CHAPTER VIII. PHOENIX AND SALT RIVER VALLEY.


Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER VII. PROGRESS OF SALT RIVER VALLEY. Next: CHAPTER IX. EARLY HISTORY OF PHOENIX.


[page 158]

PHOENIX LOCATED AND SALE OF TOWN LOTS-SALT RIVER VALLEY ASSOCIATION-FORMED-MEMBERS OF-SURVEY OF TOWN OF PHOENIX - FIRST BUILDING IN PHOENIX ERECTED BY CAPTAIN HANCOCK - OTHER BUILDINGS - FIRST COUNTY COURTHOUSE - WILLIAM SMITH FIRST MERCHANT IN PHOENIX - OTHER EARLY MERCHANTS-RISE AND DECLINE OF BICHARD BROS.-DESCRIPTION OF PHOENIX IN 1871 - BUSINESS CONDITIONS IN PHOENIX IN 1872 - TOWN COMMISSION FORMED.

When the first Government Surveys passed over the valley, a few months after the arrival of the Swilling party, as has been before noted, they found a cluster of houses made of rude adobes, and cottonwood poles with mud roofs, comprising what was then known as the Phoenix Settlement. The first houses of a permanent character to be built by white settlers in the valley were erected near the Swilling Ditch at a point about a mile from the river. Among these were the houses of Charles S. Adams, P. L. (Jack) Walters, Lodovic Vandemark, Frenchy Sawyer, and John Hoague, standing but a short distance from the place where the lower road from Wickenburg to Camp McDowell crossed the Swilling Ditch, in the northeast part of section 12, Township 1 North, Range 3 East. With the advent of pioneers and settlers, the agricultural capabilities of the


[page 159]

valley having been fully proven, it was evident that somewhere in this immediate section there was destined to be a large city. The task of selecting the best location for the future metropolis became quite a difficult one, and required patient effort on the part of the settlers before a satisfactory site could be agreed upon. The first written information regarding such efforts is contained in some correspondence from the Phoenix Settlement, under date of August 13th, 1870, appearing in the "Miner" from which is taken the following:

‘‘

"Two towns have been laid off within a week, but of the particulars I am not advised."

’’

This reference to the laying out of two towns could only relate to the preliminary plans, and was really the commencement of the contest between what was known as Mill City, or East Phoenix, and West Phoenix, where the town was finally located.

In a letter from Phoenix under date of October 17th, 1870, we have the following definite information.

‘‘

"Phoenix, A. T., Oct. 17, 1870.

"Editor ‚Citizen':-

"The citizens of this place had a meeting on the 15th instant, for the purpose of deciding the location of a townsite. A regular election was held and the place occupied by Messrs. McKinnie and Carpenter was selected. It is the intention to proceed at once and obtain a title to the land from the Government, and dispose of the lots to actual settlers."

’’

The above relates to a site chosen by a large number of settlers, which later proved unsatisfactory to many of those interested. Further


[page 160]

meetings and conferences were, therefore, held for the purpose of coming to some more harmonious agreement.

The site spoken of above was about a mile east and a little north of the present location of Phoenix on ground occupied by James B. McKinnie and Cromwell A. Carpenter. After much discussion the McKinnie-Carpenter site was given up, and a final selection made of the present Phoenix town site by popular vote. It was charged by the East Phoenix people that the majority in favor of the present location was obtained through fraud, an account of which has been previously given in an interview with Neri Osborn. However, the result of the election was acquiesced in, and the new town was located on the present site of Phoenix.

In a letter from the Phoenix Settlement, under date of December 26th, 1870, which appeared in the "Arizona Citizen" of the 7th of January, 1870, is the following:

‘‘

"As you do not seem to have a correspondent in this section of the Territory, I will write you sometimes when anything occurs worth noticing and making a short letter acceptable.

"We are a growing community, and we like to have the people know it. Our population has nearly doubled in two months, and the immigration does not seem to be on the wane at all. Several families came in during the last month, and the gentler sex is becoming quite well represented.

"Our townsite has been selected after considerable discussion, and with few exceptions the people seem to be satisfied.


[page 161]

"Judge Berry and other strangers who have examined it, are much pleased with it, and commend the judgment of the people in selecting the townsite. The sale of town lots occurred last Friday and Saturday, Dec. 23rd and 24th, and was a great success. Sixty-three lots were sold, at an average of forty dollars, the highest paid for one lot being $140.00. Judge Berry had the honor of bidding off the first lot, after quite a spirited contest. Several buildings will be commenced within a few days. Wm. A. Hancock & Co. have the adobes nearly made for their store and will soon have a house up. Other merchants will erect buildings and move to the townsite in the spring."

