'Mammy' Haught Was A Rim Country Mother

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They called her "Mammy." She was born in England on Dec. 22, 1869, the youngest of six children in the Bell family. As was the custom, none of the children had middle names. She was Sarah Bell.

Her father, Thomas Bell, came to America first, and then his wife, Margaret, followed with the six children, sometime in the 1870s.

The family settled in Dallas County, Texas, where the teenage Sarah was courted by Henry Haught. His forebears had come from Germany, migrating to Pennsylvania under the influence of William Penn, but the family had continued on to Virginia, then Illinois, and finally to Texas. Henry Haught and Sarah Bell were married on Sept. 2, 1888, he was 21 and she was four months short of 19.

Soon they had two children, Samuel and Ida Bell. At that point they moved to Oklahoma's Indian Territory and joined Henry's half-brother who needed help with his very large farm.

Two more children were born there, Mary Margaret, later affectionately called "Babe," and Columbus, nicknamed "Boy."

As the Haught descendants multiplied, many of the cousins had the same first names, so to keep them straight, most developed nicknames. Samuel would later be called "Green Valley Sam," and the children of Henry and Sarah called their parents "Pappy" and "Mammy." They would be known by those sobriquets until they died many years later.

Henry's Uncle Alfred (Fred Haught) had been the first of the family to come to the Rim country, and he found it so rich with game and rangeland he urged others to follow. Two of Henry's other uncles, Peter and Samuel Ache Haught, had already settled here when the call became too strong for Henry and Sarah to resist.

In 1897 they packed up their four children and Henry's 69-year-old, widowed mother Mary Ann, along with a nephew, and began the trek. They had two covered wagons, and were joined by families in two other wagons.

The young mother of four faced many challenges on the long and difficult trip, especially since she was pregnant with a nearly full-term baby. While crossing New Mexico, 8-year-old Sam broke his arm falling off a rock and Mammy set the arm. On another occasion one of the horses had to be destroyed after breaking a leg in a gopher hole.

Along the way, they rescued a calf from certain death because its mother had perished, and Mammy fed it milk from their cows. She raised it to become a prize bull on the Haught ranch, the first white-face bull brought to the Rim country.

Their daughter, Ida Bell, nicknamed "Sis," later recalled how they stopped at every windmill to refill the water kegs that hung on the side of the wagons. "We only got a drink at noon, morning and night. They never stopped to give us a drink, and we didn't know enough to have a little can in the wagon with us."

When they did stop they'd build a fire to cook the meal, and at night let the chickens out of their cage to browse. As darkness fell the chickens would come back to roost.

While crossing the White Mountains of Arizona "Mammy" knew her time had come. The wagon train stopped for several days while she gave birth to their fifth child, a girl, and she rested. The little one was named after a character in a magazine article they had been reading along the way.

The story was about Irene Champion, a millionaire, and so they named the new Haught daughter Irene Million Champion. She would be called "Million."

After the barren plains of Texas the country they were now entering "looked like a million" to Henry's family.

When the family continued on they reached the Mogollon Rim and with great difficulty came over the Rim at Gordon Canyon. Million was 10 days old when they reached Uncle Fred's place, which at that time was on the old Ellison Apple Farm at the headwaters of Ellison Creek.

The Henry Haught's stayed there for three years, then moved several miles east to land owned by Elam Boles. There the family worked together to build a log house, complete with a dirt floor.

Early in 1909 the water gave out, and the family moved again. This time they settled along Tonto Creek in the area of today's Tonto Creek Estates, on a homestead that included today's Baptist Camp. It was called the Dick Williams' place.

They had dismantled their log house, and carted it to the new location where it was reconstructed. This house had no windows, and the candles for lights were made from tallow in a mold Henry's mother brought with her.

Mammy apparently thrived on this difficult role as a pioneer mother. She worked alongside her husband in their developing cattle business, kept a large garden, canned food for the winters ahead, and sewed all the clothes for the girls.

(Next week: Mammy Haught helps the family settle Little Green Valley.)

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