Early Brides Of The Rim Country

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There were too few women to match up with the many men on the Rim country frontier. When cowboys and prospectors did get married, it usually was because they wooed a teacher or sent for a mail order bride.

Isadore Christopher, for whom Christopher Creek is named, had bad luck with his first mail-order bride, and she returned home soon after arriving. However, his second attempt was very successful. Mary Hope was one of those brave ladies who for various reasons answered the advertisements and came West to marry a stranger. She lived with Christopher on their I-C ranch, in the log house that still stands near the creek and has been occupied for some time by the Ashby family. Mary Hope Christopher died in 1907, and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery. Her husband lost interest in the ranch after that, sold to the Bowmans, and moved to California.

Jesse Chilson found his bride in a school teacher. Lena Chipman was a Miami, Ariz., girl whose family worked in the mines and operated a hotel. She came to Payson to teach school in the little clapboard building Jesse, Charlie and "Boss" Chilson had helped to build on Main Street in 1901.

It was the fall of 1918, and Lena found herself eyeing the Marmon automobile driven around by that red-headed cattleman. Jesse also had an eye for Lena, and their romance blossomed after she accompanied him in that car on a raccoon hunt. When school was out for the summer, Lena returned to Miami and her family, but Jesse was lonely for her. He got her and brought her back for the traditional Payson Fourth of July celebration. She stayed for a whirlwind courtship, and they were married on July 19th.

As is true the world over, some Rim country women met their husbands by such chance they might call it destiny.

Such was the situation for Millie Catherine Hunnicutt, called Carrie. She was divorced and living on a Texas ranch when a call for help came from her sister. Ella Hunnicutt had married Anderson Lee Haught (known as Zane Grey's guide "Babe"), and one of their children became very ill. The required medical treatment could only be found in California, so Ella asked her sister Carrie to come to Arizona and care for the other children during their parents' absence. Carrie brought her own three small children, and after Ella and Babe Haught returned from California she stayed on. She was working as a waitress in the Herron Hotel dining room on Main Street when she met Sam Haught Jr.. He had been divorced also, in 1909, sold his H-Bar ranch in Rye and moved to Walnut Creek in Pleasant Valley.

One day, in 1910, when Sam was in Payson for supplies, he met Carrie at the post office. They struck up a conversation, began to compare notes on their Texas backgrounds, and discovered an amazing fact. It seems that when Sam Haught was coming to Arizona in 1885, he and others were driving a large herd of cattle from Texas. On their first night out from home, the cowboys camped at the ranch of Will and Julia Glover. Their hosts visited the campfire, and Mrs. Glover was carrying two baby girls in her arms. One was hers, she explained, and the other was the daughter of Will's deceased sister. Sam Haught held the two babies in his arms, admired them, and thought little of the moment until now, many years later. The baby he held was Carrie Hunnicutt.

To discover such a strange twist of fate, Sam and Carrie's friendship immediately blossomed into courtship. A year later they were married, and she moved to Walnut Creek where they raised Carrie's three children, had seven of their own and took in Sam's teenage son Jim Sam, who had left his mother in California to join the newly formed family. The couple came to be known as Momma Sam and Poppa Sam Haught. After Sam died in 1945 Carrie married Columbus "Lum" Martin in 1950, and she died in 1977.

Some Rim country women arrived with their settler families. Duette Ellison was known as a real cowgirl, her rancher father's "right hand man." This daughter of Jesse W. Ellison had come with the family from Texas in 1885, and settled on what would be called Ellison Creek.

In the fall of 1890, a fellow from Globe, running for Gila County Recorder, came by the ranch to elicit the Ellison's support. His visits were repeated more often than necessary for political purposes, because he had taken a special interest in Duette. The politician was 31 and she was 23.

During the following years, he was rising through the ranks as a Territorial legislator and held other county offices, but his visits to the Ellison ranch were frequent and the courtship with Duette continued. For 13 years, she put him off about marriage because she felt needed at home. One suspects her father discouraged her leaving, she was such a good cow hand.

At last the suitor had enough waiting, and gave Duette an ultimatum. He would be in Holbrook Feb. 24, and she should be there too. She was, and they were married, honeymooned in Mexico City, and had their only child, Virginia, in June 1905.

Duette was the love of her husband's life and strongly supported him in the background during his illustrious career of Arizona leadership.

In December of 1911, he was elected Arizona State's first governor. His name, George Wylie Paul Hunt. He always went by his initials, G. W. P. Hunt.

Duette and Governor Hunt took her parents, Jesse and Susan Ellison, into their home in Phoenix and cared for them in their old age. All four are buried in a monument there, in Papago Park,

A mail-order, bride, a teacher, a visiting sister, a cow-girl -- these were some of the women who found romance in the Rim country.

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