COOLEY, CORYDON ELIPHALET - Navajo County, Arizona | CORYDON ELIPHALET COOLEY - Arizona Gravestone Photos

Corydon Eliphalet COOLEY

Fort Apache Cemetery
Navajo County,

Born April 2, 1836 in Loudoun Co., Virginia
Died March 19, 1917 in Navajo Co., Arizona

He came to the White Mountains in the early 1860s after serving two years as a Lieutenant in the 2nd New Mexico Infantry Regiment.

He came as a prospector and was one of the first white men to extensively explore the mineral wealth of the region.

He loved and respected the Apache people and married two daughters of Pedro, an Apache band chief in the Forestdale area. He and his wives established a ranch in the area that is now the city of Show Low.

Martha Summerhayes, author of Vanished Arizona, a book of her memories of life as an officer's wife on the Arizona frontier, had been intrigued by the story of Cooley living with two Apache women. On a journey between forts, Martha and her husband were overnight guests of the Cooleys. When she asked her husband which of the attractive young women was Cooley's wife, he said, "I don't know. Both of 'em, I guess".

Refined Victorian lady that she was, Martha tried to rationalize the situation, writing, "Now this was too awful, but I knew he did not intend for me to ask any more questions."

One of the wives soon died during childbirth, leaving him to live as a monogamist.

Their ranch was one of the most noted stopping places in eastern Arizona and guests were unanimous in their appraisal of Molly as a tidy and gracious housewife and Cooley as a generous and notable host.

With his vast knowledge of the White Mountains, the Apache people and their ways, and his ability to speak the very difficult Apache language, he was acknowledged for many years as one of the great and famous Indian scouts of the Arizona Territory.

He was Chief of Scouts off and on for General George Crook, probably the greatest Indian fighter the United States Army ever knew. With the possible exception of his good friend Al Sieber, he was Crook's most trusted scout. There was great respect between Crook and Cooley.

John G. Bourke, General Crook's aide-de-camp for 11 years and author of the book On the Border with Crook, notes that Cooley's influence was always on the side of peace and understanding between the Indian and the white man.

The following quote about Cooley is from the July 1996 issue of Arizona Highways. "Always hungry for adventure and danger, Cooley gladly accepted appointment in 1877 as deputy U.S. marshal for huge Yavapai County, from which Apache and Navajo counties were later carved. He ranged far and wide in his new job, risking his life more than once to bring in outlaws who had flocked to wild Arizona Territory.

In one especially notable raid, he captured and jailed two desperadoes who were threatening to take over the new settlement of Springerville. Scarcely had he left the town, however, when a lynch mob stormed the jail, and in the words of Cooley's report to Gov. John Hoyt, "disposed of the prisoners according to frontier law."

One great legend involves Cooley and Marion Clark. They were partners in a 100,000 acre ranch. At some point the two decided that the area just wasn't big enough for the two of them and one had to leave. They couldn't decide who should leave, so they played a game of cards with the winner to take all. They played a game called "seven up" throughout the night and into the early morning with no winner. Finally Clark told Cooley, "Show low and you take the ranch". Cooley turned over a deuce of clubs and walked away with a reported 100,000 acres of land, all the cattle and the buildings. Clark went on his way and was not to be heard from again.

However, in March of 2007 a local reporter found an article in the October 24, 1910 Washington Post that indicates some errors in the legend. The card game actually occurred, but, by the time it happened, Clark had already moved on and the game was between Cooley and a man named Henry Huning. Cooley told the Post the game was six to five in Huning's favor and Cooley, holding the trey, was certain he had a winner. He told Huning to show low to win and Huning held the deuce.

By 1888 Cooley started ranching a few miles south of where the Hondah Casino now stands. Mormon settlers moved into the area, bought the ranch land, cattle and buildings from Huning for $13,500. They divided the land into four and one half shares, split the cattle, and occupied the buildings. They called the settlement Show Low and the main street through town is now named "Deuce of Clubs".

There is some serious dispute about the accuracy of this Washington Post article and some evidence to support the original version of the legend. His year of death is actually 1917 and not 1915 as stated on the plaque on his headstone.

Contributed on 3/9/09 by goldwing.traveler
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Record #: 66303

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Submitted: 3/9/09 • Approved: 3/10/09 • Last Updated: 10/19/12 • R66303-G0

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