TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Sun, Aug. 25

Verde Heritage -- 1865: Pioneer Clayton M. Ralston

1864: "ARRIVAL OF COLORADIANS. --- As our last number was going to press the streets of Prescott were filled with emigrants and their trains from Colorado. Some fifty men and several families came in during the day. They seem an intelligent, orderly people, and will make a valuable addition to our population. With a combination of Californians and Coloradians, we ought to beat the world in enterprise." (Arizona Miner; Fort Whipple; July 20, 1864; page 2.) The newspaper was printed every 2 weeks, so the emigrants arrived about July 5 or 6. This group of people are sometimes called the Wells-Osborn party. Edmund William Wells (who worked at Camp Lincoln and later became the Associate Justice of the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court) wrote that he came with this group, arriving at Prescott on July 6, 1864. (Wikipedia, etc.)

"Clayton Ralston, Esq., a young lawyer from Illinois, arrived here with the Coloradians and will open an office at an early day. Dr. Clutter, late of the Army, who accompanied him here, will also open an office." (Arizona Miner; Fort Whipple; July 20, 1864; page 3.)

The first Legislature of Arizona Territory met in Prescott on September 26, 1864. Secretary McCormick called the Legislature to order at noon, however all the members were not present, so they were adjourned day to day. When the members finally arrived, they were sworn in by the Secretary. Later, "Mr. Bashford was made permanent President and Mr. Gage" became the permanent Secretary. "The following minor officers were chosen: Assistant Secretary, Ed. Wells; Sergeant at Arms, Carlos Smith; Door Keeper, J. H. Lane; Messenger, Master Neri Osborn; Watchman, Thomas Johnson." In the House of Representatives, "Mr. Jones was chosen permanent Speaker, and Mr. Anderson, Chief Clerk. The following minor officers were elected: Assistant Clerk, Clayton Ralston; Sergeant at Arms, J. C. Dunn; Doorkeeper, Robert F. Platt; Messenger, Master John Osborne; Watchman, Alexander McLaughlin." (Arizona Miner; Fort Whipple; October 5, 1864; page 3.)

"Clayton Ralston, Esq., has lost his license, from the Supreme Court of the state of Illinois, as Attorney at Law. Any person finding the same will confer a favor by leaving it at this office." (Arizona Miner; Fort Whipple; October 5, 1864; page 3.)

Each of the officers submitted a claim to be paid, however, they were not paid for their services until after March of 1866. The List of Claims Audited from November 11, 1864 to December 6, 1865, includes: "Claim 13, --- C. M. Ralston, Assistant Clerk of House of Representatives, 1st Legislative Assembly, 44 days @ $2.00 per day. Under Joint Resolution approved Nov. 9, 1864 . . . $88.00." (Arizona Miner; Fort Whipple; March 14, 1866; page 2.)

Early in January of 1865, "a party consisting of James M. Swetnam, William L. Osborn, Clayton M. Ralston, Henry D. Morse, Jake Ramstein, Thos. Ruff, Ed. A. Boblett, James Parrish and James Robertson left Prescott for the purpose of locating a colony for farming purposes in the valley of the Verde River, if a suitable place could be found." The group returned to Prescott to prepare to settle in the Verde Valley. (History of Arizona; Thomas Edwin Farish; Volume IV; 1916; pages 215-218.)

Early in February of 1865, a group of men returned to the Verde Valley. Clayton M. Ralston was 1 of 10 men who converted a large stone ruin into a fort. The enclosure was "sixty feet long and forty feet wide. The walls were built to a height of seven or eight feet, being four feet thick on the bottom, and two feet thick at the top. ... They built a cabin in each corner. These cabins were built of poles, notched at the ends, and made a very substantial habitation. The floor was mother earth, wet, leveled, and pounded so as to make it hard and smooth. The cracks between the logs were chinked and plastered with mud. There was one door and one window to each cabin, and these were closed with strong shutters. There were loopholes looking out from the exposed sides and end of each cabin. The covering was made by using poles round or split for a foundation, covering this with grass, and then piling dirt to a depth of fifteen to eighteen inches on top of that. The timber for these pu rposes was got from the grove which fringed Clear Fork on each side for a distance of over two miles from the mouth. This was willow, cottonwood, and ash." ... The cabins were "occupied as follows: the northwest by Swetnam, Ralston and Foster; the northeast by Osborn, Melvin, Morse, Yates and Culbertson; the southeast by Lang and Ramstein; and the southwest by Mr. and Mrs. Whitcomb, Mr. and Mrs. Boblett, and Thomas Ruff." (History of Arizona; Thomas Edwin Farish; Volume IV; 1916; pages 223-225.)

Clayton M. Ralston, James M. Swetnam, and others were active participants in the digging of the irrigation ditch, cultivation of the land, and in the defense of the fort and cattle. Clayton Ralston had many exciting adventures.

1866: Board of Supervisors, Yavapai County: "Ordered that King S. Woolsey, Joseph Melvin, and C. M. Ralston, be and they are hereby appointed a board of viewers, to report, survey of a road from Prescott to the settlements on the Verde, and make report to next regular meeting, without charge to the county." (Arizona Miner; Fort Whipple; April 25, 1866; page 3.)

For the election during 1866, "Rio Verde --- J. Melvin, Inspector; C. M. Ralston and A. O. Fredericks, Judges." (Arizona Miner; Fort Whipple; July 25, 1866; page 3.)

By 1867, there were 25 or 30 pioneers of Arizona Territory living in the Verde Valley, "who had squatted down to lay the foundation for future fortunes. They are brave, fearless and industrious men --- valuable citizens. --- Among them 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. ... It was surprising to see the amount of work done by these people in the short time they had lived here." (Arizona Miner; Fort Whipple; January 26, 1867; page 2.)

Clayton M. Ralston was not included in the 1870 Census or the 1870 Prescott Post Office list of people living in the Verde Valley. Is it possible he left to get married?

1871: During the first part of February a group of Indians "paid their respects to the settlements on the Rio Verde, five miles below Camp Verde, and robbed a poor woman, Mrs. Ralston, of a lot of clothing and other property. Previous to this, they tried to get some animals out of a corral, but did not succeed." (The Weekly Arizona Miner; Prescott; March 4, 1871; page 2.)

March 23, 1872: A few days ago, Indians "tried to run off some stock at the settlement. Mr. Ralston says he saw them. Mr. Melvin says, that previous to the time he left the Verde, 'Crackey,' the Indian Interpreter at the post, had met and conversed with several Apache-Mohave Indians, who informed him that they intended, soon, to attack and capture the post." (The Weekly Arizona Miner; Prescott; March 23, 1872; page 3.)

Contact
Event Calendar
Event Calendar link
Submit Event