Granville Henderson Oury
Granville Henderson Oury was an early Arizona pioneer, active as a mine owner, an attorney
and judge, a businessman and later serving in the territorial legislature. He also holds a
unique distinction in history, having been the only man ever to serve as a Territorial Delegate
to both the Confederate States Congress and the United States Congress (he served as a
Congressional Delegate from both the Confederate Territory of Arizona and, later, from
the United States Territory of Arizona).
Oury was born on March 12th, 1825 in Washington County, Virginia. He and his brother, William,
came to Arizona in 1856, settling at Tucson. Despite the threat of the Apache Indians, he
operated several mines in southern Arizona, and also operated a law practice in Tucson.
In 1857, he led an expedition to attempt to rescue the ill-fated Henry Crabb filibusterers,
a group of American adventurers captured by the Mexican Army and executed in Caborca
while invading Mexico.
It used to be said of Germany before 1871 that it was not a legal entity, but "a mere
geographical expression," and the same could have been said, a decade earlier,
of Arizona. "Arizona" was, at that time, simply that portion
of the United States Territory of New Mexico which lay south of the Gila River...basically
the Gadsden Purchase region. The people of this region felt (rightly) that their
interests were being ignored by the New Mexico Territorial Legislature in far-away Santa
Fe, and beginning in 1857, Oury joined with fellow Arizonans to lobby for creation
of a separate Territory of Arizona. He attended a constitutional convention in
Tucson in early April 1860 which created a "Provisional Territory of Arizona."
He was designated to keep notes for the convention. Oury was appointed chief justice
for the Provisional Territory by Governor Lewis Owings. However, the United States
Congress rejected the proceedings of this Convention, and it would be another year before
Arizona would gain Territorial status...not from the United States, but from the newly-formed
Confederate States of America.
On August 1, 1861, Lt. Colonel John R. Baylor of the Second Texas Mounted Rifles, having
mounted a successful invasion of the New Mexico Territory and eliminated the only
significant Union forces in the southern half of the Territory, declared by Proclamation
the creation of the Confederate Territory of Arizona, with himself as Governor. On
August 5th, 1861 Governor Baylor named Oury as the new Territory's delegate
to the Confederate Congress. By early Fall of 1861 Oury was in Richmond, Virginia,
lobbying the Congress as an "unseated delegate" for legislation to officially
create a Confederate Territory in Arizona. It wasn't until January 1862 that
he was recognized and seated by the Confederate Congress, however. On January
18, 1862, the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America (the
Provisional Congress existed from February 4th, 1861 to February 17th, 1862. On
the later date, the First Permanent Confederate Congress was established) finally
passed legislation creating the Confederate Territory of Arizona, and on January 24,
1861 Oury was seated in the Congress as its official delegate. Jefferson Davis
finally made a proclamation recognizing the Arizona Territory on February 14, 1862.
On December 20, 1861, meanwhile, Governor Baylor had decided, possibly because he
knew that the term of the Provisional Congress was ending and that a new Permanent
Congress was about to be elected, that Arizona should hold an election for a new
Congressional Delegate, to take office when the Permanent Congress was seated.
Baylor named as his preferred candidate Marcus H. MacWillie, a Texas lawyer and
friend of Baylor's who was at the time serving as the Territory's Attorney General.
The manner in which Baylor handled this election led to wide suspicion
among Oury's friends in Arizona that Baylor had "rigged" the election
to ensure Oury's ouster and the election of MacWillie to the post...he gave a
mere 10 days notice from the date of his announcement until the election was
to be held on December 30, 1861, which meant Oury had no time to return to Arizona
to campaign for his seat. And the fact that Oury was known to be a friend of
MESILLA TIMES editor Robert Kelley, whom Baylor had just recently shot in a fight
on Mesilla's Main Street (Kelley died of the wound on January 1, 1862, and Baylor
was never charged with any crime in the affair, which was ruled a case of self-defense
...by Attorney General Marcus H. MacWillie), may indeed have played a role in Baylor's
thinking as he arranged the terms of the election. However that may have been,
Oury's friends boycotted the election, and MacWillie was elected to the post.
