Gold Strike! In 1862 gold was found along the Colorado River. Miners from all around came to the area in search of riches. One of those was Henry Wickenburg who discovered the Vulture Mine. The Henry Wickenburg Home is located in Wickenburg on Washington Street just south of Wickenburg Way. The original structure was a three-room adobe which was heated by a wood burning stove. The original structure remains intact today. A kitchen was added by John Boetto in 1915, two years after his purchase of the property.
Henry Wickenburg was born on November 21, 1819, in Holsterhausen, Essen, Germany. According to most accounts, Henry Wickenburg arrived in New York in 1847. He worked for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, as a fireman, on a ship called “The Cortes” (aka Cortez). In 1853, Henry Wickenburg was naturalized in San Francisco. The Naturalization documents were destroyed by the San Francisco earthquake, but early census records make note of the event. Henry Wickenburg recorded his Declaration of Intention in 1877.
Thomas E. Farish, State Historian in 1915, stated that Henry Wickenburg may have come into, what later became Arizona Territory, as early as the 1850′s. He notes that Henry Wickenburg was driving wagons for the U.S. Government in Tucson in 1862, prior to the onset of the Civil War. It was in October of 1863 that Henry Wickenburg was credited with the discovery of the famous Vulture Mine. Some of Henry’s former partners sued for possession, but were unsuccessful. Later, Henry sold a portion of his mine to a N.Y. firm, but was swindled out of the majority of its proceeds.
Henry Wickenburg had a number of homes. The first was called the Tunnel House, and was located next to the Hassayampa River. The area was called the “‘Pumpkin Patch” because the Indians grew produce there. Henry claimed this fertile spot for his own. Henry also built a home at the Vulture Mine and then another home, called the”1864″ house, that was located near, but not connected to, the Tunnel House. There is a postcard showing the 455 Tegner home. Henry also lived in a rental that was situated along the railroad tracks (Brown), and then built his last documented home in 1903, located at 225 S. Washington Street, which is now known as the Henry Wickenburg/John Boetto home.
Henry Wickenburg was an accomplished gentleman. He was a member of the 7th Territorial Legislature in 1873. There he served on the claims committee, roads and ferries committee and the mines committee. He was president of the mining district, an inspector for the schools, donated land for the first church in Wickenburg, was a census taker, Justice of the Peace, a judge, and he also served on the coroner’s panel.
Henry Wickenburg provided an easement to the railroad so that “mass transit” could come into the area. He also helped to finance Jack Swilling’s “Ditch Project”, which later became known as the Salt River Project. This foresight on their behalf led to the development of Phoenix.
Henry Wickenburg died in 1905. In 1907, John and Mary Boetto arrived in Wickenburg and later purchased the house and 17 acres of land. John Boetto purchased the house and land for $2,500. John Boetto, like Henry Wickenburg, was in the mining business. The Boetto family owned The Henry Wickenburg Home for over 80 years. In 2000, the house was sold to the Town of Wickenburg. In 2006, the Town of Wickenburg auctioned off the property to WHPS for a $1,000 bid, plus closing costs.
The Henry Wickenburg Home was in need of extensive repair. The Wickenburg Historical Preservation Society restored the home and it is now open for tours by appointment. The Henry Wickenburg Home was the recipient of a Heritage Fund Grant from Arizona State Parks and was named Project of the Year. Please call 928-684-5603 to schedule a tour or come on by after the Gold Rush Parade in February where The Henry Wickenburg Home will be open from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Henry Wickenburg Home is also open from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. during Gold Rush week.
Chronology of Development / Alterations
1879 – Property deed signed by Rutherford B. Hayes grants 160 acres of land to Henry Wickenburg, some of which becomes the main part of the Town of Wickenburg and includes the site of the Henry Wickenburg Home.
1903 – Henry Wickenburg Home construction. Henry Wickenburg initiates a deed leaving Helene Holland his estate upon his death1905 – On May 14th Henry Wickenburg was found dead near the house.
1909 – After Mr. & Mrs. Holland divorce, the land is deeded to Helene Holland (Streithz) and her new husband Gus A. Streitz.
1912 – Gus & Helene Streitz sold the house to George Ward and Arthur Greenleaf.
1913 – The house was sold to John Boetto by Arthur and Virginia Greenleaf. Additions were constructed onto the original 3-room adobe house They include a kitchen at the southeast corner; and a porch and bathroom at the northwest corner. All additions were completed by the Boettos in 1915 (per local newspaper articles). No improvements were made after 1935, per Sanborn Fire Map.
1945 – Mrs. John (Mary) Boetto died in the home.
1955 – Anthony (Tony) Boetto, the only child of John & Mary Boetto, died on October 9, 1955.
1956 – Laurel B. (Bonnie) Boetto, wife of John Boetto’s son, Tony Boetto, obtains half ownership in the Boetto house upon Anthony’s death.
1957 – John Boetto died on February 8, 1957. The Henry Wickenburg Home remained in the family through transfer to Laurel Boetto, upon John Boetto’s death. The property included the home at 225 South Washington on .86 acres of land.
2000 – A representative for Laurel Boetto sells the home to the Town of Wickenburg.
2006 – The Town of Wickenburg sold the Henry Wickenburg Home to the Wickenburg Historical Preservation Society.