The Brite Hotel wasn’t used after 1916 as a regional jail was opened and, in 1938, the gates and barred windows were recycled for use in the new county jail in Benson.
The boom that was Courtland, however, quickly turned to bust. What was thought to be a huge copper strike ran out in 1917. As profits from the mines began to shrink the mass exodus began. The post office, which marked the town’s arrival, closed in 1942. It is unclear why the post office remained open so long after the town essentially closed.
Just down the road from Courtland was Gleeson.
Gleeson wasn’t always known as Gleeson and where Gleeson is now isn’t where Gleeson always was but mining was always part of the town.
Small-scale turquoise mining was done in the Dragoon Mountains since at least 1870, mostly by Native Americans who established a camp called Turquoise Mountain around the mine site. In 1890 Tiffany & Co. bought the mines and the camp which grew into a small town called Turquoise. A post office was opened and the town maintained itself until Tiffany pulled out in 1894. The post office was closed and the town floundered.
In 1896 John Gleeson, a miner from Pearce, investigated the area and found copper. Gleeson filed a claim and opened the Copper Belle Mine. Production was good but the water necessary for mining was in short supply. Gleeson moved the operation closer to an adequate water supply and re-named the town Gleeson.
The Gleeson Post Office was established in 1900 putting the town on the map. The town grew and featured a number of businesses and services including a general store, a saloon, a small hospital, a physician’s office, a jail and a school. A fire in 1912 burned 28 of the town’s buildings. This could have been the death of the town but, as the mines kept producing, the town was quickly rebuilt. During World War I the need for copper soared and production boomed.
While Pearce was the town of boarding houses and Courtland was ‘where the action was’, Gleeson, it seemed, was more of a family-friendly place. The town’s school simply could not keep pace with the number of kids. The town started with a small school which it soon outgrew. They built a second school but it soon became cramped and overcrowded. In 1917 the town built ‘the big school’ which was finally large enough to meet it’s burgeoning needs.