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Elisha Marcus Reavis

Compilation by Dixeebarb
Elisha Marcus Reavis, "The Hermit of Superstition Mountains" in Arizona. Born 1827 Beardstown, Cass Co Illinois and died 1896 Superstition Mtns., Florence, Az

Married Dec 1867 San Gabriel, Ca. to Mary/Maria Y. Sexton(whose birth and baptism are recorded in the Old Mission of San Gabriel.

Daughter: Louisa Maria b 1868 Ca. married 1890 St. Louis, Mo Richard Thomas Ratcliff

She was baptised at the Old Mission and was reared to the age of about fifteen in the home of her mother's parents, the Sexton family in San Bernardino, Ca., after which she was sent to live with her father's brother, Logan U. Reavis, in Beardstown, Il. She died in April, 1940 at Riverside, Calif. She was a professional nurse and chef. Frm a letter written in 1889 by Daniel Sexton, then living at Colton, Ca., addressed to her aunt, Mrs. Louise Reavis Plaster in Illinois, that Louise Maria was believed to be entitled to an inheritance in valuable tin mines from her father's estate, but nothing tangible ever came from this sourse. (this data from the Reavis Family Book by Marie Hall pub 1971)

Parents: James Alexander Reavis-5 and Mary Harlan Parents died 1838 in Illinois Lineage: Edw-1, Edw-2, Isham-3, Charles-4

Siblings: Logan Uriah, Louisa, poss another unk.

Frm: Onstott's Lincoln and Salem p. 339

J.A. Reavis settled in Macon County, Illinois in 1831, coming from Warren Co., Ky., Reavis Springs and Reavis Lake derive their names from him. His father Charles Reavis had come to Illinois in an early day and had built a hotel in Vandalia. James died in 1838 and was buried in the bluffs of the Sangmon. Once popular, now long forgotten, air or melody was called "Reavis Springs."

Elisha's Uncle Isham, brother of his father, took in the children of his brother James Alexander Reavis after his death, until 1843 when he died and their care was then transferred to their mother's brother, William Harlan. All were given better than average educations. Elisha attended college in Illinois.

He went to California during the gold rush period 1849-1850. He taught school at El Monti, California. He prospected for and mined gold on the San Gabriel River east of Los Angeles. He then travled to Arizona Territory in the early 1860's. He worked the gold veins and placer deposits of the Bradshaw Mtns. Near Prescott.

Eventually he returned to California and married Mary/Mariz Y. Sexton on December 30, 1867. He prospected and mined along the San Gabriel River for awhile but soon decided to return to Arizona Territory. He wanted his wife and daughter to join him, but his wife was afraid of the territory's wildness and she could not bear to leave her parents, so he went to Arizona Territory alone. But she never followed him and died within a few years of a heart ailment.

Elisha M. Reavis became a court officer and Deputy United States Marshall in Phoeniz, Arizona. At that same time Isham Reavis of Nebraska, was Justice of the Supremet Court of Arizona Territory by appointment of Presidence Grant from 1869-1872.

From an old letter written to his brother Logan Uriah, from Silver King Mine, located near Florence, he says "I am in the vincinity of the above mine, improving one of the finest mountain ranches this year, but have lost my entire crop of vegetables (which would have brought me not less than five thousand dollars) on account of the drought".

Near the end of the Rancheria Campaign in the Superstirion Mountains, Reavis began contracting services to the Army. Reavis sold, broke and packed horses and mules for the Army. He operated a small ranch just north of Camp McDowell on the Verde River. He chose the isolated valley of the Superstition mountains for his home. He squatted on the land in this valley around 1874.

He was a gardner and raised vegetables and sold them in the many small communities around the area, especially to the mines in the Phoenix and Mesa area. In those early years he reported grass as high as the belly of a horse in the high country.

"Elisha M. Reavis 1827-1896 "Hermit of Superstition Mountains" Found dead" from the Star by the Arizon Sentinal, Yuma, Az. May 16, 1896

"Old Man Reavis, the Hermit of the Superstitions" is dead. His body, Half eaten by coyotes, was found last Thursday near his hut in the superstition Mountains, twelve miles north of the Silver King Mine. Whether death was natural or violent is only a matter of conjecture; also the time when it might have occurred, for the hunger of the wolves had not left enough evidence upon which to base an opinion. Of all men as widely known, there was none in Arizona whom so little was known as "Old Man Reavis". Much has been written about him by the few who have visited in his mountain home but it was generally produced by the imagination of the writers. It is said that the old recluse was driven into exile by a disappointment in love, but he never said so and nobody else has been found who could have known the facts.

The old man spent the most of his time in hunting and raising vegetables and fruit which were carried by burros to Blobe (?) and exchanged for provisions, clothing and ammunition. Twice in twenty-five years he visited Florence and once went so far as Mesa, Tempe, and Phoenix, where a tourist took a snap shot of him with a Kodak. The picture was finished, enlarged and made a part of the Arizona exhibit the Columbia Exposition where it was recognized by a woman from California as her long lost brother. There was an attempt at correspondence and a romantic story that the old man left a daughter in San Francisco whom he had educated and was secretly supporting. The only thing though that really resulted from the exhibition of the picture was a "threat sent down the mountain side by the hermit that if he ever met the amateur artist he would send a bullet through his brain".

A picture of him haad, however, been taken some years before. Of near life size, it hangs in a Phoenix saloon. It represents a man whose face might have looked upon a century. The hair is long and matted and crowned by a slouched and ragged hat. A aWinchester lies across the left arm, the fingers of the right, grasping the lever.

