B. Johnny Rube Collection

TITLE: B. Johnny Rube Collection

DATE RANGE:   1878-1996


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: 2 linear feet (4 boxes)

PROVENANCE: Donated by B. Johnny Rube, 2000.

COPYRIGHT:  Yuma County Library District owns the copyright to this collection.  

RESTRICTIONS: This collection is unrestricted.   

CREDIT LINE: B. Johnny Rube Collection, Y-MS2, Yuma County Library Special Collections

PROCESSED BY: Linda Whitaker, March 2013


Born in Riga, Latvia on November 2, 1938, Latvia of German parents, Bernts “Johnny” Rube immigrated to the U.S. with his parents and five siblings at the age of 13. They were forced to flee their native country in the closing days of WWII as Russian forces advanced and were interned in a displaced persons camp. From there, they went to England and in 1951, arrived in Yuma, Arizona under the sponsorship of the Whitman Seed and Cattle Co. and the Lutheran Church. Bernts Rube spoke no English but had read about the Old West and was expecting to see cowboys and Indians.  

He graduated from Yuma High School, joined the National Guard in 1956, and enlisted in the Navy a year later. While serving in the Navy, he became a U.S. citizen.  Upon discharge in 1962, he joined the Yuma Police Department as a patrolman and was promoted to detective in 1967 specializing in arson investigations.  In 1980, he became the School/Police Liaison Officer for Yuma High School. After 20 years in law enforcement, he retired to pursue his role as B. Johnny Rube, author and Yuma Law Enforcement Historian.  

His serious interest in law enforcement history began in 1967 when as a young detective he was asked about Isaac Polhamus, the last Yuma police chief to be elected. Studying and researching Yuma Police and Sheriff’s Department history became a favorite past time.  He published a number of newspaper, journal and magazine articles and produced a book-length, unpublished manuscript on the history of the Yuma law enforcement.   In 1996, B. Johnny Rube published the book A Wooden Road Through the Hollow of God’s Hand-Taming the American Sahara. 

Sources: Yuma Daily Sun, August 8, 1965; Valley and Foothills News, January 21, 1981


This collection was previously split between the AHS Yuma and Tucson branches. The materials have been reunited here.  The research files include many hard-to-find sources, aggregated news articles typed from microfilm, and bibliographies. The bulk of photographs are numbered and indexed. They were intended to be published in the History of Yuma Law Enforcement book. 

Arranged in four series, then alphabetically and chronologically within. 

Series I: Personal;

Series II: Writings;

Series III: Research Files;

Series IV: Photographs.   


Box Folder Title Dates
1 1 Personal: Biographical, 

Correspondence and Newspaper Articles

  2 Writings: “1924 Group Planned 

Reunion-The AHOOTS (Ancient and Honorable Order of Old Timers)” in The Valley and Foothills News  (includes research files)

1983, 1986
  3 Writings: “1948: A Bad Year”  n.d.
  4 Writings:  “A Yuma Tragedy” in Quarterly of the National Association for Outlaw and Lawmen History   1979
  5 Writings: “A Wooden Road Through the Hollow of God’s Hand- Taming the 

American Sahara” published by the

Yuma County Historical Society (includes draft manuscript and copy of book)

  6 Writings:  “An Indian Scare” n.d.
  7 Writings:  “Byrd’s the Word was His Campaign Slogan” (Ersel C. Byrd) in ¿Que Pasa? 1985
  8 Writings:  “Death in the Desert” in 

Real West and The Valley and Foothills News

  9 Writings:  “Desert Mystery” n.d.
  10 Writings:  “Early Traffic Laws of Arizona” in ¿Que Pasa? (includes research files) 1985-1986
  11 Writings: “Harry Harrison ‘Henry’ 

McPhaul. About 1861-March 3, 1948”

  12 Writings:  “History of Yuma Law 

Enforcement” (draft manuscript)  1 of 3

  13 Writings:  “History of Yuma Law 

Enforcement” (draft manuscript)  2 of 3

  14 Writings:  “History of Yuma Law Enforcement” (draft)   3 of 3 n.d.
  15 Writings: “History of Yuma Police 

Department” in The Arizona Highway Patrolman (includes related newspaper articles)

  16 Writings:  “Hoof and Mouth Epidemic of 1924 or How the Yuma Volunteer Fire Department Saved Yuma” (includes 

5 newspaper articles from The Yuma Sun)

2 1 Writings:  “How to Predict a Robbery” n.d.
  2 Writings:  “Indian Justice versus White Man’s Justice: n.d.
  3 Writings:  “Judge, Let the Lord Be My Lawyer” n.d.
  4 Writings:  “Know Your Officers” 

