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Alice Gatliff, Forgotten Woman of the of the Mexican Revolution.
Alice Gatliff lived a life full on contrasts, and so she was quite at home on the Mexican-American border. She was a good Mormon who kept a saloon. She was a canny merchant known for her charity. She was a conselor and friend of Mexican presidents Plutarco Elias Calles and Alvaro Obregon, yet today she is the forgotten woman of Mexican Revolution.
Born in Douglas: Stan Jones and "Ghost Riders in the Sky"
It's difficult to believe that the classic Western song "Riders in the Sky," with its imagery of hard-ridin' ghostboys rounding up unearthly cattle, had its beginnings with an animal as mundane as the burr. But that's the case.
And it's hard to believe that the story behind the song isn't a cliche, since it involves a fatherless boy befriended by an eccentric character who inspired the youngster to achieve things the boy ...
On June 20, 1910, the residents of Arizona Territory rejoiced because Congress finally authorized them to draft a constitution as one of the first steps toward statehood. Each county elected delegates to convention held in Phoenix later that year.
As Arizona’s most populous country, Cochise sent 10 delegates to the convention. Of those 10 delegates, three were from Douglas, and they wrote portions of Arizona’s Constitution under which we still live today.
In her best-selling memoir, “Lazy B,” former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor mentions the influence of her maternal grandmother, Mamie (Scott) Wilkey. O’Connor, however, wrote nothing about Mamie’s family.
That’s a pity for they were remarkable people who helped establish Douglas and develop the borderlands region. The Scott and Brooks families include father-and-son Arizona Rangers, prominent businessmen, a woman of much promise killed by the 1918 flu epidemic.
Julien and Antoine Gaujot are one of eight brother pairs to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor, and they are the only pair to acquire the award in separate campaigns. Julien was in Douglas and Tony in the Philippines when they gained the CMH.
Both men had checkered military careers, but it is Julien’s life that resembles a Shakespearian tragedy with the most important act set Douglas. He earned his Medal of Honor during the 1911 Battle of Agua Prieta, and he married in Douglas.
To some, “Club Verde” is a classical waltz that is the unofficial Sonoran anthem. To others, it’s a love song popularized by singers Pedro Infante and Javier Solis during the golden age of Mexican cinema. Neither version seems like to inspire political passion, yet “Club Verde” initially was a political statement.
The song’s composer, Rudolfo Campdónco, was imprisoned for playing his music during the Mexican Revolution. He fled his native country, probably avoiding a firing squad.
“You’ve got a theater here that the town should be proud of,” said Frank Gardener in 1927. “It’s such as few towns of 50,000 or 100,000 have. I could name some larger places near here that have nothing to equal the Grand.”
Although Gardner, a professional comedian en route to California when he talked to a Daily Dispatch newspaper reporter, was praising Douglas’ Grand Theater, he could just as easily have been talking about Irma D. Bond.
Tens of thousands of people have begun or amplified their collegiate education in Arizona’s junior college system, one of the nation’s largest.
Today, there are 10 community college districts in Arizona. Some districts, such as Maricopa, have 10 different colleges. Other districts, such as Cochise, have one college but several branch campuses in two counties.
Three Douglas men, A.R. Spikes, George Spikes and Charles Bloomquist, led in the establishment of this thriving education.
In 1917-18, Douglas civilian population was almost 18,000 people –thousands more than today. The town’s eastern edge was Dolores Avenue – the city occupied less than half the ground it does today.
Q. Where did all those people live?
A. In more than 50 establishments that provided “furnished rooms.”
Learning about a few of the people who managed those 50-plus boarding houses, apartments and hotel is the same as walking past them and glancing into one of their windows.
Arizona's State song and Douglas Jews in the Entertainment World
“Arizona,” the state first official song, was written by two Douglas residents. The lyricist was Margaret R. Clifford, wife of a Civil War veteran. The composer was Maurice E. Blumenthal, a member of Douglas’s lively Jewish community in the first half of the 20th Century.
Blumenthal was the first person from Douglas’ Jewish populace to demonstrate talent in the entertainment world.
Two Exceptional Men of the Borderlands and Electrical Power.
A discussion of Pancho Villa’s 1915 attack on Agua Prieta usually includes someone saying that the defensive spotlights, which played a crucial role in Villa’s defeat, were powered by electricity from Douglas’ smelter.