’’

During the year 1870 the location of the site for the town was continually under discussion, and the settlers were divided into two camps. Major McKinnie, Carpenter, Jack Swilling and others, were in favor of having it laid off as previously noted, while the Starar Brothers, Columbus H. Gray, John B. Montgomery and others favored the present site. Hellings & Company wanted the town located around the flouring mill. The letter above noted was written about this time. To adjust difficulties, and after two or three informal meetings at McKinnie's saloon, the center for the community gatherings, a meeting was finally called at the house of Mr. John Moore, which brought order out of chaos, and also brought forth the town of Phoenix, now the capital of Arizona.

At this mass meeting of citizens of the valley, which was convened on the 24th of October, 1870,


[page 162]

for the purpose of selecting a suitable spot of unoccupied land for a townsite, a committee was appointed to choose such a site. This committee was composed of Darrell Duppa, John Moore and Martin P. Griffin, all well known residents of the valley, and all of whom favored west Phoenix. After due deliberation the committee recommended the north one-half of section eight, township one north, range three east, as the most suitable location for a town, and that said town be called Phoenix.

After the proceedings of the mass meeting were closed, this gathering resolved itself into an association called "The Salt River Valley Association," of which John T. Alsap, the father of A. Guy Alsap, of the National Bank of Arizona, James Murphy, father of former Deputy Sheriff James T. Murphy of this county, and J. T. Perry, were elected Commissioners. The articles of the Association were signed by the following citizens of the Phoenix Settlement:

Darrel Duppa, James McC. Elliott,
Wm. B. Hellings & Co., J. P. Perry,
Barnett & Block, Wm. Rowe,
Thos. Barnum, Michael Connell,
James Murphy, Daniel Twomey,
John T. Dennis, Charles C. McDermott
Wm. A. Holmes, Edward Irvine,
James M. Buck, John P. Osborn,
Jacob Starar, Andrew Starar,
John T. Alsap, Paul Becker, and
Columbus H. Gray, James D. Monihon.
Martin P. Griffin,

The new town was called Phoenix at the suggestion of Darrell Duppa, and the name is not


[page 163]

only singularly appropriate, but even prophetic, for a new and flourishing civilization has here sprung up on the ashes of the old. This name was given by Duppa to the settlement along the Salt River Valley a year or two before. The name was applied to the townsite and was first officially used by the Board of Supervisors of Yavapai County, when that Board formed an election precinct here, designating it as Phoenix Precinct. This was at a special meeting of the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, composed of John G. Campbell, Chairman, Gideon Cornell, member, and Follett G. Christie, clerk, held on May 4th, 1868, and at this meeting election precincts were established for the purpose of holding the County election on Wednesday, June 3rd, 1868. At that time Phoenix Precinct first appears upon the official county records with John W. Swilling as Inspector, and J. H. Davis and J. Burns as Judges, the voting place being located at Swilling's house.

When the commissioners appointed by the Salt River Valley Association received their instructions, they employed in the month of November, Captain Wm. A. Hancock to survey and plan the townsite upon the half section selected for that purpose, and by the 23rd of December, 1870, a sufficient number of lots had been surveyed to enable the Town Commissioners to hold a sale and so procure funds enough to prosecute the work of surveying. This work was necessarily slow, and frequently lagged for the want of funds, as money was very scarce, but by Autumn of 1871, the last lot had been surveyed and the Hancock map furnished, showing a town site one


[page 164]

mile in length by half a mile in width, divided into ninety-eight blocks. These city founders laid out the original townsite of Phoenix so as to provide for a large and populous city in the future. Washington, the main street running east and west, was one hundred feet wide, as was also Jefferson, the first parallel street to the south, and Center, the principal cross street, while all other streets were made with a width of 80 feet. With few exceptions blocks were laid out three hundred feet long, 12 lots, 50x137½ feet each, to the block, with a 25 foot alley running through most of the squares.

The first lot sold was that on the southwest corner of Washington and Montezuma (now First) streets. It was bought by Judge William J. Berry of Prescott, for $104, while the adjoining lot to the south brought $40. The opposite corner, where Berryhill's store is now located, was sold to Captain Hancock for $70. It was resold to Ellis & Company a few years later for $8,000. The two lots first mentioned, Nos. 1 and 2 in Block 22, which at one time also belonged to George D. Kendall, an early contractor and carpenter, are to-day covered by a portion of what is called the Irvine Block, built in 1879, by Edward Irvine, an early resident of this city, but lately deceased, while upon the Hancock lot, No. 2 in Block 21, on the opposite side of Washington street, was erected in 1889 the Anderson Building, which is now occupied by the Berryhill Stationery Store and the Baswitz Cigar Company.

