Springerville in Apache County, Arizona — The American Mountains (Southwest)
Bertha Wahl Shooting
Erected 2002 by Round Valley Positive Action Tourism Committee and Springerville-Eagar Chamber of Commerce. (Marker Number 17.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Notable Events • Women. In addition, it is included in the Arizona, Pistols, Plows and Petticoats Historic Driving Tour series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1899.
Location. 34° 7.962′ N, 109° 17.9′ W. Marker is in Springerville, Arizona, in Apache County. Marker is at the intersection of West Airport Road and North Becker Lake Road, on the right when traveling west on West Airport Road. Marker is located on the northwest corner. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Springerville AZ 85938, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. White Mountain Hospital (approx. 0.7 miles away); James Hale Shooting (approx. 0.7 miles away); Baldonado Home El Rio Theatre (approx. 0.7 miles away); Springerville World War I Memorial (approx. ¾ mile away); Madonna of the Trail (approx. ¾ mile away); Baca Home (approx. ¾ mile away); Presbyterian & Catholic Churchs (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Springerville.
More about this marker. This is Marker Stop #17 on the Pistols, Plows and Petticoats Historic Driving Tour.
Regarding Bertha Wahl Shooting. John C. Wahl was a major cattleman in Round Valley and his wife, Caroline was a major sheep owner. She jokingly told Eujenio Matas, a young sheepherder, that if he worked for them for seven years he could marry their young daughter Bertha. Everyone knew that Caroline was joking, but now Matas was upset that at age fourteen, Bertha was preparing to leave and attend boarding school in Albuquerque for her high school education. He was angry and wanted to get even so he shot and killed her in her bedroom with her mother and sister witnessing the event.
Matas was taken to jail, tried and found guilty of murder. He was to be hanged on December 1, 1899, but for some reason the then Governor of Arizona Territory, Nathan Oakes Murphy, commuted his sentence to life in prison. Matas spent fourteen years in the Yuma Territorial Prison when acute tuberculosis won him a medical discharge. He returned to his former home in New Mexico, married and had two children before succumbing to TB after five years of freedom.
Source: The Pistols, Plows and Petticoats Historic Driving Tour Brochure.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 19, 2018. It was originally submitted on October 6, 2010, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. This page has been viewed 1,254 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 6, 2010, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.