Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hola, senorita Bonita!

After our time in Eden, we drove a bit further west to the only original building left in the town of Bonita.

Bonita is an unincorporated community in Graham County, Arizona.  The population now sits at around 2,500.  It is home to Fort Grant (which is now a state prison) but was once a former United States Army fortification.

Fort Grant

Fort Grant (1872-1905) was a site chosen due to its higher elevation and more strategic location, situated at the foot of the southwestern slope of Mount Graham in what is now Graham County in southeast Arizona.  It was founded along a route that was often used by Apache Indians fleeing to Mexico from the San Carlos Reservation.  The fort's purpose was to stop the marauding bands of Apache Indians in southeast Arizona and western New Mexico.

The original Fort Grant was in a different location and called Camp Grant and Fort Breckinridge.  

Old Camp Grant

The original camp was the site of a horrible massacre of Apaches.  The story goes:  In early 1871, when Pinal and Arivaipa Apaches requested sanctuary near the fort, they were "allowed" to hunt and farm the area and start a camp nearby.  However, it was during this time that other Apache bands continued to raid the territory, stealing and killing settlers.  Many settlers blamed the camp of Apaches that settled near the fort.  On April 30, 1871, a mob of angry citizens from Tucson and their Papago Indian mercenaries clubbed, shot, and mutilated 144 Aravaipa Apache people, mostly women and children near Camp Grant. 

After a thirty minute drive through beautiful country we arrived at the old site of Bonita.  The image
below is the Bonita Store and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  

However, the Bonita Store was originally built as a saloon and gambling house.  In 1877 a man by the name of Henry McCarty, AKA Billy the Kid, as well as by the alias, William H. Bonney, murdered a local blacksmith at the saloon (Bonita Store).  McCarty was taken into custody and taken to the Fort Grant stockade, but escaped to New Mexico before he could be tried.

Billy the Kid

At the time of this incident Billy was a teenager, who through a variety of unfortunate events landed with the wrong crowd to survive in the wild west.  His habit of getting into trouble followed him to New Mexico.

To learn more about the history of Billy the Kid go to: http://www.aboutbillythekid.com/summary_billy.htm

Southeastern Arizona is a wild country filled with wild history.  It is difficult to mention a location without a thread of history being attached.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you have questions or comments regarding our adventures please let us know.