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Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Internet Presentation

Version 012311

 

Virgil Snyder 

Alexandra, AZ and the Peck Mine

 

By: Neal Du Shane 12/21/10

Table of Contents

BEN SMITH... 3

VIRGIL SNYDER.. 4

ALEXANDRA, ARIZONA.. 14

PECK MINE.. 15

ALEXANDRA, AZ.. 16

BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN 1877.. 16

ALEXANDRA’S NAME SAKE.. 19

CATHARINE SCOTT ALEXANDER.. 19

GRAVES - KILLING.. 23

Mr. MARSON.. 23

GRANT La BARR Marker. 24

EDDIE DORRIS and Family Marker. 25

OFFICE OF THE SHERIFF.. 26

GRANT Le BARR.. 27

JOHN H. STOOP.. 27

STOOPS SUICIDE.. 28

INDEX.. 29

 

BEN SMITH

The fall of 2008 found me in Tip Top, AZ where I met Ben “Louisiana Ben” Smith, while I was on a research project to document two graves on Gold Hill near the ghost town of Columbia. Ben was a cowboy working cattle in the area of Tip Top. He is a young man from Shreveport, Louisiana, exploring the opportunities in the west, during his youth.

 

Ben “Louisiana Ben” Smith

 

Along with many stories, Ben’s adventures took him to Crown King, AZ where he made an acquaintance of Virgil Snyder who lives at the Peck Mine. Their acquaintance began when Ben gave hitchhiking Virgil a ride, then ending up staying with Virgil several days and becoming friends.

 

VIRGIL SNYDER

IMG_2179.JPG 

 Virgil Snyder -Peck Mine

 

Photo by: Judy Borrajero 

 I was aware of the history of the Peck Mine being one of the first and oldest mines in this area. I had visited the Swastika Mine, meeting Barb Myer the owner a few years ago. In an attempt to gain history on this area and specifically the historic ghost town of Alexandra’s exact location I decided to see if I could find and interview the resident of the Peck Mine that Ben had told me about.

 

The road to the Swastika is challenging requiring high clearance four wheel drives and stay on FS #89. Barb Myer had explained the road up from the Swastika got rougher.

 

APCRP Boosters, Jose and Judy Borrajero joined me in this sojourn. We arrived at the Swastika following Forest Service Road #89 and started up the mountain, and yes it gets rougher gaining elevation quickly. Traveled about one mile past the Swastika and arrived at the turn into the Peck Mine.

 

The entrance is posted No Trespassing and gated. Being we were doing research I took a chance and opened the gate and ventured the ½ mile, wondering all the way if Virgil had vicious dogs and was packing. Some of these guys have been known to shoot first and ask questions later!

 

Peck_Mine_House_0409

                                                                                                       Peck Mine tailing pile on left, Virgil’s residence in center

                                                                                                          Photo by: Neal Du Shane - April 2009

 

Grave_2_Map.jpg

Map by: Neal Du Shane 3/24/09

 

As we traveled down the 14% grade mountain road I could smell a wood fire, which was a good sign Virgil was home. As I circled the driveway in front of his house and stopped, Virgil came out the door and stood on the step. I introduced myself and asked if he was Virgil, to which he replied he was. Told him what we were there for and if he had time to talk to us. As we talked he indicated he has lived here for many years and enjoys the seclusion.

 

House_Peck_032509_RS.jpg

Virgil Snyder’s home at the Peck Mine

Photo by: Judy Borrajero

 

According to Virgil he originally resided down at the Swastika for many years but there was too much traffic which he didn’t like and decided to move to the Peck Mine that is more remote, inaccessible and peaceful.

 

His residence is one of the original buildings at the Peck Mine and the only remaining structure still standing. Virgil indicated the house was build between 1864 – 1865 he’s not exactly sure of the actual year. At one time the house had electricity supplied by the Peck Mine generator but no longer. Evidence remains of electric wires that are strung over the walls and ceilings to switches and receptacles that no longer function without electricity.

 

Two structural modifications were made in 1997. The owner put on a tin roof over the house and porch and installed a new back door leading into the kitchen from the porch. The old kitchen wood stove had been removed from the kitchen and a propane gas three burner installed.

