"The first name for the present community of Willcox was Maley, after Jame H. Mahley (b. 1850), who in 1882 was a resident of Dos Cabezas. Maley was so called because the railroad right-of-way went through Maley's Ranch. The legend concerning the change in name is that when the first train came through, Gen. Orlando B. Willcox (1823-1907) the commander of the Department of Arizona, was on board and received an ovation. Since its beginning as a railroad point, Willcox has been important as a cattle shipping center."
P.O. est September 13, 1880. Name changed to Willcox Nov. 23, 1889.
Barnes, Will C.; Granger, Byrd (ed.) Arizona
Place Names University of Arizona Press. 1960.
The first named for this location was Maley, because the railroad right-of-way extended through James H. Maley's ranch. At the time, Mahley (b. 1850) was a resident of Dos Cabezas where he had moved in 1882. Simultaneously General Orlando B. Willcox (1823-1907) was commander of the Military Department of Arizona (1877-1882), stationed at Fort Whipple. The town site for the future Willcox was laid out in 1874 by M.W. Stewart. The first child born there was the son of Anthony Powers, and General Wilcox sent a silver cup with his intitials on it in "consideration that the boy be named Wilcox Powers." Not only the boy received the name, but the name of Maley was changed to Wilcox in October 1880. An apocryphal story says that when the first train came through with General Willcox aboard, he received an ovation. Just as General Willcox appeared on the observation platform, railroad officials also aboard asked what the name of the new town was. A mighty shout from the crowd gave the answer: "Willcox, Willcox"!
This important agricultural and cattle center is close to Wilcox Playa, an enormous shallow dry lake which Antisell in 1854 called Playay de los Pimas, and by Mexicans, Playas (their term for a dry lake devoid of plant life). Sometimes it was mapped only as Dry Lake. Still another name for the dry lake is Lake Cochise. It was also called Soda Lake or Alkali Flats. On the original map of the Gadsen Purchase, it is noted as Willcox Dry Lake, a fact which may make all other stories about the origin of the name for the community simply apocryphal. The community name may be a borrowed name. When rain waters fill this lake, it looks as though it is fairly deep. During World War II U.S. Navy Pilots flying a large amphibious aircraft could not resist the temptation of landing on a lake in the middle of the desert. The plane grounded and sat there for months. The Wilcox Water Fowl Area consists of four hundred and forty acres which the Arizona Game and Fish Department acquired in 1969. About sixty acres are ponds. PO Est September 13, 1880, John F. Row PM; name changed to Wilcox, October 19, 1890; name changed to Willcox, Nove 13, 1889.
Barnes, Will C.; Granger, Byrd (ed.) Arizona's names : X marks the place Falconer Pub. Co. : distributed by Treasure Chest Publications, c1983. P. 675-676
Arizona Department of Commerce Community Profiles- Willcox Arizona
Willcox Arizona Local Government Website
Arizonan.com Willcox Arizona
Willcox Range News
Elsie S. Hogan Public Library
207 W. Maley Willcox, Arizona 85643
Items on the Arizona and Southwest Index
Seasons, Wilcox, Arizona: Varied Dates from 1995-
CE EPH P-221
Last Updated: August 7, 2002
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