Hello again, fellow Creekers.
Here is the official story I got on how See Canyon got its name.
On May 18, 1892, in the territory of Arizona, John N. See rode up to the corral on his ranch on what is now called Christopher Creek, and shot and killed his young wife, Annie, as she was milking a cow. An infant son, Charlie, too young to understand, was the only witness.
After killing his wife, See rode to his parents’ home, later known as “the Old Martin place.” He told his parents he had just killed his wife and he was going to Mexico. As later reported by his family, his mother, stunned with grief but with compassion for her boy, answered “Son, I cannot let you go alone. I’ll send Bob with you.” So John and his younger brother Bob rode to Mexico and the story goes that Bob lived in Mexico for many years, finally returning to Arizona.
(Another story goes that John had robbed a stage before returning to the ranch and killing his wife, but I doubt that version.) But John did not return and never did see his American family again, instead, he lived in Mexico with his beautiful and aristocratic Mexican wife and children, where he had built up a large fortune. The story goes that as he got older, he desperately wanted to see his first born son, Charlie, before he died. After receiving the request from his father. Charlie and his cousin Julian Journigan traveled to Mexico where he did indeed meet his father and stepmother, and having done that, Charlie and Julian rode back to Payson.
After hearing that story, I always wondered what happened to the baby Charlie. He was raised in Payson by his grandparents and grew up with his cousin and best friend Julian Journigan, another Rim Country pioneer family.
The beautiful Journigan house was the site of the old Main Street Grille.
My great aunt and uncle, Bob and Mary (Martin) Kiser, bought the See Canyon Ranch in the late ’20s or early ’30s. Bob tore down the original log cabin and using the existing logs, rebuilt the house that is standing now.
As he was building the house, they camped out by the creek and Aunt Mary complained that “big green worms” would fall out of the trees on them. As a child I looked for those green worms, and never did find them, much to Aunt Mary’s delight.
Bob was a “world class” hunter and fisherman and built several small cabins on the creek for his fishing buddies. I used to dearly love sitting in front of the fire listening to the stories that Uncle Bob and his buddies would tell. Bob was a world class story teller, also!
He also tried to teach me to fly-fish, but for someone who could fall in the creek by just getting near it, I didn’t learn. I scared away all the fish.
In the ’30s my grandmother and grandfather, Doc and Nettie (Kiser) Martin, bought a 106-acre ranch from the Bowman family a few miles away, on Gordon Canyon Creek. That ranch is now called “Whispering Hope” on Colcord Road.
My grandfather built the big house on the ranch that is still being used. When that ranch was purchased and for several years afterwards, the family lived in the old log cabin that is on the property and which I can still draw from memory.
But as all good things, the families were growing older and still without electricity, running water and telephones, as well as a six- to eight-hour trip to the Valley, Bob and Mary sold the See Canyon Ranch to their friends Howard and Ruth Mary Walker in the ’50s. Their family still owns the property today.
The Gordon Canyon Ranch was also sold in the ’50s, thus ending my idyllic summers of hunting four leaf clovers in the meadow, finding baby horny toads, playing with the animals and splashing in the crystal clear creeks.
( I received a lot of this information from Marguerite (Buchanan) Noble, author and schoolteacher, from a story she published in the Tonto Trails magazine in 1972 and from our many conversations. Marguerite was also a cousin of the Journigan-See family.)
A special thanks to Sally Mystrom for providing us with this wonderful story. And an additional thank you to Rod Britain for also providing me with an affirmative version.
As always, I do need your help with content and stories! For anyone wanting to submit information from the Christopher Creek area for inclusion in our weekly article, please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Any submitted pictures must be full-size (typically around 1MB per picture). The cutoff time for inclusion in Friday’s article is close of business on Monday.
Thanks again for reading the column.