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Columbus H. Gray and Mary A. Gray, his wife, were the first permanent settlers on the north side of the Salt River Valley. C. H. Gray, or "Lum" Gray, as he was known, was a very active citizen during his life. At one time he was a member of the legislature, and he was always, more or less, a miner and prospector. Careless in money matters; a man of strong passions, true to his friends and vindictive to his enemies, naturally he had close friends and bitter enemies. His widow is a typical pioneer woman, and has resided in one place on their ranch just south of Phoenix for nearly fifty years. At the time of his death, Mr. Gray was interested in mining properties about ten miles


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west of Ehrenberg, in California. The following interview with Mrs. Gray gives much first hand information in regard to the settlement of Phoenix and the Salt River Valley:


"We came into the valley on the 18th of August, 1868. I was about the first white woman in the valley. The Adams family arrived on their way to California when we came here. Sheriff Jeff Adams was a little boy then. Another family named Rowe came in here. We came and settled. The others were only camping here. They went off, and then some of them came back. I have been a constant resident on this ranch for forty-eight years since the 18th of August, 1868, and am now left alone. I am seventy-one years old.

"I have seen many changes in this valley. Mr. Gray helped take out the canal which was a part of the old Swilling Ditch. When we came in 1868, they had taken out a little water; it ran for two or three miles. They had planted some corn, beans, pumpkins, and anything they could get to plant. That was in 1868, the first crops raised here. It was mostly men in the valley then. There were no families. Swilling's wife was in Tucson. I was the first white woman to settle in the valley and stay here. I remember that when I went to court to give my evidence in the water rights case, I was in a hurry to get away, but the judge called me back and asked me if I was in the same place, and when I said that I was, he said that I was about the only one that was.

"The first church established here was the South Methodist Church. The first minister

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that came into this valley to preach was McKean. Groves came next. When Groves came they had no church, and he preached in different places. He preached in our house for one thing; that was when we lived in the old adobe. I think it was about 1870 or 1871-'70 I guess.

"My husband and myself came in 1868 across the plains, the railroad didn't come until 1869. We were on our way to Northern California, where Mr. Gray had mined when a boy. If we had had an idea that the Central railroad would have been through to California in another year, we would have waited until it was completed. In 1878, when I went home over the northern route, the Southern Pacific had got to Yuma; there we met the train from here.

"I don't remember any of the old settlers who remain, if any do. They were kind of loose; there is none of them that stayed any length of time. Irvine was about the first, and the Osborns came in 1869. They kept dropping in.

"We went broke in the dry year of 1891-92. Mr. Gray had over fifty head of stock die, and we couldn't get water enough to irrigate two acres that dry year. We had a wind mill pump and a hand pump in the well. We first got water about twenty-one or twenty-two feet down, but that year we had to keep adding pipe until we got down about forty feet.

"Mr. Gray started to build a building for the Masonic Hall, on Jefferson and First Streets, and then sold it to the Goldwaters. Goldwater afterwards told me that ‚Fools build and wise men occupy.‚ He told me they should have

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stayed in Phoenix, and he would have done much better here than he did by going to Prescott.

"Mr. Gray was in the Confederate Army. He got back home from California the year before the war broke out. He had been in California for ten years. He went there when he was sixteen years old with his brother, and then got back just in time to go into the war. He served in the war and was nine months in the prison at Alton, Illinois. He was captured at Helena, Arkansas, and then he escaped by jumping out of the cars as he was being transferred from Alton to Fort Delaware. There were three of them got away by jumping through the windows of the car. He got back home and stayed for three or four weeks, and then went back into the army.

"He was born in Florida in 1833. I was born in Arkansas. My people and his people were real pioneers. My grandparents went to Georgia when they had to stand guard over the fields to keep the Indians off. I was born in the southern portion of Arkansas, in Union County, about twelve miles from the Louisiana line, in 1846. I was seventy years old May last, and never had good health until we came here. We were coming just for a rest, but when we saw the valley we made up our minds to settle here. The valley when we first saw it was lovely. There was grass about a foot high, and it was fine. I never had any trouble with the Indians. We never saw a wild Indian all the way across the plains; never saw an Indian until we got here and saw the Pimas and Maricopas.

