Yuma city marshal was a Buffalo Bill pal
Bob Anderson was elected city marshal of Yuma on April 19, 1904. Along with the assistance of an Arizona Ranger, he was soon busy rounding up the local hobos and ordering them out of town.
His actions must have been popular because he was easily re-elected in 1906. He resigned the position in 1908, but was elected to it again in 1909.
One thing that was unique about the early Yuma official is a source that says Anderson had prospected with William "Buffalo Bill" Cody. The book, "History of Arizona," reports Anderson was intimately acquainted with the famed Western character.
Anderson's name appeared frequently in the Yuma newspapers after he arrived here, presumably around 1900. The first reference to his residence in Yuma this writer could find was in the town's pioneer Arizona Sentinel newspaper of Jan. 20, 1900. The story reported Anderson was staking a mining claim near Agua Caliente along with Yumans William DeSpain and Harry McPhaul.
McPhaul was Yuma's city marshal until 1904 when he resigned after a justice of the peace refused to issue complaints about prostitutes who were operating somewhere along Main Street. It appears the resignation was short-lived because McPhaul's name appeared in Yuma's Arizona Sentinel four months later as again holding that position.
Anderson's Buffalo Bill connection may have started in 1891 when Cody hired him to prospect for oil pools he believed might lie in the Gila Mountains. Anderson found no oil but did locate some radioactive mineral sites.
He attempted to get friends in the East to invest in the claims, but had no apparent success. Having been in Arizona since 1881, it is likely Anderson had known Cody earlier.
Anderson probably settled in Yuma early in 1900 after the mining claims he located east of Yuma proved to have little value. This is indicated by a Sun story on Aug. 10 of that year reporting that he was serving here as the town's deputy constable.
The Sun story told how Constable Anderson took action after two young men, Charles Brinley and Ramon Sierra, robbed a drunk miner near the Molina store on Main Street. They robbed the man of $111, but the victim screamed so loudly that Anderson heard it while he was eating lunch in the Southern Pacific Hotel.
When Anderson exited the hotel to investigate, the pair ran right into his arms. The miner quickly identified the two, and they were taken before city Judge William Werninger. For some reason, Werninger would not issue a warrant for their arrest, so Anderson had to release them. He rearrested them the following morning after a city justice issued a warrant for them and set a $500 bond for their release.
The local newspaper reported that Anderson was elected as Yuma's city marshal after the resignation of McPhaul in 1904. He served in that position until 1909, when J.H. Godfrey won the job.
Very little appeared again in the local papers about Anderson until his daughter Jane became a newspaper correspondent in Europe. The graduate of a college in Kentucky, Jane wrote regularly for the London Daily Mail as well as the New York Tribune.
His daughter was reported by the Yuma Morning Sun in 1923 to be "one of the highest salaried women in the journalistic field." A Sun story in May of 1929 reported Jane to be traveling from Britain to visit her father here, but this writer's search of the old local papers failed to find any proof of her ever being in Yuma.
No longer a Yuma law officer after 1909, Anderson became interested in prospecting. A Yuma Sun story later reported him to be employed by Buffalo Bill trying to find oil in the Gila Mountains. He found no oil, but did discover old ledges, which he believed to contain gold.
Along with Pat Holland and Win Proebstel, he laid claim to about 60 places where he believed oil might exist. Some of the ore samples taken eventually proved to be radioactive. None was later reported to contain much gold. Soon afterward, Anderson found employment with the Reclamation Service.
Anderson lived in Yuma another 11 years before his death. By 1929, he had found employment in Yuma as a court bailiff. He also served as the librarian on the second floor of Yuma's courthouse. He learned of the death of his old friend Wyatt Earp that same year.
Anderson lived another four years in Yuma. He died here in April of 1933 and was interred in an Elks plot in the Yuma Cemetery.
Frank Love is a Yuma historian.