The Hermit of the Superstition Mountains

I have the really good fortune of living not too far from the Superstition Mountains – a range of about 160,000 acres east of Phoenix and north of Mesa and Apache Junction. I mentioned in a previous blog that my next Love Inspired Suspense Mountain Rescue book will be set there. When I first planned this blog, I thought to write about the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine, something which the Superstitions are perhaps most known for. Instead, I decided to tell you a little about another famous legend, that of Elisha Reavis, and one I have much more experience with.

He was known as the hermit of the Supersitions, though, by some newspaper accounts, he was actually quite social and likeable when he came to town to sell his produce. Social, and a little touched in the head as they said in those days. He was born to a well-off family in Illinois and came to Arizona in 1869, abandoning his wife and child. Why exactly no one is sure, but he established a ranch in the heart of the Superstitions at the only location with enough natural water to grow fruits and vegetables. Mind you, he didn’t buy the land, he simply settled there and began to farm it.

Constructing a house and out buildings, digging wells, and bringing in equipment was no small task, considering the remote location of his new home. Not to mention transporting his produce to town for sale. It takes a special person with an incredible amount of determination. There are plenty of wild stories about Elisha, which may or may not be true. He supposedly fought off a band of local Apaches who weren’t happy about him settling on their hunting ground by taking off his clothes and running around naked with a butcher knife. Some thought he had supernatural powers. It’s been said the house contained an impressive library. What is know for sure, he died on the trail, and a small monument now marks the spot.

The legend of Elisha Reavis lives on today in the form of apples. He planted a large orchard that produces an impressive harvest still to this day — depending on weather conditions, of course. I’ve visited Reavis Ranch, as it’s called, many time, riding in on horseback (though you can also hike in if you’re up to it). We used to make several trips each year, always one in the fall to collect bushels of apples. We’d carry out the apples on a packhorse and later turn them into apple sauce, apple pie, and fried apples. One year, we even spent the night in the old abandoned ranch house. I’m glad to have had the chance because, sadly, the house was burned down by vandals some years ago. Only the foundation remains.

There are some incredible views to be had on the Superstition trails to Reavis Ranch that will quite literally take your breath away. Weaver’s Needle is easily recognized by its distinctive shape (check out the first picture at the top of the blog). And if you know where to look, you can also visit ancient Indian ruins and natural springs that create an oasis in the middle of desert mountains. I’ve been to both. But, as often as I’ve ridden the mountains, I’ve never found the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. That’ll be a blog for another day!

Old Wives’ Tales Around the House

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I love The Farmer’s Almanac and have both an old version and I a newer one.  I enjoy reading about old wives’ tales around the house from days gone by and wanted to share some of them with you. I took this information from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  Enjoy!

  • Never give a knife as a housewarming present, or your new neighbor will become an enemy. I grew up on a version of this.  In Texas we were told never to give a knife to anybody under any circumstances; so, we always did the next thing.
  • If you give a steel blade to a friend make the recipient pay you a penny to avoid cutting the friendship
  • When you move to a new house, always enter first with a loaf of bread and a new broom. Never bring an old broom into the house.  I never heard of this and only moved twice since we married 52 years ago and I always brought my old broom.  Hum?  Fact or fiction?  We’ve had a wonderful life in both house.

  • Never walk under a ladder, which is Satan’s territory. If you do, cross your fingers or make the sign of the fig (closed fist, with thumb between index and middle fingers.)  I knew never to walk under a ladder because it’d bring you bad luck, but never knew the name for the sign of the fig, which I think we all have used at one time or another.
  • To protect your house from lightning, gather hazel tree branches on Palm Sunday and keep them in water. How many of you have a hazel tree or can even get branches?  Not in my neighborhood.
  • To banish serpents and venomous creatures from the room, scatter Solomon’s seal on the floor. I have two issues with this.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a serpent or venomous creature in our house and I sure don’t know what Solomon’s seal is.  Do any of you?
  • Never pound a nail after sundown or you will wake the tree gods. Interesting???
  • Nail an evergreen branch to new rafters to bring good luck. An empty hornets’ nest, hung high, also will bring good luck to a house of any age. Well, here in Texas, we like to hang a horseshoe over the door for good luck.
  • Never carry a hoe into the house. If you do by mistake, carry it out again, walking backward to avoid bad luck.

I thought this had a bunch a fun superstitions and old wives’ tales from around the house.  There are many more takes about the house and home, but are they fact or fiction?  Often only time will tell.

Do you have a superstition you want to share?

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