over 65 years.

Through the many years members of the Barth family collected a treasure of antiquities.  Among the treasure were jade carvings from the pyramids in Mexico.  The walls of one room were at one time lined with Spanish icons dating to the sixteenth century.  Cecelia Barth’s Indian relics were coveted by many museums.

Thirty years ago, the Barth family put the antiques and collectables into a trust.  The Northern Arizona Museum became the guardian of Indian relics, paintings, rugs, and other irreplaceable items of an undisclosed value.  An inventory was prepared by the museum.  And slowly, through the last few years, the most valuable pieces of the collection have been removed.  The building has been given to the San Juan de Bautista Catholic Church of St. Johns.  The trust was established before Apache County had a museum.  This leaves a piece of St. Johns history in the hands of the Northern Arizona Museum.  To sell or keep as they see fit.

Jacob Barth, son of Solomon, said the end is nearing.  And with the end comes the last truck.  The truck which will remove the last of the antiquities and a little bit of St. Johns.

Solomon Barth was the original St. Johns pioneer.  He is recorded as the first white man to settle Arizona. 

The Barth Mercantile - St. Johns, Arizona

Friday, July 5, 2013

Carl Hayden Letter

 During my inventory of some of the Archives at the museum I came across this letter from Senator Carl Hayden to early St. Johns resident Jacob Barth.

Carl Hayden did historical research as a hobby, and was researching some of the early settlers of Arizona - including Solomon Barth - founder of St. Johns, and Jacob Barth's father.
I love how back then you could just put a name and a city on an envelope and it would reach the person!  No PO Box, no zip code....those were the days.

More on the Barth's in coming posts....

"Carl Trumbull Hayden (October 2, 1877 – January 25, 1972) was an American politician and the first United States Senator to serve seven terms. Serving as Arizona's first Representative for eight terms before entering the Senate, Hayden set the record for longest-serving member of the United States Congress more than a decade before his retirement from politics. The longtime Dean of the United States Senate served as its president pro tempore and chairman of both its Rules and Administration and Appropriations committees.

Known as the "Silent Senator", Hayden rarely spoke on the Senate floor. Instead his influence came from committee meetings and Senate cloakroom discussions where his comments were given a respect comparable to canon law.  A colleague said of him, "No man in Senate history has wielded more influence with less oratory," while the Los Angeles Times wrote that Hayden had "assisted so many projects for so many senators that when old Carl wants something for his beloved Arizona, his fellow senators fall all over themselves giving him a hand. They'd probably vote landlocked Arizona a navy if he asked for it.""

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Forgotten Regiment

 On one of my recent adventures at the museum I came across this old 'poster' honoring an Arizona Territorial Regiment from the Spanish-American War.  It is in quite bad shape, and wanting to do something to preserve it I started snapping photos of it.
I came home wanting to know more about it and why it would be in our Apache County Museum.   So after several Internet searches I found a little bit about it!

It is referred to as "The Forgotten Regiment" 
and was led by Governor Myron McCord who resigned his office to organize and command an all-Arizonan infantry regiment.  They are called the 'forgotten regiment' because they never actually saw battle.

But I still don't know what they did in St. Johns or why there is a reference to St. Johns on the bottom of the poster!  A critical piece is missing & it is a mystery I will have to solve.

Read more about it using the link to "The Forgotten Regiment."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Adventure Begins

Floor of the Apache County Historical Society Museum
Recently appointed to the Board of the Apache County Historical Society, and beginning to volunteer at the Museum,  I have decided to chronicle my adventures as I discover and document/catalog the treasures found within the walls and files of this little building.  

This will serve as my online Journal of photos, histories, articles and other treasures that I want to share with all of you out there who have a mutual interest in history, and more particularly a shared interest in preserving and documenting the rich history of Apache County Arizona.  More to come soon!