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  McClintock, James H.
NameJames H. McClintock
, Arizona , United States
Born February 23, 1864
DiedMay 10, 1934 (70 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedMr. Matt
Feb 23, 2013 11:21pm
Info An Arizonian who possessed a true sense of history, and missed by one day being named George Washington, was James Harvey McClintock who was born February 23, 1864, to John and Sarah (Brittingham) McClintock in Sacramento, California. A born journalist, the McClintock lad learned to read and write in the public schools of San Francisco and Berkeley. This courageous young man directed his energies and enthusiasm toward the new territory of Arizona where he became a leader in many community causes. Although he was hardened to the life of a soldier and had battled Indians in Arizona and Spaniards in Cuba, James McClintock was completely devoted to the cultural life of his state, especially to it's history and archaeology. Living during a very important period of Arizona's history, he became an astute observer, thorough researcher and a conscientious collector of facts. With these facts, McClintock narrated a true picture of the early history of Arizona and became it's foremost historian.

History is recorded daily on the pages of newspapers; therefore it seems appropriate that Arizona's chief historian find his life's work in newspaper writing. His initial experience here was working as a printer's devil on his brother Charles newspaper, the SALT RIVER HERALD, Phoenix' first newspaper. The sudden death of his brother freed him to further explore the state of Arizona. In a personal history found in his files McClintock tells of his newspaper experience after leaving the HERALD: "...I was on the old TUCSON JOURNAL, the first seven day newspaper in the southwest. Then I got a letter from Buckey O'Neill to join him in Tombstone for a job on the NUGGET. On the same mail came a proffer of a position on the GLOBE CHRONICLE. I tossed up a Mexican dollar and on the mandate thus given went to Globe. I missed a lot of Wild West stuff in Tombstone, but had a very lively experience in Globe where the town was under threat from Apaches, where there were several lynchings and other events of keen interest to a youngster." Afterwards when the mining stopped in Globe, McClintock worked on a number of newspapers in California, and later moved to the PRESCOTT (Arizona) JOURNAL.

In Prescott, Jim McClintock was employed for a time by the Adjutant General's office at Fort Whipple during the last campaign against Geronimo. Bert Fireman, in a dedication to James Harvey McClintock, speculates that here, in his first contact with military life, McClintock came to enjoy "the discipline, preciseness and dignity of officialdom.

"Possibly nowhere except from the military predilection for multiplicity of written materials could McClintock could have acquired the unusual habit of making carbon copies of personal letters..." And when the war ended and the Adjutant General's office moved to California, McClintock moved to Tempe (Arizona).

The twenty-third year of any young man's life is an important and decisive one, but few men have led the busy life young McClintock did at 23. During this year he went to Tempe where he bought an interest in and managed the TEMPE NEWS, enrolled in the Normal School, acted as Justice of the Peace and Deputy Road Overseer, and operated his own 160 acre farm south of Tempe. It was during these years that he also became friendly with the town's leading citizen, Charles Trumbull Hayden, and with Hayden's little boy Carl, who remained his lifelong friend. Through these contacts and his later teaching experiences in the remote Tonto Basin, McClintock became acquainted with pioneer personalities and events long before he was to become a historian.

Of education, Colonel McClintock has said, "Some of the men who know the most, of the many I have known, were men who had wonderful capabilities in special lines. They were experts in the proper timbering of a mine or in the proper tapping of the blast furnace, in the framing of a house...each man seemed to have dropped to his proper place in life." Perhaps this was the prime reason why, although he was profoundly interested in teaching and learning, McClintock didn't enter Tempe Normal School at it's inauguration. It was during this time that he was teaching geography, arithmetic, grammar and history in the Kyrene District, Tempe. Nonetheless, James H. McClintock was one of the five graduates who made up the first graduating class of the Normal School, then little more than a high school, in 1888.

His early reminiscences of Tempe Normal School, now Arizona State University, are especially interesting as they provide a contrast to the present school. For example, as the University prepares to build a multi-million dollar library, it seems hard to imagine that once the "library consisted of a dictionary, and the apparatus was a nice terrestrial globe---nothing more.

Drinking water was to be found in an olla (a large mouthed pot) by the side of the front door. The water came from a well equipped with bucket and rope. Near it was the lavatory, comprising one tin basin." McClintock has also said that the early school had seemed too busy to do anything in the way of athletics. He further stated that "almost everyone rode to and from school on horseback...many were the spirited races run on what is now known as Eighth Street, and occasionally one of the students would ride an unbroken colt to school that he might contribute to the gayety (sic) of the day's session." One can readily see that modes of transportation may change, however the spirit of individuals, especially college students, rarely does!

