Colorful Characters

Transcribed by Wilola Follett

A A Allen 
The following is a story beautifully written by Lanelle Butler Galindo (

I pull up the website from time to time and it is wonderful to see the familiar names from a time long gone. I have a friend that moved to Sierra Vista and she went to Miracle Valley out of curiosity. She called it "Hippie Hollow" and said there was nothing special to see... except Allen's tomb... and the big Church dome. She said she didn't know if that was special or not. I laughed, because I am sure there is nothing special to see anymore (there never was a whole lot.) You would have to have experienced it to appreciate what it was like. I just liked the people I grew up with. Sometimes it seemed like being "different" was the norm. The little town in Alaska on the old series "Northern Exposure" used to remind me a little of Miracle Valley (minus the moose and the snow.) The peculiarly eclectic group of people that lived there were the reason my brother moved back and those same people stood with us and cried when he died. Now most of them are in the cemetery too or have scattered to the four corners of the earth.

There have always been a lot of misconceptions regarding Miracle Valley, but I have nothing but the fondest childhood memories of it. People have thought it was some sort of commune and AA Allen was a religious nut/cult leader. It was really just a sleepy little town with people from all walks of life. The majority of the population consisted of average, hard working, ultra conservatives. Most were employed by AA Allen Revivals, but there were also a number of military families and a substantial amount of the elderly retired. We had our share of hippies and flower children, we had one official town drunk and two atheists. The community was racially diverse, as well. In the heat of the civil rights movement of the 60's, the children of Miracle Valley grew up completely integrated and unaware of the racial conflict that was swirling all around the rest of the country. (The claim of racial persecution by the religious sect that caused so much conflict in Miracle Valley in the early 80's was even more bizarre, given the community's history.)

That atmosphere of acceptance however, attracted the "strange," as well. Some of the most eccentric people, to ever walk the planet, resided in Miracle Valley. Like any Rock Star, AA Allen had his own little band of misfit "groupies" and the Miracle Valley Cemetery houses many an interesting character. In spite of obvious mental issues, (in some cases,) no one was treated differently. I did not realize what an anomaly our little community was until I was grown.

When AA Allen passed away, the proclamation that he died an alcoholic brought everything to a close and for the most part, everyone that was part of his ministry distanced themselves and went their separate ways. People were shocked and disappointed and struggled to overcome the stigma. The actual cause of death was listed as heart failure and acute cirrhosis of the liver. The stories of an alcohol strewn hotel room were greatly exaggerated and factually untrue. At autopsy there was only a negligible trace of alcohol in his bloodstream, but none whatsoever in his stomach. The explanation of course, is that cirrhosis of the liver does not always equal alcoholism.

Before his death, AA Allen had begun to complain that he felt run down. (He thought he had a touch of anemia.) Because he was a "faith healer," going to a doctor was not something he was prone to do (although he did on occasion, specifically for the arthritis in his knees.) He implemented some changes in his diet (specifically adding a little extra red meat and spinach, amongst other things) and started taking B vitamins and iron supplements, to build up his "constitution." The worse he felt, the more he did. Unfortunately, the iron intake did the opposite. Instead of feeling better, his fatigue intensified, along with loss of appetite, weight loss, and headaches. He never related his symptoms to his vitamin supplements, nor did anyone else. It is still not widely known that men should never take iron. Iron intoxication causes heart disease, acute liver failure and death. Sadly, the fact that he died of cirrhosis due to iron poisoning is not the story that has prevailed.

I brought this up because I looked up "interesting characters" in Cochise and Hereford County and there is no mention of Allen. He was undoubtedly a controversial figure, but my memories of him are of a very genuine, kind man, with a great sense of humor. He was upbeat, approachable and pleasant to be around. He always had a joke or a kind word and everyone loved him, (even our resident atheists were fond of him as a person.) However else he was judged, to me he was quite simply, a very nice man. Definitely an interesting character.

Many, many evangelists (both famous and infamous) came through Miracle Valley to preach during Camp Meetings. Jimmy Swaggert, Oral Roberts, Ronald Coyne, Robert Shambauch, Rev Osteen (Joel Osteen's father,) just to name a few. The most decidedly infamous Jim Jones was also in some of those meetings...and that tent! I still cannot go to a circus without the smell of the canvas and sawdust giving me dj vu...Then there were the Indians. They were almost the best thing of all. Every year, thousands gathered for Camp Meeting. Miracle Valley was completely overrun with Indians from every tribe imaginable. They were awesome. I have always been glad I was there.


Thank you so much for maintaining the Miracle Valley cemetery website. Your efforts have allowed me to visit often, even though I am far away. I appreciate you correcting the entry for my brother Larry, more than I can say. And thank you for letting me share a memory of a unique place and time.

