The Story Of Robert Duke Hale



This story is about my maternal grandfather, Robert Duke Hale, known as "Duke."

Duke built the historic Hale Ranch in 1910. Since then five generations of Hales have created successful brands, including XZ Bar, DUK, R Triangle and the Hashknife.


Robert Duke Hale was born in Texas in 1880, but migrated to Arizona in 1910, establishing the Hale Ranch in Gisela, where he lived most of his life.

But the Hale Ranch is just one part of a long and colorful history of one of Rim country's pioneer families.

Duke was born July 7, 1880 in Ranger, Eastland County, Texas, the fifth of seven children born to John Johnston Hale and Rebecca Ann Thomas. He lived most of his life in Gisela where he established the Hale Ranch. The history of his father, his sister Eunice Hale Lovelady, his brother-in-law James Lovelady, and his brother Forest Hale must be included in this story because their lives were so entwined.

Duke's father, John Johnston Hale of Virginia, was a Civil War veteran. In 1861, during his senior year at the University of Virginia, his class became divided over the the Civil War. John joined the Union Army and rose from a private to captain of engineers. After the war, he worked as a surveyor and a carpenter. In the mid-1860s he married Rebecca Ann Thomas, also of Virginia. They had a daughter, Alice Hale, born in 1867 in Virginia, who died before she was a year old.

John Johnston Hale moved his family to San Angelo, Texas where he established a cattle ranch and continued to work as a surveyor and carpenter. Daughter, Eunice Hale, was born in 1872 in San Angelo, Texas. The family next moved to Ranger, Eastland County, Texas, where five more children were born: Lela Hale in 1874; Hettie Hale in 1877; Robert Duke Hale in 1880; Forest Hale in 1882; and Grover Cleveland Hale in 1884.

Three days after Grover was born, Rebecca Hale died of childbirth complications. John Johnston Hale worried about the fate of his infant, motherless son. Luckily, his sister, Belinda Hale Whitman, also had a baby, and she took little Grover in to raise. He lived with her until he was grown.

John Johnston Hale married his second wife, Minta Caldona Fuston on April 5, 1891 in Old Glory, Stonewall County, Texas. He was 18 years older than Minta. The first four of their six children were born in Texas: Joe Johnston Hale in 1892; Charles Darling (Dee) Hale in 1895; Stephen Pleas (Doc) Hale in 1898; and Mary Violet Hale in 1901.

John Johnston Hale's oldest living daughter, Eunice, 11 years old at the time of her own mother's death, became a mother to her younger siblings. Forest was 2, Duke was 3, Hettie was 7, and Lela was 9. John Johnston Hale lived with his children and supported them.

On Dec. 18, 1887 Eunice married James Pleasant "Jim" Lovelady in Dickens County, Texas. James, 37 at the time and nearly a quarter century Eunice's senior, was a well-established rancher.

In earlier years, James drove large herds of Longhorn cattle along the Chisholm Trail. In 1886, James and his crew delivered 800 head of cattle to Pleasant Valley, Ariz. while the Pleasant Valley War was at its peak. James eventually became "Wagon Boss" for the famous Matador Ranch of San Angelo, Texas.

Eunice's four younger siblings, Lela, Hettie, Duke, and Forest, moved in with the newlyweds. The foursome lived with their sister and brother-in-law until they were grown.

In 1898, the Hales and the Loveladys moved to Blue, Ariz. Both families soon established neighboring cattle ranches. The old Hale home still stands there today, although the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service plans to raze it soon.

Duke and Forest worked cattle for their dad on this ranch.

John was Justice of the Peace in Luna, N.M. for a few years in the early 1900s. The two younger Hale children were born in Luna: Katie Ethel Hale in 1904 and Thelma Myrtle Hale in 1907.

The Loveladys also had a home in Magdalena, N.M. James sometimes worked at the cattle shipping yards there. Their first three children were born in Texas: Walter Lee Lovelady in 1891; Frank Duke Lovelady in 1894; and Vivian Lovelady in 1896. Maggie Bell Lovelady was born in 1898 in Magdalena, N.M.; Josie May Lovelady was born "on the Blue" (Blue, Ariz.) in 1902; and Bessie Elizabeth was born in 1907 in Magdalena.

Frank Duke Lovelady later wrote that although he was a little boy, he would never forget how the family wagons were lowered down onto the Blue. His dad, James, Duke, and Forest were all on horseback, holding back the wagons with ropes. Additionally, a big pine tree was cut down and dragged behind the wagon with the branches facing forward. It was difficult and dangerous, so the family walked "down on the Blue."

