At long last we have the Pleasant Valley War book back from the printer. It will be released in Payson at a book signing from 4 to 6 p.m., Friday, May 8 at the Payson Womans Club. For those who can’t make it Friday, we will again be at the Womans Club on Saturday, May 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Pleasant Valley War greatly affected the early Payson pioneers and even delayed Arizona’s statehood by several years. Following is a brief excerpt of the book by Jinx Pyle:
The life of the sheepherder meant little in the 1887, Arizona Territory. The sheep, though, were worth money and Daggs Brothers still had some influence in Prescott, enough apparently to bring pressure on Yavapai County Sheriff Billy Mulvenon to take a posse into Pleasant Valley.
Mulvenon set out for the valley by way of Camp Verde with a couple of deputies, Jim Tackett and Tom Brannon. Also with Mulvenon was Deputy U.S. Marshal Donovan. Mulvenon’s mission was to ride into the valley, ascertain the facts, and arrest those responsible. This was a grandiose undertaking with a four-man posse, as Mulvenon was to learn.
Billy Mulvenon and his men left Camp Verde heading east on the trail from Camp Verde to Fort Apache, known as the Old Verde Road, and in the late afternoon arrived at the camp of two young cowboys. The cowboys were camped in a draw with a small spring on top of the Mogollon. Mulvenon and his men were invited to camp with the cowboys, an invitation they gladly accepted. The men were sitting around the fire after supper when several riders came up and halted in the fringe of pines around the camp. One of the men halooed the camp and called for Mulvenon. The sheriff invited the men to come in, but was accommodated by only one of the riders who did not dismount.
Without introducing himself, the rider simply told Mulvenon to turn around and get out of the country. The conversation is related in Pat Savage’s book, One Last Frontier:
“Mulvenon,” he said, “you can’t take anyone out of here. They won’t go. If you try, you’ll just get killed, all of you, and no one will ever know who did it, just as we don’t know who is killing who right here among us. This is our fight. When we get it settled, if there is anyone left, we will send for you to come in. We got no quarrel with you and we are just tellin’ you for your own good. You better get out.”
Billy Mulvenon was a county sheriff. He commanded respect, and certainly no one ever talked to him like this young rider. Mulvenon told the rider that if he and his men couldn’t handle the job, he could bring in the militia.
The rider laughed, and we will return to Pat Savage for the remainder of his response:
“And what could the militia do?” he queried. “They couldn’t find an army in here if the army wanted to hide. There’s a bunch over on that hill right now looking straight at you, but you don’t even know who it is, and never will know. We don’t know and nobody else neither. And wherever your militia goes, it will be the same way. And what would you do with us if you did take us to Prescott? You got no witnesses to nothin’. You better go.” He wheeled his horse and rode off into the night.
Young Jim Tewksbury often played the role of spokesman for the Tewksbury faction. As will be seen, he was the Tewksbury spokesman at the Middleton Ranch shootout and he was in all likelihood the conversationalist who told Mulvenon, “You better go.”
Mulvenon continued on the trail to Pleasant Valley despite the young rider’s advice. Little time had elapsed, however, when he and his posse came upon several men, all riding with rifles in hand across the pommels of their saddles. He was told again to go back and told again he would be called when the fighting was done. Until then, he was not needed. Mulvenon realized he was talking to men from the opposite faction, than the rider he talked to the previous night. Billy Mulvenon was no fool. He sized up his posse, measured his opposition, weighed his chances, and returned to Prescott.
This book was over three years in the making and has been in line at the book printers for four months. For those of you who have waited, thank you!
Como Siempré, Jinx Pyle