Historian Tells Ropin' Stories At Payson's 125th Celebration


Good cowboy stories mostly involve the cowboy "ropin' some sort of critter," according to author of several books on local lore and entrepreneur, Jinx Pyle.

"You always have a rope when you're ridin' if you are a cowboy and when you see something you wonder, can I rope that?" Pyle said.


Rim Country cowboys roped more than cattle two generations ago. Back then, a cowboy might try to lasso any animal just to prove he could.

His voice is deep, mellow and easy to listen to.

His hands look strong and it is no stretch to think of him on a horse, ready to lasso a bull on a ranch or in a rodeo arena, but to rope a badger, a wolf, a buzzard or an elk as Jinx has done?

That takes a bit of imagination for city-bred folk.

One time, when Jinx and his dad Gene Pyle were riding, they jumped a coyote. "Coyotes can flat out run, so you just get your rope and go for it," Jinx said.

His granddad, Floyd Monroe Pyle, roped a mountain lion for the San Diego Zoo. Floyd also roped a mountain lion for a film crew, as the lion jumped down from the boulders on what is now East Cherry Street in Payson.

Granddad was sitting on a horse and roped the animal twice in mid-air and once as it hit the ground, Jinx said.

Jinx is one of the folks who will regale listeners with tales of the men and women who have called Payson and the Rim Country home during the last century at Payson's 125th Anniversary.

Celebrants may run into "Nell" and the "Mountain Man" at the October event. The two are fictional characters from Zane Grey's novel, "Man of the Forest." Parry Morton plays mountain man Milt Dale, who rescues pretty Nell, played by Marguerite Young, from the villains who want to steal her ranch.

They will be walking around in costume and will read excerpts of the book to children at the Zane Grey Cabin in Green Valley Park.

Leland Hanchett, Jr. is another storyteller who will be at the October celebration.

Hanchett made his living as an electrical engineer. When he bought his summer home in Heber in 1986, he discovered he was on the Young-to-Holbrook cattle trail. Raised by his parents to love history, Hanchett started digging for stories.

The hole was not too deep before he became fascinated with the Pleasant Valley War --he bloody feud between the Grahams and Tewksburys in Young, a tiny town about a six-mile horseback ride over the Hell's Gate Trail from Payson.

The introduction of sheep to cattle country ignited a fuse, fanned to fire, by the press and the law.

When sheep graze, they pull out the plant by the root, so there is nothing left to grow and nothing for cattle to eat, Hanchett said.

At least 28 people died in the war and another 50 associated with it died or disappeared, according to current Young resident, Jim Petroff.

Hanchett hit pay dirt when he rooted out musty coroner's inquest documents of Justice of the Peace, John Meadow, and published "Arizona's Graham-Tewksbury Feud."

"Although there were reports of Ed Tewksbury in Payson saloons, Holbrook and Young attracted the rabble-rousers, not Payson," Hanchette said.

These storytellers will be joined by others at the 125th Anniversary on Oct. 6. For more stories, visit www.pinerim.com, www.gitarope.com, http://community.webshots.com/user/parry32 or visit the anniversary site -- www.paysons125th.com/.

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