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With Their Own Blood

A Saga of Southwestern Pioneers

Virginia Roberts

Publication Year: 2013

His wife dead, Elisa Green Pennington gathered up his brood of twelve young children in 1857 and left Texas for California, the promised land. The Penningtons could not have imagined what the untamed frontier had in store for them. After a difficult trek across West Texas and New Mexico, they were forced by sicknesses and circumstances to settle in the newly claimed Gadsden Purchase - present-day southern Arizona - where members of the clan and their descendants would remain into Arizona's statehood years.

At the heart of this saga is Larcena Pennington Page Scott, who is witness as her loved ones are killed and her family's livelihood and property stolen. Larcena lived well into the twentieth century to tell the story of her captivity by Apaches and her miraculous escape from the captors, of outlawry and murder along the Mexican border, of disease, hunger, and isolation, and of the unceasing depredations by hostile Apaches during the 1860s and '70s.

Using family letters, papers, and primary documents from all over the Southwest, Virginia Culin Roberts traces the lives of Larcena and her family. Roberts presents a real-life story of the rigors of surviving in a hostile and unforgiving land, transcending family history to provide a framework for telling the tale of the western frontier in the bloody Civil War and antebellum years.

Published by: TCU Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-9

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xvi

I was intrigued by frontier woman Larcena Pennington at first glimpse - a brief mention of her in Bernice Cosulich's 1951 book, Tucson. It started me on a twelve-year search for facts about her. The Penningtons, emigrants from Texas, proved to be the...


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pp. 1-17

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1. Capture

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pp. 3-9

On a crisp Friday morning, March 16, 1860, a slender brook danced and twisted around live oaks and huge half-buried boulders in Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains of what is now southern Ariwna. Blonde Larcena Pennington Page, age twenty-two...

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2. The Penningtons

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pp. 11-21

The battered, bleeding woman lying in the mountain snow had married twenty-six-year-old John Hempstead Page on Christmas Eve, 1859. They were a vigorous, confident young couple ready to face frontier hardships together. Chance had led them by widely separated paths...

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3. Woman of Courage

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pp. 23-38

I t was close to midnight on March 16, 1860, the day of Larcena's capture, when Bill Kirkland's messenger galloped into Fort Buchanan on a sweat-lathered horse. He had ridden from Canoa ranch over the mountain pass to the small military post. The sentries awoke the...

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4. Rough Times on the Border

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pp. 39-58

Exactly when and how Larcena Pennington had met John Hempstead Page will probably never be known. It is quite likely that her brother Jack brought him into the Pennington's camp on Sonoita Creek when they first arrived in June, 1857, or to one of their later homes....

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5. Murders and Marriages

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pp. 59-78

Not long after the 1858 Fourth of July celebration, Larcena's family moved into the old Gandara hacienda at Calabasas, a few miles distant from their farm.1 It was the third of several places where the Penningtons dwelt between 1857 and 1870. They moved when danger...


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pp. 79-95

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6. Lonely Graves

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pp. 81-96

The wild frontier had only begun to try Larcena's fortitude. The worst of times were just ahead for the embryonic Arizona territory, with death and destruction everywhere. Later generations of Americans can hardly imagine what dreadful experiences its pioneer settlers...

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7. The Great Exodus

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pp. 97-110

After John Page's death Elias Pennington brought Larcena back to his border farm, where there were sisters and brothers to comfort her. She must often have thought sorrowfully of the husband who had loved her, of his vigorous life suddenly and brutally ended,...

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8. Fisher Scott

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pp. 111-121

Eugene Zimmer was well on his way to Pinos Altos when Tom Mastin's Arizona Guards, coming rapidly from that direction, saw him and pulled up in a cloud of dust. They were hurrying to the relief of the Mimbres River settlement which had sent a messenger for...

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9. Nomads of War

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pp. 123-139

There was another inhabited site, however, about eighty miles southeast of Tucson: Sylvester Mowry's Patagonia Mine. Curious as it seems, Elias Pennington took his family from Tucson to Mowry's mine soon after Jack's departure and only a short time before Larcena's baby was born. Perhaps he freighted supplies to...

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10. A Shattered Family

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pp. 141-162

Larcena and her family, clinging loyally together, had so far survived their misfortunes. With the exception of John Page, they had escaped the fatalities which had overtaken other early Arizona pioneers. Hardship, toil, and danger were always part of the Penningtons...

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11. New Love, New Life

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pp. 163-177

It is tempting to speculate how it happened - how these two long-time, trusted friends, Larcena and Fisher, finally agreed to spend the rest of their lives together. Fisher may have been quietly sure for a long time that as soon as he had his business going and could provide a suitable home, he would ask her to marry him....

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12. Mary Page

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pp. 179-203

In September, 1876, Mary Ann Page turned fifteen. She was pretty enough to turn heads as she walked to the Congress Street School, her textbooks under her arm. Her white shirtwaist and ankle-length skirt fit gracefully over maturing curves. Larcena's daughter was...

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13. “Toward the Western Shore”

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pp. 205-216

By the year 1902, when John Handy, Jr. came to Tucson to visit Larcena and Fisher, there were not enough of the earliest pioneers remaining in Arizona to crowd a small room. And for those old-timers, life, like the setting sun, was "fast dipping toward the western shore...

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pp. 217-220

The old cemetery where Mary Ann Page Handy's body lay was abandoned by the time Fisher Scott died in 1915. It was about to be excavated in preparation for new business buildings on the site. Mary Ann's grave marker had disappeared, but a former caretaker located...


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pp. 221-259


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pp. 261-274


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pp. 275-286

E-ISBN-13: 9780875655291
E-ISBN-10: 0875655297
Print-ISBN-13: 9780875652283

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 25 b&w photos., Map.
Publication Year: 2013