|Buckey O'Neill cabin today|
Buckey O'Neill moved out west in 1879 at the age of 19 and settled in Tombstone, Arizona during the era of the Earp brothers and the Clanton-McLaury Gang. It is claimed Mr. O'Neill earned his nickname "Buckey" for his ability to buck the odds in the card game of faro. There he started a career as a journalist when he joined the Tombstone Epitaph which was a pro-Earp newspaper. Although he might have reported on it, he did not stay in Tombstone long after the O.K. Corral shoot-out.
|Buckey O'Neill cabin today|
Buckey next went to Prescott, Arizona in the spring of 1882 where he continued his career in journalism and founded his own newspaper about the livestock industry, the Hoof and Horn. he also became captain of the Prescott Grays in 1886, the local unit of the Arizona Militia. In April of 1886, he married Pauline Schindler. They had a son who died shortly after being born prematurely.
In 1888, while serving as a judge for Yavapai County, he was elected as the county sheriff. He was noted as being part of a four man posse that chased four masked robbers of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The posse captured the four men who eventually were convicted and sent to the prison in Yuma. The only casualty was O'Neill's horse. After his term as sheriff was up, Buckey O'Neill was unanimously elected as the mayor of Prescott.
|Photo of plaque in front of Buckey O'Neill Cabin, Grand Canyon Village|
In 1890 he built a cabin for himself in the small Grand Canyon Village. Today it is part of the Bright Angle Lodge, functioning as a two room suite for guests. It has the distinction of being the oldest continuously standing structure on the South Rim.
Buckey O'Neill owned several mining claims along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Although his claims promised wealth, because of the distance and terrain involved, he did not have a cost-effective way to transport the ore out of the area. For five years he lobbied for funding to build a rail system to connect the South Rim with the rest of Arizona. It was his vision of building a railroad to accomplish this that led to the September 17, 1901 completion of the first steam engine train between Williams, Arizona and Grand Canyon Village to carry passengers and supplies.
|Engine GCR No. 29 purchased 1989 when service restarted.|
Unfortunately, Buckey O'Neill did not live long enough to see the completion of his dream for the railway. In 1898, war broke out between the United States and Spain. O'Neill joined the Rough Riders organized by Teddy Roosevelt. He became Captain of Troop A, which he did his best to organize into a regiment of Arizona cowboys. He died on July 1, 1898, one day before the charge on San Juan Hill. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery.
|Part of plaque outside Buckey O'Neill Cabin, Grand Canyon Village|
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. Her novel, Family Secrets, was published by Fire Star Press in October 2014 and her novelette, A Christmas Promise, was published by Prairie Rose Publications in November 2014. The first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart, are now available.
The author currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys family history and any kind of history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.
Please visit the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.