Saturday, October 11, 2014

Greer Piano

The Greer Piano on display in the Apache County Historical Society Museum
on indefinite loan by the family of Lillian Oasis Greer Parks.  (By Suzanne Wisc)


"Can a piano talk?  This big, black grand piano talked.  It said, 'Buy me,' to Ellen C. Greer, in Albuquerque, New Mexico when she was choosing pianos in 1883 and she bought it for $500.  Then is was crated and shipped, by train, to Holbrook, Arizona.  Here it was loaded on a freight wagon and with four horses pulling it was taken about fifty miles to a ranch between Holbrook and St. Johns, where there was to be a big wedding.

For months previous that sewing machines had been humming, sewing the lovely statin and silk, the nuns veiling, lace, ribbon and embroidery into mystic wedding dresses for three dreamy brides, Lizzie Drew, Hannah Kempe, and Dessie Greer who were to be married to Frances Armstrong, Dick Greer, and Frank Drew respectively on October 3, 1883.

Of course there must be music and a piano and a wedding march!  So she had to buy the piano, all their supplies came from Albuquerque.  The wedding march was played by a music teacher, Mrs. Margaret Baird, Ellen's sister and Aunt of two of the wedding party.  It was Mendelssohn's Wedding March and there were bridesmaids and best men and lots of food that had been in preparation for days.

The man to perform the ceremonies was Mr. John T. LeSueur, who came about 25 miles, from St. Johns, of course by team and buggy.  That or horseback being the means of travel there in those days.  Friends came from far and near, there was food enough for all, but it was impossible to provide beds for all even by using another house, Aunt Maggie Baird's, across the flat, where the wedding supper was to be held.  So the guests had to dance all night, an orchestra had been provided and the hours sped by, in the early morning hours carriages, wagons, and horsemen were lining the roads, returning home.

And was the piano silent?  No, there was fun, laughter, music and song constantly, Harris with his accordion, Lacy with banjo, and later on Ann with guitar and Maggie a mandolin and the girls learning to play the piano and become proficient piano-players as we befitting young ladies in those days.

It became best for the mother to move to Concho, about ten miles away.  Here the piano was the nucleus for the young and old to gather around for many years for joy and pleasure.  Music can put joy in one's step and sunshine in his heart and give relief and comfort when in tears.  It may take one into another world and make a person fell soft and good, it may put life in the feet and make people dance, step and move in rhythm with other feet even keeping time unconsciously together.  Martial music puts heart and courage in the weary soldier, strength in his step when he is too heart-sick and weary to go on, yes music talks!

There came a time when the children were all married and gone the mother and the piano moved again, this time to St. Johns, about twenty miles this time.  But she did not need it much now.  Her daughter, Margaret, in Provo, a piano teacher, gave lessons.  It was decided to send it to her.  Now it was sixty long miles from the railroad, moving vans were not known there then, the cost to ship it was high, it was decided to sell it and send the money instead.  One hundred dollars was the price asked.  Jarvis' purchased it first, then a Mr. Mineer, and next is was in a barn or storehouse with its parts scattered about.  It did not want to talk then only to say, 'Take me out of here, let me make people happy.'

It stayed there a number of years, then Lillian Greer Parks found it.  Her brother John had it hauled to her home at Sunny Slope, near Phoenix, Arizona.  Here she had Mr. Redwell put it into shape again with new strings, new keys and so on.  She had thought to sell it as an antique, but when she had it in her house she grew to love it and could not part with it.  She turned her own piano in on the repair bill.  She thought so much of it that she feared to go away and leave it in an unoccupied house. 

Lillian passed away.  She had told her sister Flossie,  'If I go, Grandma's piano is yours.'

What is in store for this family piano, to continue being a prized family heirloom or to be sold to an antique shop or what?"

(Story donated with piano - not sure of author).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Outlaws Kill Gus Gibbons & Frank LeSueur

On Monday, March 26, 1900 the mail carrier traveling between St. Johns and Springerville saw five men killing a beef.  When he got to Springerville, he reported it to Sheriff Beeler, who happened to be in Springerville that evening.  The Sheriff pulled together a posse and headed after them.

