E.C. Conway Remembers Florence Packard

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This is the third column Jayne and I have written based on the interview we had with E.C. Conway on March 28, 2004. Lorraine Cline was with us and was very helpful.

"Do you remember Florence Packard?" I posed the question to 86-year-old E.C. Conway of Greenback.

"Oh, yes, I can remember when he still lived here," E.C. assured me.

"Did you ever hunt with him?"

"No, I was pretty young, but no one hunted with him. He hunted afoot, you know?"

"Yes, my mother (Dorothy Lovelady Pyle) knew about that and told me. She said that he hunted with fox terrier dogs as well as hounds and that he always wore moccasins."

"Say," E.C. interjected, "I did hunt a few times with Floyd, though (my grandfather, Floyd Pyle). He used to stay here some when he was hunting for the government. He caught a lot of lion, too. Once he caught an old she-cat with four big kittens. He got them all off a deer kill. I saw the hides and they were pretty near growed. Floyd said that he noticed that old female was baggin' up again -- about to give milk -- so he cut her open and there was four kittens inside her. He figured that was going to be the last kill she made for those big kittens. He rid the country of nine lion just on one hunt that time."

"That probably saved you some stock as well as helping out the deer population," I prompted. It didn't take much prompting. I had E.C. on a topic he understood and liked.

"Oh, sure it did. Nine lion would have killed some cows, you bet! They are hard on horses, too. We had a hell of a time tryin' to raise colts. Lions favor horse meat above anything. A mare and colt just can hardly make it in this country. An old female like that with kittens, she'll kill two deer a week all year long, and if she can't find the deer, she'll kill cows. Has to -- t' feed all them kittens. An old tom will kill a deer a week. No one huntin' lion much anymore." E.C. shook his head. "Ain't no deer either."

I turned the conversation back to Florence Packard. "Florence killed his share of lion, too. Was there a bounty back then or did he just hunt to protect the stock?"

"It was both," E.C. assured me. "There was a bounty of $20, then later, I think they moved it up to $25. That was a lot of money back in those days."

Florence Packard hunted lion for close to 30 years starting in about 1880.

E.C. continued, "Florence, he just liked to hunt. He would be gone a month, maybe six weeks at a time. One time he was plowing that field right down there," E.C. indicated an irrigated meadow just west of his house. "He had a big old horse he was using, and directly the horse showed up with his collar on and the lines coiled and tied up to the hames. Florence had thought about where there might be a lion. He just walked away from his horse, took his dogs and went lion huntin'."

"How did he keep up with his dogs afoot," I asked?

"Well, mostly he didn't," E.C. laughed. He had one old dog that wouldn't go to the other dogs. He trailed along behind them and Florence didn't have any trouble staying with him."

"Must have been mostly bloodhound, one of those real old cold-nosed dogs," I surmised.

"Oh, he was," E.C. laughed again. He had to smell it all out for himself. Florence would follow him -- knew that he would trail up the cat eventually and his other dogs would keep the lion treed 'till he got there. Sometimes he would hear the other dogs barking treed across a canyon. He would quit the old dog and go to the others. He was always sure to have a piece of lion meat for that old dog when he got to the tree."

"A man would need a dog like that if he was going to hunt lion afoot."

"Oh, he sure would," E.C. laughingly agreed.

"I don't remember what he called that dog, do you?" I asked.

"Jack. I think he called him Jack."

"Figures, we always had a dog named Jack. It's a good short name. When you're cussing a dog, you don't want to have to spend a lot of time on his name." We both laughed.

"I have heard that he killed over 200 lion in his lifetime," I continued.

"That's about right, maybe as many as 250. He spent a lot of time on the trail. He trailed a lion for four days once and caught him clear down at Salome. He would stay out until he had several hides before he would come in. He killed a lot of lion all right."

"Say, E.C., I know you've seen that poem that Lee Stockman wrote about Florence."

"Oh, sure, that's a dandy. I'm not much on poetry, but that one is a dandy."

Old Man Packard

by Lee Stockman, Jr.

He came 'cross the Tonto Basin before the white men set their roots

and a few Apache warriors followed in

pursuit

He wandered through the prickly pear and the saguaro stately and tall

but now you call him Old Man Packard if

you know his name at all

He thought he saw the glitter of gold where he camped late one night

but his mind was on the Apache in the dark

and dreary night

They say his heart was brave and true and he was handsome young and tall

but now you call him Old Man Packard if

you know his name at all

With his wife and family by his side he settled on Tonto Creek

in the days when the Tonto Basin was not

the land of the meek

He killed the deer and he fought the bear and he knew the wild coyotes call

but now you call him Old Man Packard if

you know his name at all

He raised his sons and daughters to be honest straight and true

then he left the Tonto Basin to the likes of

me and you

for his body now is buried and it's turned to Tonto Dust

and I doubt if a better end awaits all the

rest of us

Florence Packard was born in Missouri on April 20, 1850 to Amon Amynander and Anna Packard. Florence married Sarah Harer, daughter of David and Josephine Harer in Tempe. The couple came to the Greenback Valley where they worked with David and Josephine raising both cattle and hogs. He later moved down on Tonto Creek so that his children could attend school. He operated the "Packard Store" which was later known as Punkin Center. Florence had an apiary up Park Creek and sold honey at the store.

Florence was a great-uncle by marriage to E.C. Conway and a great-great-grandfather to me. My grandmother was Belle Russell Lovelady; my great-grandmother was Josie Packard Russell; my great-great-grandmother was Sarah Harer Packard, daughter of David Harer and wife of Florence Packard.

We throw the word pioneer around pretty freely today. Florence Packard was the "gen-u-ine" article. He was here with David Harer in 1874 when the Apaches were killing any fool who tried to settle in the Tonto Basin. He not only lived, but raised 11 children. He died Jan. 10, 1932 and is buried in the Cline Cemetery.

Florence Packard was truly a pioneer of the first order, but now you call him Old Man Packard, if you know his name at all.

A note from Jayne: Jinx Pyle's latest book, Mountain Cowboys, has arrived. He will be selling and signing the book from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 1 at Corral West. Y'all come!

Four generations of Pyles -- Elwood, Floyd, Gene and Jinx -- have hunted the Mountain for lion and bear to protect their cattle which ranged from Star Valley to Clear Creek, north of the Rim. This book is a history of the Pyle cowboys and hunters -- and those who hunted with them. It includes unpublished photos of Zane Grey and his movie company.

For more information call Git A Rope! Publishing at (928) 474-0380.

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