VERDE HERITAGE 1898: Sheep Thieves Arrested Near Jerome

"Sheriff Cameron, of Coconino County, took a run up to Prescott yesterday to see some friends after one of those trying and dangerous experiences so common in the official career of a western sheriff. For 12 days past he has been on the trail of 3 men, who stole a band of sheep in Coconino County and drove them south." (Prescott Weekly Courier; Friday, January 28, 1898; from Saturday's Daily.)

Sheep thieves have become an increasing problem. One sheep raiser near St. Johns wrote "that he has had several hundred sheep stolen from his flocks in the past few months, and that the thieves are bold and desperate, coming to the herders and forcing them at the points of revolvers to cut out the sheep for them. A number of sheep thieves have been arrested." (Arizona Republican; Phoenix; February 13, 1898.)

"James A, May, a prominent sheep man of Coconino County, during an interview said, 'I am of the opinion that the sheep industry will never be what it has been on the ranges of the west. ... Sheep thieves are a menace to the business. Losses from thieving are enormous." (St. Johns Herald; February 12, 1898.)

Sheriff Cameron explained, 'The thieves drove the sheep through canyons and along divides as much as possible, making the tracking very hard. They had cut off the ears and pulled out the wool brands on the sheep. Sheriff Cameron overhauled the sheep in a canyon 12 miles from Globe. The thieves had abandoned the sheep and fled." (Prescott Weekly Courier; January 28, 1898; from Saturday's Daily.)

"Sheriff Ralph Cameron, of Coconino County, added another feather in his cap by making an arrest in a sensational way. He was out after Mexicans who had been stealing sheep from the Arizona Land and Cattle Company and others. Ralph ran down his man north of Globe and discovered him in a manner that would have done credit to a veteran. Cameron is after the gang of men and he will round them up in the due course of time, thus breaking up a gang who have been stealing sheep and killing them for some time. Several thousand sheep have been spirited out of Coconino County in the past 2 years by these fellows." (Arizona Republican; Phoenix; January 25, 1898.)

"Sheep thieves have been committing depredations in the neighborhood of Flagstaff the past fortnight. The Arizona Livestock Company lost 250 sheep in one raid by a band of Mexican rustlers. Two of their number were captured, but two made their way to near the Continental mine, where they were found by Sheriff Williams, of Gila County, who found the sheep and placed the men in jail at Globe. Sheriff Cameron was sent for but found that the thieves had escaped." (St. Johns Herald; January 29, 1898.)

"R. H. Cameron, Sheriff of Coconino County, and Thomas Sayer, arrived from Flagstaff last Tuesday to recover a band of 250 sheep stolen from the Arizona Live Stock Company, of Coconino County. Sheriff Williamson, of Gila County, and deputies located the sheep and gained possession of them near the Continental mine last Friday, but the thieves in charge, who are unknown, made good their escape. One of the company owning the sheep is expected here within a day of two and they will be held awaiting his arrival." (Arizona Silver Belt; Globe City; January 13, 1898.)

"Securing the assistance of Al. Sieber, the Indian trailer, the trail was taken up and followed for 11 days, when they captured the men within 2 miles of Jerome." (St. Johns Herald; January 29, 1898.)

According to the story told at Prescott, "Sheriff Cameron followed the thieves for 80 miles before he saw a sign of the trail made by them. They had kept to the rocks as much as possible. He was warned that he would have a fight if he attempted to capture them, as one of them, especially, was a dangerous character. About 2 o'clock on Wednesday last, a few miles from Jerome, Cameron sighted the 3 thieves seated by the roadside. One of them had a Winchester on one side of him and a six shooter on the other, the weapons lying on the ground. Cameron rode on as if he did not notice the men and as if he intended to ride by them. As he was in advance of them when he discovered them, that probably allayed their suspicions. When along side of the armed man, Cameron quickly sprang from the saddle, jerked the man's Winchester from the ground, at the same time drawing his own pistol and ordering the thieves to surrender, which they did. Cameron asked where the man's pistol was; that was pointed out to him and he took it from the ground where it laid. The Mexican who had the arms beside him still sat still and was surly, paying no attention to Cameron's order to him to arise. Cameron gave him a vigorous kick. When the fellow got up, the handle of a dangerous dirk showing from his inner coat pocket as he did so. Cameron snatched the knife from the man's pocket." (Prescott Weekly Courier; January 28, 1898; from Saturday's Daily.)

"Sheriff Cameron, of Coconino County, with Al. Sieber, the scout, and 3 Indian trailers, came into Jerome last week with 3 sheep thieves who escaped from jail at Globe 3 weeks ago. There were 5 thieves in the band, but the others escaped. The Arizona Live Stock Company have been suffering greatly from depredations lately, 250 head of sheep being lifted at one haul. Sheriff Williams, of Gila County, captured half of the rustlers, but they escaped from the Globe jail, and the services of Al. Sieber, the famous Indian scout, with 3 native Indian trailers, were enlisted in the pursuit. The entire party were armed to the teeth and clad in buckskin and attracted great attention on their entry into camp [Jerome]. The hunters were on the trail 3 weeks and finally located their quarry 3 miles from Jerome, where the arrests were made. The prisoners will be returned to Globe." (The Oasis; Arizola; January 29, 1898.)

Sheriff Cameron "brought 3 prisoners on [the train] to Jerome Junction. The trailing and capture of these men was certainly very credible work." (Prescott Weekly Courier; Friday, January 28, 1898; from Saturday's Daily.)

"Wednesday evening Sheriff Cameron captured 3 thieves about 3 miles south of Jerome. They were all Mexicans. The prisoners were taken to Flagstaff." (Jerome Mining News; January 22, 1898.)

"Sheriff Ralph Cameron spent a few hours in Prescott yesterday on his way back to Coconino County with 3 Mexicans charged with stealing sheep. It is alleged that about 2,000 head of sheep belonging to the Arizona Land and Cattle Company were driven off. Sheriff Cameron took the trail of the robbers and followed it to the vicinity of Globe where he secured a number of stolen sheep. He arrested the 3 men charged with stealing them a short distance from Jerome. One of them was armed with a Winchester, six shooter, and a huge Bowie knife, but Cameron took them by surprise and effected their capture without any trouble." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; January 26, 1898; Phoenix Weekly Herald, January 27, 1898.)

"On Friday Sheriff Cameron starts for Flagstaff with his prisoners. Such determined efforts as that displayed by Sheriff Cameron would soon make rustling an unpopular as well as unprofitable following." (St. Johns Herald; January 29, 1898.)

A comment from Globe: "Several of our northern exchanges are lauding Sheriff Cameron for his determined pursuit and capture of 3 sheep thieves which he followed from Globe to Jerome. If any special credit is due it should be given to Gila County officers who recovered the sheep before Sheriff Cameron arrived on the scene, and to Al. Sieber, ex-chief of scouts at San Carlos, who with an Indian trailer took up the trail north of Globe and followed it until they overhauled the thieves near Jerome. Cameron is doubtless an efficient officer but in this instance did not distinguish himself." (Arizona Silver Belt; Globe City; February 3, 1898.)

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