An Inspirational Tale

An Inspirational Tale

Over the years her exploits became legendary. As an example, in 1878, she worked as a messenger, scout and interpreter for General O. O. Howard during the Bannock War. Compared to the battles waged against the Sioux, the Apache and the Comanche, it was more a skirmish than a war.

Still there were a series of pitched bloody battle, and in the thick of it was an incredible woman that had become known as Sarah Winnemucca. She later said, quote, “This was the hardest work I ever did for the government in all my life … having been in the saddle night and day; distance, about two hundred and twenty-three miles. Yes, I went for the government when the officers could not get an Indian man or a white man to go for love or money. I, only an Indian woman, went and saved my people.” Her courageous actions landed her on the front page of The New York Times and made her the subject of dime novels.

At birth she was given the name Thocmentony that loosely translated as Shell Flower. She was born sometime around 1844 into the  Numa tribe known by their American name, the Northern Paiute. As a manifestation of mid-19th century bigotry they were called digger Indians.

Her childhood years were spent in seasonal migrations with her people through what is today northern Nevada, southern Idaho, and eastern Oregon. Learned over the course of centuries were ways of survival in the harsh and unforgiving land. The tribe gathered herbs and plants, dried them to sustain the people through the months of winter, fished in lakes and streams, and hunted deer and other game. These people had also developed a rich culture.

By the time she was born the Numa people had learned to fear and avoid the strangers with their horses, wagons, and rifles. But within a few short years the stream of strangers became a torrent, and it became increasingly difficult to avoid contact and confrontations. Increasingly the Paiutes were hearing horror stories about the killing of the people and tales of whites fasting on the dead. The latter was most likely rooted in accounts rooted of the Donner party.

These stories terrified Winnemucca and the children in the tribe. One morning word spread quickly that white men were coming, and her tribe fled in fear. Winnemucca later recounted the incident and said that her mother had ran while carrying a baby and pulling her by the hand. Desperation led several mothers including hers to hide their older children by partially burying them in the ground and covering the site with brush. After dark the mothers returned for their frightened children. It was a traumatic experience Winnemucca never forgot.

Her maternal grandfather, a tribal leader known as Truckee, had traveled with John Fremont and other Paiutes to California. Upon his return he had attempted to ease tribal fears. But the attack on the tribe that led to the children being hidden, and the burning of the tribe’s winter stores that led to months of starvation, marked the end of nomadic life for the Paiute.

In the spring of 1850, Truckee, with a letter of commendation given him by Fremont, sought assistance in California. The letter from Fremont, and the kindness of strangers, led to the refugees including several dozen members of the tribe, Winnemucca, her mother, and siblings being gifted with food and clothing.

At first Winnemucca hid from the strangers they met. She acted the mute and refused to speak or look at them. She longed for home, for her former life, and was still carrying the memory of the horrible attack on her tribe. Her transition began after she fell sick and was nursed back to health by a white woman.

From an early age Winnemucca had displayed a gift for learning languages. She was fluent in several Native American dialects and languages. In California she soon became proficient in English as well as Spanish. The bilingual talents served her well when she, her mother and her sisters began working in the houses of white and Spanish families. It was while working in the home of Major William M. Ormsby, a trader, that she was taught to sew and to cook, as well as read and write English.

In 1859, land was set aside near Pyramid Lake for a Paiute reservation. Winnemucca, her family, and the northern Paiute tribes were forced onto the lands allotted them. They were expected to adapt to an “American” lifestyle and become farmers. But this was a dry, arid landscape and the Paiute were given little training and few supplies. Winter starvation and disease became pandemic in the tribe.

After that harsh winter, Winnemucca with her language proficiency began petitioning the military at Nevada’s Camp McDermit for assistance. Her success was made manifest in early spring when wagonloads of supplies were finally sent to the reservation. Her fluency with English, and ability to serve as a tribal representative, landed her employment as an interpreter. So, her father and survivors of their band moved to the military camp.

But increasingly Winnemucca found herself in an odd limbo. The Americans did not fully trust her, and many openly expressed their prejudices. The Paiute and other tribes questioned her motives, and many felt that she was a traitor. But she was undaunted. She tirelessly worked to get better treatment for the Paiute and other tribes, and to get tribes to embrace the education needed for them to adapt to the new world and survive.

