The primary elections and presidential conventions have come and gone and the general election draws closer. This week, I thought it might be fun to go back to the fall of 1900 and look at how the area responded to that election.
In 1900, Payson had a population of about 150 people. It was still quite remote, with the Reno Road being the main route to Payson from the Phoenix area. Nevertheless, many politicians came through the area to campaign, as clips from Payson correspondent columns in Globe’s Arizona Silver Belt show.
“W.T. Armstrong, sheriff of this county, and a candidate for re-nomination for that office, came in today to look over the political situation.” — Payson News, Aug. 30, 1900 Arizona Silver Belt
Payson clearly had pride, perhaps a little too much so, as this clip from the Sept. 6, 1900 Arizona Silver Belt shows. — “Payson, one hundred miles from any part of the world where daily news is received, has more thoroughly posted politicians on the current events of the day than any other village of its size in Arizona. The result of the next presidential election should see one or more cabinet officials chosen from this section.”
The 1900 presidential race was a rematch of 1896, when Republican William McKinley battled Democrat William Jennings Bryan. While McKinley won the election easily he was not as well received in Arizona where Democrats ruled. Locally, the presidential election provided the stage for a rather large bet.
“A political bet on the state of California was made a few days ago and the same placed with J.W. Boardman. The bet is that W.J. Bryan does not carry an electoral vote in that state. Mining stock is the stakes — 10,000 shares a side — if taken at par, $20,000 makes a bet worthy of any community, but we learn that the stock is actually selling at 12 and 15 cents per share, which still makes the sports of Payson blooded.” — Payson News, Oct. 4, 1900, Arizona Silver Belt
Make no bones about it, elections were a big deal, as the continuation of the Oct. 4, 1900 Payson News shows. — “We hear of only one populist in this section, and he is elated over the fact that his party did not put a ticket in the field this year to be criticised.”
“So far less than one-half of the citizens of this precinct have registered, but no doubt all, or nearly all, will be on the register in time to do business election day, as poll tax receipts are becoming popular. The present indications are that a hard fight will be made by the republicans to win out a few majorities, but we must conclude that here their majority will be the other way, and complete.”
There was a poll tax in 1900, which required people to pay to vote. Disgust over this is evident in a clip from the Oct. 18, 1900 Payson News correspondent column from the Arizona Silver Belt. — “It has been steadily raining since yesterday evening and has the appearance of continuing for several days. Candidates should take their slickers with them when contemplating a trip into this section, and be prepared for a wetting inside and out, as no doubt a plentiful supply of stimulants, “Fall of 1900” and “blended” goods will be hereafter constantly kept on hand.
“Registration has been active the past few days and Payson will tally up her usual number of citizens on the 6th day of November, regardless of the poll tax joker.”
Oddly enough, a week later the tone of the columnist seems to change with regards to the poll tax. Perhaps the general public of Payson did not agree with their previous statement.
“Now that the time for registration has passed the poll tax law has either proved to be obnoxious to the majority or else must be accepted as a good thing. The citizens of this precinct generally express themselves as fully satisfied with the law, except that the poll tax receipt should also be produced in order to vote at a primary election.” — Payson News, Oct. 25, 1900, Arizona Silver Belt
A good party thrown by candidates was important in 1900, as the following clip from the Payson News column of the Nov. 1, 1900 Arizona Silver Belt shows. — “The democratic candidates left Tuesday for Gisela while here they entertained the people with speech making, dances and supper, all of which was duly appreciated by the Paysonites.
“Considerable money was spent here during the past few days, and in consequences, Payson is a little lively.”
Who helped run the elections at the local precincts? This clip from the Nov. 1, 1900 Arizona Silver Belt provides some insight.
Rye Precinct - No. 4 - Inspector Sam Haught. Judges H.D. Tardy, W.R. Neal. Marshal Silas Minker. Clerks W.H. Fisher, A.M. Despain
Payson Precinct No. 5 - Inspector W.C. Colcord. Judges B.F. Stewart, J.W. Wentworth. Marshal John Chilson. Clerks W.H. Hilligass, Robt. W. Hill
Pine Precinct No. 6 - Inspector D.H. Jones Judges A.J. Randall, P.C. Miller. Marshal Straud Lowthian. Clerks Geo. H. Hunt, J.R. Emmons.
Pleasant Valley Precinct No. 7 - Inspector R.H. Samuels. Judges H.J. Messenger, Louis Nagelin. Marshal G.O. Sixby, Clerks Chas McFarland, J.W. Ellison
Finally, the election concluded. Obviously, it wasn’t the best year for the Democrats as this clip from the Nov. 15, 1900 Arizona Silver Belt shows. —“Everybody is glad that election is over, although some disappointment over the result is felt.”
Let’s take a look at how Payson voted in the local elections, as stated in the Nov. 8, 1900 Arizona Silver Belt.
Delegate - Smith, 63; Murphy, 20.
Councilman - Claypool, 57; Peter, 28; Botticher, 1.
Assemblyman - Houston, 62; Martin, 22.
Sheriff - Thompson, 52; Armer, 34.
District Attorney - Stoneman, 55; Aley, 25.
Treasurer - Morehead, 70.
Recorder - Williams, 63; Fisk, 20.
Probate Judge - Roertson, 57; Huffer, 28.
Supervisors - Oldfield, 55; Fuller, 58; Curnutt, 20; Winters, 24.
Justice of the Peace - J.O. Hill, 36.
Constable - Colcord, 47.
After the election was done, the pace of town changed quite a bit, as this clip from the Nov. 22, 1900 Arizona Silver Belt shows. — “Since the election is over, quite a number of our worthy citizens have gone out into the mountains hunting, while others have pulled out to do annual assessment work, so that at this writing, the town is practically dead as to legitimate business, and is partially in the hands of a few idle gossipers, who certainly do not fail to grasp an opportunity to “burn” their neighbors, regardless of results. Gossipping or libel has become almost a chronic mania in Payson and other parts of the Basin, much to the discredit of those engaged in such.”