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Place Names
Where did that name come from? 
Why is it named that?
We will attempt to uncover the truth about place names. If you have a name of a place you want to know more about, email us at info@wildwestgazette.com

Bloody Basin  It was Crook's Tonto Campaign, and  more specifically the Battle at Turret Peak, 27 March 1873,  that resulted in the name "Bloody Basin" being given to this locale.

Arsenic Tubs,  is a mineral hot springs located on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Graham County. The name comes from the mineral content of the water, and from the fact that there are natural "tubs" in the rocks.

Loup Valley, Nebraska
ca. 1886. Cropped from Item 134. (69-N-13606C) Platte River looped around itself. This was an end of the day site for the pioneer wagon trail. Photo

Snowflake, Arizona - Pioneer Mormon Town  -  Mormons from Utah began colonizing Arizona in the 1870's in an effort to expand their "Zion." Snowflake was one of the first Mormon towns and it remains an important center for the religion. Snowflake is located 30 miles south of Holbrook on Silver Creek, a tributary of the Little Colorado River. Mormon land agent William J. Flake found a suitable town site on the old Stinson Ranch. He arranged to buy the ranch from James Stinson for $12,000 worth of Utah cattle in 1878.

 However, the Mormons had to pay for the land a second time. The land had been given to the Santa Fe Railroad by the U.S. government as compensation for building the expensive rail line to California. Santa Fe sold the land to the Aztec Land and Cattle Company, better known as the Hashknife Ranch. The Mormons agreed to pay $4.50 an acre for seven sections of land and finally obtained clear title in 1889.

 The town name has a quaint origin. Erastus Snow was the Mormon Apostle who directed the Mormon colonists from his home in St. George, Utah. He was known as Field Marshall of Arizona colonization. Snow met with William Flake on the old Stinson Ranch and the two men cleverly decided to combine their names for the new town.

 William Flake was legendary in the Little Colorado River region of eastern Arizona. One friend suggested this simple epitaph ... "He bought ranches. He made towns.” In addition to Snowflake, William Flake purchased land for the Mormon towns of Showlow, Taylor, Shumway, Eagar, Concho and Nutrioso.

 In 1884 William Flake and six other prominent Mormons were indicted for Polygamy. Flake spent several months in the infamous Territorial Prison in Yuma but continued the marriages after his release. Polygamy was a common practice in the early Mormon Church. Leader Brigham Young had many wives. However, this practice was a source of resentment toward the religion and eventually the Mormon leadership outlawed polygamy in the 1890's.

William Flake had two wives - Lucy Hannah White and Prudence Jane Kartchner. Between them they had 20 children. James Madison Flake was the eldest son of William and Lucy White. James Flake also had two wives but not at the same time. James Flake and Nancy Hall had nine children before she died in 1895. James Flake then married Martha Smith and had 15 more children. By 1969 the descendants of James Flake and his 24 offspring totaled over 1200 and counting. This number does not include any of James Flake's 19 brothers and sisters, many of whom had very large families as well. Large Mormon Families are quite common but few as prolific as the Flake clan.

 The Flake family is scattered throughout Mormon communities in Arizona but many still reside in Snowflake. In 1988 the Snowflake Police Chief was Sanford Flake and Flake Willis was on the City Council.

 Charles Love Flake was a Justice of the Peace in Snowflake. On December 8, 1892, word came that a New Mexico bank robber named Mason was hiding in a local boarding house. Charles Flake and his older brother James Madison Flake went to arrest the desperado. James grabbed Mason from behind tying up his right hand. But Mason pulled a pistol with his left hand and fired over his shoulder putting a bullet through James Flake’s ear. Mason's second shot went into Charles Flake's neck mortally wounding him. Partly blinded by gunpowder, James Flake fired two fatal shots into Mason's head. Charles Flake left four children and a fifth, Charles Jr., was born six months later The desperado Mason was barely 19 years old and reputedly already killed seven men.

 Snowflake folklore says the tragedy was foretold in a dream. Three months before the tragedy local resident George Gardner warned the Flakes to be careful. Gardner dreamt “a desperado came and killed Charley and Jim killed him.”

 Snowflake was incorporated in 1919 and the town promptly outlawed sales of tobacco. Alcohol was already illegal. In 1922 mixed swimming became a local problem out at Silver Creek Dam. A new ordinance allowed males to swim on Tuesday Thursday and Saturday with females getting the other days of the week. No one swam on Sunday. Suits were recommended out of respect for residents living nearby.

 Today the biggest employer is the Stone Forest Industries pulp and pager mill which is 15 miles west of Snowflake. Farming remains a major activity and there are said to be 120,000 pigs in the vicinity. Cattle ranching is also important. A survey in he 1970's found that Snowflake is 70% Mormon. The population in 1989 was about 4'000.

 Excerpt is reprinted with permission from Arizona’s Amazing Towns From Wild West to High Tech by Richard Dillon 

Old West Places Quick Link

Arsenic Tubs
Bloody Basin

The Chandler Museum
Gilbert Museum
Loup Valley, NE
McCracken Research Library
Riordan Mansion State Historic Park
Snowflake, Arizona
Yuma Territorial Prison



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