Friday, May 05, 2006

May 5, 2006
Another tip of the hat to Darcy Peterson, the gal who has been helping me organize my studio. I was looking for Buffalo Soldier and mule photo reference in my library last night and I spied the word “Eden” on the spine of a book on the top shelf in the new Town section. I often buy used books at yard sales featuring those really bad books put out by small towns on their history. I usually buy them on the off-chance that they run old photos I might be able to use.

Now the word “Eden” was fresh in my mind, because yesterday while culling pertinent facts out of Larry Ball’s definitive book on the Whambam robbery I found this bit of info:

Homeward Bound
After the robbery, the outlaws split into two groups, with one going north towards Fort Thomas and Pima, and the other going south towards Norton’s ranch. The northbound robbers (believed to be seven in number) made a beeline to the Gila River and crossed at Eden, where they threw incriminating evidence into the deep water, then went upriver (east) to the Holladay Crossing and recrossed. The next day, trackers found hoofprints leading from there straight to Ed Follett’s ranch. A week later, on May 19, a group of kids were swimming in the river, and in a shallow slough (the river had gone down dramatically) the children found six-shooters, canned goods, a pair of boots filled with rocks, and a bunch of horse shoe nails tied up in a silk handkerchief (trackers claimed the robbers tried to throw them off by putting horseshoes on their mounts backwards). When the pistol showed up in Pima, it was claimed by, none other than Gilbert Webb who alleged it had been lost by his son Wildred during a high water crossing.

I pulled down the book and sure enough, it was a local history take on the same small berg of Eden referred to in Ball’s book. Of course, just like the Pima Centennial book I have, there is not one word on the Whambam robbery, but in the Eden book I discovered a bio and photo of Frederick Taft Webb (his father Gilbert Webb, see above, is considered the mastermind of the robbery, and his sons are believed to have participated in the robbery with him). To me, Fred’s got the eyes of a hardened criminal, but his bio reads like a Sunday school teacher. In fact he was a teacher in Eden for ten years (1888 to 1898), but evidently gave up that profession for something that pays better, like highway robbery! (this isn’t in the book of course). Fred went to school at Tempe Normal School (later ASU), and he married a Holladay girl (see river crossing above) Other benign entries include: “Fred was always active in church and community activities. He organized and was manager of the outstanding Pima baseball team.”

There’s more: “In recognition of his ability and sound judgement, the people of his legislative district in Graham County called on Fred to represent them in the House of Representatives of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Legislature [often called the “Thieving Thirteenth”]. In this legislative work he exercised the same full measure of conscientiousness and close attention to duty that distinguished his whole career.

“Fred died on April 17, 1954, at his home in Pima at the age of 87 years. Inza [Holladay Webb] lived alone until her death on October 6, 1966. They re both buried in the Pima Cemetery.”

Inza by the way, was one of his students, who he dated when she was sixteen and he was 28! Eden? Boy Howdy!

Tombstone Proves Blog Worthy
“May 3rd's posting with the exciting news about the extra Tombstone
movie footage is exactly why you need to keep doing this blog!”
—Mark Kilburn

There’s more. The actor also told Henry Beck that at one point, just before filming started, Willem Defoe was being considered for the roll of Doc Holliday. Of course, Val Kilmer got the nod and was great, but Defoe would have been an excellent choice and he even looks like Doc! The producers also considered having Kurt Russell play Doc with Richard Gere as Wyatt Earp! Now that would have been a train wreck.

Whambam Photos, Finally
Here’s a couple images I shot out at the Whambam site last Saturday. That’s Robert McElroy in the foreground, firing from the exact spot the Buffalo Soldiers tried to defend on May 11, 1889. In one of the photos he’s aiming directly back at Fort #1, where the main contingent of robbers fired from and where Wham later discovered hundreds of exploded shells. The soldiers couldn’t hold this position because the outlaws had another fort on the west side of the road, directly below (south of) this position and were pouring "enfilade" fire in on the troopers. Robert McElroy is an ex-marine (notice his fine firing form) and he told me enfilade fire is triangulated fire, coming in from three sides. That’s Rob Bandhauer , another TW staffer, firing in the background. My job now, is to add another seven or eight soldiers in along this four-foot high ridge to illustrate the pivotal point of the battle. Eight of the soldiers were wounded by the time they evacuated down the hill to Cottonwood Creek.

“Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.”
—Mark Twain

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