When the Permanent Congress convened in March 1862, Oury was ousted as the Arizona
Territorial Delegate. By mid-May Oury was in Mesilla and was publicly speaking out
against Baylor and his regime.
Eventually, Oury enlisted in the Confederate Army,
serving in Captain George Frazer's Company of Arizona Rangers, also known as
Company B, Herbert's Battalion, Arizona Cavalry. Herbert's Battalion had
been organized in July 1862 from local Arizona militia units which had been
mustered into the Confederate Army in August 1861. When Frazer was promoted
to Major of the battalion, Oury was elected Captain of Company B.
By July 1862 the Confederate Forces were completely out
of Arizona and New Mexico. During the Winter of 1862 and Spring of 1863,
Herbert's Arizona Battalion, including Oury and his company, served in Texas
and Louisiana, taking part in the Bayou Teche campaign against invading
Union forces under Major General Nathaniel Banks. In the Spring of 1863,
Oury asked to resign his commission. General Sibley consented to his
request, explaining that "Oury's Company is so small that his services can
readily be dispensed with." Eventually, Herbert's Battalion was completely
broken up by May 1863. Oury wanted to return to Arizona, where Sibley felt
"he can be of great use." However, it is not known whether he returned to
Union-held Arizona at this time.
Sometime in 1863, Oury had married his cousin, Malvina "Mina" Sanders.
On February 14th, 1864, the second anniversary of the
formation of the Arizona Territory, Oury, along with 13 men, met in San
Antonio, Texas to plan ways to retake the Arizona Territory. He took part
for most of the rest of the war in a Confederate "Government in Exile" for
the Arizona Territory. In later 1864 and early 1865, Oury served as a
spy in Matamoros, Mexico and later as the Brownsville, Texas Provost
When President Andrew Johnson, upon the cessation of
hostilities, declared amnesty for most Confederates, he exempted from that
amnesty "persons who had left their homes within the jurisdiction of the
United States to aid the Confederacy." Arizona Confederates fit into
this category, and with the threat of persecution by vengeful Union
authorities looming over them, many of them chose to escape to exile in
Mexico. Therefore, on June 28th, 1865, a group of Confederate soldiers and
civilians at Fort Duncan, Eagle Pass, Texas, made preparations to escape
into exile into Mexico. The military contingent present consisted of General
J. O. Shelby and the Missouri Iron Brigade, which had refused to surrender
and was going into Mexico to offer their services to Emperor Maximilian (the
offer was, upon their arrival, refused, as Maximilian had no interest in
antagonizing the United States by being seen to provide a haven for armed
bodies of Rebels). Oury and his wife were among these refugees, and
they were not impressed by what they saw upon arriving in Mexico, finding it
(as Mrs. Oury said in her diaries) "an abominable place." After
wandering for two months through Chihuahua and Sonora, Oury and his family
decided to take their chances with the Union authorities, and returned to
Arizona. Upon arriving in Tucson in the early fall of 1865, he took the oath
of allegiance to the United States and shortly afterward returned to his law
practice in Tucson.
He was elected in 1866, 1873 and 1875 to the
Arizona Territorial Legislative Council, later serving as Speaker of the
House. He was also appointed to the post of Attorney General of the Arizona
Territory in 1869.
Sometime between 1870 and 1880, Oury moved to Florence,
Arizona. While living there he was elected as Arizona's Territorial
Delegate to the United States House of Representatives, where he served two
terms between 1881 and 1885. He also served as a delegate from Arizona
Territory to the Democratic National Convention in 1884.
Oury died of throat cancer on January 11th, 1891 in
Florence, Arizona. He is buried at the old Adamsville Cemetery,
which served both Florence and the now extinct community of Adamsville.
The cemetery sits on the North side of the intersection of Adamsville
Road and the N to Village Road intersection. Here is a
map to the cemetery.
His wife's grave marker at right is found in the Riverside Cemetery, Seguin, TX.
Picture by Tom Todd.
Oury's company muster roll is available.
Oury's grave on the left and his home on the right, both in Florence, AZ.
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