Sat, Feb. 22

Verde Heritage -- Verde Pioneer: Joseph Melvin, Part 1.

"During February of 1865, a group of 10 men, including Joseph Melvin, arrived at a massive Indian ruin located between the Verde River and Clear Fork. The men converted the stone of the old ruin into a fort 60 feet long and 40 feet wide. The walls were built to a height of 7 or 8 feet, being 4 feet thick at the bottom and 2 feet thick at the top. Log cabins were built in each corner. These cabins were occupied during April as follows: the northwest by James M. Swetnam, Clayton M. Ralston and Mac Foster; the northeast by William L. Osborn, Joseph Melvin, Henry D. L. Morse, Charles Yates and John A. Culbertson; the southeast by John Lang and Jacob Ramstein; and the southwest by Mr. and Mrs. (Lydia) Aretas Whitcomb, Mr. and Mrs. (Lois) Ed. A. Boblett and Thomas S. Ruff. (History of Arizona; by Thomas Edwin Farish; Volume IV; 1916; pages 221-223.)

"Joseph Melvin was involved in the daily routine of hard work and took an active part in the exciting adventures at "The Settlement" during the first year, as recorded by the diaries of James M. Swetnam and Lois Boblett. During 1902, Edward Boblett related another event to James A. Strahan: Ed. Boblett "and Joe Melvin and 'Poker' Johnson and another party went out to gather wild grapes along Clear Creek. While there someone brought the news that Lincoln had been assassinated. Ed. said Melvin jumped up, popped his heels together, and said it was the best thing that ever happened. Boblett took the matter up with Joe and they went at it fist and skull. Joe was found on the bottom in the sand." (Verde Independent; June 22, 1972; from Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley.)

During the Civil War, any citizen of the North who opposed the war policy and advocated restoration of the Union through a negotiated settlement with the South was called a Peace Democrat. After June 20, 1861, when the New York Tribune compared them to a snake that sneaks and strikes without warning, they were called Copperheads. Apparently, Joe Melvin, who was from Pennsylvania, had not supported President Lincoln, and had been opposed to armed conflict during the War Between the States. As a result, Joe was not allowed to sell anything he produced to the military posts of Camp Lincoln or Fort Whipple. When the military advertised proposals for civilians to provide wood, hay, corn, grain and other supplies, the stipulation was; "No bid will be entertained from any person who has given aid or comfort to further the late rebellion." (Arizona Miner; April 11, 1866; page 3.) Joe Melvin found plenty of customers in Prescott.

When the Board of Supervisors of Yavapai County met in Prescott on April 16, 1866, they appointed King S. Woolsey, Joseph Melvin, and C. M. Ralston to be a Board of Viewers, to survey the "road from Prescott to the settlements on the Verde, and make a report to the next regular meeting without charge to the county." (Arizona Miner; April 25, 1866; page 3.)

Visit to Lower Verde on July 18, 1866: "I found and was welcomed by some 25 or 30 citizen pioneers of Arizona, who had squatted down here to lay the foundation for future fortunes. They are brave, fearless and industrious men --- valuable citizens in an invaluable republic. Among there were Judge Wells, Joe Melvin, Ralston, Brown, Seidleman, the Brooks' brothers, Jack Turner, Mr. Elliott and family, Mr. Norwood, P. Saunders, Mr. Marsh and others, whose names I cannot recollect. It was surprising to see the amount of work done by these people in the short space of time they had lived here." (Arizona Miner; "Notes on a Trip Through Arizona;" January 26, 1867.)

Verde River, 1867: "The ranchmen this year are John Lang, Jacob Ramstein, Joseph Melvin, John Norwood, S. O. Fredericks, N. Marsh, Mr. Foster, Thomas S. Ruff, and Munn. They have together about 200 acres under cultivation, chiefly in corn and barley." (Arizona Miner; July 13, 1867.)

Joseph Melvin made frequent trips from his home to Prescott and back. He often traveled alone, and made the trip during the night to avoid an encounter with Indians. According to Judge Edmund Wells, who described such a trip in detail, early one morning as Joe was unsaddling his mule, Bettie, he caught a glimpse of an Indian girl, Aha-sa-ya-mo, who had been with the old trapper and scout, Pauline Weacer, when he died near Camp Lincoln on October 21, 1867. (Verde Independent; June 11, 1972; Argonaut Tales; page 471.)

Agents for the 'Arizona Miner' newspaper: "Rio Verde, Jos. Melvin; Agua Frio, J. P. Osborn; Bowers Ranch, M. K. Lerty." (Arizona Miner; October 12, November 30, 1867, etc.) M. K. Lerty would later run the Confederate Crossroads Inn, before he moved to the Lower Verde.

