When Norma Jean Haught, daughter of Boy and Flora Haught, announced that she was going to marry Ezra Peace, son of Will and Myrtle, her Aunt Babe Haught said, "Will Peace? I danced a million miles with Will Peace."
"Where?" inquired Norma Jean.
"Up under the Rim at the dances," replied Aunt Babe.
The dates just didn't add up. Norma and Ezra talked to Myrtle and Will and found out that the Peace family who lived at Gordon Canyon from 1896 to 1910 was related to the Pleasant Valley Peaces -- cousins -- and one of the boys was named "Will." That was the Will Peace who Aunt Babe had danced with -- not Ezra's father. Nonetheless, my Peace family arrived in Gila County prior to statehood.
My paternal grandfather, William Calvin Peace, known as Will Peace, was born March 16, 1888 in Devine, Medina County, Texas, to William Calvin and Leona Elizabeth Peace.
Will's father died two months before Will was born. The elder Peace was killed in a well accident near Zig Zag, Texas. He was digging a well and placed dynamite in the bottom of it. It didn't go off, so he went down to see why. Just as he got into the well, the dynamite exploded. He was buried at the Old Tomerlin Cemetery near Devine, Texas.
This was a tough situation for Will's mother, Leona. Her parents helped her for a while, then she married John Crutchfield and had five more children. Leona died at the birth of her last child in 1902, at the age of 37. Will was 14. He stayed with different family members until he was grown. He and his brother, Jim Peace, broke horses for many people, and they later had an excavation business using a Fresno pulled by a team of horses.
On March 10, 1913, Will Peace married Myrtle Clara Griffin, daughter of Al Griffin and Ida Emma Bouldin. The wedding was held in El Paso, Texas. Will and Myrtle had nine children. The first four were born in El Paso: (1) William Albert born in 1914; (2) Leona Dorothy born in 1915 and died at age 2 of summer complaint, (3) Robert James born in 1917 and died at age 5 after he fell out of a swing and busted his head, (4) Calvin Griffin in 1919 (5) Floyd Clay was born in Rincon, N.M. in 1921 and died at age 2 of summer complaint, and (6) Ezra Vernon was born in Clint, Texas in 1924.
Then Will and Myrtle moved to Globe, Ariz. to help her mother, Ida Griffin, who was dying of cancer. Myrtle's grandmother, Betty Worthing was already living in Globe. The Peace's arrived in Globe in 1927. The next year, they moved to Pleasant Valley where Myrtle's dad, Al Griffin, lived. The Peace family first lived on the Rice Pettis place, then they bought land and built a house on the east side of Cherry Creek. Will worked at the local sawmill and farmed, raising almost everything the family needed. His sons learned a strong work ethic at an early age. Myrtle raised children, canned fruits and vegetables, sewed, and served in her Baptist church.
Will could be counted on to help a family member. Al Griffin, Will's father-in-law, who was hired to go into Pleasant Valley and break up a ring of cattle thieves, was not popular with the thieves, and it was rumored that a group of men would make trouble for him one night at a dance. Will, faithful to his family and a crack shot, was perched high in a tree outside the dance with a rifle, in case he was needed. Nothing happened, as Al Griffin was a former Texas Ranger and a six-gun artist. When it came right down to it, no one wanted to face Al Griffin.
In 1932, Myrtle went to Globe to have another baby, Edwin Bennett. Then her twins, Lyman Lee and Myrtle Lee, were born in Pleasant Valley in 1935. The little girl died right after she was born.
"I remember when Ma had the twins," said Calvin in a 1977 interview. "They sent me to go get Granny Jones -- that was Onis, Red, and Charles Jones's mother. The Jones (family) lived on the same side of Cherry Creek as we did. When we got back to the house, Ma had already had the first baby, Lyman. The twin girl didn't make it."