 

As you approach the house there is a screened porch on two sides that Virgil uses as his main living area when the weather permits. You notice the small holes in the screens and Virgil explains the former resident had Ground Squirrel problems and would shoot them standing within the porch, with a .22 rifle through the screens, thus the multitude of holes in the screens.

 

Water_Pipe_Wooden_032509_RS.jpg

Horizontal historic wire wrapped wooden water pipe used to transport water in the 1800’s

Photo by: Neal Du Shane

 

On the front of the porch hung a 16” old wooden water pipe that was bound with wound wire. He said he thought they used this to supply water to the mine in the 1800’s before metal and plastic pipes.

 

Virgil Snyder - March 25, 2009 at the Peck Mine.

Snyder_Vergil_032509_02_RS.jpg

Photo by: Neal Du Shane

 

Currently Virgil uses Kerosene to provide his lighting at night, propane supplies refrigeration for the two refrigerators and he cooks on a propane three burner stove. A wood burning stove provides heat in his bedroom and living room. The house is a three room structure; the first room you enter is the former kitchen. You then proceed into a living room and turn right to a partitioned room that Virgil uses as his heated bedroom.  Virgil said “I’m from the desert and need heat to survive”.

 

Virgil's predecessor at the Peck Mine, a man by the name of Kelly Painter, was quite a guy too.  He had electrical power there because he had jury-rigged some solar cells up to capture a few electrons to run his VCR/TV.  The solar cells turned during the day to maximize their exposure to the sun thanks to the electric rear window motor of the Jeep Wagoner that sat in the yard.  Kelly also had an interesting Range Rover that he drove around in the hills.  Kelly eventually moved down to Cleator before he passed away a few years ago.

 

Asked Virgil how he gets supplies. Virgil said, in a proud self reliant manner, he walks to Crown King, Cleator, Black Canyon City or Mayer. He often hitchhikes once he reaches the Crown King Road, to expedite his trips. He estimates he can walk about three miles an hour. “It doesn’t take me long to get around” he said.

 

He used to have a drivers license and a vehicle but doesn’t see a need for either at this point in his life. An old Ford pickup set’s in decaying disarray under a shade tree in the yard. A friend with an ATV brings supplies every week or so and helps him gather wood for heat. At an elevation of 5,327 feet at the Peck Mine; the nights in winter get below freezing. The road into the Pack is on the north side of the mountain and doesn’t get much sun. After a snow the road gets icy and limits access to Virgil until the ice melts.

 

As we sat and chatted I noticed as he pulled from his breast pocket, a baggie with hand rolled cigarettes. I asked what brand of tobacco he preferred . . . to which he replied “The cheapest brand”. As he started to consider lighting up he asked “I hope no one objects to my smoking . . . if so that’s too bad . . . just kidding!” It’s his house on the open screened porch, we didn’t object. Strange to me, he held the cigarette in his hand, lit it, then placed the lit cigarette it to his lips to smoke it. He did this each and every time he smoked a cigarette.

 

Snyder_Vergil_032509_01_RS.jpg

Virgil explaining procedures at the Peck Mine. 3/25/09

Photo by: Neal Du Shane

 

Virgil works for local ranches clearing paths “Trail Breaking” for cattle to navigate the terrain in the mountains. He’s been working in an area about three miles from his house. He normally walks to the trail and clears the brush with a chain saw, when the saws are working. This seems to be a constant dilemma for him to deal with. He earns a monthly income from the ranchers for his efforts. Virgil explained he had opened a trail from the Peck Mine to the ghost town of Middleton (on the Crown King Road) which we observed and it was very well cleared and impressive.

 

Many Mohave Rattle Snakes reside in this area, to which he showed us heads and hides of his encounters. Normally he doesn’t like the taste of Mohave Rattlers, but like’s to eat Diamond Back’s.

 

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Peck_Mill_032509_RS.jpg

Before and after of the location of the Grand Peck Mill

Left Photo by: Neal Du Shane 3/25/09 Right Photo by: Judy Borrajero

 

He showed us the remains of the Original Peck Mill which was only a few yards from his back door step. In fact the left photo above could have been taken from his back door step many years ago. Shared many photographs, some we both had of the Mine, artifacts, and various rocks outcroppings used as landmarks.

 

As we came in I had noticed fresh diggings with many artifacts, of by gone era and asked if he was in the process of finding artifacts? “Well now that you ask . . . it is kind of personal but I’m digging a new outhouse if you must know!” “The old one is getting full and I need a new one.” Apologized for getting personal but said the artifacts are very interesting alongside the hole he is digging.

