By Bob Cote

2010 marks another year of census taking in the United States; in fact, this census, taken every 10 years, will be the 23rd census since 1790.

Reading an article by David A. Norris in ‘True West’ magazine, I discovered that census takers in 1840 were paid two cents per name that they added to the population rolls, writing down each person’s name, age, gender, birthplace, occupation, and parent’s name. Obviously, in the unsettled and oft times unlawful west, a census taker’s life in Southern Arizona was a lonely and dangerous occupation, long hours and long rides between isolated settlements.

The1860 census in Arizona filed by Marshall D. J. Miller mentioned that fewer people existed at the time of filing than at the time of recording the information. His notes stated “Mr. Ward since killed by Indians”, John Power “assassinated by employees”, and another man “probably dead from wounds received by hostile Indians soon after I left his farm”. Miller’s census also recorded another individual’s $1,100 net worth of personal property, including “two Yuma Indian scalps with long plaited braids” valued at $100 each.

The 1880 census from Tombstone, future site of the gunfight at the O. K. Corral, noted Virgil Earp’s household, including his brother Wyatt S. (age 32); both were listed as “farmer’. At the same time the Clantons lived in Charlestown, Arizona, and Billy’s occupation was listed as “keeping dairy”. Billy’s brother Ike turned up in Yavapai County, Arizona Territory, as a “farmer”. Frank and Thomas McLaury, who both died at the gunfight, were noted as “stock raiser’. Bat Masterson was recorded in Dodge City, Kansas, as a “laborer”.

Defining occupations was always a subjective exercise. Cowboys were often recorded as “herding cattle”, “stock raiser”, or “laborer”, while town prostitutes were frequently listed as “Ogles fools”, “Diddles”, “Squirms in a deck”, or “Does horizontal work”. Comparing yearly census figures is fascinating as well:

Arizona City     1870                                1880 2000
Globe                                704   7,486
Phoenix               1,708         1,321,045
Prescott              668                 1,836               33,938
Tombstone                                 973 1,504
Tucson           3,224               7,007           486,699
Yuma                1,200              77,515

Today, many historical researchers peruse census records to trace the journeys of individuals as they made their way across the United States. The data collected by today’s census takers will not be of public record until 2082, for all personal census information remains closed for 72 years.


By Rick Hartigan

Photo by Roni Ziemba

Everyone is familiar with the Saguaro Cactus, if not by name then at least by it’s tall profile, holding its arms up to the sun. It is the stereotypical plant of the desert southwest. When you hike or ride about Tanque Verde Ranch, it is all about you, telling you by its presence that you are in the Sonoran Desert. Enjoy the sight, but don’t forget to look down. Cactus come in all sizes. The diminutive pincushion cactus, the Arizona Fishhook, is here to be admired as well. Usually the last of the cactus to bloom, it has already begun to display its beautiful pink flowers, the first of the cactus display this year.  You must look closely about you to find it. It is hiding among the rocks and other cactus, but it is there for those with the eyes to see it.

Sonoran Desert Basics

March 29, 2010

by Marcia Warwick

For many people the word “desert” brings to mind dry, sandy, baron and lifeless. Our desert, the Sonoran Desert, which is a “living desert”, encompasses southern Arizona, northwest Mexico and most of the Baja Peninsula. It is well known for its splendor and, of course, the amazing giant Saguaro cactus.

The abundant varieties of cacti and other vegetation, as well as wildlife, that call the Sonoran Desert home, not only survive the harsh unforgiving desert climate, but also thrive in it.  This desert is the most diverse habitat in the world. The remarkable biodiversity of flora and fauna can be observed on the hiking trails here at the Tanque Verde Ranch as well as those in Saguaro National Park, which is right next toTVR. Our trails take us into the desert wilderness to experience the splendor of nature. indigenous to the Sonoran desert.

We’ve had only trace amounts of fall/winter rain in the past 4 years. This fall and winter we have had extremely significant rain, which we must have in order to have a spectacular wildflower display in the spring. We are looking forward to about 750 different varieties of wildflowers in April, May and mid-June. There will be a rhapsody of wildflowers all over the desert terrain.