Judge William J. Berry, who purchased the first lot offered for sale upon the Phoenix townsite,


[page 165]

was a well known resident of Prescott, to which place he had come in an early day. He was a member of the first Board of Supervisors of Yavapai County, which had as its other members, James Grant and George Coulter, the latter having come to Arizona with the Walker party. Judge Berry was the first register of the Land Office at Prescott, and in October, 1873, became editor of the "Yuma Sentinel," when the publication was the property of Colonel James M. Barney.

In the "Miner" of December 10th, 1870, is the following letter in reference to the Phoenix Townsite:

‘‘

"Scarcely a week passes that we are not called upon to chronicle something new regarding the growing settlements on the Salt River, in this county, all of which settlements are known and come under the name of ‚Phoenix.'

"The Valley, one of the largest and most productive on the Pacific Coast, was once the seat of empire of the semi-civilized Indians of Arizona, as the numerous ruins of houses, water ditches, cooking utensils, etc., attest, and it may be that the seat of government of the Territory will soon be located there. Besides its agricultural resources, which are unexcelled here or elsewhere, it has great manufacturing resources, and, as manufactories must soon be established at proper points in this Territory, the founders of these settlements will be certain to pay due attention to the latent power of the immense volume of water which flows from Salt River, past Phoenix.

"In order to show how the Salt River Settlements are progressing, we print the following


[page 166]

extract from a private letter recently received from J. T. Alsap:

"'We are having our town of Phoenix laid out, and I shall probably send you an advertisement before long for the sale of lots.

"'Just now the farmers are pretty busy putting in their crops. The sweet potato crop is being harvested at present, and is turning out well. Some enterprising vines that were trying to get up a second crop of grapes this season, were nipped by the frost about a week ago. The crop, however, was good for a first one.'"

’’

In the "Miner" of December 17th, 1870, appears the following advertisement, which is the one referred to by Mr. Alsap:

‘‘"GREAT SALE OF LOTS
AT
PHOENIX, ARIZONA
ON THE 23rd AND 24th OF DECEMBER, 1870.

"One third of the purchase money will be required at the time of the sale, the balance when the title is made.

"Phoenix, Arizona, December 10th, 1870."

’’

In a letter dated December 29th, 1870, to the "Miner" and published January 7th, 1871, is found the following:

‘‘

"As your regular correspondent is absent on other duties, permit me, for once, to occupy, if I do not fill his place.

"Our once little settlement is becoming a populous region. We number now between 500


[page 167]

and 600 souls, and the immigration does not yet abate. More than fifty people have arrived here within the last two weeks, and we hear of more yet on the road.

"Many of the new comers have located ranches and bought water rights and are commencing to put in crops. Others have bought town lots and are making ready to build. We have three merchants, one brewer and a hotel keeper, all preparing to build upon the new townsite.

"The sale of town lots which occurred last Friday and Saturday was very successful. Lots sold at prices ranging from $20.00 to $142.00. Sixty one lots sold averaged $43.50 each. Judge Berry of your town, had the honor of buying the first lot at $103.00. The Judge and Mr. Holstein have been very busy here the past two weeks, filing the declaratory statements of the settlers. He has now gone to the settlements on the Gila River, to give the people there an opportunity to file upon their land. He will stop here a few days on his return, to permit the people here, who have not already done so, to file their statements. Many of the new settlers will be prepared by that time to file their first papers. I am told by the Commissioners that there will be another sale of town lots in about a month, which will be duly advertised in your paper. I understand that Mr. Case, Civil Engineer, will be employed by Mr. Hancock to finish the survey of the town and make the plats."

’’

In the "Miner" of January 14th, 1871, is found the advertisement of the second sale of lots, signed at Phoenix on January 6th, by J. P. Perry as Secretary of the Salt River Valley


[page 168]

Town Association. This sale took place at 1 o'clock P. M., on Saturday, January 21st, and the terms of the sale were stated as one-third cash, and the balance when the title was secured from the Government.

An advertisement in the "Miner" of January 21st, 1871, gives notice of the third sale; which took place on January 27th and 28th. This advertisement is also signed by J. P. Perry as Secretary of the Association, and the terms of this sale were the same as those of the second sale.

