The Superior Massacre, Part 2 – The Daggs Brothers and the Not So Pleasant Valley War

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

By John Hernandez

“Behind every great fortune there is a crime.” Honore de Balzac

The five Daggs brothers were prominent businessmen first in Flagstaff and then in the Phoenix and Tempe area. The Daggs were originally from Missouri. The brothers were Peru Paxton (P.P.), William (W.A.), John (J.F.), Robert (R.E.) and Jackson (A.J.). The Daggs arrived in the area around Flagstaff around 1875. They brought 1,500 sheep with them from California. They would become the largest sheep ranching company in northern Arizona. Their sheep business extended from northern Arizona to New Mexico and Colorado. At one time they were reported to have 50,000 sheep grazing in northern Arizona. Individually and as partners they had business interests in ranching, real estate, land development, mining, a butcher shop, an ice plant, railroads, and banking. J.F. Daggs owned the Flagstaff Brewery which turned out “fine beer” according to their ad in the Coconino Sun newspaper. R.E. and A.J. Daggs were attorneys.

In 1887 the Daggs Brothers Sheep Company had the Tewksburys drive sheep into the Tonto Basin. This was considered cattle country and sheep had been forbidden to come into the area. This event is said to have triggered the violence that would become known as the Pleasant Valley War. The Pleasant Valley War was one of the bloodiest range wars in the history of the west. The feud between the Graham and Tewksbury families and their allies lasted ten years. At least 24 men were killed and perhaps as many as 50. In February, a sheepherder for the Daggs brothers was the first one murdered allegedly by the Graham brothers, a cattle ranching family in the Tonto Basin. In March, through the efforts of P.P. Daggs and his attorneys, the Territorial Legislature had the two-mile limit law repealed. This law prohibited sheep owners from passing or grazing their herds within two miles of established stock ranges. Dagg’s lawyers convinced the legislature that the law was unconstitutional. This gave them some legal status to graze their sheep on open range. The Daggs were believed to have armed the Tewskburys and provided money for legal defenses for any of the Tewksbury faction that was arrested. They also used their political connections with lawmen, attorneys and judges in Yavapai and Apache counties. Lawmen from Apache and Yavapai counties with the Tewksbury faction were known to have killed 15 and wounded 5 of the Graham faction. There is also speculation that the Daggs hired outside gunfighters to assist the Tewksburys.

During the same year, the Aztec Land & Cattle Company sued the Daggs over a ranch house, grazing land and water rights at a place called Pine Spring in northern Arizona. The cattle company was also known as the Hashknife Outfit. They were cowboys, many of them from Texas that had a reputation for being tough and not afraid to use violence to force ranchers to give up their land. Some of them were known to be cattle rustlers. The Daggs brothers were not the type to back down. The lawsuit ended with the Daggs winning the decision and getting the property. Some of the Hashknife cowboys would participate in the Pleasant Valley War on the side of the Grahams.

In the 1920s, P.P. Daggs responded to a letter from the Arizona Pioneers Historical Society in Tucson who had asked him about the Daggs brother’s involvement in the Pleasant Valley War. He would only say that it cost him $90,000 and quote General Sherman’s, “War is hell”. The Grahams and their allies shot the sheep and drove herds over cliffs. The Daggs lost so many sheep the first year of the war that they moved their herds down into the Salt River Valley. In 1892 after the Pleasant Valley War had subsided somewhat, Tom Graham the last surviving member of the Graham family was murdered in Tempe. He had moved out of the Tonto Basin a few years earlier to get away from the violence. He was on his way to the Hayden mill and was unarmed when he was killed allegedly by Edwin Tewksbury and John Rhodes. Rhodes and Tewksbury were arrested and charged with the murder. Rhodes was Ed Tewksbury’s brother-in-law. Ed’s brother John had been killed by the Graham faction early in the war. Rhodes married John’s widow and would adopt John Tewksbury’s son, also named John and give him his last name. Ed Tewksbury was the duly elected Constable of Globe at the time of the murder. Ed was popular in the Globe area and Globe was known as a Tewksbury sanctuary.

