01. Maverick, The Long Hunt (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
02. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails
03. Google Maps, South Old Nogales Highway, Sahuarita, Arizona (retrieved November 19, 2014), maps.google.com
Cattle town in 1870s Arizona Territory.
Situated along the Bautista de Anza Trail between Tucson and Nogales, Arizona Territory. Named for its natural springs fed by the Santa Cruz River when rainfall is adequate, but are most usually dry due to the arid desert climate.
Ranching began to come into the area after the Civil War. Texas longhorns were brought into the grazing lands of the Santa Cruz Valley, mostly to provide beef to the many Army forts throughout the territory that had previously depended on faraway Texas cattle for their supply. By late 1871, a small town had sprung up to support the ranches growing in the area.
On May 8, 1872, four masked men robbed the bank in Dry Springs. During their getaway, the mask slipped off of one of the men's faces as he shot and killed the bank teller. His face had been seen by a few eye witnesses, but the fact that he shot with his left hand was even more significant.
The four men got away, but a search was conducted and Jedd Ferris, a local rancher, was suspicioned as one of the bandits. He and his wife Martha were newcomers in Dry Springs, and not yet well known. Townsfolk and other ranchers demanded swift justice, and the fact that Ferris was left-handed convinced many that he had been the man they had seen lose his mask.
Ben Maxwell, one of the masked men involved in the robbery, returned to Dry Springs for the trial out of curiosity. There, he met Martha Ferris, whom he immediately fell in love with. During the course of the trial, Maxwell believed Jedd Ferris would be convicted for the murder of the bank teller and hanged. He decided to by the nearby Rocking Star Ranch and establish himself as a respected neighbor, in hopes of winning Martha Ferris' love once her husband was out of the picture.
Shortly after the trial, territorial governor Anson P. K. Safford commuted Ferris' death sentence to life in prison. As long as her husband was still alive, Martha's faith in his innocence gave her hope that he would some day be released and return to her, so Maxwell's dream came to an apparent stand-still.
Even so, he made himself constantly available to Martha, helping out around the Ferris Ranch with chores and duties that Ferris could no longer provide. Martha became very fond and trusting of Maxwell, but as long as her husband lived, she couldn't give up hope that he would return to her some day.
In December of 1877, Bret Maverick tracked Whitey Brandon, one of the four bandits that robbed the bank in 1872, to the Rocking Star Ranch. Bret had at first believed Brandon was running for the Mexican border, but soon realized he was really trying to meet up with Maxwell, whom he had deduced was also one of the four bank robbers.
Bret managed to corner Brandon in the Rocking Star barn and was forcing him to sign a confession that would clear Ferris' name of the murder charge but before he could, Maxwell appeared and shot Brandon dead. He was about to do likewise to Bret, but Martha had brought the sheriff of Dry Springs to Maxwell's ranch just in time for him to shoot Maxwell before Maxwell could take a shot at Bret. As Maxwell lay dying, he asked for the letter of confession from Bret and signed it, clearing Jedd Ferris of the murder charge. Ferris was released from prison and returned to his wife in February of 1878.
Today, a retirement community is located on the original location of Dry Springs, and has been incorporated into the town of Sahuarito (now Sahuarita), Arizona.
See: The Long Hunt
ABOVE: South Old Nogales Highway, formerly the Bautista de Anza Trail, in Sahuarita, Arizona, looking east at East Quail Crossing Boulevard, leading to the former site of Dry Springs.
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