In the early days of Southern Arizona Guide, Jim read about Pete Kitchen and the legend that surrounds his life, largely chronicled by Gil Proctor and often repeated by several others. Gil Proctor collected these stories from many sources, and Dale Stuart King published “The Trails of Pete Kitchen” for the Pete Kitchen Museum. The museum was housed in Pete’s old fortress home and owned by Mr. Proctor. It later became Molina’s PK Outpost Restaurant and more before a fire destroyed it in 2011. Friend Rosemary and I took a trip one day to find Pete’s old Home on the Range. It is just off the I- 19.
From the likes of Frank Lockwood, Gil Procter, Elizabeth Snoke, and the Tucson Citizen, I have tried to construct a timeline of Pete Kitchen’s life. Verifiable information is scant and tall tales abound. How true they may be is lost to legend although Lockwood researched Pete Kitchen in the 1920’s and there were still people alive that remembered him.
I thought I would create a timeline to make Pete Kitchen’s story more than just legend. My attempt to tell the structure of Pete’s real story. Mostly I write this to get the bigger picture of his place in the history of Southern Arizona. For instance, how in his later years he used to visit with George Hand at the old Courthouse. Hand briefly mentions him in his diary.
To hear the tales, Pete Kitchen was bigger than life. He was by all accounts a true pioneer, one who may have been partially responsible for the successful population of Southern Arizona by the white man and his Mexican and Sonoran Indian partners despite the efforts of the Apache natives who claimed the land for their own.
There was indeed, another war, separate from the Civil War or war against Mexico. This was a war of the Apaches against usurpers of land that the Apaches believed to be theirs. Who could argue that now?
These stories about Pete Kitchen, have been told and retold many times and may have originated with Frank Lockwood’s research and books on the people of Arizona who shaped history. He was a UA professor at one point. His books have been published by the UofA Press.
One of the stories that Gil Procter tells, is the story about how he saved the life of Naiche, the youngest son of Cochise; or how Gil Proctor came to own a gun used in the Battle of Little Big Horn, or Arrow Rock pointing to a cache of gold, never found. Some of this may have originated with Lockwood. I have not been able to get a copy of Arizona Characters at a reasonable price.
I will try and chronicle it here although exact dates are still argued or at least represented differently by different sources.
A TIMELINE of Pete Kitchen’s Life
1819 or 1822 – According to different sources, Pete Kitchen was born in Covington, KY, or Tennesee in 1819 or 1822. The Arizona History Museum goes with Gil Proctor’s 1822.
1846 – Or sometime around then, during the Mexican-American War he joined the Army in Texas and eventually became wagonmaster.
1849 – Soon thereafter he joins the gold rush. Failing at that..
1854 – 1861 Kitchen settled at Canoa Ranch until the Apaches and Civil War drove him out.
1862 – Pete and his wife Rosa moved to Magdelena, Sonora, Mexico after a brief stint in Tucson.
1868 Pete and Rosa returned to the United States setting up ranching at Potrero Creek Ranch just north of Nogales.
1871 – Kitchen’s stepson, inaccurately described as his son, was killed by Apaches.
1873 – Cochise stops attacking the Porter Ranch for saving his son Naiche. Pete knew him as Chise.
1883 – Pete sells his ranch to Col. C. P. Sykes and moves to Tucson after the railroad comes to town. Pete lives out his life at 321 Main St. where the Convention Center is now. There are differing accounts of what Col. Sykes paid for the ranch. Sykes was a key figure in the arrival of the Railroad.
1895 – Pete dies at age 77 after going broke. His burial was paid for by the Arizona Pioneers Historical Society. He was buried in Court St. Cemetery. It is unknown whether he was moved to Evergreen Cemetery or All Faiths Memorial Cemetery according to Find a Grave. Or is he still there in the Pioneer section of the Court Cemetery? ( AHS has a reference to him dying in 1910. )
1964 – Gil Proctor writes a book and Potrero Ranch becomes a museum to Pete Kitchen after his death and
2011 – Molina’s PK Outpost Restaurant burns down 2011. Molina had owned it for over 35 years. It then became Soto’s Outpost when he died.
Rosemary and I visited not long after the news that the “Pete’s Fortress turned Museum”, turned Molina’s PK Outpost Restaurant, then Soto’s PK Outpost Restaurant had burned down. All that was left were ruins and rattlesnakes and the memories of times gone by. You can google it at 555 E. Frontage Rd. Nogales. it still has a good representational picture of it although that might have changed in the last 10 years.
Soto’s PK Outpost is now at 14 Cam Otero, in Tubac. We believe it is where Elvira’s Restaurant used to be.
If you are interested in finding out more about Pete Kitchen, here are some sources.
The Trails of Pete Kitchen is not in print. I wonder who may own rights to reprint it. It was published by Dale Stuart King in 1964 for the Pete Kitchen Museum. You can find a copy at ABE Books for only $135 plus shipping.
Tucson Citizen, Paul Allen, 2004. Legend of Pioneer Pete Kitchen a classic of 1850s.
Pete Kitchen: Arizona Pioneer, by Elizabeth Snoke from JSTOR. You will need to subscribe.
Watch the video above, compiled by “UnWorthy History“. It is long. I could not find a copy of the book by Frank Lockwood: Arizona Characters mentioned in the video above. Or at least a copy at a reasonable, non-collector’s price.
Enjoy. For Arizona history buffs this is most interesting stuff.