Git A Rope Publishing will release Jinx Pyle’s latest book, “Pleasant Valley War,” on Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9 at the Payson Womans Club.
This book has all the makings of a western fiction book, but it is true western history.
Western researchers such as Earle Forrest, Don Dedera and Lee Hanchett have written histories of the notorious Pleasant Valley War, but the identity of the man who started the war is revealed for the first time by Pyle, a sixth-generation descendant of the first settlers in the Payson/Tonto Basin area. Pyle has inherited “inside” information. In fact, the first man shot in the Pleasant Valley War was Pyle’s third great-uncle.
The Pleasant Valley War, also called the Pleasant Valley Feud or the Graham-Tewksbury Feud, was one of the most complex and vile blood feuds in America’s history. It left more than 40 men dead. Even the famous story of the Hatfields and McCoys, with 13 dead, can’t compare.
These two feuds took place during the same time period, but parts of the Pleasant Valley War have never been told. A code of silence followed the people involved in the war until 1961 when the last participant died. Those who knew the most had the most to lose and, therefore, told the least. Pyle figures enough time has passed — so he can now tell the story.
The story consists of a complex collection of events, each told by individuals. Every incident has a slant — pro-Tewksbury or pro-Graham — so there are at least two original versions of each altercation.
Sorting out the true story of the Pleasant Valley War has been a monumental task. All the details may never be known, but Pyle has brought many new facts to light. Several small stories took place inside the larger story and so the participants themselves may never have seen the entire “big picture.”
Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble said, “I know of no one more qualified to sort out the facts, determine the relationships, and get the story geographically correct than Jinx Pyle. Although the Pleasant Valley War has been portrayed by many as two families who didn’t get along or cattlemen who didn’t like sheepmen, Jinx Pyle has shown us that it had more to do with horse and cattle thieves and Arizona politics.”
The author traces his lineage back through five generations of lion and bear hunters, guides, packers, prospectors, cowboys, bootleggers, and other men of common sense, all in the Mogollon Rim Country and Tonto Basin.
Until five years ago, when Jinx married Payson historian Jayne Peace Pyle, he made his living with cattle and horses — in much the same manner as his great-grandfathers. He is also a Rim Country and Tonto Basin historian and an Arizona CultureKeeper (2005) who has authored several history books.
Pyle’s grandfather, Floyd Pyle, when just 13 years old, took a job riding with Hook Larson of the 13 Ranch and so fell privy to conversations between Larson and Bill and Harvey Colcord, all who were present at the hanging of Stott, Scott and Wilson on the Mogollon Rim.
The book contains never-published stories handed down through Pyle’s great-grandfather, Elwood Pyle, who was Justice of the Peace in Payson in 1891.
But Jinx Pyle did not rely on the oral histories alone. He and his wife did extensive research on this war.
“Jinx Pyle’s history of the Pleasant Valley War is destined to become one of the definitive works on the subject,” said Trimble.
Pyle will speak on the subject of the war at 4 p.m., Friday, May 8 at the Payson Womans Club, 510 W. Main St. A book signing will follow from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Then on Saturday, May 9, Pyle will speak at 10 a.m. A book signing will follow from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.