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William Yancey

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William Yancey

Posted: 8 Feb 2000 5:00AM GMT
Classification: Biography
Edited: 27 Jun 2001 10:44AM GMT
The Courier
Prescott Newspapers, Inc.
145 N. Cortez St.
Prescott, Az. 86301-3097

Friday, September 28, 1984

RUGGED BRADSHAWS ONCE BUSTLED WITH MINERS
By Claudette Simpson
History Editor

Gold and silver strikes caused a lot of excitement in the Bradshaw Mountains in the late 1870Â’s.

Some people were so enthused about the Bradshaws that they said it was the richest mountain range in the country.

The Bradshaw Mountains were named after the Bradshaw brothers, William D. and Isaac, who came to Arizona from California around 1863. While Isaac ran the ferry near Yuma, William was prospecting and exploring.

On one of his trips, he led a party into the mountain range that now bears his name. The story goes that the Bradshaw brothers first discovered some of the rich ores in the Bradshaws and the new mining district was named in their honor.

From the beginning of civilization in this area, the Bradshaws have attracted gold and silver hunters. The mountain range still has prospectors roaming over the hills and gullies.

Others are lured to the mountains because of the scenic vistas. The lure of the Bradshaws, for whatever reason, is still potent.

Mining towns and camps have come and gone. At one time, Bradshaw City, just under Mount Wasson located on the trail between Prescott and the Tiger Mine, had five thousand residents. The once thriving townsite is gone.

Although the people and the towns are gone, the stories about them are still told and retold.

W. H. Yancey, who lived for a decade in the Bradshaws, recorded his story in an undated newspaper clipping on file in the Sharlot Hall Museum archives.

Yancey came to Arizona in 1875 from Kansas.

"There were eight covered wagons in all," he wrote. "I drove to my wagon a yoke of oxen and a yoke of cows."

"I was one of the party that located near Antelope Springs, now Cordes Station. I hauled two wagon loads of supplies from Prescott out there with two yoke of oxen."

"Part of the way out there, there was only a dim road, but the county built the Black Canyon road the next year right over the same dim road. There was plenty of deer and antelope there then. I did not stay there long."

"A man came down from the mountains with several burros and moved us up to Turkey Creek, 35 miles south of Prescott. I took a yoke of oxen with me, packed the yoke and chains on burros. I secured a gentle pony for my wife to ride and carry the baby."

"When over there we made a truck, so I cut the logs and hauled them in to make the timbers for a quartz mill. Well, the quartz mill was a failure, did not get any pay, so in February, 1876, I moved over to Battle Flat about two miles south of Turkey Creek where myself and other parties started a whipsaw lumber camp."

Even though Yancey lived in the Bradshaws in early days, many of the places had already been given names. He mentioned Turkey Creek, which was so named because of numerous wild turkeys. Turkey Creek was the first name for what later became Cleator and was located near the present day Cleator. At one time, there was a post office, a stage station and a settlement at Turkey Creek.

Yancey also mentioned Battle Flat. This area got its name in 1864 when five white men fought an estimated 150 Apaches. The men camped on this small open area and when they were attacked, held the Indians at bay for three hours. One of the men, although wounded in the arm, was able to go for help. Before he returned, the Apaches had left the fight.

Yancey was the "under sawyer" at the whipsaw lumber camp at Battle Flat.

"Five or six shacks at the Peck mine were built from the lumber and shakes that I helped to get out," he wrote.

"While we were at Battle Flat more than three feet of snow fell. We had to shovel lots of snow to keep the tents from breaking down. In May, 1876, I moved to the Peck mines and started a little restaurant."

To make a long story short, Yancey was in the Bradshaw Mountains from 1875 to 1885. He ran boarding houses, butcher shops, pack trains, worked in the mines whipsawed lumber, raised cattle, sold milk and twice a week, for a while, he carried the mail from the Peck Mine over the mountains to the Old Tiger Mine. Because he was so busy, he ran his mail route at night.

Yancey continued: "While I was in the Bradshaw mountains, I went through so many and saw so many thrills it would fill a book to write it all, but I will write about one incident."

"Late in the year of 1879, I was working in the Old Tiger mine about 38 miles south of Prescott. On New YearÂ’s Eve, 1879, I was working in the lower works. At 12 oÂ’clock we were hoisted up for lunch."

"The distress whistle at the upper works was blowing so a few of us went up to see what was the matter. A missed shot from the tunnel 500 feet below had exploded and had killed Billie Nozark, instantly, and Dave Fellows had both eyes put out, and his arms below the elbows were nearly torn off. A man by the name of Reese, who had just gone back to the shaft was left to tell the tale."

"A messenger was sent to Prescott for a doctor. Ainsworth came out. I held the bandages while he took the arms off below the elbows and bandaged them. Dave Fellows was then put in a light wagon and started to Prescott, via the way of Walnut Grove. The elder doctor Ainsworth was appointed surgeon general by President McKinley. Only a few remember him."

Yancey wrote that as far as he knew, his wife and three children, two of which were born at the Peck Mine, were the only ones alive who had lived in the Bradshaw Mountains in 1875.

"The ones that came to Arizona in the covered wagon and the soldiers that marched through before the railroads came, are the real pioneers," he wrote. "I have gone through so many hardships that it is a wonder that I am still alive. I am in my 81st year."

This is just one manÂ’s story of the Bradshaw Mountains. There are thousands of others

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