 

One of several localiziams . . . During our conversations I constantly mispronounce Swastika according to Virgil, to which Virgil would politely interrupt with Swas”tea”ka. It seems to be one of those Arizona thingies. I’m in a constant process of learning to speak Arizona J.

 

Louisiana Ben had indicated Virgil would be receptive to liquid libation. With this in mind I had purchased a fifth of Jack Daniels to overcome any misgivings Virgil may have regarding our visit. Learned on a later trip, that Virgil prefers Bud Light Beer.

 

Walked to the ATV and told him I had brought something special as a token of our appreciation. As soon as I handed him the bottle, he had a smile you could see a mile, explaining “you are a true friend for life and are welcome here any time!” slapping me on the back several times. Virgil cradled the bottle in his arms then held it out to examine the label once again to verify it was for real.

 

Virgil stated, “Come inside the house and set a spell”. It was about 9:30 AM and we could see by his expression it was about to be “Five-O-Clock somewhere” at the Peck Mine. We expressed our delight if he would pleasure himself with our gift. He offered us beverages which weren’t alcoholic (our choice). He grabbed us two beverages warning “don’t drink any of those that have caffeine”. After opening the Jack Daniels he was heard to say “I can see no work will get done today!”

 

He opened a bottle of Crystal-Light for himself and poured out about ¼ of the contents into an empty beer can he grabbed from the shelf. He then filled the liquid void in the Crystal-Light bottle with Jack Daniels, recapped it, and shook the bottle to mix the contents. He then proceeded to sip the contents, adding Jack Daniels as he consumed the mixture to get the blend to his exact expectations.

 

From "GHOSTS OF THE ADOBE WALLS" by Nell Murbarger

 

"In 1875 - a full dozen years after Old Joe Walker and his party had made their astounding discoveries on Lynx Creek, and more than three years after the discoveries that sparked the founding of Bradshaw City and Poland - the Great Peck Mine was discovered by Edmund George Peck, C. C. Beam, William Cole, and T. M. Alexander. Actually, it was Peck who discovered the first heavy silver float as he was stooping to drink from a spring."

 

The Peck was the sort of mine men dream about, but seldom find. A five-foot body of silver chloride carried a pay streak that was about half silver. Original locators of the mine are said to have received $13,000 for their first ten tons of ore, and at a depth of not more than 300 feet, according to Bancroft, the ore was running $10,000 to $17,000 per ton!

 

In the course of three years, beginning in 1875, the Peck is said to have produced around $1,200,000; and then litigation set in, and the mine stood still while its owners and operators grew poorer by the day and the bank accounts of lawyers grew fatter.

 

Meanwhile, in 1877, a town site surveyed by T. M. Alexander and Col. Bigelow had been named for Mrs. Alexander, first white woman to visit the remote site high in the Bradshaw's.

 

Arizona Citizen, July 1, 1871 - "Alexandra, the town which is springing up between the Peck and Prince mines, is likely, from all reports, to be quite a place," declared the Arizona Miner on June 15, 1877. "It has now two large stores, Alexander & Company, and Andres & Rowe; three boarding houses, Conners & Company, Corbin & Hardwicke, and McPhee's, four places were spiritual refreshments are provided, two livery stables, one butcher shop, one blacksmith shop, and several parties are grading lots and preparing to build. The parties owning the mining claims on which the town is built have joined together under the name of Alexandra Town Association and . . . have expended nearly $2,000 in laying out and grading the main streets . . ."

 

"The general impression is that this is destined to by . . . the best camp in the whole Territory, if not on the whole Pacific slope . . . "commented the Miner on July 26, 1878. "Times are getting better every day. L. C. Conners is still running the boarding house and will, on the first of the month, opens a first class bar. A restaurant was opened on the 10th . . . by Mr. M. L. Calhoun. Everything about the establishment is neat and clean and his tables will compete with any in Prescott . . ."

