Hysterical Journey To Historic Places

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North America » United States » Arizona » Tubac
January 21st 2013
Published: January 21st 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY


From the I-10/I-19 interchange in Tucson go south on I-19 about 38 miles to the Chaves Siding Rd exit. It is just past the Border Patrol checkpoint. Turn left cross under the freeway and continue southward along the frontage road to Tubac. The Presidio Museum is on the east side of town past the tourist traps. Spend some in the museum.

Volume 1, Number 1 of Arizona’s first newspaper was published on Thursday, March 3, 1859 in Tubac. It was printed on a Washington hand press that was owned by William Wrightson, who also published the newspaper. Wrightson came from Cincinnati, Ohio and brought the printing press along with two additional newspapermen, Edward Cross and Thompson Turner. They came by wagon train down the Santa Fe Trail into New Mexico, and down the Rio Grande River to Mesilla, then over to Arizona by way of the Butterfield Trail. It was an arduous journey. William Wrightson had first come to Arizona with the party of surveyors who established the international boundary for the Gadsden Purchase lands. Wrightson was also an associate of Charles Poston as Secretary of the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company. Edward Cross was the editor of the newspaper, and also its type setter, printer, bookkeeper, and janitor. Thompson Turner was a correspondent to the Missouri Republican in Saint Louis. Cross was a bit of a firebrand and was not without a fair amount of volatility when put upon by critics. One such critic was Sylvester Mowry. Mowry was a graduate of West Point who resigned his commission to take up a career in mining and land speculation. Mowry was an ardent promoter of obtaining territorial status for Arizona independent from New Mexico. To do so he was not above lobbying Congress with inflated population statistics. Cross argued in the paper that those tactics were dishonest and counterproductive. What Cross favored more than territorial status was simply a separate judicial district for Arizona. The public argument between Cross and Mowry escalated to personal accusations and a matter of enraged personal honor. It did not help matters that Mowry was a fine Southern gentleman and Cross was a damned Yankee. On July 8, 1859 the two men fought a duel. The Bradshaw Rifle was the selected weapon. It was a single shot muzzle loader, but it had a double barrel. It was not a particularly accurate piece, nor was it very reliable. The duel was fought at 60 paces during gusting wind conditions. Both men fired two shots at each other and missed both times. They had to reload the weapons and each fired again, and as usual they both missed. On the fourth attempt Cross’s gun missed fire, and Mowry, being the fine Southern gentleman he was, refused to fire on an unarmed man. He discharged his weapon into the air, both men shook hands and retired to Poston’s store where all concerned tapped thirstily into a 42 gallon keg of good Monongahela whisky obtained from the post trader at Fort Buchanan. In August Wrightson sold the newspaper to Mowry and Mowry moved it from Tubac up to Tucson. The photo shows the printing press still usable to this day. It is located in the museum at Tubac.


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