John Spring, a Swiss volunteer wounded in Civil War action, was sent to Arizona with the Regular Army of 1866 and became the most versatile and articulate of frontier reporters. A fine education and a broad knowledge of the world combined with an urbane pen to enable this pioneer educator, desert farmer, sutler, and brewer to be also a court translator, a correspondent for metropolitan U.S. newspapers and European periodicals, and a hardy soldier amid Apache perils.
John Spring first saw Arizona from an encampment on the west side of the Colorado River at "a small town called Yuma . . . then called Arizona City . . . it did a thriving fandango and saloon business during the period of continual going and coming of troops and teamsters." Southern Arizona, as Spring first saw and described it, was "a country where every highway, every path, every hamlet, and nearly every rancho could tell (had they the gift of speech) of devilish deeds, of crafty ambuscade, murdered settlers and travellers."
Supported by knowledge of several languages and wide reading, John Spring was able to extend his reporting to geographical and botanical description, to detailed reports of agriculture in the Santa Cruz Valley, and mercantile activity in Tucson. But he returned always to people--an irresistible center of interest for John Spring.
The lively and authentic serial reports of John Spring to the National Tribune in Washington, D.C., have been assembled and edited in this volume by A. M. Gustafson.
About the Author
A. M. Gustafson since 1964 has been Director of Guidance Services for the public schools in Tucson, where he has been a resident since 1935, and a school principal both prior to and following World War II. He is the author of Schools for a Frontier State, which appeared in the Arizona Teacher, and is continuing his research on early Arizona schoolmasters. He holds a B.A. degree in history from Wheaton College, Illinois; his M.A. in history and Ph.D. in education are both from the University of Arizona.