Chapter Fifteen: J. Addison reavis
Quite a number of years ago, there was a man by the name of J. Addison Reavis, a white man, and about fifty years old. He claimed that his wife was heir to a Mexican land grant, taking in the town of Phoenix and a number of miles above and below. He placed his grant on record in Maricopa County, interested such men as C.P. Huntint, and a number of others in his grant, filed his claim in Washington, D.C., and claimed that he was prosecuting to establish the validity of his grant for his wife, who was a grand niece of Don Miguel Peralta.
His wife was a Mexican and considerably younger than Reavis. He created quite a stir in the Salt River Valley. As time went on, Reavis began to sell quit claim deeds to different people for a dollar each, and he reserved the right to stop selling at any time. The citizens began to talk very threateningly until the feeling was at a fever heat, when it was learned that Charley Mosher, editor and proprietor of the Phoenix Gazette, had purchased one of the quit claim deeds from Reavis.
Charley had his office and plant in the Coats building on Washington Street. Coats had a grocery store on the lower floor, and the Gazette occupied the upper floor. When the natives heard of Charley's action, there was a good deal of muttering, and quite a crowd gathered on Washington Street in front of the Gazette office. Charley appeared at one of the windows and tore the deed up. As it had not been placed on record, it appeased the crowd and they went their several ways.
Reavis did not show up after that in Phoenix, and very shortly President Grant appointed a land grant court to settle all claims under the Gadsden Purchase. The court sat in Tucson, Arizona, and Reavis' case came up, and it looked as though there was nothing to do but grant it.
The attorney for the defense listening to the last testimony, about ten in the morning, and idly toying with the Grant, when the sun shining through the window happened to shine on the Grant. He arose and asked the Court for the continuance until the next day as he thought he had new evidence to introduce that would bear very materially on the case. The continuance was granted. As the sun shone upon the grant, he saw a water mark, although the Grant was yellow with age and purported to be given long before water marks existed.
The lawyer wired immediately to the Secret department in Washington and was informed that the water mark was of a mill in Massachusetts. The next morning he introduced his evidence, and it wound up by the Grant being declared null and void, J. Addison Reavis being duly punished for fraud.
He was in Phoenix for a day or two after his release and I saw him in the Adams Hotel lobby. I sat down along side of him. I asked him if the Mexican grant to Miguel Peralta wasn't a grant to the sole right to mine in a certain designated district in which is not in Arizona. He looked at me for a moment and answered, "I don't know." I asked him if the original grant to Miguel Peralta had not been cut from the book of records in Mexico City. Again he did not know, but in that instance, I did, as the fact was established in the Grant court. I then told him I was trying to find out if that Grant did not appertain to a certain mine I was looking for in the Superstition mountains and on my cattle range. He looked at me in apparent astonishment, and said, "I do not know." I saw he did not want to continue the subject further, so I excused myself and left. I feel certain that the Miguel Peralta grant was none other than the old mining grant, and if J. Addison had taken it in all honesty and gone after the mine, his financial troubles would have been over. But evidently, he did not want a mine. He wanted land and a city.