Twenty miles northeast of Lochiel is the old
ghost town of Sunnyside.
Interestingly, Sunnyside is far removed from the "typical”
ghost town, as far as its make-up, beginnings, and lifestyle, not to mention its
remote location. Unlike other mining camps, it was not filled with
saloons, brothels, and lawless elements, but rather, it was a religious
community. Were it to exist today, modern writers would probably call it a
commune, or worse, a "cult.”
all began with a man named Samuel Donnelly, who popular history would have
us believe was a hard drinker in San Francisco,
California. However, he
changed his ways when he stumbled out of a waterfront bar into a Salvation
Army meeting in the early 1880’s. Having "seen the light,” Donnelly
stopped his drinking and became Salvation Army preacher.
Though this is the
more often told version of the tale, family members say that Donnelly
was actually an immigrant from Barrhead, Scotland who had recently
arrived in San Francisco, and though a drinker, not a drunk. He did in
fact "see the light” when he became affiliated with the Methodists
(rather than the Salvation Army.)
He first took a post
preaching in Methodist churches in
Los Angeles, but he was rapidly
developing his own religious ideals that did not suit those of the
congregations’ leaders. Soon, he could find no pulpit in order to
spread his "word."
In 1886, he went to
the lawless town of
Tombstone in order to bring salvation to those
rowdy elements. While there, he acted as a street preacher, continuing
to spread his own ideas, which often criticized major religious
denominations of the day, as well as their doctrines, actions, and
social policies. At the same time, he was also developing an interest
in mining and eventually co-founded the Copper Glance Mine some nine
miles southeast of Sunnyside and some 50 miles southwest of
A few of Sam’s
converts followed him to the Copper Glance Mine in order to continue
to hear his preachings. In the meantime, Sam was also continuing to prospect
when he found the place he would call Sunnyside, high in Huachuca Mountains.
Soon, he led a group of about 20-30 of his followers to the new
"colony” he founded in the wilderness.
Supported by the
nearby Lone Star Mine, Donnelly established a
communal camp, where his followers ate, lived, worked, and worshipped
together. A socialist type of community, all money was pooled and each
person worked to the betterment of the entire camp. The early
a common kitchen, dining hall, barn and one-room school house. Unlike
many other mining camps of the time, this place had no
"painted ladies," or lawlessness. Though some eight miles from the nearest
wagon trail, new followers and those looking for work, would drift
into the camp, until it numbered almost 80 converts. But, new
residents were required to work hard and show an interest in the
Scriptures. If they did not, they were asked to leave.
Much like how such a place might be
perceived today, the camp quickly drew controversy.
February 27, 1897, the Bisbee Weekly Orb printed an article
entitled: "A False Report. A Man Who Claims To Be A Divine Teacher Sent By
God. He Rules By Hypnotism. His Following Consists of some Twenty or
Thirty Persons. An Investigation Needed.”
defamatory article presented a grisly picture of Donnelly and his mining
camp, accusing Donnelly of being "expelled from the Salvation Army,” and
making the members of the camp out to be deluded prisoners by saying: "All
who join the camp must leave friends, relatives, children, wife or
husband and follow God and Donnelly.” The article further claimed that the
camp provided no privacy, that a woman was being held against her will,
and that Donnelly was involved in adultery.