The Bannock War ended badly for the Paiutes and other northwestern tribes. In 1879, military leaders forced the Paiutes at Camp McDermit to march more than 350 miles in winter to the Yakama reservation in Washington territory.  Winnemucca was devastated; she had promised the Paiutes they would be all right if they followed military orders.

In Yakama, Winnemucca worked as an interpreter. She argued openly with the reservation agent, and wrote letters and petitioned government leaders. In the winter of 1880, Winnemucca accompanied her father and other Paiute leaders to Washington, D.C., to meet with the secretary of the interior, Charles Schurz. She gave interviews and her stature and recognition grew. The meeting went well and they succeeded in obtaining a letter allowing the Paiutes to return to Malheur at Pyramid Lake. Incredibly the Yakama agent defied orders refused to let them return to Pyramid Lake.

This inspired Winnemucca to escalate her fight for reform. When petitions, meetings and letters failed to improve conditions for the Paiutes, she began lecturing in San Francisco and throughout California dramatizing the plight of reservation Indians. She worked to convey a carefully curated version of the “Indian princess” to various crowds, and she often wore native dress. She described the abuses of reservation agents, and they fought back by branding her in editorials by actually using words like whore, drunkard, and thief.

In 1883, sisters Elizabeth Palmer Peabody and Mary Peabody Mann, educators, and members of the Transcendentalist movement, invited her to lecture in New York and New England. The Peabody sisters also arranged for the publication of Winnemucca’s book Life Among the Paiutes, the very first book written by a Native American woman. On the lecture circuit Winnemucca spoke at hundreds of events and receptions. A reporter for The Daily Silver State wrote, “The lecture was unlike anything ever before heard in the civilized world—eloquent, pathetic, tragical at times; at others [her] quaint anecdotes, sarcasms, and wonderful mimicry surprised the audience again and again into bursts of laughter and rounds of applause.”

Winnemucca married several times, lost a husband to tuberculosis, vigorously lectured, and continued to campaign for Native American rights, and to encourage native peoples to become educated. On October 16, 1891, Winnemucca died at the home of her sister Elma at Henry’s Lake, Idaho, probably of tuberculosis. General Oliver Otis Howard said of Winnemucca’s Army career, “She did our government great service, and if I could tell you but a tenth part of all she willingly did to help the white settlers and her own people to live peaceably together, I am sure you would think, as I do, that the name of Winnemucca should have a place beside the name of Pocahontas in the history of our country.”

Winnemucca died believing that she had failed to make the changes she worked for, but this isn’t true. The book she wrote in 1883, was republished in 1969 and remains an important source book on the history and culture of the Paiutes. In Nevada, on the McDermit Indian Reservation, there is a historical marker, erected in 1971, honoring Sarah Winnemucca with the words “she was a believer in the brotherhood of mankind.”

And that is why she remains an inspirational figure for people throughout the world. She endured, she persevered, and she never grew tired of trying to encourage people to put aside prejudices, to work together, and to build a better world.

Winnemucca was featured on a week long series about inspirational people on the Wake Up With Jim live stream podcast. The podcasts and archived programs are a part of the multifaceted Jim Hinckley’s America network.

So, What’s Next?

This early view of Cool Springs on Route 66 in western Arizona most likely dates to shortly after its construction in 1925 or 1926. Authors collection.

So, what’s next? Funny that you should ask. This is exactly what I have been asking myself this past few days. If things go as planned (that would be different) I should be busier than a one legged man in a behind kicking contest.

I have set a rather ambitious goal of having the envisioned rolling Route 66 information center as a Route 66 centennial project and Jim Hinckley’s America mobile studio on the road by the time of the Route 66 Fun Run, which is held on the first weekend in May. The first hurdle to overcome is needed funding that will have to come from sponsors as well as through our crowdfunding initiative.

There is little needed to make the ’51 Chevy panel truck a rather dependable local driver. But if it is going to be driven to events such as the Miles of Possibility Conference in Pontiac, Illinois or a book signing at Auto Books Aero Books in Burbank, California there is need for a bumper to bumper work over. And it is the tours that will make it valuable promotional resource for the Route 66 community.

Since its formation in 1994 the Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona has always been quick to support promotional projects and public arts initiatives. Still, I was humbled and surprised when they announced that the association would contribute $1,000 to the endeavor. That should cover tires and the purchase of a wiring harness.

