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Arizona Centennial Minute: Bucky O'Neill

National Park Service inventory
Bucky O'Neill Cabin, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Buckey O’Neill got a lot living done in just 38 years.

Nicknamed for “bucking the tiger” in his favorite card game, he came to Arizona territory at the age of 19.  As a newspaper man in Tombstone, he covered the Earp brothers and may have witnessed the OK Corral shootout.

Then he mined copper at the Grand Canyon, where he built a cabin that still stands.

He served as judge, mayor and sheriff in Yavapai County, and led a posse through Canyon Diablo to capture bandits.

O’Neill became one of the founding members of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.  He believed that Arizona Territory men who distinguished themselves in the Spanish-American War would prove we were worthy of becoming a state. 

Killed in action during that War in 1898 by a single Spanish bullet, O’Neill’s headstone bears words he had written:

“Who would not die for a new star on the flag?”

Buckey O’Neill’s statue stands in Prescott’s courthouse square.  But it almost didn’t make it to the unveiling!

The bronze statue was lost by Southern Pacific railroad as it traveled from New York to Arizona. A special agent was hired to track it down. He found it alone on a rail spur in New Mexico and rushed it to Prescott just 48 hours before the Buckey’s dedication.  Like the man who notoriously bucked the odds, so did his statue.


Fred DuVal is a long-time Arizona civic leader and businessman, who began his career under Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt. DuVal was captivated by Babbitt’s knowledge of Arizona and his peculiar habit of stopping in old cemeteries as they traveled the state, which deepened his interest in state history. DuVal has served in a number of public leadership roles including Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs under the Clinton Administration, as commissioner on the Arizona Commerce and Economic Development Commission, and as chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents responsible for guiding the growth of Arizona's three public universities. He co-authored the book Calling Arizona Home, with Lisa Schnebly Heidinger in 2005. The book describes who we are as Arizonans and the common threads that unite us across all parts of the state and all walks of life.
Lisa Schnebly Heidinger is a former journalist who authored her first book in 1995. Lisa became smitten with Arizona pioneers and history after hearing as a small child that the town of Sedona was named after her great-grandmother Sedona Schnebly. She began writing journals as a child, and moved from personal writing to newspaper reporting as a raw recruit at the Green Valley News in 1979. After four years, she broke into broadcast journalism, working seven days a week at KCEE radio while working weekends on KGUN-TV in Tucson. She opened the Northern Arizona bureau for KTVK-TV in 1989 and later moved to Phoenix. Today, she is an avid author, regular volunteer, and enjoys substitute teaching and traveling. In addition to "Calling Arizona Home," she is the author of the state's official Centennial commemorative book, "Arizona: 110 Years Grand."