....November 2010 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
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.

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
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.

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 American settlers.

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 Reservation.

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 engraving.

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, the Whitney-Scharf. 

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.

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