The thieves had spent the night camped about 3 miles north of St. Johns, and when the posse caught up to them a gunfight ensued as the outlaws fled with the posse in pursuit.   The sheriff had left word for his deputy to organize a second posse to come and help them.  This second posse headed north to help out, and included the men who would never return:  Andrew A. (Gus) Gibbons and Frank LeSueur.

Andrew "Gus" Gibbons & Frank LeSueur
The second posse headed out of town, but meanwhile the horses in the Sheriff's posse got run-down and they turned back to St. Johns.  Unbeknownst to each other, the two posses passed each other, but were too far apart to realize what had happened.  The second posse with Gibbons & LeSueur continued on, following the tracks, all of the time thinking the Sheriff's posse was still ahead of them and needing their help.

As evening approached several other members of the posse decided to rest up for the night at a sheepherder's camp, but Gus and Frank unfortunately decided to continue the pursuit.  It was late in the afternoon when the two approached a rock bluff unaware of the fact that the outlaws were hiding at the top.  As they slowly made their way up the steep, rocky trail they were ambushed!  After killing both of the young men, the outlaws disfigured them by continuing to shoot them at point-blank range in the face/head.  They then stole their horses and belongings, leaving the lifeless bodies bleeding in the desolate place.

They were found the next day by a 3rd posse who had been organized by Gus' brother Richard Gibbons.  Being fine, upstanding young men, they were mourned by all.

Here is an excerpt from the Diary of Dick Gibbons that describes the scene they came upon:

"When we were about a half a mile away from it the ground over which we were traveling was a red clay formation and was all cut up by ruts and little washes and all of them ran toward the main wash. The country faced the northeast and when we came to where we could see the different object in the badlands, I saw an object on the steep hillside that startled me. It looked like the body of a man, but I would not admit it to myself. It was still too far away to be able to identify it and while I was thinking about it I saw another object that looked like a quilt had been thrown away by the outlaws and had been rolled up by the wind and lodged in the wash where it now laid, but as we drew nearer, I saw that it was the body of a man, and upon closer inspection, I recognized it as the body of my nephew, Gus Gibbons. It was lying in the bottom of a little draw with head down hill and face upwards, with three ghastly bullet holes through the head. One of them had entered his mouth and had come out the back of his neck, one had gone in at the left ear and come out below the mouth, breaking the lower jaw and disfigured the face awfully. In addition to these, he had several wounds in the body that we did not examine at the time.

We well knew what the other object was that we had noticed lying on the hillside. The sight was horrifying to the senses. To see the two boys lying there, boys I had known since they were in the cradle and had watched grow up. They were just in the pink of manhood and for them to be ambushed and shot down like dogs, without even a chance to fight for their lives, made me sick. It was murder in its worst form and there is not another crime beneath the roof of heaven that can stain the soul of man with a more infernal hue than an assassination such as this. They have out- villained villainy so far that the rarity of their crime almost redeems them. As soon as we had time to recover from the shock, we took steps to take care of the bodies. Will Gibbons, brother to Gus, and I stayed with the bodies while the rest returned to St. Johns and Will Sherwood was to come back later with a team."



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Amelia Hunt de Garcia and Monico Garcia - Two amazing early pioneers of Apache County

So this week I was at my "real" job - when I had a visit from a very nice couple who had been at the Museum and were researching some ancestors.  We then proceeded to have an incredibly interesting conversation about the woman's great grandparents:  Amelia Hunt and Monico Garcia.  She mentioned that Amelia had been the County Superintendent of Schools at one time, and also that she was a sister to George W. P. Hunt the first Governor of the STATE of Arizona!  That's all it took to set me off on another exciting adventure. 

Monico Garcia
I knew the name Monico Garcia sounded familiar and that is because his photo is in our exhibit on the town of Concho - as he and Amelia lived there at one time.   My visitor had mentioned seeing a photo of her Great-grandmother Amelia in the exhibit - so of course I had to go look at the exhibit again - and sure enough - there was the photo of beautiful Amelia!

