Tom Jeffords: Do You Remember Him?
Born Thomas Jefferson Jeffords in NW New York State, New Years Day 1832. The gold rush attracted him West when he was age 27. First to Pikes Peak CO, then New Mexico & Arizona.
If you’re a bit of the older generations, or you like watching old Western reruns – you may be familiar with Tom Jeffords. He was a regular feature of the show Broken Arrow. It ran on ABC prime time from 1956 through 1958. With 72 half-hour episodes. The TV show was sourced from a 1950 James Stewart movie. That movie was based on a 1947 book, “Blood Brothers.”
The actual historic man was most often called Captain Jeffords, as he had a boating career before moving West! That title stayed with him thru life.
In New Mexico, he was recruited at Fort Craig to carry Union messages during the Civil War. That led to scouting in 1862. With the California Column as they made their way through Arizona.
From 1867 to 1869 Tom Jeffords managed mail between Tucson Arizona & Socorro New Mexico. He likely met Cochise during this time. Possibly he enabled some safe passage en route.
That’s what he claimed. Subsequently he did seem to know enough about Cochise’s personality to be a knowledgeable negotiator. He’d also learned to speak the Apache language.
Tom Jeffords: Friend of Cochise
In 1871, the U.S. President sent General Howard to seek a treaty with the Apaches. Howard spoke to Jeffords about getting negotiations with Cochise & Apache Chiefs. Tom knew Howard’s reputation, felt he was principled. He was confident in bringing him to Cochise’s encampment.
Talks resulted in a treaty by 1872. The war with the Chiricahuas was done. Cochise requested his lands in the Chiricahua Mountains as the tribal reservation. He also said he wanted only Tom Jeffords as the Agent in that area. Cochise got his demands.
Tom Jeffords Wife?
White settlers weren’t favorable to Jeffords acting on behalf of Cochise & other Chiricahua Apaches. He took much public abuse for his tasks with Indians. Jeffords didn’t really even want to be Indian Agent, though he took the job.
In the movie, they have Tom Jeffords considering marriage to an Apache woman. But in real life – did he ever marry anyone? Absolutely not! He always lived alone. In fact, he was considered a loner type.
A nicely written overview of his life, plus Hollywood’s take on him can be Found Here> However, all the abuse & inaccurate accusations led to his suspension in June 1876. In some descriptions, he’s noted as resigned. The Chiricahua Reservation was eliminated that Oct.
Tom Jeffords Later Biography
A man of few words, he moved along to make a living by mining. He had claims near Tombstone, at Dos Cabezas & in the Huachucas.
He’d lived at Fort Huachuca, running a trading post. He became a Deputy Marshal in 1882 in Cochise County. Likely because of work searches, eventually he moved to the Tucson area.
He dabbled in a few other occupations, but as before found mining most useful. He found a place to live near Owls Heads northwest of Tucson. About 1892 he built a small house with a picket fence enclosing lots of saguaro cactus. His last residence.
Tom Jeffords Grave
Tom had a few registered mining claims in the Owls Heads area. But he never deeded the land he lived on. After moving there he became friends with an offbeat couple: Author Alice Crane, who eventually married “Count” Victor Morajeski. The Jeffords-Morajeski bond was mutually beneficial.
While living near Tucson, Jeffords became a member of the Pioneer Society. Yet, he was reclusive & didn’t like to talk of his time dealing with the Apaches. Over the years, he had friends, but only once he knew & trusted them. His speech was straight-forward, yet he had a sense of humor.
He’d developed asthma, which led to his death on Feb. 19, 1914 – 82 years old. He’s buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson Arizona. In 1964, a monument there was dedicated to him.
There are often historical events that make one want to know the true facts for people who roamed the Tombstone area & the Old West. What was their true story? And what happened to them – do we even know? Can we discover the authentic history?
And we enjoy sharing what we find with you.
We hope we’ll see you in town sometime, seeing areas where they spent time – back in the 1800s.
Let us know if you’ll be going to an upcoming event! Tell us how you liked any of them, or what you visited here! Just reply to this newsletter for easy input! (Let us know if we can use your comments – & how to credit you.)
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