Journey to Aravaipa Canyon: Pioneers in the Territory of Arizona

Journey to Aravaipa Canyon: Pioneers in the Territory of Arizona

by P. J. Kielberg-McClenahan


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In the late 1800s, two young friends from Copenhagen, Denmark, move to America to seek their fortunes. Emil Kielberg and Carl Birkenfeld begin their lives in their new country by mining gold. They save their money, and in time both men follow the individual paths of their dreams. Carl opens a saloon, while Emil homesteads more than 160 acres of Arizona land.
As time goes on, their businesses flourish. Carl becomes the constable of Tucson, and Emil raises prize-winning fruit. With his finances now in order, Emil is free to send for his lifelong love, Ida, who awaits his summons in the old country. Emil and Ida marry, and Carl marries a Spanish girl named Dolores. The men remain friends, even as they become husbands and fathers.
The families are so close, in fact, that Emil’s son ends up marrying Carl’s daughter. Grandchildren arrive—as does tension, because no family is perfect. But Emil and Carl have a friendship built on a strong foundation, and they will keep their families together, despite the dangers of the Wild West and the rapid changes in the country they now call home.
Based on a true story, this historical novel delves into the lives and thoughts of two Arizona pioneers and their families from late nineteenth century to the Great Depression and beyond.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491716069
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/09/2013
Pages: 222
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.51(d)

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Journey to Aravaipa Canyon

Pioneers in the Territory of Arizona


iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2013 P. J. Kielberg-McClenahan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-1606-9


Leaving Copenhagen

Emil Kielberg washed his face and combed his hair at the small mirror. He dreaded what Ida's response to his leaving would be. He resolutely walked along the damp cobblestones of Copenhagen. The light mist and gloomy evening chill in the air suited his mood.

Ida's widowed mother answered the door and quickly returned to her spot by the fire, pulling her chair closer to warm her sore joints. Although the parlor was chilly, Emil could feel the bit of warmth coming from the little fireplace. The starched lace curtains at the clean windows never revealed the humble parlor or the austerity that dwelt within. Ida was busy in the kitchen tidying up after supper.

Ida looked up as Emil entered the kitchen. She smiled but did not say anything.

"We are going," he said, lowering himself onto one of the kitchen chairs, bracing himself for whatever reaction Ida would have.

He touched the doily that Ida had crocheted and looked at the small vase of flowers on it. Ida already knew he would say that. Tucking back a strand of hair that had fallen onto her face, she looked back at the dishes, not letting him see her eyes clouding up.

"When?" she asked.


Biting her lip, Ida said nothing.

"I wish you could come with me."

She looked down at her work. Her shoulders slumped slightly. "That is impossible. You know I have to work."

Emil looked down at the floor. "I will send for you as soon as I can."

They had gone over the subject of Emil remaining in Copenhagen before: the economic downturn of the Scandinavian economy, the lack of decent employment, low wages, and no hope of an education or anything better in the future. To settle into the never-ending rut that seemed to be the only way of life for many people in 1872 Denmark was hopeless. But to America? America was such a long way from home.

"We cast off at 11:00 a.m. Will you see me off at the dock?"

Ida sat down at the kitchen table across from Emil, closed her eyes for a moment, and took a deep breath. "Mother must see the doctor tomorrow morning, and then I must make up the time that I missed at work."

Emil reached across the table and took her hands in his.

Emil's hands are always so strong, Ida thought, yet so gentle and warm. How safe and loved she felt when he held her hands. How long would it be before they would again hold hands?

"I love you, Ida. I want you with me. I will write as soon as we get to California. I will send for you."

They kissed and held one another, each knowing it would be a long time before they would be together again.

Violating her stoical upbringing, she said, "I will feel lost without you, Emil." She blinked back the tears welling in her eyes.

Ida Bliesje had loved Emil since they were children and had lived next door to one another. They were engaged; now he and his friend Carl Birkenfeld were going to America. She could already feel the emptiness. After Emil left her home, Ida allowed herself to cry silent, hot tears as she took her time cleaning and scrubbing the kitchen. Physical labor always helped her work through her emotions. Ida was concerned about Emil's safety on the voyage and about what he would find in America. Ida worried he would forget about her. She wondered if two friends together in an unfamiliar country would be so taken by the new land as to forget entirely those they had left behind. Ida dried her tears and entered the parlor.

