"He went to work for the Hashknives except that it wasnt the Hashknives any more"
Aztec Land & Cattle Company cow punchers, Holbrook, Arizona (c. 1877-89)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeAztec Land & Cattle Company cow punchers, Holbrook, Arizona (c. 1877-89) - Credit: Marion Doss

The third largest cattle company in North America, the Aztec Land and Cattle Company was better known as the Hashknife Outfit, because their brand resembled the old hash knives used by cattle camp cooks (see bookmark p.347).

The cowboys that worked on the ranch gained a reputation for lawlessness, with rustling, train robberies and gunfights prevalent in the Arizona area. In 1886 alone, there were twenty-six shooting deaths on the streets of Holbrook, home to only about 250 people at the time. The Hashknife cowboys were later immortalised in the novels of Zane Grey.

After a severe winter blizzard hit northern Arizona at the turn of the 20th century, killing thousands of Hashknife cattle, followed by a dramatic drop in cattle prices, the company began to liquidate its holdings. The ranch was sold to the Babbitt brothers of Flagstaff in 1901.

You can find out more about the Hashknife cowboys here.