Amelia Hunt de Garcia

What an amazing pair these two were!  They were outstanding citizens, and extremely involved in educating the children of Concho and St. Johns.  They each held many positions of responsibility as can be seen in this short summary I came across on the USGenWeb site while I was researching them:

History of Arizona, Page 484

"In one of the most exacting of vocations Mrs. Amelia Hunt Garcia has achieved distinctive success.  She has long been active in education affairs and is now serving as Superintendent of Schools of Apache County and as a member of the State Board of Education. She was born on her father's ranch, about eight
miles north of St. Joseph, Yavapai County on November 15, 1876, and is a daughter of James Clark and Juanita (Rubi) Hunt, the former of whom is referred to on other pages of this work.  She attended the public schools, completing her education in St. Johns Academy and the high school at Prescott in 1891. In that same year she began teaching in the schools at St. Johns and during the two following years taught at Concho. In 1896 she served as principal of the Concho schools in 1900 took the school at El Tule, where she remained two years, followed by another year as principal of the school at Concho. In 1907 Mrs. Garcia gain resumed her education work by taking the school at St. Johns after which she devoted her attention to her home until 1923 when she was elected County Superintendent of Schools, which position she is still filling.

On July 7, 1902 she became the wife of Monico Garcia of St. Johns, who at that time was County Recorder.  During the ensuing five years he served as Justice of the Peace and Notary Public, and as manager of A&B Schuster Company at Concho. In 1908 he was elected County Superintendent of Schools and Probate Judge, which dual position he held for two years, after which he was elected County Treasurer, in which office he served from 1910 to 1914.  In 1926 he graduated from the State Teachers College, since which time he has served as principal of the St. Johns schools. 

Mr. and Mrs. Garcia have been born four children..." 

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Monico and Amelia's Wedding Announcement
In searching the historical Apache County Newspapers on the Arizona Digital Newspaper Project I found many references to them in the early newspapers.  Including their wedding announcement:

Some other items of interest include Campaign mentions when Amelia was running for Apache County Superintendent of Schools.

St. Johns Herald Newspaper - 16 September 1920

St. Johns Herald Newspaper - 16 September 1920

I found many interesting anecdotes in the newspaper about them; Monico was a successful cattleman, among other things, and Amelia had a beautiful singing voice, but perhaps those are for another day.   Here is, what I thought to be, one of the most interesting items I found...this article in the Coconino Sun Newspaper in 1922.  I have searched quite a bit online seeing if I could find a copy of the song, and although I did find some other songs composed by A. Leopold Richard - I have not yet been able to find "My Arizona".  But I love the words!!

Coconino Sun Newspaper - August 14, 1922

Arizona!  Arizona!  We pledge our honor for thee to live, for thee to die;
No traitor's hand shall ever mar the brightness of thy glorious star.

Then here's to Arizona, with skies of deepest blue;
Then here's to Arizona, a dear land
We'll sing thy praises true.

Arizona!  Arizona!  To thy sons thou art the land of faith, the land of truth.
So quick to strike to right a wrong, with equal love for weak and strong."

Amelia Hunt de Garcia
Photo found on

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Treasure in the Archives

The summer season is once again upon us and the Apache County Historical Society Museum is open for the Summer (until September).  One recent Saturday as I was volunteering at the Museum and continuing my inventory of the archives I came across an old Apache County Justice Docket/Ledger from the late 1800s.

Of course I was intrigued and began browsing through the yellowed pages. 

When all of the sudden a familiar name leapt off the page!  Barry Matthews.  I was so excited!  Here were the actual court entries for the killing of Barry Matthews by Walter Darling!  It was fate that I picked up that particular ledger just before the end of my shift!  (See my previous post for the full story of Matthews and Darling.)

The first entry was from 3 May 1889 stating that Barry Matthews had been killed at the Saloon of "Ashton and Magee".  The Justice of the Peace (who later would be District Attorney) and acting Coroner, Alfred Ruiz was summoned to the scene of the murder, where he held an inquest.  He choose 9 jurors: 
  • N. Greer
  • W.E. Platt
  • A.J. Doxey
  • A. Baggs
  • W.S. Hill
  • J.F. Wallace
  • James Richey
  • J.T. Hogue
After which three witnesses to the crime were sworn and examined - they being:
  • W. H. Magee
  • Henry (?)Beucamp
  • A. B. Lambson

After hearing their testimony the jurors returned a "Certificate of Inquisition", charging Walter Darling with the crime, and a warrant was issued and given to the Sheriff. 

