Tales Of Gila County's Pioneer Women



The book, "A Cultural History of the Pioneer Women of Gila County, Arizona and Their Descendants, Volume 1" is available from the Daughters of the Gila County Pioneers for $25. Call Lois Bissett at (928) 474-2949. This book contains many interesting stories of the early families of Gila County. Following are excerpts from a few of the stories:

Rosenda Lee Belluzzi Hardt (1883-1966)

Grandmother of Bill Hardt and Chuck Hardt of Payson.

Around 1901, Rose helped her sister, Jo, run a boarding house in Payson for Mart McDonald. That boarding house was located where the Ox Bow Inn stands today.

Miss Rose Belluzzi was married at age 27 to Henry Fredrick Hardt on Christmas Day, 1910, at the Belluzzi homestead. As the newlyweds rode horseback that snowy day from their wedding to their home at Jake's Corner, they took the route to the west of Payson, and Rose fell in love with the beauty of the snow-covered oak trees and grounds of old Payson Cemetery. She expressed at the time that she wanted to be buried there, if possible. This did become her final resting place many years later.

Rose had an Apache woman, Minnie Peoria, who helped her with the washing. The water was carried from the spring and put in a big tub over an open fire out in the yard where the clothes were scrubbed and boiled.

Rose was known for her caring ways and for the ways she would reach out and help others in the community. She was truly a kind heart.

(written by Angela Taylor Godac)

Martha Georgiann Medlin Greer (1855-1928)

Grandmother of Oscar Greer and Ronnie O. McDaniel of Payson, and Barbara Ashby and Ralph Hale of Gisela.

As a child growing up (in Texas), Martha Georgiann was very afraid of the Comanche Indians. The Comanches raided outlying areas and children were taught to run into the trees, cover themselves with leaves and be very still. When going to the creek to fetch water, the children went through the cane breaks so they could be hidden from view. On occasion, they heard the Indians talking while watering their horses. There was an episode where a neighbor woman was hit over the head by an Indian. The blow drove the comb in her hair into her head and killed her. One of the neighbor children was hidden in the oven as raiding Comanches killed his family.

Martha Georgiann stabbed an Indian in the arm when he was getting into their wagon as they came west. It is not known whether he died or not, but she cut his arm off as he retreated.

She married George Thomas Greer in Texas on Sept. 28 1871. (He) was a rancher and a Texas Ranger. Sometimes he would be gone for weeks at a time. Martha didn't like all the time alone on an isolated ranch with only the children.

One time when she was alone with the children, she observed an Indian man approaching the dugout in which the family lived. The door had a latch where someone could reach in and open it. When the man reached in to open the door, Martha cut off his hand with either a meat cleaver or a large butcher knife. The hand fell on the floor. Needless to say, he didn't return.

(written by Barbara Hale Ashby)

Lillias Robertson Watson Goodfellow (1853-1936)

Aunt to Anna Mae Ogilvie Deming.

Lillias Robertson Watson married David Gowan Goodfellow on June 9, 1883, in a beautiful Presbyterian Church ceremony in Bevrie, Scotland. She was finally convinced by her handsome husband to leave her homeland, her music students, her church, her family, and travel 6,000 miles to Arizona, one of the wildest places in the United States of America.

Only a letter mailed from Flagstaff, Arizona Territory by David Douglas Gowan, Goodfellow's uncle, describing the beauty and potential of the natural bridge in central Arizona was the convincing factor. Gowan said he would give the land and the fantastic work of nature to the Goodfellows if they would come and claim the property.

When the big freight wagon, pulled by eight horses, driven by David Gowan and Revilo Fuller reached the top of the hill carrying all of the Goodfellow possessions, it could go no farther. Eight burros were waited to have pack saddles placed on their backs and the Goodfellow possessions loaded on them.

As the burros wound down the steep, rocky trail, the little family walked the last one and one-half miles to a stick and mud hut that David Gowan was living in on the bridge. As they descended that steep, awful trail, following along behind the burros, Lillias said to her husband, "You are taking us to hell and we'll never get out alive!"

