MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND ARTS
> Kingman a Short History
© 2000 All Rights Reserved
Printed with permission from the Author
The area of Beale’s Springs, near Kingman, can trace its Euro-American history to 1859 when work parties of the Beale Wagon Road discovered and improved the site. Beale called it Bishop’s Springs in honor of his colleague who found the springs. By 1863, the site was commonly know as Beale’s Springs and became a way station on the Mohave and Prescott Toll Road in 1864. During the Hualapai War (1866-70), the site was a temporary camp for the military in an attempt to protect the mails. Between 1871-74 the area was officially designated Camp Beale’s Springs and was used as a temporary Indian Reservation. The water from beale’s Springs would play an important part in the establishment of a nearby railroad siding on the new Atlantic and Pacific Railroad.
By December the new settlement was already the site of a fledgling sampling works installed by Chamberlain and Higby.
Early in March, Conrad Shenfield opened a general
merchandise store in Kingman and on March 22; the
Kingman Post Office was established with Edward F.
Thompson serving as the first postmaster. He was
followed by William H. Taggart in May 29, 1883.
Even then, there were rumors that this new community
would be a successful concern. The concern was
enough for the Mohave County Miner, then located in
Mineral Park, to publish the following:
In spite of the Miner’s best efforts to downplay the possibility of Kingman ever amounting to much, over the next five years, the townsite continued to prosper as a supply center for the area mines, as well as a commercial center for travelers through the area.
In May, W.H. Taggart purchased the business of Conrad Shenfield. The business consisted of general merchandise and general forwarding.
In June a movement was afoot to rename Kingman to Beale City. The purpose was to recognize the fact that Beale had “Discovered” the area when he improved Bishop’s Springs (Beale’s Springs) during his building of a wagon road d through the region.
William H. Lake was one of the first merchants in Kingman opening a store in 1883. He ran for Sheriff in 1888 and was elected to that position.
Conrad Shenfield, a railroad contractor, was also a land speculator. using his connections with the railroad to layout town sites along the track and develop buyers for the lots within the town sites. Shenfield had purchased the 160-acre town site from Walter G. Middleton for $1,000 in november 1884. Other than his connection with the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, there is very little information known about Middleton and less about his legal claim to the 160 acres of land he sold to Shenfield. Shenfield began to develop and sell lots in the new town. It appears he ran afoul of the law when it was found he was selling public lands and he Quickly ceased his activities. Into this void would step Judge John M. Murphy and his friends.
Before Shenfield could arrange for a clear title, it appears that E.F. Thompson (Shenfield’s local agent.), T.L. Ayers, and W.S. Clarke were appointed “commissioners” set up a town plat and with the help of Judge J.M. Murphy, as county Judge, set to assessed a “tax” to have homesteaders file titles to their lots. The “tax” was to be assessed to recover the expenses incurred by the survey and record the town lots. The assessments tended to vary depending upon who you were and probably what political party to which you happened to belong. It appears that the Judge got to keep the “tax” and records show that “Commissioners” got some very choice property for very little “tax”, certainly far less than many other people.
Throughout the year, Judge Murphy continued his work of registering Kingman lots and assessing his “tax”.
In November, the new Kingman schoolhouse was completed. It was a wooden structure 18’ X 40’. It was located on the SW corner of 4th and Oak Streets.
In December, W.H. Taggart & Co. began the erection of a two-story building. The structure would be 24’ wide and 60’ long. The bottom floor would be used, as the future home of the Mohave County Miner and the upper floor would have a hall of 24’ X 48’ with a hallway and two anterooms on the front end of the building. The upper floor would be used as a public hall.
In early 1887, Shenfield came back into the picture and purchased, from Murphy, all of the unclaimed lots-about 60% of the total that had been available. (Murphy had not been reelected to his county judge post and wanted to collect as much of the “taxes” as he could before the new judge took over.)
During this year, the Blakely Home (NE corner 5th & Spring) was built.
The first church in Kingman was organized on February 10, 1887. The methodist Episcopal Church of Kingman was formed and the first directors of the organization were Gus W. Beecher, E. L. Burdick, William G. Blakely, Ebenezer “Eb” Williams and Eugene D. Whipple. Col. L. C. Almond, attorney for Conrad Shenfield, donated lots 2, 4 and 6 of block 15 in the Kingman Townsite for the location of the church.
The Kingman Hotel built by Ben H. Spear and leased and operated by J. L. Nelson, opened for business in October.
The town was both populous and prosperous enough to win the November election that moved the county seat form Mineral Park. Kingman got 271 votes and the town’s strongest competitor for the county seat was, interestingly enough, Hackberry, which got 132 votes. Mineral Park received only 93 votes. One can speculate that the Mineral Park merchants were interested in reducing their costs by being nearer the railroad and as most of them already had some economic connection in the new town, it would be to their advantage to relocate there.