That same day, Walter Darling was brought before Alfred Ruiz on the warrant of Murder.  An examination by the Sheriff of Apache County was set for the following day.

On May 4th, Walter Darling was back in court for this "examination", he was represented by Attorney F. L. B. Goodwin, and the prosecutor was A. F. Banta for the Territory of Arizona.  The same witnesses as at the inquisition, with the addition of one R. E. Momson were called and examined.  Darling was given the opportunity to make a statement, which he refused.   Ruiz determined that enough evidence was shown to hold Walter Darling on the charge of the murder of Barry Matthews, and bail was set at $2,500.

(More to come if I find the entry for the actual Murder trial & acquittal of Darling.)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Walter Darling - Colonel, Bartender, Race Horse Owner, Man of the Wild West

St. Johns Herald Newspaper
4 June 1885
As I have been researching old Apache County Newspapers I kept seeing advertisements for the "Monarch Saloon" in St. Johns.  Over the years it changed hands several times - but the name that kept jumping out at me was one Walter Darling.  Once again a name that I had not really heard about in any of the regular 'pioneer' stories of St. Johns.  So I set off on another adventure and the hunt was on - I HAD to find out who this Walter Darling fellow was!

 With just the information I have been able to find it appears that Walter Darling lived in St. Johns and was the proprietor of the Monarch Saloon during the decade of the 1880s.  I have not yet discovered when he first came to St. Johns, but know that he left in the early 1890s.

He seemed to be well-liked and respected (except by a certain Barry Matthews - we'll get to that in a moment) and was involved in many aspects of the community such as participating in Democratic Conventions, feeding and sometimes housing Apache County Prisoners, and more.  He and Dr. Dalby were several times mentioned on forays together indicating that they were somewhat friends.

St. Johns Herald
10 September 1885

"The Monarch saloon has all at once become animated by crowds of people from all parts of the territory.  Darling has provided for the town every sort of amusement, all sorts of eatables and drinkables, every kind of game known in the west from wild turkeys, John Donkey rabbits, stud-horse poker, sage hens from Nevada, monte, little draw, wild pigeons from Stover's preserves, billards in every variety, antelope, grizzly and cinnamon bear to chuck-a-luck, and if you don't see what you want call for it.  This is Darling's lay-out for the festival season."

 I am assuming that "John Donkey rabbits" are jack rabbits - however I have not been able to find out for sure.  This above snippet from 1885 sounds like Walter Darling was providing an amazing array of entertainment and feasting in his little saloon in St. Johns, Arizona Territory.

In1885 he almost suffered a tragic loss as well:
St Johns Herald
11 November 1885

"The Monarch Saloon of Walter Darling narrowly escaped destruction by fire on Tuesday morning.  A bundle of straw in the second story, became ignited from the stove-pipe and threatened a serious conflagration.  It was finally extinguished without further damage than a thorough drenching of the building."

However 1885 also held some fun for Darling and St. Johns residents who enjoyed horse races.  July 1885 - Horse Race between Darling's mare "Kate" and Tomas Perez's mare "Dolly".  (Tomas Perez later served as one of Apache County's Sheriffs.)

St. Johns Herald Newspaper
23 July 1885

St. Johns Herald
30 July 1885

And the results: 

"About five hundred people were at the race track Sunday afternoon to witness the running race between Walter Darling's mare, Kate, and Thos. Perez's Dolly.  The race was a 250 yards dash for a purse of $500, Chas. Franklin and Roman Lopez acting as judges...Both horses exhibited speed beyond expectation, and done some fine running, and until within sixty yards of the wire it was difficult to determine which had the advantage, at this point, however, Kate rapidly drew away from her rival and came under the wire about three lengths in the lead.  About $2000 changed hands on the result, besides a large amount of stock."

