1870 - 1876

by  Jack A. Becker

          Round Valley was founded as a farming community in 1870, and was initially called Milligan Settlement.  It began when three men residing near Socorro, New Mexico, formed a farming venture to supply Fort Apache and other Army Posts with barley, wheat, corn and other grains.  These three contractors William R. Milligan, Oren W. McCullough and Anthony Long moved to an area know as Colorado Chiquito, Arizona, with their wives, Margarita Bordeaux Milligan, Patricia Baca McCullough and Nicanora Castillo Long.

           Some members of the following Hispanic families followed or accompanied them to Valle Redondo they were:  Carrillo, Cordova, Chavez, Bustamante, Mascareno, Baca, Atencio, Bordeaux, Sanchez, Bernal, Samorra, Apodaca, Candelaria, Aragon, Coronado, Galindro, Griego, Gallegos, Jimenez, Torres, Savedra, Molino, Tafoya and Vijil.  This group became the first settlers on the Little Colorado River.

          "Upon arriving here, they took their choice of land and built huts in which their farmers could live. They would leave each family a team of oxen and what farm equipment they had, which consisted mostly of a plow, scythes and a wagon with oxen." REMINISCENCES OF GUSTAV BECKER as told to Alvin G. Becker, his son, September, 1938.

          Milligan, who had grain and wood contracts at Forts Craig, Selden, and McRae on the lower Rio Grande, left Socorro, New Mexico, in the fall of 1870.  His wagons were loaded with corn destined for a new military post which had been established on May 16, 1870, in the heart of the White Mountain Apache country, called Camp Ord (Fort Apache).  

          THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN, March 29, 1871, reported that the wagon road which they had constructed was now open to the traveling public and was 233 miles long.  It began at Limitar, then went westward across the plains of San Augustin to Horse Springs, southwest across the Continental Divide and down into the Tularosa Valley between present day Reserve and Aragon where another military post was to be built.  From there, the road went 65 miles northeast to the Little Colorado River where "Milligan and Long have taken up a tract of land, farmed a settlement, built a number of houses in which families are now living and expect to farm largely during the coming season.  The Little Colorado is a clear stream of water, well supplied with mountain trout, and affords an abundance of water for about 1,000 farmers."

           THE PRESCOTT ARIZONA MINER, May 18, 1872, stated that "W.R. Milligan has just arrived from the eastern portion of the territory, where, he informs us, there are now between 20 and 30 persons engaged in farming.  The new settlement is upon one of the branches of the Little Colorado River, about 70 miles north of Camp Apache and at least 240 miles east of Prescott.  Mr. Milligan says the settlers had constructed three irrigation ditches.  The area is well stocked with bear, elk, deer, antelope, and turkey.  The grazing cannot be surpassed.  Texas beef contractors took notice of the grazing in 1873 and 1874, and began moving herds into the area.

          "Leaving St. Johns on a cold frosty morning, I struck out for Milligan settlement, or as the people in the vicinity call it, "Round Valley. . . After a ride of 35 miles I ran up against the house of one of one of the jolliest fellows in Round Valley or any other valley, in the person of O. W. McCullough.   Milligan is perhaps the oldest settlement in the Little Colorado Valley, and everything around indicates permanency.  The farmers all have good water ditches and have built comfortable log houses.  Wm. R. Milligan appears to be the "daddy" of the settlement.  He is now putting up a good grist mill, water power, with an eighteen feet wheel."  EDITOR CITIZEN, January 10, 1876.

           According to THE TUCSON ARIZONA CITIZEN, January 29, 1876, almost 3,000,000 lbs, of barley, wheat, corn, and oats was produced in all the settlements along the Little Colorado in 1875.  Round Valley alone raised 500,000 lbs. of barley."

          "Our energetic merchant, Henry Springer, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .and from thence crossed over to Round Valley where Messrs. McCullough, Milligan and others reside. After partaking of the bounteous hospitalities of the people of that section and having made up his mind to start a branch house at this point, he made arrangements for the erection of a capacious building, received a donation of a splendid lot from Mr. McCullough and without further ado left Round Valley, of which and of whose people he has formed the most favorable opinion." THE REPUBLICAN REVIEW, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Saturday, April 1, 1876.

