Why did Dr. Chandler move to Arizona?

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    As with mad cow disease and hoof and mouth disease today, in 1887 there were fears about the health of American cattle. Disease from European cattle shipments had infected herds in the eastern United States. In Arizona, there were genuine fears that if disease was introduced to territorial herds the resulting quarantine would decimate the infant cattle industry. To combat these fears, the territorial government of Arizona formed a livestock sanitary board to protect Arizona's cattle from disease.  This board immediately set about the task of hiring a Territorial Veterinary Surgeon who would enforce rules and regulations to prevent the introduction of livestock disease into Arizona cattle. Two sanitary commissioners, C.M. Bruce and William C. Barnes, traveled to Washington, D.C., to seek a recommendation from Dr. Daniel E. Salmon, the Chief of Animal Husbandry with the United States Department of Agriculture. Dr. Salmon suggested that they look no further than a young Canadian veterinarian who was making a name for himself in Detroit, Dr. A. J. Chandler.

    Bruce and Barnes immediately traveled to Michigan to offer the job to Dr. Chandler. Upon arriving in Detroit, they discovered that Dr. Chandler had a very successful veterinary practice, as well as a business relationship with the D.M. Ferry Seed Company. The seed company needed a good veterinarian to care for all the animals that assisted with the cultivation of seeds. Chandler’s knowledge of livestock nutrition was also invaluable to the company’s research in developing new strains of alfalfa and other feed crops.  To Bruce and Barnes’ surprise, Dr. Chandler almost immediately accepted their job offer, despite the fact that it only paid $2,000 a year. In response to their job offer, Chandler explained that since childhood he had dreamed of the opportunities that the West offered, and he wanted to take the chance on this opportunity. The accompanying photograph shows Dr. Chandler as he looked in 1887.

    In truth, Dr. Chandler was already eyeing another opportunity.  D.M. Ferry and C. C. Bowen, president and vice president of the Ferry Seed Company, were looking to purchase land in the arid west to experiment with growing drought resistant strains of alfalfa.  These new seeds would be an economic boon for the company as the cattle industry transitioned from open field grazing to feeding cattle in lots. 

    A plan was hatched in which Chandler would act as Ferry and Bowen’s land agent. Soon after his arrival, Chandler started a process in which he and his partners acquired 18,000 acres of land south of the Salt River.  This acreage was roughly equivalent to the political boundaries of Chandler today.  For nearly two decades they experimented with seed development, agricultural processes, and growing various fruits and vegetables on the land known as Chandler Ranch.  In collaboration with David Fairchild, a US Department of Agriculture employee, Chandler Ranch experimented with several varieties of long staple cotton.  By the late 1890s, Dr. Chandler and his partners had demonstrated that Egyptian style long staple cotton could thrive in the Arizona desert.  In doing so, they proved that long staple cotton could develop into an enormous commercial industry for Arizona.

    Dr. Chandler served as the Territorial Veterinary Surgeon for two years, from 1888 to 1890.  He resigned because his business interests expanded and took the majority of his time. During his time as Territorial Veterinarian he traveled throughout the territory, learning about Arizona’s diverse landscapes, peoples, and industries.  The knowledge gained from his travels made Dr. Chandler a nationally recognized booster for Arizona.

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