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Stan Brown

Stories by Stan

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 42: The Sawmill Brought Employment

In 1951, the Owens family located their sawmill in the old Pieper Meadow at the east end of town. At least folks were still calling it Pieper’s Meadow, even though Mrs. Pieper sold the acreage to the Hathaways after she was widowed. The meadow was an open area leading down from Main Street to the American Gulch.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 41: Payson’s last cattle drive

During the first half of the 20th century there were as yet few fences to restrain range cattle. Every rancher’s brand ran together with the herds of neighbors from the Tonto Basin to the Mogollon Rim.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

The Story of Payson, Arizona Chapter 40: Volunteer fire department organized

For many years fighting fires in Payson consisted of the town folk running to the scene and forming bucket brigades. Large fires, like the burning of the Herron Hotel in November 1918, left the populace helpless, except to drape wet blankets over the neighboring structures and watch until the fire burned itself out.

the story of payson, arizona

Chapter 39: The Town Gets A Newspaper

It could be argued that Payson’s first newspaper was published by the students of the high school, for in the autumn of 1926 they began a newsletter printed on their hand set type printer. It was called The Round-Up.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 38: The W.P.A. Comes To Town

As Payson’s population increased, the two aging frame structures on Main Street that had served as schoolhouses since 1901 and 1916 respectively were simply inadequate. The Great Depression was under way in the 1930s, and local families were in no position to finance a larger school. However, the Federal Government had established the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which provided the needed funds. It was up to the local school district to develop the plans and hire the work done, which gave some much needed relief for Rim Country families who joined the construction crews. Not only were local men employed for the work, but also many family members pitched in and invested their time and energy in the task. It was truly a community project, and the community joyfully took ownership, affectionately dubbing it “The Rock School.”

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 37: Access To The Outside

The isolation from the “outside world” that Payson had known from its beginnings was being overcome during the first half of the 20th century. Beginning with the construction of Roosevelt Dam in 1903, new ways to access the beautiful and secretive Rim Country were in demand. Throughout

Forest Rangers Protected Payson

The Story of Payson, Arizona -Chapter 36

A close relationship between forest rangers and the people of Payson existed from March of 1907 when the Tonto National Forest was established. The ranger’s station and house, along with a barn for horses and mules, were the center for the Payson Administrative District, and the first ranger assigned here was Fletcher Beard, a cowboy turned forest ranger.


The Story of Payson, Arizona -Chapter 35

It was in the summer of 1935 that Payson began to be a destination for airplanes. It was Cliff “Tuffie” Edwards who launched the feverish hobby that soon gripped a number of local ranchers and town folk. He was from Texas, as were so many early residents of the Payson area, and in 1910, by the age of 12, Edwards was already a capable cowboy riding with the best of them.

the first church in town

The Story of Payson, Arizona -Chapter 34, The First Church In Town

Settlers in Payson and the Rim Country had a faith in God that was born of adventure and survival in the wilderness. However, it was not until 1935 that the town organized its first local church. After all, these families had little time to develop churches and rituals. They spent their lives in virtual isolation on far-flung ranches, having defied comfort and the malicious terrain to make their way into these valleys. The first record of a Christian mission outreach to Payson is in 1898.

Landmark hotel on Main

The Story of Payson, Arizona - Chapter 33: Landmark Hotel On Main Street

The rowdy and salty character of old Payson still lingers on Main Street in the façade of the Ox Bow Inn and Saloon. It was on these historic properties that the pageant of cow town living was enacted, including shoot-outs, horse races and rodeos performed between the rows of log and clapboard buildings.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 32, The Long Road to a Townsite

It was not until the year 1930 that Payson residents ceased to be living in the Tonto National Forest and could call the community a town. The problem had its roots 46 years earlier.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 31, Happy Days at the Winchester Saloon

When the Winchester Saloon burned down just before Halloween in 1997, it brought a rush of memories to old-timers. This spot, at the foot of the old Pine Road (today’s McLane Road), had been the social center of the community from the late 19th century. The saga began when Guy Barkdoll built a dance hall, a livery stable and an adobe house on the site. The hall was the only place in town large enough to accommodate community events, and it was used not only for Saturday night dances, but also for funerals, weddings, school plays and carnivals.