In 1904, Duke and Forest went to work for the newly formed USDA Forest Service since there wasn't much money in the cattle business for two young men trying to support their families. Duke, a packer for the surveyors, was the first Hale to travel into the Tonto Basin. He camped with the surveyors a few nights at Gisela, then at Roosevelt.

In 1906, Forest Hale became the first forest ranger in Gisela. He married Dollie Neal, daughter of Will and Ellen Neal, on December 24, 1906, in Gisela. They lived at the ranger station and had their first child, Myrtle Ellen Hale, in 1907.

Duke returned to the Tonto Basin with the surveyors in 1906. This time he worked in Gisela, Pleasant Valley, Roosevelt, and near Globe. Since Forest was living in Gisela, Duke visited often. It was during this time that he met his wife, Mary Bertha "Birdie" Neal, sister to Dollie Neal. They were married July 12, 1908 in Gisela.

Forest wasn't a ranger for long. In 1908, Duke and Birdie, and Forest and Dollie with baby Myrtle, moved from Gisela to Luna, N.M. A lack of steady work forced the family back to Gisela. They were always glad they had made the trip because they were able to visit their sister, Eunice Hale Lovelady, before her death in 1909 in Magdalena.

After Forest and Dollie -- who had a permit to run cattle, branding 7E -- returned from Luna they homesteaded a ranch on the East Verde River. Their second child, Clarence Riley "Coony" Hale was born here in 1914. The family lived on the ranch for 18 years. During this time, Bessie Lovelady lived with them and attended school with Myrtle.

In 1928, Forest, Dollie, Myrtle, and Coony Hale moved back to Gisela and bought part of the original William Neal Ranch. There, they lived out their lives. Forest died in 1956 and Dollie died in 1983.

In 1910, Duke borrowed money and bought a place, which would later be known as the Hale Ranch in Gisela. The property came with a house, but no livestock. He started out with a few head of cattle then let the herd build up. Duke planted and sold enough alfalfa to pay off the ranch the first year.

Duke and Birdie had three children, all born in Gisela: Robert Hale in 1914; Ralph Hale in 1917; and Anna Mae Hale (Peace) in 1920. Duke and Birdie lived out their lives on the Hale Ranch. Birdie died in 1959 and Duke died in 1962. Both are buried in Gisela.

Ralph Hale inherited the Hale Ranch in 1955, then his son, Ralph Duke Hale, inherited it in 1979. Ralph Duke still owns most of it today along with his son, Taylor Hale.

James Pleasant Lovelady loved the Rim Country and often came here to visit his family: Walter Lovelady in Payson; Duke Hale, Joe Hale, and Lela Hale in Gisela; and Forest Hale and Bessie Lovelady on the East Verde. Finally, he moved here and became Payson's first elected constable in 1919. He held the position for nearly a decade until 1928. In 1930, his health was failing. He went live in California with his daughter, Vivian, and died there in 1934.

Duke Hale had 11 siblings and a large network of in-laws. Eunice married James P. Lovelady; Hettie married Kitt Casto; Forest married Dollie Neal; Grover married Robbie Lee Webb; Charles Darling (Dee) married Lucy Hall; Stephen Pleas (Doc) married Pearl Balke, Mary married Jack Richardson; Kate married Robert Barnes; and Thelma married Robert Balke. Lela and Joe never married.

Duke Hale is remembered as a good, honest man who loved children, animals and his large family. He was a skilled cattle rancher who was taught by the best, Jim Lovelady. In addition to alfalfa, he raised fields of potatoes, onions, sugar cane, and tended orchards of apricots, peaches, pears, and apples. He raised hogs and cured his own hams. His children said he provided well for his family. He served on the Gisela School Board and he made coffee for the all-night dances. He liked people and people liked him.

NOTE: Look for books by Jayne Peace and Jinx Pyle, owners of Git A Rope! Publishing, Inc., "Looking Through the Smoke," "A Cultural History of the Women of Gila County," "Blue Fox," "History of Gisela," "Mountain Cowboys," and the newly released "Rodeo 101, the history of the Payson Rodeo," at Jackalope Books and Sue Malinski's Art and Antique Corral. If you want a numbered "Rodeo 101" collector's edition book, call Git A Rope! Publishing at (928) 474-0380, Sue Malinski at (928) 472-4677, or Lorraine Cline at (928) 479- 2347. It sells for $100. The soft cover sells for $25. "Rodeo 101" includes the early history of Payson, as well as the history of the Payson Rodeo, which is older than any rodeo in the world. It has 375 photos of pioneers, rodeo cowboys and cowgirls and rodeo queens.

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