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Stan Brown

Stories by Stan

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 24: Mount Ord

The lofty Mazatzal Mountains presented the formidable barrier to the Tonto Basin, and had to be breached if the army and pioneers were ever to settle the Rim Country.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 22: Mazatzal Mountains

The Mazatzal Mountain range forms a boundary between Gila County and Maricopa County; it rises on the southwestern edge of Tonto Basin and descends into the Sonoran Desert at the Phoenix metropolitan area.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 21: Mazatzal City

If you have made a practice of exploring new places in the Rim Country, you have undoubtedly been taken by surprise to come upon some hidden pocket of beauty you never saw before.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 20: Jake’s Corner

The place known today as Jake’s Corner is 25 miles north of Roosevelt Lake and three miles east of State Route 87 on Route 188.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 19: Horton Creek and Indian Gardens

You would not expect to find a place in the Rim Country named after a politician — that is until you come upon Horton Creek. William B. Horton was one of the leaders in public education for Territorial Arizona, and as superintendent of public instruction from 1883 to 1897, he and his successor Robert Long, were instrumental in bringing the unorganized schools of the Territory into a unified system.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 18: Happy Jack, Clint's Well and Long Valley

Map-makers and map-readers have puzzled for years over the fact that the Happy Jack post office is in Long Valley and the Long Valley Ranger Station is at Happy Jack. As we might expect, “herein lies a tale.”

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 17: Grand Prize Mine

Webber Creek is best known today for the Geronimo Boy Scout Camp that occupies its headwaters under the Rim, and for the Geronimo Estates, a residential subdivision just downstream from the Boy Scout Camp.

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Rm Country Places

Chapter 16: Gordon Canyon

Gordon Canyon is a place quite “off the beaten track” yet it contains some of the Rim Country’s dramatic pioneer stories, stories of hardship, glory and love.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 15: Four Peaks

Anyone who has lived in Arizona for some time becomes familiar with its mountain peaks, each with its story and tradition.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 14 – Fossil Creek

Fossil Creek has produced much lore from prehistoric until modern times.

Rim Country Places

Chapter 13: Forest Lakes

Many people had never heard of Forest Lakes, Arizona, before the Rodeo-Chediski Fire hit the national news.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 12 – Doll Baby Ranch       

Driving west around Payson’s Green Valley lakes and past the golf course on Country Club Drive, the pavement ends and the name of the road becomes the Doll Baby Ranch Road.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 10: Crook Military Road

A bold move had to be taken by the United States Army in 1871 to curb Apache raids on white settlements and ranches.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 9 — Chevelon Creek

Among the most remote and beautiful creeks in Arizona is Chevelon Creek and it contains an abundance of challenges and history.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 8 – Chediski is more than a fire

Arizona residents will long remember the Rodeo-Chediski Fire of June 2002.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 7 – The Secrets of Butterfly Springs

Tucked obscurely away inside the Payson town limits is an ancient Native American campground.

Rim Country Places

Chapter 6 – Bray Creek Ranch

Bray Creek is a little mountain brook nestled in the arms of Arizona’s great escarpment, the Mogollon Rim.

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rim country places

Chapter 5 - The Blue Ridge (Cragin) Reservoir

It was spring, 1963, and we were hiking up the canyon along the east Verde River from our cabin, which is at the end of the private land.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 4 – The Black Mesa (aka Mogollon Rim)

Long, long ago, before white, Spanish or Mexican explorers came this way, Native people were impressed by the jagged 2,000-foot-high escarpment that runs for 200 miles across central Arizona to New Mexico.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 3 – Baker Butte

The highest point on the Mogollon Rim is a conical hill named Baker Butte.

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Rim Country Places

Chapter 2 — The Apache Trail

It is always fun to take visitors on tours of the Rim Country, pointing out the sights and telling the stories.

