The Early Days:
A Sourcebook of Southwestern Region History — Book 1




WHEREAS, it is provided by Section 24 of the Act of Congress, approved March third, eighteen hundred and ninety-one, entitled, "An Act to repeal the timber-culture laws, and for other purposes"; that "The President of the United States may from time to time set apart and reserve, in any State or Territory having public lands bearing forests, in any part of the public lands wholly or in part covered with timber or undergrowth, whether of commercial value or not, as public reservations; and the President shall, by public proclamation, declare the establishment of such reservation and the limits thereof";

And Whereas, the public lands in the Territory of New Mexico, within the limits hereinafter described, are in part covered with timber, and it appears that the public good would be promoted by setting apart and reserving said lands as a public reservation.

Now Therefore, I, BENJAMIN HARRISON, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested by Section 24 of the aforesaid act of Congress, do hereby make known and proclaim that there is hereby reserved from entry or settlement and set apart as a Public reservation, all those certain tracts, pieces or parcels of land lying and being situate in the Territory of New Mexico, and particularly described as follows, to wit;

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The President's Proclamation continues with a legal description of the Pecos River Forest Reserve. This Proclamation, dated January 11, 1892, established the fourth Forest Reserve in the United States; the first one in the Southwest.

Subsequent Presidential Proclamations established the Forest Reserves that were grouped into what was first called the Southern District, was later organized into District 3, and is now known as Region 3 of the United States Forest Service.

The original Forest Reserves in the old Southern District were:

Forest ReserveDate Approved
Pecos RiverJanuary 11, 1892
Grand CanyonFebruary 20, 1893
PrescottMay 10, 1898
San Francisco Mtns.August 17, 1898
Black MesaAugust 17, 1898
Gila RiverMarch 2, 1899
WichitaJuly 4, 1901
Santa RitaApril 11, 1902
Santa CatalinaJuly 2, 1902
Mount GrahamJuly 22, 1902
LincolnJuly 26, 1902
ChiricahuaJuly 30, 1902
Pinal MountainsMarch 20, 1905
TontoOctober 3, 1905
PortalesOctober 3, 1905
JemezOctober 12, 1905
Mount TaylorOctober 5, 1906
GallinasNovember 5, 1906
MagdalenaNovember 5, 1906
PeloncilloNovember 5, 1906
San MateoNovember 5, 1906
BaboquivariNovember 5, 1906
HuachucaNovember 6, 1906
ManzanoNovember 6, 1906
TaosNovember 7, 1906
TumacacoriNovember 7, 1906
Big BurrosFebruary 6, 1907
Las AnimasMarch 1, 1907

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(Administration of the Forest Reserves was centralized in the Washington Office of the General Land Office in the Department of the Interior).

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From the Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner, Prescott, Arizona:

Washington. July 7, 1897

For the purposes of more effective administration and protection, forest reservations west of the Rocky Mountains have been divided into two districts. Those in California and Arizona form one, and those in Oregon and Washington form the other.

The Honorable Benjamin F. Allen of Los Angeles is in charge of the California district. Captain B. Ormsby will have charge of the other. Both of these men were recently appointed special forestry agents and supervisors.

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Mr. John D. Benedict was the first Forest Superintendent for the New Mexico Forest Reserves and by 1898 was in charge of the Reserves in both Arizona and New Mexico. In 1899 he was replaced by Mr. William H. Buntain, who served until May 1900, when Mr. Isaac B. Hanna became the Forest Superintendent. His office was in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He served in this capacity until January 1905. By that date, the Southern District had been increased to include the States of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Utah.

Figure 1. In the office of the Supervisor, Pecos River Forest Reserve, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1902. From left to right: Supervisor R. C. McClure, Clerk Tom Hanna, and I. B. Hanna, Superintendent, Southwestern Forest Reserves.

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From the Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner, Prescott, Arizona.

June 18, 1898.

Headline; New Forest Reservation, Subhead: Will greatly affect the Salt River Valley Irrigation.

