By Fred Veil

A name like Cotesworth Pinckney Head evokes images of the Deep South of the 19th century.  Indeed, this Arizona pioneer did reside in Arkansas for a time during the early years of his adulthood, and was sufficiently sympathetic to the South that he served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  He was, however, born and educated in the state of New York, and what possessed him to move south in the late 1850s is a story that has been lost to history.

Head was born in 1834 in Lebanon, New York, the third of five children born to Sanford and Anna (Ballard) Head.  He attended Madison University in nearby Hamilton in the early- to mid-1850s, but it is not know whether he graduated from that institution, which in 1890 became Colgate University.  Sometime before 1860, Head moved south, to Batesville, Arkansas, where in two separate transactions he acquired 160 and 287 acres of land.

With the outbreak of the Civil War and Arkansas’ secession from the Union, Head answered the call of duty and traveled to Ft. Smith to enlist on June 9, 1861 in the 1st Arkansas Mounted Rifles, a militia unit that was ultimately reorganized into the regular Army of the Confederacy.  His enlistment was for 12 months, and surviving military records of the Confederacy do not suggest that he served beyond that period.

By 1869 Head was in Tucson, apparently arriving there by way of California, Colorado and Montana, where reportedly he had been engaged in mining pursuits.  The 1870 census for that city lists Head as a grain contactor with a net worth of $40,000.  It wasn’t long, however, before he relocated to Prescott to establish a mercantile business, an event announced by the Weekly Arizona Miner on March 23, 1872 (“C.P. Head is preparing for active business, by having large quantities of bill-heads, etc., printed at this office.”).

In May, C.P. Head & Company received its initial stock of goods from California, on consignment from Goldwater & Brothers of Ehrenberg.  Head and his partner Jake Marks also established a sutler store at Camp Verde, and were soon serving as a distributor for grain and flour products for the Salt River Flouring Mill, then the largest such mill in the Territory.

Marks left the firm in January 1876, at which time Head was joined by his younger brother, William.  By December of that year, the brothers had moved into a newly constructed brick and stone building on the northeast corner of Gurley and Montezuma Streets, described by the Miner as the “finest, costliest and most convenient mercantile establishment in Arizona.” The Head brothers were also engaged in ranching and mining interests, the latter including the Accidental and Senator mines.

The news accounts of Head’s activities in the Arizona Territory regularly referred to him as “Colonel Head,” suggesting that he had obtained field grade status in his service to the Confederacy.  This title was, at best, an honorific one or, at worst, a misrepresentation of his military service, as his military records do not support the contention that he held any rank higher than that of Captain.  Nevertheless, he was a man of some prominence, and was destined for a foray into Territorial politics, albeit a short-lived one.

The Miner of March 27, 1874 suggests that Head was a reluctant entry into the political arena, as it reports that he had refused numerous entreaties to become a candidate for Arizona delegate to the U.S. Congress.  He apparently had a change of heart respecting politics and successfully ran for the Territorial House of Representatives in 1875, and served one term in that body.  In 1884 he was nominated by the Democratic Party as its candidate for Territorial Delegate.  The news accounts of his campaign suggest he ran as a businessman and an anti-politician.  He lost the race to the Republican candidate, fellow Prescottonian Curtis Coe Bean.

Head married Elizabeth Irish in Oakland, California on October 30, 1883 and the couple resided thereafter at 303 E. Gurley Street.  Their son, Cotesworth Bradway, was born in Oakland on February 16, 1886, and in September the family moved to that city, apparently due to Head’s deteriorating health.  He died there on August 19, 1887, reportedly having been confined to the Insane Asylum in Stockton for some undetermined period of time.

Sue Kissel, a Museum volunteer and researcher, contributed to this article.

“Days Past” is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International (www.prescottcorral.org). This and other Days Past articles are also available at www.sharlot.org/library-archives/days-past. The public is encouraged to submit proposed articles to dayspastshmcourier@gmail.com.Please contact SHM Library & Archives reference desk at 928-445-3122 Ext. 14, or via email at dayspastshmcourier@gmail.com for information.