The Daggs brothers allegedly contributed to Rhodes and Tewksbury’s defense hiring some of the best lawyers in Arizona. A few weeks before Graham was murdered, John Rhodes had met with the Daggs brothers in Tempe, although no evidence has been presented that linked them to the shooting. Rhodes had been staying at the Tempe Hotel which was owned by Robert Bowen. Bowen was at one time the foreman of the Silver King Mine and was now a partner of the Daggs in some business ventures. Ed Tewksbury had stayed at the hotel a few weeks earlier and someone had seen him in the bar of the Tempe Hotel the morning of Graham’s murder. Bowen was a stockholder and board member of the Bank of Tempe. Two of the Daggs brothers, W.A. and P.P. were also stockholders in the bank and board members. Bowen owned ranches in Pleasant Valley and Tempe. Rhodes had been working for him.

During Rhodes’ preliminary court hearing, Bowen and some of his employees supplied an alibi that Rhodes could not have been at the scene of the murder. On the third day of the hearing, Tom Graham’s widow Anne smuggled a gun into the court room. She approached Rhodes and placed the gun in Rhodes’ back and pulled the trigger. The .44 failed to fire! Family and friends then pulled her away. She was not charged with any crime over the incident. She would testify that her husband before he had died had told her that he had seen Ed Tewksbury and Rhodes fire at him. Others would testify that they witnessed Tom Graham tell them that he had looked behind him when he heard the sound of horses approaching. He saw Rhodes and Tewksbury aiming their guns at him. Before he could jump from the wagon they shot him. They then rode up next to him as he lay helpless on the ground. Tewksbury pointed a gun at him but was satisfied that Graham’s wound was fatal and did not fire. They then rode away.

After 10 days of testimony, Rhodes was released and charges were dropped because of the alibis provided for him. The judge’s decision was not popular and there was talk in Tempe of lynching Rhodes and maybe hanging the judge in effigy. Friends of Rhodes greeted him upon his release from the jail. They were armed and prepared to defend Rhodes as they escorted him back to the Tonto Basin. Rhodes would later become a lawman as an Arizona Ranger from 1906 to 1908. He would later move to Pinal County where he worked on a ranch near Mammoth. His step son John (Tewksbury) Rhodes would become a well known working and rodeo cowboy around Mammoth and the lower San Pedro Valley. He would be a world champion team roper in 1936 and 1938. Even in his later years he was considered a premier team roper often teaming with his son Tommy. Tom Rhodes would become a world champion steer roper in 1943 and 1944. Later on he would also be one of the owners of Don Juan’s Tavern in Oracle, Ariz. John and Tom Rhodes are listed in the Pro Rodeo records as being from Sombrero Butte, Ariz. which is near Mammoth.

Ed Tewksbury would be charged with Tom Graham’s murder. The trial was moved to Tucson for Ed’s protection and because it was felt that with the furor over Rhodes release, that Tewksbury could not receive a fair trial in Maricopa County. Tewksbury had some high quality and expensive lawyers defend him. Where the money for his defense came from was never divulged but it was believed to be the Daggs. There was also talk that prominent cattlemen in Gila County may have contributed to his defense. One member of Tewksbury’s defense team was Tom Fitch known as “the Silver Tongued Orator of the Pacific Slopes”. Tom had come from California to join the defense team. He had defended the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday after they were charged with murder following the gunfight at the OK Corral. In 1871 he successfully defended Brigham Young and other members of the LDS Church over polygamy charges brought by the Federal government.

Even the best legal defense did not help Tewksbury. He was found guilty of the murder of Tom Graham. However, an appeal was quickly filed and it was discovered that there was no record of Tewksbury ever being allowed to make a plea during the preliminary hearing. Somehow the court records regarding the plea failed to show that a plea had been made. Leland J. Hanchett, Jr. author of the book Arizona’s Graham-Tewksbury Feud, went so far as to suggest that C.H. Knapp, clerk of the District Court for Maricopa County had accepted a bribe and failed to make the entries on the record or changed the records. He cited as evidence that Knapp’s reported property evaluation increased from $600 to $2,850 in the year of the trial. He was also able to pay off a $600 mortgage during the same period.