The Mohave County Miner, once the biggest critic of moving the county seat to Kingman, gave in to economic reality and made the move form Mineral Park to the new county seat and became a strong promoter of the area.
In December, H. H. Watkins leased the corner room of the Luthy block at 4th and Front Street for the future home of his drug store. (This is the NE corner of the intersection of 4th and Andy Devine today.) William H. Hardy had his warehouse near the tracks torn down and the lumber moved to a location several hundred feet to the south where smaller buildings were constructed. These buildings would become Hardy’s homesite in Kingman and were located on the SW corner of 4th and South Front (Topeka) streets.
William H. Hardy, a pioneer who had been involved with the development of Mohave County from its beginnings in 1864, began a well drilling business, serving the needs of the growing population. William Aitken, a carpenter and contactor was just as busy building windmills for all of the new wells going in.
...Ross and John Blakely, sons of Judge Blakely, leased the hardy Stables and were conducting a livery business.
H. H. Watkins brought in an “Arctic Soda Fountain” for use in his drug store.
F. F. brawn, with voluntary subscription funding of local citizens, put eighteen men to work building a new “short line road” to Stockton Hill. We know this road today as White Cliffs Road. (White Cliffs has been said to be part of Beale’s Wagon Road, Hardy’s Toll Road, etc.--none of which is correct.)
March marked the opening of Kingman’s “new burial ground west of and outside of said town limits.” All citizens who had friends or relatives buried within the town limits were directed to move them, at their own expense, to the new site. Those not moved within 30 days would be moved by order of the Board of Supervisors and the costs born by all the residents of Kingman. The cemetery was located on the current site of the football field of Kingman High School’s, South Campus. Most of the marked or identifiable graves were moved to the current Mountainview Cemetery site when the High School built the football field.
Another “first” for Kingman was a “prize Fight” that was held between a stranger named McCaffrey and a local black resident named John Lee. The purse was $30 and Mccaffrey “won” the fight although he was unconscious, having been hit on the head with a whiskey bottle by Lee. As the fight had progressed, it became more of a brawl. McCaffrey attacked Lee in Lee’s corner and Lee responded with the blow to McCaffrey’s head with the bottle. Although knocked helpless, McCaffrey was awarded the prize after the spectators ganged up on Lee and beat him unmercifully.
In April, Harvey Hubbs was having a well sunk on his lots south of the railroad, and was making plans to build a house at the site. That house, now listed on the national Historical Register, sits in the center of a small city park and a pump house that covers one of Kingman’s earliest wells is still standing. The well was dug by Hardy’s crews.
Crozier and Mackenzie began working on their new slaughterhouse just east of town, in what is now known as Slaughterhouse Canyon.
J.R. Halsey provided his wife a “safety” bicycle that he purchased on a trip to Denver, Colorado. Halsey and his partner Lynch ran Kingman’s Arizona Sampling Works.
In May, Gaddis & Co. merged with the Kingman Mercantile Company. The new company had George M. Bowers as president, C.E. Bowers as secretary and F.L. Smith as treasurer. O.D.M. Gaddis sold his interest to the other members and left the company.
In December, Anson Smith decided to the take the Mohave County Miner from weekly to daily.
Kingman’s barber, David Kelleher, was doing well enough to build an addition on his house located on the “Hubb’s ranch” south of town.
Mulligan’s and Hubb’s miner’s Exchange Saloon was doing a good business and had been the target of several burglaries throughout the year.
In April, eight new buildings were under construction in town, three if which were to be business establishments. One of these structures was the Lake Building on Fourth and Front Streets. This building would house the new Kingman Mercantile Company on the lower floor.
In July, a new Brick Yard was out in operation and with six men at work at the site. By the end of August, they had 200,000 bricks on fire in the kiln. The brick was destined to be use in the new Kingman Public School (the Little red Schoolhouse).
D. M. McKenney opened his law office in Kingman. His specialty was real estate and mining. His office was located on the second floor of the new Lake Building. As Mr. McKenney was also 80 years old, he became the oldest practicing attorney in Mohave County.
The new school included a lecture room of 20’ x 55’, two classrooms of 20’ x 24’, a hall of 8’ x 55’, a teachers room of 6’ x 8’ and a cloakroom of 6’ x 11’6”. The building cost is estimated to be $4,900 and $1,100 will be used to furnish the new building.
August 1, 1897 was the opening day for one of Kingman’s Chinese restaurants. Wung Sing promised in his advertisement to provide meals on the European (you pay for what you get) plan.
Needles, California took a little jab from the Mohave County Miner when the paper ran the following article. “A Needles minister had for his subject last Sunday evening “Heaven is Here,” and that is why Kingman people don’t go to heaven.
In July, the Miner called for serious consideration of the incorporation of Kingman.
Henry Lovin grubstaked a miner who, in turn, located the rich veins of the Gold Road mines. This discovery in the Black Mountains would have a very large economic impact on Kingman.
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