Verde Heritage -- 1865: Exploring the Verde Valley, January
"Settlement of the Verde Valley began in January, 1865, when a party of men left Prescott to see if good farming land susceptible to irrigation could not be found on the river. At that time agricultural products brought high prices. Barley and wheat cost $20 per hundred and corn $2 more. Therefore the rewards of husbandry would be great if success were attained."
"The party of agricultural explorers consisted of James M. Swetnam, now a practicing physician in Phoenix, William L. Osborn, uncle of Arizona's present secretary of state, Clayton M. Ralston, Henry D. Morse, Jack Ramstein, Thomas Ruff, later a prosperous Phoenix rancher, Ed. A. Boblett, James Parish and James Robinson."
"At that time the only ranch east of Prescott was that of King S. Woolsey, in the Agua Fria Valley, twenty-five miles distant from Prescott and about half way to the Verde Valley."
"A site was determined upon by this first body of men near the mouth of Clear Creek and a return was made to Prescott."
(The Nation's Youngest Commonwealth Within a Land of Ancient Culture; James H. McClintock; Volume II; 1916; Chapter XXV; page 322.)
The men planned to claim land and begin farming. The Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Arizona had made land ownership possible by November of 1864.
"AN ACT CONCERNING POSSESSORY RIGHTS IN PUBLIC LANDS."
"1. That all persons who have settled upon, cultivated or improved, or who shall hereafter settle upon, cultivate or improve a tract of land in this Territory, with the view of availing themselves of the benefits of the pre-emption laws of the United States, shall be protected in the peaceable and quiet enjoyment of said tract of land, with all the improvements thereon, and all the wood, timber, soil and materials growing or being thereon, to the extent of one hundred and sixty acres, or one-half mile square, if surveyed according to the cardinal points, and if surveyed by the United States, then according to the lines of said surveys, so as to include improvements. ... 2. All the rights acquired by the above section may be sold and conveyed as interests in real estate." "Approved Nov. 9, 1864."
"A BILL FOR AN ACT CONCERNING GRANTS AND DEEDS FOR LANDS."
"1. All grants and deeds for lands situated within the limits of the Territory of Arizona, hitherto ceded to individuals, corporations or companies, either by the Mexican government or authorities, or by the government of the United States, shall be recorded in the office of the Recorder of the proper county wherein such lands are situated, and the lands claimed under such grants or deeds so recorded shall be located and their boundaries defined on or before the first day of January, A. D. 1866." "Approved November 7, 1864."
(Arizona Miner; Fort Whipple; November 23, 1864; page 3.)
See: The Verde Independent; Cottonwood; "1865 SETTLEMENT; January Exploration of the Rio Verde;" January 19, 2013.