Doug Hocking
Thu Sep 27, 2012 21:32

There is a lot more that can be learned along the San Pedro River but there are those who would stand in the path of scholarship by claiming to know all there is to know and close the book. The Boquillas Land Grant is a veritable time capsule all but untouched since the 1880s. The railroads passed through and there was a little ranching but no farming or homesteading. We have a wealth of documentation on the area that can guide us to a variety of locations. Currently, there is a disagreement over the location of Drew’s Station. There are two sites north and south of each other and about a mile apart.
I have a copy of Solon Alliss’s journal for January and February 1881. He passed by Drew’s station a month before the murder of Bud Philpot. It is clear from his notes that he was in the employ of the owners of the Boquillas Grant and was surveying the boundaries of said grant and nothing else. Starting from a point on the bluff near Presidio de Terrenate, a point that appears on topographic maps and undoubted corresponds to the monument set by Alliss, I redrew his map from his notes onto a topographic map. At the point where the direction of the grant changes to more closely approximate north, he notes seeing Mason’s chimney at 56 degrees east of north at approximately 1500 feet. At that point, to avoid an obstacle he also offset his survey by over 1600 feet to east. Continuing he soon passed approximately 300 feet to the east of what he identified as Drew’s house. Previously he had identified Contention and Sunset mills and noted passing several roads, the river and a number of adobes and chimneys. One adobe had four cottonwoods. It corresponds to the site traditionally identified as Drew’s and so identified by Mr. Rose. The site Allis identifies as Drew’s is about a mile to the north.
It is clear that Alliss is marking off points for reference only. He is not surveying the road, the river or any of the houses. He is merely noting their presence and approximate location. All of his detailed measurements concern the center line of the Boquillas Grant. He drew a map. All of the adobes and chimneys appear on that map except for Drew’s and Mason’s. I don’t know why but that portion of the map is very busy. Subsequently, around 1900, the map was redrawn and the presentation is clearer. Drew’s and Mason’s are still missing but the other buildings are present.
Alliss’s map shows the River Road dividing somewhere south of the southern site Mr. Rose has identified as Drew’s. It reconnects north of Drew’s forming a diamond. The eastern leg is about 400 yards east of the western leg near the southern Drew’s. If Bob Paul had been on the eastern leg the night of the murder, he would have passed Drew’s 400 yards to his west 200 or 300 yards north of the second wash north of Contention City which is about one mile north of town just as Paul described.
I have been shown an engineering drawing of a proposed railroad dated March 1881 done by Alliss for the NM&A. The map is dated March 1881. The date of the survey is unknown. Nothing of this railroad appears in his notes for February 1881, so the survey must have been done earlier. This is not the railroad that was built as it runs along the east bank of the river. The NM&A, which started construction from near Benson in the summer of 1881, followed the west bank at least as far as Drew’s property before crossing to Contention City. This drawing shows Drew’s and Mason’s in the northern position Alliss described in his journal.
The first time I was taken to Drew’s, the site Mr. Rose identifies, I knew very little about the attempted robbery or assassination. I stumbled into irrigation ditches and discerned trash deposited in the 1880s. I found this interesting as I am certified at the graduate level as a field archaeologist in historical archaeology. One such site I later learned was the place described by Alliss as ‘Mason’s chimney.’
As Mr. Rose has shown, all of the contemporary descriptions of Drew’s, except Alliss, fit the southern site identified by Alliss as the ‘adobe with four cottonwoods.’ It is about a mile north of Contention City. It is 2.8 miles north of the Presidio de Terrenate (Santa Cruz). It fits with the map drawn by Drew for his court case. He includes Griffiths, Cable, Davis, Mason and Drew with the latter four sharing water along an irrigation ditch. He says his land is 20 rods on a side. 20 rods, 880 yards, 2640 feet, one half mile. That is the length of the side of a quarter section, 160 acres, the size of a homestead. All of the properties seem to be roughly the same size. The bend of the river at Contention City is in Griffith’s homestead. Cable filed a mill site claim. Sunset Mill is in his homestead. Draw it out, set it on the map. The northern site Alliss gives for Drew’s is at least one half mile too far north. It is 3.75, at least, and more like 4, miles north of Terrenate. Drew said he was about 3 miles north of Terrenate.
