Shakespeare said, “There is history in all men’s lives.” Thomas Carlyle thought all history is biography. The past is a record of people and societies interacting
. We visited Fort Hauchuca Historical Landmark yesterday, just 20 miles from Tombstone where I read these words: History must have a human face. It must glower at us from under bushy eyebrows. It must laugh at us from a snaggle-toothed mouth. It must refract the depth and candor of the human experience. I can say with certainty, the people from Fort Huachuca and Tombstone both reflect that candor. What fascinates me about these two places, so close to each other and intermingled in many ways, is so much of valor and honor at the fort, and killing and disregard for human life in Tombstone.
Two gamblers argued at the Oriental Hotel. Short shot Storms and the faro dealers barely raised their heads, just went on playing while they removed the dead man to his bed.
The fort was established in 1877 to protect the settlers and travel routes to the West from Indians and bandits. Ed Schieffelin, a prospector heard about the fort and decided to prospect the desert near by to be protected from hostile Apaches. A soldier told him, the only thing you’ll find out there is your tombstone. He filed his claim and named it Tombstone. The claim proved good, others came and the town took its name from his claim. And it turned out to be an apt name for the town considering how many died violent deaths and are buried there.
Leslie killed Killeen over a disagreement about Kileen’s wife. Leslie married the widow. He was a cold-blooded killer. The “cowboys” were mostly cattle thieves and ranchers didn’t want their hands called cowboys because of it. Alvord was a lawman, later turned outlaw. Bands of cowboys would slip over the border into Mexico and steal their herds. The only good Indian was a dead Indian mentality was prevalent. When whites killed Indians, it was to protect their women and children. When Indians killed whites, they were murderous, massacres, when in reality they were trying to protect their own land and scarce food supplies.
Whitside was the first commander. And the early days were rough and ready to be sure. The honorable part came later.
The curator of this museum used the men’s words to describe their situation, and I will follow up on another day as the signal is painfully slow.
Last night we had dinner at the 3rd largest VFW post here in Sierra Vista, with over 2,000 members, also a result of being right next to Fort Huachuca. Margaret,the post manager,confided to us that the building used to be a bus station and that it is haunted. They have ghosts, apparitions and wierd things happening at night. They had Ghost Busters try to remove them. They still have ghosts. Margaret says she warns all employees and most of them have had encounters with the ghostly apparitions at the post..
This was a big, friendly, well run post, the food was delicious Friday night fish-fry and I chose a table where a couple sat without anyone near them to talk to. We sat down, introduced ourselves, and Allen and Jo were from San Jose. He, a former San Jose Policeman who also knew where Murphys and Angels Camp are located. He used to ski at Bear Valley. For those who do not know, that is my stomping grounds. It was way fun.