As always, we look forward to the summer rains, which bring most of the rain that we receive all year. It is called the monsoon season.  The winds change direction over the Gulf of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez and push north to the southwest. The air, which is warmer that the bodies of water, condenses and form clouds that become thunderheads when they reach the Sonoran desert, and so the rains come.  They fill the dry washes and become rivers, create waterfalls, produce large pools of water in the mountains.  The cactus become plumper and all other vegetation become greener.  Here at the Tanque Verde Ranch, which is nestled in the comer of the Rincon and Catalina mountain ranges, we experience the summer rains as we observe spectacular sunsets in the west and somewhere in between there are double rainbows.  It is truly magic….nature at it’s best!

For those of you not familiar with our area, here is a great map to help you find your way!

by Virginia VanderVeer

Last June, we took a small group of horse-lovers to the land where the horse originated – Mongolia, the land of the blue sky. Many people said to me, “Where is Mongolia?”  It is a democratic country, sandwiched between China and Russia.  We had a rare glimpse into an ancient culture and the last unspoiled wilderness in Asia.

Guided by Urnaa and Terbish, our wonderful Mongolian guides, we visited the friendly and hospitable nomads, still living in their colorfully decorated tents called gers.  The nomads live with their huge herds of horses, cashmere goats (this is where cashmere comes from!), yaks, camels and sheep. It is a vast country with traditions dating back to the time of their hero, Genghis Khan.

In the Gobi Desert and steppes, we rode a Mongolian horse, a Bactrian camel (a 2-humped, docile beast!), we hiked to ancient monasteries and into a valley with a glacier – in June!   Wildflowers and large birds – many eagles and hawks, were everywhere.  We saw wild antelope racing away.

We actually saw a nomad family milking a mare, from which vodka is made.  A visit to a camel-herding family included seeing camels milked.  In Hustai National Park, we saw a herd of the last remaining descendants of the original horses.

Mongolia is still today, a horse-based culture.  Every child learns to ride from the time they are three years old.  The domestic Mongolian horse is somewhat smaller than our horses, but they are docile, tough and have endless endurance.

Their national festival, Naadam held each year in July, feature horse races over the country-side for many miles.  The “jockeys” are children, as they are lighter in weight and the horse can go faster with a lighter load!  It would be great to import a Mongolian horse to use in our endurance racing in the U.S.  What a disappointment to learn that Mongolian horses are considered their national treasure and may not be exported!

It is generally accepted that the horse originated on the steppes of Mongolia.  The so-called “Przewalski” horse, or Takhi as the Mongolians call it, and ancestor of today’s horses is alive and well in Hustai National Park, southwest of the capital, Ulaanbaatar.  In the last century, the takhi were hunted almost to extinction.  In an effort to preserve the race of the original horse, foresighted Europeans took some mares and stallions to Europe.  Early in the 1990’s the Dutch decided the horses belonged in their homeland.  Today there is a herd of over 200 under the protection of Hustai National Park, where they are studied by scientists, assisted by eco-volunteers.  I served as a volunteer there last summer.  This was a fabulous experience and offered many hiking opportunities.

The Takhi at Hustai form “harems” consisting of a stallion, several mares and foals.  During the day they are off in the hills, happily grazing.  In the noon-day sun, they often stand in the shade of rocky outcroppings or go into the forest.   At dusk, they come down to a green valley with a stream to drink.  This is the time when we see them easily.  They spend the night near the stream, guarded by Park Rangers seeking to protect the foals from their major predators – wolves!

The Takhi or native Mongolian horse is a small, sturdy animal with a short neck.  Apart from a dark stripe running along the top of its body, it is sand-colored.  The mane and tail are brown and the legs have stripes like a zebra.  It is a meaningful experience to see these creatures that are considered to be the ancestor of all horses.

by Roni Ziemba

This weeks Tuesday question was in regards to Jesse Evans (a Billy the Kid companion) who supposedly killed John Henry Tunstall in 1878. I have come across various accounts of the killing, some that dispute who actually killed Tunstall.  One Wikipedia article that provides some additional information –

Below is also a string of emails and references to Frederick Nolan, “widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on the history of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War.” It is a subject I am further pursuing and am anxious to read Nolans literature on the subject. I thought that some of our TVR FB Fans might be interested as well. Here is what I have dug up so far….

Today I ran across a relevant and interesting piece by Bob Boze Bell of True West Magazine. It also touches upon the census, which our own Bob Cote will be posting a blog on in the next few days.    -Roni

November 27, 2009

Time to catch up on some William H. Bonney clarifications. Last week, on the Kid’s alleged birthday, I launched off on a series of statements that caught the eye of a certain scholar in Chalfont Saint Giles, England. Here are his corrections and the subsequent exchange:

“Actually Our Billy told the 1880 census taker (or the census taker, deciding discretion was the better part of valor, skipped that particular house and wrote down the first thing that came into his head) he was born in Missouri, Bob, not New Orleans, and that he was 22, not 24 or 25. Did he lie or did the census taker?