The story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 30: The Class of 1927

In 1927, the Payson School graduated its first class from a new high school curriculum. There were two graduates. The high school classes were held in one of the two clapboard buildings near the corner of Oak and Main Streets, where today the Community Presbyterian Church has a parking lot.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 29: Hollywood comes to Payson

Although Hollywood film crews had filmed Zane Grey stories on location around Payson in the early 1920s, the year 1927 brought a new rush of Hollywood excitement with the arrival of the MGM mascot, Leo the Lion.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 28: The mailmen, the Cadillac and the haunted house

It was 1923 when Payson’s mail delivery became mechanized, and with no less a conveyance than a Cadillac automobile. The driver was Julian Journigan, and he was rapidly becoming one of the most appreciated men in the Rim Country. His story and what followed contain one of the sagas of life in and around Payson. [1]

The Story of Payson, Arizona


The Womans Club plan for a sundial as Payson’s official timepiece seemed primitive for the growing sophistication of the town. The newer method of setting the official town clock by the mailman’s watch was a little better.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 26: A sun dial and a women’s club

In the year 1920 Payson’s first civic organization was created and it was all about a sundial.

The Story of Payson, Arizona


On Jan. 17, 1920 Payson was on the threshold of an economic boom. That was the day the 18th Amendment to America’s Constitution went into effect, and the National Prohibition Act became law.

The Story of Payson, Arizona


The year 1918 was a pivotal time for Payson, because that was the year Zane Grey discovered the Rim Country, and began to write descriptions of its beauty that captured the hearts of readers.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 22: When trucks replaced mule trains

When Grady Harrison was born Aug. 25, 1891 no one could have guessed he would be the first to bring supplies to Payson in a motorized vehicle. It was 1918, and this enterprising citizen was 27 years old when he began hauling freight from Globe to Payson, ending decades of isolation when the only deliveries were made by pack trains of mules or horses.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 21: The teacher who became a legend

The town of Payson abounds in legends associated with haunted buildings, saloons, murders and characters whose stories run the gamut of human emotions. One such personage was Payson’s favorite schoolteacher, Julia Randall.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 20: Payson gets a full-time doctor

In the early decades of the Payson community, medical care was limited to folk remedies or the occasional presence of a part-time doctor hired by the nearby mining companies.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 19: The telephone came in 1908

In gleaning the memories of “old timers,” a seeker of facts soon faces a dilemma: memories are not all the same.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 17: National Forests Established

In 1905 an event took place that profoundly affected the life of settlers in Payson and the surrounding Rim Country: President Theodore Roosevelt created the U.S. Forest Service.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 16: a school is built in Payson

Grade school classes were held in Payson 11 years before there was a dedicated schoolhouse.

The story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 15: A new century dawned on Payson

The turning of the new century caused the hearts of settlers in the Payson area to swell with hope and enthusiasm for the years just ahead.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 14: Supplies came by burro train

As the settlement of Payson grew, more mercantile stores were established and there was an increasing demand for supplies. The very thing that had protected the Tonto Apache people for so long, the isolation of the Rim Country from the rest of the world, now made supplying the settlers extremely difficult.

The story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 13:Payson’s first developers

The first persons to earn a living from real estate in Payson were August and Wilhelmina Pieper. Their story begins with Mrs. Pieper’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Boske, who fled Germany’s tyrannical government in 1880 and came to America.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 12: Politics burned brightly

After Globe had become the county seat for Payson voters, politicians began to look at the northern wing of the county with and an eye to the future. Two of those up and coming politicos were John W. Wentworth and George W. P. Hunt. Both of them would marry Rim Country girls.

The story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 11: Payson joins Gila County

The early days of Gila County it earned the distinction of being among the West’s most violent counties. The many shootings in and around Payson contributed to that dubious distinction.

The story of Payson, Arizona

As the newly settled town of Payson grew, so did the services it provided.