Henry Clay Hooker 

One of the first ranchers to recognize the market opportunity in Arizona was Henry Clay Hooker, a Yankee down-on-his-luck in California. He was a man with considerable enterprise. He bought 500 turkeys at $1.50 a bird, and with the help of several dogs and a hired man set out over the Sierras for the Nevada mining camps. Not far from his goal he came to a steep precipice and the birds stampeded, not down the cliff but into the air. Hooker was sure he had lost his fortune, but in the valley below, his flock was waiting. He drove the birds to Carson City, Nevada, and there got $5.00 each for them. This was the capital with and which he founded his Arizona fortune in cattle. Hooker saw an opportunity in supplying beef to the army posts and Indian agencies in Arizona. From 1867 to 1870 he had beef contracts with Uncle Sam in eastern Arizona.

In 1872 Hooker set up a homestead in Sulphur Spring Valley in southeastern Arizona, and he built his Sierra Bonita Ranch there. He was in a region of government land and eventually controlled a range of over 800 square miles, the largest ranch in Arizona. It was well watered and at an altitude of 4,000 feet. Besides the owner's home there were a half-dozen outlying ranches, each with buildings and corral.

One day, near the Cochise Stronghold, many Indians closed in on the cattleman's buckboard and he decided to head into Cochise's camp in order to show he felt no alarm. There he was given hospitality, and Cochise assured him that his Chiricahuas had many chances to kill Hooker but had left him unharmed because he brought cattle into the country. Naturally, Cochise did not want to have this operation cease. Later on, as a token of friendship, Cochise gave Hooker a red blanket which the ranchman cherished all his life. 

When Hooker first started, he had to sell any kind of stock he could get, but he decided to work for an improved animal, and settled upon Herefords as a breed. He bought expensive bulls and blooded cows. Soon his ranges were roamed by herds 90 per cent white-faced. Hooker saw the value in improving the quality and reducing the size of his herds. At the Sierra Bonita, nothing was left to chance. There was even a dairy herd to supply the ranch with butter and milk. A garden produced all kinds of vegetables. Poultry houses were installed. With 500 brood mares and six purebred stallions, the Sierra Bonita produced magnificent horses, famous for speed, beauty and temperament.

In the 1880's H. C. Hooker's huge ranch in the Sulphur Spring Valley was raising prize horses and cattle. 

Ref: Arizona Pageant - A Short History of the 48th State, by Madeline Ferrin Pare with the Collaboration of Bert M. Fireman. Arizona Historical Foundation Tempe, 1875, pages 184-185. 

Zwing Hunt - Cochise County Outlaw, with a New Mexico connection
L. B. Johnson - President of the United States 

On November 14, 1817 Lucy Webb Barnett married Jesse Johnson in Greene County, Georgia. This union started the events which would see an outlaw die in Cochise County, Arizona, and the death of John F. Kennedy promote another into the presidency of The United States. 

Jesse and Lucy lived in Georgia for about thirty years. During that time Jesse served as sheriff of Henry County in 1824 and again in 1828. He also engaged in farming in Oglethhorpe, Henry and Greene Counties. A brief stay in Alabama, during 1838, saw the birth of Sam Early Johnson, one of ten children born to Jesse and Lucy. Sam Early's sister' Mary Ann Elizabeth (Betty) was seven years older than her brother, and was born in Henry County Georgia in 1831. 

These two children of Jesse and Lucy Webb Barnett Johnson are the principals in the story about to unfold. The information is largely based on personal correspondence with Sally Davis, a descendant of Johnson/Hunt families of Georgia and Texas. 

Jesse Johnson moved his family and eight slaves to Lockhart, Caldwell County, Texas. It was in Texas that Mary Ann Elizabeth, born June 29, 1831 in Henry County, Georgia, became the wife of Texas hero, widower Thomas W. Hunt. Thomas W. had three children by a previous marriage and after the death of his first wife, Jemima Jane Ponton, married Mary Ann Elizabeth on June 10, 1857. They resided probably in Burnett County, Texas, where Zwing, their first child was born. The date March 29, 1858. Five other children and siblings of Zwing were born over the years. 

Sam Early Johnson, the brother of Mary Ann Elizabeth, was married December 12, 1867 in Lockhart, Caldwel1 County, Texas to Eliza Bunton . Their son, Sam Early Jr., was born on October 11, 1877 in Buda, Hayes County, Texas, and married Rebekah Baines of McKinney, Texas, on August 20, 1907. These are the parents of Lyndon Baines Johnson, Senior United States Senator from Stonewall, Texas, vice president under John F. Kennedy, becoming the 36th President of the United States after the tragic death of President Kennedy. 

The second part of the story involves Zwing Hunt. This part of the story involves intrigue, treasure, gunfights and the fantasy that grows out of our western heritage. 