"Mother, it is time to prepare for bed."

Carl and Emil boarded the ship early. They went aloft, Emil looking for Ida on the dock, hoping she had found a way to be there. He was still searching as the final lines were cast off and the ship moved slowly from the harbor. No Ida.

Perhaps it is easier for us both that she is not here, he thought.

As the vessel headed toward the open sea, Emil felt that same rush of adventure he felt before, when leaving port as part of a crew on those short trips to England or France. This time the feeling of adventure was underlined with the hope and determination that he would make a good life and bring his beloved Ida to America.

Hope is what drives people to make changes when the status quo is unbearable; hope is the last vestige of ever attaining a better life, he thought. Going to America was the only hope for Emil, the hope of creating a life of opportunities in a new land where he could create something wonderful with hard work and perseverance.

The excitement made his heart feel as if it would burst from his chest! He looked at his humble belongings—a small valise containing his clothing and a few personal articles. Emil kept his money on him at all times, sewn into places where no one would look should he be searched or, God forbid, robbed. The clothing he wore was warm, creating a woolen barrier between him and the harsh North Sea wind. Carl and Emil took their bags down to their cabin. Emil knew he would not be spending much time there. Calling this stuffy and cramped space a cabin was an exaggeration. Emil knew he would only return to sleep within those small confines.

Emil felt such exhilaration as he went on deck: freedom, adventure, hopes, and endless possibilities raced through his mind. He loved the sea; he would have been happy being a sailor, but he knew being a sailor's wife would not be a good life for Ida. He thought of how she looked in the kitchen the night before: her gentle manner, how a strand of her hair had fallen onto her cheeks, which showed a slight pink color as she worked hard in the kitchen. How pragmatically Ida had taken the news of Emil's imminent departure. Emil knew they both withheld their true feelings to spare one another pain. This is how she is, he thought. This is how I am also.

He thought of Denmark and of his family, so staid and proper. Everyone in his place, doing what was expected of him. Nice and tidy. Emil would have been glad to take his place in the family scheme of things had a place been available for him. Long ago the Kielberg family had established themselves as masters in their trades: stone masons performing construction in Denmark's castles, craftsmen and contractors of excellent reputation.

The economic slump in the 1870s did not allow Emil a place in one of his older brothers' trades. Being the youngest brother by several years, and with the poor economy, any place within the craftsmen trades in the Kielberg family would go to his elder brothers' sons, not to him. He also knew in order to be his own man, he needed to break free and make his own way. The only way to make a good life for him and Ida was to go to another country.

His mother had worried when he told her of his decision to go to America. His mother felt special toward him, the youngest in the family. It had been hard for her to say, "Son, do what makes you happy," as she carefully hand-stitched the hidden pockets into his garments for his money. How Emil loved her.

After his father died when he was ten, Emil spent much time with his godfather, Ole Pedersen. Emil loved working with his godfather. Ole was a master gardener and taught Emil about trees, plants, and soil and he instilled in him a love of the earth.

"Emil, pick up a handful of this soil. This is good soil in which to grow good, strong plants and trees. Boy, always remember what this soil looks like—and, more importantly, what this soil smells like. Good soil has a certain fertile smell that gives the promise of life, of bountiful crops, of vegetables and fruit trees and flowers. Never forget this soil."

Emil loved seeing the little green sprouts coming forth from the earth, and over the months was amazed at those tiny sprouts turning into plants, flowers, and vegetables. Emil was fascinated by trees that went from bare branches in winter, to buds, leaves, flowers, and fruit, all within a few months.

Emil knew that he wanted to make his own future and not have it stifled by a stagnant economy or by living in the staid and unchanging environment of Europe. He knew that he would never be able to establish a farm of his own in Denmark. Europe's history had already been written. The American West was a blank page upon which any hardworking person could write his own history. To young Emil Kielberg, America meant hope and opportunity, something he knew he could not find in Denmark.