 

A month later, (August 30, 1878) the Miner was still boosting Alexandra. "Mr. Frank Barnum is running the French billiard hall . . . Mr. John Ellis is still conducting the Gold Room resort . . . Mr. Dall's Palace Bar is conducting by our old-time friend, Mr. Hawley . . . Our livery stable is run by Mr. William Mulvejnon. Mr. Waters still superintends the Eureka Bar. Only one butcher shop in the city, at present superintended by R. Gillespie.  Mr. William Yancey is a partner in the business. Mr. Yancey furnishes the city with milk, to say nothing about the water. The Minger brothers, and the Brewery, still continue and are doing splendid. The city is furnished with four caterers. Mrs. Corbin runs the Summit House and has all she can attend to. The Alexandra Restaurant is doing a cash business and gets the cream of the customers. Next in order is the Palace Hotel, owned and run by Samuel McDonald . . . L. C. Conners continues a run the company's boarding house. He also has a find bar attached to the house . . ."

 

In other words, everything is lively and the goose hung high . . . except that litigation over the mine dragged on and on. Meanwhile, the mine remained closed; and since there's a limit to how long folks can make a living by "taking in each other's washings," as the saying goes, the town gradually withered and died on the vine. Poor old Ed Peck spent more than 30 years prospecting throughout the Bradshaw's, but he never struck another bonanza like the Peck. When he died, in 1910, he is said to have been a poor man.

 

Which bears out the old adage that even a poor compromise beats a good lawsuit."

 

ALEXANDRA, ARIZONA

 

Alexandra_Directions

Photo Courtesy: Virgil Snyder

 

My observation of the photo above, that people represent as Alexandra with the historical explanation it was situated at the Swastika Mine or below the Swastika Mine. Each time I stand at the Swastika with the photo in hand there wasn’t landscape to match the photo. Let’s see, what’s wrong with this picture or am I looking in the wrong location?

 

My trips to visit Virgil Snyder at the Peck mine gave me pause to observe and study the landscape in detail with some expert coaching from Virgil.

 

The town of Alexandra was actually at the pass going up from the Crown King Road and over from the Swastika on the Swastika Mine Road at intersection to the Peck Mine. As the road traverses about one mile up from the Swastika mine. Currently the area is over grown with brush but if you venture up Swastika Mine Road reaching two very obvious large metal posts on either side of the road, this is the beginning of Alexandra.

 

Observe on either side of the road as you continue to climb and you can identify flat ground that were the buildings for Alexandra, a short distance after you reach the summit you come to a road to the right, this is the road to the Peck Mine and there are flat ground areas on either side of this road that were buildings going up this road for some 500’. Very little remains with the exception of a few flat nails every so often but the flat areas where the building sat are still visible. Found one grave on Swastika Mine Road and on the road to the Peck Mine about half way.

 

If you look at the photograph of Alexandra and observe the gentleman standing by the front porch, this is the road to the Peck Mine. Observe the intersection closer to the middle of the photo, turn left at that intersection and you go to the Swastika, turn right and you are headed for Prescott and/or Mayer. I had time this week to walk this area and there is lots of flat ground that you can see, that resided the buildings of Alexandra. There easily could have been 25 to 35 buildings/homes/structures at Alexandra.

 

PECK MINE

 

During our conversation, he pointed out the exact location of the historic ghost town of Alexandra. Many authors have misplaced Alexandra’s location as being at or below the Swastika. Actually it was one mile higher up on the mountain and in general at the wyes in the road to the Peck Mine driveway at the saddle in the mountain. The exact GPS reading is N34 15 59.50, W112 18 51.14 using (WGS84). His historical knowledge of Alexandra is that it existed as a supply community for the Peck Mine and surrounding mines. Scrub Oak has covered this area and finding remains would be a difficult and tedious undertaking. Using the above photo we could identify the mountains as this was the location he described.

 

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Peck Mine c. 1878

Photo courtesy: Virgil Snyder

 

In June of 1875 E.G. Peck, C.C. Bean, William Cole and T.M. Alexander were prospecting in the Bradshaw Mountains when they stopped to drink at a spring, now called Peck Spring. Here E. G. Peck noticed a possible ore bearing rock and had the sample assayed. It was rich in silver and the Peck claim was located, patented and work was underway.

 

Prescott was the first supply depot until Alexandra was established. The town moved up the canyon from the Peck mine to the saddle in the mountain pass between the Peck Mine and the Swastika Mine. By road, approximately one mile separates the Swastika Mine and the actual town of Alexandra, with lots selling for $100 each. Colonel Bigelow laid out the town, sold the lots and graded the streets.