Due to this technicality, Tewksbury was granted another trial. The second trial resulted in a hung jury probably due to the fact that Graham’s widow had moved to California and allegedly due to illness failed to attend the trial although she had been called as a witness. Over $20,000 was spent on the trials of Tewksbury which was an unheard of amount for a trial back then. It was decided by the court not to retry Tewksbury a third time. After spending two and a half years in jail, Tewksbury was a free man. He would move to Globe where he would become a deputy constable and work at the Old Dominion mine. He would die of consumption (tuberculosis) in 1904, contracted while he was in jail.

In May 1895, R.E. along with his brothers W.A. and P.P. were arrested in Phoenix and charged with embezzlement in connection with the failure of the Bank of Tempe. P.P. Daggs had seven indictments against him. His bond was set at $12,500. Bonds for R.E. and W.A. were $6,000 and $8,500. A.J. Daggs and W.M. Billups, a cousin of the Daggs secured the bonds and the Daggs were released from custody. The Graham Guardian said that the Daggs brothers along with P.B. McCabe and W.L. Van Horn had been indicted for embezzling $50,000 and 1,000 head of sheep from the now defunct Bank of Tempe. In June three of the seven charges against P.P. Daggs were settled out of court. He would later be acquitted of all charges. In June of 1896 the rest of the Daggs would be acquitted of the charges.

R.E. Daggs was charged with grand larceny in 1897. The Arizona Central Bank accused him of stealing $860. The Flagstaff trial in April 1897 would end in a hung jury. A petition was filed with the court to have the second trial transferred to Navajo County. In October the trial was held in Holbrook. R.E. was acquitted.

In 1905 A.J. wrote a book titled “How to Run a Corporation”. It was still being reprinted as late as 1988. A.J. and R.E. Daggs had other business interests including real estate, banking and mining. They also sold stocks and bonds and were partners in a number of corporations. They were the biggest incorporating business in the territory. In October of 1905, newspapers carried the story on the front page about R.E. and A.J. Daggs being indicted for assaulting two sisters, Esther and Marie Power. R.E. had also been indicted for assault with attempt to rape 16 year old Esther. They had allegedly thrown them out of their office in the Monihan building, hurting them when they fell down the stairs. It was also alleged that A.J. had brandished a gun. The sisters said they were there to collect $2 that was owed Esther for work she had done at the office. The Daggs brothers said that the Power sisters were attempting to blackmail them over Esther’s allegation that R.E. had thrown her on the floor and torn her dress trying to get at her. R.E. admitted to kissing and hugging Esther with her consent but said that nothing else happened.

R.E. Daggs was convicted of the attempted rape charge on Oct. 17 and sentenced to 18 months at the Yuma Penitentiary. He filed an appeal with the Supreme Court and was allowed out on $5,000 bail. After the guilty finding, the Daggs brothers asked for a change of venue for the assault charges to Yavapai County which was granted. The Yavapai Board of Supervisors then asked the County Attorney to dismiss the charges due to the unusual costs that would be incurred. Charges were dismissed and R.E. was now waiting on his appeal of the assault with intent to rape charge. In March of 1908, the Supreme Court would overturn his conviction and return his bond.

This story will continue in the next edition of the Nugget. The first part of this story can be found online at http://bit.ly/1bBDdmt.

work at the Old Dominion mine. He would die of consumption (tuberculosis) in 1904, contracted while he was in jail.

In May 1895, R.E. along with his brothers W.A. and P.P. were arrested in Phoenix and charged with embezzlement in connection with the failure of the Bank of Tempe. P.P. Daggs had seven indictments against him. His bond was set at $12,500. Bonds for R.E. and W.A. were $6,000 and $8,500. A.J. Daggs and W.M. Billups, a cousin of the Daggs secured the bonds and the Daggs were released from custody. The Graham Guardian said that the Daggs brothers along with P.B. McCabe and W.L. Van Horn had been indicted for embezzling $50,000 and 1,000 head of sheep from the now defunct Bank of Tempe. In June three of the seven charges against P.P. Daggs were settled out of court. He would later be acquitted of all charges. In June of 1896 the rest of the Daggs would be acquitted of the charges.

