Sunday, May 31, 2015

Zefferino Ceria Prina (1862-1922)

Z.C. Prina, from the Portrait and Biographical Record of Arizona, 1901.

   Our month-long theme of strangely named mayors concludes today, and the following write-up takes us to Arizona and one of that state's more oddly named public figures, Zefferino "Z.C." Prina. A native of Italy, Prina would become a businessman of some repute in Graham County, Arizona, first settling there in the late 1890s. In addition to success as the owner of a ranch and ice/creamery business in the city of Safford, Prina would be elected to two terms as mayor of that city, later serving as a county commissioner and member of the city council.
   The first Italian native to be profiled here, Zefferino Ceria Prina was born in Genoa, Italy on June 19, 1862. Both of his parent's names apparently have been lost to history, and he would reside in the country of his birth until the age of nine, whereafter he immigrated with his father to the United States. The pair first settled in Galveston, where young Zefferino was "bound out"  by his father to a local Italian couple. This period of Prina's young life is remarked as being "gloomy and cheerless" by the Portrait and Biographical Record of Arizona, which notes that during his apprenticeship:
"His best intentions in this household were misconstrued and treated with incredible severity, the lady of the mansion especially taking particular delight in whipping him long and hard."
    Prina resided in this unsettling atmosphere for about nine months, later escaping and returning to his father. They continued to reside in the Houston and Austin area and in 1876 Zefferino took work on a cattle ranch, where he would develop a longstanding interest in "the raising and selling of stock." He relocated to Arizona in 1884 and after settling in Cochise County became affiliated with the Chiricauha Cattle Company, who in turn sent Prina to Safford, Arizona to look after a ranch under their ownership. He remained here for two years and in 1897 resettled in Safford permanently. Prina married here on November 16, 1897 to Martha Wanslee (1880-1944) and later had five children: Eva (1899-1978), Ruth (1900-1987), Zeff Jr. (1904-1978), Eunice (1906-1972) and Grant (born ca. 1911).
    Soon after permanently settling in Safford Prina began establishing his business roots in the community, purchasing an interest in a local flour mill and a hardware store. In 1900 Prina established the Safford Ice and Creamery Company, and along with his partner George Olney, provided "the entire Gila Valley" with a "sufficient quantity" of ice. In the succeeding years Prina continued his rise in the Safford business sector, being a dealer in grain and hay, and a livestock dealer/rancher. In the early 1910s, Prina entered the automotive industry, taking work with the Michigan Motor Company managing sales. 
    Prina's rising success in various Safford business enterprises also saw him become active in the Graham County political scene. He served as a city councilman for Safford in the early 1910s and in May 1912 was sworn in as Mayor. Prina served two terms as Safford's mayor and during his term became the manager and president of the Arizona Life of Phoenix, an insurance company based in Safford. Following his term as mayor, Prina continued to serve Graham County in a number of political capacities, including time as a County Commissioner and Highway Commissioner
   Ranching and agricultural pursuits proved to be a consistent theme in Z.C. Prina's life after his mayoralty and the Pacific Coast Livestock Breeder relates that he continued to buy and sell "range cattle" until 1918, whereafter he "disposed of his range interests and retired from active work on the range." This same work notes that Prina still maintained an interest in milling four and his ice and creamery plant, and was the proud owner of one of "the most productive farms in his vicinity."

From the Pacific Coast Livestock Breeder, Vol. I, November 1920.

   A few years prior to his death Zefferino C. Prina was named to the Advisory Board of Directors of the Imperial Livestock and Mortgage Company. The life of this prominent Safford, Arizona resident came to a tragic end on April 13, 1922, as the result of a vehicle rollover near Tucson. As the Copper Era and Morenci Leader reported in its April 14th edition, Prina and four others had been en route to Globe, Arizona to attend a Shriner's convention when Prina (the driver of the vehicle) encountered a turn in the road. The vehicle then
" Swerved into an embankment on the right hand side and in an attempt to right it, it was thrown too near the edge of the hillside on the left hand side of the road and went over, turning three times as it made its decent."
    The Copper Era notes that Prina was instantly killed in the accident, while two others were injured. Following funeral arrangements on the Saturday following his passing, Prina was buried at the Safford City Cemetery. Prina's widow Martha would also be interred here following her death in 1944.

From the Bisbee Daily Review, April 16, 1922.

From the Copper Era and Morenci Leader, April 14, 1922.

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