 

ALEXANDRA, AZ

BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN 1877

Business Name

Type of Bus.

Owner/Manager

T.B.D.

Barber Shop

French Billiard Hall

Billiard Hall

Mr. Frank Barnum

Black Smith

Black Smith

McPhee's

Boarding House

Mr & Mrs. McPhee

Peck

Boarding House

L. C. Conners

Summit House

Boarding House

Mrs. Corbin

Minger Brothers

Brewery

Minger Brothers

T.B.D.

Butcher Shop

R. Gillespie, William Yancey & Mr. Marson

Palace Hotel

Hotel

Samuel McDonald

Alexandra Hotel

Hotel

T.B.D.

Livery Stable

Mr. William Mulvejnon

T.B.D.

Livery Stable

Alexander & Co.

Mercantile

T. M. Alexander

Anders & Rowe

Mercantile

Anders & Rowe

Alexandra Post Office

Post Office

Joseph S. Drew

Gold Room Resort

Resort

Mr. John Ellis

Alexandra Restaurant

Restaurant

Mr. M. L. Calhoun

Palace Hotel Restaurant

Restaurant

Samuel McDonald

Eureka Bar

Saloon

Mr. Waters

Mr. Dall's Palace Bar

Saloon

Mr. Hawley

Peck

Saloon

L. C. Conners

Rafiels's

Saloon

T.B.D. = To be determined

21

Compiled by: Neal Du Shane 05/09/09

 

By Sept. 1876, there were 20 buildings and sixty men working in the mines in the area. By 1877, there were 75 people in town with two hotels, four saloons, 3 boarding houses, two livery stables, six houses, one butcher shop and a blacksmith shop. Two stores, one supply store owned by T.M. Alexander. Alexandra, at its peak had over 80 buildings including the post office, boarding house, saloons, trading post, mercantile, barber shop, black smith/livery stable, eatery, and many residences

 

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Virgil shows Neal the exact location of Alexandra, AZ

Photo by: Judy Borrajero

 

The post office at Alexandra was established on August 6, 1878. Joseph S. Drew was the first Postmaster. The Alexandra, AZ Post Office was discontinued March 25, 1896 with the mail being sent to Crown King.

 

Alexandra was a mining town named after the first lady to visit the town. Her name was Mrs. T.M. Alexander. Then T. M. Alexander laid out the town site for the Peck Mine and also owned the Black Warrior mine. Because of transportation difficulties, he built the Peck Mine Mill. The Peck Mine’s downfall was a continuing dispute between the four founders. The only ones who made any money on the mine were the lawyers in Prescott.

 

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ALEXANDRA’S NAME SAKE

 Brings Law Suit Against The Great Peck Mine .

APCRP Research by Kathy Block

 

CATHARINE SCOTT ALEXANDER

 

Born on 28 December 1828 in Illinois, Catharine married Thomas Matthew Alexander on 23 September 1849 and arrived in Prescott with her family on 17 September 1864 from New Mexico. Her husband was a Prescott postmaster and they lived on South Montezuma Street and had a cattle ranch in Sycamore Canyon.

 

She was commended by Rev. G. A. Reeder of the Methodist-Episcopal Church for her good works. Her husband died on 23 June 1880, and the 2 January 1881 issue of the Arizona Miner reported: "Verdict brought by Mrs. Catharine Alexander against Peck Mining Co. to recover the value of the stock in that company won for $80,000. In many respects this is the most important case ever tried in the Courts of the Territory."

 

Her children were "Minnie" (1850); Mary J. (Mrs. Alfred S. Clough) (1852), who is also represented in the Rose Garden; Elizabeth (Rees) (1864); Serena Ellen (Mrs. Edmund) Peck (1855); James Ralph (1857); John Herbert (1866); Henry (1863); and Ellen. She adopted Bessie Murphey (1877). Her granddaughter Norah Clough Hartzell is also represented in the Rose Garden. Catharine died on 29 April 1898 and is buried in the Masonic Cemetery.

