Julia Viola Randall came from Denver to live on the East Verde River with her mother and half-sister CeCe in November 1901. Julia had turned 2 years old the previous Aug. 9. Her father, George Albert Randall (no relation to the Randall families of Pine), had come the year before to take a position as superintendent of the Grand Prize Mine on Webber Creek. The mine operated a smelter near the East Verde crossing, and a short distance from there, up Sycamore Creek, were the bunkhouse and cabins for the workers.
The Randall family lived in one of those cabins until the mine closed its operation in 1906 and they moved to Payson.
Julia's mother, Rose, purchased the old McDonald Saloon, that had lately been a mercantile store, and the family lived there until George could build them a home just north of Main Street on the old Pine Road (McLane).
Julia's father was Payson's Justice of the Peace from 1908 to 1918. In addition to being the judge, he was active in the community as a notary public and the one who conducted funerals and weddings.
During this time in Payson, Julia saw the beginning of local legends. For example, just before her 11th birthday in 1910 she was playing croquet with Sarah McDonald and others in front of the judge's office when an out-of-control cowboy named Jack Lane almost ran the children over on his horse.
He was racing up and down Main Street shooting his gun wildly in the air, and ended up in front of the 16-to-1 Saloon (where the Ox Bow is today).
He pointed his pistol at Judge Randall who had come out to quiet Lane down, when Bill Colcord and Sam Stewart came to the rescue and shot Lane dead on his horse.
Julia had a lovely voice and desired to become a professional singer. She said, however, "my parents encouraged me to stay away from it because they thought I should get into something more stable, something I could make a living at those days."
To become a teacher seemed natural. Her mother had been a teacher, and a close family friend, May Herron (of Payson's Herron Hotel family), influenced Julia to choose that vocation.
At the age of 15, Julia had completed all the schooling Payson could offer, and went to Flagstaff to enter the Normal School (later to become Northern Arizona University). Her mother accompanied her on the wagon trip.
While they were there, word came from Payson that George Randall had suffered a stroke. It left him crippled for the remaining six years of his life.
In 1916, Julia graduated with a two-year certificate, and the 17-year-old girl became the teacher at the Star Valley School. During her tenure there, she lived at the Andrew Ogilvie home, with the parents of Anna Mae Deming. "They gave me a little white horse," she reported, "I rode him home to Payson every weekend. He'd stand still while I picked grapes along the way."
Anna Mae Deming, recalls the horse had "the revolting name of Goo-Goo."
Julia's second year of teaching was in Pine, and then she accepted an appointment to the Payson School. After one month, she became acutely ill with appendicitis and was out of circulation for almost a year.
In the fall of 1923, Julia returned to teaching at Payson, and remained at the school for 46 years.
She continued her education with classes at the university in Tempe.
On one occasion, while returning by stage up the Apache Trail, she missed her connection at Roosevelt. Paul Harrison was operating the mail and passenger stage from there to Payson, and she knew he would be making an overnight stop at the Angler's Inn at the far end of Roosevelt Lake. Julia located a man who took her by boat to the Angler's Inn where she caught up with the stage for home.
Miss Julia endeared herself to her students and to the entire community over the lengthy span of her years as a teacher.
Carroll Cox, writing in a 1995 tribute, said, "Miss Julia's impact on the community was not limited to education. She was also a charter member and active participant in the Payson Womans Club, the town's most powerful force behind local progress during the 1950s and 1960s. She was also one of the first members of the Daughters of Gila County Pioneers and was a lifetime member of the Northern Gila County Historical Society, formed in 1976."
Julia Randall never married, and commented with a wry smile, "I don't know whether I never found the right man or the right man never found me, but the effect is still the same."
Nevertheless, her "children" were legion and her tenure in Payson was long enough for her to educate three successive generations of Rim country families.
In all the years since, they have "raised up to call her blessed."
She was a strict teacher. She said, "People would bring their children from the city and think they'd pass because this was a hick town. They didn't with me though, not unless they made the grades."
One of her students, Anna Mae Deming, recalled that while being very strict, Miss Julia "was always loving and kind. There wasn't much monkey business, but if there was, she paddled with a ruler after school. And she sent a note home to your parents telling the reason for the spanking. If you were sick she would care for you, and if she felt you were not eating a good breakfast before you came to school, another note was written to your parents."
Billy Haught, a son of Richard and grandson of Anderson Lee Haught, Zane Grey's guide, lived near the school on Oak Street. He recalled how Julia Randall would gather up the boys and girls and lead them to Sunday school. He reflected on those days, "God was blessed when Miss Julia Randall came here. She taught school for 50 years. Those of you who do not know her cannot imagine the love and dedication of this woman. Not only for little children but for all mankind. Absolute dedication through love. I used to go to church in Payson, and Miss Randall was always there. She set an example for us all."
On May 17, 1969, Julia Randall retired after completing 50 years of teaching in the Rim country. The chamber of commerce declared that to be Julia Randall Day, and a banquet was held. That day, the school board named the old rock school for her, the Julia Randall Elementary School. She had taught there from the day it was first opened in 1933.
Miss Julia continued an active retirement in the community, and died March 8, 1990. The newspaper solemnly headlined, "Goodbye Miss Julia." A lengthy article by her friend Carroll Cox ended, "You will be missed by many who appreciated your indomitable spirit, your strength of character and your unswerving dedication to instilling a sense of responsibility and good citizenship in generations of northern Gila County students."
- The Randalls' Main Street building originally stood on the vacant property between today's Mountain Air Shop and the Ox Bow Inn. It was later removed to become an addition on the Payson Womans Club. The Womans Club building was later moved by the Connally family back to the south side of Main Street when the Womans Club began the new building that would house the Payson library.
- Spoken to Diane Palm for a social studies report February 1986.