Pete Kitchen is said to have established the first ranch in Arizona, just north of Nogales, Mexico, in 1862. Pete served in the Mexican War, arriving in Tucson in 1854. He became very proficient with both pistol and rifle. He was especially good with his rifle, and was said to have been able to hit his targets at a distance of about 600 yards!
Pete, along with his wife Dona Rosa, established a ranch of about 1,000 fertile acres, raising corn, cabbage, fruits, melons, and hogs. Pete was best known for the hogs, as “Pete Kitchen hams” became very well known in the southwest. His ranch house was built at the top of a hill, and it was basically an adobe fortress. It needed to be, as it was attacked by Sonoran bandits from one side and Apaches from the other.
Pete, together with Dona Rosa, who was said to be almost as good a shot as Pete, successfully defended the ranch from all attackers until the railroad cut into his profits and he sold it in 1883. The Apaches tried and failed to drive them out so many times they began shooting arrows into his hogs instead. The hogs received the unfortunate nickname of “Pete’s pincushions” after multiple attacks.
After about five years of trying and failing to drive out Pete and Dona Rosa, the Apaches finally paid them the ultimate tribute: they altered their plunder trail to go around the Kitchen ranch. They recognized Pete as a man worthy of respect and decided to direct their efforts elsewhere. Pete finally retired to Tucson after selling the ranch, where he died in 1895 at the age of 77.