Donor: Mrs. Norah Hartzell

 

Newspaper - No Name and No date
VERDICE FOR $60,000

The suit brought by Mrs. Catherine Alexander last summer against the Peck Mining Company, to recover the value of her stock in that company, 24,990 shares, valued at $60,000, terminated on Saturday evening by the jury bringing in a verdict for the plaintiff in the sum claimed. We heard but little of the evidence in the case and cannot state exactly what the complaint set forth, but we do know that the jury rendered a verdict in accordance with the demand made in the complaint. In many respects this is the most important case ever tried in the court of this Territory. Fitch, Churchill and Howard were the attorneys for the plaintiff and Capt. Hargrave for defendants. Whether the decision will cause a suspension of operations at the Peck we are unable to state, but for the sake of the owners, the county, and in fact the Territory, we hope it may not. The verdict seems to please a great many, while on the other hand, there are those who think it was not a just verdict.

 

Newspaper article - No date, No name.
A PIONEER LADY'S DEATH

Mrs. Catherine Alexander, wife of T. M. Alexander, a native or Illinois but who has been a resident of the section for a great many years, died yesterday after a protracted illness. She was 70 years of age, and besides her husband, leaves three sons and one daughter, all residents of this county. Deceased came here with her family in 1864, and has resided here ever since, and has witnessed the growth and progress of Arizona. She was a most estimable woman, beloved by all who knew her, and her death will be deeply felt by a large circle of friends and acquaintances. [Handwritten - Friday, April 29.]

The funeral will take place tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon from the family residence on South Montezuma street, at 2 o'clock, to which friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited. Rev. C. K. Jenness of the Methodist Church, will officiate. Interment will be made in the Masonic Cemetery, West Prescott.

[Handwritten - 1898]

The funeral of the late Mrs. T. M. Alexander was largely attended yesterday afternoon, despite the inclement weather. In the long procession as it wended its way to the Masonic cemetery, were particular noticeable many of the old time pioneers of this section.

 

---------------------------------------------------------

 

At Alexandra’s peak, there were 75-100 buildings. Alexandra became a ghost town about the turn of the century. Today nothing remains other than hidden foundations and mining debris in the saddle of the mountain pass above the Swastika Mine.

 

According to Virgil the Swastika Mine/Peck Mine Road (Now FS #89) was a main thoroughfare for goods and supplies to and from the Senator Highway to the north. Supplies were hauled in and ore was hauled north to Mayer, Goodwin and Prescott before the Rail Road to Crown King was completed in 1904.  The total distance from the existing Crown King Road to the Senator Highway is approximately nine miles with an average grade of 9%. From the Crown King road to the Ghost Town of Alexandra is 1.75 miles with an average elevation gain of 14%. Grades range from flat to 20% along the Peck Mine Road. There was high traffic along this road for over 40 years when the mines were active. Today this route is traveled by recreational enthusiasts searching out the back country.

  

A mailbox sets by the road as you approach the cabin. He stated mail used to come from Prescott two times a week to the miners. The road goes down through the canyon but is pretty much overgrown now.

 

As to a cemetery, he does not recall seeing one up here. It is his belief the dead were hauled back to Prescott and buried there. We didn’t have time to research a cemetery in the general area although there were two likely spots along the road we would like to investigate. UPDATE: We have documented there is burials, while there may have been no official cemetery there are graves in this area.

 

Virgil gets to “town” a couple of times a year and visits friends. Said he will turn on their big screen TV and stay up to watch the Western Channel for 24 hours at a time to catch up. Also has an opportunity to take an official bath and get a haircut on these visits. At his house he has no modern conveniences other than a battery powered radio that he uses sparingly. Virgil is also a master of “Snow Ice Cream” when they get snow. Scoop up snow in a dish, sprinkle dried cream and/or anything sweet and mix. Um . . . Um good. Virgil indicated “I can eat two five gallon buckets of it in a season I’ll bet”.

 

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The Peck Mine “Guest House

Photo by: Neal Du Shane 3/24/09

 

We weren’t extended an invitation to say over night although I’m sure we could have, as Virgil has a Guest House.

 

Virgil’s needs are simple and gifts are greatly appreciated. If you visit Virgil, might we suggest a case of Budweiser or a couple cans of pipe tobacco? No particular brand as he seems to smoke almost any brand, if they are “store bought”. It seems there is no tax on pipe tobacco and if purchased on the Indian Reservation it is even more reasonable. He had a one pound pipe tobacco can setting on the floor and the price tag on it was $18.95.

