|Wickenburg, AZ - from wikipedia
The Wickenburg area and much of the West became part of
the United States following the Mexican-American War in 1848. The first
extensive survey of the area was conducted by Gila Rangers who were pursuing
Indians who had been raiding the Butterfield overland mail route and miners
at Gila City.
An 1862 gold strike on the Colorado River near present-day
Yuma inspired hardy American prospectors and miners, to search for minerals
throughout central Arizona. The names of these settlers now label many
of the surrounding geographic landmarks, including the Weaver Mountains
named after mountain man Pauline Weaver, and Peeples Valley named after
noted a noteworthy settler.
As the number of settlers grew, conflicts developed between
Yavapai Indian tribal bands who rejected the treaty signed by their paramount
chiefs, and American nationals who had settled on the frontier. With the
outbreak of secession most of the United States Army units defending the
American communities were directed elsewhere, thereby leaving the American
communities vulnerable to attacks.
|Among the gold searchers was an German named Henry Wickenburg.
His quest for gold was rewarded by the discovery of the Vulture Mine, where
over $30 million in gold has been dug from the ground. Throughout the foothills
surrounding Wickenburg are relics of other mines that stand as a tribute
to the pioneer miner and prospector.
Ranchers and farmers who built homes along the fertile
plain of the Hassayampa River accompanied the miners. Together with Henry
Wickenburg and the miners, they helped found the young community of Wickenburg
in 1863. Wickenburg was also the home of Jack Swilling, a prospector from
the eastern US who mined in the town and later visited the Salt River Valley
in 1867. Swilling carried out irrigation projects in that area and was
involved in the establishment of Phoenix.
Grant's Stage Station, Wickenburg, 1873 or 1874
Yavapai hostile bands were quick to exploit this vulnerability
and warriors led a large-scale surprise attack upon American families.
By 1869 approximately 1000 Yavapai Indians and 400 settlers had died and
thousands of American and Yavapai families were made into refugees. Eventually,
local American militia stopped the elimination of Americans from the area
but were unable to fully stop the attacks. With the arrival of full-time
soldiers of the US Army, the combined militia and Army forces were able
to cordon off the Yavapai onto their reservation and saved the remaining
However, Yavapai recalcitrants remained for years and
raids on stage-coaches, isolated farm houses, and periodic raids on American
villages kept the area in a constant state of tension. Finally, following
several murders of Yavapai chiefs allied with America by insurgent Yavapai
warriors, hostile warrior tribal leaders mobilized the entire Yavapai warrior
band into a massive assault on the primary American settlement of Wickenburg
and massacred or drove out much of the American populace.
In 1872, in response to the assassination of friendly
Yavapai chiefs, the take-over of the entire Yavapai nation and its reservation
by hostile elements, and with most of the American area under continual
penetrating raids by Yavapai warrior bands, General George Crook began
an all-out campaign against the Yavapai, with the aim of forcing the insurgent
Yavapai warrior bands into a decisive battle and the removal of Yavapai
settlers from American territory. After several months of forced marches,
feints, and pitched skirmishes by combined Arizona territorial militia
and US Army Cavalry, Cook forced the Yavapai bands into a single decisive
battle. In December 1872, the Skull Cave Battle (or Skeleton Cave) in the
Superstition Mountains decisively routed the Yavapai, and within a year
Yavapai resistance was crushed.
Having broken their treaty with America several times,
with most of the friendly and allied chiefs murdered by insurgent Yavapai
radicals, and having killed thousands of American men, women, and children,
Cook was authorized to enter into new negotiations with the aim of reducing
the size of the Yavapai reservation and removing it to an area more readily
cordoned off from American communities and their communication lines. The
surviving Yavapai warrior leaders grudgingly accepted the treaty which
left the nation in far worse conditions than previously. They were compelled
to surrender their firearms, move to the Rio Verde Reservation, accept
a permanent Army garrison on their territory, accept direct administration
by American Bureau of Indian Affairs agents and commissioners, have trade
firmly emplaced in the hands of American government agents, and be regulated
by an Indian Police force picked and trained by the US Army and later Arizona
Territorial officers. After only two years on the Rio Verde Reservation,
however, local officials grew concerned about the Yavapais' continued hostility,
success and self-sufficiency, so they persuaded the federal government
to close their reservation and move all the Yavapai to the San Carlos Apache
Throughout its history, the infant town of Wickenburg
went through many trials and tribulations in its first decades, surviving
the Indian Wars including repeating Indian raids, outlaws, mine closures,
drought, and a disastrous flood in 1890 when the Walnut Creek Dam burst,
killing nearly 70. Town continued to grow. Its prosperity was ensured with
the coming of the railroad in 1895. In those years it had even once been
seen as a candidate for territorial capital. The historic train depot today
houses the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Center. As of 2007
however, only freight trains pass through Wickenburg; passenger trains
ended their runs in the 1960s.
