A Cemetery Called 'The Last Roundup'

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In our search for the isolated graves of Rim Country pioneers, we take a drive down Ox Bow Hill on the Beeline Highway, and at the foot of the hill we come to the little community of Rye.

As soon as the road permits, we turn to the right and then right again where the pavement turns to gravel.

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This double headstone for Oscar and Ollie Haught is in the Haught family cemetery at Rye, Ariz. The two boys died the same day of diphtheria, Aug. 15, 1892. Buried near them are their younger brother and sister who died in that same month.

We are on an old trail that used to be the way to the mining camp of Marysville, and around the mountain into Payson from the west.

Ahead we catch a glimpse of buildings for the H-Bar Ranch, established by Samuel Ache Haught Jr. and his wife Dagmar Gordon Haught in 1880.

Before we reach the ranch, however, we stay to our right on Forest Road 414 and climb a hill to a spot overlooking the ranch complex and the Rye Creek wash.

On our left, just off the road, is the Haught cemetery, with an archway that reads, "The Last Roundup."

Although the cemetery was on government ground, in more recent times negotiations with the Forest Service enabled the family to purchase the land.

Inside the fence we find a number of graves for Haught family members, but the most poignant are the graves of four children, all of whom died in the summer of 1892.

The story of Sam Haught's Arizona adventure begins May 1, 1885.

He came from Dallas, Texas, with his wife Dagmar, whom he had married Dec. 20, 1882, at the urging of his uncle, Fred Haught who was the first of the clan to arrive in the Rim Country.

They were driving 115 head of cattle, and Sam was proud that after a 1,400-mile trip "I never lost a cow." [1]

On the advice of his uncle, who told them the Mineral Belt Railroad was being built and would come down along "Tunnel Creek," the Sam Haughts settled at the mouth of Dude Creek. [2] They would establish a trading post to serve the flow of people expected because of the railroad.

"Our nearest neighbors when we first settled in Arizona were McClintocks, one half-mile away; B. Chase Barton, one mile; N. B. January, one mile; John Belluzzi, two miles; Barnum Lewy, two miles; John Meadows, one mile; John Gray, three miles; Henry Lofton, three miles; J. S. Ellison, two miles." [3]

Although the threat of Indian raids had subsided, he built his house to withstand any potential attack. In a written report to the Arizona Historical Society he said, "My place on Tunnel Creek, at the mouth of Dude Creek, was well fortified for I built a stone wall and kept port holes in my double log cabin through which I could shoot."

After five years, when the railroad had failed to materialize, Sam moved his family down along Rye Creek and homesteaded the H-Bar ranch.

He built the two-story ranch house out of redwood, ordered from Oregon at a cost of $20,000. Unfortunately it later burned to the ground.

No sooner had they moved to Rye than Sam's father, the senior Samuel A. Haught, died and was the first to be buried in what would be called "The Last Roundup" cemetery.

Two years later, on a summer day in 1892, a drifting cowboy came by the ranch, and was invited to dinner as was the custom.

The family did not know the man was infected with diphtheria. He drank from the common water dipper, followed by four of the Haught children who, within a short time, came down with the disease.

They sent for the doctor in Payson, but when he arrived he said he could smell the disease as soon as he stood in the bedroom door. He would not go in, but left fearing the contagion. [4]

In the month of Aug. 1892 four of Sam and Dagmar's six children died of diphtheria. The children were buried on the hillside, overlooking the lovely valley, Rye Creek, and the Haught ranch. Oscar, who was 13 days short of six years, and Ollie, who was two months short of nine years, both died on August 15th. Five-year-old Otto died on the 21st. He was just five years old. Eleven-month-old Valda died on Aug. 27.

The tragedy of losing four children and so closely together brought tension into the marriage of Sam and Dagmar, as it often does in families where children are taken in death.

It is noted that while there were two other children, Mildred and Jim Sam, the couple did not have any more after the four died.

Sam built what some called "a cattle empire" running more than 10,000 head at one time.

His mother Isabelle died in 1904 and joined Sam senior in the family cemetery. The next year Sam was elected to the Territorial legislature, and while away from home he apparently had an affair. Dagmar found out about it, and it proved to be the last straw for their marriage. She divorced him in 1909, and took Jim Sam with her to California. However, Jim Sam turned up again on his father's doorstep, having run away from his mother.

The memories and pain caused Sam to make a decision to move, and he sold the ranch to the Chilson family. Sam and his two children moved to Big Walnut Creek in the Sierra Anchas, west of Young.

He would come to Payson for mail and supplies, and one day while in the post office he spotted a newcomer who reminded him of his cousin Babe Haught's wife Ella. He struck up a conversation and, sure enough, she was Ella's sister, Mildred Catherine Hunnicutt Martin.

She had come out from Texas with her three children to help with her sister's family on Tonto Creek.

Sam and Carrie (as she was called) were soon courting, and in comparing their lives discovered an amazing fact. It seems that while Sam was driving his herd from Texas to Arizona, their first camp along the trail was at the ranch of Will and Julia Glover. Their hosts visited with the cowboys around the campfire, and Mrs. Glover carried two baby girls in her arms. One was her own, and the other, she explained, was the daughter of her husband's deceased sister. Sam Haught held these two babies in his arms that night, admiring them. Now he and Carrie realized that she was that baby he had held 25 years earlier. It seemed providential that they should meet now, and a year later they were married, Dec. 23, 1911.

From the ranch near Pleasant Valley they raised her three children and had seven of their own: Alfred born 1912, Lloyd born 1914, Lucille born 1916, twins Homer and Hubert born 1918, Frank born 1920 and Austin born 1926.

Sam Ache Haught Jr. died in 1945, and was honored by the State Legislature remembering the contributions he made to the growing state. Carrie died March 10, 1977, having married again.

We return to that beautiful spot above Rye Creek, with the Mazatzal Mountains majestically forming the backdrop for the little Haught cemetery. Again we realize how fragile our lives can be, and how much suffering these pioneers went through, who paved the way for us and our comforts in the Rim Country.

Next time we travel several 100 yards down the Beeline Highway to Deer Creek, where we will hike in to the lonely grave of David Gowan.

[1] Quotes by Sam Haught are shared by Linda Haught Ortega, his granddaughter.

[2] The Mineral Belt developers had begun cutting a tunnel through the Rim at the head of the East Verde River, and so locals called the river "Tunnel Creek."

[3] He refers here to John Valentine Meadows, the son and brother of the two men killed during the 1882 outbreak of Apache Indians. Jesse Ellison family has settled to the east on Ellison Creek, a farm that later would be owned by Henry Haught.

[4] The first permanent doctor in Payson was Dr. Christian Risser III, who arrived in 1912. Before that there were only "some time" doctors, who were hired by the mining companies. The doctor referred to in the family story must have been one of these.

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