Moving West


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Moving West

One of the great issues of our time is immigration.  All of us, of course, descend from immigrant ancestors.  In my case, some of my people came as part of  the first English colonies but many came in later waves.  However, I think of myself as a westerner.  My great-grandmother and great-grandfather settled in Prescott, Arizona in 1877.  Both my grandmother and my father were born in Prescott before statehood.  My older brother after that.

How we got to Arizona is an interesting story.  At least I think so.  I thought I would share it with you.

In 1860 my great-great-grandfather left London, taking his family to Australia.  He journeyed  to Sidney, a trip of four months, to join his two brothers who had immigrated to Australia several years before.  They had become quite successful, one as an auctioneer and mine owner and another as an importer of tea, coffee and spices.  The brothers encouraged him to join them in Australia as his prospects in London were limited.

So his family, himself, wife,  son Frederick and three daughters, Clara, Emma and Annie found themselves in Australia.  Clara was my great-grandmother.  Unfortunately my great-great-grandfather died a year later and his wife, Anne, having no means of support returned to England.  She died three years later.  When she left, she asked the two brothers to take in and raise her children.  Frederick went to live with one uncle and Clara went to live with the other, Horatio, as part of his family in Melbourne.   She was thirteen at the time.

Clara Beauchamp

Clara Beauchamp

Horatio was wealthy and Clara was well educated in private schools and raised as a privileged young woman and part of the family along with her two female cousins.

Her brother, Frederick, chaffed under the tutelage of his uncle.  When he became old enough to travel on his own he left Australia, returning to England and then eventually making his way to America, settling in San Francisco.  He worked as a clerk in a department store, the Sine Firm, on Kearny Street in what is today China Town.  He kept correspondence with his older sister, Clara.

By the time she was 26, Clara had become unhappy living with her uncle.  Although Clara was well treated, her aunt kept young men away from her daughters  and Clara.  Clara began to despair about her marriage prospects.  At this same time, her brother knowing of her growing discontent, encouraged her to join him in San Francisco.  In 1876 Clara left Australia, sailing to San Francisco via the Fiji Islands and Hawaii, a trip lasting four weeks.

Frederick and she had a small house in San Francisco.  But within several months Frederick began to have health problems.   He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and told he needed to leave San Francisco.  The climate was too damp.

They moved south to San Gabriel where they purchased a house. Frederick lived about a year.  Clara then found herself in a new country, far from family with little money and no job training.  She moved back to San Francisco and advertised her services as children’s governess or a housekeeper.  Eventually she was hired by General O.B. Wilcox,  to be a governess attending to his daughter who was handicapped.  The household lived on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.

In 1877,  General Wilcox was given command of Fort Whipple, close to Prescott.  This was during the Indian wars, shortly after General George Custer and the 7th Cavalry were massacred.  Fort Whipple was the main military presence in the Arizona Territory.

Clara travelled with the Wilcox family from Oakland, California to Yuma, Arizona, the farthest the railroad went at the time.  From there they travelled up the Colorado River by riverboat to the town of Ehrenberg.  At that point they were taken by Army Ambulances overland to Fort Whipple.  In the Twelfth Infantry army escort was quartermaster-sergeant George W.  Ford who was to become my great-grandfather.

This was a time of growth and expansion for Prescott and a period of relative lawlessness.  Virgil Earp moved into Prescott with his common law wife in 1877 before he and his brother Wyatt took root in Tombstone, Arizona.

The following year, 1878, Clara Beauchamp married George Ford.  George mustered out of the Army  and homesteaded in Prescott.  He went on to have a business selling tobacco, cigars, fruits and novelties .  The business was in the middle of Whiskey Row, an area known for it’s bars and brothels.   Because of the relative lawlessness, George Ford would walk home from his store in the middle of the street.

Prescott Map 1891

Prescott Map 1891

This map of Prescott, produced in 1891, shows a well laid out town with many substantial buildings.  This is remarkable because the frontier town was only twenty six years old when the map was printed.  You can notice tree stumps still in the middle of some of the roads.  The map also shows Fort Whipple and, if you study it, you can see soldiers doing parade drill.  In the border of the map some of the more significant buildings and some businesses are shown.

Tobacco, Cigars and Notions, Etc

Tobacco, Cigars and Notions, Etc

George Ford’s store the shown here, top left.  the inscription reads”Tobacco and Cigars, Notions, etc.  Geo W. Ford’s Tobacco and Fruit Store”

Clara and George had a son and four daughters.  The boy, George Frederick,  died at age 11 of Typhoid Fever.  He has the distinction of being the first person buried in the Odd Fellows cemetary in Prescott.

The oldest daughter Florence was my grandmother.

Florence Ford

Florence Ford

Here she is about age 13.  She went on to marry my grandfather, Maurice L. Tribby.

Florence Ford and M L Tribby

Florence Ford and M L Tribby

This was taken before they married.

They had a son, Maurice B. Tribby, my father.   Here he is with his grandfather and father.

That brings us to my generation.

I have always thought my great-grandmother’s journey was amazing:  England to Australia to America to the frontier west.

As an aside, one of Prescott’s heroes was Bucky O’Neill.  He was a popular sheriff in Yavapai County and, later, Mayor of Prescott.  He served with Teddy Roosevelt in the Rough Riders and was killed in the attack on Kettle Hill in the Spanish American War.



In 1907 the civic leaders had this statue erected in his memory.  It stands in the square by the court house .  In 1948 the statue was represented on a postage stamp.

1948 Bucky O'Neill Stamp

1948 Bucky O’Neill Stamp

It is considered one of the finest equestrian statues in the United States.  This is curious because the Rough Riders did not have horses with them during the battle of Kettle Hill.  They were on foot.

More to come

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Books by Thomas L. Tribby Available
Click on title below to preview

Works on Paper

On The Waterfront

Impressions of Florida

Tribbyart’s Boutique


Limited Editions available

Waiting for turn
Waiting for turn

Click to see
Yellow for Wicket
Yellow for Wicket

Click to see
The Watched Shot
The Watched Shot

Click to See




About Thomas L. Tribby

Professional artist: painter, sculptor, print maker. Maintains a studio in West Palm Beach, Florida
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