2005 Pioneer Woman Of The Year: Myrtle Pyle Warter

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Myrtle Pyle Warter was honored as the Gila County Pioneer Woman of the Year Aug. 17 at the Payson Elks Lodge. The honor was bestowed upon her by the Daughters of the Gila County Pioneers. She was given a plaque, a corsage, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

Myrtle's four children: Jack Warter, Gene Warter, Sherry Proctor, and Darlene Daniels, presented the first 89 years of their mother's life. Other family members and friends also paid tribute. Myrtle is the 20th inductee into the Gila County Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame.

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Myrtle Pyle and Jack Warter met in Globe and were married in 1937 and had four children. Mrs. Warter was recently named Pioneer Woman of the Year.

The daughter of Floyd Monroe Pyle and Verda Childers Pyle, Myrtle was born Oct. 17, 1915 in Star Valley on the old P Bar L Ranch. On April 18, 1917, her brother, Eugene Fremont "Gene" Pyle was born in the same house. Younger brother, Floyd Malcolm "Malc" Pyle was born there, too, on Nov. 19, 1918. Doctor Christian Risser helped with the births.

"My dad, Floyd Monroe Pyle, was also born in Star Valley in 1891," said Myrtle.

Floyd was the son of Elwood Pyle and Sarah Corder Pyle who arrived in Star Valley in 1890. They traded 160 acres in Los Angeles, Calif. for 160 acres in Star Valley. The Pyles feel they got the better end of the deal.

Elwood served as Payson's Justice of the Peace from 1891 to 1894. Then Elwood and Sarah traded the place in Star Valley for a place on Bonita Creek, which they called "Bonita Gardens." They got the land from the Ezells.

Sarah planted flowers everywhere and Elwood planted a big apple, peach, pear and plum orchard. So, Floyd and his siblings, Nellie (Beard), Lewis Pyle, Myrtle (never married), and twins, Myrth (Jones) and Myrl (Evans), grew up under the Rim.

It was nine years before Verda Pyle had another child. On Jan. 26, 1927, daughter Velma Louise Pyle was born in Payson. Louise was born in Payson because the Pyles stayed in Payson during the winter for the children to go to school. Back in those days, there was usually two to four feet of snow on the ground, so a person could hardly do more than throw wood on the fire.

Floyd hunted for the government, so in the winter he hunted the lower country. When the snow permitted, he was under the Rim and sometimes on top, but he came back to Payson where his family stayed. The boys rode with their dad at every opportunity.

During the summers, the Pyles lived at the Myrtle Ranch on Ellison Creek, so named for Floyd's sister, Myrtle Pyle, who wrote a letter to a U.S. Congressman and got a post office established there when she was just 14. She died less than a year later, Dec. 25, 1899, of what was later thought to be a ruptured appendix.

Many landmarks bear her name. Myrtle School, Myrtle Post Office, Myrtle Ranch and Myrtle Cattle Allotment are pretty much forgotten, but Myrtle Lake, Myrtle Point and Myrtle Trail remain.

So does Myrtle Pyle Warter who was named for her dad's sister.

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The children, other family and friends of Myrtle Pyle Warter gathered to help her celebrate being named the 2005 Gila County Pioneer Woman of the Year at the Payson Elks Lodge. Mrs. Warter is the descendant of two Rim Country pioneer families.

In addition to his job of hunting predators for the government, Myrtle's dad, Floyd, tended both the Myrtle Ranch cattle and those owned in partnership, with his sister Nellie Beard's family at the P Bar L. Her brothers, Gene and Malc, became first-rate cowboys at an early age working on two ranches and hunting with Floyd. Myrtle rode as well, but her main duty was to help her mother.

While Zane Grey was under the Tonto Rim, Floyd spent a lot of time working for him, too. Floyd guided many hunts and he cooked many meals or did whatever was necessary. Floyd roped the bear and lion used in the Zane Grey movies. Zane Grey gave Floyd a rifle in appreciation for his services. It is still in the Pyle family today.

Myrtle tells part of her own story, "When I was five years old, we moved to the Ellison Creek Ranch where we spent the summers. Winters were spent in Payson so that we could attend school. The first two or three months we stayed with relatives so that Mom and Dad could prepare the fruit and vegetables for canning or storing before leaving the ranch."

Her early memories are of taking the milk pail from her dad and setting it in the creek so that the milk could cool. She also remembers churning butter, and helping her mother, Verda, on wash day when they had to heat the water in a great kettle and scald the clothes.

Living with a family of hunters and cowboys, there was always meat that needed to be jerked or cured for later use. A spring-fed cooler kept milk and butter cool.

Myrtle helped her mother plant a garden each year at Ellison Creek, growing beans, corn, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, peas, onions and melons. The ranch on Ellison Creek had a big fruit orchard, too. They grew lots of good apples and pears. These had to be picked and canned for winter use. There was always plenty of work.

Myrtle is also a descendant of the Childers family. Her mother, Verda, is the daughter of William Edward "W. E." Childers and Mary Ellen Warford Childers. W. E. and his second wife, Nora Warford, came to Payson in 1912.

Myrtle continues, "I finished grade school and high school in Payson, and I had one year of college at Arizona State College, now University, in Tempe and then beauty college in Phoenix.

"After graduation, I went to work in Globe, and there met my husband-to-be, Jack Warter.

We were married in 1937, and had four children: Jack, Jr., born in 1939; Gene, born in 1941; Sherry, born in 1942; and Darlene, born in 1951. Jack married Joyce Beedle and they have three children and three grandchildren. Gene has one son and two granddaughters. Sherry married Jim Proctor and they had two sons (one deceased) and one granddaughter. And Darlene married Jerry Daniels and they have four sons. Both Jerry and Darlene are school teachers here in Payson."

While living in Globe and Inspiration, Myrtle was interested in service organizations, along with her husband, Jack. Myrtle served as president of the Lady Elks, and she was a member of the Jr. Woman's Club, Emblem Club, and Miami-Globe Bowling Association.

"At one time, I was bowling in three different leagues and enjoying ladies golf once a week," she said.

Her husband, Jack, was active in the Elks Lodge and when he was district deputy, they visited all the lodges in the southern district. They also attended several national conventions.

"Jack was a good dancer and both our girls liked to dance with him," said Myrtle with a smile. "Dancing was a big part of our lives.

"Jack retired from Inspiration Copper Company, now Cyprus, in 1972, and we moved to Payson where he enjoyed fishing and hunting. He passed away in 1987.

"I did a lot of crocheting and knitting until my hands and wrists hurt too much. I was president of a C. B. group and the Historical Society. I still love playing bridge, especially duplicate, and I love dancing with my special partner, Oscar Greer."

Myrtle now has 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Congratulations, Myrtle.

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