How Were Some of Prescott's Creeks Named?
Updated: Sep 9, 2020
William Pointer was born in Kentucky in 1809. There's not much known about him historically, but from what I could glean from various Arizona historical references, he was quite the character.
According to Arizona Territorial Census Records from 1864, "Uncle" Billy Pointer, as he was fondly known to all, came to reside in Prescott, Arizona Territory in approximately 1863. He was a prospector and miner and worked the Pointer Lode (named after him, of course) around Lynx Creek and was reported as having a successful mine, though, like many of the Pioneering men and women of Prescott's early days, he was always having to deal with the Apaches.
I was thrilled to find an article published in the January 14, 1876, edition of the Weekly Arizona Miner, where the then 67 year-old "Uncle" Billy Pointer, told the story of how several Prescott area creeks "took their names."
When the Walker party came to Lynx Creek, it had no name until Sam Miller shot a lynx and failed to kill it, but afterwards kicked it to death. They then went over the ridge onto another creek where Sam killed seven turkeys, and they concluded to call it Turkey Creek. The next stream they prospected was full of big water-bugs, the kind that carries its eggs on its back, and which Harry Edwards [a noted entomologist of his day] says belongs to the genus Belostoma. Of these Jake Miller found several in every [gold] pan he washed, and they concluded to call that creek Big Bug and on Wolf Creek they killed a wolf. --Weekly Arizona Miner, January 14, 1876
So there you have it. I have found nothing in historical newspapers that have refuted the above account. Since Sam Miller and his brother, Jake, were the very first "white men" reported to have stepped on what was to be Prescott when they arrived here with the Walker Party, I think they would have had something to say about it, if it weren't true.
In any event, it's a fun story, resurrected from the dustbin of history.
I'll never think of those creeks the same way again. How about you?