First of all, my grandmother, Janet (Walker) Harris is born in Apache, Arizona in 1912. Consequently, this is the same year that Arizona becomes a state.
As a matter of fact, here is my Great Grandmother, Harriet Walker “Gaunte” and Great Grandfather “Poppa” along with Papa’s sister Margaret (Maggie) and her husband, Harry Davis homestead in Apache, Arizona before Arizona was a state. Correspondingly, we believe they stay 6 or 7 years around 1910 or so. Likewise, each couple homestead a piece of land 640 acres. Accordingly, the two properties are next to each other and they build a house or houses on the line between the two properties. Ironically, Apache is very close to Rodeo, New Mexico and in the area of Arizona with Douglas and Bisbee.
Notably, the two women and various children are alone on the homestead since Poppa works on the railroad and travels with Harry Davis to El Paso, Texas. As a matter of fact, the railroad line runs from El Paso to Douglas and we believe that the two men return home on the railroad. Furthermore, perhaps they are able to get the train to stop in Apache.
Most noteworthy, we do not have exact dates for their time in Arizona. In like manner, William Walker, Bill, is born in Morenci, Arizona in 1911, so we think that they are in Apache at that time. Consequently, Robert Walker, who dies at 18 months and Mary Jane Walker (my Grandmother) are born in Apache. In conclusion, Harry Davis Walker, “Budgie”, is born in 1916 in El Paso, so they apparently they return to living in El Paso, Texas by then.
A family legend is that Gaunte writes the U.S. Government and requests them to send a teacher to Apache. The wooden school stands next to the railroad track. Janet remembers walking along the railroad track from the house to the school. The requirement was that 8 students are in need for a school and Gaunte sends all the kids, no matter how young, to make the requisite number.
By 1916, the family returns to El Paso. Family lore says that a man looses his life over a cattle deal in the front yard of the house in front of Gaunte and Maggie. Remember the two women and their children are alone on the homestead most of the time. The family decides to give up on homesteading. We believe that when Robert dies, Gaunte is done with Arizona. She thinks that if they were living in a town, that he might have lived.
So Gaunte and Poppa return to El paso or start living there to raise their family. Poppa goes into the real estate business and sells farms in the valley. In his obituary, his title is a real estate broker. An interesting side note to Poppa is that he is said to be the only Republican in El Paso and was famous for his hatred of Roosevelt. Poppa runs for office each year, as county clerk, so that there is a Republican on the ballet. He never wins, but maybe that is why everyone calls him “The Governor”. At his death, authorities discover that he never pays income taxes. The family decides to just ignore that issue and move on.
Apache is in Southern Arizona, close to the New Mexico border. In the late 1800’s, this is Geronimo’s stomping ground and there is a monument to him in the road just outside of Apache towards the homestead. Skeleton Canyon is also very near the homestead and there are several pictures of the family showing a picnic at Skeleton Canyon.
During Poppa’s railroad career, he is moving prisoners to Kansas to the Leavenworth Prison. After his death, some documents seem to indicate that he is actually a Pinkerton Agent for the railroad. He and Gaunte never talk about it but during WW2, the government summons him to the shipyard in Redondo Beach, California for some security issue. This may confirm that he is a Pinkerton Agent after all.
The Douglas Arizona area is really hopping at the time Gaunte and Poppa were homesteading.
1911 The Mexican Revolution is in progress right across the border from Douglas, Arizona.
1912 Black Jack Pershing arrives in Douglas to back up the troops.
1913 The railroad extends to Bisbee due to mining.
1914 Phelps Dodge copper Mines are operating overtime to supply metals to the war effort.
1915 Pancho Villa and Oberegon are battling in Agua Prieta across the border from Douglas, Arizona.
Very crazy time to be living on a homestead near by.