Arizona Place Names (Pt. 2): Origins from Prominent People, Patriotism in Old Arizona
Arizona Place Names (Pt. 1) explores a slew of cities with Spanish, Indian and random origins. This post touches on place names stemming from prominent people and patriotism.
Excerpt from Arizona Adventure by Marshall Trimble, the state’s official historian.
Patriotism was the motivating factor in the naming of one of northern Arizona’s most prominent cities. A party of immigrants bound for California camped at the foot of the San Francisco Mountains on July 4, 1876. To honor the nation’s centennial, they raised the colors. To celebrate the occasion they called the site Flagstaff.
A group of miners in Santa Cruz County wanted to call their new town “American Flag,” but the idea was nixed in Washington so the folks settled for “Old Glory.” In a surge of patriotic fever during World War I, residents of a tiny community near Ajo wanted to call their town Woodrow to honor the President. Postal authorities refused to allow a town to be named after a living person, so the townspeople compromised and named the town Rowood.
The coming of the Atlantic and Pacific (Sante Fe) Railroad gave birth to several towns along the mainline in northern Arizona. Sanders, Holbrook, Winslow, Seligman, and Kingman, were all named for railroad officials or businessmen with a vested interest. The “billion dollar” copper towns of Jerome and Bisbee were named for a couple of Eastern investors—neither of whom ever took the time to visit his namesake.
Women have played a prominent role in the naming of some Arizona towns and places. When polygamy was outlawed in Utah, those Mormons who wished to continue the practice built a community on the Arizona side of the border. They named their town Fredonia. The free is self-explanatory and “Dona,” is Spanish for woman, thus creating a “Free Woman” or “Fredonia,” Arizona. Sedona is named for Sedona M. Schnebly—a member of an early pioneer family in the area.
“Olive City” was a small ferryboat crossing on the Colorado River named lo honor Olive Oatman, a young girl taken captive by hostile Indians in the 1850s. Miss Oatman survived her five-year ordeal in the Arizona desert, returned to white society and lived a long and productive life. Legend has it the gold-mining boom town of Oatman, in Mohave County, was also named for Olive.
How about place names like Skull Valley, Bloody Basin, and I’m sure there are others? That would make a good Halloween column.
I had always heard that Bloody Basin was named when a sheep bridge failed, plunging hundreds of sheep to their death far below in a rocky riverbed.
Bloody Basin was said to be the scene of many Indian attacks during the 1860s.
One version has it that a party of five prospectors was attacked here in 1864 by Tonto Apache and or Yavapai. All were wounded and one, Fred Henry went for help despite being wounded in both legs.
Another version says a suspension bridge over a canyon used by sheepherders to cross the Verde River collapsed and hundreds of sheep were crushed on the rocks below.
Skull Valley: Soldiers from Captain Hargraves’ company of the First California Volunteers escorting Coles Bashford came through this valley southwest of Prescott in 1864 found piles of bleached skulls of Indians indicating a fierce battle had been fought here. Most likely they Yavapai or Tonto Apache against Maricopa or Pima. It appeared to them the latter came out the victors.
Camp Skull Valley was established here on April 10, 1866 to protect settlers and travelers on the La Paz, (near today’s Ehrenberg) and Prescott road. The site was badly placed and in May, 1867 it was moved back to Camp Date Creek, 50 miles southwest of Prescott.
Another battle took place here on August 12, 1866 between four civilians and four soldiers against more than a hundred Indians. One of them went for help and more soldiers arrived. During a parley the natives claimed all the grass and water belonged to them. A battle ensued and when the smoke cleared, 23 Indians were dead. Several more were found in the area.
[…] Place Names (Pt. 1) explores a slew of cities with Spanish, Indian and random origins. Arizona Place Names (Pt. 2) touches on place names stemming from prominent people and patriotism. This post notes several […]
Olive Oatman was an ancester of our family. I believe there was another olive in Arizona, now buried under the tailings at the A,S and R mine south of Tucson.