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Southern Arizona’s Many Noons

Dr. Adolphus H. and Emma Slaughter Noon.

Dr. Adolphus H. and Emma Slaughter Noon.

Dr. Adolphus H. Noon arrived in Tucson in October 1879, with his oldest son Alonzo and a friend. Noon was looking for a place to settle, where he could set up a medical practice and also do some mining. To pay for the trip, he wrote articles for the Chicago Tribune, describing the business prospects in southern Arizona from Arivaca to Tombstone. “I breathe more freely in these mountains of Arizona,” Noon confided in his readers.

He located a homestead site about seven miles south of Arivaca near Oro Blanco and brought the rest of the family out including his wife Emma in 1880. They built an adobe house and office and Noon prospected and built his medical practice. He was elected recorder of the Oro Blanco Mining District and served as a notary public and a school trustee. He supported construction of the school building and assisted in attracting qualified teachers.

His five sons learned how to make adobes and build houses. Often Noon received cattle and chickens in payment for his medical services, so he developed a ranch. The boys learned to ride, rope and butcher, with all the accompanying skills of making ropes, leather work, and preserving meat.

The Noons’ daughter Sarah Elizabeth was born in 1883. Noon’s wife Emma brought an organ to Arizona and it provided entertainment and spiritual support during the hard times. Emma consoled other women who were homesick in the mining camps. She had been born into a pioneering South African family, originally from England, as was Adolphus.

The Noon family homesteaded as soon as possible, proving up in 1892. They planted trees, including a mulberry tree that is still there. The children attended the school at Oro Blanco, and each began to specialize in what they liked best, which turned out to be their life’s work.  Alonzo and Arthur were the ranchers of the family, but they also prospected. Alonzo married Annie McClenahan and they moved to Pena Blanca Canyon where Alonzo was the postmaster.

Subsequently they moved over the mountain to the east of Oro Blanco where Alonzo built an adobe house with rock chimney, the latter being all that is left in the canyon that bears its name.

Alonzo passed away in 1903. The second son, Adolphus S. Noon, became a master mechanic and a civil engineer. In the 1890s he moved to Nogales where he married Anna Menzel and had a blacksmith shop. He did the first restoration work on the Tumacacori Mission, using the adobe making skills he had developed as a boy back in Oro Blanco.

Arthur Noon prospected in Mexico before he took over the ranch in 1903.  He married Martha Clayton, who had come to teach in Oro Blanco. His descendents still own the family ranch and some of the mining claims.

The fourth son, Edward E. Noon, began work in a mine at the age of 14 and by the age of 19 was a shift boss at the Montana Mine. He studied mining engineering at the University of Arizona in 1895. He married Estelle Barnard and lived for many years in Mexico before returning to run the Yellow Jacket Mine and then moved to Nogales.

The fifth son, Samuel Frederick, taught himself law and passed the Arizona bar exam. He became the clerk of the court and later the Santa Cruz County attorney. He married Natalie Bonsall and they moved to San Diego where he practiced law.

Adolphus received most of his medical training through apprenticeships, only attending the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco for one year in order to receive a certificate and license. Formal education was emphasized, however, for the subsequent generations, and at one point the Noon family received an award for having more members attend the University of Arizona than almost any other family.

In the early 1890s the ranchers experienced their first bad drought. The 1870s and early 1880s had been a rainy period. During the panic of 1893, silver prices dropped drastically so that mining became unprofitable. So the elder Noon family moved to Nogales and Adolphus set up a medical practice.

Adolphus served on the first Board of Supervisors when Santa Cruz County was formed in 1899. He served as a representative to the Territorial Legislature in 1901 and as mayor of Nogales in 1910. The Noons were involved with the establishment of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. During this time he continued to practice medicine and retained his interest in the Oro Blanco mining district.

Emma Noon died in Nogales in 1917. Adolphus lived until 1931, practicing medicine almost until the day he died at the age of 94.

— Jane Eppinga. Photo courtesy Photo courtesy of Mary Noon Kasulaitis.

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