Books and Pamphlets About Jerome AZ’s History and Lifestyle

Some Jerome residents have written histories and pamphlets about Jerome in various juicy, quirky, glorious eras. But most go back, and back again, to the wicked mining days for inspiration and write about ghosts, bordellos and gunslingers, themes that mirror ones that many tourists are attracted to: Ghosts of Cleopatra’s Hill; Jerome Times: Ghosts Upon the Page, and the latest to come across my doorstep,The Ghost of the Cuban Queen Bordello and Rich Town, Poor Town: Ghosts of Copper’s Past. The founding members of the Jerome Historical Society had their fingers on a certain pulse of Jerome when they wrapped themselves up in sheets, called themselves spooks and grandly proclaimed “The Past is our Future.”

Jerome Spooks on Main Street in the nineteen fifties. Courtesy Jerome Historical Society

Jerome Spooks on Main Street in the nineteen fifties. Courtesy Jerome Historical Society

Here are my reading favorites about Jerome’s mining days.

Jerome’s Mining History

Herbert V. Young, who worked as a Secretary for William Andrews Clark, owner of the United Verde Copper Company, wrote two good ones: Ghosts of Cleopatra’s Hill and They Came to Jerome (Jerome Historical Society).



People interested in Jerome’s mining history should always start with these books first. Herb was still alive when I came to Jerome, a kindly old gentleman, who autographed his books for me. I refer to them so often that they’ve long since lost their bindings. He wrote about the men that became powerfully rich, the lawmen who tried to keep Jerome safe from considerable disorder and mayhem and Jerome’s ethnic diversity. Both books have great photos. The books are published by the Jerome Historical Society and are available to visitors at their Mine Museum and Gift Shop. Otherwise they can be ordered from Amazon.

An excellent book about the social and economic effects of Jerome’s mining’s decline is Eric L. Clements’ book, After the Boom in Tombstone and Jerome, Arizona: Decline in Western Resource Towns (University of Nevada Press, 2003). This meticulously researched book is about population shifts, the effect of economic downturn on wages, schools, churches, and so on.

Roberto Rabago, Rich Town Poor Town: Ghosts of Copper’s Past (MultiCultural Educational Publishing Company, Jerome, 2011)

The home on Cleopatra Hill that author It Roberto Rabago grew up in. Ohnly rubble remains. Photographer Bob Swanson captured it in full tilt in 1985.

The book cover for Rich Town Poor Town was the home on Cleopatra Hill that author Roberto Rabago grew up in. Only rubble remains. Photographer Bob Swanson captured it in full tilt in 1985.

A fascinating, barely masked fictional account, about the more brutal aspects of what it was like to live and work in Jerome during its mining days, particularly if you were Mexican. Rabago grew up there as the son of a miner. “Keep in mind that the world of Jerome a century ago was a completely different world than today’s world. Then, there were no labor unions, no Fair Labor Standards Act, no OSHA, no antidiscrimination laws, no welfare, no worker’s compensation, no minimum wage, no unemployment insurance, on and on. Neither did a world of independent law and justice exist, because the all powerful mining companies were not restrained in any way by the regulations and laws that did exist. The mining companies were the law.” As a child, Rabago loved growing up in Jerome. But as he matured and heard stories from family and friends, he came to characterize Jerome as a penal colony—a remote town that was difficult to get to and equally difficult to leave. If you had a job in Jerome, you toed the line. The mining companies controlled all aspects of life. And should the miners rebel, the guns came out. The stories are plainly told and speak of pain and suffering within the families. .

Ghost of the Cuban Queen Bordello by Peggy Hicks (self-published 2011) is a meticulously researched book about one of Jerome’s most famous mining day madams who established the upscale Cuban Queen Bordello. The book was inspired by Peggy’s ghostly encounter outside of the old building.

Hard to top a tale that includes  bordellos, ghosts, famous madam, Jelly Roll Morton , and the kidnapping of a child.

Hard to top a tale that includes bordellos, ghosts, famous madam, Jelly Roll Morton , and the kidnapping of a child.

Like an old fashioned sleuth, Hicks follows the “Queen’s” life through the bordellos of New Orleans (the Queen called herself Juanita Gonzales then) to Las Vegas, where she meets and marries the legendary jazz pianist, Jelly Roll Morton (renaming herself Anita Morton or Anita Gonzales), to their brief high life in Los Angeles, to Jerome where she becomes Annie Johnson. There the story becomes more twisted when Annie Johnson falls in love with a handsome Irish miner, Jack Ford and ends by fleeing with him and kidnapping the four-year old son of a woman that had worked for her to Canyonville, AZ. It’s the stuff of movies and it is Peggy’s wish to interest some movie mogul to take on this wild tale. She’s already made a 15 minute documentary that won an award an an indie film festival in Jerome, Arizona see . The book is available at Arizona Discoveries in Jerome or at Amazon:

Dedman, Bill and Paul Clark Newell, Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. New York City, NY: Ballantine Books, 2013.

For Jerome historians, the most interesting and valuable segment of Empty Mansions is the 125 pages or so (almost a third of the book) devoted to William Andrews Clark, Huguette’s father. In my opinion, this segment is the single best biography yet written about William Andrews Clark—from his birth to a not so poor family, to his education, growth of his business empire, the building of his mansion in New York, and the dissolution the mansion and sale of the United Verde mine. The book offers a much more complex and interesting portrait of him than the one of Huguette. The segment on William Andrews Clark includes eighteen pages of rich new information about the battles between Marcus Daly (owner of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company) and Clark for control of political power in Butte.  These include debunking some of the allegations of Clark’s bribery for the United States Senate and its aftermath, which included the Daly camp’s bribery of some of the Montana legislators that had initially voted for Clark to recant their testimony. Clark eventually resigned in the swirl of controversy, then was reappointed to fill the vacancy.