Over the course of the next week I will complete a full evaluation of the truck, and then create a budget. This includes a short Route 66 drive to scrounge parts from the parts truck that was part of the package. And I will get it registered and licensed for the first time in five years, and take care of insurance.

The 1952 Chevy parts truck that will be used to create the rolling Route 66 information enter. ©Jim Hinckley’s America

I recently finished an article for Route about the Dunton family that has had a business association with Route 66 in western Arizona since at least 1926. N.R. Dunton, the family patriarch, had a garage and towing service in Goldroad, built Cool Springs, and purchased Taylor Owens Ford in Kingman shortly after WWII. It should be published in February, which is in time for the Route 66 Byways Conference in Needles, California.

Several days before Christmas an article about Route 66 neon signage was finished and sent to the editor of Crankshafta new automotive publication. As I have worked with Richard Lentinello in the past during his tenure at Hemmings, I have hopes that this will become a regular gig.

I put the downtime of the past eighteen months to good use. The first of the two books written is scheduled for release next month. So, promotion and book signings will be added to the schedule pending more curve balls such as those that we have been dealing with since March 2020.

A new season of community education programs developed for Mohave Community College kicks off in January. I initially created the classes to foster a greater awareness about area history, Route 66 and how both can contribute to tourism related economic growth.

The college had initially planned for the tourism department to put the classes to use in educating the areas service industry personnel. When that didn’t happen Lori Gunnette, the ambitious Corporate and Community Education Coordinator got creative. And I began meeting with the owners of companies such as Laughlin Tours. So, I am quite confident that we will be making a positive contribution this spring.

A mock up of the envisioned rolling Route 66 information center and mobile studio.

Of course the big project is work on the self guided, narrated historic district walking tours. This ambitious endeavor being spearheaded by Kingman Main Street could be used as a template for development of similar projects in other communities. That enhances its value.

I have always had an issue with the development of long term strategies but since at least March 2020 things are subject to change at less than a moments notice. And that is just a bit maddening. Still, the first quarter of 2022 is shaping up to be busy, productive, and possibly profitable.



Welcome To Jim Hinckley’s America

Welcome To Jim Hinckley’s America

An early view of Goldroad, Arizona

Two Weeks. Fourteen days. Three hundred thirty six hours. A mere blink of an eye in geologic times. But this is Jim Hinckley’s America where things change faster than a politicians principled stand on an issue during an election campaign.

In that brief amount of time I was scheduled to attend a book signing and the book singing was canceled due to shipping delays of books. Linked with that was the canceling of some customers book orders and making refunds.

I made a field trip to the old railroad camp of Franconia and attempted to locates some graves, lost a cap on two teeth that can’t be replaced or repaired until next week, and spent some time at the Mohave Museum of History & Arts research library. I was looking for information to to confirm dates and flesh out information for the narrated historic district walking tours being developed by Kingman Main Street.

But when it comes to research I lack razor sharp focus. And so I was soon off on an unrelated tangent with the discovery of family photo albums of trips in western Arizona circa 1922. Pictures of Goldroad, a ghost town on Route 66, and Oatman that were rich with detail proved to be quite the distraction.

I have toyed with the idea of creating a rolling Route 66 information center and Jim Hinckley’s America mobile studio for quite sometime. Well, after a great deal of deliberation I stuck a crowbar in the wallet, pried out a few hundred dollar bills, and purchased a 1951 Chevy 3800 (one ton) panel truck. It was a twofer so it was difficult to resist.

Buyers remorse is always a concern in these situations, especially when the vehicle needs work, hasn’t been on the road for a few years, and a quest for project funding will consume more time than making repairs. But that cloud of uncertainty never materialized while putting air in the ancient tires. And  it never showed up on the 25 mile drive into Kingman on Route 66 at a brisk clip of 45 miles per hour.

Today I finished a feature article for Crankshaftand created an accompanying photo file for illustrations. And I wrote a clients blog, squeezed in a two mile desert walkabout which proved interesting as my ankle injury apparently hasn’t fully healed.

The past fourteen days has included attendance of the Route 66 Association of Kingman Christmas party, a toilet repair, work to develop the Wake Up With Jim audio podcast, recording the narration for several of the walking tour points of interest and a little home repair after an intense wind storm. I also found time to sit for a couple of interviews, and complete the maps for a new book scheduled for release in June.