There was nothing more important in Will and Myrtle's lives than their children, and they endured a lot of heartache. Out of the nine children, they only raised five boys to adulthood: Albert, Calvin, Ezra, Edwin, and Lyman.
Myrtle's sister, Elizabeth Griffin Cline said in a 1978 interview: "Floyd Clay and Robert died within three months of each other, then seven months later, Ezra was born. Myrtle didn't have much time to be upset. She had too much work to do."
After World War II began, Uncle Sam called on the Peace family. Albert, Calvin, and Ezra were all sent to England. Albert was killed on D-Day (June 6, 1944) on the beach of Normandy. He was buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Brookwood, England.
Albert was a good man and a good cowboy. Raymond Cline said, "Albert Peace was one of the best cowboys I ever knew. One time Albert Peace, Frank Haught, and I drove over 500 head of cattle through Pleasant Valley. Just the three of us. Albert rode point."
Another thing Raymond recalls is that he saw Albert Peace in San Diego after they were both drafted. Raymond told him to be careful. Albert told Raymond that he knew he would not come back from the war. And he didn't.
Myrtle's youngest son, Lyman Peace, died on her birthday, Jan. 12 in 1995, when he was just 59 years old. He died in the same house in which he was born in Young, Arizona. Lyman married Janice Guerin and the couple had three children: Billy, Lori, and Mark. Lyman grew up hearing storied of his Grandfather Albert "Al" Griffin, who was hired arrest cattle rustlers in Young and decided early that he wanted to be a lawman. In the 1960s, he was a Miami policeman and Justice of the Peace. Then from 1972 to 1984, he served as Gila County Sheriff. He was also a Korean War Veteran.
Calvin married Anna Mae Hale, daughter of Duke and Birdie Hale of Gisela, and had two daughters, Jayne and Jeanne. Calvin hired out as a cowboy when he was a young teenager, working first for Miss Ola and Miss Betty Young. Then he worked for several different ranchers before buying his own ranches in Gisela. He owned the first hardware store and the first backhoe in Payson, and established an excavating business. Calvin and Anna Mae operated their ranch in Gisela, branding the Valentine, until 1991 when they sold their cattle permit. They continued to raise animals and farm in Gisela until Anna Mae's death in 2001. Today, Calvin lives in Payson.
Ezra married Norma Jean Haught, daughter of Boy Haught and Flora Hunt, and had two children: Boyd and Verna (Cox). Ezra hired out as a cowboy when he was young, then worked several years as a carpenter. When Calvin owned a heavy equipment business in Payson, Ezra worked for him as an operator. Ezra owned Payson Liquor Store for several years. During the mid-1960s, he was a deputy sheriff in Payson, then served as constable from 1967 to 1971. He was Payson's Justice of the Peace from 1971 to 1986. Today, Ezra and Norma live in Payson.
Edwin married Hazel Sigler of Young, and had three sons, Eugene, David, and Kenneth. Edwin went to work for Sears and Roebuck when he was 18 and worked there as a repairman for 35 years. He is multi-talented man. Besides being able to fix everything, he can sing, play the mandolin, tool leather, and a hundred other things.
Edwin enjoyed growing up in Pleasant Valley and remembers the custard pies his mother made. "Mom's custard pie was special to all of us. Once she decided she would fill all the kids up on custard pie. I don't remember how many pies she baked that day, but I think every kid in Pleasant Valley got his fill. I remember that Dale Clark and I ate 12 pies between us that day."
Watch for Part Two of the Peace Family next week.
Town Historians Jayne Peace and Jinx Pyle, owners of Git A Rope! Publishing, Inc. have written the following: "Looking Through the Smoke," "Blue Fox," "History of Gisela," "Mountain Cowboys," "Rodeo 101 History of the Payson Rodeo," and "Calf Fries and Cow Pies." Look for them at Art and Antique Corral, Payson Chamber of Commerce, Rim Country Museum, Mountain Air Gifts in Payson, and from Lorraine Cline in Tonto Basin.