The book also debunks the veracity of Mark Twain’s now famous and oft-quoted excoriation of William Andrews Clark.  “He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag.” (It goes to show that negative accusations always stay more firmly in the mind that positive ones, especially when they are well-written.) Turns out Twain had been saved from bankruptcy and was a close friend of Henry Huttleston Rogers, CEO of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, the company which took over Daly’s Anaconda Copper, a fabulous stock swindle story all on its own.

For Railroad Buffs

If you are a railroad buff and want to know about railroads that supported Jerome, then you read Russell Wahmann’s books. Wahmann was a volunteer archivist for the Jerome Historical Society in the early 1980’s. He loved railroads. The first book he put together was an Auto Road Log that followed the 26-mile route of the Narrow Gauge Railway from Jerome, Arizona to Chino Valley.

Then he wrote Narrow Gauge: the United Verde And Pacific Railway, which gives a historical perspectives about what Wahmann calls ‘this noble little railway” that had such a dramatic effect in ensuring the wealth of the United Verde Mine.

Russ’s book Verde Valley Railroads: Trestles, Tunnels and Tracks, written in collaboration with Robert des Granges, describes all the railroads that supported Jerome, AZ’s mining efforts.


There are a few other books about Jerome’s mining days out there, but these are my personal favorites.

Post 1953: Growth of Modern Jerome

Although magazine articles abound about Jerome, few books and pamphlets exist on what happened when the mines reduced Jerome to a virtual ghost city.

Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City by Diane Sward Rapaport, was published by Johnson Books (Big Earth Publishing) in Spring 2014. It is the first book to chronicle how a dilapidated and virtual ghost town became one of Arizona’s art centers and celebrated destination resort.

Diane Sward Rapaport's history of Jerome. Arizona after 1953

The first history of Jerome. Arizona after 1953.

“Rapaport’s book captures the quirky strategies undertaken by those who stayed so they could continue living in the place they called home…Home Sweet Jerome is a book for all who love to read about real people and their foibles, often in their own words. It’s a book for history buffs who are interested in alternate endings. And it’s a book for people who love landscape and place…The stories are fascinating.”—Pat Bean, Story Circle Book Reviews

Ballad of a Laughing Mountain, written by Richard Snodgrass, and photographed by Art Clark (Counterpoint Productions 1957) contains mostly photographs and captions, but it absolutely captures the look and feel of Jerome in its ghost town days in the fifties. A rickity, poor town on the side of a mountain.


Jerome Times: Ghosts Upon the Page by Terry Molloy (self-published, 2005) is a collage of poetry and short tales. It contains one chapter that is personal memoir and history. Molloy’s chapter, “The White Ship” provides the best glimpse into what Jerome was like in the late sixties when Terry moved there and his life as a hippie. The rest of the book navigates some very imaginative shoals as he relates stories that are more mythology than history about old timers, madams and outcasts living in various eras of Jerome. More than a third of the book are poems that reach into Terry’s surreal encounters with himself, characters in Phoenix/Tempe, lost love and so on.

Illustration by Gary Fife

Illustration by Gary Fife

The title of Terry’s book derives from a series of 12 magazines published in the 1980’s called “The Jerome Times,” that were edited by Terry. The magazine’s covers were one of its true treasures. Gary Fife, publisher and art director concocted images of Jerome as a marina, A T-Base Space Launch in front of Jerome’s open pit, Jerome as a Buddhist temple, and so on.

The Birds of Jerome by Jo Van Leeuwen, self-published, characterizes and illustrates the seasonal birds that have come to live in Jerome after the fifties. Before then, Jerome and the mountains surrounding the town, were denuded of trees and other vegetation. What might have been left was killed in the sulfurous fogs of the smelters. New residents planned fruit trees, pines, flowers and vegetables. The town came back to life; and the birds followed. Joey’s backyard arboretum has almost as many species of tees as there are birds of Jerome. In the evening, Joey sits on the back porch with his binoculars and watches the birds feast on a smorgasbord of fruits, berries and nuts. A few stores carry this book in Jerome, notably the connor Hotel Bookshop; the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum and the Wary Buffalo. You could send Joey $15 postage to Box 395, Jerome, AZ 86331.



1 thought on “Books and Pamphlets About Jerome AZ’s History and Lifestyle

  1. Mention of law enforcement made me recall a story I read in Bisbee, where I served after Jerome. A police officer moved from Jerome to Bisbee shortly after another Jerome officer was found at the bottom of the long steps that run aside the New State building (from downtown to the Mexican Gulch), with a knife in his back. Seems the surviving officer had a reputation of being prejudiced and particularly brutal with the Mexican population. A note was pinned with a knife in the back of the dead officer that read something like, “Esta el incorrecto hombre’. Mexican Gulch residents, particularly the Chinese laundries, reported seeing the ghost of a policemen wandering that dark lane for some time thereafter. The Bisbee officer, according to the story I read, was attacked in the alley behind “La Mina” one night, and left town for California without even collecting his last check.


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