The Sunday morning Coffee With Jim programs took a bit more time as they were from the road. But it was a distinct honor to give Calico’s a promotional boost.

Bottom line, Jim Hinckley’s America is never boring. It is always an adventure. And even though I do a bit of grousing, I have the best job in the world. I tell people where to go in such a manner that they look forward to the trip!




Mysteries, Clues and The Occasional Answer

Excavation in 1935 for the cellar of the post office in Kingman, Arizona. Photo Promote Kingman collection

In 1898, the year that William Harvey Hubbs was elected Mohave County Sheriff, a fire swept along Front Street. It started in the White Hills Mercantile Company. Soon the Gaddis & Perry warehouse, the Kingman Mercantile Company, E. F. Thompson’s saloon, Rosborough and Laswell’s saloon, three Chinese restaurants, the Kingman House Hotel, and George Bowers livery stable and other businesses were ablaze. Also destroyed was the Hubbs House Hotel.

Like the mythical Phoenix the Hotel Beale rose from the ashes. This disaster was the third time that the hotel opened by Hubbs in 1887 had been destroyed by fire. And so, the following year Hubbs in limited partnership with Samuel Crozier and John Mulligan built a new, modern two-story hotel with concrete, brick, and masonry.

In 1902 a syndicate headed by Ida Crozier and H.H. Watkins bought out the interests of Hubbs and Mulligan for $15,000. With the hiring of an experienced hotel manager from California, the forty-room hotel proved to be a profitable endeavor.

Still, lots of small western towns had modern hotels that reflected their prosperity and their hopes for a bright and prosperous future. But not every town had someone like Thomas Devine who purchased the hotel in 1906 and later served as Mohave County Treasurer. And not every hotel had someone like Devine to transform the property from showpiece into a shining gem.

Born to Irish immigrant parents on a farm near Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1869, Devine was raised in Kansas, apprenticed as a blacksmith, and went to work for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. After working a stint with the Union Pacific Railroad, he moved to Flagstaff in the Arizona territory and worked as a brakeman for the Arizona. Lumber & Timber Company log train. After an injury on the railroad cost him a leg, he took work with Flagstaff Electric Light Company. And then he served two terms as Coconino County Treasurer.

In 1906 he, his wife Amy, a daughter, and one year old son Andrew, moved to Kingman after he purchased the Hotel Beale. An article published in 1913 noted his success. Quote, “Under Devine’s able management this enterprise has prospered and expanded rapidly and the hotel is today a fine modern hostelry, equipped with all the accessories necessary to the comfort and convenience of its guests.”

In 1916, Devine dramatically transformed the hotel. An article published in the Kingman Miner carried a headline that read, “$50,000 for Beale Improvements.” It noted that, “R.W. Lescher, a well-known Phoenix architect was in Kingman with plans for Beale improvements.” The Albrech Anderson construction company of Phoenix commenced work with the razing of buildings at the rear of the hotel. Then a three-story addition was built. The façade was given a modern appearance.

Front Street, now Andy Devine Avenue, at Fourth Street, was the heart of the city for nearly 90 years. Photo Mike Ward collection

The interior was remodeled, hot and cold water was added to the rooms, a modern steam heat system was installed, and the saloon was expanded. The store fronts and saloon in the basement with a barbershop was also remodeled. The result, as the article noted, was the transformation of the Beale into one of the finest hotels in the state. The remodel included addition of the Indian Room adorned with an array of artifacts. Also, on display and for sale were a large collection of Navajo Rugs. The room became a major attraction in Kingman.

The room was also used for an array of meetings and conferences. This included meetings of the Arizona Good Roads Association hosted by Devine. Devine and members of the association in Mohave County, in Needles, California, and in Coconino County were instrumental in lobbying for the National Old Trails Highway to be rerouted across northern Arizona. Initially the highway traversed the state diagonally from Springerville to Yuma. The National Old Trails Highway was predecessor to Route 66.

Leading attorneys opened offices at the hotel. Visiting optometrists and medical specialists rented rooms. Politicians stumping for votes, developers, mining companies and ranchers all gathered at the hotel. The Mohave County Chamber of Commerce and the first J.C. Penny rented storefronts. Auto dealers displayed the new models at the hotel. The local newspaper carried a list of guests that had checked into the hotel in each weekly edition. This included celebrities.