           In April 1876, Henry Springer, a merchant from Albuquerque opened a large store and contracted for all the grain Round Valley could produce that year.  "Every man, woman, and child is busy taking out new ditches and enlarging old ones, preparatory to planting a very large crop, perhaps double the amount of last year," the ARIZONA CITIZEN reported.

           From the June 16, 1876, WEEKLY ARIZONA MINER , Letter from Little Colorado, Springerville, Yavapai Co., A.T. May 10th 1876. "We have a new town, as you will see by the heading of this letter. . . Mr. Henry Springer, one of the heaviest wholesale and retail merchants in New Mexico has put up a store room 30 x 60 feet, and has already upon his shelves $10,000 worth of goods. He has sent to Albuquerque, his principal place of business, for another supply of goods, which will he expects, be here by the last of the present month. . . . .If . . . in need of corn, please send them to Mr. Henry Springer, of Springerville, Yavapai Co., A.T., and they will be accommodated, as Mr. Springer has contracted for all the grain (to be) raised in Round Valley this year."

          "Mr. J. W. O' Neil is putting up a large building to be used as a billard hall, bar-room and dance-hall." From the June 16, 1876, WEEKLY ARIZONA MINER , Letter from Little Colorado, Springerville, Yavapai Co., A.T. May 10th 1876.

          The new town was officially named Springerville on or about May 10, 1876, in honor of this entrepreneuring merchant, Henry Springer.  Even though Springer encountered severe financial reverses when his exorbitant speculations failed, the name of the town remained "Springerville."

          The WEEKLY ARIZONA MINER on April 13, 1877, quoted from the ALBUQUERQUE REVIEW:  "Henry Springer's friends were overjoyed on Sunday night last when the town battery announced his arrival from Arizona.  He is in trouble at present with some of his creditors, but it is thought, and it is the wish of the majority of our people that matters will be finally arranged so as to allow him full scope to recover from the effects of an unexpected and rather ill advised step on the part of one of his creditors."

           "We believe Mr. Springer's present embarressment is caused by having several thousand dollars tied up in barley, at Springerville in this county, which he has been unable to dispose of.  We hope he will come out all right." EDITOR MINER.

           Julius Becker, another merchant, had opened a small store in March, actually one month earlier than Springer.  His store continued to serve the community for many years.  From the EDITOR CITIZEN, St. Johns, February 27, 1876.  "Business is looking up in this vicinity.  Mr. Alex Jordan some time past engaged in mercantile business in Round Valley, has sold out to Mr. Julius Becker."

           "There are two stores here, - - one belonging to Mr. Henry Springer, and the other to Mr. Julius Becker.  Both stores appear to be doing a pretty fair business."  August 4, 1876, WEEKLY ARIZONA MINER, Letter from Little Colorado, Springerville, July 2, 1876.

           Scarlet Fever took a toll on the children.  Milligan's two daughters and a niece died in February.  
"The scarlatina has been and is prevailing to a certain extent in Round Valley and Mineral Springs, and I am sorry to say three cases have proven fatal -- W.R. Milligan's two little daughters, Caroline and Mary, and also the little daughter of Victor Bordeaux. . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mr. Milligan believes in giving his children an education, and to that end has a school house of his own and employs a teacher, Mr. Otto Ahrens, all at his own expense.  His school closed the day I arrive, owing to the fact that all the children were down with the scarlatina."  
THE ARIZONA CITIZEN, February 26, 1876.   An earlier newspaper article stated: "At the time of my visit, two of the children, Ida and Frankie [Moore], were sick with the scarlatina." EDITOR CITIZEN, St. Johns, January 10, 1876.

           "Mr. Morris Barth, who has just returned from Camp Apache, reports that the body of a white man was found about 11 miles north of Apache, near the wagon road.  From appearances, the man was shot through the head and dragged some distance and left among the rocks.  There is no use denying the fact although these Indians at Apache have been friendly and on the "peace tact" for sometime, yet for a perfect stranger to go through this country alone, he runs great chances of being killed. . ."  June 16, 1876, WEEKLY ARIZONA MINER , Letter from Little Colorado, Springerville, Yavapai Co., A.T.

