By Al Bates 

Members of Arizona’s First Territorial Legislature, which met in late 1864, were collectively saluted for their teamwork and considerable accomplishments in establishing a firm foundation for future development.  By contrast, after the Second Legislature met a year later, only one legislator was singled out for any honors.

Daniel Hodges Stickney, member of the House of Representatives from Pima County, alone was singled out for praise for his “unselfish devotion to the true interests and prosperity of the Territory” in a resolution that appears in The Journals of the Second Legislative Assembly.

But why was this distinction awarded to just one member of the bicameral legislature?

The short answer is that without Mr. Stickney’s actions, the Second Legislature would have been unable to accomplish anything. Period.

The citation’s preamble summarizes the situation: “No member elect from the County of Pima [excepting Mr. Stickney] has attended this session of the Legislature, or shown to this House any reason for non-attendance during the session.”  The preamble goes on to reveal that without Stickney’s presence, the House could not have organized nor transacted any business for lack of a quorum.

All the other delegates from Pima County for both the House and the upper chamber (or Council) were unanimous in boycotting the session.  Because of the way in which seats had been allocated to the legislative assembly by the departed Governor Goodwin, the Council had a bare quorum without the Pima delegates, but it was a different story in the House.  Except for Mr. Stickney’s attendance, that body would have been one vote shy of the necessary minimum.

Available official publications recorded the facts, but shed no light on why the boycott was staged or why Mr. Stickney resisted its call.  One can only surmise for what regional or political reasons the extreme action was taken, but lingering hard feelings from the just-ended Civil War are almost certain to have played a part.  Governor Goodwin had made strong efforts to placate the residents of Tucson, where the majority of Pima County voters resided, but somehow fell short of meeting their desires—even though Pima County was assigned the largest legislative representation of any county.

By the time that the Third Legislature convened a year later, the apportionment was unchanged, but a new set of Pima County legislators had been voted into office and the boycott ended.  Significantly, control of both the council presidency and House speakership then came into the hands of Pima County.

Relatively little is known of Daniel Stickney’s early years.  Born in 1815 in Massachusetts, he moved to Alabama as a young man, where he married and fathered four children.  He came to the Gadsden Purchase in 1857, settling at first near Tucson as a merchant.  He was mostly a bit player in those early years, but his name pops up frequently in various accounts of the period.  With the onset of the Civil War, and withdrawal of Federal troops, he was secretary for an early-1861 meeting at Tucson that pinned local hopes for protection from the Apaches on the Confederacy.

By the dreadful spring and summer days of 1861 when Apache attacks on white settlers became increasingly vicious, he was employed briefly at the Santa Rita Mine near Tubac.  Like most of the other settlers in the area south of Tucson, he soon sought a safer haven—in his case by moving to Mesilla.  Just getting there proved a challenge when the wagon train he was traveling with was attacked by Apaches at Cooke’s Canyon and he suffered minor wounds.

While in Mesilla he supported the Rebel cause, first becoming court bailiff and then joining Captain Sherod Hunter’s military expedition into southern Arizona as a civilian where he pursued the purchase of supplies for the Rebels.

Left behind in Mexico when Hunter’s expedition returned suddenly to Mesilla in the spring of 1862, Stickney was soon in Union captivity and was incarcerated at Fort Yuma and later at Fort Alcatraz.  He was back in Arizona in early 1864, traveling from the Pacific Coast with Charles Poston’s party.

Stickney’s next noteworthy events were his election to the First Territorial Legislature as a member of the House from the First District and reelection a year later representing the newly established Pima County.

The voters of Pima County did not take offense at Stickney’s actions in ignoring the 1865 boycott, returning him to the Council for the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Legislatures.  He also served an appointive term as Territorial Adjutant General between the Fifth and Sixth Legislatures.  He was serving as Council President for the Sixth Legislature when he died in harness in 1871.

“Days Past” is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International (www.prescottcorral.org). This and other Days Past articles are also available at www.sharlothallmuseum.org/library-archives/days-past. The public is encouraged to submit proposed articles to dayspastshmcourier@gmail.com. Please contact SHM Library & Archives reference desk at 928-445-3122 Ext. 14, or via email at dayspastshmcourier@gmail.com for information.