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Biography of James Pennington

James Pennington, familiarly known as “Old Pennington,” was also one of the pioneers of Arizona. The Pennington family consisted of James Pennington, his wife and five children, three daughters and two sons. They moved from Tennessee into Texas, and from thence pushed westward through New Mexico into Arizona and settled upon the Sonoita near Fort Buchanan in the year 1857 or 1858. During the time of the abandonment of the country by the Americans “he occupied,” says Ross Browne, “a small cabin three miles above the Calabasas, surrounded by roving bands of hostile Indians. He stubbornly refused to leave the country; said he had as much right to it as the infernal Indians, and would live there in spite of all the devils out of the lower regions. His cattle were stolen, his corrals burned down, his fields devastated; yet he stood it out to the last. At times when hard pressed for food, he would go out in the hills for deer, which he packed in on his back at the risk of his life.”

Frequently, in his absence, his daughters stood guard with guns in their hands, to keep off the Indians who besieged the premises. About this time, Miss Lucera S. Pennington, was married to a Mr. Paige, and was living with her husband in a canyon where she was captured by a roving band of Indians, together with a little girl about ten years of age, said to be a Mexican, and who it is said, afterwards became the wife of the late Charles A. Shibell of Tucson. Mrs. Paige, not being able to keep up with the Indians on their trip over the mountains, one of them ran a lance through her and threw her over a bluff upon a pile of rocks, and supposed he had killed her, as was his intention, but after several days and nights of suffering, she succeeded in getting to where she was recognized, cared for and saved. Her first husband was afterwards killed by Indians. She lived for several years in the vicinity of Camp Crittenden, which was established later near Fort Buchanan, and her father teamed and ranched some on the Sonoita. In 1869, Old James Pennington and his son, Green, were ambushed and killed by the Apaches, and both were buried at Crittenden. Another son named James was killed later by the Apaches. The remainder of the Pennington family moved to Tucson in 1870, and, it is said, returned to Texas, all except Mrs. Paige, who met William F. Scott, at Tucson, and married him. She raised a family of two daughters and one son and died in Tucson March 31, 1913, and was there buried.

“Old Man” Pennington, the head of the family was described as a man of excellent sense, but rather eccentric; large and tall, with a fine face and athletic frame, he presented a good specimen of the American frontiersman. One of the principal streets in Tucson is named for him. This is about all that is known of the Pennington family.

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