           "The Hon. Mike Murphy and party . . .proposes to do his prospecting in Arizona, where the Indians are under better management and subjection." EDITOR CITIZEN, St. Johns, August 15, 1876.

           Bandits robbed people on the roads or where they camped. "John Brickwood has returned from the Little Colorado Country and given us an account of his robbery on the Mogollon Mountains on his way out. He was riding alone and having travelled quite a distance without water was thirsty, and seeing a wagon and several people, including a white woman at the camp some distance from the road, he concluded to ride out where they were and ask for a drink of water. He accordingly rode out and seeing an elderly gentleman, was in the act of asking him for water, when a Mexican, of whom there were four standing about the camp, drew a shot gun on him, a second took his horse by the bridle, a third seized his cantinas and the fourth demanded his money. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .he ascertained that they had just finished robbing the people at the camp as he rode up, and had taken some money from the old gentleman and all the lady's jewelry and other valuable trinklets. Brickwood found that they had come from the direction of Prescott and were going towards New Mexico and that they had robbed every one they met in the mountains for a distance of two hundred miles. . ."  WEEKLY ARIZONA MINER, November 24, 1876.

           The ALBUQUERQUE REVIEW, June 17, 1876, published a petition sent to the Post Master General in an effort by the Springervillians to acquire mail service.   An excerpt from this follows: "I hereby certify that there are 800 people, not including those in the military service, along the above route; (including the distance between Camp Apache, Springerville and Badito.) (Signed) JOHN H. BEHAN, Census Marshal. Click here to read his May 1, 1876 census.

          EDITOR CITIZEN Springerville, May 20, 1876. ". . . the Mormons have arrived and between 200 and 300 of them have settled below Horsehead on the Little Colorado"   

          "There are perhaps between 200 and 800 Mormons settled upon the Rio Colorado Chiquito.   They will plow about 1,000 acres this year, and have already set out nearly 20 acres of fruit trees.  The "head men of the tribe" say they will put up a steam saw-mill and grist-mill this fall. I should judge from the way the Mormons have started in, they intend to "stick," and to make permanent homes in Arizona." June 16, 1876, WEEKLY ARIZONA MINER , Letter from Little Colorado, Springerville, Yavapai Co., A.T.

           As to the issue of law and order, the WEEKLY ARIZONA MINER printed a Letter from Little Colorado on June 16, 1876.   ". . . However, things are conducted in rather a loose manner in this part of the country; and, if they are as badly managed in your section as here, then I think as do a great many others, that it is "high time" we had a change, -- which could not by any means possible be worse than under the present regime."  Respectfully, yours, C.A, Franklin.

           Before printing the above complaint against Sheriff Bower, the WEEKLY ARIZONA MINER in the same edition stated:  "Referring to the accusations in the above letter, we would not ourself, nor permit a correspondent, make against any one without giving the accused ample opportunity for explanation at the first opportunity, we called upon the Sheriff at his office, on Saturday and asked him of the truth or falsity of the charges. . . . . . . . . . . . . . "

          Sheriff Bower's Reply (printed in the same edition) "As the statements contained in the communication of C.A. Franlkin are calculated to mislead those who do not know him, and especially that portion in reference to the duties of Sheriff, etc., being so intended, I deem it due to the public that I make a short reply; otherwise, knowing its source and object, I would not notice at all. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .In conclusion I will add, that the true cause of Mr. Franklin's complaint may be found in this: On the 10th of February last, he wrote requesting me to appoint him Deputy, stating that Mr. Stinson was anxious to resign, etc.   Not having received such an intimation from Mr. Stinson or from any other source, and Franklin being a Justice of the Peace, could not hold the office. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .I again declined to appoint him. Had I done so, I presume it would have removed all cause of complaint, and this letter of his never would have been written ."  Respectfully, E. F. Bowers, Sheriff Yavapai County.

Click here for information on the names of the presiding sheriffs from 1869 thru 1973, name changes as the town evolves, and the county seat locations.

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Researched and complied by Jack A. Becker, local historian.

All rights reserved ©2005
Edited by Pat Christensen.