(profiles of Keith Westgate, Kenneth

Sipes, John Benson, Encarnacion Lopez,

Robert Phillips, Larry Mosley, Gene

Van Horn, Richard Bauer, Edgar Cross,

Carl Cansler, Eraclio Arviso, Charles

Wright, Dick Reagan, Guy Kizer,

Arnold Iodice, Harvey Croutch, George

Martinez, Gerald Pearson, Bill Penny,

Donald Wheeler, Powell Elkins)

  5 Writings:  “Los Angeles’ ‘Foreign Legion’ ” n.d.
  6 Writings:  Newspaper Articles (various topics, non-law enforcement)

1977, 1985-


  7 Writings:  Newspaper Articles (various topics, non-law enforcement) 1987
  8 Writings:  “Sheriff David B. King” n.d.
  9 Writings:  “The Algodones Dunes” (includes related newspaper articles) 1981, 1986
  10 Writings:  “The Case of an Indian Cruelty” 1983
  11 Writings:  “The First ‘Smoke Eaters’ of Yuma” (paper presented at the Arizona History Convention) 1986
  12 Writings:  “The Killing of Sheriff Dana” in Real West 1983
  13 Writings:  “The Long Drop” (includes research files and related newspaper 1983, 1985
  14 Writings:  “The Narcotics Epidemic of Yuma 1970 through April, 1977” n.d.
  15 Writings:  “The Vigilantes of Arizona City” n.d.
  16 Writings:  “Tugboat USS Yuma Pulled More than Its Weight” in ¿Que Pasa 1986
  17 Writings:  “Yuma County Sheriff’s Department” (includes research files) n.d.
  18 Writings:  “Yuma County’s Invisible 

Empire: The Knights of the Klu Klux Klan” (includes research files)

  19 Writings:  “Yuma’s Chief of Police: Isaac Polhamus 1933-1934” n.d.
  20 Research Files:   “A Lesson in Pistol 

Shooting as Taught by the Police Pistol Team” by Kenneth R. Sipes

  21 Research Files:   Arizona Rangers 1903-1975
3 1 Research Files:   “Arizona Death Penalty” distributed by Bruce E. 

Babbitt, Arizona Attorney General

  2 Research Files:   Criminal Cases (the killing of Mrs. Joseph Burns; Marian T. 

Alexander, Frank B. Miller, William B.


  3 Research Files:   Criminal Cases (Thomas Hart) 1901
  4 Research Files:   Criminal Cases  (Louis Leivar alias Louis Lavar) 1902
  5 Research Files:   Criminal Cases (Plumo Aigla) 1911
  6 Research Files:   Criminal Cases (Isaac Polhamus) 1943
  7 Research Files:   Criminal Cases 

(kidnapping of Janette May Farrar by

Richard Lynn Wright)

  8 Research Files:   Frank Wheeler 1908-1909
  9 Research Files:   “Interviews of 

Centennial Commissioners by Yuma

Daily Sun Newspaper Reporter Martin


  10 Research Files:   “Law as Practiced in Yuma County” (Cibola and Kofa; includes related newspaper articles)


1981, 1985

  11 Research Files:   “Selected 

Bibliography of La Paz-Yuma County”

  12 Research Files:   William T. Dutton vs. The Territory of Arizona (Turf Saloon) 1909
  13 Research Files:   WWII Law Enforcement  
  14 Research Files:   Yuma County Law Enforcement Newsletters 1981-1984
  15 Research Files:   Yuma Police Department 1915-1979
  16 Research Files:   Yuma Police 

Department Training Manual   1 of 3

4 1 Research Files:   Yuma Police 

Department Training Manual   2 of 3

  2 Research Files:   Yuma Police 

Department Training Manual   3 of 3

  3 Photographs:  Index n.d.
  4 Photographs:  Yuma Sheriffs (photo #1 and #9 missing;Lee Echols, Jack Beard, 

Jim Washum, Thomas Newman, JG

Hunter, James Chapell, James

Polhamus, Dr. Francis Henri Goodwin,

Francis Marion Hodges, John M Speese,

MJ Nugent)                                  1 of 8

  5 Photographs:  City Judge Jonathan C. 

Jones                                             2 of 8

  6 Photographs:  June Walker & Klaus 

Martens Search                             3 of 8

  7 Photographs:  Yuma Police 

Department (photo #25 missing)  4 of 8

  8 Photographs:  Yuma Police 

Department                                   5 of 8

  9 Photographs:  Yuma Police 

Department   (photo #57 & #60 missing) 

                                                      6 of 8   

  10 Photographs:  Yuma Police 

Department  (photo #64 missing) 7 of 8

  11 Photographs:  Yuma Police 

Department (photo #94 missing)  8 of 8

1899, 19581958, 1961,


  12 Photographs:  Non-Indexed Photos 

(Town Marshals0UG Wilder, Jake D Meadows, Mel Greenleaf, and unidentified Yuma Police Department

1893, 1899,


  13 Photographs:  Negatives (unidentified) n.d.
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