Gleeson GPS coordinates: 31°43'55.43N -- 109°49'45.81"W Heading south from the Store and Cottages on Ghost Town Trail, keep to the right when you come to the intersection. Ghost Town Trail will dead-end at Gleeson Road in about three miles. Turn right onto Gleeson Road, and go about a mile to High Lonesome Road. Turn left, and the Gleeson jail is immediately on your right.
Gleeson was first known as Turquoise because of the mining of turquoise. The post office from 1890 to 1894 was so named.
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 established 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 copper and staked a 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 re-named Gleeson, in honor of the claim locater.
By 1900 the new post office opened under the name of Gleeson. The town suffered a devastating fire in 1912. An old newspaper clipping located at the Arizona Historical Society from June 8, 1912 describes the $100,000 fire. "Deputy W. W. Cates, 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 locations. But the town was rebuilt, and prospered, at least during the early years of the twentieth century.
Gleeson also had all the amenities of a "big city." There were hotels, mercantiles, a movie theatre, roller skating rink, a state-of-the-art hospital, and even a Chinese restaurant, owned by Yee Wee.
Along with Pearce and Courtland, Gleeson suffered the loss of able bodied men when, in 1917, the USA became involved in World War I. The Spanish Flu pandemic in the last quarter of 1918 did not leave Gleeson exempt, and the mines played out in the early 1920s. Folks moved on to other jobs, and buildings were either moved to new homesteads in the valley, torn down, or otherwise destroyed.
In 1938, Paramont Pictures filmed parts of the Zane Grey novel "The Mysterious Rider" here.
Today in Gleeson, you can still see the remains of a school, the Bono Store, a variety store, the hospital, and the jail, which is a duplicate of the one in Courtland.
Like the law enforcement officers in Courtland, those in Gleeson had their problems with lawbreakers. Guns were outlawed in Tombstone, so the rabble-rousers would come over to Gleeson on the weekends. The original jail was a large oak tree that still stands today, to which prisoners were chained. Then a wood shack with a tin roof was erected to serve as the jail. A "guest" who had been incarcerated in it simply pushed the tin up and crawled out of the roof. The current jail, built in 1910, proved to be extremely well built and still stands today as a museum, open to the public on the first Saturday of each month.
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