By Dana Brisendine Sharp

The group of mining claims known as the McCabe Group existed as a working mine for 110 years.  The town itself actually existed for about 27 years, reaching its height around 1900.  The Post Office closed October 31, 1917.

There are many stories about McCabe that have been passed down through the generations of families who still live in the area. Following are some scenes from the lives of one of those families.

Everett Brisendine was born in Oklahoma Territory in 1906. He arrived in Camp Verde, Arizona on March 4, 1927.  He and his friend, Jack Boaz, were the first two of six lifelong chums, known in the Verde as “The Kansas Boys,” to come to Arizona.  They went to work for Irvin Walker and over the next five years cowboyed for other outfits in the Verde area.

His future wife, Evelyn Van Buskirk, born in Alberta, Canada, in 1904, arrived in Arizona with her family in 1924.  She met Everett at Soda Springs Dude Ranch near Camp Verde in 1931.  She was waiting tables there and they met at a dance.  She was an accomplished musician. During the Depression, there were not a lot of employment opportunities for a violinist in Arizona!

They married March 5, 1932, in Flagstaff, and their first home was a tent with board sides at Montezuma well.  They were camped next to Jack and Mary Boaz and some other cowboys, also broke and out of work.  Evelyn was luckily still working at Soda Springs.  Jack and Mary put on jackpot goat ropings and matched horse races on weekends and all the boys rode bucking horses for hat collections at the dude ranches.

The Depression, along with a drought, was pretty unforgiving, and work was scarce and money almost nonexistent.  Then came a daughter, Janet, born in 1933.

Everett got on at the Apache Maid Ranch for a while.  The next job was for Skousen Brothers building a bridge over Dry Creek.  He was operating a dump truck hauling boulders up out of the canyon, graveyard shift.  At 4:30 in the morning, February 19, 1935, he was going back down, empty, when the driveline broke.  These old trucks had no cabs and no doors, and now no control; the choice seemed pretty clear, so Everett jumped.  He broke his left hip and pelvis bone.  The bosses made no effort to see what was happening.  His friends got down in the canyon and gathered him up and took him to Jerome Hospital.

During this time Janet was not thriving.  She had bad colds and was losing weight.  Evelyn, with the help of friends, managed a move into a tiny apartment in Jerome.  Everett was in the Hospital in a body cast for nine months.  The result left him with his left leg four inches shorter than his right.  When he was finally released from the hospital, Janet was very ill.  The doctors in Jerome couldn’t seem to help and made arrangements for them to take Janet to a special doctor for children in Los Angeles.  She had tuberculosis which had attacked her intestines and nothing could be done.  She died September 16, 1936.

Once again, help came to Everett and Evelyn from a friendship they had made earlier.  They were living in a little cabin behind Miller Valley School.  One cold day in early December, Earl “Mac” McCutcheon, who at that time owned the front corner of what is now Mortimer’s farm in Dewey, stopped by to see how they were doing and brought good news.  Mac was working at the McCabe and the boss had asked him if he knew anyone who was a good worker as the mine needed a toplander (a mine worker who worked above ground).

Everett immediately went to see about the job and was hired.  Evelyn packed and they were residents of McCabe by December 16, 1936.

They were given a little house up on the Hogback above the mine.  They now had new friends, as well as old friends, a job and were expecting another child, who became known as the McCabe Baby.

For more fascinating scenes from McCabe, come to the West Gallery of the Sharlot Hall Museum on May 20 at 2 pm, when former resident Dana Sharp provides family photos and personal reminiscences of the old mining town. Admission is FREE and seating is limited, so be sure to arrive early.

 “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.