Along the town's main historic district, early businesses
built many structures that still form Wickenburg's downtown area. The abundant
clean air and wide-open spaces attracted new residents. Guest ranches offered
a unique experience to tourists who fell in love with the West. The Bar
FX Ranch became the first true guest ranch in 1923, followed by Remuda,
Kay El Bar, Rancho de los Caballeros, and Flying E ranches, just to mention
a few. The construction of the Phoenix to California highway (U.S. Highway
60) brought even more tourists, making Wickenburg the Dude Ranch Capital
of the World. As of 2007, some of these ranches still offer their hospitality.
Rancho de los Caballeros is now a golf resort, while Remuda has been converted
into the nation's largest eating disorder treatment facility and is now
Wickenburg's largest employer. The Hassayampa community became a vital
contributor to the US effort during World War II when the Army trained
thousands of men to fly gliders at a newly constructed airfield west of
Wickenburg. After the war, modern pioneers and home builders developed
Wickenburg into a typical American community.
Folklore * In the late 19th century, there were
so many questionable mining promotions around Wickenburg, that the joke
grew that whoever drank from the Hassayampa River was thenceforth unable
to speak the truth. Hassayamper came to mean a teller of tall tales.
Vulture Mine -The Vulture Mine was a gold mine
and settlement in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. The mine began
in 1863 and became the most productive gold mine in Arizona history. From
1863 to 1942, the mine produced 340 thousand ounces of gold and 260 thousand
ounces of silver. Historically, the mine attracted more than 5,000 people
to the area, and is credited with founding the town of Wickenburg, Arizona.
The Vulture Mine began when a prospector from California's
gold rush, Henry Wickenburg, discovered a quartz deposit containing gold
and began mining the outcrop himself. The deposit was later sold to Benjamin
Phelps, who represented a group of investors that eventually organized
under the name of Vulture Mining Company.
The privately-owned mine and town site are unrestored,
but open for fee-based "at your own risk" self-guided tours.
|"Long Guns of the West" Part 12. The Whitney-Kennedy
and Whitney-Scharf by Tom “Forty Rod” Taylor
Between 1879 and 1888 The Whitney Arms Company slowly
withered and died following a century of manufacturing guns (and other
things) for the United States government and civilian sales.
From 1879 to 1886 an estimated 15,000 Whitney Kennedy
lever action repeating rifles, carbines, and muskets were made. These
came in two sizes, a small (or light) frame model in calibers .38-40 and
.44-40…and a few later models in .32-20… and a large (or heavy) frame version
in calibers .40-60, .45-60, 45-75... and a very few in .50-90.
The guns were mechanically identical except for the size
and standard finish on all was blued with case-hardened lever and hammer.
Quite a large number were also made with case-hardened frames. Enough
nickel-plated sporting rifles have been found to indicate that this was
a popular option.
The earliest issues had serpentine (S shaped) levers,
soon replaced by the more common full-loop levers.
The options for small frame guns were carbines with 20”
round barrels, and sporting rifles with 24” barrels in full round, full
octagon, and half-and-half. There were a great variety
of other options offered, as well, such as sights, set triggers, extra
length barrels, fancy stocks with checkering or select wood…or both, and
The large frame guns could be had in 22” round barrel,
26” or 28” rifles with the same barrel shapes as the small framed guns,
and full-stock 31 ¼” muskets. These had the same option offerings
as the lighter models.
It is noted that the majority of carbines and muskets
were sent to Central America and South America, and if any are found at
all, they may be in very poor condition.
Whitney’s popularity was sagging in relation to other
repeating rifles and in 1886 they introduced a truly outstanding model,
It turned out to be too late to save the faltering company,
but in the last two years they still managed to get just under 2,000 onto
the market. Of these less than 50 were carbines with 20” round barrels,
and about the same number were muskets with 32 1/2” barrels and full stocks.
The rest were sporting rifles with 24”, 26” or 28” barrels in round, half-round,
or octagon, and with full or half magazines. Very few options were offered
other than sights and case hardened receivers. (levers and hammers were
harden as a standard.) These were in .44-40, .38-40, and .32-20.
It has been said that as early as 1883, Whiney had been
shopping for a buyer for Whitney Arms Company as it was his intention to
retire. In 1888 he was forced to sell out to Winchester .
There are still some Kennedys out there. I even
saw one at a SASS match some years back. I seem recall it was a .44-40
and had the serpentine lever.
I have seen a couple of Scharfs for sale over the years,
but couldn’t even afford to dream
You might want to go to the Eli
Whitney Museum and Workshop to see more about these rifles.