The same as other borderland tales obscured by time, this story is incorrect. The true story of electricity in Douglas-Agua Prieta is much more complex, and involves two exceptional men.
From Out of the North: The Mexican Revolution.
The Mexican Revolution was the first great revolution of the 20th Century. Most authorities agree in started during November, 1910 and ended in1920. In many ways, the Mexican Revolution was a northern phenomenon.
The physicians in Douglas during its first 50 years were an out-of-the-ordinary group. One came half the world away; the rest from half the country away.
Despite this, they were close knit and shared many characteristics. Chief amongst these was a desire to be what a present-day Douglas physician terms a servant to society.
Arizona's Longest Hard-Surfaced Highway and the Doan Family Tragedy.
In the 1920s, the road between Douglas and Bisbee was the longest stretch of hard-surfaced highway in Arizona. The road deeply affected the Doan family in Douglas, and influenced Cochise County commercial growth and tourism development.
The Doans were Territorial pioneers. Patriarch Fletcher M. Doan was a retired federal judge when he moved to Douglas and joined his son Frank’s law practice.
Rancho Mababi: A Bit of England on the Borderland
Late September was the worst possible time to buy land in Mexico. In six weeks, a revolution began that ravaged the country for the next 10 years.
Yet late September 1910 is when a British company bought Rancho Mababi, a large property south of Douglas. The company sent Mababi managers who acted as if there was no revolution. They built a large house, landscaped the grounds and held parties.
The Douglas YMCA building began anchoring the western end of 10th Street in 1907. Programs of the Young Men’s Christian Association provided another sort of anchor in Douglas for about 55 years.
Although Effie Anderson Smith lived in Pearce while she developed a reputation as a desert landscape artist, Douglas helped provide the basis for her national recognition in the 1930s. In the 1940s, Douglas and the Gadsden Hotel became Smith’s base during on the most prolific period of her long creative life.
Arizona's First Marriage, First County Club, and Other Stories of 1912 Douglas.
In Douglas on Deb. 14, 1912, shrieking whistles and clanging bells announced President William H. Taft had signed a bill making Arizona the 48th state in the union. All the noise also announced the new state’s first marriage. It was an event that was part of the web of life in Arizona’s fourth largest city.
Building Douglas During the Great Depression.
The 1930s were the decade of the Great Depression, an economic downturn so severe that at one point about one-third of all Douglas workers were out of a job. Paradoxically, the 1930s were when more than a half-dozen Douglas-area landmarks were built; most are still in use today.
Douglas, Arizona holds a fabled place in aviation history. It is recognized as the site of the first international airport in the Americas, and as a stop on the first regularly scheduled, coast-to-coast, federal airmail route.
Douglas was home to aviation pioneers. They include Alfred M. Williams, Bruce Struthers, Frank Dorbrandt, Edward J. Huxtable, William D. King and Charlie Mayse. Today, these men and the parts they played in aviation history are little appreciated.
A number of Douglas women achieved a wide influence upon the larger world through their residency in Douglas.
Douglas' 660 G Avenue Diversity and Consistency.
The building occupying the southwest corner of G Avenue and Seventh Street is one of many interesting Douglas structures. Beginning in 1914, it held a surprising thing – an indoor swimming pool.
The building’s owners exemplify Douglas’ ethnic diversity. The swimming pool entrepreneur was Croatian. The next owner was Lebanese; a more recent owner was Korean.
Today 660 G Ave. hosts the Douglas Area Food Bank.
Fairfax W. Burnside Fights Segregation in the Douglas School System.
Today, some people complain about discrimination they endured as students of Mexican origin in the Douglas school system. Latinos, however, never were forced into segregated schools as were Negro students.
Segregation of blacks in the school system, and in many facets of Douglas life for about 50 years is shown in the story of Fairfax W. Burnside. A career Army soldier who retired in Douglas.
As I lifted the lid of my mother’s large, wooden trunk, her rose-scent engulfed me. I sifted through layers of photos, letters, albums and newspaper clippings from the Douglas Dispatch and other places. Memories flooded over me of growing up in Douglas, Ariz.
Observing the Douglas Arts Association's 60th Anniversary.
This year, the Douglas Arts Association will celebrate its 60th anniversary. Inspired, founded and managed by remarkable Douglas women, the DAA occupied two of Douglas’ most historic buildings.
The character of a community and its history is revealed in the cases that appear in its justice of the peace court. Such is certainly true of Douglas, Arizona in its territorial days.
