On May 18, 1892, Annie See sat on a small stool in the corral milking her cow. Her infant son Charlie was nearby. A shot rang out -- a shot she probably never heard because the bullet struck and killed her. John See, her husband, slid his gun back into its scabbard and rode away. He rode from his and Annie's ranch in See Canyon, located near Christopher Creek in Arizona Territory to his parent's ranch in the lower Tonto Basin. His parents were John and Louisa See. "Ma, I've just killed Annie. I'm goin' to Mexico," are the words he was reported to have said. Although his mother was shocked and sickened at the horrible news, she felt compassion for her son, wondering what made him do it.
According to Marguerite Noble, Louisa See didn't want her son to ride off alone, so suggested that his younger brother, Bob See, go with him. The two young men rode for Mexico.
I called Marguerite and asked if she had more information on this killing. "Julian Journigan told me that John See killed his wife because he had heard that she had been unfaithful to him. Maybe she was -- maybe she wasn't -- we will never know," said Marguerite. "I was told that John See was a jealous man. He was angry! Lost his temper! He shot his wife and rode off. Went to his mother. Left both his wife and child behind."
In looking through Margaret Furtkamp's book, "Northern Gila County, Arizona Cemetery Inscriptions," which saves me tons of research, I found no grave marked "See." So I wonder what happened to Annie See? Did her husband really ride off and leave her dead in a corral or did he first bury her? Did the neighbors bury her? Did John See really ride off and leave his child with a dead mother and no one to care for him, or did he take baby Charlie to his own mother on the lower Tonto? I question these actions not because I don't believe Julian Journigan, but because it is difficult for me to believe that a man could kill his wife and leave a baby son alone with her.
Julian Journigan was born at Flagstaff, Arizona Territory in 1884. His mother died when he was 11 days old, so he was raised by his grandparents, John and Louisa See, according to his son, Jack Journigan. Julian would have been 8 years old when John See, about 24 years old at the time, rode up to the ranch in Tonto Basin and announced that he had killed his wife. Julian remembered.
Baby Charlie See ended up with his grandparents too. If John See didn't take his baby son to his mother (Louisa), then he must have taken him to a neighbor -- maybe the Bowmans -- until someone could go get the young one. Surely John See didn't leave baby Charlie in the corral with his dead mother. Or did he? Julian was resolute on this point -- John See shot his wife and rode away. If he did, many hours passed before someone rode from the lower Tonto back to See Canyon to get the baby. Many questions go unanswered.
According to Marguerite Noble and Jack Journigan, Bob See saddled up and rode to Mexico with his brother. Bob See lived in Mexico for many years, then finally returned to Arizona, but we don't know where.
Supposedly John See was never heard of again by his Arizona family. But, in 1972 Jack Journigan told Marguerite Noble that this was not true. Before John See died, he sent word that he wanted to meet Charlie, the baby son he had left at the corral many years before. Charlie See grew up in the Tonto Basin country, never hearing of his father until the 1920s when he received a letter from Rose See. John See had married again and made a new life for himself in Mexico. He was a prosperous land owner and rancher and had a family of Anglo-Mexican children. John never came back to the United States, but he sent his children here to be educated. While Rose, a half-sister to Charlie was at college, she sent the letter to him.
Suddenly, years caught up with Charlie. He knew his father was alive, living in Mexico, and had another family. John See had killed Charlie's mother and left him to be raised with no father. Did Charlie want to meet this man? No. He had some choice names for him. After all these years, he did not expect to ever hear from him. Yet, it is innate in most people to want to know their parents. Charlie had never seen his mother to his recollection because he was too young when she was murdered. Did he want to see his father? The man who had killed her? He had a big decision to make. He asked his cousin, Julian Journigan, for his advice.
Julian had married Margaret Solomon (sister to Roxie Cline and Arminda Parker who was the mother of Marguerite Noble) in 1910. They had two children, Jack and Delsie Dee (Datie).
In 1921, Charlie See and Julian Journigan started a stage and mail line from Globe to Payson which they ran for many years. They took the mail and passengers three times a week over the long dirt road, crossing flooding creeks and often driving through deep mud.
Julian urged Charlie to go meet his father, pointing out the fact that they had a car that would easily make the trip. He told Charlie he would drive him to Mexico. Julian thought Charlie would always regret it if he didn't go. Charlie finally agreed.
The two men drove for many days over the rough dirt roads to get to John See's hacienda in Mexico. Charlie's aging father had a beautiful wife who cordially greeted them. He met his half-brothers and half-sisters, who also showed kindness. John See sent for his oldest son (born in Mexico) to come to the house. He was in charge of ranching operations and had been out on the range. When he entered the living room of the hacienda, he kissed his mother, then bowed and shook hands with his father. Silently and distantly he acknowledged the introduction of Julian and Charlie, then he turned and stomped out of the room and rode away. He was young -- maybe he was afraid Charlie would want to stay or even want part of the family ranch. He was wrong. Charlie wanted nothing more than to leave. Julian and Charlie drove back to Payson.
Even though there was some disappointment, there was some closure for Charlie See. He never cared to see the man again, but he did meet the man who fathered him. No more is known of John See. He probably died in Mexico.
Charlie and Julian continued their stage and mail line. When Charlie gave up the line, Julian bid and got an extension of the line over Fossil Creek to Cottonwood and Jerome. Then the service became daily between Globe and Payson on through Pine and Strawberry to the Verde Valley and Jerome. For his "busses," Julian used Cadillac sedans which at that time had snap-on curtains. For several years, Julian's stage was the contact with "town" for many folks. He carried everything from passengers to medicine to a spool of thread for some lady trying to finish a quilt.
Julian lost the bid on the mail and stage line in 1932. He worked on the Tremaine ranches on Tonto Creek, the H4 Ranch, and the Bar T Bar Ranch. Then he went back to the life he loved -- mining -- in the Sunflower district. He died of a heart attack at the Sunflower Store in 1941.
But what became of Charlie See? We do not know. Marguerite Noble and Anna Mae Deming remember him, but no one (that we know of) knows what happened to him. If any reader knows of Charlie See or John See, please contact us. We don't want to lose this part of our history. And if anyone knows anything about Annie See -- the mother shot while milking a cow -- please let us know. What family did she come from? Someone out there must know. Hopefully, someone has photos to share.
Many of us have gone to great lengths to record all the stories and locate all graves, so that nothing is lost. But Annie See is lost to our history until someone contacts us. We will continue hunting for her.
See Canyon, up near Christopher Creek, is named for John, Annie, and Charlie See. When you hear the name -- think of Annie and Charlie See.
Jayne Peace-Pyle, Arizona Historian, recently released her first novel, "Muanami -- Sister of the Moon." The story relates the trials and struggles of a Comanche medicine woman and shows that motherhood transcends all cultures and times. Cost of the book is $15. Other books by Jayne Peace-Pyle and Jinx Pyle: "Looking Through the Smoke," "Mountain Cowboys," "History of Gisela," "Rodeo 101- the History of the Payson Rodeo," "Blue Fox," and "Calf Fries and Cow Pies." The books can be purchased at Sue Malinski's Art and Antique Corral in Payson and from Lorraine Cline in Tonto Basin.