Stories of the Past Portal History - The Great Jailbreak!
EXCERPTS FROM THE CHIRICAHUA BULLSHEET
The Chiricahua Bullsheet, an entertaining and highly opinionated newsletter and journal of local history written by Carson Morrow
Courtesy of Dick Zweifel
Paradise began to boom when Cap Burns sold his mining claims, which were located at the head of the north fork of what is now called Hospital Canyon to the Chiricahua Development Company in 1903, and Busted during the Money Panic of 1907. The present jail was built at about the time of the Bust or a short time thereafter, so probably never housed more than a half dozen prisoners altogether. However, it was the scene of one of the most spectacular jail breaks on or off any record, anywhere, which was effected by an hombre by the name of Pablo Zuniga, who ordinarily was one of the most un-spectacular "pata de ules" who ever came up from Mexico. Pablo, in his own opinion was a man of considerable consequence and by Chiricahua Standards he was quite wealthy. He had about ten burros and pack saddles, a big fat wife and seven or eight kids, from about 10 years of age down. He could cut and pack into town a cord of wood every day which he could sell, at that time, for two good round American dollars.
Flour for tortillas and Frijoles were cheap so he would frequently get enough ahead to buy a few bottles of Vino and go on a spree. At such time he invariably wore out a few doubles of pack rope on Maria and the kids or striped them up pretty good with the "Tapejo" which he used at other times to whip the burros or to blindfold them if they tried to run away while he was stacking the wood. There was nothing wrong with that in his way of thinking, nor in the families way of thinking either. How were they to know that he was the "Macho" and that he truly loved them if he didn't beat hell out of them once in a while?
They all lived in a small tent with not many holes, had pretty fair clothing and led a happy life until one of the nosey gringo neighbors happened to go by while the Zuniga family was being set to rights and being assured of his undying love by their lord and master and that was the beginning of the end. The neighbor, not knowing that class of mexicans or their way of life, rushed to town and told Mart Moore, who succeeded Luke Short as Constable, that Pablo was beating his wife. Mart couldn't see anything very wrong with that as he had a mexican wife and three half breed kids himself. he had lived among them all his life and knew all their idiosyncrancies (boy, ain't that a dandy word). In fact he had shot and killed three wood cutters in a brawl in Ben Milams saloon not long before. But the complainant was so insistent that he went out and collared Pablo and threw him in the clink. Now Maria didn't understand gringos and their strange ways any better than the nosey neighbor understood Mexicans. Who ever heard of throwing the head of a family in jail for exercising his rights and attending to his duty? She took a big monkey wrench down to the jail and proceeded to twist the bars out of the window before Mart Moore hardly got the door in front locked.
That occurred in the middle of the afternoon. Anyone but Pablo would have waited until night to escape but he was still full of Vino and feeling "muy Bravo" so he crawled through the twisted bars and started climbing straight up the mountainside east of the jail. Evidently the further up the mountain he climbed the more brave he felt. When he got about half way to the top he stopped and started yelling and cursing all the gringos at large and Mart Moore in particular, inviting Mart to come and get him if he was man enough and not a damned coward. He was in plain view of practically everybody in town and his yelling soon afforded him a large audience. In the annals of jail breaking it is doubted that an escapee every had that many eye witnesses. Although he was in a position to see everything that moved in town he failed to see Mart saddling his horse and riding across the creek toward him and when he finally did, it was much too late. He climbed as he had never climbed before but the belly full of Vino slowed him up and Mart overtook him just before he topped out so he layed down on his back and defied anything or anybody in the world to take him back to jail. At first Mart whipped out his pistol, apparently with the full intention of putting Pablo out of business for keeps, but before he "lowered the Boom" he realized that he was in plain view of practically the entire population. Although Pablo was still "playing to the Grandstand", shouting and daring Mart to shoot him, it wasn't the right thing to do under the circumstances. Like we said before, Mart knew his Mexicans, so instead of shooting he put his pistol back in the holster, pitched the lop of his rope around Pablos feet and started dragging him down the mountain toward the Calaboose, a distance of two hundred yards or so.
Just like Mart knew he would, Pablo soon changed his tune and began begging, "Please shoot me like a man, don't drag me like a dog", the physical punishment of being dragged through the boulders on the seat of his pants wasn't what did it. He would have actually preferred being killed to the humiliation of being treated like anything less than the "Hombre Valiente" he felt himself to be at the moment.
So Mart let him get up and walk back to the jail where he was shackled to the "bull ring" embedded in the floor until he sobered up and promised to leave town. Prosecuting him for wife beating was out of the question as Maria absolutely refused to testify against him.