Days Past: Arizona's new government assumes control
By AL BATES
Originally Published: February 23, 2014 6 a.m.
This article is one of a series on historic events relating to the Arizona Territory's Sesquicentennial and the founding and establishment of Prescott as the territory's first capital.The year 1864 was to be a busy one for Arizona's newly arrived territorial officers. There was much to be done to establish a functioning government in what had been a sorely neglected part of New Mexico Territory.Governor Goodwin placed high priority on learning about his new domain and its residents, and scheduled trips to visit key locations. The first trip started two weeks after his arrival at Fort Whipple when he visited the nearby Pioneer and Walker mining districts.A highlight of that brief trip came at Joe Walker's camp where he joined an evening meeting honoring the participants in the Battle of Bloody Tanks and their leader King S. Woolsey. The governor praised Woolsey's efforts and named him his military aide with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. It also prompted the governor to deliver a speech recommending the extermination of hostile Indians.Governor Goodwin's next exploration would be a lengthier jaunt east to the Verde River, an area "reputed to be rich in minerals." In addition to a military escort, he was joined by a group of civilians and by Judge Joseph Allyn who continued to keep the people of Hartford, Connecticut, informed through his newspaper accounts. Allyn's correspondence made it clear that members of the party were spoiling for a fight to gain revenge for Indian stock raids.The governor's expedition marshaled at Woolsey's Agua Fria Ranch, departing on Feb. 21. They traveled light, with equipment and supplies limited to what could be carried by pack animals over rugged terrain. On Saturday, Feb. 27, there was a brief skirmish with Indians resulting in the deaths of a member of the military escort, Private Fisher, and five Indians. That evening two of Woolsey's employees learned that Indians had - for the third time - stripped the Agua Fria Ranch of "every hoof except oxen ploughing near the house." A second skirmish, at an Indian rancheria, was inconclusive, with no known fatalities on either side. The expected mineral deposits did not materialize. On March 11, after going up the Verde River as far as Montezuma's Castle, the governor and most of his party started back to Fort Whipple. Judge Allyn and a companion took a side trip to the Salt River Valley. Later, he commented on the remains of an extensive irrigation system left there by an ancient farming civilization.Meanwhile, two ap-pointed territorial officials who had not traveled with the governor's party - Charles D. Poston, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and Milton B. Duffield, Territorial Marshal - reached Tucson in mid-January. They wondered when the others might arrive.Governor Goodwin had dispatched Duffield to San Francisco with a request to the army for additional military protection. Duffield chose the ocean steamer route to San Francisco, arriving in early November. The request for additional troops was rejected, but he was offered transportation across the desert to Tucson with a cavalry company soon to leave Fort Drum.Why Poston did not travel in relative comfort with the Governor's Party is unknown. He opted instead to jolt his way west by stagecoach, arriving in San Francisco in late November 1863. He, like Duffield, then travelled to Southern California by ocean steamer, leaving Drum Barracks for the desert journey a few days behind the marshal.Travels of the Poston and Duffield parties began to overlap at Fort Yuma where Duffield spent time prospecting while Poston began his Indian agent duties by distributing presents to the local Indian tribes. They left Fort Yuma separately, but both arrived in Arizona Territory in late December thus relieving any question about pay caused by wording in the Arizona Organic Act.Once in Tucson, their paths separated. Poston continued on to distribute gifts to friendly southern Arizona tribes and revisit the area where he had run a silver mining operation before being driven out by Apaches in 1861.Duffield had little to do in Tucson since there was no existing court system, leaving him idle until February when he was directed to come to Fort Whipple where he would take charge of the territory's first census.Poston, on completing his tour of southern Arizona, began combining his chores as Indian Agent with a successful campaign for the elective position of first Territorial Representative to Congress. Days Past is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International (www.prescottcorral.org). This and other Days Past articles are also available at www.sharlot.org/library-archives/days-past">www.sharlot.org/library-archives/days-past. The public is encouraged to submit articles for consideration. Contact SHM Library & Archives reference desk at 445-3122, ext. 14, or via email at days firstname.lastname@example.org for information.