Dorothy Eunice Lovelady Pyle: A Woman For All Seasons

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Dorothy Eunice Lovelady traces her ancestry through four generations of Gila County pioneers to her great-great-grandparents, David and Josephine Harer.

Josephine used to sit on the porch and rock Dorothy at the Hammonds Ranch. She was fond of telling folks, "This is five generations rocking here in this chair."

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Dorothy Lovelady-Pyle poses for an early photo. She was born in 1920 on the Hammonds Ranch, then west of Payson but now within the town limits.

On Dorothy's father's side, the names of Lovelady and Hale stand tall in the annals of the Rim Country and Tonto Basin.

Dorothy was born on July 28, 1920 to Walter and Belle Lovelady on the Hammonds Ranch, then west of Payson, but now within the town limits. She is the oldest person born in Payson who is still living.
In addition to cattle, the Lovelady family had chickens and hogs. Walter farmed part of the ranch, raising hay, corn, maize, and melons, and they always had a big kitchen garden.

The family had to leave the ranch when Dorothy was 4 because of her father's health. Walter had breathed German poison gas in World War I and his illness developed into tuberculosis. They moved to Payson where he worked in Boardman's Store when his health permitted.

A brother, Lawrence (Shove), was born in 1926. Dorothy and Shove attended school in Payson where Miss Julia Randall taught first and second grades, and Mrs. Ethel Owens taught grades three and four. Camping and fishing trips were a frequent form of entertainment for the family during the summer months. Shove died when a plane he was flying crashed over Payson in 1962.

When Dorothy turned 9, Walter's health was better and he was elected Payson's constable. Walter's district took in not only Payson and the Rim Country, but also Tonto Basin, where Dorothy's maternal grandparents lived. Dorothy attended the seventh and eighth grades in Tonto Basin at the old Packard School.

It was during this time that a basket supper and dance was to be held at the school. Folks were decorating, moving desks out, and generally getting the schoolhouse ready for the dance.

Some of the men had been drinking and a fight broke out. Walter handed Dorothy his blackjack for safekeeping and told her to climb into the back of the pickup. He then went to break up the fight.

A drunk man approached Walter from the back with an iron tire tool and raised it to strike him, but he was standing a little too close to the pickup. What Walter called his blackjack was an intricately-braided leather bludgeon, loaded with buckshot.

A light wrap on the head with this instrument would drop a man in his tracks and leave him with a considerable headache, thus giving him cause to contemplate the error of his ways. Dorothy didn't know this, but she did know that a drunk was about to hit her daddy with a tire tool.

A well swung blackjack set his mind spinning in another direction. The fight ceased with quick alarm and Walter turned to find the cause.

He dropped to his knees to examine the prone drunk and Dorothy climbed down from the pickup. Walter looked up and stated in a matter of fact manner, "Well Daughter, I think you've killed him."

"Daddy always called me ‘Daughter' when he wasn't pleased with me," Dorothy recalled. Everyone was relieved when the man started moving and was helped to his feet and taken away.

Dorothy returned to Payson to finish high school. She went to beauty school in Phoenix, and then married Eugene (Gene) Pyle in January of 1942.

Gene was drafted into the Army during his last semester at Arizona State College. He was stationed at Williams Field near Mesa during the war and Dorothy got a job with the telephone company.

They lived in Mesa during most of the war years and Eugene Jr. (Jinx) was born in December 1944. After the war, the couple, with their son Jinx, moved to Bonita Creek Ranch where they lived for three years. There were still lots of fish in the creek then, and there was a wonderful orchard there with many kinds of fruit and berries. There was a milk cow, pigs, and a big garden, but very little money.

Soon the job of foreman of the R Bar C was offered to Gene. There, Dorothy learned what it was like to be married to a cowboy, a rancher, and a lion hunter. Gene and Jinx were always hunting lion or gathering cattle, always on horseback and always gone.

They ran the R Bar C Ranch for 10 years and left in 1961, having saved enough money to buy into the Cross V and Myrtle Ranches in partnership with Gene's brother, Malcolm. After a few years the ranches were again divided and Dorothy, with her family, went to live on the Myrtle Ranch.

Like the Bonita Creek Ranch, there was a wonderful orchard. The ranch was high up under the Mogollon Rim and the cattle were moved from the winter range below the Rim to the top of the Mogollon Rim every summer.

