The really good news is that Holbrook took steps to ensure that artifacts and general information of that era have been preserved for future generations. The focal point for your visit to Holbrook is the old county courthouse located at the northeast corner of Arizona Street and Navajo Boulevard. There are plenty of road trip destinations and if you're planning a road trip across America, and particularly along Interstate 40, then Holbrook is a great addition to your Arizona trip planner.
|Old Navajo County Courthouse|
With a new county office structure being built south of Holbrook in 1976, the old courthouse was eventually turned over to the Holbrook Historical Society. After artifacts were obtained from local residents, the courthouse was turned into the Holbrook Museum in 1981, and what a fine northern Arizona museum they built. Holbrook is located along Interstate 40 about 97 miles west of Gallup New Mexico. The town is on the southern border of the Navajo Reservation. There are too many old west stories that occurred in and around Holbrook, including one hanging on the courthouse grounds, to include in one article but we've come across a few you're sure to fine interesting.
It Happened in Holbrook
When you think about old west towns you might come up with names such as Tombstone, Deadwood or Laredo. In addition to these be sure to add Holbrook. Holbrook was known to be a bit on the violent side when it came to shooting things up. The town was shot up almost daily by a combination of outlaws, rustlers and drunken cowboys. In fact, some will tell you that Holbrook was the most violent town in the latter 1800's. In a period of one year it was said that twenty-six people met a violent death. Adding to this was a violent range war going on to the south of Holbrook involving cattle ranchers and sheep ranchers. Tombstone might be considered a peaceful town compared to what was going on in Holbrook at the time. As a side note, a great book about the frontier ranchers and how they dealt with rustling is The Cattle Kings, by author Lewis Atherton.
Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens
The exact course of events were a bit hazy but one thing led to the other and after about only five minutes several of the Blevins including the alias Cooper were shot. One brother survived his injuries but in this short time span one of the family, a fifteen year old boy, was also shot and killed. Andy Cooper who the warrant was named for was one of the killed. A coroners inquest ended up clearing Owens of the somewhat controversial killings but, because of the death of the teen, Commodore Perry Owens did not seek reelection for another term as sheriff of Apache County. Owens took a job later as a security agent for the railroad but did come back in 1895 as the first appointed sheriff of the new county of Navajo. He served about two years at that post and eventually moved to Seligman Arizona to the west of Flagstaff and married.
|Old Navajo County jail cell|
There are plenty of places to visit in Arizona. If your western vacation or road trip takes you by Holbrook Arizona, I would highly recommend a stop at this excellent museum. I think you'll find a lot of interesting things to explore there including the old jail adjacent to the old sheriff's office. This particular jail was constructed in St. Louis Missouri in 1898 at a cost of $3,000 and shipped to Holbrook by railroad. The courthouse is a fun and educational trip stop for the whole family.
(Photos are from author's private collection. Photo of Commodore Perry Owens is in the public domain)