In 1884, the Aztec Land and Cattle Company of Boston began operations in Arizona with its headquarters situated across the Little Colorado River from the site of Saint Joseph (now Joseph City.)
The third-largest cattle company in North America, the organization was better known as the Hashknife Outfit because their brand resembled the old hash knives used by chuckwagon cooks. The next year, the Aztec Company transferred its headquarters to Holbrook, Arizona and in 1886, they purchased one million acres of former railroad land from the Atlantic and Pacific for 50 cents an acre. The ranch claimed a range that stretched some 650 miles, from the New Mexico border to just south of Flagstaff.
The company then bought the Hashknife brand and some 33,000 head of cattle and 2,000 horses from the Continental Cattle Company in Texas, which was going broke because of drought. When the stock arrived by rail, they were let off the train at stops all across northern Arizona. Along with the cattle and the brand, also came a number of original Hashknife cowboys.
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