1899 ATROCIOUS MURDERS: Account of Oliver A. Benedict.
"On Sunday, July 2, 1899, "a meeting was held at the old abandoned military post for making plans for a Fourth of July celebration --- a picnic and dance. After the meeting adjourned everybody went home."
"Mr. Head and I had just lain down on our beds on the porch of the Sunnyside house" (later owned by Mr. and Mrs. Gil Harris) "when we heard gun shots in the direction of the store. Mr. Head said, 'I do not like that.' In a few minutes we heard Lou Turner's feet clattering down the road and he was calling, 'Boss, get your guns,' again and again. Charles Harbeson and his wife lived nearby and were sleeping on the porch when Boss Head called, 'Charles, come over.' When Lou Turner related what had happened, Lou, Mr. Head, Charles Harbeson, and I started for the store on foot as fast as we could go. We were the first to reach the scene after the shooting."
"We found Captain Boyd limping around with his leg bandaged with a handkerchief. Mack Rogers lay dying where he had fallen and Clint, also lying on the floor, was still alive and suffering terribly. The latter was paralyzed from the waist down."
"As people heard of the tragedy they gathered around with a spirit of helpfulness. Dr. Jim Ketcherside and his father Dr. Enoch Ketcherside came to do what they could."
"After making Clint as comfortable as possible, Boss Head sat down at the desk which Clint had just vacated and wrote a letter to County Sheriff John L. Munds in Prescott, telling of the fateful event."
"Harvey Hance volunteered to make the trip by horse to get the sheriff. Clint owned a beautiful chestnut sorrel horse named Fashion. He was unshod but otherwise in good condition. Harvey rode this horse, traveled all night and reached Prescott early the next morning. As he had not always followed the established roads but had taken many shortcuts, the horse's feet were so sore he was unable to come back to Camp Verde for nearly a month."
"John Munds and his deputy, John Drew, started at once for the Verde on horseback. John Munds arrived at 10 a.m., but Joe Drew was a large man and his horse gave out near the Cienega so he did not get in until about two hours later."
"A posse was organized and Indians were asked to trail the criminal." The men rode out with the idea of catching the murderer within a day or two, so they left without blankets or food. Many of the men had to return within a few days.
"Mr. George W. Sessions, the Justice of the Peace from Cherry Creek, came, and an inquest was held. There were no undertakers; so Mr. George Pattee cared for the bodies." ...
"Funeral services were held on July 4, 1899, for Mack Rogers and Clint Wingfield." People gathered around the store porch. Claude Thompson, a Methodist circuit rider in the Valley, provided a very impressive service.
"The old Sutlers store at Camp Verde was then owned by Mack Rogers and Clint Wingfield. ... Lou Turner was hired to help in the store during the holidays and Captain Boyd was a retired prospector who was boarding at the Rogers home."
According to Oliver Benedict, "Mack Rogers, Lou Turner, Captain Boyd and the mail carrier, Hopkins, who carried mail between Camp Verde and Payson, were sitting on the store porch."
"Mack got up and walked to the east end of the porch, and there just around the corner, a man was sitting cowboy style on the ground with his back against the east wall of the store. The fellow asked Mack how far it was to Jerome. Mack replied, 'Twenty-eight miles by trail.' The stranger then replied, 'Are you closing up?' Mack answered, 'Yes, do you want anything?' Receiving 'no' for an answer, Mack went back in and sat down."
"Lou Turner was making preparations to close the store. He had closed the front door, which fastened with an iron bar on the inside, and also the wooden shutters to the windows of the store and post office."
"Very shortly the stranger got up from the ground, walked around to the front of the porch, and faced Mack, who was sitting near the second door of the old adobe store. The stranger jerked out his pistol and said, 'Get inside!' Mack jumped up and ran inside for his gun which was in one of the store bedrooms formerly occupied by Boss Head. The would-be-robber ran after him and said, 'Stop, Mack, this won't do,' and shot him within 10 feet of his gun."
"Clint Wingfield, who was in his bedroom in the store working at his desk, jumped up and ran toward the porch to determine the cause of the shooting. The bandit had retraced his steps and came up behind Clint and shot him in the back just as he reached the porch door."
"Captain Boyd was sitting near a porch post and when he saw Clint fall, he jumped up and ran toward the outlaw. The outlaw ducked his gun, shot the Captain in the leg, and said, 'If you don't run, I'll shoot all of you.' Lou Turner and the mail carrier ran. Lou ran down to Mr. Head's Sunnyside home for help, and the mail carrier ran around to the back of the store, jumped over an adobe wall, which was part of the corral, and lay down very quietly."
"Thus ends the story of the tragedy that ended the lives of Mack Rogers and Clint Wingfield, both men of sterling qualities, always standing for what was good and upright. They were useful citizens and had no enemies and were beloved by all who knew them."
(see: Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; The Verde Valley Pioneers Association; 1954; pages 201-202.)
Oliver Avery Benedict came to Arizona Territory to be an employee of Mr. Head in Camp Verde.
Oliver Benedict was born in South Lebanon, Madison County, New York, on June 23, 1887; the son of Franklin Jeril Benedict. Oliver married Edna Getha Munds, daughter of James and Hattie (Loy) Munds on June 19, 1906, and they became the parents of several children. (see: birth and death, census, and cemetery information.)
The Benedict and Head families were related by at least two marriages.
"GONE AND DID IT. --- Addison W. Head, formerly in the employ of his uncles, C. P. & W. S. Head of this town, has taken unto himself a better half. He was married on the 11th of September at Lebanon, N. Y., to Miss Alletta S. Benedict, said to be accomplished and handsome. We wish Mr. and Mrs. Head and all the future Heads, health, prosperity and a long life." (The Weekly Arizona Miner; Prescott; October 10, 1879; page 4, column 1.)
Tombstones at Lebanon Village Cemetery, Madison County, New York: Jarvis A. Head (born April 8, 1929; died May 29, 1901) "Father" and Thirza E. Benedict (died July 16, 18(5?)4, age 25y, 4m, 26d) wife and "Mother." (copied Sept. 11, 1931 by James Madison Chapter D.A.R.)