John Van Vickers

Cochise County Treasurer 1888 and 1895-1896

Early Tombstone pioneer John Van Vickers arrived on the western frontier in the 1880’s and became a prominent businessman of the county, both in mining and ranching. He was involved in the Erie Cattle Company and was one of the creators of the Chiricahua Cattle Company (CCC). The CCC stretched over 1,658,880 acres and was one of the largest cattle empires in the West.

John was born in Pennsylvania March 2, 1850, the son of wealthy Quaker parents Paxson Vickers and Anna Thomas Lewis. He attended Wyers Military Academy of Westchester and State Normal School. Paxson Vickers died when John was 15, leaving him to manage the family farm and pottery business in Chester County, Pennsylvania. In 1873, he and his brother Sumner started a tea house in New York known as Paxson Vickers’ Sons. He remained in New York till 1880.  In 1872, he married his wife Anna Childs. They had five daughters – Florence Vickers born November 27, 1873, in Pennsylvania; Dora Vickers born August 11, 1876, in Illinois; Lillian Vickers born March 1879, in New Jersey; Anna Vickers born May 1882, in Illinois; and Clara Vickers born June 12, 1886, in Arizona. Lillian died tragically in December 1901 when her clothing caught fire accidentally in her dormitory at Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia.

On January 5, 1888, John Van Vickers, then employed as Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, was appointed the fourth Cochise County Treasurer when the Board removed A.J. Ritter from office. Mr. Vickers was later elected to the office and served 1895-1896. He also served as Cochise County delegate to the Territorial legislature council in 1891.

In 1898, J. V. Vickers departed Cochise County and had great business success in California. In 1902, Vickers along with Walter Vail purchased Vickers Island, California, now Santa Rosa Island, the second largest of the Channel Islands about 26 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara. In 1980 Santa Rosa Island was included within Channel Islands National Park and Vail & Vickers, a private company categorized under livestock producers, agreed to remove all cattle, deer and elk from the island by 2011. Treasurer Vickers died in Los Angeles December 28, 1912, after suffering a heart attack while playing dominos with his family.

Photo courtesy Santa Cruz Island Foundation