“His brother(?)/half-brother(?) Joe, told at least two census-takers he (Joe) was born in New York. Even more interestingly, he told one of them his father was a New Yorker and his mother was born in England, (so much for the “jolly Irish lady”) then thirty years later told another census-taker they were both born in New York. Mind you, by then Joe had probably worked his way through more than a few barrels of nirvana juice, so no telling what condition his brain was in.

“And one more thing: although I was indeed a child prodigy and wrote short stories that drove Hemingway mad with jealousy, I sure as hell never located the Tunstall papers when I was nineteen. But hey, you go ahead f— up the legend as much as you like, everyone else does.

Love to Kathy,

—Fred Nolan

I sent Fred an email telling him I knew he would correct my gaffs, and he sent me back this missive:


If I had known you were relying on me to correct you I’d have let you wallow in it, but because I’m such a sweetheart, I’ll let it ride. I just hope you realize what priceless pearls of wisdom I send you.



I do realize how priceless the gems are that you send me and I’ll never forget how you corrected—via fax machine!— my entire BTK book in 1996. That was true friendship. You didn’t have to do that and I will never forget it. Thanks again.



You are welcome. As for the discovery of the Tunstall documents (1956, Bob, 1956) , here’s the typically-modest intro I wrote for the new edition of THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JHT which has just been published by Sunstone Press (plug, plug!!!).


Revised Edition with a New Foreword by the Author and an Addendum with Corrections

By Frederick Nolan

The letters and diaries of John Henry Tunstall, a young rancher-Englishman murdered in 1878 during New Mexico Territory’s Lincoln County War.

Order from Sunstone: (800) 243-5644


In 1956, Frederick Nolan, then 25, located in the archives of the British Foreign Office a substantial file of original correspondence between the British and American governments, the family of John Tunstall, and many of the participants in the New Mexico Territory’s Lincoln County War. Soon after this he was given unconditional access to Tunstall’s letters and diaries, and three and a half years later—although he had never set foot in the United States—completed a biography based upon the sympathetically-edited letters and diaries of the young English rancher whose brutal murder in February, 1878, triggered the bitter and unrelenting violence that followed.

His widely-acclaimed debut is recognized today as a breakthrough work which completely revolutionized historical understanding of the personalities and events of New Mexico’s Lincoln County War and in the process changed forever the way the subject would be written about. The first book ever to link those events to the shadowy cabal known as the Santa Fe Ring, the first book ever to place Billy the Kid in the true context of his time, the first book ever to make available the letters of such men as Alexander McSween, Huston Chapman, and the hitherto unknown Robert Widenmann, it set new standards for both research and writing in this field and in the process became a classic. It is augmented in this edition with a new foreword and a supplement of corrections to the first edition which incorporates the author’s more recent historical and biographical research.

Frederick Nolan is widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on the history of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War and both he and his work on the subject have been garlanded with honors. He has received the Border Regional Library Association of Texas’ Award for Literary Excellence, the first France V. Scholes Prize from the Historical Society of New Mexico, and the first J. Evetts Haley Fellowship from the Haley Memorial Library in Midland, Texas. The Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association has presented him with its highest honor, the Glenn Shirley Award, for his lifetime contribution to outlaw-lawman history and The Westerners Foundation has named his The West of Billy the Kid one of the 100 most important 20th-century historical works on the American West. In 2007 the National Outlaw-Lawman Association awarded him its prestigious William D. Reynolds Award in recognition of his outstanding research and writing in Western history and in 2008 True West magazine named him “Best Living Non-Fiction Writer.” Among his other books about the West are an annotated edition of Pat Garrett’s Authentic Life of Billy the Kid; Bad Blood: the Life and Times of the Horrell Brothers; The West of Billy the Kid; and The Lincoln County War, the latter from Sunstone Press in a new edition. He lives in England.


7 X 10

ISBN: 978-0-86534722-9

548 pp., $45.00

By Rick Hartigan

Photos by Roni Ziemba

Standing on the bank of Jojoba Wash at Tanque Verde Wash, I look to the southeast at a sight I never get tired of; the mature stand of saguaro cactus at the base of the Rincon Mountains. But now it is special. Spring is coming, and the winter rains have been generous.