Commenting on the above the "Miner" had the following:

‘‘

"By advertisement in to-day's ‚Miner‚ it will be seen that lots in the town of Phoenix, Salt River Valley, will be offered for sale on January 27th and 28th inst. Former sales have been very successful, and we learn that scores of anxious ones will be on hand to purchase lots at the forthcoming sale."

’’

The number of lots sold at this sale is stated in the following letter:

‘‘

"Phoenix, A. T., Feb. 14th, 1871.

"To the Editor of the ‚Arizona Miner':

"I have not kept the promise I gave you when I wrote more than a month since. The dearth of news has been such that I have not felt that I could make a letter interesting.

"We have had no earthquakes, waterspouts, hurricanes, or other physical phenomena that I could chronicle; neither have we had any weddings, balls, parties, or other amusements or gatherings of the people, to which the ladies come


[page 169]

out with their Sunday finery, and the gentlemen with their ‚store clothes.'

"We are, in fact, a very sober, industrious, hard working people, and we have been, at least the greater part of us, hard at work putting in our crops and taking care of them. We have, not without much constraint, arrived at the conclusion that it requires hard work, and a good deal of it, to earn a livelihood in this Valley by farming.

"As we do not propose to starve, or to walk the world as our first parents originally did in the Garden of Eden, we must, perforce, knuckle down to it.

"Our valley never looked better or more prosperous than it does today. Without some untoward occurrence, that has no harbinger in the present, we shall harvest an immense crop of small grain the coming season. If our market does not fail us (and with the blessing of God and the help of our Good Uncle Sam, we trust it will not) we shall come out, after harvest, in good circumstances.

"Our town is improving, three new buildings being in course of erection, and others will be commenced as soon as the winter is a little more past.

"The last sale of town lots, though not as great a success as the first, was still as successful as was anticipated. Twenty-three lots were sold at good prices, and I understand that others have been, or will be, sold at private sale. Mr. Kirkland, one of Arizona's pioneers, I hear has purchased a lot and will commence building during the coming week. The Association has given


[page 170]

two lots for school purposes, one to the Masonic Association, and two lots to the M. E. Church, South. The Rev. Mr. McKean is preaching the Gospel of Him of Nazareth, to quite large congregations for this benighted country. I saw more ladies together last Sabbath than I have seen in one house before in eighteen months." ("Miner," March 4th, 1871.)

’’

Referring to the sale of Phoenix town lots which was advertised to take place at "9 o'clock A. M. on June 30th, 1871," the "Arizona Citizen" of Tucson, printed the following on June 3rd:

‘‘

"Phoenix town lots, selected with care at this time, must prove good investments. A year or two ago the land there was vacant; now it is a county seat of what will eventually be a populous county. It has the best of gold and silver mines to the east and north of it, and within itself has all the elements of a most prosperous agricultural and manufacturing community. The great overland railroad may hit it, and cannot miss it many miles. In a few years the whole valley will teem with grapes, oranges, lemons, figs, in fact, with all the principal luxuries of food, and the homes of thousands will be surrounded by shrubs, flowers, and most of the necessities and superfluities of life. Read the notice of sale of Phoenix lots, and make a good investment by purchasing one or more."

’’

Three weeks later and shortly before the sale, the same paper had the following:

‘‘

"Good investments may be made in Phoenix lots, a public sale of which comes off as per notice in the ‚Citizen.‚ We have heretofore called attention to this opportunity for safe


[page 171]

speculation, and can only say again that we believe no better investment of a few hundred dollars could be made than in Phoenix lots. It is always safe to buy real estate."

’’

Public sales of town lots were thereafter held by the Commissioners at varying intervals, until succeeded by the Trustees in 1875, but never with as much success as the first sales.

On February 13th, 1872, an official filing was made in the U. S. Land Office at Prescott, for the tract of land upon which the Phoenix Townsite had been located, consisting of 320 acres. This land was taken up under the provisions of the Townsite Act of March 2, 1867, and the Amendatory Act of June 8, 1868, and for some reason, not yet very clear, the official date of settlement was given as February 5th, 1872. On the 10th day of April, 1874, John T. Alsap, the Probate Judge of Maricopa County, acting as Trustee for the Salt River Valley Town Association, was granted a patent by the United States Government for the land occupied by the townsite, the total expenses in obtaining the same amounting to $550, of which Judge Alsap received for his services, $150.00.