"I don't remember just when it was the Mormons came in here at Tempe.

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"I don't remember just when the Tempe Canal was started, but the Swilling Ditch was giving us water before the Tempe Canal was commenced.

"I was here when they had the contest over East Phoenix and West Phoenix, and it was settled by the vote of the people. The town started off at this end of the valley, and the settlers were coming in down here. Swilling was fighting for East Phoenix. His place was right over here.

"Jim Murphy, the deputy sheriff, is a son of the Murphy, who was of the firm of Murphy & Dennis, and whose wife was a Mexican woman. The little store he established was a godsend to us, as we had no merchants nearer than Wickenburg on the one side, and Maricopa Wells on the other. When we wanted merchandise, about all the men in the valley would have to go to Wickenburg for it, and maybe they could get a piece of bacon about a foot long, and six inches wide, for the whole settlement. I was one time without shoes, and Mr. Duppa was going over to Maricopa, and I asked him to bring me a pair. He brought me a pair of sixes, and at that time I wore twos. I told him they didn't fit me exactly, and he said that it was all he could get, and a sight better than going bare-footed.

"I don't remember the time Duppa died. I think he was alive in 1887. He was a strange character. I asked him once why he didn't go back to England. His older brother had died, and they sent for him, and he said that he couldn't go back and have to pull his hat off to people; that he would have to open up the old estate and accept all the responsibilities of a


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high position over there, and that he did not want to do. Duppa would never become a citizen of the United States though. They sent his younger brother over after him, but he told him: ‚John, you can go back and rest satisfied that I will never return.'

"At times he would go off in the mountains and stay until his hair came down to his shoulders, and sometimes when he came back he didn't look like a human. I was home once when he returned from the mountains, and he was as rough a character as you would want to see. He looked like he hadn't washed his face or combed his hair for months. He went to Maricopa and brought me back some Sonora oranges, and he had been shaved and cleaned up, and bought a new suit, and he came to the door and knocked, and when I went to the door, he began by saying: ‚Good morning, Ma'am,‚ thinking I wouldn't know him, but I knew him by his voice. Duppa lived right over there. (Pointing west.)

"Dr. Thibodo and his wife are both dead. Duppa got his remittances through Dr. Thibodo. Thibodo used to come down here sometimes, but toward the last he hardly ever went out of his drugstore.

"I was married in 1865, August 24th, my husband's full name being Columbus H. Gray and mine Mary A. Gray. My maiden name was Mary A. Norris. My brother, Coleman Norris, lives here in town. He is not doing anything now. He has two sons and a daughter. Bud Gray a half brother of my husband is dead. He

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was taken sick out at the mine and came in, and died in six weeks.

"My brother Mr. Norris came into the valley about thirty years ago. When I went back home in 1878, I brought my parents back with me. I think he came in within five years after they left. His wife came of a delicate family, and they didn't think she could live two years there, so he brought her here."


Thomas Thompson Hunter was born in Louisiana February 24th, 1844. He was reared in South Carolina; received an academic education. During the Civil War he served from the beginning to the end in a battery of General Longstreet's corps, and was mustered out at Nachitoches, Louisiana, June 26th, 1865, when he went into Western Texas and embarked in the cattle business. Learning of the natural advantages of Arizona, he drove his herd across the plains, and came into what is now the Salt River Valley and Phoenix with the first herd of cattle. Upon reaching Maricopa, a few pioneers came over from the Salt River and told his party about that wonderful country where there was plenty of grass and a fine place to recruit their cattle. They changed their plans and on the first of January, 1868, entered the Salt River Valley, and pitched their camp just west of Hayden Butte. Both the Gila and Salt Rivers were at high tide, and after crossing the Gila they lived on beef straight until the waters of the Salt subsided, when they crossed on the 16th of February, 1868, and found a few pioneers on the north side of the Salt River taking out the first canal from that river, known afterwards as the

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Swilling Canal. Mr. Hunter says: ‘‘"The business men of the Territory were assisting the enterprise, and the Government policy at that time was to aid all infant settlements, and Fort McDowell, being thirty-five miles from us on the Verde River, helped the little settlement a great deal.’’


