Pasquale Nigro was born in Italy around 1845. He immigrated to the United States, arriving in California in 1870. He became a naturalized citizen in 1871 in Los Angeles. Pasquale relocated to Tucson, Arizona in 1880 along with many Italian immigrants from California. The Italians felt comfortable among the Latin culture established by Mexicans in Tucson. Many immigrants during this time sought jobs with the railroads and mines.
In the mines, Italians, Mexicans and Slavic laborers were often discriminated against. They were paid lower wages than “white Americans” and the workers from England. Some mining camps were known as “white camps”, two of those were Bisbee and Globe.
Pasquale moved to Tombstone during the silver boom, hoping to make his fortune. It was there that he opened the Comet Saloon with his bartender friend Rocco Lobracco in 1882. Lobracco and Nigro were also partners with some other Italians owning the Cochise and Pompeii mines in northern Sonora.
The Comet Saloon was located on Allen Street. It was also a dance hall and offered billiards and pool tables. It advertised that it had elegant bar lamps from Chicago. Nigro also constructed a sizable wine cellar. Besides the saloon, Pasquale established some mining claims and worked in his spare time at his Margarita mine. He also invested in real estate.
Nigro moved to Bisbee around 1891. In Tombstone, he defaulted on a loan of $1,158 and 10 lots of real estate owned by Nigro were sold at a Sheriff’s auction. The Comet Saloon was sold under a trust deed to F. Carlevato and Paila in 1892. In Bisbee he opened a saloon, began investing in real estate and mining claims. While living in Bisbee, Nigro got in trouble with the law.
In October 1891, Nigro was indicted by a U.S. grand jury and charged with the smuggling of 40 gallons of mescal from Sonora, Mexico to Bisbee. He was tried and it was last reported that the jury could not come to an agreement. The verdict stood at 10 for guilty and two for acquittal. Later he was charged with the assault of a woman. He was acquitted when the woman failed to show up in court.
In Bisbee he met a fellow Italian, Dominico Banche and they became friends. Banche was a miner from the Val Canavese area in Italy. Records show he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in Tombstone in 1890. Pasquale’s saloon would be sold at a Sheriff’s auction for $810 due to his defaulting on a loan. In 1896 Banche and Nigro moved to Globe City where they opened a saloon down the hill from the Old Dominion smelter.
On July 23, 1897 Dominico Banche got into a quarrel with Coleman Sendrey over a well that adjoined Sendrey’s property and that of Banche’s friend Pasquale Nigro. Nigro had built a fence around the well and Sendrey believed he had partial ownership of the well which he said had been deeded to him. There was some question as to the legal right of a man named Clark to convey the well rights when the property was sold to Sendrey. The quarrel ended in the violent death of Banche.
The Arizona Silver Belt newspaper reported the story as follows: According to testimony given at the coroner’s inquest Coleman Sendrey approached the fence which Nigro had built around the well, and said to him (Banche) “I want you to open this fence so that I can get water, and if you don’t open it I will.” Sendrey then went back into his tent, and returning to the fence with an axe, struck a blow at the post. Sendrey then stepped quickly to one side and almost immediately a gun was discharged and B.F. Crawford was seen standing a few feet from Sendrey’s tent with a shotgun in his hands, and Banche who was approaching the well, with padlock in hand, with the avowed intention of locking the well, staggered two or three steps and fell. A few scattering shot struck John Bunch in the arm and Pasqual Nigro in the neck, they having come out of the rear door of Nigro’s and Banche’s Saloon a moment before. The load of shot took effect in Banche’s face, neck and breast and was almost instantly fatal. The shot was fired from a distance of fifty feet.
The paper went on to report the arrest of Crawford and Sendrey by Sheriff Williamson and his deputies. Both Crawford and Sendrey surrendered without incident. It said that “Crawford’s interest in the quarrel and his motive for shooting Banche appears to be that he owns considerable property in the vicinity, and that the saloon of Nigro & Banche was alleged to be a detriment to the neighborhood, impaired the value of surrounding property and was a public nuisance”.
It was later revealed that Crawford and Nigro had been feuding. Some days before the shooting, Nigro had been arrested for maintaining a nuisance and keeping a disorderly house. The arrest was made due to a complaint from Cordelia Adams Crawford, Bush Crawford’s wife. When charges were dropped, another complaint was made and Nigro was rearrested. On the day of the killing of Banche, Nigro had gone to court and again the charges were dismissed. The failure of the prosecution of Nigro intensified the bitter feelings between Crawford and Nigro and their friends.