Rim Country Places

Chapter 1 – Places have names

Driving south out of Payson on Highway 87 my imagination goes into overdrive. Each place we pass brings to mind stories of people and events: Ox Bow Hill, the Sam Haught and Chilson ranches, Rye Creek, Deer Creek, Mazatzal Mountains, Sunflower.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 22: ANCIENT BONES

For some weeks we have been investigating the violence that plagued the Rim Country during the closing years of the 19th and early years of the 20th centuries. In this concluding chapter we take a flight of imagination back over the centuries to seek answers for several discoveries of ancient bones in the Payson area.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 21: Death on Deer Creek

The time was December 1925 and Jesse Chilson at the Bar-T-Bar Ranch on Deer Creek was wondering why the old prospector had not made his usual trip to the ranch for mail.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 20: The disappearing miner 

Newly elected Justice of the Peace Cal Greer found a gunnysack filled with bones on a shelf in the Payson jailhouse. They posed a mystery that sent the JP searching for answers, and what he discovered put some pieces of the puzzle together. The mystery was clarified later by the research of Lois Prante Stevens, a niece of the dead man.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 19: Shootout On Main Street, Part 2

In part one of the Jack Lane story (The Rim Review May 2), newcomer cowboy Jack Lane spent his first weekend in Payson getting drunk and then racing his horse up and down Main Street, shooting his gun in the air. Finally stopping in front of the 16-to-1 Saloon, next door to JP Colonel Randall’s office, he and the judge had an argument about his behavior. As Lane waved his pistol in the air, threatening the judge, Bill Colcord arrived on the scene with his own pistol drawn.  When Lane swung suddenly and pointed his pistol at him, Colcord shot Lane. Witnesses heard up to four shots, but it could not be determined at the time if some of them were from Lane shooting at Colcord.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 18: Shootout on Main Street

There is a myth about “the Wild West” that leads one to believe shootouts occurred frequently in the frontier towns. Considering today’s murders per capita, the streets in Southwestern towns at the turn of the century were safer. The shootings that did take place were long remembered and often glorified with retelling, like the one that occurred on Payson’s Main Street, Jan. 30, 1910. Many eyewitnesses recorded what they saw and provide us with what must be an accurate account.[1]

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 16: The Mysterious Demise of Al Sieber, Chief of Scouts

A red sandstone monument stands overlooking Roosevelt Lake beside State Highway 188. Traveling southeast in Tonto Basin, this can be seen just before reaching the bridge near Roosevelt Dam. Upon close examination the travelers can see the rough marker announces that near this spot the Army’s famous Chief of Scouts Al Sieber was crushed to death by an immense boulder.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 15: Sheep Camp Murders

The prolonged range war between sheep ranchers and cattle or goat ranchers raged in the Rim Country until after the turn of the 19th century. As many as 400,000 sheep were driven over the Heber-Reno sheep driveway twice a year. This was a traditional route that had been followed for decades. However, there were no boundaries marking the limits where the sheep were to be kept and flocks often strayed onto rangeland claimed by cattle ranchers. The sheep moved very slowly and consumed much valuable grass when they moved south in the fall and north in the spring.

Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 14: The Murder of Clint Wingfield

They called him “Black Jack” Ketchum, but the gambling done by Thomas Edward Ketchum was in robbing banks, holding up trains, and leaving a trail of cold blooded murders across Texas, New Mexico and eastern Arizona. It was July 2, 1899, about 8 o’clock in the evening that Ketchum rode up to the old sutler’s store in Camp Verde, and within minutes had shot and killed the owners, “Mack” Rogers and Clint Wingfield.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 13: The Self-Inflicted Killing of aTrapper

Wayside graves are always intriguing. When we stumble across them they raise so many questions. One can discover just such an interesting monument while driving slowly and watchfully along the Forest Road 300 on the Mogollon Rim. This famous scenic drive along the edge of the Rim follows somewhat faithfully the trail blazed by General George Crook in the early 1870s. His purpose was to connect Forts Verde and Apache and enable troop movement that could cut off the northern escape of renegade Indians. Driving from west to east, as one approaches a sign noting “Leonard Canyon” a gravesite can be seen on the right, just off the road. This spot also happens to be the place where, in the late summer of 1872, General Crook’s two crews met, blazing the trail from both ends. In those days it was called “Deadshot Canyon” after a renegade Apache with that name who had been apprehended here.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 12: The Dark Side of Tonto Basin