"Jack Swilling was the first settler on the canal; old man Freeman came next, then McWhorter next, whose settlement was abandoned not long afterwards. Coming back from a business trip to Fort McDowell, the Indians murdered poor old McWhorter, as he was called. Then came Pump Handle John, and next to him was Lord Duppa and Vandermark, then myself, Hunter, and McVey, then the Irish boys, Jim Lee, Fitzgerald and Tom Conley, the Starar brothers, Jake and Andy, next, then old man Adams and family, then one-eyed Davis and Bill Bloom. Frenchy Sawyer was located somewhere near the Irish boys, and built the first house erected in the valley, which consisted of four cottonwood forks set in the ground and covered with mud, making a nice retreat on a hot day. While sojourning in Pima and Maricopa counties, I witnessed several incidents which are hard for me to forget. One that impressed me so much I will relate. We turned our poor cattle loose to hunt forage. They were compelled to range out ten to fifteen miles. It was my custom to cut sign every morning, go outside of all cattle tracks among the sand hills. Occasionally the squaws would band together and go away out to procure mesquite wood. The first time I witnessed this sight I was out some ten or twelve

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miles. From the top of a sand hill, looking back toward the river, I saw the strange sight. I saw two hundred and fifty Indian women in a long line with their three-cornered baskets and long slick-sticks, that at first resembled a herd of cattle, their sticks looking like horns. The wood being reached, they began filling their baskets, and when filled they each had a good burro load. It was a sight to see them when loaded start back with their heavy burdens in a little trot peculiar to themselves. I noticed, too, what struck me so forcibly, a picket line being maintained along the crest of sand hills by the Pima warriors. They were armed with bows and arrows, and each sentinel stood with his bow slung ready to fire on the first sight of an enemy. Thus was the frontier being maintained by these naked, poverty-stricken, ignorant savages, the price of peace, self-preservation, the first law of nature, even among these savages. Just a little negligence on the part of this frontier army, and the Apache might rush upon their women and take them off to captivity and slavery. From the bottom of my heart I pitied these poor, helpless, starved people, fighting their battle of life, and making their struggle for existence in their own peculiar way. We call them savages for one thing, that they make beasts of burden out of their women, and we were taught in our childhood days that no Christian nation ever did that. The first sign of civilization was to place our women on a level with the men. While we condemn the Pima and Maricopa Indian slavery, we find the flower of the highest civilization on earth stationed upon the frontier in order to

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maintain the peace, while their women are in the same condition that we find the savage Indian women forty years ago.

"While we held our cattle on the Salt River plains, I was the herder. On Churchill's Addition to the city of Phoenix was a low, heavy soil that I designated as the Alfileria flats. Several hundred acres were well set with alfileria, and being the first of its kind that either the cattle or myself had ever seen, the cattle took kindly to the new forage, and soon were as fat as butter. I would always turn the cattle loose about daylight. They would go no father than the Alfileria flats. There they would eat their fill and lay down, and about the noon hour I would start them back to the river for water. The alfileria had begun to mature, and it seemed to me that in one night every bunch of it was covered with a large variegated colored caterpillar, and, as a consequence, the cattle would not touch it that morning, and lit out to hunt pastures new. I mounted my pony and started after them, and I had to ride hard to turn them back, as they, in a little while more, would be in the Apache country. I drove them back, and it was probably the middle of the afternoon before I got them to the Alfileria flats. In examining the weed, I found out for the first time what the trouble was,-it was the worm. Then I saw a funny sight. A long line of Indians of all kinds were coming across the flats. On my approaching near enough I discovered that they were gathering these worms and eating them raw, happy and innocent as children in a huckleberry patch. After getting their stomachs filled, the maidens

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of the tribe strung the worms through the middle with a needle and thread. They would then double the strands several times, and place the strands over their necks, and the live worms would wiggle upon their naked busts. The sun shining upon the variegated collars made them appear to be a beautiful necklace. Of course it was beautiful until we discovered that it was really live, repulsive worms." (The Indians boiled these caterpillars with a little salt, and then ate them.)