The Department of the Interior is inaugurating a new policy which may be of some benefit to the West. The last Congress made an appropriation which provided for the appointment of superintendents, supervisors, and rangers for the Government forest reserves. These positions have recently been filled, and the Department is now formulating rules and regulations for the care of the forests. Vast areas have been denuded by fires and the rangers will, with an adequate force of assistants, especially guard against this evil. The policy of the Department will be to preserve the forests for the use of the people, and the rules will not allow the use of the timber for the present necessities of settlers, as may be required, but will insure a supply for the future. The forests will not only be preserved for use as timber, but for protecting the heads of streams, holding back the snows, and preventing floods. J.S. Holsinger, the Government land agent for this section, returned to Phoenix a few days ago from an extended trip on horseback in company with W.P. Hermann, covering a large area of land in the northern part of Coconino County that is to be set apart by the Government for a forest reservation. This tract of land covers about one million acres and is bounded on the north by Section Line 22; on the east by Section Line 9; on the west by the base line; and the south border is the southern boundary line of Coconino County. After about the first of October, when the forest reservation is proven up, no more land will be allowed to be taken up, but the people who already have homes will not be disturbed. This Range takes in the cities of Williams and Flagstaff, but enough land is already taken up around these towns so as not to interfere with their growth. There will be five rangers appointed to take charge of this immense tract, who will clear out the underbrush, prevent timber from being cut off, and keep the place in good condition. The soil is very peculiar. To a depth of four or five hundred feet there is a lava cinder substance which is of a very porous nature. The surface soil to a depth of about ten feet is of rich loam. From the south side of this Range flows many small streams, coming from springs in the mountains. These streams are the foundation of the Verde River, which is a strong feeder of the Salt River, and directly affects the Salt River valley irrigation

August 26, 1898.

The Williams people held a mass meeting to "protest against the proposed setting apart of Coconino County as a reservation by the Government," says the Williams News. It is proposed to send a man to Washington who will stay there until he heads off the scheme.

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From the Williams News

September 6, 1898.

Headline: The Evil Deed Done.

Mayor John M. Francis of Flagstaff was the recipient of a telegram last Monday announcing the fact that the mountain reserve ruling would be in effect on and after September 17. To say the telegram was a surprise is mildly putting it. None dreamed that this almost fiendish piece of business was much more than in its infancy and while the people have been busy the past ten days getting their forces together to fight this matter in a legitimate way, here comes the startling news that the Department has already so ordered this section as a forest reserve, and gives the boundaries as enclosing the following country. The northern line of the reserve is about six miles north of Williams and Flagstaff, in Range 22 North. The west line is about eighteen miles west of Williams. The east line twelve miles east of Flagstaff, or near Walnut. And the south line is the north boundary of Gila County. Thus it will be seen what an immense scope of country is included. Mind you, this is set apart as a forest reserve, of which not half is forest, and there is township after township of land upon which there is not even a vestige of timber. This act of the Department virtually destroys Coconino County. The rules governing this reserve prohibit the grazing of sheep, Coconino's one great resource, and from the taxes on which the County mainly depends for actual expenses. It prohibits the laying of railroad tracks across Government lands, which almost ends the business of the Saginaw and Arizona Lumber and Timber Companies, the two largest and principal business institutions in the County.

January 1899:

It's a safe 16-to-l bet that there's one man in Arizona that - should he ever ask for bread in this section of the Territory — will be given a stone instead, and that is a United States Land Agent by the name of S.J. Holsinger. His actions for the past year to all outward appearances appear to be solely in the interest of securing a better grasp on his job. His actions regarding the reservations business and his treatment of homesteaders have, to say the least, been small, egotistical, selfish, and by no means becoming a man in such a position. He has caused poor men useless expense and trouble to retain their claims, and has caused many to lose their places entirely. He has, in most instances, displayed his egotistical selfishness to such a degree as to have not even courtesy for the rights of others. Several homesteaders have lately gone against him in the Land Courts and won, which is a righteous victory for the people. The writer is personally acquainted with Honorable Binger Hermann, General Commissioner of the U.S. Land Department, and can state clearly that it is not the intention of the Department to do other than prevent fraud in filings. But the Department is incurring bitter hatred from the people of this section and it is sincerely hoped by the few people who do understand the true condition of affairs that the Honorable Commissioner will dispose of some of these grafters and put in men — that right will be done both the Government and the people.

April 13, 1899.

Special Agent S.J. Holsinger visited the Prescott Forest Reserve yesterday and made the discovery that during the past winter there has been a large part of it devastated of its timber. Hundreds of mining stulls have been taken right from the reserve, he said, despite the fact that a forest ranger has been employed to look after and protect it.

April 19, 1899.

Special Agent S.J. Holsinger went out to the Prescott Forest Reserve yesterday and counted between 700 and 800 mining stulls which had been cut from the Reserve and the tops left there without being burned up. Quite a number of others were found which were thought to be on the reservation, but which he did not have time to verify. He estimated that fully 1,000 stulls have been cut on the Reserve.

June 14, 1899.

Over 2,000 stulls were detained at the Wye in West Prescott. They were for shipment to Jerome, but officers of the Government have served notice on the parties owning them, prohibiting them from shipping them, and have also served notice to the railroad company to the same effect. An idea of the magnitude of the forest devastation which has been going on in this section for the past few years may be had when it is known that probably not less than 25,000 and probably a greater number of these stulls have been shipped to Jerome. Each individual stull is a good-sized tree.

