Excerpts from Hidden Treasures of Santa Cruz County:

Judge Richard Harrison

Judge Richard Harrison keeps abreast of the news on the porch of his courtroom/home in Lochiel. Circa 1905.
Photo courtesy Howard Hathaway

Lochiel, Arizona

The slumbering community of Lochiel, nestled in the soft curve of rolling hills that dot the border between Arizona and Sonora, gives little hint that in the 1880s it was the bailiwick of a flamboyant frontier judge named Richard Harrison as well as the headquarters of the San Rafael Ranch, a huge cattle empire built by Colin Cameron.

At one memorable hearing, the defendant in an assault case was Jim Parker, whose daughter was married to Judge Harrison’s grandson, Jim Hathaway. Parker had reportedly confronted a man at a roundup and accused him of stealing some cattle. When the argument became heated, Parker bent a branding iron over the alleged thief’s head. The Judge didn’t have much liking for the plaintiff, but since Parker had admitted the assault, he felt he had to impose some kind of punishment on the guilty party. He ruled in favor of the plaintiff and ordered the defendant to bring to court one jug of mescal. The defendant and the judge then retired to the front porch where they shared the penalty and reminisced about their days in California.

Despite Lochiel’s remote location, Judge Harrison was a well-known and well-respected member of the bar. Just inside the door of Old Main on the University of Arizona campus is a marble plaque listing Richard Harrison, Lochiel, Arizona, as a member of the first Board of Regents.

Marcus and Nellie Bartlett
Elgin, Arizona

Marcus Bartlett survived his Civil War wounds, but remained in frail health for the rest of his life. By 1912 Bartlett’s health had deteriorated badly and he decided that the only hope for a cure was to move west. He loaded up a boxcar with all the family’s furniture and belongings, including their milk cow and piano, and rode with it from Ohio to Arizona. Nellie and her daughters traveled the same route by passenger train.

The Bartletts immediately set about “proving up” a 160-acre homestead in Elgin on the same parcel where their granddaughters, Jane Woods and Marka Moss, and Marka’s husband Austin, still live today. Nellie Bartlett was a very proper woman and felt it was important to maintain her high standards no matter what the situation. Dinner was a formal affair, even while the family was living in a tent. Meals were a sit-down affair; the table set with linen, crystal, china dishes and silverware.

Within four months, Marcus had passed away and to survive, Nellie was required to plant 40 acres of the 160-acre homestead or risk losing it. This worked well for the first few years, when the rains were plentiful. The women were able to dry farm by planting beans and other crops that didn’t require much water. After the drought, dry farming was no longer an option and Nellie supplemented their income by taking in foster children.

As a veteran’s widow, Nellie received a small pension and was eligible to homestead an additional 160 acres. She added to her holdings by buying a relinquishment - a parcel that the homesteader was not able to keep either because he couldn’t “prove up,” or got discouraged and left. The relinquishment was on a beautiful site directly north of her existing acreage. Eventually she amassed 1,000 acres, and rented out the pasturage to other ranchers for cattle grazing.

Mark and Nellie Bartlett didn’t let circumstances dictate their style. Even while living in a tent Nellie set a formal table, complete with linen, fine dishes, silverware and crystal. Circa 1912.
Photo courtesy Marka Moss and Jane Woods

Della Honnas

Della Honnas on the front porch of her tarpaper shack near the crossroads at Sonoita. Part of the homestead has been developed into an upscale subdivision. Circa late 1930s.
Photo courtesy Donald Honnas

Sonoita, Arizona

The Honnas family drove their small herd of cattle from St. David to Sonoita in 1916. They passed through Rain Valley on the way, where they had to pay a rancher to water their animals. It was a drought year and water was so scarce that the rancher couldn’t afford to let them use up all his water for free. Nine-year old Cecil attended the old one room Sonoita School where Mrs. LeGendre, whose husband ran the mercantile store, was his teacher.

Della and her husband scratched out a living on the homestead, located on the northwest corner of the present day crossroads at Sonoita. They raised dairy cows and chickens, planted vegetables and lived in a tarpaper shack. The crumbling remains of the old milk house are still standing just north of the Sonoita Bible Church. Although the area is fenced to keep animals out, vandals have left their mark by spraying graffiti on some of the walls, but the outlines of Della’s gardens and the old well are still a visible reminder of bygone days.

According to her grandson, Della always planted her garden by the signs of the moon. She branded, de-horned and castrated in the same manner, with the help of her son Cecil and his two boys. Butchering was done in cold weather and the meat was hung outside at night. It was then wrapped in sheets or blankets and stored under the bed during the heat of the day.

Della didn’t have very many cows and she worked hard to care for them, feeling it was better to do something rather than sit and watch them suffer. “When one sick cow would not eat or drink and wasn’t chewing, her diagnosis was that the cow had lost her cud. She would look around the corral for the lost cud but I don’t remember her ever claiming to have found it,” Donald laughs. “She would force a dirty dishrag down the cow’s throat to take the place of the cud - the bacteria on the rag helped her to digest. Sometimes the cow would die and sometimes she would live in spite of the treatment.”