top of page

History of the Kearny Area


The histories of these areas are closely related, as the three communities are very close together. The earliest settlements in the region were apparently started by farmers in about 1877 or 1878. One rancher, Dudley Harrington, established his ranch in 1879. It was a dangerous trip from his ranch to Florence for mail and supplies. Finally, a post office was established in "Dudleyville" in 1881. The post office name was taken from Harrington's first name: Dudley. His son was the first postmaster.

When the railroad arrived at what is now Winkelman in 1903, it was necessary to establish an entirely separate post office. The rail line ran near the ranch owned by Peter Winkelman, a stockman. The new post office was consequently called "Winkelman." Still another community in the area at that time was known as Feldman, located on the Pusch Ranch, with Henry Feldman as manager. Although the records show the name of Dudleyville was later changed to Feldman, it is obvious that the original Feldman (the first PZ ranch) was altogether another location from present Dudleyville.

After these settlements were established in the area, either overgrazing or drought bared the hills of vegetation. By 1890 the devastating results became evident. The store at Dudleyville had to be moved several times to escape flooding. In 1926 one of the worst floods in local history roared down the San Pedro Valley. It destroyed most of the farm land and flooded lower Winkelman (also known as Winkelman Flats). There were similarly disastrous floods in 1983 and again in 1993.

In 1929, the government relocated the last of the Aravaipa Indians to the reservation at San Carlos. The exiles were a sad parade passing through Winkelman. Some were in wagons, some on horses, but most walked the 'trail of tears' to San Carlos.

Prohibition went into effect in 1930 and the Green Lantern Tavern was immediately in business. It was located about eight miles south of Winkelman on the bank of what was known locally as the Green Lantern Wash. It is this area that is now known as Dudleyville. There was also a Dudleyville schoolhouse and cemetery. One report states that in the twenties the area was also known as 'Hookum Cow'. There is no way to verify this peculiar nomenclature. It was, however, Winkelman that became the shopping center for the small settlements, farms, and ranches along the lower San Pedro.

The town of Hayden (near Winkelman) was founded in 1910 and laid out on three distinct hills, but not in a true north-south pattern. The central hill was referred to as 'Mill Side', and was the site of the mill, stores, and schools. To the east and across the narrow, high, one-lane bridge was 'Smelter Side', smelter and housing site of American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO). On the westerly side was 'San Pedro', where Mexican-American people lived. As previously noted, segregation was the order of the day in company-owned mining towns. Hayden had a common boundary with Winkelman, which was located on the banks of the Gila River. At that time, the entire town of Hayden was in the process of being built, and gradually the 'tent-house' town was replaced by permanent housing.

The business area was established on Hayden Avenue, and it was the town's main street. On this street were the the following (some of which were there for only a short time and all of which are now gone): cafe, pool hall, drug store, grocery store, post office, primary school, butcher shop, bakery, chocolate shop, barber shop, bank, dry goods store, bowling alley, service station, Taylor-Hatch hall (used for school basketball, among other activities), movie theater, dry cleaners, plumbing store, Western Auto, and later, TV repair and sales. Only a few of these were there at any one time.

Hayden and Winkelman's ethnic mix was as in other mining towns, and many individuals were first generation. As the town expanded and the population grew, fraternal groups were organized. On a hill that overlooked the town (to this day it is still called Lodge Hall Hill) the International Order of Oddfellows built a hall where most of the lodges met. Other organizations were also allowed to hold their meetings there.

The first Hayden High School was built in 1922. Maurice Gemmell was teacher, coach, and later, principal (until the end of his forty five years of service). Prior to the new building, classes were held in the Lodge Hall. It was a tough, strict school that turned out successful graduates who could read, write, and who had excellent math skills.

The fact that Hayden was a 'company town' meant that housing and jobs were tied together. If a worker lost his job, he also lost his house. When a worker retired, he moved. There were not many very old people nor seriously poor in company towns. The nearby neighborhood of San Pedro differed, in that the householder was given a long-term lease on a plot of ground and built his own house.

It was difficult to keep the town of Hayden going during the Great Depression. The mill and smelter shut down in 1931, and few many townspeople moved away. The few workers remaining worked about four days per month, maintaining the power plant and serving as watchmen. Life was grim and without many diversions. However, area history has recorded one bit of excitement: its first 'UFO'. It was in 1932 that primary school children at recess saw a strange object floating across the sky, making a muffled roar. The children were in awe of such a sight. Information came later that it was the Navy dirigible "Macon," using the Gila River for navigation. It was on a journey from the factory in Akron, Ohio, to its base in Sunnyvale, California. A few months later, the Macon crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Monterey.

It was 1937 when the CCC (Civilian Construction Corps) camp was built and put into operation on the flat south of the Gila and just east of the bridge. Many of the CCC 'boys' married local girls and stayed to become permanent citizens. Their work kept the local roads usable; they performed flood control and forest and wildlife conservation. It was a most difficult time everywhere in the United States.

Mining companies looked very favorably on local semi-pro baseball clubs. From earliest days, individual mining companies searched for and hired talented players and sponsored the teams. One of these early players, Bob Musel, went on to the New York Yankees and played with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The ball park, located in north Hayden, had a fence-to-fence dirt field and a splinter-y but well-shaded grandstand. There was little recreation in Hayden at that time, except a movie theater and baseball. Even with the exodus of so many families during the '30s shut-down, baseball was not on hold. There was an important change with the advent of the "Alma Joven" (young souls) semi-pro baseball team in 1930. It was a major event. Ball games (as in most mining towns) were the entire town's most important Sunday events, and often mariachi bands added flavor to the festivities.

Competition was heated. Opponents were from Ray, Superior, Globe, Miami, Casa Grande (Cotton Kings) Nogales, Sonora, Tucson Cowboys of the Arizona Texas League, and eventually Williams Air Force Base, and Davis Monthan Air Force Base. Rural towns' semi-pro ball continued into the late 1950s. The Alma Jovens never had a losing season.

In 1935 war threatened Europe, and mining companies began the 'never-to-end' acquisition of government contracts and subsidies. When workers started returning to Hayden, they were thankful for employment, but a feeling of being temporary was pervasive. Shut-down memories were strong. There was a story told years later of one couple who returned in the late thirties and who felt so temporary that twenty five years later the wife still hadn't unpacked her good china. Responding to operations startup, families came from the Salt River Valley, El Paso, and other places where they had gone for the shut-down's duration.

It is well remembered that on 8 December 1941 Mr. Gemmell called a special high school assembly. A static-y old radio was brought to the assembly hall, and the entire student body heard President Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech. Patriotism ran hot, and young men ran to enlist. Aluminum and scrap rubber drives were organized, and gas rationing went into effect. A high school Victory Corps was also organized, and it included physical conditioning, aircraft recognition, and Morse code training.

In the summer of 1943 Hayden endured a polio epidemic. Several families lost their children to the dreaded disease. It was truly a wonderful blessing when Dr. Jonas Salk perfected the polio vaccine.

After World War II Hayden the Hayden area has continued to go through its ups and downs, but it remains a vibrant mining community to this day.

Written by Wayback Machine, Web Archive.

For more history visit

595 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Very interesting! What history do you have on Kearny AZ?

bottom of page