The shooting of Banche was disgraceful. He had been unarmed when shot by Crawford. The newspaper and many of the Globe residents showed more concern for Crawford than they did for the murdered victim. The Silver Belt said “The affair is deeply deplored. B.F. Crawford is an old resident of Gila County and has an estimable family, for whom great sympathy is expressed.” Charges were dropped against Sendrey after Crawford admitted to the shooting. Phylis Martinelli in her book, Undermining Race: Ethnic Identities in Arizona Copper Camps, said of the shooting, had it been the other way around, with Banche killing Crawford, Banche probably would have been lynched.
The trial of Crawford was held in November. The prosecution was represented by E.J. Edwards, District Attorney, Wiley E. Jones and C.T. Clark. Attorneys for the defendant were J.F. Wilson of Phoenix, George J. Stoneman and P.M. Thurmond. After 20 hours of deliberation the jury came back with a verdict of guilty of manslaughter. Crawford was sentenced to two years at Yuma Prison. He would serve less than one year after being given an unconditional pardon in September 1898. He returned to Globe City after his release and by 1899 he was listed as the manager of the Mountain View Boarding House near the Old Dominion smelter. In 1903 he was a deputy for Gila County Sheriff C.R. Rogers and helped him escort prisoners to the Yuma Territorial prison.
The Crawford family were one of the early pioneer families in the Tonto Basin and Globe areas. Bushrod Foley Crawford homesteaded a ranch in the Tonto Basin. Al Sieber, the famous Indian scout and pioneer was best man at his wedding to Cordelia Adams. The Adams family were one of the early settlers in the Tonto Basin. Crawford would go on to become a well-respected businessman and Globe city council member. His business interests included mining claims, ranching, real estate, and livestock brokerage. He would be active in local and Arizona politics.
In 1912 Crawford showed some of his prejudices when he was quoted in the Arizona Republic speaking in support of the anti-immigrant labor Kinney Bill. Crawford declared that the American citizens of the Globe District are almost unanimously in favor of prohibiting laborers unable to speak English from working underground in mines or other dangerous occupations. Crawford stated: “I am friendly towards the Mexicans and am sorry if the Kinney Bill will throw any of them out of work. They spend all their money in this country and are not an undesirable class of cheap laborers. But something must be done to exclude the aliens who overrun Globe and other mining districts.”
“Those Slavs and Polacks don’t do any community any good. They are unionized as soon as they arrive and draw from $3.50 to $4.00 a day for work underground. One of them lives on about 80 cents a day and the remainder is sent back to Europe.”
“The foreigners have their own barber shops and their own restaurants. They have nothing to do with the citizens and are gradually crowding them out. I myself feel the results very keenly. I own some property in Globe and while my taxes have risen, rents have depreciated. It’s all because of the foreign element in the camp.”
“It is impossible to unionize the Mexicans and as a result they work for $1.50 and $2 a day. But they spend it all right where they make it.” No one will regret it more than I if any Mexicans are deprived of a means of livelihood through the Kinney Bill, but I certainly want that measure to pass. It will result in greater prosperity to the Globe district and to the entire state.”
Pasquale Nigro would go on to be a successful and wealthy businessman in Globe. He built the building which became the International Lodging House and today houses the Drift Inn Saloon on Broad Street. It also housed a brothel and saloon in its early days. In 1906, the International Lodging House would be the scene of what the Arizona Silver Belt newspaper called the “most horrible and most mysterious murder in Gila County history.”
On June 30, 1904, the Arizona Silver Belt reported: “Pasquale Nigro was again arrested on a complaint sworn out by Officer W.J. Sparks, charging him with renting a house to a keeper of a bagnio, within 400 yards of the central school building.” A “bagnio” was an Italian word for brothel. Nigro was found guilty and sentenced to 90 days in jail and a $200 fine. Nigro filed an appeal and was released after posting a $300 bond.
In July 1904, L.S. and G.N. Gibson purchased four mining claims which adjoined the Gibson mine from Nigro for $17,500. In 1906, Nigro sold real and personal property to Fisk & Toole for $65,000. It was said that it was the largest real estate transaction in the history of Globe at the time. The buying power of that amount in 1906 is equivalent to over one million dollars in today’s economy.
Pasquale Nigro would die in 1908 from injuries he received when he was thrown from a horse buggy in an accident on the streets of Globe. He left his widow Francesca and young son a considerable estate including cash, property, mining claims, rental units and investments. He is remembered as a pioneer of Tombstone and as an interesting part of Globe’s history.