The spirit of individualism burned brightly within McClintock and at the age of 30, he opened his office in Phoenix as a writer. In his own words, "I did very well and had concluded that at last I was accumulating money instead of experiences."

"In the early part of 1898 my old friend O'Neill dropped in on me with a great scheme for a cowboy regiment for the impending war with Spain. So a few weeks later I left Phoenix in April to what I believe was the first detachment for the Spanish War. Then came a lot of experiences!"

Thirty years after the Spanish American War, McClintock admitted that none of the Arizona contingent cared particularly about Cuba nor had any hatred for Spain; However the thousand applicants foresaw great pleasure and excitement. Nonetheless when the official word came from Washington, it stated that from Arizona only two troops, of 250 officers and men, would be needed. After a "weeding" of the many recruits, the Arizona expedition departed from Prescott on May 4, 1898.

In San Antonio (Texas) the group first learned that they belonged to the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, known as the "Rough Riders" and under the leadership of Theodore Roosevelt. Although the recruits were good riders, the name "rough" was merely an eastern designation for the cowboy. One week after their arrival in San Antonio, the Rough Riders were given military clothing. Each man was issued a brown canvas uniform, a campaign hat, one pair of shoes, a pair of brown canvas leggings and a pair of socks. As the drawing of clothing proceeded, it is said that civilian clothes were discarded and thrown in every direction, a sight likely to make a second-hand clothing dealer's mouth water.

On June 24, 1898, the Rough Riders began the fighting in Cuba. During this battle the Arizona troops had heavy losses. In the fighting many were killed, among whom was Buckey O'Neill, McClintock's long-time friend. During the series of battles that culminated in the surrendering of the City of Santiago de Cuba to the Americans, Captain McClintock was also wounded. A week later, McClintock, flat on his back in the hospital with two bullets through his ankles, wrote a letter descriptive of the whole affair to Governor McCord.

Although little information can be found regarding his marriage, McClintock married Dorothy G. Bacon on June 15, 1900. She was a graduate of Stanford University, and a skilled botanist. While her husband pursued his interest in history, she organized the Phoenix Garden Club. She also was instrumental in getting a Carnegie grant for the establishment of the Phoenix Public Library.

McClintock's post office experience started in 1902, a few years after his marriage when he was appointed to take charge of the Phoenix office which then had an annual income of $27,000 and a staff of 12. Since the position of postmaster was not yet classified within the Civil Service, McClintock continued his newspaper correspondence with such vigor that his reputation advanced. During his tenure as Postmaster (1902-1914), he also gained recognition as a leading authority on the history of Arizona. McClintock was in great demand as a speaker on historical topics and often wrote historical articles for magazines. He had always been a great collector of personal and historical materials and this was filed systematically. As he became more serious as a student of Arizononiana, his file bulged with valuable materials. When President Wilson took office in 1914, McClintock lost his political appointment, only to get it back again in June 1928.

Regarding his post office service he has said, "I have had nearly 18 years of post office service, the longest service of any Phoenix post master. The peak of the office income a couple of years ago was $546,000. The office force was about 150 individuals compared with a dozen or so in 1902. This represents a true percentage of the city's growth. This experience I have always felt to have been of real service to the public. Naturally I gained a broad knowledge along that especial line. Whatever success I may have had is due largely to my capable supervisors....."

It was the loss of this post office position in 1914, however, that gave McClintock an opportunity to complete his history of Arizona which had been started under commission from the S. J. Clarke Company of Chicago. The result of his efforts was a three volume history of Arizona, Arizona--Prehistoric--Aboriginal--Pioneer---Modern, and was published in 1916.

This work which never brought the author financial security remains the most complete general work on the history of the territorial period of Arizona. His intense love of Arizona is expressed beautifully in the preface to his history.

In 1919, the first Republican governor of Arizona, Thomas E. Campbell, appointed James McClintock as state historian. During his term as state historian, he wrote and published a work on the Mormon Settlement in Arizona (1921) This historical work is replete with illustrations and maps, and deals only with the Mormons as settlers of the arid west. His thesis has pointed out the fact that the Mormons built homes, established schools, dug canals for irrigation and were distinctly different from the other class that started the saloons and wielded the six-shooter. During this time he also did much work on the Arizona nomenclature which has since been enlarged in the volume, Arizona Place Names, compiled by McClintock's friend Will C. Barnes.

Of utmost importance to James H. McClintock, however was his desire to excite enthusiasm for a study of local history. In an address to the graduating class of Tempe Normal School on may 10, 1921, he said the following;

"I wish to urge a greater consideration at your hands of the study of the history of your own land. I do not underrate the value of knowledge of the complex transformations that have been know in the eastern world, but I do believe that even more important than the geography of England is the geography of your own country and of your own state, and I believe that the history of Arizona should be known at least equally as well within Arizona as is the history of New England. Of gripping interest is the study of the aboriginal tribes of the Southwest, tribes that have come from the four quarters of the compass and that show a score of variations in language and customs."

