BLOXTON-SANFORD - 6 Oct 1975 - Tucson Daily Citizen (T, AZ)
any said. and (I the "mobile is to apply I do, I a haven But family prospered in early Tucson Pioneer newlyweds faced hard life a By JOHN BRET HARTE Citizen SUff Writer One hundred years ago this summer, young Louisa Jane Bloxton traded the comforts comforts of Washington, D.C., for the unknown frontier of southern Arizona and the companionship companionship of Don Alonzo Sanford. At the time, her decision to marry the ambitious cattleman may have seemed a tribute tribute more to love than to common sense, but the life they would build together would leave an enduring mark on Tucson's evolution and a family tradition that has lasted until the present. present. The Virginia^born Miss Bloxton had met Sanford (Don was his first name , not a mark of Hispanic courtesy) in Washington two years before when he had come east to file a claim against the government for a herd of cattle stolen by Indians. Leaving his brother Denton to homestead ranch land for him in Arizona, Sanford had ridden alone across the plains, through country country infested by hostile Indians, to the Mississippi Mississippi and the river steamer and train that would take him to the nation's capital. It was an act of courage and determination that underlined the force of his character. A native of upstate New York, Sanford was "the one with the drive in the family," remembers remembers his granddaughter, - Louise Summers, Summers, a long-time Tucsonian. And it was that drive that sent him west again in the spring of 1874, eight months after he and Miss Bloxton had met. Their friendship ripened through correspondence, correspondence, and became a courtship. Miss Bloxton had a strict religious upbringing and was an ardent advocate of temperance. He put her love to the test by writing a better in which he suggested that he drank --"then, having obtained the reaction he expected, wrote back to say that he had been speaking only hypothetically. At last, in January 1875, Sanford proposed marriage in a formidable letter that spoke of the obligations of the married state and concluded concluded with a sober admonition: "Consider whether you would rather live in Wash., with all its luxuries or come to a land like this -- almost uncivilized and away from society and the many relatives and friends, etc." Ready to throw civilized society over for Don Alonzo Sanford Â·\ . Wooed Eastern girl wear at their wedding, and he sent her a gold nugget fashioned in the shape of an ear. Once they were engaged, Sanford took out a homestead in the Stock Valley along Cienega Cienega Creek southeast of Tucson in his fiancee's name. The land adjoined his own ranch south of the Empire Mountains, and he badgered her goodrhumofedly in letters to come and inspect her holdings. ( She left Washington in May. He met .her in San Francisco and took her by train, then stage -- the railroad had not yet entered Arizona Arizona --- to Tucson where they arrived in late summer. On Oct. 5, the Arizona Citizen (weekly predecessor of the Tucson Daily Citizen) carried carried a notice of the couple's wedding. Editor John Wasson concluded the announcement with a statement that, despite the new Mrs. Sanford's recent arrival, "this proceeding Louisa Jane Sanford Traded easy life for West But life on the Stock Valley ranch, where Sanford took his bride after their marriage, could not have seemed either easy or congenial. congenial. She had no stove in the ranch house -most -most Arizonans still cooked outdoors on open .fires -- and had .to make do with a dutch oven. The house itself had only a dirt floor. With board flooring costing $140 per thousand feet, Sanford had not seen fit to provide that rare amenity. Life was also dangerous, she learned. When an Apache attack threatened, in the summer of 1878 she took her infant daughter, Etta, and fled on horseback 50-odd miles to Tucson for safety. But the thing that most distressed her about ranch life was the fact that w.ork interfered and "sad, sad," the next. Cowhands were rounding up and branding cattle on Sundays. Sanford prospered, becoming one of southern southern Arizona's major cattlemen. Like other frontier businessmen, he also branched out into other endeavors -- establishing sheep ranches and selling the wool in the East; investing in mines, smelters, stockyards and telegraph construction; acquiring land in Tucson and municipal bonds in Tombstone. He seized every opportunity, and by hard work and shrewd management turned each into gold. In 1882 Sanford sold his Stock Valley holdings holdings and took up new land along Sonoita Creek near Patagonia, adjoining ranches owned by his brother Denton and two broth- 1 ers-in-law. At the same time he built an elegant, elegant, two-story adobe house on Ott Street in Tucson and moved his wife and four young daughters into town. Sanford soon became a leader in Tucson life. By 1883 he was the wealthiest man in the city, and alone paid 2 per cent of the county's taxes. He served on the Board of Supervisors, the City Council, and in 1884 became acting mayor. As the city's chief executive, Sanford won a reputation for personal honesty and strict economy. When he found it necessary to recommend recommend increasing the police force from seven to 10 men, he urged that the department department budget remain the same. The press pointed out that it would be hard for the officers to make do with $60 per month instead of the $100 salary they had received. Though city life was easier and safer than life on the ranch, Mrs. Sanford still longed for the refinements of the East, and in 1886 she persuaded her husband to move the family back to Washington. There Sanford continued to prosper and there one more child, a son, was born. But although he came west twice a year to tend to his ranch property, Sanford never again lived in Arizona.. Don Alonzo Sanford died in Washington in the spring of 1915, at the age of 75. His wife lived five years longer before she died in the same city. Â· Three of their children returned to ranch along the Sonoita. Mrs. Summers has lived in Tucson for more than 40 years. Another granddaughter, P.hyllis S. Thompson, also is a long-time Tucsonian.