The Demise of Mr. Horace Chipman Grosvenor

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by Richard A. Zidonis   Contact Rich

A reader of an earlier newsletter commented on my mentioning that "Wrightson...ended up with a mountain. Poor Horace Chipman Grosvenor...only got a collection of hills." The reader, who lives in the Grosvenor Hills area, asked what I knew about the demise of Mr. H. C. Grosvenor.

Hacienda de Santa RitaFirst, never ask such a question to an amateur historian unless you are under house arrest and have absolutely nothing better to do then listen and nod until whiplash sets in. Asking such a question is a tactical error similar to intentionally asking if one has any pictures of their kids or grand kids. The end result is a highway covered with neon traffic cones: you aren't going anywhere soon.

That said, Horace Chipman Grosvenor, born in Ohio in 1820, was a printer by trade, although most state his occupation as an engraver. He married Frances Maria Freeman in 1854, and they had a son, Augustine Turner. Mr. Grosvenor became a prominent member of the Santa Rita Silver Mining Company, formed in Ohio in 1858, and that led to his leaving Ohio that same year. He became the superintendent of the mining operation in 1860.

Charles Debrille Poston wrote, by "1861 the business was going well in opening shafts and preparing the mine for working. Some rude furnaces had been erected for smelting and preparations were being made for a large shipment of machinery and increase of the working force at the mine."

Jumping ahead not too many months, newspaper readers back east read a story in the Providence, Rhode Island Republican Herald and Post. The story was written by Richmond Jones, Engineer of the Sopori Land and Mining Company in Sopori, New Mexico.

Just as a pertinent side note, Grosvenor located the Santa Rita operation at the newly built Hacienda de Santa Rita, just east of Tubac in the current Salero Ranch area. As this all took place prior to the formation of the Arizona Territory in 1863, Tubac and the Hacienda, at that time, were located in Dona Ana County, New Mexico.

Mr. Jones filed the story under the date of April 28, 1861, and he provides the following "sad intelligence."

New Mexico Territory"I have to communicate to you the death of Mr. H. C. Grosvenor, Superintendent of the Santa Rita Silver Mining Company, who was murdered by the Apaches on the afternoon of the 25th, about two miles from the Hacienda on the road to Tubac.

On Tuesday, Colonel Poston started a wagon to Santa Rita, loaded with provisions and in charge of two Mexicans; and Mr. Grosvenor learning of their approach, went out on foot to meet them.

Not returning as expected, Mr. Pumpelly, Engineer of the Company, started out in the evening in search of him, and found that the rascally Apaches had waylaid and murdered both Mr. Grosvenor and the Mexicans in charge of the teams, and run off with the mules. Mr. Grosvenor was one of the most upright and estimable men in this country.... His death has saddened and depressed the hearts of all of us. We are led to exclaim, whose turn is next?"

'Poston's account of Grosvenor's death on April 25, 1861 at the age of 41 is as follows:'

"...Grosvenor, having taken his tea, became anxious about the non-arrival of the train, strapped his gun on his shoulder and said he would walk down the road a piece to ascertain the cause of the delay, and was shot and killed by the Apaches at an arroyo about a mile and a half from the Hacienda, on the road to Tubac.

"I went out the next day and assisted at the funeral services. A sad and mournful time to bury poor Grosvenor's remains in that location, so far from his widow and home; but there his mortal body reposes, watched over alone for many years by the mountains which he loved so well."

The accountant of the Santa Rita Silver Mining Company was Samuel Robinson, and as was the custom of the day, he kept a diary. His diary entry for April 29, 1861 reads:

"A little before sundown when Mr. Grosvenor and I were out watering the garden, I remarked that it was very strange that the wagon had not arrived. (Grosvenor) said he would walk down the road and see what had detained them. He got his gun and started. Darkness came on and he did not return. After we had eaten, Mr. Pompelly and I started out to see what was the matter. We walked on and on until we had gone more than a mile. Tom, the cat, was following us, keeping up a constant crying. We finally saw a light a short distance ahead which at first we thought was the reflection from a campfire, but on going a little nearer," we saw that it was flour on the road "shining in the moonlight."

"On approaching within twenty yards of the wagon a sight was presented to us that I shall never forget. A body lay in the road at our feet, which we instantly recognized as that of Mr. Grosvenor, lying on his face, with his head down the hill, stripped of everything but his shirt - and lifeless.

"We stood for a moment almost paralyzed. By the light of the moon we could see the wagon, partly run off the road, flour strewn about and general evidence of destruction. After taking in the scene of desolation and death at a glance, we immediately retraced our steps, not knowing but the Apaches might be lying behind the rocks a few feet from us. The fear that on our return we should find the house sacked" made our journey home "a walk of terror."

We returned the next day and "found Mr. Grosvenor's body just as we had left it, and the bodies of the two Mexicans lanced through and through, one lying in the road on the bank and the other near the wagon." We carried the bodies back to the Hacienda. We buried the men "a little before sundown."

Such was the life of the early settlers to the Gadsden Purchase. Charles D. Poston had a final thought on the Grosvenor matter. In his writings he added, "Thank God there are no more new countries to pioneer."

H. C. Grosvenor, killed by Apaches, April 25, 1861, still lies in eternal rest near the Grosvenor Hills in now Santa Cruz County, Arizona.

As the man once said, when you get to where you're going, there you are.
...and that's where we are: at the end of this month's newsletter. Until we meet again, stay well... and see you somewhere. Rich and Peggy