Arizona Rangers of Globe: Cy Byrne

Cyril “Cy” Byrne (photo from Who’s Who in Arizona, 1913)

When he put on an Arizona Rangers badge in 1907, Cy Byrne was already an experienced peace officer, having served as a Gila County deputy. His pre-Ranger life included fighting a destructive fire and investigating a grisly murder.

Cyril “Cy” Byrne was born in 1871 in Ohio, to an Irish father and a Canadian mother. He came to Globe from Silver City, New Mexico in 1894 or 1896, and found work in the Black Warrior and Old Dominion Mines. He then got a job with the Old Dominion Commercial Company. According to Byrne’s obituary, he was also employed by Inspiration Copper. This wasn’t his only experience with mining; in 1904 he was working some claims around Superior, and in 1906 he was apparently (the Silver Belt spelled his name Byrnes) among the founders of a corporation named the Iron Hill Copper Company.

It wasn’t long before Byrne contributed to his new community. By 1898 he was a member of the Pioneer Hose Company, Globe’s volunteer firefighting unit. In that role, he helped battle a July 2,1901 fire that consumed 25 buildings on Broad Street. “For half an hour the situation was most alarming, as it was realized that should the Middleton and Christy buildings [Middleton’s blacksmith shop and Christy’s carpentry shop] burn, it would be difficult to prevent the spread of the fire across Pinal creek, and then the destruction of the entire business portion of the town would have almost certainly followed,” the Silver Belt reported. But the Pioneer Hose Company “stuck resolutely to their posts . . . and very soon their work began to be effective.” Byrne’s face was blistered as he manned one of their hoses.

Five years later, as a Gila County deputy sheriff, Byrne was on a case dubbed the “worst murder in the history of Globe.” In early November 1906, a miner named Joseph Ludwig was found dead about a mile from town. He was identified through a piece of a bill of sale discovered on his body. After cutting Ludwig’s throat, his killer or killers had partially blown the body up with dynamite. The evening he was found, Deputy Byrne and William Sparks – an Arizona Ranger from 1903 to 1906 – examined the scene by lantern light. The investigation led to the International House on Broad Street, where about two days earlier blood-soaked sheets had been found in Ludwig’s room. The woman running the house cleaned up the mess, but authorities were not notified of the discovery. A witness claimed Ludwig had left his (Ludwig’s) room shortly before, leading to speculation of suicide. A coroner’s jury dismissed that theory, returning a verdict of homicide “by person or persons unknown.” No leads were reported, despite a $350 reward posted by the Sheriff’s Office. “It is possible that [the case] may never be unraveled,” the Silver Belt concluded.

Cy Byrne was around 36 years old when he joined the Rangers the following year. His enlistment was noted in the Aug. 11, 1907 Silver Belt: “Cy was a good local officer and should make a creditable record with the rangers.” He served until 1909, the year the Rangers were abolished by the Territorial Legislature, as part of Lieutenant William “Billy” Old’s Northern Detachment. That same year Byrne landed with the U.S. Forest Service, working as a ranger in the Sitgreaves National Forest.

In 1912, following Arizona statehood, Governor George W.P. Hunt chose Byrne to serve on the first State Land Commission, a three-member body created by the legislature that May. The commission’s duties were to assess, evaluate and make recommendations about federal land granted to the new state by Congress; Byrne, an active member of the Arizona Democratic Party, served as its secretary. The commission, which also included chairman Mulford Winsor and William A. Moody, recommended creating a permanent State Land Department. That agency was established in 1915.

Cy Byrne passed away in 1953. Today, along with a few other Arizona Rangers, he is at rest in the old section of Globe Cemetery.