University of Arizona

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Papers of Joseph Thomas McKinney

Note from Henry Roberts Concerning a Slave

Joseph Thomas McKinney was a pioneer and law enforcement officer in the Arizona territory. He was born June 20, 1858 in Arkansas and arrived in Arizona around 1885, where he worked for the Wabash Cattle Company above St. Johns in Apache County for about a year until he was appointed undersheriff of Apache County by Commodore Perry Owens in 1886. After he left the sheriff’s office, the Board of Supervisors appointed McKinney as Constable for Winslow. He left Winslow in 1888 and spent several months at Fort Apache before moving on to San Carlos where he herded cattle. McKinney ranched in Fort Thomas until he moved to Bowie in 1896. In 1905, he relocated to Yuma where he became a guard at the Arizona State prison. He died at the age of 90 in 1948.

The collection contains an autobiographical sketch, letter, and documents. The 19-page sketch includes his involvement as a law enforcement officer in the Graham-Tewksbury feud; and a letter, dated 1927, to his son describes a hanging at the Arizona State Prison at Florence. Also present are deeds, tax receipts, certificates of land purchases, bills of sale for slaves during the 1840s, and other documents relating to his grandfather, Joseph Thomas Cook, in Arkansas and Alabama, and to his uncle, J.W. Cook, in Texas.