Sol Barth of St. Johns

The Story of an Arizona Pioneer

by Charles B. Wolf



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 01/08/2002

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 5x8
Page Count : 108
ISBN : 9780759676336

About the Book

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 Sol Barth of St. Johns augments the historical record with hitherto unpublished facts and personal recollections, illustrated with photos from the author’s collection.

About the Author

Charles Wolf, M.D. is the great-grandson of Sol Barth. He grew up in Arizona and spent his boyhood summers at the home Sol built in the town of St. Johns. Five of Sol’s children lived there and frequently entertained Charles with stories of Sol’s escapades and adventures.

Scholars familiar with the history of Arizona, Mormon settlement, and Indian affairs may already know bits and pieces about Sol Barth. Over the years, newspaper stories and magazine articles have attempted to describe his fame as a scout, landowner, mercantile baron, and territorial legislator. But there is no organized source that tells the complete story of Sol’s life and his legacy.

The author felt compelled to collect all the available facts, supplemented by personal recollections from people who knew Sol personally, to tell a coherent story. In doing so, the author discovered that many of Sol’s most colorful adventures – particularly his escape from the ruthless Indian chief Cochise – had never been formally recorded. This book is intended to make those stories known. It ahs been said that after 1861 Cochise executed all his male captives. The capture of Sol Barth and his party has been recorded, but no that Sol's group was the only to escape. That singular, unique escape is a footnote to history.

The author hopes that his work will appeal to students of Arizona history and the history of Mormon settlement of the southwest, and anyone else seeking inspiration from the story of an American original – Sol Barth of St. Johns.