Sol Barth of St. Johns tells the story of one of the most colorful of the Arizona pioneers. Sol Barth began his career in the 1860s as a pony express rider and trader...dangerous occupations at the time...then became a storekeeper and eventually established a large mercantile company. He was also a cattle and sheep rancher with rights to land extending from the Grand Canyon into New Mexico. He deeded a portion of his holdings to Mormon settlers and established the town of St. Johns.
Sol Barth was born a Prussian Jew and married into an aristocratic Spanish family. He was respected by the existing Mexican population and by incoming Mormons and other settlers. He was also on good terms with most Indians, including the chief who saved his life when he was captured by the legendary Cochise. He served twice in the Arizona Territorial Legislature, voting in favor of statehood.
Like many of his contemporaries, Sol was no stranger to gambling and gunplay. He was also briefly (and probably wrongfully) imprisoned, but...a testament to his popularity and good character...was subsequently pardoned by the governor, who was moved by numerous petitions, including one submitted by the same jurors who convicted Sol. At his death in 1928, Sol Barth had spent more time as an Arizonan than any other white man.
The story of Sol Barth continues with accounts of his descendants, who variously served in the government, ran the Barth store, managed the ranches, and collected Indian and pioneer artifacts (which have since been donated to the state). Sol Barth of St. Johns augments the historical record with hitherto unpublished facts and personal recollections, illustrated with photos from the author’s collection.