Monday, February 25, 2008

Helen Corbin

Feburary 25, 2008 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Helen Corbin was born on January 29, 1931, in Philadelphia, Pa., and many of her friends believe she was born with the determination to be successful in life no matter what goal she chose.

You would call Helen a very dedicated and conservative American. Her country meant everything to her. She supported law enforcement all her life and with all her heart. From the time she arrived in Arizona she was a strong advocate of law and order. Her husband, Robert K. Corbin, served as Maricopa County attorney and also as attorney general of Arizona.

Helen began her professional career in Arizona as editor of the Arizona County Attorney’s and Sheriff’s magazine. She won several awards from the National and Arizona Association of Press Women for her work with the magazine. Helen and Bob Corbin became friends with many of the sheriffs of Arizona counties. She edited the magazine for several years and had an impeccable reputation of honesty, integrity, and tenacity.

Bob and Helen were married in 1959 and after arriving in Arizona it wasn’t long before they started hiking into the Superstition Mountains. She visited Ed Piper’s camp near the base of Superstition Mountain in 1960. The trip and the stories Bob brought home from his many experiences in the mountains kept Helen very interested in the history of the area.

Bob Corbin believed in and hunted the Lost Dutchman’s mine most of his life. He loved his trips into the Superstition Wilderness Area with various friends looking for the old Dutchman’s Mine. Bob and I spent almost 20 years making trips in the Superstition Wilderness Area. I was following a dream and Bob was searching for a lost mine.

Often Bob would come home to Helen with stories about his searches and the many characters he met. Helen began to assemble these stories and to write them down. Eventually these stories became a book. Her first book about the lost gold of Superstition Mountain was The Curse of the Dutchman Mine published in 1990. This book was followed by Senner’s Gold in 1993. Helen believed when she wrote The Bible of the Lost Dutchman Mine and Jacob Waltz in 2002, she had written the final book on the subject. Her book The Bible of the Lost Dutchman Mine and Jacob Waltz contained copies of documents about the Dutchman’s Lost Mine that had never been published before. Such documents as the Olber’s ship’s manifest with Jacob Waltz[’s] name on it. This document also provided Waltz’s date of crossing the Atlantic Ocean and his port of arrival in America. The port was New Orleans and the date was November of 1839.

Another important document in Helen’s book was the Peeples-Weaver Party’s Expedition Manifest that included Waltz’s name again. This document provided proof of when Waltz arrived in the Prescott area of the Bradshaw Mountains in 1863. The party first panned and worked placer gold along Lynx Creek near what is known today as Walker.

Helen’s chronicling of Waltz’s arrival in America and accurately documenting information related to Waltz between 1839 and the time of his death on October 25, 1891, was a milestone in the story of the Dutchman’s Lost Mine. This work provides future historians with well documented facts about this obscure Arizona pioneer.

Helen’s research and documentation has provided a link between yesteryear and today not well understood before her book. Historians in the future will have Helen Corbin to thank because she provided the information that will help them to continue researching the topic.

Over the years, her husband met many advocates of the infamous Dutchman story and provided Helen with much of the material needed to put her books together. Helen Corbin’s legacy will be that of a wife, mother, grandmother, author and an American patriot who met a major challenge in life and overcame it. Those of us who knew her understood the enormous odds she had to overcome to accomplish the task of writing about the Dutchman’s Lost Mine and the Superstition Mountains. She has certainly left an imprint on [the] history of the American Southwest.

Helen visited Apache Junction on many occasions. She also joined book signing parties on several occasions at museums and bookstores in the Apache Junction area. Many people in Apache Junction and Gold Canyon met or knew Helen Corbin. She certainly will be missed by many friends in the area.

Helen Corbin passed away at her home near Walker, Ariz., on Saturday, January 26, 2008.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Special Valentine

February 11, 2008 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

We all go through life either with a partner or looking for one. I met my partner in 1959, while I was working at the Quarter Circle U Ranch. 

Sharon and Tom Kollenborn

It was certainly a primitive life at the time, punching cows for William T. Barkley. We had few of the amenities associated with modern life; it was like living back in the 1880s. I was often isolated from civilization because of road condition[s] or no vehicle to drive. Early in May of 1959, I was severely injured by a really mean range bull. I spent about 60 days in the old Southside Hospital at Hibbert and Main streets in Mesa. When I was released from the hospital I returned to the ranch.

The Barkleys had no real use for an injured cowboy who couldn’t work, and it required almost a year for me to recover from various surgical procedures associated with my injuries.

