Louise Foucar Marshall left a philanthropic legacy that still endures. She was born in Boston in 1864, the child of immigrant parents. Her father, a skilled leather craftsman, eventually owned his own factory, a place where Louise learned the business skills that would enable her to amass a considerable real estate fortune in her later years. Ill health forced her to move to a drier climate and in 1884 she made her first foray to the southwest.
A few years later, she attended the School of Fine arts in Mexico City, then went to the University of Denver where she graduated with a Bachelors of Arts and a Bachelors of Literature. She taught French and German at the University of Denver during the next year but found the cold winter detrimental to her health, so moved to Tucson in early 1899 where she registered as a graduate student at the University of Arizona. That fall she became an instructor at the University, teaching classes in French, Latin, English, plane geometry and botany. In 1901 she was appointed a Professor of Ancient Languages and Literature—the first female professor on staff.
Louise grew up in comfortable financial circumstances and from a young age did what she could to help others not so fortunate. In Denver she provided anonymous financial aid to fellow female university students who were having a difficult time and after she graduated, continued these gifts. She had a keen eye for business and recognized the potential of properties located close by the University of Arizona, even though at that time the campus was located a considerable distance from Tucson. She began investing her money in real estate around the University where she built a number of rental properties. She resigned her professorship in 1903 and devoted her time to her real estate business. A year later, she married Thomas Marshall, but unlike most of her female contemporaries, kept control of the finances and real estate investments. She continued making shrewd purchases and sales. In 1922 she built a block of businesses across from the University’s main entrance. This was Tucson’s first suburban shopping center and proved wildly popular.
Louise was involved in a number of charitable organizations and activities. In 1930 she created the Marshall Foundation, the first private philanthropic foundation in Arizona. The goal of the foundation was to create a permanent scholarship fund to aid deserving females who wanted to attend the University of Arizona and to help those less fortunate in the community. She was involved in the day to day workings of the foundation until her death in 1956 at the age of 92. This asset based foundation has endured 85 years and continues to thrive, providing $400,000 a year in scholarships to U of A women as well funds to support charitable organizations and programs that benefit Tucson and Pima County non-profit organizations.
Patricia Stevenson was a friend of Louise Marshall and her family; she accepted the award on behalf of Louise at the Induction Ceremony.
“Miss Ola Young stands out as a remarkable example of the energy, resourcefulness and ability of our pioneer women.”
— Roscoe G. Willson in Pioneer Cattlemen of Arizona
A petite, spirited woman of wit and modesty, Anna Viola Young saw Arizona’s Pleasant Valley transformed from the bloody stage of the Graham-Tewksbury feud into a quiet, prosperous cattle region. Miss Ola, as she was known to everyone, dedicated a large part of her life to public service as the area’s pioneering postmistress and first schoolteacher. She also became a successful rancher.
Ola Young was born in 1869 in Watertown, Missouri, where her father, Silas W. Young, was postmaster. Ola had a brother, William and two younger sisters, Katherine and Betty. The Young family moved to Mason, Texas, where Ola finished her education after two years of college. In 1887, they made a three-month trek with two four-horse prairie schooners to the vicinity of Payson, Arizona. They homesteaded on Weber Creek until one of the recurring Apache scares drove them back to Payson and the protection of the town.
Leaving his family there, Silas found work as foreman on a cattle ranch in Pleasant Valley. The valley reverberated with the friction of the Graham-Tewksbury feud, which was a range war between the Grahams, who raised cattle and the Tewksburys who herded sheep. Silas had walked right into the middle of it by working for the leader of the Graham clan, Tom Graham. In 1887 the fighting reached its peak when sheriffs’ posses came to the region, but Silas avoided trouble by convincing everyone that he was neutral in the dispute. When Tom Graham, the sole survivor on his side, moved to Tempe to be with his wife, Silas leased the ranch from him and settled his family there. In 1889, he bought the spread and its cattle on a share basis.
Geographically, the Young ranch was the focal point of the surrounding area. Ola took advantage of its central location by volunteering to organize distribution of the valley’s mail. Ranchers in the area had taken turns retrieving the mail from the nearest post office in Holbrook. To avoid a casual transfer of the mail from hand to hand, Ola asked that it all be deposited at the Young ranch for orderly distribution.
Knowing that the community needed an official post office, she initiated a petition for this service. On June 25, 1890, the U.S. Postal Service opened an office in the Young’s house. Ola became the postmistress, taking her oath of office on August 17, and her sister Betty assisted in the work. Unable to name their post office Pleasant Valley, as that name was already taken by a place near Flagstaff, Ola’s customers agreed on Young as a fitting designation.
Ola Young took her duties seriously. Operating out of a small lean-to built against the Young’s house, she studied the postal regulations thoroughly and lived by the dictum, “the mail must go through.” She opened the post office any time of day or night to accommodate the arrivals of outlying ranchers.
Ola served as postmistress for almost fifty years. She witnessed the growth of the region despite its isolation. When a highway was built through the valley, she realized that it was time to move the post office from her house. Frank W. Bragg built a new store on the highway, and Ola located the post office there.
On January 31, 1940, Ola Young retired as postmistress. To mark the occasion, the community held a banquet in her honor and presented her with a silver medal commemorating her outstanding service. By this time, the pioneer postmistress had attracted national attention. Postmaster General James A. Farley sent her a congratulatory letter and an autographed photograph. She also received tributes from U.S. Senator Carl Hayden of Arizona and U.S. Representative John R. Murdock.