Dry most of the year, the wash babbles with the run-off of the recent rains and snow melt from the slopes of Mica Mountain and Tanque Verde Peak. Those of us that live here know what a special treat a flowing wash is. Dry so much of the year, the wash now carries the water that will feed the wildflower display in the weeks to come.

The Catalina Mountains to the north and the Rincon Mountains to the east wear a cumulous hat this morning, shielding their snowfields from the sun, and our sight for the moment. But the flanks of the mountains, exposed to the sun, show the clear definition of their cliffs and spires so easy to see with the sun’s low angle. Young mountains, never touched by glaciers, they stand around us in all their rugged majesty.

Flowers have begun their annual appearance. Tentative at first, as if carefully reconnoitering unfamiliar territory for the legions to follow, a few Fairy Dusters show their pink and white powder puffs.

The first Dalea, or Indigo Bush, tries to hide its diminutive pink blue flower by a nearby Brittle Bush that is raising its buds high above its leaves to burst yellow in the next few weeks. A few early Ocotillo have raised their crimson clusters of trumpets high for the first hummingbirds passing through on their ambitious migration to the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia and Alaska. Back near the ranch buildings, Blue Dicks and Tackstem have begun to appear. The desert floor is carpeted in green now with the annuals that will present their flowers later. They have waited as seed, hidden among the rocks, for the right conditions for years. Their time is now.


The cactus, true to their schedules, wait for the right moment to produce their flowers. Hedgehog will start the parade with their magenta baskets in late March.  The Saguaro will show its first blossoms in late April and peak in late May to early June. The members of the Opuntia, the Prickly Pear and the Cholla, will add their flowers to the show in April and May. The petit Pincushion will be the last to appear, typically arriving in June, although some do appear early.

The winter rains have promised a good flowering season this year. Today’s weather forecast calls for rain this evening, adding to the promise. We look forward to a superb show of flowers this year.

By Bob Cote

In 1868, when Emilio Carrillo settled at the Tanque Verde, the Arizona Cattle Industry was just beginning to re-establish itself. The start of the Civil War in 1861 forced the withdrawal of all federal troops from the Arizona Territory and the Apache soon resumed their raids against the outlying ranches that were established shortly after the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. With the end of the war, federal troops returned to Arizona and began taking control of the ranching communities. By 1869 there were more than 2000 troops stationed in 14 military posts throughout Arizona. And, by the end of the Apache uprising in the mid-1880’s, nearly one half of all federal line troops were stationed in Arizona.

Carrillo’s timing for the settlement of the Tanque Verde could not have been better. The Gold Rush in California created an active market for beef and the coming of the railroad to Tucson opened a huge market. In addition, the vagaries of drought and weather in Texas and California spurred a burgeoning industry.

However, as is often the case, the Arizona ranchers grew their herds to such an extent that by 1890 there were upwards of over 1 1/2 million head of cattle in Arizona. Carrillo, however, was fortunate in that the Tanque Verde was well watered with adequate range. Nonetheless, the overstocking of rangeland and the severe drought of 1891-1892 forced the closure of many ranches in Southern Arizona.

Those that survived learned well from the crisis the need for proper fencing to allow for herd rotation and for selective breeding for a more quality based herd. Today our cattle ranch, some 60,000 acres on the Coronado National Forest just to the east of us, maintains this dedication to productive rotation and selective stock breeding. A more scientific approach to the management of our cattle operation has produced long term benefits to the land and its use.

What are these new “Musings?” Well, we are venturing into uncharted territories here…. our own western frontier,  if you will, stumbling our way into this new world of Social Media. Blogging is part of those new horizons.

Blogging… Is it a journal? An article? A discussion? For us this blogging “thing” is all these and more. It is about the things we love here at Tanque Verde Ranch. Bob might write about the ranch in 1924 when guest ranching was in its infancy. I might explore how Charles Russell could have impacted Custer’s battle. Steve might write about our worm farm, or the mechanics of driving a work horse. Whatever we write about will somehow relate to the ranch, but you can bet it will be as varied as the activities we offer here. Whatever we muse upon, it will be fun, educational, and hopefully interesting to our Fans.

There are so many new and exciting happenings around the ranch. Our Musings are just one example. We hope you follow us here on our new blog. We look forward to hearing what you want to read about!

Warmest regards, Roni

p.s. Please be patient with us as we navigate this new terrain!