Gila Valley History: James Andrew McBride Sr. and Elizabeth Clark McBride

Contributed Photo: James Andrew McBride and Elizabeth Clark McBride

By Edres Barney

James Andrew was born on 29 November 1840 in Crosswick, Warren, Ohio to William McBride and Elizabeth  Harris Ball Booram. The family went to Utah where they made their home in Santaquin for several years.  He met Elizabeth Clark who had been born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England in 1846 to Edward Watkins Clark, Sr., and Lucy Ashby, being the second of 10 children.  James and Elizabeth married in Santaquin on 16 February 1866.

The family arrived in Pima when the town was two years and 8 months old (Dec. 1881).  They had a good farm in the Matthewsville area, which James soon traded for a pair of horses and a wagon, enabling him to go into the freighting business. This vocation took him from here to Bowie and Willcox where he picked up assorted merchandise, hauling it to Globe.  In the beginning, rather than cash, his pay was in the form of merchandise from the mining company store.  Often, Elizabeth and their girls accompanied him on these trips, as they could make a better selection of clothing.  These company stores sold not only food and clothing but farm machinery, fencing wire, wagons, harnesses, etc.

With the production of copper, freighters hauled this to the railhead in Willcox, with payment in cash.  Now they had money to pay taxes, and the women could buy pretty things they could not get at the company store.  Thus was their life until the railroad was built from Bowie to Globe.  The McBride family went to Bisbee as it was flourishing.  All was well until James broke his leg.  As soon as he could get around on crutches, they returned to Pima. 

This was a true pioneer family – helping build schools and churches, and digging ditches and canals, all of which improved the infant community.  Their children were James Andrew Jr., William Edward, Don Carlos, Frank Ashby who died as a child, Sarah Elizabeth, Jessie Bert, Lucy Agnes, John Henry, Phebe Leila who also died as a child, Rolla, Susan Nellie (died at age 1) and Julia Ellise.  They have a great posterity from their nine children, many of who call the Gila Valley home.   James Andrew Sr. passed away on 22 Dec. 1922 and Elizabeth died on 26 Sep. 1935.  They both rest in the Pima Cemetery.

This and other individual and family histories may be found at the Eastern Arizona Museum Thursday-Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.