Excerpts from "More Hidden Treasures of Santa Cruz County":
The only thing they feared was Hell-fire or ending up in the “Poorhouse.” To Cora Everhart's parents, those were the real fears. The everyday hardships of life were simply challenges to be overcome or endured. “The Poorhouse was a very real thing, just over the hill. My mother often mentioned it to me when I was wasteful of food. I never saw the Poorhouse. I made sure I never would, by working, saving and getting the education available,” Cora explained in her memoirs.
The woman who was destined to become an icon in the small community of Elgin in southeast Arizona, and a respected teacher and Superintendent of Schools for Santa Cruz County, was often in danger of failing to get a proper education. Due to their migratory lifestyle, Cora was 16 before she finished 8 th grade and had to take extra classes to graduate from high school so she could qualify for a teaching certificate.
At the age of five she walked half a mile to school in Kansas , where about 40 students, ranging in age from five to 21, were crammed into one small classroom. The first graders were crowded together, three to each double seat meant for two, and invented ways to look busy. “We stood our books on end, spreading the leaves and pretending it was a horse. “Water was carried in a bucket from a neighbor's well about one-half mile away. I remember watching a small boy who sat behind me using a straw to chase a louse up and down his pencil groove. The weekly tub bath included a kerosene, or coal oil, shampoo and a fine tooth combing.”
Once Cora graduated, she lost no time in looking for work. She accepted a teaching position at a one-room school in Caddoa, a small Colorado town. Her landlady, “Grandma” Barker took Cora aside one day and gave her this piece of advice: “Never welcome the attentions of a young man of poor financial prospects.” Cora said, “I met the man of good moral character and more than good financial prospects. He asked me to marry him. It was too late. I had already met the young man of poor financial prospects. We celebrated our Golden Wedding Anniversary October 26, 1956.”
Charles Everhart turned serious at the prospect of marriage and took a job as a fireman with the Union Pacific Railroad. The couple moved to Rawlins , Wyoming where Charles was on call duty, putting in long hours shoveling coal. After three years Charles was promoted to locomotive engineer, paid in script that was only accepted at one store, and endured violent strikes as labor unions became more aggressive. They soon ran out of money and Charles headed west, walking, riding or hitchhiking and picking up work along the way. When he reached Tucson , he was hired on as a switch engineer in the Southern Pacific Railroad yard. Charles blew the train whistle February 14, 1912, when Arizona Territory became the 48 th state. Cora said, “I heard Tucson city bells ring; my husband tooted a switch engine whistle and all the city celebrated Arizona 's first birthday.
Charles had filed for a 160-acre homestead nine miles southwest of Elgin . At first they lived in two tents, which they later converted into tent houses. They installed floors, windows, doors and a roof. “The Home Comfort range was my pride and joy. Not many stoves had a warming oven and a hot water reservoir. What food we had! Great flaky delicately browned loaves of bread, pots of beans cooked with home cured salt pork seasoned with chili. And the gingerbread made from Will Collie's homemade sorghum,” Cora said.
“My grandparents made a cute couple,” Sharon Perrill said. Charles was 6' tall and Cora was a tiny 5' powerhouse. She wasn't afraid of anything. One day she went outside with her egg basket, dressed in her nightgown and slippers. A large calf playfully knocked her down. The next day she was ready for him. When he bounded up she “cold cocked” him with a two by four she had left by the door. He didn't bother her again.” Cora had a real affinity for nature and told Sharon , “When I die, I want to come back as a chicken, so I can scratch in the earth all day.”
In 1942, Cora was appointed to fill Mrs. Lulu B. Larimore's un-expired term as Superintendent of Schools. She worked hard to learn the job in the six months left of Larimore's term and then ran for the office. The only time she was opposed was in her first run for office. After her election, Cora attended classes at the University of Arizona and earned her college degree. According to her granddaughter, Sharon Perrill, “She was more proud of that degree than any of her other many accomplishments.” Cora Everhart served 22 years, six months, and 16 days as Santa Cruz County School Superintendent, retiring January 1, 1965.
Front porch of the Everhart's home in Rock Springs , Wyoming . (From left) A neighbor woman, Cora's sister Dora and her three children, Cora Everhart. Ca. 1907.
Photo courtesy Sharon Everhart Perrill
Cora and Charles Everhart on a “well-used” wagon at their homestead in Elgin.
Photo courtesy Sharon Everhart Perrill
ALBERTO M. JOFFROY
Alberto M. Joffroy, a successful Nogales merchant of the last century, cut a jaunty figure as he strolled the downtown streets sporting his signature straw skimmer. His daughters remember that the self-proclaimed “playboy” was seldom seen outside bareheaded, and his large collection of hats included different ones for every season. Another trademark, one with less happy memories, was a crippled right hand, courtesy of a Yaqui Indian raiding party.
It was a cold day in December 1917 when the 26-year-old Alberto got a message from the Governor of Sinaloa that he needed to see him. Although his future father-in-law cautioned him that the trip was too dangerous, Alberto, who at that time was supplying provisions to the Southern Pacific Railroad, decided to risk it. He also offered to serve as an escort to a young woman who was on her way to Culiacan to be married.
The two young people boarded the train in Nogales. After an hour’s ride, the 18-year-old girl felt dizzy. Alberto took her out on the caboose to get a breath of fresh air. Suddenly a group of 500 Yaquis surrounded the train and started shooting. Over 60 people were killed and many others were wounded.
The young bride-to-be was shot in the leg, then pulled from the train and fatally stabbed in the chest. Alberto was shot three times. A bullet ripped through his knee and another tore his hand where he was gripping the railing, leaving three fingers dangling by a thread. The Indians dragged him off the train, smashing his face against the railing and scraping him facedown across the cinders. They stripped him of his clothes, shot him once more and left him for dead on the embankment.
A supervisor for Southern Pacific of Mexico came out to the scene and recognized the barely-breathing Alberto. He ordered the brakeman to transport the badly injured young man to the hospital in his private car. Alberto was hospitalized for months because the wound in his arm stubbornly refused to heal. The wounds continued to plague him for the rest of his life, but he overcame the pain and took great pride in demonstrating that he could lift a heavy suitcase with his right hand that only had a thumb and index finger.
Alberto and Elinora Joffroy’s wedding party gathered on the steps of her parents’ home
on West Street near Crawford, in Nogales, Arizona, Sept. 12, 1921.
Photo courtesy Suzanna Joffroy Chernin