Haigler: It’s the name of a creek between Christopher Creek and Young. It is also the last name of an early Sun Devil1 football star. Is there any connection between the two? Here’s a look.
Haigler Creek is about seven or eight miles south of the Christopher Creek area, though substantially further than that via road. It is known for its fishing and natural beauty.
Haigler Creek is named for Jacob Russell Haigler, who was sometimes referred to locally as J.R. Haigler. J.R. was born in Franklin, Mo. on Feb. 7, 1836. During the late 1870s and early 1880s he lived in Dundy County, in the southwestern corner of Nebraska. A town in that county is now called Haigler after him. During that time period he was known as Jake Haigler and his ranch was called the Three Bar Ranch.2 He came westward to Arizona in the 1880s and in 1886 purchased a cattle ranch in this region in partnership with J.H. Kinsel and James M. Ming.3 The 1889 Gila County Assessor lists the following assets for this partnership: 1 Wagon 40, 3 Geldings 765, 3 mules 82.50, 1500 S. Cattle 19500, Possessory right to ranch in Pleasant Valley Known as the Sigsby ranch.
Haigler died during September 1905 after being thrown from a mule he was riding. It was a prolonged death in which he suffered over a couple of days. He was 68 years old at the time. The notice of his death in the Oct. 5, 1905 Arizona Silver Belt stated that, “he was a very positive character and to his stubbornness may be attributed his death for he willfully rejected the advice of his friends when he started on the fateful journey.” The article goes on to say that, “he was respected by all who knew him and hundreds will lament the awful character of his death and his terrible sufferings in those long and agony-laden hours when no human kind was near.”
The same year that J.R. Haigler died, Charles Haigler was playing football at the University of Southern California. This was after he starred over a six-year period at Tempe Normal School. This Haigler was born July 16, 1879, in Kansas to James Franklin and Laura Ann Haigleriv. Charles Haigler is often referred to as ASU’s first football great, playing for the school’s first team in 1896 and in a starring role in the school’s 11-2 victory over the University of Arizona in 1899. The latter of which was the first game between the two rivals. After his time in Tempe, Charles Haigler played for the University of Southern California for four years, alongside his brother Chester for at least part of that time. The Sept. 25, 1905 Arizona Republican carried a clip on Haigler from the Los Angeles Examiner, though there seems to be some confusion regarding the brothers.
“Chester Haigler the big center is probably the best built football player in Southern California and one of the best in the state.
“Haigler is one of the Arizona finds picked up by Coach Holmes, and as he has had two years experience at the punting game on the best eleven in Arizona, he should make a valuable man for the orange and yellow.
“The big center hails from the State Normal School of Arizona. The eleven on which Haigler played alternately at guard and center was scored on but once in five years and last season the team ran up a total of 137 point to the opponents 0.”
Charles Haigler is a member of the Arizona State University Sports Hall of Fame.
Now back to the original question: are these two Haiglers related? And the answer is… yes. It’s not a close relation, though. J.R. Haigler’s grandfather was Jacob Haigler, who was born in Pendleton County, Va. (now West Virginia) in 1786. Jacob’s brother was John Haigler, the great-grandfather of Charles Haigler. John was born in 1791 in the same county. Did these two Haiglers know each other? Yes. This article from the Dec. 24, 1903 Arizona Republican proves it.
“Jake Haigler, better known as Uncle Jake, came down yesterday from the Mogollon mountains with a herd of fifty odd heads of horses. He was accompanied by Henry Wilbur. The stock will be put on pasture here for the rest of the winter.
“It has been six years since Mr. Haigler has been in the valley and he expressed himself as being much surprised at the improvements made in that time. At present he is stopping with Mr. and Mrs. J.F. Haigler.”
Uncle Jake may have been a reference to him being a long past uncle of James’. Clearly they knew each other and spent time together. Perhaps James and his family even came up a time or two to visit Haigler at his ranch, a spot not that far as the crow flies from where Sun Devil football comes every August, Camp Tontozona.
4 Numerous accounts including Bob Eger’s in “Maroon and Gold: A History of Sun Devil Athletics” state that he was born in Globe, but census records clearly indicate his parents being in Kansas at the time and Ancestry.com family trees indicate the same. At this time I have not been able to trace him to Globe — early 1900s clips and census records show his parents as living in Maricopa County.