Pick-Em-Up: How Did it Begin?
Not a whole lot of documentation is found about the small settlement of Pick-Em-Up. And what there is can be a bit confusing. The BLM Legal plotting lists the coordinates as T20S, R21E – but we’re not quite sure how to map that out right now.
Real estate deeds were recorded in 1880. Tucson’s newspaper reported them. They do indicate the location, however. It places Pick-em-up 1-1/4 miles West of Tombstone. That would agree with the mining map here.
It seems the property, with the saloon, was jointly owned by Ed Keeler & J.M. Sweeney. Together they sold it to Joseph Stump for a total of $275. Then sometime thereafter, Stump sold the property to John Gagen for $850.
How Was it Named?
One prominent story is from the time that Johnny Behind-the-Deuce was brought in from Charleston. He’d just killed a popular miner there in January 1881.
A vigilante mob was chasing him & the law. The vigilantes meant to string him up themselves. The saloon owner at Pick-em-up owned a race-horse. As the law officer holding Johnny came by, the saloon-keeper yelled to the him: “Pick-em-up” – offering his horse, instead of the slow buggy they were on.
We can notice the logistics problem with this explanation. The deeds were recorded with the name Pick-em-up before the Johnny Behind-the-Deuce incident happened!
And Where Is It?
Yes, most of the time incidents describing the location place it 1 & 1/2 miles outside Tombstone on the road to Charleston. On occasion, though, some state it was half-way to Charleston. Either place, though, has no remains of a saloon that was there. No evidence of the little town is left.
Most sources state the name of the saloon was actually the “Last Chance Saloon.” Named for being the last place to get a drink as you rode out of town on the way to Charleston. Others state the opposite – saying it was the “First Chance Saloon.” Get your 1st drink as you’re getting into Tombstone from Charleston.
More Exciting Incidents There!
A new mining strike was reported nearby in March 1882. Mr. Bagg’s Traveling Show featured some outrageous satire – they stopped in Pick-em-up right after Tombstone.
Tombstone had many Sporting Events to keep miners occupied in their off-hours. The route from Tombstone to Pick-em-up was handy for the Graeco-Roman team of Wrestlers from Tombstone to do some training…
The Epitaph lists John Brady as owning the adobe house at Pick-em-up in January 1888. Its value was $180. He hadn’t yet paid his 1887 taxes to the county, of $58, plus costs of $3.
The July 31, 1891 Arizona Daily Star described an incident that was the talk of S. Arizona! A man was seen walking through Mexico, New Mexico, then Arizona “naked as when born.” Except for very basic sandals. Mexicans imagined he was doing penance for sins, in NM people were frightened, in AZ they thought he may be insane! He was arrested in Charleston & brought to Tombstone. His defense was he had a skin condition & couldn’t wear clothes!
A gang of 10 broke out of Tombstone’s jail – reported the Weekly Epitaph in April 1892. 1 immediately found, the others on the run. William Tomlinson lived in the Brady House in Pick-em-up the paper said. That night he came home close to midnight & found his clothes, blankets, food, rifle & ammunition taken. He joined the Sheriff’s patrol to find the thieves, it was assumed were these escapees.
There are old West places around Arizona that have disappeared, but they have interesting names that make one want to know more about them. We like to research it, and keep trying to find out more.
And we enjoy sharing what we find with you.
We hope we’ll see you in town sometime, where people spent time – back in the 1800s.
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