 

Virgil is friendly, cordial, hospitable, and historically knowledgeable of this area. He likes to show you the history of the Peck Mine and the landscape for which it resided. Please respect his life style, property, and be respectful of his hospitality and friendship. We found Virgil to be a very kind and trusting gentleman.

 

Indicated he couldn’t deal with city life in Phoenix and found living up here more relaxing and pleasurable. At one time he was a member of the PTA and did all the responsible things required. He has two children, a boy age 40 and girl age 41 which he hasn’t seen in years. His father Dewey Snyder lived and worked in and about Cleator in years past and Virgil naturally was drawn to this area of the state. Virgil has lived at either the Swastika Mine or Peck Mine for some 30+ years. No electricity, running water but finds not seeing people for weeks on end is to his liking. Hates having to go to the city (Crown King or Cleator) to get supplies, “it is too expensive these days”. Indicated going to Mayer is too far for him to travel on foot or hitch hikes.

 

He asked us to ask him what he missed most about living in the city. . . . Virgil replied “walking over and turning on hot water coming out of the wall, to take a shower”. His baths consist of heating water on his stove and taking a damp cloth bath. Explained his laundry process is that if heating up water and in a five gallon bucket agitating his clothing. Bakes his own bread to which he was in the process when we arrived.

 

In 2010 Virgil is currently 60 years old and is almost 61, indicated he will be eligible for Social Security in another year “You know what I can to with those funds” he said with raised eye brows and smile. He earns a little income from the ranchers and cowboys to buy goods to sustain his life. Was paid $90.00 for some work he did for a rancher clearing trails on the mountain.

 

Virginia Vosser, born in 1922 and currently resides in the nursing home in Prescott owns the Peck Property along with partners. With a tear in his eye Virgil says the Peck may be sold and if this happens Virginia has promised Virgil they will find him a place to stay and take care of him. We could tell this was very special to Virgil.

 

In 2010 the 40 acres at the Swastika has recently been sold and with the price of gold and silver it is rumored it may start operations again.

 

I normally go out of my way to find individuals like Virgil Snyder. Their knowledge of history is exceptional if you take the time to explore this aspect of their lives. Once these historians are gone, all their information will be lost unless documented and written down.

 

Greatly appreciate and acknowledge input by Judy Borrajero for her memory recall. Virgil wasn’t receptive to us using a tape recorder even after our present and neither of us had paper to take notes.

 

GRAVES - KILLING

Mr. MARSON

Alexandra 1877. A Mr. Marson – ran into a bloodied knife used by his partner to kill beef. He slipped and fell into the knife. Died in three hours. It was the first death in the Peck District. Source: Northern Arizona Genealogy Society 1989.

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Mr. Mason marker installed at Alexandra 2011

Photo by Neal Du Shane

 

GRANT La BARR Marker

Peck Mine – Dec. 24, 1890 – Grant Le Barr – shot by James M. Stoop in Refiel’s saloon. Le Barr’s remains buried at the Peck Mine where he had been employed, in the best shape possible. Source: Arizona Republic 1/1/1891

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Grant Le Barr Marker installed near the Peck Mine 2011

Photo by Neal Du Shane

 

EDDIE DORRIS and Family Marker

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Photo courtesy Kevin Hart 12/19/10

Peck Mine – Nov. 2, 2009 - Eddie Dorris – who was one of Virgil’s lifelong best friends. Eddie would spend vacation time up at the Peck with Virgil. Eddie passed and is interred on the Peck Mine property with a beautiful view of the valley below. Mar. 17, 2003 Papa Dorris and Mee Ma Dorris Oct. 1, 2004 are also interred in this scenic spot.

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New marker to identify Dorris family graves placed 2011

Photo by Neal Du Shane

Details of the assassination at the Peck. Sheriff O'Neill of Yavapai County, forwards an account of how the deed was committed by Stoops.

The clearest account of how Grant Le Barr met his death at the hands of Snoop is to be found in the following letter, written by Sheriff O'Neill to Dr. O.J. Thibode, of Phoenix, father in law of the deceased. 

OFFICE OF THE SHERIFF

Yavapai County, Arizona, Prescott,

December 24, 1890.

My Dear Doctor, Your several telegrams in relation to poor Grant came daily to hand but too late to be of any service. The body has been buried at the Peck mine in the best shape possible, the entire camp suspending all work during the funeral. I will see to it that the grave is properly marked and should it ever be desired to exhume the remains, will do everything in my power to assist you.

