Ellen Fuller Comes To Pine

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The story of Pine cannot be told without reference to Ellen Fuller coming into Arizona Territory.

The patriarch of the family was Elijah Knapp Fuller, a devout Mormon, who came to Utah from New York State by way of Navoo, Ill.

In the custom of those times he was a polygamist, marrying six wives, though not all at once, and he began an extensive family in Utah.

Elijah Knapp Fuller's first wife Harriet had died in 1845. He married his second wife in 1846, but they separated 10 years later and were divorced.

She remarried in Utah with her five Fuller children.

Elijah married Sarah (Sally) Ann in 1850, and she remained in Utah with her one child.

The patriarch took a fourth wife in 1851, Ellen Celeste Woodward. She and Elijah were called to several different missions for the church in Utah and Nevada communities, and during those years they had 11 children.

She was a small woman, 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighing hardly over 100 pounds. Meanwhile, Elijah had taken a fifth wife, Elizabeth, who died a few days after giving birth to her only child in 1865.

The next year Elijah took his sixth wife, Harriet Alice Walker.

In 1878-79, three of Elijah Knapp Fuller's sons by his first wife, Harriet, were in the party called by their church to settle in Arizona's Tonto Basin and Rim country. They were Wyllys "Wid" Darwin Fuller (whose wife Anne died in Utah during childbirth before he came to settle permanently in Arizona), Cornelius (who married Anne Elizabeth Lewis in 1865), and Revilo (who married Mary Davis Everett, also in 1865).

With their families and others called by the church, they settled on the East Verde River at and around the confluence with Pine Creek.

Word of Arizona's opportunities spread among other members of the Fuller clan in Utah. Ellen, who had 11 children, was discontented with life in Utah. When the Arizona Fullers reported the delights of their new location she decided to join them.

Her husband Elijah and his sixth wife Harriet planned to follow, but he was engaged in another mission for the church. During that time he broke his hip in a farm accident and was never able to come to Arizona.

By this time some of Ellen's children were married. Her sons David, John Hyram and Manson James Fuller had come earlier with their uncles to Arizona.

Before making her move, Ellen took a trip to Massachusetts to visit friends and relatives, taking along her youngest daughter, Edith.

Upon returning to Utah, she and the rest of her family moved to Pine. It was the spring of 1880.

The village had a fort in which the residents took cover when bands of Indians would break from the San Carlos reservation and raid the ranches.

Ellen and her family lived in that fort while her stepsons Cornelius, Wyllys and Revilo helped build a four-room log house. The house was situated on the east side of Pine Creek along a bend in the (original) road, just before it crossed the creek to become the south end of Pine's present Main Street.

In the summer of 1882 the last major Indian outbreak occurred, resulting in the death of several ranchers and a military operation on top of the Rim called The Battle of Big Dry Wash. The Army destroyed nearly 100 of the Apaches, and after that, the threat of Indian raids quieted down.

Prior to this time, most of the families farming on the East Verde River had moved up to Pine because the Apache threat was too great.

Ellen had at least six of her children married and near her in the Pine area, with a growing tribe of grandchildren to enjoy.

Even though she must have had much family support, Ellen earned a living keeping a garden, fruit trees, a cow and chickens. She also hired out as a midwife.

Pine resident Isaac Hunt had this memory of her in a 1961 reminiscence. "The first person to sell merchandise in Pine was Aunt Ellen Fuller. She sold notions and candy to folks in her front room. Then her son opened a store. Crackers were sold out of a barrel and candy from wooden buckets."

By the 1890s the Apache people were returning to their homelands from the reservations. They peacefully lived among the white settlers, hiring out to do chores. Also, there was much travel between Apache settlements in the Verde Valley, Payson and San Carlos.

The Fuller store was on the main road between Payson and Camp Verde.

Ellen's granddaughter, Edith May McClendon Brown, wrote her biography, and included the following passage about the trading post:

"To help herself and the children she went out as a midwife. This work proved very hard for her as she grew older, so she decided to open a store and trade with the ranchers and Indians. On the corner of her lot she had a building erected. She put up a sign, ‘E. C. Fuller, General Merchandise.' The stock was made up of such staples as flour, sugar, baking powder, corn, oatmeal, bacon and ham, candy and tobacco. She also carried yardage of calico, outing flannel, unbleached muslin, overalls and a few pair of shoes. People sent by mail order for the things they wanted that she did not carry.

"The little town of Pine was situated between two Indian reservations. This being the case she had a good Indian trade as they were very fond of bright calico prints for dresses for the children and women. The Indians brought baskets, pine nuts and blankets for trade.

"Ellen's supplies were brought by freight wagon, some 100 miles away. These trips took a driver from 10 days to two weeks to make the trip. In winter they got supplies from Mesa and in summer from Flagstaff.

"She operated this store until she was 81 years old. She then sold out to one of her sons."

Ellen Fuller had sold the trading post to her son David. "A Rim Country History" article (page 107) written by Ralph Fuller, great nephew, states, "Dave ran the store for many years and was the owner of the first automobile in Pine, a Hupmobile. He also had a Dodge truck that he used to transport goods for the store. Gasoline was hauled in 5-gallon cans until the first gasoline pump was installed."

Historian Mike Anderson's book, "A Place In The Land -- The Settlement of Pine Arizona 1878-1900," contains a map in which the Fuller store is located on Main Street, on the west side of the road and south of the school and the first church. It is possible that after David Fuller took over the store he moved it to this site.

Ellen's granddaughter continued, "During the years she lived in Pine she was friend and counselor to all. She was lovingly known as Aunt Ellen, not only by the people of the community, but by the Indians as well.

"She was a woman of strong character, courageous and fearless, firm but gentle, loving and kind; especially to her children and grandchildren.

"She was always very proud, always kept herself neat and dressed in the best that could be bought. She loved the beautiful and finer things of life.

"She never lost that New England accent and loved to give recitations and poems and tell stories of her pioneer experiences.

"She never forgot her friends, those living and dead. Many Sunday afternoons found her walking through the little pine grove to the cemetery to visit with those loved ones and friends that were resting there.

"She made trips to Salt Lake City and Los Angeles to visit her sisters and also to Spokane, Wash. to visit her daughter, Lucy. In 1915 she had started on a trip to San Diego, Calif. to visit the World's Fair. This journey was never made as she took sick at her daughter Edith's in Mesa, and died on Jan. 14, 1915. She was 83 years old at the time of her death.

"All her life she was a true and faithful Latter-day Saint, a Relief Society worker. She was also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

"She was an inspiration to all of her children and grandchildren and was loved by all who knew her."

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