The Arizona Rough Riders

Rough Riders was the name given to the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, a response to the understaffing of the United States Army as a result of the American Civil War. A young Theodore Roosevelt was offered the command of this regiment to fight in the Spanish-American War. While Theodore desperately wanted to be part of the fight he was smart enough to realize that he did not have the necessary experience to command a combat regiment. He deferred command to his friend Col. Leonard Wood, a Medal of Honor winner from the Indian Wars, while he accepted a commission and second-in-command as a Lt. Colonel. 

Rough Riders

Arizona Rough Riders

The regiment’s number was 1200 volunteers. Of those 300 (25%) came from Arizona! The Rough Rider’s ranks included cowboys, indians, socialites, polo players and just average citizens who responded to the nation’s call to arms. The majority of its other members came from Texas, New Mexico and New York. One of the volunteers from Arizona was Bucky O’Neill.

Bucky O’Neill

In the late 1800s, the charismatic Bucky O’Neill, had travelled west to the Arizona territory. He started a newspaper, formed a posse to track down train robbers, became mayor of Prescott, AZ, and was generally full of adventure. During his time as mayor of Prescott, he volunteered to become a Rough Rider. 

Bucky O’Neill was the first to enlist and he put together all of the 300 Rough Riders from Arizona. He then set sail with Teddy Roosevelt to Cuba. Roosevelt wrote endearingly about O’Neill’s character, recounting how O’Neill was the only man to dive into the sea when two black soldiers fell overboard. Shortly afterward, Roosevelt would be devastated when the 38-year-old captain was killed in the battle of San Juan Hill. Upon O’Neill’s young death, Theodore Roosevelt wrote this about him:

Statue of Bucky O’Neill

“The most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered befell just before we charged. O’Neill was strolling up and down in front of his men, smoking his cigarette, for he was inveterately addicted to the habit. He had a theory that an officer ought never to take cover—a theory which was, of course, wrong, though in a volunteer organization the officers should certainly expose themselves very fully, simply for the effect on the men; our regimental toast on the transport running, ‘The officers; may the war last until each is killed, wounded, or promoted.’ As O’Neill moved to and fro, his men begged him to lie down, and one of the sergeants said, ‘Captain, a bullet is sure to hit you.’ O’Neill took his cigarette out of his mouth, and blowing out a cloud of smoke laughed and said, ‘Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn’t made that will kill me.’ A little later he discussed for a moment with one of the regular officers the direction from which the Spanish fire was coming. As he turned on his heel a bullet struck him in the mouth and came out at the back of his head; so that even before he fell his wild and gallant soul had gone out into the darkness.”

If you would like to read more about Bucky O’Neill and the Arizona Rough Riders there is a wonderful book, “The Arizona Rough Riders,” written by a Tucson man, Charles (Charlie) Herner. The book is in your local library and is also available on Amazon. 

Carol Fenn 5-2018


Memorial Day – Honoring the Fallen

While the first Memorial Day events were held in the United States in the late 19th century, the practice of honoring those who have died in battle dates back thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans held annual days of remembrance for fallen soldiers each year. And, one of the first known public tributes to war dead was in 431 BC, when the Athenean general Pericles delivered a funeral oration praising the valor of those killed in the Peloponnesian war – a speech that some have compared in quality to Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

Pericles funeral oration

Here in America Memorial Day has become a day off work for many. A time to celebrate the beginning of summer. A time to have a barbecue with friends and family. A time to chill at home and binge watch Netflix. But, really, while all of these things can be enjoyable, Memorial Day should really be a time to reflect. A time to remember those Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving this country.  

Honoring those who gave their lives for freedom

Personally, on this holiday, I also think of the families of the fallen. The brothers. The sisters. The wives and husbands.  The moms and dads. My how they must have suffered. And I’m sure they still do. Imagine your brother, who you played with, wrestled with, shared secrets with. Imagine him proudly going off to war and then never coming home.  

Vietnam War Memorial

Yes, on Memorial Day, enjoy your barbecue, your Netflix binge, etc., but don’t forget to remember. Remember the fallen. The true. The brave. Remember.

Carol Fenn 5-2018

Mother’s Day at The Mercantile

Would mama like that antique chair?

Or would she like that vase?
Would mommy like that chest of drawers?

Oh gosh, she’d like this place!
Would mom prefer a vintage dress?

Or would she like that watch?
Yes, oh yes, it’s Mother’s Day 

Here at The Mercantile!
You’ll find chairs and rings and chests of drawers

Great gifts for mothers, all.
But don’t forget that what she wants 

Is just a bit of you.
She’ll love that vintage vase or watch

But mostly she’ll love you!

Carol Fenn 5-2018

The Garden Sanctuary

Due to the nature of my business, I get invited into a lot of Tucson yards. Often, in those yards, I’ll come across a small garden sanctuary. It can be very small, with just a single statue, or it can be more elaborate with a Madonna, other statuary, running water, plants, flowers, etc.  

No matter their size these sanctuaries always warm my heart. The shrine might be honoring a lost pet, a fellow human, religious devotion or Mother Nature.   

If you want to construct a sanctuary the Midtown Mercantile Mall is a good place to start. We have thousands of items to choose from and some of those items just might fit perfectly into your very own garden sanctuary.   

Come on in to The Mercantile. We’d love to help you get your sanctuary started.

Carol Fenn 5-2018