History of Silver Bell & Stories from Our People

"History of the Silver Bell Mining District, Pima County" -- by David F. Briggs

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This is a very thorough and intriguing history of mining in the Silver Bell Mountains going back to the late 1800s. Photographs of the original town of Silverbell and Sasco.

Read this Amazing Historical Article!

Silver Bell Stories from Robert Hunter, Jr.

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Robert Hunter, Jr. (above with his wife Carol) grew up in Silver Bell and has shared some stories you will enjoy.

Read Bobby's Stories!

The McConnaughey Family

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Lee McConnaughey shares her recollections of living in Silver Bell as "one of the best times of my family and my life."

Read About this family!

Carl Elder - by Belinda Eckrote Castro

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  • (The photo above is Maxine and Carl Elder.)

Click the button below to read this story.


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Danny and Karen

Which Mountain? Or Witch Mountain?

(The photo above is the "Which Mountain" Karen talks about below. Some folks called it "Witch Mountain" where a witch was thought to live. It's name is Waterman Peak.)


By Karen Prater Holton

What everyone else calls the South Mountains, my brother, Danny and I called "Which Mountain." You know, which mountain do you want to climb today? Which mountain. Inside joke. Anyway, we climbed that mountain so often that I couldn't even guess the number of times. It was our thing. Just the two of us. We didn't have to be cool or smart or interesting. That was the relationship I had with my brother. We could let our hair down and just be kids.


One day, we decided to go sit on some big rocks we saw under a big mesquite tree and rest. As we neared that cool shade, the rocks stood up and ran. They were a couple of huge javelinas! It scared me so bad that I just ran and ran and ran all the way down the mountain. I lost a shoe, but I didn't care. I had walked barefoot through most of the desert around Silver Bell, so my feet were like leather. I made it home and about 1/2 hour later, Danny came in the door laughing his butt off. He had my shoe! I don't think I went back up that mountain for months!


Often times, we made up scenarios. We loved being Indians. We would pretend to be hunting for food or buffalo. Sometimes, we just enjoyed the cool breeze and sat thinking. You could see so far up there. It made me feel very small and insignificant. We talked. One thing I remember is that our dad had a plan to buy a ranch in Indiana and move us all there. He told Danny when he was about 13 that he could go up early and get it going before the rest of us went. Danny made me promise to go with him. We would plan our lives working that ranch up there on top of that mountain. We would work hard and make dad proud. We would be happy. That dream never happened. I guess dad just decided it was too expensive or whatever. Danny never forgot about that dream. We talked about it all our lives together. Until the end. The regret was never forgotten. I think Danny thought we could just buy our very own ranch and work it together. When I told him I was getting married, he was heartbroken. Now the dream was really dead. He was never the same after that. It broke my heart, but I had to live my own life.


In the desert behind our house, we spent countless hours playing cowboy & Indian. Danny was always the cowboy because he had always claimed that I was dropped off by Indians who didn't want me. The point of the game was to sneak up on the other one and say "Hands up." In all the years that we played, I never was able to sneak up on him. Needless to say, it was extremely nerve-wracking.


At a certain time of day, there was a huge shadow cast over the mountains behind the Mill. Danny had told me that there was a giant eagle that lived in the sky and couldn't be seen until he was right about to snatch you up. I watched that shadow all day praying I wouldn't see talons coming out of the sky.


There was also a shadow that our eucalyptus tree cast at night due to a street light being behind it. Danny had told me that a giant ape lived in that tree at night and if you went outside, he would eat you.


Let's not forget the people under the bed that would grab you if you got up to go to the bathroom at night. My brother was kind of mean and I was very gullible. It really just made me love him more. I liked the attention.



Memories Shared in a Facebook Exchange

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(The picture above is the old bridge which supported the pipe discussed below. Photo by Tisha Spaulding Hays.)


Alan Reiner (December 11, 2007): " You know, my family was there from 1955 through June, 1966. What I remember is that there were no social lines of demarcation (at least for the kids) that I have experienced ever since I came to Detroit in 1969. Three channels, no phones (don't count the crank things now) swamp coolers, baseball, Christmas, bus to school in September and May windows open (please refer to the Swamp cooler thing) burning barrels in the alley, chasing a basketball off the cement slab when it hit a rock, meeting the Air Force Security Team at the missle silo when Steve Jameson, John Rickman and I were classsified a security risk while screwing around at the gate, knowing when a "stranger" was driving around (because they didn't "belong" there) and of course our collective silliness that made us think the rest of our lives would be just like THAT! Would that it could be."


Walt Maxam: "Thanks for some forgotten memories......a lot of the same stuff for the Gas Plant kids.We did have that special treat of pedaling a bike 8 miles up to Silver Bell, have a coke and your choice of Hostess poroducts on the steps of Davidoff's store. Rough trip up, but the ride back down was pure heaven."


David A. Wyatt: " I remember a couple of us rode our bikes to Marana and back one day, well almost back when it got dark a pickup came looking for us and were we glad to see it like you say the ride down was great but going back up was rough even though we were in better shape than most of us today. Also remember riding down the street at the New Houses and trying to make the turn at the bottom of the hill going toward Elders, still have scars from not making the turn on 2 wheels."


