True West Historical Society

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April 20, 2012

Yesterday I whipped out a sketch for a new True West Moment on The Hashknife Outfit, a legendary ranch in northern Arizona.


The Aztec Land & Cattle Company was formed in 1884 by a group of Eastcoast investors and Western ranchers who paid a million bucks at 50 cents an acre. The "ranch" was 90 miles long and 40 miles wide with headquarters near present-day Saint Joseph, Arizona (later moving to Holbrook). Unfortunately, they bought it from the railroad which meant that the land was checker-boarded (the railroads got free land along their routes, but this free land included every other section). The cowboys who worked for the Hashknife were notorious for their fistfightin', shootin' exploits, but unfortunately, no great name came out of the period and so, the outfit is perhaps a little more famous than it really was. Still, a very cool name (named for the kind of knife that chuckwagon cooks used to cut veggies. ha. True.).


Anyway, got to looking at the sketch yesterday afternoon and thought I could improve on the horse and rider at left. Decided to do some due diligence and this morning I pulled down a book on Ed Borein and Remington and redid the sketch before I came into work:



Included the actual brand on a crossbar. The poaching reference is pretty obvious: that's Ed Borein on the right, Remington on the left and the two middle guys are from a Desert Caballeros Museum photo of hispanic cowboys. Of course they are all changed 20% to avoid any copyright entanglements, but still, I like to admit my inspirations.


Was the extra effort worth it? I think so. Gee, I wonder what ol' Faulkner has to say about this?


"Try to be better than yourself."

—William Faulkner


Views: 258

Comment by Mundo Osterberg on April 20, 2012 at 7:02pm

Here is when the Hashnife outfit moved from horse drawn power for their chuckwagon to horsepower.

Comment by Sue Cauhape on April 20, 2012 at 9:20pm

I like the changes in the action, especially of the two end vaqueros. It adds more dynamics to the picture.

Comment by Chet Rollins on April 21, 2012 at 7:22am

What about Burt Mossman, the first Captain of the Arizona Rangers?

Comment by Bob Boze Bell on April 21, 2012 at 7:43am

Yes, but Burt is on the B team, don't you think? There is no Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy or Curly Bill on the roster. It's too bad, because the seeds of a great legend are there but there is no unifying character to hang a hat on. Same is true with the Pleasant Valley War. No big names. Commadore Perry Owens comes the closest, but he is relegated to the B team as well. Not a household name. Amazingly, "Hashknife Outfit" is. You can probably credit Zane Grey for that.

Comment by John R Wice on April 21, 2012 at 3:10pm

That is cool that give Zane Grey credit for their piece of notoriety, that is exactly whay my Grandpa thought.  He sold whiteface cattle in the area and thought after Cap Mossman cleaned the place up "there was nothing to write home about !"  It certainly wasn't the San Bernardino of John Slaughter.

Comment by Santee on April 28, 2012 at 12:43am

There was an outlaw in AZ named Hashknife Charley, who stole some gold in Mexico, buried it when he got across the border, then got caught and went to the pen. Is he from this outfit?


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