Sometime after 1874, Joel Ponton Hunt, Zwings half-brother, with financing from the family, went into the freight hauling business between Tombstone, Arizona, and Hillsboro, New Mexico. He was supposedly killed by Indians in Hillsboro May 29, 1880. When the family heard of Joels death, Zwing petitioned the family to allow him to go there and bring back the freighting equipment. After arriving in Hillsboro, Zwing decided to take over the business and stayed in the area. Perhaps this is where Zwing met up with Billy Grounds, a turning influence in the life of Zwing Hunt.

There are many stories concerning Zwing Hunt and the events that followed his short life in New Mexico and Arizona. Association with the Clantons and Earps of Tombstone, the supposed rumors of treasure and the so-called participation of an uncle who peddled maps of the Skeleton Canyon affair and treasure has no substantiation within the family records, letters, etc. 

In March of 1882 The Tombstone Mining Company office at Charleston, Cochise County, Arizona was robbed and an employee of the office was killed. The safe and money was left intact and the perpetrators fled the premises. The next day, at a ranch near Lewis Springs, two cowboys came out of the hills and requested something to eat. It was determined the next day the two cowboys were Zwing Hunt and Billy Grounds. Both Zwing and Billy became suspects in the Charleston affair but it was never determined they actually held up the mining company office. 

A few days later, Zwing and Billy arrived at the Chandler Milk Ranch east of Tombstone, claiming the owner owed them money. The man in charge went to Tombstone to request the money but instead the sheriff was notified and Deputy Sheriff Breakenridge, E. H. Allen, Allen (Jack) Young, and John A. Gillespie started for the ranch to arrest Zwing and Billy on a grand larceny warrant for cattle stealing the previous fall. 

There are several accounts about what happened. Basically there was a gun battle in which several died and several were injured. Supposedly Zwing shot through the open door, killing Gillespie and forcing Breakenridge, Allen and Young to take cover. Zwing shot at Allen, hitting him in the neck, with Allen returning the fire and hitting Zwing in the chest. Billy Grounds carne out of the house and was wounded by buckshot from the gun of Breakenridge. The gun battle ended and Police Chief Dave Nagle of Tombstone, Dr. George E. Goodfellow and the coroner came to the ranch. After giving medical attention to the wounded, the dead and wounded were taken back to Tombstone where Billy Grounds died from his wounds. Zwing was placed in the hospital and due to the severity of his wound was left unguarded. 

Concern over Zwing and his activities prompted the family to send brother Hugh to bring him home. Apparently this decision was too late as the shoot out had happened before Hugh got to Tombstone where he found Billy in the hospital. Three weeks later, on April 28, Hugh helped Zwing to escape and they made their way to the Dragoon Mountains where Zwing was allowed to rest. The following day they headed to the Chiricahua Mountains close to the present town of Douglas, Arizona. Through the month of May, Zwing and Hugh wandered the mountain canyons and on May 30 finally came to Russels Canyon (Rustlers Canyon) and spent the night in what became known as "Outlaw Cave. 

The next morning during the preparation of breakfast, a party of Apache Indians surprised the brothers with gunfire. Zwing supposedly returned the fire but was struck several times. Hugh had emptied his gun and seeing his brother dead managed to escape. Hugh reported the attack at Camp Price, a small unit located at the southern end of the Chiricahua. A lieutenant and ten mounted soldiers accompanied Hugh to the scene of the fight. They found Zwing with four bullet wounds one in the hip, another in the abdomen and two in the head. The Indians had also cut off the middle finger of the right hand. Zwing was buried near three large juniper trees where he was killed. Z. Hunt, May 31, 1882 was carved in one of the trees. 

Zwing Hunt and Lyndon Baines Johnson share common grandparents, Jesse and Lucy Webb Barnett Johnson. One, dead at 24 with the historical record of an outlaw. The other, died a historical figure as the 36th president of The United States. 

NOTES AND REFERENCES: Source of the above article: The Tombstone, Issue #25, Summer/Fall 1997. Cochise Genealogical Society. descendant chart is included only to show the relationship of Zwing Hunt and Lyndon Baines Johnson. There are many more relationships that have not been addressed in this article. Most of the information is taken from data supplied by Sally Davis and family archives discovered at the death of her mother-in-law, Genevieve Davis, in 1981. This information is in our Cochise Genealogical Library, code #555.96.318 and includes pictures of Zwing, two sisters and a brother. Ref: Cochise County Arizona, Past & Present, Collected and Written by Ervin Bond, copyright 1982 courtesy of the estate of Ervin Bond. The Cochise Quarterly, Autumn, 1992. Cochise County Historical and Archeology Society, Douglas, Arizona. 

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