The mesquite grove of which Mr. Hunter speaks was probably the grove which covered what is known as the "Balch Addition to Phoenix." It was covered with mesquite in 1887 when the writer settled in this valley.

Some time in the spring of 1868 a little girl was born to John Adams and wife, who it is claimed was the first white child born in Phoenix. She is now married and the mother of a large family.

Mr. Hunter was married in Yavapai County in 1868, to Miss Ollie T. Gallaspy, which was among the first marriages solemnized in that county. Four children were born to this union. In 1884 he served in the Territorial Legislature, and after that time was, for several years, justice of the peace at Safford, where he died about the year 1912. Speaking of early arrivals in the Salt River Valley, Mr. Hunter says:


"Up to August, 1868, there were a number of new people who came into the valley. Among the lot were Lum Gray and family, Greenhaw, Patterson, and the Rowe Family, and an old fellow

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known as Red Wilson, who formed a company with old man John Adams, and others, to take out what was known as the Wilson Canal. It came out of the river below the Swilling Canal. Old Red Wilson made life miserable for me. Every time I met him he was telling me the future of the Salt River-that I was young and that I would live to see a city built there, etc. I could not see it like he did, but just twenty-eight years afterwards I visited the valley again, and realized that old Red Wilson had proven himself a correct prophet. Phoenix had risen from the ashes, from nothing as it were-it was on the occasion of her first midwinter carnival. She was decorated and presented one of the most beautiful appearances that I ever witnessed. I felt indeed that I was another Rip Van Winkle. Twenty-eight years ago here were the same Pima and Maricopa Indians in evidence plentifully. These Indians were from the Government schools at Phoenix. What a change in so short a time. They were forming on the Churchill Addition by platoon to take part in the parade through the city, my old Alfileria Flat in the long ago. Twenty-eight years before their fathers and mothers were eating raw caterpillars on the very same spot where their children were forming for parade, with Indian youths leading the procession with a brass band of their own, followed by a little boy corps of drummers. The maidens who had the caterpillar necklaces then, were dressed in uniform, marching by platoon like the regulars of the army. Everything had changed except the grand old brown mountains-they looked just the same, together

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with the everlasting sunshine,-Arizona sun. A very few of the old-timers remain. The prominent noted ones are all gone to their reward. King Woolsey, Andrew Peeples, Sam McClatchey, Tom Dodge, Jack Swilling, George Monroe, Jerome Vaughn, Murphy, Dennis, Jim Cushingberry, Bill Smith, Bronco Billy, Buckskin Tom, Bob Groom, Joe Fugit, Joe Fye, John Montgomery, and many others who figured prominently in Arizona life in the long ago, have, as far as I know, passed away. Andrew Peeples, Jack Swilling and old Negro Ben were the discoverers of the Weaver District. Jack dug out with his butcher knife thirty thousand dollars in nuggets. Nigger Ben dug out between six and ten thousand. I do not recall the amount that Andrew Peeples got. Old Negro Ben lost his life by the Indians along some time in the seventies."


Getting married in Arizona, and particularly in this portion of the Territory, was rather a difficult matter in the early days, as the following stories show. Mr. Hunter gives this account of the marriage of one of his cowboys in the year 1868:


"The oldest daughter of John Adams and one of our cowboys, by name Wm. Johnson, were married. Difficulty No. 1, came on the scene, which had to be overcome. There was no preacher in the whole of Arizona that we knew of, no justice of the peace nearer than Prescott, and how to overcome this difficulty was a problem. I told my friend Johnson that Fort McDowell was a six-company fort, and the Government always looked after the spiritual welfare