1868: "But little farming will be done on the Verde this season, as, owing to sickness, etc., the settlers are all leaving and coming up here [to Prescott]. Jake Ramstein and Henry Weaver came up the other day. Jos. Melvin will soon come up. John Lang and 1 or 2 others will remain and put in a crop." (Arizona Miner; March 21, 1868; page 3.) Joe Melvin has taken up his residence in town." (Arizona Miner; May 2, 1868; page 3.)

"From J. C. Lennon, who came up from Camp Lincoln and the settlements on the Rio Verde last week, we learn that the Indians have stolen tons of corn from the settlers, and that owing to the small number of troops for duty at the Post, work on the Mogollon wagon road had to be suspended, for the present. The body of the Indian recently shot by Joseph Melvin had been found, together with numerous bows, arrows, Indian baskets, etc., and about a ton of corn, which the Indians dropped at the crack of Joe's gun." (Weekly Arizona Miner; September 19, 1868; page 3.)

"One day this week Mr. Joseph Melvin was taken with a congestive chill in the store of Wormser & Co." He was attended to immediately, and he is recovering. (Weekly Arizona Miner; October 17, 1868.)

"Joe Melvin has sold his ranch to two discharged soldiers and proposes visiting his friends in the States." (Weekly Arizona Miner; September 11, 1869; page 3.)

"There have been great numbers of wild ducks, geese and even swans on the Verde and Beaver rivers all winter. Three of the swans were killed by Mr. Melvin, who now has the skins of those beautiful birds in his possession." (Weekly Arizona Miner; April 16, 1870; page 1.)

"What Our Farmers Have Put in the Ground: - Verde Valley; Jos. Melvin, 100 acres corn." (Weekly Arizona Miner; August 27, 1870.)

1870 CENSUS: Joseph Melvin and S. J. Melvin.

Joseph Melvin was elected to be part of the 6th Legislative Assembly which met in Tucson during January and February of 1871. Standing Committees of the House: Claims - Messrs. Smith, Wilson and Melvin; ... Memorials and Petitions - Messrs. Taylor, Melvin and Wilson; ... Agriculture - Messrs. Melvin, O'Neil, Elias, Romano and Brinkley; ... Elections - Messrs. Romano, Smith, Taylor, Melvin and Wilson." (Arizona Citizen; Tucson; January 21, 1871.)

"Joe Melvin leased his ranch property on the Rio Verde and settled in Prescott, from whence he will occasionally go forth into the mountains, to prospect for gold and silver bearing ledges." (Weekly Arizona Miner; April 15, 1871; page 3.)

"Mr. McFoster arrived from California, recently, with an assorted stock of rare articles which he is now selling cheap. See advertisement of McFoster & Melvin." (Weekly Arizona Miner; April 22, 1871; page 3.) "NEW WOOD YARD, Cortez Street, below the Court House: Orders for firewood of every length required, left at the store of Melvin & McFoster, will be properly attended to. Jobbing with teams and wagons; Prices moderate. MELVIN & TINKER." (An advertisement beginning July 26; Weekly Arizona Miner; October 14, 1871; page 4, etc.)

About July 29, 1871, advertisements began to appear for a "Change of Base" for the MELVIN & McFOSTER store, now located at the Postoffice, Prescott. After November 25, 1871, a line of the advertisement was changed to indicate the store had moved to the Old Capital Building. "They have nice fresh honey, butter, bacon, hams, lard, nuts, candies, and several other good things, which they are selling very cheap, to friends and foes." The advertisements continued through January of 1873.

"While most of the settlements of Central Arizona have suffered much from the excessive drought," the Verde farmers have thrived with abundant water. "Joseph Melvin, who has some 300 acres of land under cultivation at the Verde returned from a visit to his farm, and brought along with him as a sample of his crop, some of the largest ears of corn and the largest onions ever exhibited in the Territory." (Weekly Arizona Miner; September 23, 1871; page 3.)

"Joe Melvin left us this week, intending to visit his relatives in Pennsylvania. We wish him a pleasant journey and speedy return. W. A. Boren, and 3 or 4 others started for California in company with Mr. Melvin." (Weekly Arizona Miner; June 22, 1872; page 3.)

Joseph Melvin was 66 years old when he died at his home on the Lower Verde on October 23, 1895. He was born about 1829, and had maintained a home in the Verde Valley for a little over 30 years.

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