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Mon Oct 1, 2012, 10:52 PM

Diary of George Hand circa 1870s

got this in an e-mail with no source so not sure about copyright stuff, can edit or delete as advised.



This photo (circa 1870s) looks south down Meyer Street. George Hand’s saloon once occupied the second building on the right.
Inside, the saloon was spartan: a wooden slab for the bar and several tables and chairs. Hand had sent off for a few Currier & Ives prints for the walls, which from time to time he whitewashed. In later years, Hand and Foster put up a partition to separate the main bar from occasional gambling (card games such as monte and faro) in the back.

As noted in his diary, one morning he simply had cucumbers; another morning baked beans; on another, somewhat more sumptuous, it was breaded tripe and fried mush with beans and eggs.

Given the dual culture of Tucson, national holidays of both the United States and Mexico often were celebrated, as convenient. One Sept. 15, Hand wrote: “Celebration of Mexico’s independence. Flags from both countries flew, and July 4 ceremonies were observed, too. Lots of fireworks, horse races.”

Hand was big on flying his American flag outside the saloon, for almost any occasion. He hoisted the stars and stripes to observe the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans; the passing of Andrew Jackson; the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Va., in 1781; and on March 7, 1878, he penned: “Got up early. I raised the flag in honor of the birthday of a celebrated old pisser named George Hand — 48 years old. A few less than 3,000 people have asked why the flag is up, but they all went away as wise as they came — I am celebrating this day by myself.”

For diversion, Hand occasionally availed himself of the few forms available. One day he attended a bullfight; another day he went to watch knives being sharpened for the afternoon cockfight; one day a circus came to town, and he noted, “I was foolish enough to be found there myself.”

Another form of diversion was the red-light district on what was known as Maiden Lane (today’s west Congress Street). When Hand paid a visit he usually made short notes in his diary such as, “Big Refugia — $2.00,” and “Jesús — $5.00” (Jesús was also a woman’s name).

Along with recreation, Hand also observed a great deal of sadness, usually occasioned by disease. In the late 1870s, more than 200 people in town died of smallpox, many of them children. On a May 22 he wrote, “People formed a procession and marched from the church, singing and praying to the Patron Saint to stay the ravages of the fever now killing children every day.”

It was sad, but most people took it as a fact of life, as Hand did when he penned, “Fred Eland died this morning of lung fever. He swelled up and turned black in a short time.” Hand and Foster got out of the saloon business in 1881, and Hand, relatively old by the standards of the time, took a job as janitor in the county courthouse. People took to calling him captain, for his time in the Army (he had been a sergeant), and he remained a colorful character until he died, possibly of heart disease.

His headstone, in the Grand Army of the Republic section of Evergreen Cemetery, acknowledges his existence, but not nearly so well as his years of daily recollections in print.


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Reply Diary of George Hand circa 1870s (Original post)
Kali Oct 2012 OP
Drale Oct 2012 #1
Kali Oct 2012 #2
MiddleFingerMom Oct 2012 #3

Response to Kali (Original post)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 11:22 PM

1. Interesting

I found this on Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Whiskey-Six-Guns-Red-Light-Ladies/dp/0944383246
I might see if I can get it from the library, this sounds like an interesting subject.

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Response to Drale (Reply #1)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 11:25 PM

2. one of the Tombstone papers used to run

an old journal, but I can't remember which paper it was or who the author was. Same time period for the original journal, but ran in the paper mid to late 90's I'm thinking.

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Response to Kali (Original post)

Fri Oct 5, 2012, 05:33 AM

3. I worked my way through divinity school as a $2 prostitute named Refugia.

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