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Published: March 19th 2020
JUDGE ROY BEAN'S STOREPINOS ALTOS
The store still stands and is for sale, but no trace of the homemade cannon remains.
Spanish Mexico had been mining in the area of Santa Rita del Cobre in New Mexico for a hundred years or so before Americans stumbled onto the scene and tried their hand at it too. The American effort there got underway in 1860. It was on land long being used as a homeland by the Chiricahua Apache. Their chief, Mangas Coloradas, or Bloody Sleeves, did not care for Americans in his neighborhood. One day he stopped by for a chat with the friendly intention of pointing out to the miners that there were much richer deposits a short distance to the west. He was talking about Morenci and Globe which were both fabulously wealthy deposits, but the miners wouldn’t listen to good advice when it was offered. Instead, they overpowered Mangas and whipped him like an ox. It did not sit well with him.
A few months later a youngster named Felix Ward was abducted from his home along Sonoita Creek in Arizona. A bungled attempt by the army to recover the boy led to the outbreak of war with the Apache. The army then left Arizona to go off and bungle the Civil War in New
PINOS ALTOS MARKER
Seven thousand miners once lived here.
Mexico. It was a golden opportunity for Mangas to seek revenge against the hated miners in what they had renamed Pinos Altos, or Tall Pines.
Back then New Mexico Territory extended from Texas to California and what would come to be thought of as Arizona was the newly acquired land south of the Gila River that was part of the Gadsden Purchase in 1854. Arizona also extended from Texas to California, but it was south of the Gila River and New Mexico was the land between Texas and California north of the Gila. Even though Pinos Altos is now part of New Mexico, it was once thought to be in Arizona.
When the Apache War broke out in 1861 the Apache intention was to drive all Americans out of the southwest, and they damn near did. The last few holdouts were a tough knot of those miners at Pinos Altos. They were attacked so often that they fortified their community and formed themselves into a sort of local militia. They called themselves Arizona Guards. They were all that stood between the Apache and annihilation.
The Guards consisted of three companies. One was headed by fellow named Tevis
Fort Cobre started as a gated community for the Mexican miners. When the American miners moved in they fortified it against raids by the Apache and put in a water well so it withstand a seige. It was manned by Captain Mastin's company of the Guards.
down in Mesilla; a second was headed by fellow named Jack Swilling at Mowry City where the Butterfield Trail crossed the Mimbres River. Their job was to secure travel along the Butterfield Trail. The trail was their only lifeline to civilization. The third company was headed by a fellow named James Mastin in Pinos Altos.
Sherrod Hunter was a member of the Guards in Swilling’s company. He distinguished himself as a fighter when the guards rescued the Wadsworth Train in Cooke’s Canyon.
The Apache attacked Pinos Altos in force in September of 1861but were driven off when Roy Bean, later to become The Law West of the Pecos, fired his homemade cannon. Roy was partner in store just down the street from Fort Cobre. When the attack began there were some ladies seeking shelter inside his store. He loaded the cannon and the ladies helped him roll it onto the front porch. When he fired it the whole thing exploded. It didn’t do much damage, and none of the ladies were hurt, but it broke the attack. Captain Mastin was killed though.
When the Confederate Army captured Mesilla in 1862 the Guards were conscripted into the Confederate Army, and Arizona, which was not even a territory, became a Confederate state. Captain Hunter with one company of Guards was sent to Tucson to secure the route to California, the rest of Confederates marched up the Rio Grande to take Santa Fe and on into Colorado. It was a grand plan to take Colorado and California into the Confederacy, but it broke down when the rebs were defeated at Glorieta Pass and retreated back to Texas as best they could. Captain Hunter could not hold Tucson against the advance of Carleton’s brigade from California.so he took his little company back to Texas too.
In 1863 Congress finally admitted Arizona as a territory, but to prevent another Confederate incursion on California they created a north/south boundary instead of the east west boundary along the Gila River. The present configuration of both Arizona and New Mexico began in Pinos Altos. It is a small retirement community about nine miles north of Silver City in Grant County.
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