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of the soldiers, and there must, of necessity, be a chaplain stationed there. On inquiry we found this to be the case, so on one of the most beautiful sunshiny days of April, the bride and groom, with a party of friends armed to kill, acting as an escort to the happy couple, hiked to Fort McDowell. Our desires being made known to an old white-headed man, who was designated by the soldiers as being the chaplain, we told our wants. This appearing to the old preacher as a most extraordinary occasion, he communicated with the commander of the post, who, in turn, agreed with the preacher, and in a short time the usually quiet military camp, situated in the far west and upon the banks of the beautiful Verde River, was to witness one of the most extraordinary scenes that had ever taken place in Arizona-the birth of the first little home in Salt River Valley. The soldiers were formed in a hollow square around the grand flag pole, on whose top floated the Stars and Stripes. The military band was discoursing the most lovely music, the old preacher with his white head uncovered to the beautiful sunshine, the parade ground was covered with the most beautiful wild flowers, as well as the whole surrounding country, the grand old brown mountains looked solemn and happy, adding dignity to the scene. Everybody looked happy, and why should they not feel that way? It was surely a red-letter day for Arizona, for the first home of Salt River Valley had been formed in April, 1868. I fail to recall the day of the month. The descendants and pioneer relatives of these first families still live in Salt River Valley. Old man John Adams

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and his wife were my personal friends-good people they were, true pioneers, true friends, ever ready to respond to the needs of their fellows. They would divide their last crust with the needy prospectors who chanced their way. If still alive they are very old. I presume, however, that they have both passed to their reward in the great beyond."


Mr. John F. Crampton gives the following concerning the marriage of one of his two sisters: ‘‘"Mrs. Fitzgerald, my sister, was married in 1873. Her husband was postmaster and had a store at Yuma, and came to Maricopa Wells to marry her, where my sister, with the rest of the family, were living at the time. Dr. Alsap was Probate Judge in Phoenix. They sent for him to perform the ceremony, and when he got to Maricopa Wells he found out that he was out of his jurisdiction, being in Pinal County, and, consequently, could not perform the marriage. The girls took on a good deal, and when I got there, having just ridden on horseback from Tucson, I asked them what was the matter. They told me that everything was ready for the wedding and that Dr. Alsap was there, but that he was out of his jurisdiction and could not perform the ceremony. My sister said: ‚Henry is up here from Yuma, and Dr. Alsap is here from Phoenix, and we are in another county and cannot get married.‚ I thought a minute, and then said: ‚That's easy. The line is only six or seven miles from here. We'll all get in the coach and drive across the line.‚ I went to the corral and hitched up six horses to the stage coach, and we all piled in and on, twenty-seven

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of us, and drove out across the line into Maricopa County. We got there about eleven o'clock at night, and with some holding candles, and standing around in a circle, Judge Alsap performed the ceremony, and we drove back to Maricopa Wells. They were married under an ironwood tree."’’

The day after the wedding Mr. Crampton drove a six-horse Concord stage coach to Yuma with the bride and groom and members of the wedding party. They probably had a good time both at Maricopa Wells and at Yuma, for marriages at that time were few and far between, and congratulations on the part of the boys to the lucky bridegroom were extended with great cordiality, interspersed with champagne, and the et ceteras.

Mr. Crampton says further:


"I went out to see the place about three years ago, and the old tree is still there. My niece says that if she can do it, she is coming to Arizona to take up that tree, and plant it in her mother's yard, and then her mother will have her hobby there."


Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald remained in Yuma until 1879, when they settled in San Francisco, where Mr. Fitzgerald died, and there his widow still survives him.

This is the first record that I know of anywhere, where pioneers had to drive six or seven miles and then be married at midnight under an ironwood tree.

Among the early pioneers in the Salt River Valley, aside from J. W. Swilling, two men stand out most prominently in the history of

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Phoenix, William A. Hancock, who was born on the 17th day of May, 1831, in Barry, Massachusetts, and died in Phoenix in the year 1901, and John T. Alsap, who was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, February 28th, 1830, and died in Phoenix on the 10th day of September, 1886.