(written by Anna Mae Ogilvie Deming)

Roxie Ann Libby Solomon Cline (1893-1989)

Aunt of Marguerite Noble of Payson; grandmother of Roxie Holt of Tonto Basin.

She always said, "I began my history in the Tonto Basin when I married George Cline in 1911." She related her meeting with him. "First time I ever saw him, I was toting a 5-pound lard can of water from Tonto Creek. He had ridden a bronc out of the Sierra Anchas. He got down off his horse and packed the water for me." And a good marriage it was, lasting 65 years until George's death at 90 years of age in 1976.

After this initial meeting, love developed. Then the Solomon family moved to the Herron Ranch on Webber Creek (later Camp Geronimo, the Boy Scout Ranch). It was here that George rode horseback from lower Tonto to claim his betrothed. Roxie borrowed her brother's horse to ride to Payson for the wedding.

By horseback the couple traveled to their home in lower Tonto Basin. George had built his bride a two-room house with money borrowed from T.T. Grazier, a store owner at Roosevelt. The bride said, "We did have a well, but no pulley. Drew all the water up by hand."

George called her "Blossom," and so she remained all their married life. Blossom was petite, with expressive blue-gray eyes, lustrous autumn-brown hair, a perky smile, and a vivacious personality. She weighed less than 100 pounds, and her husband said she wasn't "no bigger than a bar of soap after a hard week's wash."

The first years until her son, "Doc" was born, Roxie rode the range everyday. She said, "We'd rope mavericks and tie up all night. Next day, those wild cattle were docile and led easy. We'd bring 'em in. We only had three horses -- Old Blue, Indian and Brownie."

When a guest came to visit her, Roxie hardly finished saying, "Howdy, come in," until she said, "Have you eaten?" She kept up old-time hospitality in feeding all who came by.

(written by Marguerite Noble)

Laura Jane Neal Bohme Tomerlin (1859-1935)

Grandmother of Jane Bohme Hale.

Jane (Bohme) arrived in Arizona with her family in 1889. She accompanied her brothers, Will and Dan Neal, and their families. They traveled by wagon. The family settled in Gisela in 1891, where Jane married Cornelius "Neely" Jackson. They were divorced a short time later and Jane and young Will moved to Globe.

Jane married Ben Bound in Globe in 1892. He had been a bugler in the Army. Their marriage was also short-lived and Jane subsequently moved to an area northwest of Miami where she and her son, Will Bohme, lived in a tent house. This location was only a few miles from Phin Clanton's home. He and Jane were partners in some mining claims.

Jane and Phin Clanton (who was a brother to Billy Clanton who was killed at the OK Corral) were married Oct. 14, 1902. Young Will loved and respected Phin Clanton and my father was named for him, Phineas Fay Bohme. Phin was a good stepfather to Will, filling the role of father that had been sorely lacking in young Will's life.

They raised Angora goats on what is now the Bohme Allotment prior to the Forest Service removing all goats from public land in about 1905.

Phin died in January 1905, from pneumonia, after being caught in a bad snowstorm on Webster Mountain while herding his goats.

Jane did wash at the mining company's guest house and took in boarders to make ends meet around this time. She always had to work very hard. A single mother in those days did not have many options for employment.

Will worked for the freight company driving mule teams that hauled ore from the Continental Mine to the Old Dominion. The wagon tracks are still visible in the rocks west of the Bohme Ranch on Webster Gulch.

Every payday, Will bought another cow. He and Jane ran cattle on the range subsequently designated the Bohme Allotment by the U.S. Forest Service.

Jane married again on April 2, 1910. Her new husband, Pete Spence (aka Lark Ferguson, Lars Ferguson) was another participant in the goings on in Tombstone around the time of the murders at the OK Corral. Pete was also good to Jane and Will.

(written by Jane Bohme Hale)

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