R.E. Daggs was charged with grand larceny in 1897. The Arizona Central Bank accused him of stealing $860. The Flagstaff trial in April 1897 would end in a hung jury. A petition was filed with the court to have the second trial transferred to Navajo County. In October the trial was held in Holbrook. R.E. was acquitted.

In 1905 A.J. wrote a book titled “How to Run a Corporation”. It was still being reprinted as late as 1988. A.J. and R.E. Daggs had other business interests including real estate, banking and mining. They also sold stocks and bonds and were partners in a number of corporations. They were the biggest incorporating business in the territory. In October of 1905, newspapers carried the story on the front page about R.E. and A.J. Daggs being indicted for assaulting two sisters, Esther and Marie Power. R.E. had also been indicted for assault with attempt to rape 16 year old Esther. They had allegedly thrown them out of their office in the Monihan building, hurting them when they fell down the stairs. It was also alleged that A.J. had brandished a gun. The sisters said they were there to collect $2 that was owed Esther for work she had done at the office. The Daggs brothers said that the Power sisters were attempting to blackmail them over Esther’s allegation that R.E. had thrown her on the floor and torn her dress trying to get at her. R.E. admitted to kissing and hugging Esther with her consent but said that nothing else happened.

R.E. Daggs was convicted of the attempted rape charge on Oct. 17 and sentenced to 18 months at the Yuma Penitentiary. He filed an appeal with the Supreme Court and was allowed out on $5,000 bail. After the guilty finding, the Daggs brothers asked for a change of venue for the assault charges to Yavapai County which was granted. The Yavapai Board of Supervisors then asked the County Attorney to dismiss the charges due to the unusual costs that would be incurred. Charges were dismissed and R.E. was now waiting on his appeal of the assault with intent to rape charge. In March of 1908, the Supreme Court would overturn his conviction and return his bond.

This story will continue in the next edition of the Nugget. The first part of this story can be found online at http://bit.ly/1bBDdmt.

Staff (5787 Posts)

There are news or informational items frequently written by staff or submitted to the Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner, Superior Sun, Pinal Nugget or Oracle Towne Crier for inclusion in our print or digital products. These items are not credited with an author.


Facebooktwitterby feather
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Comments are closed.

  • Additional Stories

    Oracle State Park to feature Master Gardeners in January 

    December 23rd, 2013
    by

    Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education continues its weekend events schedule in January with a Master Gardeners “Answer Table” […]


    Merchants at Ray-Sonora who fought a revolution

    December 23rd, 2013
    by

    By John Hernandez Nugget The Mexican Revolution began in 1910 although the spark that was said to have started the […]


    World renowned Legacy Quartet again comes to Gold Canyon

    December 23rd, 2013
    by

    The Gold Canyon United Methodist Church’s Performing Arts Series presents the Legacy Quartet in their 8th annual concert in  the fabulous acoustics […]


    Getting lost in the Copper Corridor …

    December 23rd, 2013
    by

    Can you guess where in the Copper Corridor this photo was taken? If you guessed Superior, then you would be […]


  • Additional Stories

    Experience the re-birth of Superior at 6th Annual Home Tour

    December 23rd, 2013
    by

    By Mila Besich Lira Nugget Since the early 80’s when the copper prices declined and the Magma Mine closed, the […]


    Pet adoption and microchip event planned at Camp Bow Wow

    December 23rd, 2013
    by

    By Leslie Rocco Special to the Nugget A dog wandering the streets without ID can be rescued and given a […]


    Self Healing: Don’t Leave Lights On For Santa!

    December 23rd, 2013
    by

    By Dr. John Huntington Special to the Nugget Or at least not in your bedroom, as light at night alters […]


    Self Defense: The Rule of Opposites

    December 23rd, 2013
    by

    By Steve Weber Special to the Nugget When we think of Martial Arts, we can be overly enamored with flashy […]


  • Copperarea

  • Southeast Valley Ledger