Juliana Frost Kielberg gave him her warmest smile as she handed over the money she had saved for emergencies.

"Emil, I insist you take this. I would only spend it on something frivolous."

She was a strong woman, strong enough to let her youngest son find his own way in the world. Juliana also dreaded that she would not see Emil again in her lifetime.

A year older than Emil, Carl Birkenfeld had three years earlier decided it was time for him to find his own direction. He packed his few belongings, kissed his mother good-bye, and went to Copenhagen. Carl loved the sea and signed on to a ship sailing to France and then to England. He also learned of the world that was out there, places other than Denmark.

Carl was a practical young man. He loved Denmark. It was all he had ever known, but after hearing stories of the opportunities in America, he could not shake the thought of going to America to make a life there. Other seamen told Carl of a vast land stretching thousands of miles, mostly uninhabited, of the beauty of this strange country and opportunities for anyone with a willingness to work hard. The eastern portion of the country was mostly settled, they had said, with states already established and homesteads claimed long ago; but the West offered opportunities there for the taking. And gold was there, in California.

Carl and Emil found their way to the bow of the boat, where the spirit of adventure and the unknown mingled with the salt air and the steady pulsation of the ship's engines. Emil thought, There is nothing like the sea air to clear and invigorate the mind. Renewed, they knew their chores aboard ship were soon to start, so they left the bow and reported to their duty stations.

Arrival in America

Although they had examined charts of both the Port of Copenhagen and the Port of New York, as their ship entered the New York Harbor, Emil and Carl were speechless.

"My God, Emil, this place is huge!"

Emil did not say much, but he was equally taken by the sheer size of the port and the obvious number of people that must be in this city. Copenhagen seemed very provincial in comparison.

During their time at sea, to find their way around, they had consulted other shipmates who had been to America. The railroad would have made travel easier, but tickets to the West were far too expensive. They had rudimentary maps along with general directions to places where they could meet up with others going to Missouri, where wagon trains still departed. Now, they also knew how to acquire the necessary skills required to get hired on by the wagon master.

Following these directions, Emil and Carl met up with Bob Felt and Hank Collins, a couple of cowboys who had tried their hands at the big city and were heading back on the trail to the wagon trains, to again be guides or ride shotgun. After talking with the two Danes for a few minutes, they decided these young men were all right and would travel with them to Missouri. Bob and Hank would show them what they needed in order to ride shotgun on the wagon trains. With Bob and Hank's advice, Emil and Carl bought the proper clothing, a couple of horses, saddles, rifles, pistols, gun belts, and the bare necessities to get them to Missouri.

Emil and Carl had not ridden horses in Copenhagen. They were accustomed to walking wherever they wanted to go. Trying to get on a horse was their first challenge. The idea of first putting your left foot into a stirrup and then mounting seemed impossible!

Bob said, "Look, at first it's gonna be hard to get the hang of it. Just treat 'em decent, and they'll try to work with you."

Finally, they got their horses close enough to a corral to go up to the second rung and mount. Typical of a tenderfoot, each held his arms and the reins out from his body, in most awkward positions. Bouncing up and down like a couple of greenhorns humiliated the two Danes. Bob worked with Carl; Hank worked with Emil. They taught them how to guide the horses with the pressure of their thighs and a bit of rein, how to survive a horse trotting without injuring their manhood, and what to do in an all-out gallop or when the horse rears back or during an unexpected occurrence.

Since their horses were properly broken in, they could not show them what to do to break a horse or how to handle a bucking horse. The only advice they could offer was to hang on with their legs to the horse, hands and reins gripping the horn and pommel of the saddle. On the agenda that first day were these maneuvers: proper alignment of head, hips, and feet in the stirrups; how to handle the reins; how to lean into the jumps; and pretty much how to understand the horse and how to have him understand you. They came to understand that working with horses was like any other interaction between living beings—just forming an understanding of the horse and hoping like hell he could understand what was wanted. Only practice could determine this.

"I hurt in places I never knew existed," said Carl to Emil after the first day in the saddle.

"Yes, I'm ready to drop in my tracks," Emil answered.