In the early part of January, 1871, near the corner of Washington and First Streets, about where the Baswitz Cigar Store is now located, Captain W. A. Hancock began the construction of a small one-storied adobe building, which was the first structure of a permanent character built upon the townsite. It was completed in the month of February. Associated with Captain Hancock in this work was George E. Mowry, then assistant postmaster of the community.


[page 172]

The manufacture of adobes for this building was started in the month of December, 1870, just three years after the coming of the Swilling party. After its completion the County paid Captain Hancock a rent of $10.00 a month for the use of the rear portion of this building, which was used for the assembling of the first County Officers. In this little house William Smith opened the first store in the town, in July, 1871. In November of the same year Holcomb & Hargraves rented floor space and opened the first butcher shop. The building was used for different purposes until the early eighties, when it was demolished to make room for a more modern structure.

Soon after the work on the Hancock Building started, ground was broken on the north side of Washington Street, about midway between First and Second Streets, for the construction of a small adobe building, which, when completed was operated as a brewery by former residents of Wickenburg. The Central Hotel, owned by Joe Thalheimer, now stands upon this ground.

Next came the small adobe buildings erected by Johnny George, located on the south side of Washington Street, just west of Cactus Way, where the Ellington Building is now located. When Bichard & Company's flour mill at Phoenix was destroyed by fire, George sold his buildings to that firm for use as a store and flour depot. From Bichard & Co. the property passed into the possession of George Loring, a watch repairer of the town, who started a small store there which was known as Loring's Bazaar.


[page 173]

These were the first three buildings erected on the Phoenix townsite, and they were all completed in the early part of the year 1871.

The mercantile firm of Murphy & Dennis were also among the early builders on the townsite, their property being situated on the north side of Washington Street between First and Second Streets, just east of the New York Store. Among the larger buildings constructed during this period was Bichard's flour mill, which was completed in July, 1871, and which, as nearly as can be ascertained, was on the south side of Jefferson Street, just west of Central Avenue.

The first county courthouse was erected by Captain Hancock and Jim Monihon, on the east side of South First Avenue, at a cost of a trifle over $900.00. When completed in the latter part of the summer of 1871, it was rented to the county authorities for the monthly rental of $45.00 and served as the seat of county government for several years. The first public school was conducted in this building; the first District Court for Maricopa County held its initial session within its walls, and it became the civic center of old Phoenix, where the early residents often met to discuss public questions. After its relinquishment as a courthouse in 1875, it was used as a Justice of the Peace office for many years. The old adobe walls were pulled down some fifteen years ago, and the building was completely demolished in 1914 to make room for the new two-story concrete building, known as the Walker Building, which now stands upon this historic piece of ground. Other buildings followed in the wake of these pioneer


[page 174]

structures, and it was not long before the village of Phoenix could boast of quite a little group of houses, mostly along Washington Street, in the vicinity of the City Hall Plaza.

The Prescott "Miner" of January 13th, 1872, contained the following letter:

‘‘

"Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona,

"January 3rd, 1872.

"To the Editor of the ‚Arizona Miner':

"The holidays are past and have left nothing but the remembrance of the good things that we enjoyed during their stay, and, with some of us, perhaps, a little heaviness in the ‚upper story‚ or a slight invigoration of our hereditary enemies, gout and dyspepsia. Phoenix indulged in a ball, and, for a yearling, it did pretty well.

"One year ago, to-day, Mr. Hancock was making the adobes for the first house in town, now we have a flourishing village with three stores, one brewery, three saloons, two boarding houses, two blacksmith shops, corrals, and a great number of private dwelling houses.

"We have a county jail (which in this county is a good thing to have), and a very respectable building for a court house. We have a flourishing school, with an attendance of about twenty scholars."

’’

William Smith, as before stated, was the first merchant in Phoenix. On the 9th day of July, 1871, he rented the front part of Hancock's adobe building for $25.00 a month. He came from California, and brought in his wagons


[page 175]

a small stock of goods. Mr. Joseph Wasson, then connected with the "Tucson Citizen," a weekly paper owned by Surveyor General Wasson, met Mr. Smith at Wickenburg while on his way to the valley, and thus noted the incident:

‘‘"At Wickenburg I met a Mr. William Smith and family, with teams, en route from Los Angeles to settle on Salt River. He had a stock of goods with him. Stocks of goods are nowadays quite a feature everywhere in Arizona."’’ ("Tucson Citizen," July 7th, 1871.)

Mr. Smith continued in business until the latter part of the following year, when he sold out his stock, the major portion of which was purchased by the firm of Barnett & Block.

The next store established after that of Mr. Smith was by James Murphy and John T. Dennis, who had formed a business partnership in the early part of 1871 and erected a building and opened a store on East Washington Street.