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From the Nogales Oasis

May 30, 1899.

Call out the Fence-cutters. The timber thieves in the northern part of the territory, and the land thieves in the southern part, have found that they could neither intimidate nor bluff from his duties. S.F. Holsinger, the inspector for the Interior Department, who has done more within the two years to bring before the eyes of that gentry a just fear of the law than have all the men who preceded him in that position. They have endeavored to compass his removal but failed in that, but they have succeeded in getting him transferred, and another inspector sent to Arizona to replace him. Mr. Holsinger is to be transferred to Colorado, and a new man will have to take up his work, familiarize himself with what is to be done, and in how far he has carried out the work. While he is doing this, timber thieves and land thieves will have a respite from the prosecution Mr. Holsinger has inaugurated, and they hope to be able to make him one of the complacent kind of inspectors who will wink at their transgression, as have other inspectors in the past. It is unfortunate that the Interior Department should have been so hoodwinked in this matter, and all good citizens should bend every energy toward showing the Department the mistake made and inducing a revocation of the order transferring Mr. Holsinger. The Oasis has reliable information that Mr. Holsinger was about to come to Santa Cruz County and enter suit against Cameron et al. to compel removal of their illegal fences from the public domain. Now that good work will be suspended until the new man gets the hang of things. That will mean a suspension for months, and if Cameron can get in his work on the new man it will amount to indefinite suspension. The fence-cutters might as well get out their nippers and finish up the job.

June 17, 1899.

William Nelson was taken into custody on Saturday evening by a Deputy United States Marshall on five indictments charging him with cutting timber unlawfully on Government land. He gave bail in the sum of $500 on each indictment and was released from custody.

June 22, 1899.

Uncle Sam is having quite a round-up in the stull business. Special Agent Holsinger, Deputy Marshall Grindell, and Forest Supervisor Thayer have been scouring the woods for the past three or four days and have placed Uncle Sam's brand on over 7,000 stulls. They estimate that they have about 5,000 more to brand.

June 23, 1899.

The United States officers who have been engaged in the stull business recently have placed the Government's brand on 12,500 now, and estimate that they have about 5,000 more to brand. The number originally estimated was only 11,500, so that new suits will be commenced for the confiscation of the others. One of the officials who has been engaged in this work for the past ten days says that no idea can be obtained of the condition of the mountains from where these stulls were taken except by going to see them. He says the nearest description he can come to giving it is as if a Kansas tornado had struck it. The trees are cut down and big logs are taken from it, and in the majority of instances the balance of the tree is permitted to remain as it fell.

June 1899.

The Timber Cutting Cases. Four civil suits were filed in the United States Court this morning in the timber cutting cases, and all the stulls in sight, both at the railroad and out in the hills were taken charge of by the United States Marshall. The number of undelivered stulls attached is estimated at 11,500, of which about 2,000 are at the Wye in West Prescott ready for shipment. The cases are as follows: United States vs. William Nelson, 3,000 stulls valued at $3,000. United States vs. J. L. Harvey and William Nelson, 2,000 stulls at $2,000. United States vs. William Nelson, 1,500 stulls at $1,500. United States vs. William Nelson and J. M. Harper, 5,000 stulls valued at $5,000. The mills of the gods grind slow, but exceeding fine. Uncle Sam has a mill of his own, patent applied for, much after the same fashion. While the timber business went merrily on, and load after load of fine timber was being hauled past the very mines nature intended they should develop, and through the streets of Prescott, much to the chagrin of her citizens. the wheels of Uncle Sam's mill turned slowly round. Finally, United States Attorney Robert E. Morrison received an order both from the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice to commence civil and criminal proceedings, and in his characteristic way immediately commenced vigorous proceedings which has struck terror to the hearts of timber trespassers.

July 26, 1899.

A deposit for the full appraised value of the stulls held at the railroad depot having been made in the Bank of Arizona today, the Government has released the stulls and the work of shipping them to Jerome has commenced.

September 13, 1899.

A. B. Hermann, son of the late W. P. Hermann, has been appointed supervisor of the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve, vice his father who was recently burned to death at Flagstaff. The appointee is a nephew of Commissioner Hermann.

November 1, 1899.

R. H. Hanna, forest ranger, has come in from Flagstaff to take position in the Prescott Forest Reserve. A man named Hanna should take to position as a federal official as easily as a duck takes to water.

November 1, 1899.

Notice is advertised in this paper that bids will be received at the United States Land Office til 4 o'clock p.m., November 15, for two lots of stulls confiscated by the Government.

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Last Updated: 15-Feb-2011