The good times of rodeos, dances and neighborly visits were interrupted for the residents of Tonto Basin in the spring of 1892 when a young mother was murdered by her husband, and her baby son was left parentless. The story has often been told, but with so many versions one has to carefully sift them to discern how events really unfolded. It begins with two families who emigrated from Missouri to Arizona’s Tonto Basin in the late 1880s. It is not known if they had known each other before coming west, but their lives were destined to become intertwined. John and Adis Narron brought their family to stake a claim near Grapevine, close to the junction of Tonto Creek and the Salt River. Their four children registered in the Catalpa School, Alice, 17, Annie, 16, William, 10, and Lillian, 9.i

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 11: The Murder of Gila County’s First Sheriff

In 1885, ranchers in Texas were going broke because the bottom dropped out of the market for sheep, wool and cattle. Among those selling out was cattleman Jesse Ellison. He brought his remaining herd to Arizona in hopes of starting over, and with him was fellow rancher Glenn Reynolds, who had thrown his small herd of cattle in with the Ellisons’. Reynolds returned to Texas the next year for a second herd on behalf of his brothers. Upon reaching Holbrook, he was joined by his wife of 10 years, “Gustie,” and their four children, two sons and two daughters. The Ellison and Reynolds families established their ranching claims in the Rim Country. Just as the Reynolds family was settling down, the Pleasant Valley War broke out, and no one felt safe as sheep and cattle ranchers ambushed one another.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 10: Lynching in Gentry Canyon (Scott, Stott, and Wilson)

“A wave of lawlessness,” is how historian Joseph Fish portrayed life in the Rim Country during the 1880s and 1890s. “A wave of lawlessness marked the collision of livestock, railroad, and mining interests on that remote frontier. This wave took the forms of land-jumping, robberies, beatings, and murder.” [1] Three men were lynched on an August day in 1888 and their murder has become the stuff of legend.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 9: Murder near Woods Canyon - the Al Fulton Story

It happened during the second year of what many call The Pleasant Valley War. A young sheepherder in his early twenties, named Al Fulton, was murdered near the place now called Al Fulton Point. It was September 1888. About 10 years earlier Al’s older brother Harry Fulton had come to Arizona to pursue the sheep business, and he ran sheep near the San Francisco Peaks of Flagstaff. In 1886 he helped to found the Arizona Wool Growers Association and was elected its first president.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 8: Murder on the Crook Trail

The Crook Military Road skirts the edge of the Mogollon Rim, and along this historic trail there are a number of isolated graves. Each one holds a fascinating story from the past, but none is more dramatic than the grave on Baker’s Butte. Today Forest Road 300 follows the Crook Trail, often right on it and at other times paralleling the old trail. Baker’s Butte is the highest point on the Mogollon Rim, the remnant of a small volcano topped by a fire watch tower. A little over one mile east of State Highway 87, beside this forest road, one readily spots the upright marble military headstone that crowns a man-sized pile of basalt rocks mounded over a grave. The marker reads, “Andres Moreno, Company E, 1st Battalion, Arizona Infantry, July 1, 1840 - July 16, 1887.”

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 7: Murders On The Trail To Globe

The place was Globe, Arizona Territory; the time was Wednesday, Aug. 23, 1882. Delfina Morena gave her 11-year-old daughter Augustina a short grocery list and sent her to the store carrying a small basket. A half-hour later, Augustina returned breathless, her basket still empty. “Mother!” she exclaimed, “There are two men hanging from the tree down by St. Elmo’s Saloon. They are dead, just swinging in the wind. I know one of them. He looks like that dance instructor, Lafayette Grimes. We saw him at the photographer’s place when I had my birthday picture taken.”