The next business house established on the Phoenix Townsite was that of William Bichard & Company, whose business activities along the Gila have been heretofore noted. Soon after the destruction of their mill at Phoenix the firm opened a store and flour depot in the town, in the small adobe building which they had purchased from Johnny George. About this time they also opened a flour depot at Prescott under the management of Thomas Cordis, and, later, under the management of C. S. Adams, who, while on his way to Wickenburg, became one of the victims of the Wickenburg Massacre.

The Bichards conducted their Phoenix enterprises until the early part of June, 1872,


[page 176]

when they sold the contents of the store to the firm of A. Collas & Co., who continued the business until October of that same year, when they sold the stock back again to the Bichard Company. The Bichard Brothers, William and Nicholas, came West from Boston, Massachusetts, and settled at an early day on the Gila. They were popular throughout Arizona, and did much for this portion of the Territory by furnishing its citizens with good and cheap flour. When hard times visited the Salt River Valley in the middle seventies, and trade became dull, Bichard & Co. closed out their business here, and the Washington Street building, which they had occupied, remained vacant for many years, the rendezvous of freighters and transient travellers of every description. Gradually the adobe walls became weather beaten and dilapidated, and finally the roof caved in. William Bichard, the head of the firm, passed away, and his brother as administrator of his estate, endeavored to sell his Phoenix interests without success, money being scarce and town property a drug on the market. After settling his brother's estate as best he could, the younger member of the firm removed to San Francisco, California, where other members of the family then resided. Finally George Loring, without notifying the owners, took over the old building, repaired it, and opened his small store. Soon after his occupancy of the premises began, realty values in the town commenced to move upwards, and Loring communicated with the Bichards at San Francisco, making them a small offer for their entire holdings in Phoenix,


[page 177]

which included the Washington Street lot; what was later called the Commercial Corral Block, and a couple of lots on Jefferson Street, just west of Center. The Bichards, anxious to get rid of the property, and not knowing that it was of any special value, accepted the offer, and Loring came into possession of the valuable holdings for a mere song. Later, meeting with business reverses, he borrowed money from his mother, giving these properties as security and they eventually passed out of his hands. In the late seventies, Loring's store became a sort of commercial center for the town, and contained the postoffice, Wells Fargo & Company's Express, and, at its front entrance were deposited all stage passengers coming into the town of Phoenix.

By the end of the year 1871, the little village of Phoenix was well established. During the year 1872, however, really encouraging business activity became evident in the community. Many buildings were erected, and many new enterprises started giving to the townsite, for the first time, the aspect of permanency. During the spring of 1872 many shade trees, mostly quick growing cottonwoods, were set out along the streets, and although some of these died, enough still remained to give the town a green and cheerful appearance. Water ditches, or small acequias, ran along each side of the principal streets to supply the necessary moisture, and as the years passed these trees, umbrageous by nature, grew to an immense size, giving a dense and welcome shade to pedestrians passing


[page 178]

along the city streets. Their large and spreading roots, however, caused much damage to the sidewalks which were later constructed, as well as to the ditches alongside, and one by one they gave way before the march of progress until now but few of the old giants remain. It is said that James D. Monihon planted the first cottonwood trees upon the townsite on the 17th day of January, 1871. Verifying the extensive tree planting about this time, the following item appeared in the "Miner" of March 2nd, 1872:

‘‘

"Phoenix is improving rapidly. Adobes are being made in all directions, and every person who owns a lot is planting trees around it, so that, if nothing happens, this will be a cottonwood city in a couple of years."

’’

Speaking of Phoenix, the county seat of Maricopa County, a prophetic correspondent of the San Diego Union thus wrote his paper:

‘‘

"Phoenix, A. T., March 5th, 1872.

"This is a smart town which had its first house completed about a year ago. Now it contains many houses; also stores, workshops, hotels, butcher shop, bakery, courthouse, jail, and an excellent school, which has been in operation four months.

"Lately hundreds of ornamental trees have been set out, which, in a few years, will give the town the appearance of a ‚forest city‚ and will add to its beauty and comfort. When it has become the capital of the Territory, which it will, undoubtedly, at no very distant day, and when the ‚iron horse‚ steams through our country on the Texas Pacific road, Salt River will


[page 179]

be the garden of the Pacific slope, and Phoenix the most important inland town. The Indian is now a nuisance, and the Sonoranian a decided annoyance, but both of these are sure to disappear before civilization, ‚as snow before the noonday sun.'"

