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Thread: Johnny Wards ranch & Mickey Free

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    Vulture's Avatar
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    Default Johnny Wards ranch & Mickey Free

    South East Arizona remains one of the places where it's early history can still be recognised. Such is the case of Johnny Wards ranch on the Sonoita.

    Ward was an Irish immigrant drawn to the California gold rush & didn't strike it rich. Its uncertain what he did there but when he wandered in to Tubac on foot in the winter of 1857 begging food & shelter Charles Posten felt certain that he had been driven out by the vigilance citizens group & didn't like the cut of his jib. Posten gave him hospitality & advised him to move on to Ft. Buchannan in the Sonoita valley to seek work. Ward became one of the first settlers in that beautiful valley. He harvested native hay for the army & hauled lumber from sawmills in the Santa Rita mts to Tucson, some of which was used to build the San Agustine church.

    By winter 1858 he had established a 160 acre ranch with one of the largest houses in southern AZ, 16' X 60'. (I think he was a go getter.) On a cattle buying trip to Santa Cruz Mexico he met & brought back Jesus Maria Martinez, a 28 year old single mother with two children. One of them would become famous as an Apace US army scout known as Mickey Free.

    At the time the Sonoita was the only American farming community in the region.

    See a photo from 1915 & recent photos, & a current resident.

    to be continued...if there's any interest.

    V
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    Last edited by Vulture; 04-02-2008 at 02:00 PM.
    "The good things a person needs-stubbornness, thinking for himself-don't make him a useful member of society. What makes him useful is to be half dead." Sylvan Hart

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulture View Post
    South East Arizona remains one of the places where it's early history can still be recognised. Such is the case of Johnny Wards ranch on the Sonoita.

    Ward was an Irish immigrant drawn to the California gold rush & didn't strike it rich. Its uncertain what he did there but when he waundered in to Tubac on foot in the winter of 1857 begging food & shelter Charles Posten felt certain that he had been driven out by the vigelance citizens group & didn't like the cut of his jib. Posten gave him hospitality & advised him to move on to Ft. Buchannan in the Sonoita valley to seek work. Ward became one of the first settlers in that beautiful valley. He harvested native hay for the army & hauled lumber from sawmills in the Santa Rita mts to Tucson, some of which was used to build the San Agustine church.

    By winter 1858 he had established a 160 acre ranch with one of the largest houses in southern AZ, 16' X 60'. (I think he was a go getter.) On a cattle buying trip to Santa Cruz Mexico he met & brought back Jesus Maria Martinez, a 28 year old single mother with two children. One of them would become famous as an Apace US army scout known as Mickey Free.

    At the time the Sonoita was the only American farming community in the region.

    See a photo from 1915 & recent photos, & a doves nest there.

    to be continued...if there's any interest.

    V
    If there's any interest?
    If there's any interest?

    I'd love to see that place and if you don't take me with you next time may a fierce desert wind blow an angry scorpion up your shorts!

    Seriously, yes, please more pictures!

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    Quote Originally Posted by brian10x View Post
    If there's any interest?
    If there's any interest?

    I'd love to see that place and if you don't take me with you next time may a fierce desert wind blow an angry scorpion up your shorts!

    Seriously, yes, please more pictures!
    Ditto, although my trip out there might have to be postponed a while! Very interesting to me also, in other words Vulture. You've given me another area to Google around in, so I'm in your debt. I love exploring America's pioneering past and it's so much better when other peoples knowledge comes in to play. It illuminates the desert, if you know what I mean?
    "Those were great old days. Everthing is very quiet now, isn't it?" Elfego Baca

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    Very cool. So much history is forgotten these days. Is this on public or private land in Santa Cruz County?

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    Wish I could get down into southern AZ more. I mostly have to go north on most of our outings. Nice info!

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    Quote Originally Posted by campp View Post
    Wish I could get down into southern AZ more. I mostly have to go north on most of our outings. Nice info!
    Funny you should say that. Looking at the map on Ghosttowns.com, I'm always a little envious of the large number of available sites up near Phoenix.

    I guess its a case of the grass is always greener, er we live in the desert, so its a case of the sun is always hotter, etc.

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    Thanks for the pics, Vulture....Speedy

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    Default Wards ranch part II

    I'm glad this post is interesting to some of you.

    Wards ranch was one of seven origonal homesteads along the creek & at its peak included a blacksmith & wheelwright shop, orchards & many acres of cultivated fields. This comfortable well supplied farm was a far cry from the poor life Johns stepchildren, Teodora & Felix Telles were used to in a beleagured Santa Cruz, Mexico. John was off in Sonora when on Jan 27, 1861 an Apache raiding party attacked the ranch. Nine rushed the house while another group persued the livestock on the other side of the creek & found Felix hiding in the top of a peach tree. He was brought down & taken away by the Apaches. He was 12 years old.

    The Army at Ft Buchannan was notified & the bungled attempt to recover the boy & the stolen livestock brought about an increase in hostilities against all Americans in the area. This beginning of the Apache wars is known as "The Bascom affair", a google will show lots of info on this.

    Things were deteriorating fast in southern Arizona in 1861. In April the Overland stage co. stopped service, by June the Santa Rita mining co. abandoned its workings & pulled out. On July 23 the Army burned Ft Buchannan & went east to fight in the civil war. Felix was not rescued & was raised by his captors as one of their own.

    With the removal of the Army & increasing Apache raiding the Sonoita valley & even Tubac was abandoned. Johnny Ward never returned to the ranch he had risked his life to build. He died in Oct 1867.

    But the story of the ranch isn't finished yet...

    The ruin isn't hard to find, although it took me 3 tries before I figured out the trick. It's one location I don't mind giving up. From the Telles shrine, (about 4 miles south of Patagonia on state hwy 82) walk back toward Patagonia about 200 feet & watch to the right above the hwy & the end of the adobe wall can be seen. Part of the ruin was demolished in 1958 when the hwy was widened. It is on public property.

    Attached is a photo of Felix aka Mickey Free.
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    Last edited by Vulture; 04-02-2008 at 03:56 PM.
    "The good things a person needs-stubbornness, thinking for himself-don't make him a useful member of society. What makes him useful is to be half dead." Sylvan Hart

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    Default Wards

    See hwy 82 on far right & one of my favorite long views from the area.
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    "The good things a person needs-stubbornness, thinking for himself-don't make him a useful member of society. What makes him useful is to be half dead." Sylvan Hart

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    Very impressive. Must pay a visit there sometime!

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