Recording History

Old stories provide grand entertainment for modern lives

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Stanley C. Brown is a man fascinated by history.

The edge of the Mogollon Rim, the Mission San Xavier del Bac, any cemetery with its untold stories, the ponderosa forests in central Arizona and the prehistoric ruins around the state are among the sites the retired minister finds most inspirational.

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One of Stan Brown's favorite activities is fishing the streams of Arizona.

Brown has been writing poetry and fictional tales in the 1940s.

His attraction to non-fiction stems from the challenge of researching the true facts of an event or a person.

The vistas, the openness, the breathtaking beauty, and the newness of the state's history -- that is, the availability of its 19th century stories -- have called to Brown since his college years at Northwestern University.

"Fiction is fun too, where one simply draws on one's own experiences and lets the imagination fly. But, non-fiction is a discipline that tests the patience and challenges the intellect," Brown said.

His first book, "Evangelism in the Early Church: A Study in the Book of Acts" was published in 1963.

Sunday sermons and Bible study groups called for biblical history.

Brown continued writing during his active ministry -- "God's Plan For Marriage," published in 1977 followed 1975's "Folly or Power: Encounter Groups In The Church."

His latest book, "The Tale of Two Rivers: Pioneer Settlement in Arizona," is available as a print-on-demand from Amazon.com.

It tells of pioneer settlements in the Rim Country.

The first half of the book was published in the Roundup from August to October 2003. "In those days, I was writing two articles each week, one for the Roundup and one for The Rim Review," Brown said. The book has an expanded form of those articles.
The second half of the book, "Tonto Creek Adventures," was published in The Rim Review every-other week from March to August 2006. "The research for the articles was on-going throughout those times, but also based on the accumulation of research notes and photos I had gathered over the previous 12 years," Brown said.

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Stan Brown poses with his foot on ruins of the Apache Pass station. The photo was taken for the dust jacket of his new book, "The Tale of Two Rivers: Pioneer Settlement in Arizona"

Brown's family moved to Arizona from Illinois in 1958. They lived in Phoenix from 1958 to 1963, and sojourned in Long Beach, Calif. from 1963 to 1971. From 1971 to 1991 they lived in Tucson, Ariz.

"In 1991 we made Payson our permanent address, and moved to our summer home on the Belluzzi homestead that we had established in 1963," Brown said.

Brown's historical novel inspired by the Bartolomeo Belluzzi family of the Rim Country was published by Northwest Press in 1995. It is entitled, "My Friend The Enemy."

During Brown's research and writing about the Rim Country he came to realize how much had happened along the two rivers that run through the area.

"It became an exciting project to consider the East Verde River and Tonto Creek on a mile-by-mile basis and document the events that had happened there.

"The Payson Roundup printed my essays as they were formulated, and enough people asked for them to be made into a book that I decided to pursue it," Brown said.

Like the land Brown writes about, the journey from brain to pen to computer to publication has not been without its peaks and valleys.

Research can be tedious.

For Brown's purposes, the many books and papers on Arizona and Rim Country history are indispensable.

When he left Payson, Brown sold his extensive library of Arizona and Rim Country history books.

The benefactor who purchased those books gave the collection to the Payson Public Library, where, Brown presumes, most of them reside today.

Since then, he has been rebuilding his personal library of Arizona and local history references.

"However, today authors are blessed by the Internet, where one can sit at home and do the research that used to require trips all over the state to archives, county courthouses, and public libraries," Brown said.

Getting just the right wording can also be tedious. The sermon a week Brown wrote as a minister honed his skills.

Several things Brown learned in the process of publication were:

The University of Arizona Press accepted his manuscript for "Two Rivers."

"Their readers were totally positive, urging the editor to print it. Just before we were to sign a contract, their committee decided it was too regional in nature and would not ‘sell' on a wide enough basis to warrant their investment," Brown said.

At that point, Brown decided to go with a "print-on-demand" publisher, because they do not charge the author (as do the "vanity" presses), but publish the book and then print only those copies that are ordered.

"Thousands of books are published every week. Publishers are very hard to reach in the first place, and one must find an agent to work on your behalf," Brown said.

This is why most "unsung" authors pay to have a small press publish for them, or go the route of a print-on-demand publisher. In such case, the author has the responsibility of promoting and selling his own book.

"A rather embarrassing and difficult task," Brown said.

Brown has three other manuscripts presently seeking an agent to hopefully get them to a publisher.

One is a historical novel, "Andres and Delfina," based on the life of Andres Moreno, whose grave is on the Rim above Strawberry.

Another is the story of a young pastor and his first five years in a fictional small Arizonaown.

The third is non-fiction, the history of the Tonto Apache Tribe. Short summaries of the chapters of that book were also run as articles in the Roundup.

Others are in the works.

Breaks from writing help balance life for Brown. He enjoys keeping up on current events, dialoguing with a group of seven retired pastors in his church, exploring this beautiful country with his wife, Ruth and, they enjoy a rich social life among their friends.

Brown continues to have papers published in journals, such as "The Journal of Arizona History," and at the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, as well as his bi-weekly articles in The Rim Review.

"Because of this, many people still seek me outith research questions they have about Arizona history," he said. "Those kinds of requests keep me focused."

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