The killing was a most cold-blooded and premeditated murder without a single extenuating circumstance. The man who did the shooting - James M. Stoop, and who is now under arrest had never seen Grant until about an hour or so before it occurred. He, with Grant and several others was in Refiel's saloon on the night of the occurrence and a dispute arose between the two in regard to some trivial matter but before any blows were struck everything was settled apparently amicably and the two parted friends.

Afterwards, however, Stoop went to his room and securing his revolver, returned. Standing outside in the street where on account of darkness no one could see him, he took deliberate aim and shot Grant through the body, the ball entering on the left side, just below the waistband and remaining in the body. Grant fell and exclaimed to his two companions with whom he was talking at the time, unsuspicious of any danger, that he was shot and asked for a glass of water.

Before the water could be given to him, he was dead. Stoop fled but afterwards returned and gave himself up and had it not been for the strongest efforts of the part of several, he would have been lynched as the feeling is very bitter against him.

Grant was unarmed, and was a general favorite in the camp and was to have gone to work the next day in the Silver Prince mine. Everyone who knows him feels justly indignant at the cold blooded way in which he was assassinated, as all feel that he was one who would never provoke a quarrel, in fact, he was rather inclined to avoid one. For myself, having known Grant for the last ten or twelve years, I sincerely mourn his untimely end and hope to see his murderer receive the punishment that the law provides for such an outrageous taking of human life.

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APCRP Research by: Kathy Block

 

GRANT Le BARR

JOHN H. STOOP

Arizona Republican Newspaper

December 25, 1890

 

Prescott--John H. Stoop who shot and killed Grant Le Barr at the Peck Mine Sunday was arrested by Deputy Sheriff Hickey and placed in jail here yesterday.

 

He admitted the killing and his preliminary examination was set for December 26.

 

This morning about 9 o'clock while one of the prisoners in the jail was shaving himself, he laid the razor down to wash his face. Stoop picked it up and went to his cell and slashed himself across the throat from ear to ear.  As soon as he committed the deed he ran out in the corridor sank to the floor and expired within five minutes. 

 

After being placed in jail Stoop sent for an attorney but when attempting to explain the circumstances of the killing he broke down and the attorney was compelled to leave without an interview.

 

STOOPS SUICIDE

Arizona Republican newspaper

December 2, 1890

 

The sequel to the murder committed at Alexandra, on Sunday night was enacted in the county jail, yesterday morning by the suicide of John M. Stoops, the murderer of Grant Le Barr. All the prisoners in the jail except John Chart and Stoops were outside carrying wood into the court house at the time the deed was committed. Willis Austin, a prisoner had just finished shaving previous to going out for the above purpose and had laid his razor, a narrow thin bladed instrument, down on the window. 

 

Taking advantage of the absence of the other prisoners, Stoops picked the razor up, and going to a cell on the east side of the jail, slashed himself across the throat, cutting it from ear to ear, severing both jugular vein and windpipe. The act was apparently committed while he was sitting on a mattress. When about becoming unconscious he apparently arose and walked out into the corridor where he fell face downward, with a death grip on the razor, and where he was found by Chart. After being discovered, he only gave one or two gasps when life was extinct. Chart immediately gave the alarm, when the body was taken to Grassley and Company undertaking rooms and an inquest held before Justice Fleury, the jury returning a verdict in accordance with the facts as above.

 

Stoops is spoken of as an industrious, hard-working miner, and a man who previous to this had never been in any trouble since his residence in this county.  He seemed to feel deeply the situation he was in and the act seemed to have been prompted solely from remorse of conscience, rather than a dread or fear of the consequences of his murderous deed. The purpose to commit the acts seemed to have been formed on seeing Austin preparing to shave, as the latter states that while he was engaged in sharpening his razor, Stoops looked intently at him for a few minutes and immediately went and borrowed pencil and paper from the prisoners and went to his cell and wrote an order on Sheriff O'Neil to pay Johnny Robinson $200 out of money he had in the former's safe, the order being found in his pocket after death.

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NOTE: We are finding information that indicates graves in or about Alexandra and the Peck Mine. We have not documented an official cemetery for the Swastika, Peck or Alexandra. More information to follow as research develops.

 

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