Charles Poston, one of Tucson’s leading citizens toasted the arrival of the Southern Pacific railroad in Tucson in 1880: “We welcome the Railroad as the Messiah of civilization, and we welcome the road builders as the benefactors of mankind.” [C.L. Sonnichsen. Tucson, the life and times of an American city, 1982:104]
One such road builder was Victor Hugo Igo, who in 1880 contracted with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad to build track in New Mexico. By 1882 Victor was working on the New Mexico and Arizona railway line.
Managing crews was challenging. “A report reached this city a few days ago that Mr. Igo…had been killed by some of his men, but later reports state that he is still living, and is well and hearty.” [The Emporia Ledger, 1/29/1880] “Fifty Chinamen who passed down the Sonoita to work for Mr. Igo, on the railroad grade, were turned back when they reached the first grading camp… The white men fell out in line and ordered the Chinamen back. The Chinamen refused… the Americans opened fire upon them. No one was hurt daring the firing.” [Arizona Daily Star, 4/4/1882]
Victor Hugo Igo was born in Kentucky in 1836. His birth name was Vincent but he changed it to Victor Hugo when he was in his forties. His family relocated to Missouri when Victor was a teenager and he married Armilda Moore in 1855. The couple had nine children born between 1856 and 1866.
The 1870 U.S. Census lists Victor’s occupation as farming, but as noted above, he also worked in railway construction. Victor and Armilda most likely divorced in the late 1870s because in 1880 Victor married 23-year-old Margaret “Maggie” McCarty in Emporia, Kansas. Armilda remarried in 1882.
Victor and Maggie are listed in the 1882 Arizona Territorial Census as living in the Huachuca Mountains, and the 1893 Official Map of Pima County records the location of their ranch at the Pima/Cochise County line. Maggie’s parents, James and Ellen, and her younger siblings moved to the area about 1885 and ranched in O’Donnell Canyon.
Victor built a one-acre carp pond and planted fruit trees on the ranch, and sold the fresh fish and fruit locally. [Tucson Citizen, 8/20/1886] He also ran a freighting outfit, transporting ore, mining equipment, and building materials. [Arizona Daily Star, 8/6/1890]
In 1893 “the beautiful home in the Huachucas of V. H. Igo, the post contractor of Ft. Huachuca was destroyed by fire.” [Tombstone Weekly Epitaph, 10/15/1893] After rebuilding the home, Victor began to advertise the ranch as a sanitorium. The Iron Springs Paradise featured “waters…mountain cool, and highly impregnated with iron, which are sought by health seekers, as they cause a ravenous appetite to those who drink them and add rapidly to their strength.” [Arizona Daily Star, 9/15/1898]
Victor and Maggie had nine children between 1881 and 1898. In 1900 a very public rift occurred in their marriage when Maggie moved to Bisbee to open a boarding house. [See the Cochise Review notice above] Victor sued for divorce in December and his petition was granted in July 1901. [The Oasis, 12/29/1900 and 7/20/1901] Victor continued to dabble in various businesses including a lodging house and beer garden in Bisbee. [Bisbee Daily Review, 9/14/1902 and 6/26/1903]
Victor died in 1910 in Nayarit, Mexico, where he was once again building railways after selling the ranch. [Tucson Daily Citizen, 8/22/1962]
After Victor’s death Maggie lived with her eldest son John, who had a distinguished career as an interpreter in the U.S. Territorial Court and Cochise County Superior Court. Maggie and John died two weeks apart in 1939.