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Cochise County Historical Society
Cochise Genealogical Society
Douglas ,Cohise, Arizona The town where Minnie and Fred settled
In August 1900, the town site of Douglas, named for the president of the Phelps Dodge Corporation, was established. Shortly after, the El Paso & Southwestern Railroad was built into Douglas. With two smelters in operation, the new town rapidly expanded. Settlers poured into Sulphur Springs Valley, cattlemen came 70 miles to buy supplies and have fun, and the rich mines and cattle ranges of Old Mexico produced money which was largely spent in Douglas. Both smelter companies built housing for executive personnel. The Copper Queen Library was built before 1904 and served as a combined library-reading room and dance hall.
The town was originally named Black Water. In the beginning, the water was so bad that many wouldn’t look at it when taking a drink. In those days, water wasn’t easy to come by and the town’s people got use to it. Although, the city on the other side of the border from Douglas still holds the original name, Agua Prieta meaning black water.
The town grew so fast that housing was very scarce and poor. Frequently, four or five men had to sleep in the same room and do their cooking outside over an open fire. The barber shop had the only bathtub in town. New arrivals lived in covered wagons and tents until houses could be built. Drinking and gambling were the chief sources of entertainment and the bartenders and housemen at the Cattle Exchange, the Waldorf, and the White Horse worked three shifts.
As the town grew, a hospital and homes were built for the many employees at the smelter. During the town’s peak more than 375,000 tons of ore a day were brought to the smelter to be processed.
During the early beginning of Douglas, the town became know for its lawlessness. In the same year that the town was founded, in 1901, the Arizona Rangers were sent to Douglas to establish their headquarters. The rows of saloons in town were a problem and so were the cattle thieves. It took some time to get the town under control.
AZ Rangers 1901 - 1909
A 1901 Act authorized the Governor to Raise and Muster one Company of Arizona Rangers
"The rapid spread of civilization through the Southwest in the early 1900's made it increasingly difficult for the outlaw to accomplish his crimes in the first place and then to escape detection and apprehension.
While some of the criminals continued to operate as lone wolves and others work in bands, certain isolated areas of the Southwest - by reason of their location - tended to become gathering points for outlaws. Frequently there was a sort of loose organization among those who gathered in a given area and sometimes the organizational setup became so well formed as to constitute a gang.
It was for the purpose of ridding Arizona of such individual criminals and criminal gangs that the Arizona Rangers were created. Their objectives were to hunt down and capture the lone wolves and members of the gangs, to clear the areas in which criminals congregated and make them safe for settlement by law abiding citizens and to discourage the riffraff of the rest of the country to seek refuse in Arizona. The Ranges also acted as a state police force to help enforce law when local authority was overtaxed. And they supplemented the activities of the then inadequate United States Border patrol".
Much of Arizona history happened in Cochise County. When Tombstone was "cleaned-up" many of the outlaws migrated to the town of Galleyville in the Chiricahua mountains. There were little communities everywhere, but with long distances between them. It was pretty easy to get by with murder or whatever. Douglas was the last of the rip-roaring western towns where the six-shooter reigned and dance hall girls, gambling and other sordid industries prevailed. The town, beginning in 1900, was overrun with all kinds of illegal activities and by 1902 the Arizona Rangers were called in to clean it up. By the Rangers admission, "Douglas was tougher than Tombstone ever hoped to be". Stop and think; it wasn't very long ago.........
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