The Story of Payson, Arizona


In the spring of 1886, a settler named Frank Alkire came through Payson on his way to lay claim to Indian Gardens along Tonto Creek. Years later he recalled how the town appeared.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

founded by miners, built by ranchers: the story of payson, arizona - Chapter 8: PAYSON BEGAN AN AUGUST TRADITION

The excitement and terror of Apache raids in the Rim Country had culminated on July 17, 1882 at the Battle of Big Dry Wash. Daily life was becoming less anxious, and settlers could get down to the real business of cattle raising and prospecting.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Founded by miners, built by ranchers: the story of payson, arizona - Chapter 7: A POST OFFICE NAMED PAYSON

By the year 1884 the village of Union Park was growing along the crossroads that came from Ox Bow Hill on the south, the mines around Marysville to the west, Pine to the north, and settlers under the Rim to the east. Businesses and homes intermingled as residents claimed the tillable properties on the meadow by the springs. The wash came to be called The American Gulch, named after the American Mine at its mouth on the East Verde River.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

In 1883, the news broke throughout Union Park that eastern financiers, including magnates of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, were sponsoring a railroad line that would come from Flagstaff down through the Tonto Basin, passing near Union Park.

The Story of Payson, Arizona


Early in 1882, Henry Sidles, who still maintained his ranch at Flowing Springs, was living in his poured-mud adobe house in Green Valley. Across from his “mud house” he built the community’s first mercantile store and saloon.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Before Green Valley became a village, a mining camp almost took the honors in 1881 three miles to the west. A cluster of miners’ tents mushroomed beside the military road established more than a decade earlier by the army. The road from Tonto Basin followed Wild Rye Creek to its headwaters, and then continued to the mouth of Pine Creek.


In the 10 years from 1867 through 1876, 60 skirmishes were fought between the Indians and the army in and around Green Valley (Payson) and in the Tonto Basin.


founded by miners, built by ranchers: the story of Payson, Arizona

Green Valley was left to the Apaches for six years following the army's failure to establish a military post there.


founded by miners, built by ranchers: the story of payson, arizona

Green Valley was left to the Apaches for six years following the army’s failure to establish a military post there. In July of 1874 De-che-ae, the last Apache chief to hold out against the white invasion was killed and the remnants of his band surrendered to the Rio Verde Reservation.


Founded by miners, built by ranchers: The Story of Payson, Arizona

For some years I have desired to set down an orderly account of the town of Payson, Arizona, founded by gold miners and established by cattle ranchers in the late 19th century. It is a story that begins in the spring of 1868.

Earthquakes for Payson?

Planet Earth seems to be in revolt against its human occupiers, but we who live in Arizona's central highlands hardly give a thought to tornados, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

A stroll among the pioneer graves - Chapter 17

We conclude our look at the stories of pioneers who are buried in Rim Country graves by returning to our place of beginning, the Payson Pioneer Cemetery.

The bones of Payson

In our search for the isolated graves of Rim Country pioneers, we should not overlook "the ancient ones" -- those people who populated Payson and its surroundings from at least 1000 B.C. until they disappeared around A.D. 1250.

The grave of Davy Gowan

Some of graves of Rim Country pioneers are isolated enough that some good, healthy hiking is required to stand at the spot and recall the dramatic life it represents.

A cemetery called 'The Last Roundup'


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.

The Starr of Starr Valley


The stories of early settlers buried in isolated graves are often difficult to get straight, because so many conflicting folk stories can surround them. Never was this more true than in our attempt to decipher the story of Mr. Starr, for whom Starr Valley is named.

The cemetery on Colcord Road


Throughout the Rim Country and Tonto Basin lie the remains of brave pioneers who settled this fruitful but isolated section of Arizona during its territorial and early statehood years. These solitary and sometimes family plots conjure up memories of the drama, hardship, glory and excitement that surround the settlement of Arizona's central mountains.

Pioneers seldom died of old age, Chapter 11

Tracking down the lonely graves of pioneers in Arizona's Rim Country can take us to some really isolated places. Three graves, side by side along a trace of the old Crook Trail tell an ugly story of local history. They are the graves of Jamie Stott, Jimmy Scott and Jeff Wilson, who were hanged during what historian James McClintock called "one of bloodiest features of Arizona's history," the Pleasant Valley War.

Pioneers seldom died of old age, Chapter 10

It is a breathtaking view, its beauty in stark contrast to the ugly murder that took place just back across the highway. Nearby is the grave of Al Fulton, and recounting his death gathers up one of the little known sagas of Rim Country history.