Homesteading Cochise County and Shady Characters on both side of a Badge in 1900




Homesteading Sulphur Springs Valley:

After a few years in Gleeson, Hilary Mercer Wells, ultimately settled northwest of Douglas in what became known as the Wells Settlement. The kids went to school in Six Shooter Flat before the Wells grade school was built. The brothers also built a small house for the school teacher. Rube and his brothers settled throughout the valley. They freighted ore between the mining towns of Gleeson, Courtland, Pearce and Tombstone; caught wild horses and sold them to the army, built roads, operated the Wells Brothers Overland Service, and farmed and ranched the then verdant valley. One became a circuit judge, one married the first single woman to homestead in southern Arizona, one ran a trading post in northern Arizona for the Indians for many years and one made the first bar of copper in the state.


Hilary, knew many shady characters on both sides of a badge, from constable/outlaw Billy Stiles to Sheriff John Slaughter, whose ranch wasn’t  far from his. Later, Rube [or RG as some new him], became a deputy sheriff in Tombstone and entertained his grand kids with many wild stories of his own. He and Del lived in Elfrida in a thick-walled adobe farmhouse with a tin roof and raised, railed porches wrapping three sides of it. Grandkids often stomped around on the porch hunting for the rattlesnakes that occasionally sought its cool shade. When hearing the tell-tale rattles, the screams alerted Grandma, who would yell through the screen door, “You kids quit playin’ with them rattlers.”


There’s no trace left of the home but one of the old homesteads at the Wells Settlement was still the site of many family get-together’s through the 90’s. The ramshackle house still had the hooks in the ceiling where the quilting frame once hung and a few old pickling and jam jars. There’s a tangled riot of weeds where the vegetable gardens once were and the old irrigation tank was still circled with towering cottonwoods and willows and full of water but no longer stocked with catfish. Picnic tables are well shaded under the big mulberry trees but there is little other evidence of the colorful characters and vigorous activity that once was there.