When Jinx left home to serve during the Vietnam War, Dorothy saddled a horse and rode with Gene through the roundups and the brandings. She recalled the heat, and the dust kicked up by the cattle as they wound their way single file along the high and narrow stretches of the Myrtle Trail:

"Sometimes the leaders would stop, and one of us would have to ride out of the trail and around the cattle in back. We would cut into the middle of the herd and urge the leaders on up the trail so that those cattle behind could follow. That old trail spiraled upwards in a series of switchbacks and the cattle above often loosened boulders from their nest, sending them bounding down the mountainside. Sometimes they would hit other rocks and start them moving, too. This always seemed to happen in places where I couldn't leave the trail because my outside stirrup was swinging over a hundred-foot bluff, while my inside stirrup was brushing against a wall of rock. Often there would be cattle both behind and in front of me and there was very little room to maneuver. We never got hurt, but there were some scary times.

"We had to move the cattle once during the summer each year. This was always around the first of August when the hail and lightning storms were at their zenith. If we were caught out in a bad hailstorm, we had to get under a tree, or be pelted by the hail stones. I have always heard that you shouldn't get under a tree, or be caught out in the open during a lightning storm. The person who wrote that was never caught in one of those summer storms on the mountain. There is no place else. If you are not under a tree, you are out in the open."

Gene used to laugh about these times and say:

"Most any old waddy I reckon,

would take the long end o' the bet.

He ain't never been struck by lightnin',

but he's rode in a saddle that's wet!"

Many happy years were spent at the Myrtle Ranch, but there was always the ever-increasing danger of a devastating forest fire. Dorothy had lived in the Rim Country all of her life. She had seen firsthand the result of the Forest Service's fire prevention policy, coupled with their tunnel-visioned, cattle-dispersing grazing policy.

The result of these two programs was that manzanita, the hottest burning brush in the county, filled the open spaces between resin-rich pine trees, crowding out all but coarse, dry grasses. Thus, a fire trap almost beyond description was created.

The family talked the situation over. If the cattle allotment burned, the Forest Service would make them remove any cattle that weren't killed in the fire. Dorothy, Gene, and Jinx sold their beloved Myrtle Ranch, and a few years later it burned in the Dude Fire.

After a short, half-hearted stint at dude ranching, they moved to Oregon and took Dorothy's mother, Belle, to live with them. Walter, Dorothy's father, had died in 1966.

In Oregon, the Pyles founded and ran the Pantera Ranch where they burned the Panther Scratch brand onto their Texas Longhorn cattle. It was on this ranch that Gene died.

Dorothy continued to help Jinx, and they ranched in Oregon for nine more years. Belle, too, passed away in Oregon.

But the Oregon years were good years, and Dorothy retains many fond memories of the cattle, the ranch and her friends.

In 1997, Dorothy and Jinx sold their Oregon ranching interests and moved to the Canyon Creek Ranch in Carton County, N.M. where they continued ranching until the fall of 2003.
During the seven years at Canyon Creek, Dorothy remained happy, in good health, and tended to many ranch chores. Along with the cooking, she split and carried wood into the house.

She wanted no part of the city, preferring life on the ranch, but when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service turned Mexican Gray Wolves loose on the ranchers in Eastern Arizona and Western New Mexico, Dorothy agreed with Jinx that the time had come to head for town.

Dorothy now lives in Payson with her son, Jinx, her daughter-in-law, Jayne Peace Pyle, and Jayne's father, Calvin Peace. She stays current on politics and has no use for what she calls watermelon environmentalists (green on the outside and pink on the inside).

Dorothy has a hard time understanding a government that literally turned wolves loose on her doorstep to kill Canyon Creek calves and gives her cause to fear for her own personal safety. And yes, there is still a loaded shotgun near the door!

Como Siempre, her son, Jinx Pyle.

Town of Payson historians Jinx Pyle and Jayne Peace Pyle have written eight books: "Cookin' For Zane Grey Under the Tonto Rim," "Rodeo 101 -- History of the Payson Rodeo," "Looking Through the Smoke," "History of Gisela, Arizona," "Calf Fries and Cow Pies," "Blue Fox," "Muanami -- Sister of the Moon," and "Mountain Cowboys."

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