Captain Hancock was educated in the public schools in Massachusetts and in Leicester Academy, and, in the spring of 1853, with his brothers, John and Henry, made the trip across the plains and deserts to California, where they located upon a ranch. In 1864 Captain Hancock enlisted in the California Volunteers and in the following year was sent to Fort Yuma, and was there mustered into Company "C" of the First Arizona Volunteers, with the rank of Second Lieutenant. He was stationed at Fort McDowell, and promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant, and was mustered out of the service in September, 1866. He then became superintendent of the Government Farm at Fort McDowell, and then post trader at Camp Reno, which latter position he held until he came to the Phoenix Settlement in 1870. As has been stated Captain Hancock surveyed the city of Phoenix, and held many offices of honor and trust, having been the first postmaster of Phoenix, District Attorney, Probate Judge, and the first sheriff of Maricopa County, having been appointed to that position by Governor Safford. He also served as Assistant Attorney of the United States for the District of Arizona, and was, for some time, County Superintendent of Schools. He was always an earnest friend of irrigation projects, and was one of the committee of three appointed to investigate



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the Colorado River project. In politics a Republican, he loyally aided in the establishment of the party in Maricopa County, and served, at one time, as a member of the County Central Committee. He was one of the members of the Pioneers Association of Arizona, of the Territorial Bar Association, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and of Capt. Owen Post, G. A. R., at one time being senior vice-commander of the Post. He was married in 1873 to Lillie B. Kellogg, and leaves two children, a son, Henry L. Hancock, and a daughter, Mrs. Mabel Latham. Captain Hancock was associated, in his lifetime, with most of the enterprises in Phoenix and the Salt River Valley, and his reputation was always that of an enterprising, energetic citizen, whose integrity was never questioned.

John T. Alsap, as before noted, was the first Territorial Treasurer. It was through his influence as a member of the Sixth Legislature of the Territory that the county of Maricopa was created. As a lawyer, Judge, town commissioner, and, in fact, in every capacity in which he acted, he proved himself a citizen of rare enterprise, merit and worth.

One of the honored pioneers and esteemed citizens of Phoenix, was Simon Novinger, who was born in Halifax, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, January 14th, 1832, a son of Isaac and Hannah (Hawk) Novinger, both natives of Lykens Valley, that county.

Mr. Novinger was reared in much the usual manner of farmer boys of his day, attending school about four months, and devoting the remainder

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of the year to the labors of the field. After attaining his majority he worked two years at the stone mason trade, and then again engaged in farming. He spent considerable time in travelling over the east, and in 1863, started for Nevada. From St. Joseph, Mo., he started across the plains with ox teams, but learning of the gold excitement at Virginia City, Montana, he decided to go to that place. He went up the North Platte to Red Butte, and then took the trail north, afterward known as the Bozeman Route. There were 417 men in the company with which he travelled, and they had with them 127 wagons. They were twice attacked by Indians, but finally reached their destination in safety. On his arrival in Virginia City, Mr. Novinger engaged in building for a time, and then turned his attention to placer mining, in which he was quite successful. He spent five years in Montana, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and British Columbia, and in 1868 went to Stockton, California, where he engaged in farming for a time, later following the same pursuit at Visalia, that State.

In 1871, Mr. Novinger came to the Salt River Valley, at which time Phoenix contained but two buildings. He engaged in prospecting at Four Peaks. On one of his expeditions he was accompanied by two other men. Leaving him at camp the two others started out to look for water, and while they were gone he was attacked by six Indians, whom he put to flight, although they succeeded in wounding him in the right leg. He was taken to Fort McDowell, where on account of his injuries he remained for one hundred


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and forty days. He then returned to Phoenix, and in 1873 bought a claim and filed on it, consisting of the southeast quarter of section 12, township 2, Maricopa County, a mile and a half from the city. As the years passed the growth of the city touched the boundaries of Mr. Novinger's ranch. In 1877 he bought another tract of one hundred and sixty acres adjoining it on the north, and in the later 80's sold it to General Collins and General Sherman, who laid out on it the "Capitol Addition to Phoenix," which has been quite rapidly built up. Mr. Novinger operated his ranch successfully, raising grain and hay.

In politics Mr. Novinger was a stanch Democrat, and served as a member of the county committee. He made frequent trips East and travelled extensively in both the north and the west. He died January 24th, 1904, in Phoenix.

The portrait of Mr. Novinger which accompanies this sketch was taken with his little grandniece, Mabel Clara Novinger, daughter of Mason D. and Eva Hampton Novinger.


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