’’

The following brief review of business conditions in Phoenix and vicinity in the month of April, 1872, is found in the "Tucson Citizen":

‘‘

"But now let us take the improvements made within a year and less. A little over a year ago the town of Phoenix was projected. Now it contains four stores owned by Menassee & Co., Dennis & Murphy, Bichard & Co., and William M. Smith. Two saloons by John Roach and Cromwell A. Carpenter; a good hotel by John J. Gardiner, a brewery by Matt Cavaness, a bakery by Julius Bauerlein, two blacksmith and wagon shops, one by Ware & Ford, and the other by Frank Cosgrove, two carpenter shops, one by L. C. Kendall and another by Richard E. Pearson. The professions are represented by Edward Irvine and Captain Wm. A. Hancock, lawyers, the Rev. Franklin McKean, of the Methodist persuasion, attends to the spiritual wants of the people. No physician has yet settled in the valley. The purity of the atmosphere seems to prevent all malarial diseases, yet so large and growing a population requires medical services and, doubtless, a good practitioner would, at once, find encouragement here. Two free public schools are in operation, and the spirit, so far manifested, seems to assure their regular maintenance.


[page 180]

"Improvements are now going on about as follows: W. D. Fruiter is erecting a business house; Barnett & Block a store and warehouse; Columbus H. Gray a two story building intended for a store below and a Masonic Hall above; George Bertran a dancing and concert hall; James D. Monihon and Jacob Starar a livery stable; S. M. French, M. H. Hamilton, Jesus Otero and Tom C. Hays, are each putting up dwellings, and several others are constructing buildings."

’’

The building of Jesus Otero, an adobe structure, stood on the northeast corner of Washington Street and First Avenue, where the Fleming Block stands today.

On Friday, October 25th, 1872, the following was written from Phoenix: ‘‘"Times are not quite as lively as they were some time ago, yet Salt River Valley is improving-the town of Phoenix is growing-and the people pursuing business and pleasure. In all parts of the valley new ditches are being made, old ones being repaired, and sowing has commenced. In the town, building is being pushed forward rapidly, and improvement is the order of the day."’’

The management of the Village of Phoenix under three commissioners selected from the members of the Salt River Valley Association, continued for several years. Most of the time of the first officials was taken up in having the townsite surveyed and conducting the first public sales of lots. During part of the year 1871, and in 1872 and 1873, the commissioners were


[page 181]

Martin P. Griffin, Chairman, John T. Alsap, and Captain William A. Hancock, who acted as Secretary. After the receipt of the Phoenix townsite patent, it became the duty of Probate Judge Alsap to devise ways and means for determining the ownership of the various lots which had been sold from time to time by the Town Commission since its organization in the latter part of 1870. To accomplish this result Judge Alsap, on May 30th, 1874, appointed a commission consisting of John P. Osborn, John B. Montgomery and Martin P. Griffin, which was to determine the ownership of, and place a valuation on, the different town lots. His order appointing the commission was as follows:

‘‘

"I, J. T. Alsap, Probate Judge of Maricopa County, do hereby appoint M. P. Griffin, John B. Montgomery and John P. Osborn, commissioners for the Townsite of the Town of Phoenix, under and by virtue of Chapter 89, Compiled Laws of the Territory of Arizona."

’’

On June 4th, 1874, the appointed members met at the office of William A. Hancock for the purpose of organizing. M. P. Griffin called the meeting to order, when credentials were presented and officers chosen, John P. Osborn being elected Chairman, and Captain Hancock, an attorney and resident of the town, Secretary.

The first meeting of the Commission after its organization was held on June 22nd, when it was decided that sessions should be held every successive Monday, commencing with Monday, June 29th, throughout a period of six weeks; that these sessions should commence at 10 A. M. and end at 3 P. M., and were to be "for the purpose


[page 182]

of securing evidence of the ownership of town lots or parts of lots," and "that the clerk post notices to that effect in three conspicuous places in the town, inviting all parties interested to appear and show their title, if any they have." Instead of consuming six weeks, the meetings of the commission stretched over a period of nearly a year.

On July 11th, 1874, the Commissioners caused the following notice to be published in the newspapers, of the Territory:

‘‘

"All persons interested are hereby notified that the Commissioners of the Townsite of Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona, will be in session on Monday of each week until August 3rd, 1874, for the purpose of trying titles of claimants to town lots on said town site. Parties living at a distance can send their certificates or other evidences of title to the Clerk of the Board."