Bob and Hank looked at each other, shook their heads and then showed them that taking care of the horses was the first thing they were to do after a day's ride.

Bob told them, "Yer horses are not only yer transportation they're yer best friends and sometimes yer only hope of escape in a bad situation. You make dern sure they're fed and watered and pretty much settled in for the evening before you ever think about yerselves."

Hank said. "Then, you build yerself a campfire, cook somethin', eat, clean up, and then you can think about your bedroll."

Somewhere along the way, Emil and Carl established a rapport with their horses. Together each horse and man became a working unit. Over the course of the journey from New York to Independence, Missouri, Bob and Hank taught the tenderfoot Danes how to find water and edible plants, what to avoid, which snakes were poisonous, how to handle firearms and hit the target, and how to manage the changing elevation of the terrain.

"Emil, you see that streak of them green plants comin' outta that canyon?" asked Hank.


"Well, that's where the real water is," said Hank. "You get in a pinch during a drought; look for that green—especially the dark green in a canyon. If you dig down, you got the best chance of finding water just below the surface. You may have to let it trickle into jugs and strain it before it is drinkable, but it is better than having members of your train die of thirst. Just study nature; it will guide you. Learn to think like an animal seeking food and water. Water attracts insects. Insects attract rodents. Rodents attract bigger predators like foxes, coyotes, badgers, and the like. Water also attracts deer, antelope, and other game animals. It also attracts mountain lions, cougars, and bobcats. A mountain lion can take out a man as quick as it can take out a badger."


Excerpted from Journey to Aravaipa Canyon by P. J. KIELBERG-MCCLENAHAN. Copyright © 2013 P. J. Kielberg-McClenahan. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword, xi,
Preface, xv,
Acknowledgments, xvii,
Introduction, xix,
Part I,
Leaving Copenhagen, 3,
Arrival in America, 9,
Topeka, Kansas, 14,
On the Trail, 16,
California, 21,
San Francisco, 26,
Ida in Denmark, 29,
Arizona Territory, 1876, 33,
Mining, 34,
The Aravaipa, 36,
Citizenship, 40,
Ranch Progress, 42,
Carl, 45,
Ida's Letter, 47,
Ida Leaves Denmark, 48,
Ida Arrives in America, 50,
Emil and Ida, 53,
Ida and the Mining Town, 55,
Earthquake, 57,
Brandenburg Family, 60,
Sorrow, 61,
Apache Kid and the Aravaipa, 1887, 63,
Renewal, 65,
Cajones and the Turkey, 68,
Emil Jr.'s First Birthday, 71,
Garden Incident, 73,
Sarah, 78,
Hopes, 80,
Part II,
Dolores, 83,
The Marriage, 93,
Carl and Tucson, 96,
Dolores and Charles, 97,
Return to Tucson, 102,
1892, 105,
Modesto Borquez, 107,
Dolores's Sister Antonia, 110,
Part III,
Carl and Dolores's Marriage, 115,
Neighbors, 118,
Birkenfeld Children, 120,
Anna Lena, 122,
Emil, Ida, and Their Horses, 124,
Anna Lena, Growing Up, 126,
Emil Jr. and Anna Lena, 128,
Emil Jr., 132,
Emil Sr., 134,
Omen in the Orchard, 137,
Anna Lena on the Ranch, 140,
Kielberg Family, 146,
Part IV,
Conscription, 151,
Spanish Flu, 153,
Return to Arizona, 157,
At Kielberg Ranch, 162,
In Tucson, 164,
Ida's Christmas Eve, 1918, 165,
Tucson: Christmas and Beyond, 167,
John Leonard, 1919, 173,
Winkelman, Arizona, 180,
Final Visit, 189,
Ida's Thoughts, 1927, 193,
The Honey Jar, 195,
Epilogue, 199,
About the Author, 201,

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Journey to Aravaipa Canyon: Pioneers in the Territory of Arizona 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Babe lets go to res 3!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Locked on res 2 :( im really sorry.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good story behind mere newspaper and documents, showing the lives of two Territory of Arizona pioneers from Denmark. Heart wrenching stories of the family members and how they cope, from 1872 through the Depression.