Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Old Hermit

The subject of my poem today (Elisha Reavis) was a real person who lived (1827-1896) in Arizona’s harsh Superstition Mountains at a time before the area became a state. The Apache Indians considered it their land and were a constant threat.

They gave the “Old Hermit” a wide berth because of their fear of his rifle. He was regarded as an excellent marksman.  In addition to the Indian treat, he faced a very harsh dry environment with summer temperatures well over 100 degrees F.

Despite the unfavorable conditions, Elisha was able to garden farm about 20 acres on which he planted apple trees and grew various vegetables. Mules helped him with the physical task of preparing the land. He used pack mules to take his produce to nearby local towns to sell and create an income. 

It was on one of his trips to town that he died at nearly 70 years of age. His body was found badly ravished by either wildlife or his own dogs. His near-starved mules were tied nearby. His remains were buried in a nearby Indian ruins because that was the only place where the ground was soft enough to dig.

The photo, found on the internet, was probably the quality of the day. Enjoy the poem . . . .


In the early 1800’s he (Elisha) joined this world in style
Grew up, got educated and, even taught for a while
Then the gold fever struck him with all its zest
He packed up his belongings and headed out west

California was where he landed and worked a gold claim
But for him, a “49’er-type” gold strike was not in the game
He had a wife and new daughter, which he left behind
As Arizona became his new search for gold to be mined

They called him the “Old Hermit”, the name fit him well
As deep in the Superstition Mountains he did dwell
An extremely hostile environment to say the least
A challenge to survive for both man and beast

There’s no pay for “hunting” gold and man must eat
So he gardened, planted fruit trees; shot wildlife for meat
Fruit and veggies he regularly took by pack-mule to town
Selling to townsfolk; then back to his ranch before sundown

No one knows when or, if ever, he had a clean shave
And when it came to bathing, the water he choose to save
Many landmarks bear his last name “Reavis” to this day
He truly became a legend in his own time, in his own way

                                          Poem by Herm Meyer


In today’s world, Reavis Ranch is the destination of a serious hike. The short hike is 16.1 miles and the longer one is 24.5 miles . . . . in and out. They can be done as a day hike, but a stay overnight at the ranch may be better. Apple trees are still growing there and it is a favorite hike for the hardy to go into the ranch for apples.

I have personally made the hike in the fall for apples. I had so many apples in my backpack that the trip out was extremely difficult! I spent the night there and I remember that we had water that came from a pipe that probably Elisha Reavis had driven into a spring source.

An interesting note to the saga of Reavis is the fact that he had a library of books unequaled in the Arizona territory at the time. . . He liked to read!

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