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 6: The missing body of Joseph McLernon

This is the pathetic story of an immigrant Irish youth who joined the Cavalry and hoped to become a United States citizen. However, he died at the Battle of Big Dry Wash July 17, 1882. Today the name of the area is East Clear Creek on the Mogollon Rim, just upstream from the Blue Ridge Reservoir. Until recently souvenir hunters were finding cartridges, brass buttons and human bones around the Rock Crossing where a band of one hundred renegade Apaches tried to ambush the pursuing army, but were defeated by several converging detachments of the Cavalry. Many natives died; the young Irishman was the only white man to fall in the firefight.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 5: Murder In Diamond Valley

came at the urging of their older son, John Valentine Meadows, who had preceded them and established a ranch in the White Mountains.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 3: The Skull

The skull of an Apache decorated the Schenectady, N.Y. mantle of retired Army surgeon James Reagles. He had carried it with him as a souvenir when he left Camp Verde in 1878. It had been the topic of conversation for many years as the Reagles family told tales the man whose skull it was, Tonto chief Delshay.[1] The physician had treated Delshay for malaria while stationed at the Rio Verde Reservation, and he was convinced this was the chief’s skull.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 2: Victim of Apache Attack

A very early murder in the Rim Country occurred in May 1868 when a chief packer in the Army was killed by Tonto Apaches at the head of the East Verde River Canyon. The story begins as Colonel Thomas C. Devin took command of the military sub-district of Prescott, Arizona Territory on Jan. 17, 1868.

The Wild West in the Rim Country

Chapter 1: A culture of violence

A recent article in The Arizona Republic opened with these words, “When the Colt Single Action Army revolver officially became Arizona’s state gun … it was more than just a symbolic nod to the past.”[1] The article continued, affirming that firearms are part of Arizona’s politics and economy as well as its legend and lore.

Water over the Rim

The news of a water pipe bringing that “liquid gold” to Payson recalls the time when “the big water” first came over the Rim from, then called, the Blue Ridge Reservoir. It was 1963, and we were enjoying a late spring at our family cabin on the East Verde River. The antique apple trees on our acre, planted 80 years earlier by Mercedes Belluzzi, were in full bloom, foretelling of pies and applesauce. The waters of the river in front of our house were running twice their usual volume as the last snows melted and renewed the springs that gushed from the canyon sides.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 23: Epilogue, The Wedding

Angie Mitchell returned home to Prescott on Christmas Day, 1880, after teaching at the first school in Tonto Basin. Ten days later, she received word of her appointment as clerk for the House of Representatives in the 11th Arizona Territorial Legislature. She had applied for this position before going to teach on Tonto Creek and had promised to return for the next term unless her application in Prescott was confirmed. Now she would not return to Tonto, but would remain in her hometown, “enrolling and engrossing” bills submitted in the House of Representatives.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 22: A Frightful Final Ride

Teacher Angie Mitchell had completed her term at the Tonto Basin school, and she was eagerly on her way home to Prescott. Her attempt to spend Christmas 1881 with her family and finance, Charles Brown, encountered one hazard after another on the trip. Now it was Christmas Day, and as the stagecoach from Wickenburg headed for the last mountainous road, doom almost caught up with her.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 21: A Race to get Home for Christmas

Teacher Angie Mitchell completed her term at Tonto Basin’s first school, and was heading home to Prescott.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 20: A visit with Captain and Mrs. Chaffee

The trip home to Prescott from Tonto Basin was almost as difficult as her trip over the Rim to Tonto Basin four months earlier.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 19: Preparations to Leave Tonto

  Wednesday, Dec. 15, 1880 was the last day of the fall session at the Tonto Basin School. The families of the students arrived to help close the school and take their children home that evening. Teacher Angie reported a gloomy, rainy day.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 18: Early Visitors to “Tonto” Cliff Dwellings

Just one week after teacher Angie Mitchell’s fateful hike into the mountain that nearly took her life, she eagerly tackled another weekend adventure.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 17: A Hike almost ends in Disaster

The first teacher of Tonto Basin School, Angie Mitchell, found that her social life was rather limited among the several families that were in walking distance.

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