The biggest drama for the Monarch and Darling ran from October of 1888 through July of 1889, during what appears an ongoing dispute between Walter Darling and a man named Barry Matthews.  Barry Matthews was one-time editor of the St. Johns Herald & it also appears by the following ad found in the newspaper that he was an Attorney:

St. Johns Herald Newspaper
30 June 1887

But from the articles on the several encounters between Matthews and Darling - it is quite apparent that while Darling was well-liked and respected by the townsfolk - Matthews was not, and was apparently doing everything he could to alienate the population and gain a reputation as a "bad man".  It didn't end well for him...

St. Johns Herald Newspaper
4 October 1888
The first encounter I found was in the October 1888 issue of the St. Johns Herald - transcribed here in its entirety:

"We were surprised and shocked to learn that Monday afternoon late, Barry Matthews had seriously, possibly fatally stabbed Walter Darling in front of the restaurant.  As we gathered it, Matthews sometime since, in payment of a long deferred board bill, had sold Darling among other things, a horse for $60.  Darling agreed to take the horse, allow Matthews to use him whenever he chose, and if within six months, he wished it, to see it back for $25.  Recently Matthews took the horse back at the latter price.  On Monday, Matthews being under the influence of liquor, was discussing the matter, and when Darling supposed the discussion over, Matthews called him a liar, stabbed him twice once in the arm and once between the ribs, before he awakened to the situation.  Matthews was arrested on charge of assault with intent to commit murder, and on giving bond in the sum of $1,000 was released.  His examination will be postponed to await the result of Darling's wounds.

Dr. Dalby thinks the cuts are very serious, but not necessarily fatal.  Walter Darling's hosts of friends, of all races and stations, will anxiously await the announcement that he is out of danger.  The situation may be summed up in the language of a common friend of both parties, and that is, 'no man can have a row with Walter Darling and not be in the wrong.'

Matthews, since his residence in St. Johns, has been engaged in several broils.  On one occasion he used his six-shooter as club on Sol Barth - on another he used the same weapon on Harry Silver, and quite recently he was dodging around corners, with Winchester in hand, with the avowed intention of cutting one of our townsmen in two.  It appears to be his ambition to get up a reputation as a 'bad man', and we think that in his endeavor to attain that distinction, he has put himself in a fair way to become a ward of the Territory, and change his place of residence to Yuma..

Since the above was in type we learn that Matthews' bond was placed at fifteen hundred dollars, and that not having given it he is in jail."

St. Johns Herald Newspaper
9 May 1889
Darling did recover from his injuries and it appears that Matthews didn't serve much time for the assault because another encounter occurred just a few short months later that resulted in Matthews' death.  Barry Matthews was once again in the Monarch (having drank to much, which seemed the norm for him) when Walter Darling entered the Saloon and the drunk Matthews started shooting at him.  Darling drew on him, firing back, three shots in rapid succession, each one hitting its target, and killing Matthews.

By July of 1889 the trial was over and Darling was acquitted of the crime (of murder) since he acted in self-defense.  Taken from the St. Johns Herald, 11 of July 1889 edition:

"No case probably in Apache county's judicial history has been more talked of than the indictment of Walter Darling for killing Barry Matthews...the case took one and a half days to try it.  The jury reached a verdict of acquittal on the second ballot, in about one-half hour after retiring...the conclusion generally reached, and often expressed [in the public mind] was, that while it was a misfortune that a man had been killed, yet , the chief source of regret was, that as good a man as Walter Darling should have had the unfortunate necessity forced upon him."

Darling enjoyed more success in St. Johns and took an extended trip back east.  However by 1891 he had sold the Monarch, moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in 1892 it was reported he was opening a saloon in his new home town.

St. Johns Herald
21 July 1892

Monarch Saloon (pictured here when owned by Darling)
From the collection of Barbara Jaramillo as portrayed in the book
 "Images of America - St. Johns" - by Cameron Udall
Monarch Saloon (pictured here in the 1890s when owned by Jake Armijo)
Jake Armijo behind the counter & Capt. John T. Hogue at the counter.
From the collection of Barbara Jaramillo as portrayed in the book
 "Images of America - St. Johns" - by Cameron Udall
NOTE:  All newspapers articles quoted and included in this article were gleaned online through the Arizona Digital Newspaper Program - you should check it out!