An analysis of 1,306 cases heard by justices of the peace during 1902-04 and 208 Superior Court cases originating in Douglas during 1904-12 shows the city deserved its reputation of being, as Justice of the Peace Roswell O. Johnson put it, “one of the toughest towns in the southwest.”
They are THE Cowbelles and proud of their whimsical name. They’re proud of their Douglas, Arizona origins and that they grew into a national organization. They’re proud to be celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, along with a tradition of plain-speaking and community activism.
It was a cattle drive that old timers warned me not to make. But I had all these cattle in Chihuahua and no market for them there. I did have a market in Sonora, but I couldn’t transport the cattle because there was no railroad and no highway between Chihuahua and Sonora back in the late 1940s.
So that left a cattle drive, but old-timers like Stewart Hunt warned my boss, Charlie Wiswall, that we’d lose a bunch of cattle going over the mountains between Chihuahua and Sonora.
The years 1946-1953 were pivotal ones in Douglas, Ariz. The local economy, after struggling through the Great Depression and scarcities imposed by World War II, rapidly revived and achieved a significant vitality.
Entrepreneurs established businesses and housing developments that remain in place today. Cultural opportunities were lively and diverse as Douglasites made their own entertainment before television’s arrival.
In the spring of 1902, when Douglas, Ariz., was scarcely a year old, seven men organized a volunteer fire hose company. Their effort to serve their community continues today as the Douglas Fire Department.
Current DFD members, in addition to firefighting, respond to medical emergencies, conduct hazard inspections and provide fire prevention education. The training and equipment required for successful completion of these tasks is quite different from the department’s simple beginning.
Late in 1915, Pancho Villa attacked Agua Prieta, the Sonoran town just south of Douglas, Ariz. That the fabled Mexican revolutionary’s army failed to take Agua Prieta, despite almost 36 hours of trying, changed everything for Villa.
Following his Agua Prieta defeat, Villa ceased being a major Revolutionary force, while his opposition, the Constitutionalist faction, continued its rise to national power.
I walked to the bank of the Rio Grande River and sat down. I was 700 miles from my home in Agua Prieta, Son., and I didn’t know what to do.
I had gone to Nuevo Laredo, N.L., to organize a radio marathon broadcast to raise money to purchase polio vaccine. Although it was not my first trip away from home and I had a girlfriend with me, it was a big undertaking for a 20-something single woman to do in 1957 Mexico.
In 1911, Douglas resident O.O. Hamill began organizing one of the first Boy Scout troops in Arizona. Other Douglasites followed his lead and developed a vigorous scouting program that led them to national leadership roles, and provided generations of Douglas youngsters with the Scouting experience.
A history of Douglas drug stores and their proprietors mirrors the history of Douglas. During the 20th century, Douglas drug stores, under family ownership and management, were a force in municipal life and state organizations.
The last day of 1930, a Lockheed Vega landed at Douglas Airport and became the first airplane to use the facility’s new hangar. That building helped Douglas Airport earn A1A status, and recognition as one of the nation’s top 10 airfields in 1931.
But in a little over a decade, another airport eclipsed Douglas Airport. Built rapidly during World War II, Douglas Army Air Field dominated Cochise County aviation even after the war.
On May 8, 1903, E.R. Pirtle filed legal documents creating the Pirtle Addition northwest of Douglas, Ariz. Although never organized into an incorporated municipality, Pirtleville did become Douglas’ main suburb.
“Douglas, Arizona in the summer of 1917 was permeated by two odors,” recalled Lucian K. Truscott, in a memoir about his life as a U.S. cavalryman. “One was the acrid smell of sulfuric smoke from the towering stacks of the two great copper smelters just west of the city.
“The other was the pungent and perhaps more characteristic odor of twenty thousand or so horses and mules and the bubbling of dozens of troop kitchen incinerators in Camp Harry J. Jones on the eastern edge of the city.”
In 1902, Douglas became the third of five Arizona towns to establish a street railway.1 Although streetcars ran in Douglas for just 17 years, they played a vital role in the border town’s early development.
Examining the history of Douglas grocery stores, and related food businesses, reveals how dozens of “mom and pops” transitioned into larger but still locally owned concerns that started to give way to chain stores beginning as early as the 1920s.
Many early-day Douglas grocery stores were owned by first generation Americans. A quarter of these were Lebanese immigrants fleeing religious persecution.