October 25, 2020

1866: Indians Scare Off Pioneer Merchant

William Harrison Hardy had a good gig going. He owned businesses in a town named for him: Hardyville (present day Bullhead City.) He also owned an important and well used ferry service at that point and a tollroad that led to Prescott. Soon he started opening businesses there that were successful, but in late 1866, he abruptly started to sell off all his interests in the Mile High City.

In 1901 at age 77, he revealed why to the Journal-Miner newspaper.

He first came to Arizona on New Year’s Day, 1864 and by August he was freighting merchandise into Prescott. That same month the newspaper made note of the growth in Hardyville. Previously, the spot was known as “Hardy’s Landing,” but now: “Mr. Hardy has commenced a town, and established a ferry across the river on the road to San Francisco.”

In September he “made a visit to Prescott with a view to opening a business establishment here,” the paper reported. “The Miller brothers would superintend the erection of a building and represent [Hardy’s] business here.”

On October 5, an advertisement appeared announcing the grand-opening of his new mercantile which was located on Granite St. He had “put-up a building in Prescott and laid in a general stock of merchandise,” the paper disclosed. He built a tin shop to manufacture tinware as well. He also built a large saloon and a corral and barn to accommodate and shelter stock. He took two billiard tables to Prescott, “the first taken to Arizona.”

In December he opened “The Quartz Rock Saloon" which adjoined his new store. “It is one of the best rooms in town and a popular resort,” the paper described. “The billiard table is of the first class, and the liquors will do to bet upon.”

The following year, 1865, he built the then famous tollroad from Mohave to Ft. Whipple at a cost of $35,000 and his businesses became prosperous. He won a contract “to haul 800 tons of government freight from Ft. Mohave to Whipple and Camp Verde.” He went to Los Angeles and San Bernardino where he purchased 40 yoke of oxen, wagons and outfits. He also bought 8 sets of six-team mules.

In May of 1866, Hardy bought the tollroad, but before the year ended, he would be desperately trying to sell it all.

“I got along quite well until [once] when I was riding from Prescott to Hardyville, he later recalled. “I would ride nights and lay off during the day,” since the Indians were far less likely to openly attack at night, he believed. When arriving at Wallapai Springs, he saw no sign of Indians. He dismounted and led his horse to the water “when a young Indian stepped out from behind a rock, and before [he] had time to get [his] revolver out, he was within 6 feet of [me] and said “Where you go?” in plain English.

Immediately, three more Native Americans appeared; “each had his bow partly bent and [a poison] arrow in place.” All of them came within six feet of Hardy and he knew that if he lurched for any weapon, his “heart would have been pierced with four poison arrows.” His situation was grave.

The four looked at him with a smile that was both menacing and traumatizing—like hunters who knew that their quarry had been trapped. “I was paralyzed,” he said. “There I was, a prisoner to be tortured to death and my noble horse (that clung to me and rubbed his head against me) would be chopped up into steaks and eaten…”

Hardy had to think fast. “I turned with all the coolness I could muster…and said: ‘Who are those Indians back in the cedars? They look like Apaches.’ ‘You see them?,’ said the Indians. ‘Yes, close by…I guess about fifty.’”

The four Indians feared the potential of Apaches more than the lone anglo rider and quickly disappeared to where they came. Hardy heard a yelp—“a danger signal;” and suddenly a group of Indians climbed out of a small ravine they were hiding in.

“Now it was my time to move,” Hardy told. “[I] at once mounted, and the horse realized the situation and started to run down over the rough rocky trail.” Allowing the horse to run as long as he could, Hardy got away, but the experience left him horrified. When he reached home, he could barely eat or sleep. “It took me five or six days to get to myself again,” he recalled. “The fact was I saw no Apaches. I made up a lie out of whole cloth, but I am satisfied that that lie saved my life, [and] also saved my horse. 

As long as the Indian Conflicts continued, Hardy would never travel the road alone again.

William Hardy
At the age of 77, Hardy recalled the time of this incident as the Fall of 1867. However, newspaper coverage clearly places the date as a year earlier. A December 1, 1866 ad in the Arizona Miner (shown at the top of this article,) announced his intention to leave.

He sold his saloon to the quartermaster at Whipple; he sold his tinner's tools to another merchant: Campbell & Buffum. He sold as much of his inventory as possible; sold off his buildings and loaded the balance of his property on an ox train and headed for Hardyville.

By the Spring of 1867, his Prescott business interests were liquidated and he decided to try his luck at ranching. Knowing that there was safety in numbers, Hardy tried to lure other settlers to ranch in the area. He published a notice stating that people who settle on his tollroad would not have to pay tolls for a year. 

Hardy “purchased 500 cows, intending to locate in Wallapai Valley,” but changed his mind when he learned that “the Wallapais were going on the warpath.” During this time, the war-weary East gave the Army orders that ALL Indians found on the Hardyville Road were to be treated as “friendly.” For anglos living in the wilderness areas, the news was unthinkable and caused great consternation. Ranchers, miners and freighters had first hand knowledge of the still continuing threat.

Hardy’s response was to abandon the tollroad. A notice in the paper revealed his bitterness: “I will pay a reward of TWENTY DOLLARS [emphasis original] to anyone passing down said road that will kill the first red devil of an Indian that undertakes to collect toll in my stead, at any of the passes along the road.”

His withdrawal from Prescott was complete.

Hardy went into mining then politics; serving in the Territorial Legislature. He was known as the “Grand Old Man of the Upper Colorado.” He died in 1906 and is buried in California.

Story of the 10th Cavalry’s time at Whipple Barracks, Prescott, AZ from 1885-6. The town was impressed by the troops & entertained by its band.



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Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner, 5/8/1901; Pg. 1, Cols. 4-6.

Arizona Miner, 8/10/1864; Pg. 2, Col. 2.

Arizona Miner, 8/24/1864; Pg. 2, Col. 2.

Arizona Miner, 9/21/1864; Pg. 3, Col. 2.

Arizona Miner, 10/5/1864; Pg. 3, Col. 1.

Arizona Miner, 12/14/1864; Pg. 3, Col. 1.

Arizona Miner, 1/24/1866; Pg. 4, Col. 6.

Arizona Miner, 5/9/1866; Pg. 2, Col. 3.

Arizona Miner, 12/1/1866; Pg. 3, Col. 5.

Arizona Miner, 3/9/1867; Pg. 3, Col. 5.

Arizona Miner, 7/13/1867; Pg. 4, Col. 5.

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