While filming Ace of the Saddle at Tap Duncan’s Hackberry Ranch in 1918, Harry Carey stayed at the Hotel Beale. So did Buster Keaton in 1925 while filming Go West at Tap Duncan’s Valley View Ranch. Charles Lindbergh was a frequent guest during construction of Port Kingman, the passenger terminal for the pioneer Transcontinental Air Transport. And during the gala opening ceremony for the terminal, Amelia Earhart was a guest. Greta Garbo signed the register using an alias. Jack Dempsey boldly signed his name with a flourish.

A boxing ring in the cellar adjoined the Sump, a bar, during the early 1920s. It was there that Louis L’Amour, who was working in the Katherine Mine at the time, kicked off a short-lived amateur boxing career under the name Mickey.

In 1927, the year after Thomas Devine sold the hotel to Lulu Hall, the AAA Hotel, Garage and Service Station Directory noted that rooms at the Hotel Beale ranged from $1.50 to $3.00 per night. For the budget conscious traveler that could forego more luxurious amenities, the Brunswick Hotel offered rooms for $1 per night.

The hotels decline commenced in the late 1930s with construction of modern motels such as the White Rock Court, Arcadia Lodge, the first Kingman motel with a swimming pool, and El Trovatore Autel. These were the years when Kingman made the transition from territorial era frontier town to modern, bustling community.

In 1935, construction commenced on the first post office building. Prior to this date the post office was housed in a shared store front. Route 66 was rerouted along Front Street in front of the Hotel Beale and paved. Motel resorts such as the El Trovatore and Arcadia, the first motel in town with a swimming pool. Clark gable and carol Lombard but the town in the spotlight when they married at the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Evidence of the fade from prominence is found in the Directory of Motor Courts, Cottages & Hotels published in 1940 by AAA. For the first time since the mid-1920s the Hotel Beale was not listed. The severe housing shortage that resulted from construction and servicing of the Kingman Army Airfield during WWII slowed its decline. Through the 1950s hotel still rented rooms by the night, but it also began renting them by the week and the month, and it was beginning to show its age

The storefronts remained a popular location as they fronted Route 66. And the Beale Café and bars did a booming business. But by the 1970s the slide for the hotel and the downtown business district had begun in earnest. Then with completion of I40 and the bypass of Route 66, they quickly were transformed into tarnished and neglected historic relics.

The Sump had closed, was gutted, and used for storage. The Beale Café and lobby barbershop closed. The hotel became a low rate rent by the week or month facility. Then the storefronts were left empty and were used for storage.

Faltering attempts to breathe new life into the old hotel included transforming rooms on the mezzanine into small shops. But the expense of operation, and the costly need for major repairs, led to the buildings complete closure. The once stately pride of Kingman became a point of contention as a renaissance dawned in the historic heart of the city.

Surprisingly vestiges of its former glory still abound. Hidden behind a more modern façade added in the late 1930s are leaded glass windows and ornate iron support columns. Much of the custom furniture that was added after the 1916 remodel remain on the mezzanine or is stacked in rooms.

The switchboard, mahogany front desk, and staircase railings are all intact. In the dim light that filters through the dust covered skylight, they still have a sheen. In the corner the massive safe with Hotel Beale on the door in gold leaf stands empty. The shoeshine stand used by actor Andy Devine as a young man is still in the lobby.

Unraveling the history of Kingman and its landmark for the self guided, narrated historic district walking tours being developed by Kingman Main Street seems to be a never ending quest for answers. But it often seems that for every historic mystery or puzzled resolved, new discoveries open the door on new mysteries. Jim Hinckley’s America, shared adventures, historic mysteries solved, always an adventure.

Wake Up With Jim, December 9, 2021

On this mornings program we take a Route 66 trip with Jack Rittenhouse. Did I forget to mention that our odyssey takes place in 1946? 

Rittenhouse’s A Guide Book to Highway 66 didn’t sell as well as expected when it was first published. But the rerelease in 1988 hit at the dawning of the Route 66 renaissance. And so for legions of Route 66enthusiasts it has become a popular guide to the old highway. But it is also a time capsule. 

Join author Jim Hinckley as he pulls back the curtain, and transports the traveler to 1946. 

Today’s program is sponsored in part by RouteTrip USA, your one stop shop for a grand road trip adventure in the USA or Canada, the Roadrunner Lodge in Tucumcari, New Mexico, where the line between past and present is delightfully blurred, and through the magic of crowdfunding