Courtesy Arizona Historical Society
The post office here opened in 1890 under
the name Turquoise and closed in 1894. Gleeson's post office was established October 15,
1900 and discontinued march 31, 1939. Originally named Turquoise and located a few miles
away, Gleeson was a town of about 500 people mining copper. In 1912 a fire burned down 28
buildings but the town was rebuilt. As the mines played out in 1940, Gleeson became the
semi-ghost it is today with a few residents still living there.
Mining of turquoise gave the place its
first name, and the post office from 1890 to 1894 was so named. John Gleeson
later mined here and by 1900 the new post office opened under that name. The
town suffered a devastating fire in 1912. An old newspaper clipping located at the
Arizona Historical Society from June 8, 1912 describes the $1000,000 fire.
"Deputy W. W. Gales, making his rounds before retiring for the night, noticed smoke
coming from a warehouse owned by B. A. Taylor, and gave the alarm by firing five shots as
he ran to the building. The fire spread rapidly, taking every building in the block
on both sides of the street. Some people, in view of the rapidity with which the
fire spread were confident that oil and matches had been used judiciously at various
Paramont Pictures filmed parts of the Zane
Grey novel "The Mysterious Rider" here.
The site of Turquoise was established by
Indians who mined the gemstones in the area later to be called Turquoise Mountain.
Later, Tiffany & Company acquired the mines, and the camp of Turquoise was
in 1890. The post office was discontinued four years later, to be reestablished in
1900 as Gleeson.
Although white men discovered copper, lead,
and silver in the area in 1870's, it wasn't until Courtland became a boom town, in 1909,
that Gleeson really bloomed. The town was named for an Irishman, John Gleeson, who
with his wife, had come to Arizona in the 1890's. Gleeson turned to mining in
Pearce, and he did some prospecting. In 1896 he discovered a copper claim near
Turquoise. The mine was a good producer. Water was in short supply, so the
camp of Turquoise was moved closer to a more adequate source of water and
Gleeson, in honor of the claim locator.
Several fires devoured Gleeson. The
most devastating of them burned twenty-eight buildings in June 1912. But the town was
rebuilt, and prospered, at least during the early years of the twentieth century.
Today Gleeson the remains of a school, the
Silver Saloon, "Kitty House" Yee Wee's Chinese Restaurant, a variety store, and
the jail, a duplicate of the one in Courtland.
Like the law enforcement officers in
Courtland, those in Gleeson had their problems with lawbreakers. Prior to building
the new jail, there had been a "jail tree", to which prisoners were chained.
At one time in Gleeson there was a jail made of wood. A Mexican who had been
incarcerated in it simply crawled out of the roof. The new jail proved to be
extremely well built and still stands today.
A few people still live in the area and
turquoise is still mined on a small scale.
Also, here is a photo of some of
the "locals" that can be seen loitering in the area. As you can
see these are some of the "bully" types to be found!