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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local November 25, 2015

5/9/2013 10:01:00 PM
Walker Party formed mining district here 150 years ago today - before Prescott existed
Courtesy of Dewey Born
The above 1930 photo shows Mr. Lane panning for gold at the Lingerlonger Mine where the Walker Party first found gold south of Prescott. Four-year-old Dewey Born is watching, and his uncle Robert Born is in the background.
Courtesy of Dewey Born
The above 1930 photo shows Mr. Lane panning for gold at the Lingerlonger Mine where the Walker Party first found gold south of Prescott. Four-year-old Dewey Born is watching, and his uncle Robert Born is in the background.
Joanna Dodder/The Daily Courier
The Walker Party ledger 
shows the date of May 10, 1863, when the party officially created the Pioneer Mining District.
Joanna Dodder/The Daily Courier
The Walker Party ledger shows the date of May 10, 1863, when the party officially created the Pioneer Mining District.
+ view more photos
Joanna Dodder/Courier Carrie Murray and Amanda Hunt of the Yavapai County Records Department inspect the 1863 Walker Party ledger.
Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

The earliest document created in Yavapai County now resides in a climate-controlled room in the county's Records Department.

Remarkably well preserved, the ledger's first inscription is dated May 10, 1863, exactly 150 years ago today. There was no such thing as Yavapai County or Prescott. President Abraham Lincoln had just created the Arizona Territory three months earlier.

Two dozen prospectors were listed as members of the Pioneer Mining District that organized its first meeting that day near the banks of the Hassayampa River, a few miles south of present-day Prescott.

These men, led by Joseph Reddeford Walker, changed the course of Arizona's history by discovering gold along the Hassayampa.

Word quickly spread to President Lincoln about that gold strike, as well as another huge strike in May on Rich Hill to the south by a party led by Pauline Weaver.

With the first territorial governing party already on its way to the Arizona Territory, Lincoln decided to create the first territorial capital near the Walker Party gold strike and protect it from the Confederates instead of creating the capital at Tucson, where a strong contingency of Confederate sympathizers had taken hold.

It took the territorial governor's party months to cross the country to Arizona, finally arriving at Del Rio Springs in present-day Chino Valley in January 1864, a month after the military established Fort Whipple there. They soon began scouting for a permanent territorial capital site.

It wasn't long before the miners in the Bradshaw Mountains to the south were seeking closer protection from the Indians, some of whom were not happy about their new neighbors.

The Walker Party ledger shows a record of a meeting of the Lynx Creek community on March 14, 1864, where attendees signed a resolution asking Territorial Gov. John Goodwin for military protection.

"We pledge ourselves to afford all the aid in our power to subdue the Indians and render the county safe and habitable," reads the resolution in the impeccable, flowery handwriting style of the time.

Within a few months, Fort Whipple and the territorial capital moved to present-day Prescott.

Meanwhile mining at the Walker Party site continued in earnest, with prospectors building at least two or three cabins there, related Mick Woodcock, chief curator at the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott.

Dewey Born of Prescott Valley remembers two of the Walker Party cabins along the Hassayampa River quite well.

He moved to Prescott in 1927 at the age of 1. His Uncle Robert Born and Robert's partner, Mr. Lane, had filed a mining claim on the Walker Party cabins site in 1925 and dubbed it the Lingerlonger Mine. They fixed up the cabins, and Mr. Lane lived in one of them.

Dewey's parents, Charles and Johanna, often brought Dewey and his brother John along on visits to the mine. Johanna would bake a pie or cake for Mr. Lane, and they'd pick up some supplies for him.

The boys loved playing in the river where miners had created a small dam.

"It made a nice place to go swimming when we were kids," Dewey recalled.

After serving in World War II, Uncle Robert returned to the mine for a few years and lived in one of the cabins, Dewey said.

Dewey, his wife Ida and Dewey's parents visited the cabins along the river for the last time in June 1961.

A few months later, Prescott National Forest officials destroyed the cabins, Dewey said.

"They were in remarkably good condition for their age and should have been preserved as a part of the history of Prescott," Dewey said in a Days Past column in The Daily Courier.

His father also wrote columns for the Courier, and Dewey used his father's notes to write the book "Stories of Early Prescott" in 1997. Dewey's grandfather and great-grandfather first came here in 1893.

Although the Forest Service apparently has no records of the destruction of the historic cabins, that could have happened, PNF Archaeologist Jim McKie said. That was a common occurrence in the 1960s when the Forest Service was trying to get rid of squatters, he said.

Probably the only building remaining in this county that dates back to 1863 is Fort Misery, a small Prescott cabin now on the grounds of the Sharlot Hall Museum.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013
Article comment by: Alan Whitney

Remarkable what the Government has destroyed.

At Camp Bouse, East of Parker, they knocked down all the old military buildings in the '50's, piled 'em up, and set fire to it all.

Now, if you go to the site and pick up a beer bottle cap to take home, you're breaking the law...

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013
Article comment by: Irving Rheingold

"Very Interesting"

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013
Article comment by: Mark Longfield

If you'd like to read more on the Walker Party, check out a copy of:

Joseph Reddeford Walker and the Arizon Adventure by Daniel Ellis Connor the Prescott Library.

He was a member of the Walker Party. It covers 4 years of his life, including his journey to join the party (the only recorded witness to the slaughter of Mangas Coloradas, the Apache Chief), and the hardships and perils of living in the Prescott area.

While nothing remains at the site, the original camp of the Walker Party was located somewhere near the junction of Wolf Creek Road and FS 97B.

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