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Stan Brown

Stories by Stan

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.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 16: A Gila Monster comes to School

The young teacher at Tonto School was about to encounter another unwelcome critter, this time in her classroom. It was Friday, Nov. 12, 1880, a warm summer-like day according to her diary.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 15: How to build Aa Pole House

By the first week of November 1880, Angie had 23 pupils squeezed into a structure that was 10-feet-by-12-feet, with a dirt floor, no door, and sides made of brush. There were seats for only 12 students, and how the others were able to do their work she did not say.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 14: An invasion of Harer family members

It was Thursday, Nov. 14, 1880 when Tonto School teacher Angie Mitchell met the extended family of David and Josephine Harer, and found there were more of them than she had realized.  

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 13: A typical weekend in Tonto Basin

After the excitement of the Apache attack and the cattle stampedes, life for the teacher and her students’ families returned to mundane events.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 12: Skunks and Cattle Stampedes

The day after teacher Angie Mitchell’s torturous day with the Apache warriors, she wrote (Tuesday, Oct. 19, 1880), “Too lame to more than scrawl a line. Jane in bed. Mrs. Harer came tonight and was greatly surprised to find a lot of semi-invalids done up in liniment, salve and arnica.”

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 10: Escape FROM the Apaches

Tonto Basin teacher Angie Mitchell described the torture she and her companions were experiencing at the hands of a renegade band of Apaches. The day was Monday, Oct. 18, 1880, as her diary continues.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 8: Life Settles in to Routine

Rain continued to fall in the Tonto Basin as the first week of October 1880 moved into the second week.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 7: A mountain lion tries to get in

It was Angie Mitchell’s second week teaching in the Tonto Basin School, and she continued to live at the Vineyard ranch because the house being built as a “teacherage” was not yet ready.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 6: School Begins On The Lower Tonto

After five days living with Andy and Jane Blake on Wild Rye Creek, teacher Angie Mitchell was escorted along Tonto Creek to the ranch of John and Mary Vineyard.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 5: The move to Lower Tonto

The ranchers in Tonto Basin were about to receive their first schoolteacher.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 4: Introductioin to Pioneer Life

The Mitchell family’s second day in Tonto Basin was one of leisure. George and “Ma” had planned to begin their return trip to Prescott, but after he hitched up the wagon that morning he “concluded to our surprise that he was too tired to go home.”

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 3: Arrival In Tonto Basin

The harrowing ride down Pine Creek had almost cost the Mitchells the loss of their wagon, team and belongings; perhaps even their lives.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 2: Wild Ride to Tonto Basin

 The young teacher Angie Mitchell was on her way from the comforts of the Territorial capital in Prescott to the unknown settlement of Tonto Basin.

Frontier teacher in Tonto Basin

Chapter 1: The Most Barbaric Country

It had been raining “awfully” the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 14, 1880. Because of the weather Angie Mitchell and her fiancé George Brown didn’t leave Prescott until nearly two o’clock that afternoon.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 45: The rodeo searched for a home

They called it the August Doin’s and for the first 74 years it was held in several different locations. Beginning in 1884 the event was held in Pieper’s field, where the sawmill would one day stand, and in more recent years where the Sawmill Crossing mall is located.

The Story of Payson, Arizona

Chapter 43: First steps toward a hospital

The story of medicine in the Rim Country is filled with drama and the heroics of many citizens.

When logging made the Rim grow

In 1951 the Owens family located their sawmill in the old Pieper Meadow at what was then the east end of town

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.