Around October of that year, I met a beautiful beautician named Sharon Jarvis who worked at Ann’s Beauty Shop in Mesa. It wasn’t love at first sight, but it was friends at first sight. As I slowly recovered from my injuries, Sharon was there to be my friend. After I healed a little we began to hike the many trails in the Superstition Wilderness. Sharon became “My Valentine” for the first time [on] February 14, 1960. We were married on June 23, 1961.

Sharon and I fell in love while wandering the trails of the Superstition Wilderness Area almost 50 years ago. My father always said I would be rewarded by the mountain in some way. As it turns out, it required me almost fifty years to realize the real treasure he was talking about. I should have recognized this treasure 50 years ago, but I didn’t.

As Valentine’s Day approaches I reminisce just how much I love my wife. I know you are sitting there and wondering how I can make this a story about the Superstition Mountains. Believe me I can.

Sharon has always been devoted to me. She has loved me with all her heart and provided me with a safe haven from the troubles of the world. She was a fine mother for our two children. Our children never wanted for love or material things growing up. She was always there for them. Today we are still together and deeply in love. She is certainly my wonderful Valentine and I am so lucky to have her.

I promised you I would make this a Superstition story. When Sharon and I got married we didn’t have much money. We probably didn’t have $20 between us. I told her I was going on a hike into the Superstition Mountains with a couple of Dutch hunters on the July 4 weekend. She asked to make the trip with us. I explained to her it would be hot; there would be rattlesnakes, and a very rough trail. We planned on hiking up over Miner’s Needle Summit then down into La Barge Canyon. We then planned on following La Barge Canyon to Canyon Lake. One of the hikers, Ronnie, had arranged for his brother to pick us up at Canyon Lake about 7 p.m. This was a one-day planned hike. Sharon and I were both 23 years old and in great shape. I had fully recovered from my injuries received at the Quarter Circle U Ranch.

Sharon, Ronnie, his cousin and I began our hike at 4 a.m. on July 4, 1961. Ronnie and his cousin were convinced the Lost Dutchman Mine was located somewhere along the route we planned to hike, but they provided me with no information. We arrived in Miner’s Needle Summit by 7 a.m. and could tell it was going to be a warm day. We hiked over to Bluff Springs trough and then down Bluff Springs Canyon to La Barge Canyon. We arrived at La Barge Canyon by 9 a.m. and continued on down the canyon toward Music Springs and Charlebois Springs. We found plenty of water that July. If we hadn’t, we would have certainly perished in 109 degree temperatures.

Sharon kept up with me and was determined to be no problem. Actually she was never a problem on the hike. I really admired her tenacity. I knew I had married the right woman who was truly my “Valentine” forever.

We crossed Marsh Valley and moved down La Barge Canyon toward the Lower Box. We also found plenty of water in the Lower Box of La Barge Canyon. Ronnie was growing extremely fatigued from the hot temperatures. As we emerged from the Lower Box of La Barge Canyon, Ronnie told me he had a heart condition. We still had three miles to go before we reached Canyon Lake. He complained of chest pains and said we had to rest.

We rested for about an hour in the shade at Chuck Aylor’s old camp in La Barge Canyon. We then hiked on down La Barge to the confluence of Boulder Canyon. As we approached the first signs of water from Canyon Lake we realized we would have to climb another mountain to arrive at the Apache Trail. We were sitting around debating whether or not to swim about a half mile along the shore to save climbing another mountain.

Sharon finally looked at us, said goodbye and started hiking toward the summit of the mountain immediately south of Canyon Lake.

She was about 300 yards up the slope when we decided we couldn’t swim that far without assistance of some kind. We filled our canteens and began the hike. We followed Sharon all the way to the Apache Trail and the Boulder Creek Bridge. None of us could believe the stamina and tenacity Sharon had. Few women, under those conditions, would have followed her husband over such trails to make a statement about devotion and love.

Ronnie’s brother was waiting for us. The hike ended on a very positive note. Ronnie didn’t find the Lost Dutchman Mine, but he thought he was close. I found the treasure of Superstition Mountain that day, and could now celebrate Valentine’s Day with her for the rest of my life.

Yes, Sharon was special then and is still special today. We still ride our horses and hike the trails of the Superstition Wilderness Area together. I am so proud to be that person Sharon loves so much.

I want to wish all of you a very happy Valentine’s Day, and remind all of you to tell that special person in your life how much you love and care for them.

On Valentine’s Day, do something special for that special person.