One of the few individuals who may be properly called a historian of Arizona, James Harvey McClintock has been robbed of full credit by the failure of people to appreciate his many contributions. Many of his valuable papers have been lost by the carelessness of a few individuals; and increasingly the study of Arizona history is accomplished with little enthusiasm. It would seem, however, that the finest memorial Arizona could establish for Mr. McClintock would be the gift of a lively and interesting study of the geography and history of this state to every child herein.

And, as one studies the history of Arizona, he would more fully appreciate McClintock whose first-hand knowledge contributed much in the written annals of Arizona. He came to Arizona "early enough and lived long enough to bridge the old and the new, the frontier period and the modern, through personal association with those who make the history of the territory and the state." Arizona can be extremely proud of it's foremost historian and one who helped to make the history of the state, James Harvey McClintock..

Following are a few interesting comments made by James McClintock. Throughout his files, one can find many curious comments in scrapbooks and letters. Here are a few.


"The Apache Trail really was an Apache Trail, though of the Tonto, Pinal and Mohave divisions, and not of the Chiricahuas, even though they have tried to hang Chiricahua names on it. I went over the original trail with Breakenridge in 1889 and we judged it had been in use by the cliff dwellers and by the mountain sheep before them. The trail was along the present road to a point 10 miles beyond Fish Creek." May 10, 1928


"I agree with you thoroughly that the present depression will pass, just as previous depressions have passed. Of course, there should be consideration that this is a world wide panic, something never known before, and that there can be no hope of ever paying the debts that have been incurred by the nations involved in the great war. All I am hoping is that it will pass through the Slough of Despond without being taken up by Socialism or Bolshevism. The day when property values cease to exist will be a dark day, indeed for the decent and provident people of our nation." June 2, 1932


"The Western Union also is a sort of impersonal thing, where you hand your message over the counter and it goes into a pneumatic tube and disappears. No longer have you the sympathy and assistance of the operator; for the operator is a machine. The Postal is somewhat more sympathetic, because it is smaller." June 28, 1928


You would think that a man who had lived in a summer climate like Phoenix would at least say something about it, but McClintock actually bragged about it as if a hundred and goodness knows what in the shade was a subject of crowing. He figured it out that that this blooming blazing sun of theirs, which starts out in May and keeps it up until October, was the thing that "put the honey in the peach and the grape, the sugar in the dates, and flowered the alfalfa with purple. Get it into a man's head that the sun is making money for him and he will be sunstruck while taking an ocean bath." (This comment was made about McClintock August 17, 1914, and serves to illustrate McClintock's love for Arizona, anytime.)


"......it is historic that the coldest winter Arizona ever had was that of 1879-80, in which cakes of ice floated down the Colorado past Yuma. Possibly Lee's Ferry was also frozen over in January 1880, but that no historian happened to be around at the time. I clearly remember how cold it was Christmas Eve 1879, as I drove with my brother to Tempe and then, on the next day, to the newly created Village of Mesa. Little ditches across the road were frozen solid. At that I do not believe it was any colder than the winter of 1914-15, in which pepper trees were defoliated all over the Salt River Valley. I believe it went down to 15 degrees in my front yard."


"To me a museum is (or should be) a sort of historical map, illustrating features of cultures through the ages, centuries or even decades. Most of those who go to a museum appear to consider it merely a place of entertainment or amusement where oddities or freaks are to be expected, that all may gape and wonder. Rather would I have it a safe repository for treasures that will mark the advance of humanity, and the arts that show man's utilization of natural assets. Each exhibit should have it's story, whether it be ore from from some famous mine or a specimen that shows some especial phase of mineral deposition, or a spinning wheel or loom that might be compared with something of modern sort, or a pistol that belonged to a known character in the days when each man was a law unto himself, or a stone mill from some ancient ruin, or a document, or even a pen that may have it's story of some event or period in history. In itself each exhibit may have a little attractiveness but with it's story it becomes a living guidepost to the student or to him who loves his land. I can think of a museum as a place where a devoted botanist might show the variations of plant life in a selected locality, or a geologist make clear by samples the up-building of the rocks and the entombment of the fossils, or a naturalist give an idea of the modern faunal life." At the Casa Grande ruins, March 15, 1926

***James Harvey McClintock also wrote the book, Arizona, The Youngest State, published in 1913. Here are some excerpts from that publication.



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May 01, 2009 12:10pm Profile MCCLINTOCK’S LEGACY  Article Thomas Walker 

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