Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Neilsen Shares Bonita, “Buffalo Soldier” History

BISBEE, AZ – The National Park Service’s Kathrine Neilsen, stationed at Bonita Canyon/Chiricahua National Monument, will make a special appearance at the Copper Queen Library on July 15 at 5:30 p.m. to reenact scenes from the life of Mrs. Flora Cooper, wife of “Buffalo Soldier” 10th Cavalry “H Troop” Captain Charles L. Cooper as she and her family prepare to leave Bonita Canyon for the last time in 1885.

Throughout the ages, Bonita Canyon has served as home to prehistoric peoples, Apaches, homesteaders, miners, the Buffalo Soldiers, the Civilian Conservation Corps and, most recently, the National Park Service (NPS). Since their arrival, NPS scientists have prepared fascinating studies of life over time in the Canyon.

For example, following the Civil War, African American soldiers who remained in the United States Army were organized into segregated units, including the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments. Troops E, H, and I of the 10th Regiment established a semi-permanent camp in the Chiricahuas in 1885-1886 called Camp Bonita. This camp has been excavated and documented within the park at Bonita Canyon.

While most locals associate the 10th Cavalry “Buffalo Soldiers” with Fort Huachuca, in 1885 a temporary camp of the 10th Cavalry was also stationed in Bonita Canyon to protect the locals, guard the U.S. Mail, and keep Apaches away from watering holes.

Captain Charles H. Cooper commanded “H Troop,” and his wife and teenaged daughter lived with him in the little two-room cabin that would later become Fawaway Ranch.

Using NPS archeology and the memoirs of the Cooper’s daughter to give insight into life at Bonita Canyon, Neilsen presents her program costumed as Mrs. Cooper, remembering her life among the “Buffalo Soldiers” and packing her trunk yet again to leave Bonita Canyon for the journey to their next assignment.

These free program, held in the Library Meeting Room, is sponsored by the City of Bisbee and the Friends of the Copper Queen Library.

For further information about this or any library program or event, please contact the library at 432-4232.