Bear Flat Resident Remembers Hard Times

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About a month ago, I asked my readers if anyone knew how Bear Flat got its name. Katherine Baxter knew. Katherine has lived in Bear Flat for many years.

She first spotted the little valley when she was in her early teens, which was in 1931. Katherine was camping in the area with her family, at Kohl's Ranch, and had decided to hike the area. She always remembered the place. When Katherine married her husband Bill, they both fell in love with the beauty of the forest and the creek.

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Katherine Baxter proudly shows off the spectacular autumn colors from the trees that surround her cabin in Bear Flat with her constant companion, "Rascal."

Katherine said it was difficult to set up a home in such a remote area.

"Logs had to be brought across the creek by a rope and pulley, with my husband on one side and me on the other," she said. The couple then hauled them to their cabin site. The pulley is still on the tree, but it is now used as a lifeline. When the creek is too high to cross, a bucket is pulled over, with necessary supplies, by her neighbors.

Katherine said it was also very difficult to come to Payson from Mesa, where she grew up with eight siblings. She said it used to take nine hours to drive from Mesa, because much of the road was dirt and very bumpy.

When she was a teenager, she remembers an apple orchard that was planted by some of the Haught family, and she thinks that is why the bears visited the area. There are three flat meadows along the creek, so consequently the site was named Bear Flat.

Katherine is blessed with the genes of long life. She said that one of her brothers just passed away at the age of 99. Katherine is now 93. Her dad lived to be 92. She credits her longevity to living without a lot of medications. She remembers as she was growing up that not even an aspirin could be found in her home. She does remember castor oil and cod liver oil being given to her quite frequently. Her family relied mostly on herbal remedies.

Katherine has never been lonely. She said there are too many things to do. She has a green thumb and has planted hundreds of tulip bulbs over the years, many of which javelinas have dug up, as have the squirrels. The squirrels move the bulbs, so the tulips come up in the weirdest places.

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