On the occasion of Reavis' visit to Phoenix he was entertained by a couple of gentlement who had been at his home in the mountains. The entertainment involved a circuit of saloons. In one of them he was introduced to a concert hall singer. He was a model of courtesy, a reminiscence of a former life somewhere. But when he was asked to drink a glass of champagne with the painted singer he refused laughingly, politely, but firmly. He would drink with the boys, but he never learned whereever he had been to drink with a woman in a saloon.

He rarely visited the civilized haunts of men and utterly refused to enter a house where there was a woman, or to allow one to come to his home in the mountains. He was a thorough scholar, a great reader and possessed in his cave a library of standard books".

From the issue of the same newspaper:

"We were well acquainted with the deceased. His fullname was Elisha M. Reavis and he arrived in El Monti, near Los Angeles, from Beardstown (Cass Co) Illinois, during the goldd excitement in that state. Hemarried in California and two children were born of the union (*note: one died young). On account of trouble with his wife, he left there in September 1869 and came to La Paz, the then county seat of Yuma county, Arizona. He was a brother of Logan U. Reavis who was a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, and who became noted for his efforts to remove the National Capital from Washintgon to St. Louis.

The deceased never returned to his family. In the yeart 1869 he held the office of Deputy United States Marshall under Dr. Phle of Tucson. A more intelligent or finer conversationalist would be hard to find, than the deceased".

Excerpt from Mohave County Miner of May 16, 1896, frm Maricope Co., Free Lib/Phoenix

"Word was brought to Florence by Bob Neighbors last Thursday of the finding of the decomposed body, half-eaten by wild animals of E.M. Reavis, the "Hermit of Superstition Mountains" on the trail about four miles from his ranch.

On the 20th of April, James Delabaugh, a prospector, was at the ranch when Reavis was about to start for the Mesa for some seed potatoes. Being at J.J. Fraser's ranch on the 6th day of May, and finding that Reavis had not passed that way, Delabaugh, became alarmed and started back on the trail. He discovered the body beside the trail and found the burros tied near by and nearly starved to death. Two dogs were near and they may have eaten from the body.

Reavis was a man of some education, very quiet, never talked of his past. He used to bring vegetables to Silver King Mine.

In 1896, Jack J. Fraser, acquired the squatter rights to the Reavis Valley after the death of Elisha M. Reavis. Billy G. Knight, an English cowboy, who had been foreman for Fraser's J.F. Outfit. A couple of weeks prior to Reavis' death Knight tried to encourage the old hermit Reavis to visit a doctor because of his failing health. Reavis declined claiming he wasn't dead yet. Several days later Fraser sent John Neighbors to check on Reavis. Neighbors found the old hermit dead along the trail about four miles south of his cabin.

A coroner's jury was summoned from Florence to the site. It was decided Reavis had died of natural causes. The coroner's jury then decided to bury the Reavis in an Indian ruin nearby because the ground ws much softer to dig in. The old hermit's grave was marked with a pile of stones.

When the coroner's jury returned to Florence a $600 claim was filed against the Reavis estate. According to one source Fraser paid this claim and acquired the squatters rights to the property therefore preventing anyone else from moving on the land and cabin belonging the the old hermit. This incident prompted rumors that Fraser had Reavis murdered in order to acquire his rights to the Reavis homesite".

Jack Fraser burned the Reavis cabin down and constructed a large cabin in its place.

The Reavis Ranch was not patented until 1919, after Fraser sold his ranch in 1909 to Cleman's Cattle Company; ten years later William J. Cleman patented the Reavis.

In 1939 the US Department of Agriculture set aside approximately 124,040 acres of land to insure the preservatino ofthe natural wonders of the Sonoran Desert. It is the practice of the US Dept of Agr/Forest Service to allow man-made structures to disintegrate, so eventually there will be little left. There is an old apple orchard adn spring on the Old Reavis Ranch. Today hikers and horseback riders travel these ancient Indian and early cattle trails of the region.

ELISHA REAVIS by Daniel K. Statnekov

Near the bottom of a path
In the jagged Superstitions
Is a cairn upon the grave
Of a man known by tradition

It's set within a tiny plot
A few steps from the trail
Marked by a rough-hewn headstone
Made from the mountain shale

Faintly scratched and barely legible
Onto the piece of slate
The name "Elisha Reavis"
And beneath it was the data

It was in the 1860's
When Elisha climbed those hills
And found a mountain meadow
That slowed his step to still

So he paced off sixty acres
Filed papers to homestead
He was miles from any neighbor
He was hermited - unwed

Butthe life he lived fulfilled him
As he set about his task
Fenced and cleared the meadow proper
Saw the deer in sunlight bask

Delighted in the pure, clear stream
That ran across his land
Planted fodder for his cattle
Seldom saw another man

Ponderosa kept him company
Manzanita gave him ara
Rarely heard, the cougar's high-pitched scream
Would penetrate his heart

And one dark winter evening
He turned his thoughts to Spring
Resolved to plant an orchard
Looked toward the blossoming

So when the snow had melted
And the days were warm again
He planted sapling apples
Alongside his staple grain

Then he turned the stream of water
To sustain them through the heart
When the summer sun was burning
And the green was in retreat

He trees survived the seasons
And he saw them rooted well
In the Springtime there were blossoms
In the Fall the apples fell

The seasons passed for Reavis too
And finally he died
While walking upright on the trail
Along the mountainside

And though his grave is in a place
Few men will ever see
Each Spring his apples blossom
To perfume his memory