The other day someone asked Jinx and I how the Oxbow Inn got its name, so I dug into our files and found this information from Marguerite Noble: "The Oxbow Inn was named after Oxbow Hill, a well-known landmark south of Payson. It was the ‘hump' in the road in the old days that meant one had left the desert foothills to climb into the pine-juniper mountains -- that is, if one could get up the hill.
"In the B.B. days (Before the Beeline Highway), cars often unloaded the passengers, and these passengers put rocks under the hind wheels and then helped push the vehicle up the steep dirt incline. Now the paved Beeline is a double highway, the cars speed by, the passengers little knowing that they pass the spot named because Apaches slaughtered a traveler's oxen and left the yokes, and that it was here the wily Indians fired the brush which trapped and killed some oncoming soldiers and forced the remainder to desert the Oxbow Trail and flee through the chaparral."
Two more words we are asked about are Mazatzal and Mogollon. What are the origins of the words? What do they mean? The Mazatzal Mountains, located on the west side of the Tonto Basin, were named by the Apaches; the name means "rough" or "rugged." The mountain range is about 40 miles long and forms a dividing line between Gila and Maricopa counties. North Peak is located at the north end of the Mazatzals. The Mazatzal Mountains were a stronghold for the Apaches during the 1870s-80s Indian/Army campaigns. Mazatzal is the most well-known Apache word in this area.
Mogollon, the name given to the majestic rim to the north of us, was named for Don Juan Ignacio Flores de Mogollon, Captain General (Governor) of New Mexico from 1712 to 1715. Some say Mogollon means "hanging on" or "parasite" in Spanish. We don't know for sure. Some locals pronounce the word as "Muggy-own," but my family never did. Neither did Jinx's. It is definitely a Spanish word. The Mogollon Rim runs generally from northwest to southeast across approximately the eastern two-thirds of Arizona. It is the exposed lower edge of the great Colorado Plateau and is the result of great upheavals of the earth's crust during the late Mesozoic times which raised the plateau and caused the land to the south to drop. The land that dropped is the great Tonto Basin which extends from the foot of the Mogollon Rim to Roosevelt Lake.
The Mogollon Rim is part of an extensive mountain range that extends into New Mexico. High in the Mogollon Mountains is the old gold and silver mining camp of Mogollon. It is well worth the drive to see it. The road to Mogollon, hacked out of mountainsides by convict labor in 1897, rises to Whitewater Mesa and winds up the western slopes of the Mogollon Mountains. It climbs past Windy Point, near Slaughterhouse Spring, and over Blue Bird Gulch. You round a corner, and across Silver Creek Canyon is New Mexico's most dramatic ghost town view: the remains of the Little Fannie Mine.
And we are asked, "Who's Jake?" As in Jake's Corner, located about 20 miles south of Payson on the road to Globe. Let's start at the beginning. This area was first settled by Henrich Frederick Christian Hardt and his wife, Annie Eliza Harer. Henrich was born in Germany, came to the United States where he was naturalized and then served in the Civil War. After the war, he came west. In Tempe, he met and married Annie Eliza Harer, the daughter of David and Josephine Harer. In 1879, they were living at Fort McDowell, but within a year they had established a ranch near the site of the present-day Jake's Corner, branding the Flying H and the H Lazy Y. Annie raised a big garden and sold vegetables and melons under a big sycamore tree. Passersby were happy to buy them and since that time, people in the Tonto Basin country look forward to stopping at Jake's Corner. Henry died of pneumonia in 1898, so Annie moved her children to Gisela to be closer to a school. I also found an article that says Annie homesteaded the Hardt Ranch (near the present-day Jake's Corner) in 1916.
The first real store was built by George Felton in 1924 and it was called "Felton's Store." George, his wife, Gerda, and son, Lou, lived there. George branded the VIV and the Cross 7. George was an extremely colorful and adventuresome cowboy. He was a tough bronc rider and he toured a wild west show with Arizona Charlie Meadows. While he was gone, Gerda tended the store and supplied it with vegetables from her garden on Hardt Creek.
Polly Hicks Brown, a local cattle rancher and the 1966 Payson Rodeo Queen, owned the store for six years following the Feltons.
Next, it was purchased by Jake and Nina Stephens and renamed "Jake's Corner." It was during this time that I can remember my mom and dad stopping at the store on one of our trips to Globe. It was a long trip on a winding, dusty, rough road. We went to Globe when we had to "do business" because we had family there so my parents tried to make it a fun trip. Stopping by Jake's Corner sure helped. Nina and Jake were always friendly and they had cold, red soda pop.
In 1972, Pete and Lila Connolly bought Jake's Corner. I was grown by then, but on every trip to Globe, I stopped at Jake's Corner for a pop. Still do.
Recently, we were also asked how the Doll Baby Ranch got its name. This ranch, located on the lower East Verde, branded the Cross Triangle. According to local history, the owner of the Cross Triangle was at the corral one day with his small daughter. The little girl thought the Cross Triangle looked like a baby doll. The cowboys, too, saw the likeness, so the Cross Triangle became the Baby Doll. The cowboys preferred to say Doll Baby, so it became the Doll Baby Ranch and still is today, even though the brand is registered as the Cross Triangle.
Dick and Angela Taylor owned the Diamond H Ranch which was adjacent to the Doll Baby Ranch. Dick Taylor managed the Doll Baby for a man named George Smith. The Taylors later bought the Doll Baby, where Ed Taylor was born. Ed's daughter, Angela Taylor Godac, wrote a song for his funeral called "Doll Baby Cowboy." You can find it in the book, Pioneer Women of Gila County and Their Descendants by the Daughters of the Gila County Pioneers. Jackalope Books and Sue Malinski's in Payson, have the book.
Our book signing for Rodeo 101 on Aug. 20 at Sue Malinski's was fantastic. The lady knows how to put on a class act. It warmed our hearts to see cowboys and cowgirls come by to sign Rodeo 101 books. Some of the ones who stopped by to autograph the Rodeo 101 books were: Leroy Tucker, Duke Haley, Tammy Kelly (six-time women's world champion bull rider), Frank Kelly, Harry Shill, David Thompson, Ronnie McDaniel, Donnie Haught, Billy Baker, Edward Childers, Donna Garrels, 1968 Payson Rodeo Queen Tommie Cline Martin, Jerry Sanders, Roger Buchanan, Marguerite Noble, Bill Armstrong and Dick Derwort. Also attending were Doyle Crabtree, Hunter Kelly, Pat Cline, Jerry Tipton, Jacque Griffin and kids, Eddie Armer, Mimi Haught, Betty Sue Conway, Sharon Shill, Velma Tucker, Shawn Haught and wife Summer, and Rockin' Ron Gibson. We all visited for the afternoon and recalled the good old days. I think the most excited person there was Duke Haley.
Naming names is scary because we always forget someone and we apologize right now if we did. One cowboy that everybody missed seeing was Eddie Conway. He was the only local cowboy of the 1960s era from Payson to go to the National Finals. And we missed Bobby and Leckie Ski. Everyone looked through the book and the names of deceased cowboys were often heard. "Man, he was a great cowboy! Wish he could have been here today!" But in this crowd of people, the names of Gary Hardt, Warren Siegel and Sambo Haught were heard over and over and over. We really enjoyed this book signing which turned into a Rodeo Reunion and we are planning now for another one next year.
If you want a numbered Rodeo 101 Collector's Edition book, call Git A Rope! Publishing at (928) 474-0380 or call Sue Malinski at (928) 472-4677. It sells for $100. The soft cover is now available at Sue Malinski's, Jackalope Books, and the Beeline Cafe. It sells for $25.