’’

Whenever a lot had been sold by the town Association after the laying out of the townsite, a "certificate of sale" had been given, with the understanding that this would be later superseded by a regular deed. Upon the regular session days of the commission, holders of these certificates, or their representatives, would present themselves before that body and claim ownership to the lots therein described. In many instances, however, the property described by the certificate of sale from the Town Association had been transferred to others, and, in those cases, ownership was determined to be in the holder of the last "transfer document." John T. Alsap was the first to present a "certificate


[page 183]

of sale" to the commission, which had been issued by the Town Association to J. M. Williams for lots 3 and 4, in Block 34, and later assigned to Col. King S. Woolsey, who was adjudged the legal owner. A few instances of conflicting claims of ownership to some of the town property came to light during the sessions of the Commission, which contests were adjudged by the Commission and acquiesced in by all parties. When records of the titles to all the lots within the townsite were adjusted, the commissioners proceeded to fix the values of the improvements on the lots.

Block 21, bounded by Washington, Center, Adams and First Streets, was the first to be considered, on October 29th, 1874, and the improvements on Lot 2, being the northwest corner of Washington and First Streets, upon which "Hancock's Store" was situated, and now known as Berryhill's Corner, were valued at $800.00. The improvements on a portion of Lot 4, just to the west of Hancock's Store, and belonging at that time to H. Morgan and Co., where the Goldberg Bros.' building now stands, were valued at the same amount as Hancock's improvements. Then came Johnny George, who had valuable improvements on a portion of Lot 4 and on Lot 6, fronting on Washington Street, about where the Capitol pool hall is now conducted, which were appraised at $2,500. Next to Johnny George was established Heyman Menassee, on Lot 8, where the Anheuser rooming house and pool hall is now located, whose improvements were considered to be worth $200.00. Next to Menassee, on Lot 10, about


[page 184]

where the Casino pool hall is now situated, which belonged to C. F. Cate, there were no improvements of value in 1874; neither were there any improvements on Lot 12, now generally known as the Busy Drug Store corner, which belonged at first to James Murphy, and later to Miguel L. Peralta. James Grant, the stage proprietor, was the owner of lots 9 and 11, being the southeast corner of Center and Adams Streets, known to-day as the Heard Corner, but belonging to the Goodrich estate, and his improvements were valued at $2,000. Lot 7, which belonged to J. H. Pierson, had no improvements, while Lots 1, 3 and 5, being the southwest corner of Adams and First Streets, where the Vantilburg Block now stands, and which belonged at that time to Johnny George, had improvements thereon which were estimated at $800. On April 24th, 1875, the first assessment against town property was ordered by this set of commissioners, fifty per cent of the original price being levied against all town lots owned by private individuals. On March 15th, 1875, the Commissioners ordered the following notice to be published in the "Prescott Miner" and the "Tucson Citizen":

‘‘

"Notice is hereby given to all persons concerned or interested in the Townsite of Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona, that on the 22nd day of April, A. D. 1875, the Commissioners of said Townsite will proceed to set off to the persons entitled to the same, according to their respective interests, the lots, squares, or grounds to which each of the actual or constructive occupants thereof shall be entitled."

’’


[page 185]

Not long after the publication of this notice, the commission held its last meeting, on May 18th, 1875, when the following was entered in their minutes:

‘‘

"And it is further ordered that, the business for which we were appointed being completed, we, this day, turn over, in accordance with law, the foregoing record, the accompanying list of lots with the names of the owners or occupants thereof, with the amount assessed upon each lot, and the plat of the Townsite with the value of the improvements upon the respective lots, and the names of the owners thereof, to the Probate Judge of Maricopa County, and this Board of Commissioners adjourn without day."

’’

After the completion of their labors, the Commissioners transmitted their report to Probate Judge Alsap, who, in accordance with the information and data therein contained, proceeded to issue deeds to the various owners of town property.

The first deed given by him under town patent was to Jacob Starar, on May 18, 1875, and was for Lot 12, in Block 10, there being, on the same day, twelve other lots and parcels of town property deeded to various owners, among whom were Edward Irvine, James A. Young, C. F. Cate, Julius A. Goldwater, John Smith, Chas. W. Stearns and Morris Goldwater. In 1884, Starar's lot, on the northeast corner of Adams and Second Streets, was occupied by W. F. McNulty's private residence, while to-day, it is covered by the substantial brick building of the Arizona Republican Publishing Company.

Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER VII. PROGRESS OF SALT RIVER VALLEY. Next: CHAPTER IX. EARLY HISTORY OF PHOENIX.




© Arizona Board of Regents