Ben Daniels (pioneer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ben Daniels
Benjamin Franklin Daniels 1852-1923 Portrait.jpg
Born November 4, 1852
Illinois, U.S.
Died April 20, 1923 (aged 70)
Madera Canyon, Arizona, U.S.
Buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Board of War.png United States Army
Years of service 1898
Rank Private
Unit Rough Riders

Gray County War

Spanish-American War

Other work Marshal, sheriff

Ben Daniels (November 4, 1852–April 20, 1923) was an Arizona pioneer, best known for serving as a marshal in rough Western towns and the sheriff of Pima County shortly before his death in 1923. He was also a member of the Rough Riders, superintendent of the Yuma Territorial Prison, and a successful businessman.[1][2][3]


Benjamin Franklin "Ben" Daniels had a rough childhood growing up in Illinois. He was born on November 4, 1852, to Aaron and Mariah Sanders, but lost his mother, two brothers, and four sister to cholera when he was still very young. Sometime in 1863 or 1864, when he was eleven-years-old, Ben moved with his father and stem-mother to Kansas. By the age of sixteen he was on his own, cowboying in Texas and working as a buffalo hunter in Kansas. After turning eighteen, Ben went up to Montana, where he made his "only recorded misstep" when he was convicted of stealing army mules and sentenced to three years in the penitentiary at Laramie, Wyoming.[1]

After getting out of prison, Ben stayed away from crime and eventually married, when he was in his mid-thirties. He also found work as a lawman, serving as a federal marshal under Bat Masterson in Dodge City, Kansas; as a deputy sheriff in Bent County, Colorado; as town marshal in Guthrie, Oklahoma; and as town marshal in Cripple Creek, Colorado.[1]

In the late 1880s, Ben became involved in the Gray County War, which was a dispute over the location of the Gray County seat in western Kansas. Ben was one of the lawmen who participated in the gunfight in Cimarron on January 12, 1889. At least one man was killed during the fighting and seven others wounded. Ben and a few of his partners shot their way out of town while the remaining four were besieged and eventually forced to surrender by the people of Cimarron, who had the lawmen surrounded in the Old Gray County Courthouse.[2][4][5]

Rough Riders[edit]

In 1898, Daniels got "caught up" in the "war fever" after the sinking of the battleship USS Maine off Havana, Cuba. Simultaneously, Colonel Leonard Wood and his second in command, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, were forming a cavalry composed of "rough riding Westerners" and were assembling the volunteers in San Antonio, Texas. After hearing about the new cavalry unit, Ben left his home in Colorado Springs and reported to San Antonio as a private assigned to the machine-gun crew in Troop K.[1]

The Rough Riders were then sent to Florida and shipped out to Cuba shortly thereafter. Ben's regiment fought in the Battle of Las Guasimas on June 24, 1898, and the Battle of San Juan Hill on July 1, and he was the only man in his company to survive the war without being killed or wounded.[1]

One Rough Rider said the following about Ben:

Life in Arizona[edit]

After the war ended, Ben went to Arizona, first Yuma and then to Nogales, where he had mining interests. He was also employed as a guard for Wells Fargo before being appointed United States Marshal of Arizona Territory by Theodore Roosevelt in 1901. According to the historian Jay W. Eby, the appointment created a "storm" among Arizona Republicans, who regarded it as an intrusion by the federal government into local politics, because Roosevelt was replacing a popular ex-territorial governor, Myron McCord, who had been appointed marshal by President William McKinley.[1]

Ben Daniels, c.1906

Soon after Ben was confirmed, word of his arrest for stealing mules and his three years in prison forced Roosevelt to ask for and accept his resignation. He was not completely abandoned by Roosevelt, however. In 1904, Roosevelt made Alexander Oswald Brodie the new territorial governor of Arizona. Bodie, who had also served in the Rough Riders, quickly appointed Ben to superintend the Yuma Territorial Prison. Two years later, Roosevelt again appointed Daniels as United States Marshal of Arizona Territory, again over "ferocious local opposition." After a delay of five months, Daniels finally won confirmation on April 25, 1906, with the help of Speaker of the House Joseph Gurney Cannon and testimony by Bat Masterson and another fellow Rough Rider, Senator Frederick Dodge.[1][2]

The victory did not last long, however. Soon after, Ben's wife died while visiting relatives in Kansas. That same year, the train robber Burt Alvord managed to escape from Ben's jurisdiction and flee to Mexico, damaging the latter's reputation. Alvord was never captured again and was last seen in Panama in 1910. Also that year, Ben was involved in the arrest and transfer to Mexico of some Partido Liberal Mexicano revolutionaries, after they were charged with violating American neutrality by using United States soil to launch attacks into Mexican territory. The rebels were executed by firing squad upon arrival in Mexico.[1]

Not long after Ben became the new marshal, a Prescott Federal Grand Jury indicted Bishop David King Udall of Apache County and several others on charges of polygamy, which was a violation of the Edmunds Act. It was Ben's job to serve Bishop Udall and the others, and he did so without incident. The bishop and the others went to Prescott and paid their fines of $100 and then went home.[1]

Another notable event in 1906 occurred shortly after the Great San Francisco Earthquake. Ben was escorting twenty-one Chinese deportees to a ship in San Francisco harbor when the train he was riding in struck a sinkhole and wrecked. He was lucky to be in the dining car finishing breakfast and was thrown about, but not injured. The car in which his deputies and the deportees were riding overturned and they were all injured to some extent. None were killed, but injuries to four of the Chinese were serious enough that they had to be carried away on stretchers.[1]

A few months after the end of Roosevelt's presidency, Ben was summoned to Washington D. C. and asked to resign so that President Woodrow Wilson could appoint one of his supporters. Ben was offered the position as Indian agent for the Menominee tribe in Wisconsin, but he chose to return to his business interests in Tucson. He built a home in Madera Canyon and lived there with his second wife, who he married in 1908. Ben remained active in politics and served as the sheriff of Pima County from 1920 to 1922. His wife was the Pima County Superintendent of Schools. After leaving office, Ben retired to Madera Canyon with his wife and died a year later on April 20, 1923. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson.[1][3][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Ben Daniels: Felon, Rough Rider and Arizona Marshal". Jay W. Eby. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  2. ^ a b c "Pvt Benjamin Franklin Daniels (1852-1923) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  3. ^ a b "Pima County Sheriff's Department: Keeping the Peace Since 1865". Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  4. ^ DeArment, Robert K. (2006). Ballots and Bullets: The Bloody County Seat Wars of Kansas. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0806137843. 
  5. ^ Patterson, Richard M. (1985). Historical Atlas of the Outlaw West. Big Earth Publishing. ISBN 0933472897. 
  6. ^ "Welcome to Friends of Madera Canyon - Cultural History". Retrieved 2014-03-08.