I’ve walked the irrigation ditch from the second wash north of Contention City for miles to the north. There is no doubt of its identification. Framing remains where flumes were used to cross low spots. I can trace it much further on Google Earth. I believe I stepped in the ditch that led at a 45 degree angle from the ditch at Mason’s to Drew’s. I want to go back and check. I believe I can see that ditch on Google Earth leading to a point near the southern site of Drew’s. I have found no similar angled ditch in the north, only the acecia madre, the mother ditch. It may be there waiting to be found. The ditch was later extended, according to Drew’s map, to the north beyond his property. At the northern site there would have been no purpose to such an extension, but there are two properties north of the southern site.
There should be a wash south of Drew’s about 200 yards. At the southern site, this is the case as I have shown above. At the northern site, the wash is north, not south, of the building. The ‘wash’ to the south and east of the site is in fact the main irrigation ditch. Where all the washes are flowing west, it runs south to north.
Drew tells us he had 10 acres in cultivation and shows this on his map between his house and the river. 10 acres would be about 660 feet on a side if square. He would have stayed back a prudent distance from the river. Prudent would depend on the nature of the flood plain in the area. This fits the southern site, but not the northern one where there isn’t enough room for the fields.
I think that we can identify not just Drew’s and a robbery site, but irrigation ditches, lost homes for Mason, Cable and Davis, roads and other elements of life along the river in the 1880s. The book is open and there is a lot to learn. If Drew’s is the southern site, there are two sites north of him yet to be identified.

  • BLM vs. Boyer siteLarry Simkins, Wed Sep 26 09:18
    • Re: BLM vs. Boyer sitescott dyke, Fri Sep 28 06:31
      I believe you to be correct. The Boyer site, as you call it, has more compelling evidence, including an obvious stage rutted path leading into the wash (wash #2) Boyers well researched file on Drew... more
    • Drew's — Doug Hocking, Thu Sep 27 21:32
      • Would you lead a hike to the area? (nm)Tom Gaumer, Sun Sep 30 19:07
      • referencebfrey, Sat Sep 29 07:25
        Do you know what Mr. Scott is referring to when he mentions "the hills" My basic understanding is that there was a lot of structures in the area near or around Drew's. I am curious how this flume or... more
      • Drew'sJerry Lobdill, Sat Sep 29 03:12
        Wow! Doug, thanks so much for this post! This is outstanding work. You are obviously an expert on this subject. Have you published a paper on this with photos? I'd love to read it. I know practically ... more
        • Boquillas GrantDoug Hocking, Sun Sep 30 07:17
          The Boquillas Land Grant is a Mexican Grant extending along the San Padro from the vicinity of Charleston to a little south of St. David. It is marked on topographic maps. It was acquired by the BLM... more
      • frames and flumes...bfrey, Fri Sep 28 09:19
        "I believe I stepped in the ditch that led at a 45 degree angle from the ditch at Mason’s to Drew’s. I want to go back and check." In describing the frames and flumes are you talking about bridge... more
        • Frames and flumesDoug Hocking, Fri Sep 28 15:36
          I will post a photo of the type of frame and flume I'm talking about on Facebook on my page and share it on Wild West History Association. This one is still in use in New Mexico.
          • follow-upbfrey, Mon Oct 1 07:17
            if you could direct me to your facebook page or email me at I would appreciate it. Thanks.
          • thanks (nm)bfrey, Fri Sep 28 18:13
      • good stuff Mr. Hocking (nm)bfrey, Fri Sep 28 08:47
      • BabocomariPam Potter, Fri Sep 28 07:43
        Doug, several of us have wandered along the Babocomari and San Pedro looking for what might have been the original McLaury Ranch. I searched maps and records and have yet to find an exact location.... more
        • BobocomariDoug Hocking, Fri Sep 28 15:29
          I've never looked for the McLaury Ranch. I don't know much about it. I do know places along the Bobocomari where there is trash from the 1880s. Unfortunately, outside the Boquillas Grant much of the... more
    • Logistical nomenclature. K.t.K., Thu Sep 27 03:54
      Believers in the Boyer/Rose charade (wash location) have dwindled to practically zilch - as it should be - in behalf of historical accuracy. It’s a nice wash, which I visited myself with Bill Evans’... more
      • I believe the final word on Drew's station has not been settled. That being said, it there really any agenda when you are comparing facts about the location? Is there any agenda in producing a... more
Click here to receive daily updates