Mike McFerrin: " Who was the kid that fell off the sewer pipe bridge and busted his head open? I seem to remember his name was Bobby and he was the older of two brothers."


David A. Wyatt: " I think the last name was Oswald, mabe Rudy or a brother."


Walt Maxam: "Rudy fell off the pipe."


Veronica Gilliam Herd: " Thanks Alan for reminding me of some more reasons why Silver Bell was a great place to grow up...I was in the 4th grade when we got phones (1968) and you only had to dial the last 4 digits back then. By the way, my Dad, Jim Gilliam, thought the world of your Dad. He said he was a very fine man."


Alan Reiner: " Still miss him all these years later...really funny for an engineer!  Rudy Oswell...his dad was a blaster Left town in 8th grade and went to Amphi younger brother carl and even younger stephen I think. his cousins lived behind (or next to) us Nancy Oswell and Anna Mary Oswell...older than us."


Cathy Harris: " Alan, Kay Avery here, you painted a lovely picture of the utopia we grew up in.
We moved up there from New Mexico in May 1954 and lived in the apartments. After they filled in that canyon they brought in what was known as the "new" houses. Rudy was down the street on my side and Darla was 4 houses up from mine on the other side. We were in the houses before Christmas and I think everyone received new bikes that year."






Read Jim Hunter's Memories!

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Jim Hunter, now a senior vice-president with BBVA Compass Bank, provides a stirring history of his family's life in Silver Bell.


(Scroll down to click on the "Read It" button to get to his story.)

Read it!

Memories from Ernie Molinar Robles

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Growing up [in Silver Bell] was amazing!! Never had to lock your doors, never had to lock your cars. Yet when we talk to other people about it, they think we're from Mars!!! My fondest memory is going to work with my Grandpa, Mike Molinar, who worked in the Crusher. 


Somehow he would take me to work with him on swing shift and all the dump truck drivers would give me cookies or fruit through the window in the crusher!! But most of all I remember my Grampa teaching me how to run the crusher and to maintain the amperage so the Crusher wouldn't get overloaded, as he would go and check the ore bins!!


 I remember this as if it was yesterday and it wasn't until he passed away that I found out how old I was when he would do this. I could not believe that I was only 3 years old!!! It blows my mind to think of taking any of my own grandsons to a mine and teach any of them how to operate a piece of machinery!!!


 And the antics of the other workers there -- they would throw their work gloves at me and when I turned to see who threw them they would hide!!


What memories of such a fabulous place and time!!

  

"Old John"

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A Facebook conversation, started by Edward Chadburn on December 15, 2018. These conversations can be interesting:


  

Tamara Kemper: “As soon as you said a wild burro my mind went straight to old John what great memories.”

Paula Eckrote Steiger: “One of my fondest memories.”

Cindy Wyatt Melo: “Was there one named Jenny as well?”

Paula Eckrote Steiger: “I remember Old John biting Momma on the butt because she had quit brushing him. We have been laughing about that lately.”

Edward Chadburn: “I loved brushing him. I was only 6 when we moved in 1977. But I was pretty sad when Dad told me Old John had been shot for no reason.”

Belinda Eckrote Castro: “I never knew that.”

Edward Chadburn: “I’m not even sure they found out who did it.”

Belinda Eckrote Castro: “That makes me so angry and sad. I loved that old donkey. So where do you fit in the Chadburn family?”

Edward Chadburn: “I’m Norman and Barbara’s son. Younger half brother to Patty, Linda, Kathy and Jimmy. We lived in house 161 next to Burns. Mom passed away in 2013 from Parkinson’s and Dad passed away in 2015. She was 80 and he was 92”.

Belinda Eckrote Castro: “I knew them. We lived behind Freddie and Mona for years. Becky and I were good friends.  Kathy was so kind to me. I used to sit with her on the school bus.”

Cathy Harris: “Thanks for sharing this memory of the best place in the world to grow up in. Kay Avery Harris.”

Susy Wittwer: “Does anyone remember the other donkey Jenny? Old john spent a lot of time across from our house.”

Brenda Stone Monet: “Aww, Loved old John!!”

Laura Yarter: “My aunt, Laurita Walters, had one named Hildegard. I think that's right.”

Belinda Eckrote Castro: “No. No Jenny.”

Cindy Wyatt Melo: “I’m not surprised. Growing up I swore I had a friend in Silver Bell named Hilda. My mom said no and my sister said yes -  Hilda Bostick. To this day I’m still not sure. Lol”

Belinda Eckrote Castro: “I could be wrong. Have you tried Hilda on Facebook?”

Cindy Wyatt Melo: “No, I haven’t. I just recently remembered that and I never thought about looking in Facebook. Thanks.”

Paula Eckrote Steiger: “I know a Jeanette Bostick from Silver Bell.”

Cindy Wyatt Melo: “I do too. Hilda could have also been one of those imaginary little kid friends.”



The Hood Family

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Phil Hood shares about his family. Click the Read It button below!

Read it!

Dan Hood's Silver Bell Memories

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Here's are charming recollections from a Silver Bell "survivor!"


Click on the Read It! link below to read.

Read It!

Your Story?

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Do you have memories of Silver Bell to share? 

People want to read them!

Send your stories, and even a few pictures to admin@silverbellaz. 

We'll publish your story here.