Ola Young knew the cattle business as well as the intricacies of the U.S. mail. Silas Young had established a brand for each of his children. During the drought of 1903-04, Ola and Betty began their own herd from orphaned calves brought to them by neighboring ranchers. In 1905 when their mother died and Silas moved to Globe, the two women took over operations of the family ranch, calling the spread Young Sisters. They added to the original homestead until they owned almost 1,000 acres of prime pasture land. The sisters also donated land for a building to the Baptist Church, and they deeded land to the community for the Young Cemetery. Miss Ola belonged to the Arizona Cattle Growers Association and was a fifty-year member of the White Mountain Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star at Globe.
Having lived through the end of the Pleasant Valley War and known several of the participants, Ola Young naturally assumed the role of local historian. She photographed important sites around the valley and took a portrait of “every boy [in the war] and every boy’s family.” Despite encouragement by the author Don Dedera and others to give the material to a library or photocopy it, Ola refused, feeling, sure she could keep it safe. Unfortunately, the Young cabin burned, and the valuable collection was lost.
The adventurous postmistress had been one of the first in the valley to buy an automobile. However, in the 1930S during a trip to Globe, her car went off the side of a mountain road, killing Ola’s driver and permanently disabling her. Betty died in 1956. That year Ola turned the operation of the ranch over to a niece and her husband, and moved to Scottsdale to live with them. As a tribute to her service to the state, Ola Young was nominated First Lady of Arizona’s Territorial
Centennial in 1963. She remained in Scottsdale until her death on October 10, 1966, at the age of ninety-seven.
Anna Viola Young contributed richly to Pleasant Valley. In this isolated region, she successfully ran a large cattle ranch, faithfully served her neighbors as schoolteacher and postmistress, and witnessed the arrival of peace and prosperity in an area torn apart by the Graham-Tewksbury feud. The name of Young, Arizona, continues to honor her memory.
”As a guest in a land where most white people are regarded with suspicion, always remember that your acceptance by The People will depend on your ability to accept with dignity, sympathy and honesty the Navajo way of life.”— Louisa Wetherill, giving advice to a visiting journalist
Louisa Wetherill was not a trained linguist or ethnologist, yet she pursued her interest in the Navajo culture with diligence and a passion that attracted both scientists and artists. In the early 1900s, she researched a history of Navajo blanket designs; she translated tribal legends and songs; she collected 300 medicinal and ceremonial herbs used by the Navajo; she compiled a list of the 56 tribal clans she had identified; and she amassed an impressive collection of sand-painting drawings. Today, she is given credit for being one of the first people who recognized the need to understand and preserve the culture of the Navajo people.
Mary Louise Wade, who would later be known as Louisa, was born September 2, 1877, in Wells, Nevada, the daughter of U.S. Army Captain Jack Wade and his wife, Julia France Rush Wade. When she was about two years old, Louisa traveled with her family through Kayenta, Arizona, located about 20 miles south of the Utah border on the Navajo Indian reservation. She could not have known it at the time, but Kayenta was to be her home for most of her adult life.
The family continued on to Mancos, Colorado, where they established their home. About the same time, another family, the Wetherills, also moved to Mancos. ”It was there that the destinies of the two families became intertwined – the Quaker Wetherills from Pennsylvania and the military Wades originating in Virginia,” wrote Mary Apolline Comfort in her book, Rainbow to Yesterday: The John and Louisa Wetherill Story.
On March 17, 1896, 18-year-old Louisa married John Wetherill. A son, Benjamin, was born on December 26, 1896, and a daughter, Georgia Ida, followed 13 months later on January 17, 1898. In 1900 the young couple took over the management at the Ojo Alamo trading post on the Navajo Reservation, thus beginning a period of 45 years in which they traded and associated with the Navajos. At this isolated trading post, Louisa Wetherill began to learn the Navajo language – first to ensure that she was not cheated by the traders, and later because she had a genuine interest in the people, according to Comfort’s biography.
Mr. Wetherill was often away, and Louisa, along with her young children, explored the desert around the trading post and became acquainted with the Indians. Unfortunately, a severe drought badly affected business at the Ojo Alamo trading post, and soon Mr. Wetherill began looking for a location where they might establish a post of their own. In 1906 the Wetherills set up a trading post at Oljato, or “Place of the Moonlight Water” near the Arizona-Utah border.
In 1910, the couple moved south to Kayenta, where they opened another trading post and began doing business from a rather unsubstantial-looking collection of tents and wagons. The Wetherills later built a lodge at Kayenta, and it became a stopping off place for many important visitors.
”The Wetherills’ guest books at Kayenta during the 1920s and 30s were filled with the names of scientists and students, writers and artists, Easterners getting glimpses of the last frontier, and other persons intensely interested in Indian lore,” Comfort said. Teddy Roosevelt and Zane Grey were among their visitors.
Louisa’s knowledge of the Navajos attracted the attention of the general public as well as scholars. She became a popular speaker, and her lectures on the Navajos were in demand on the West Coast.
Around 1906, she began her collection of herbs, which eventually numbered more than 300 specimens. She made notes about which plants the Navajos used for food, healing purposes or in sacred ceremonies.
She also collected sand paintings, and by 1909 had amassed a considerable collection. Louisa Wetherill had befriended a medicine man named Yellow Singer and persuaded him to reproduce the paintings on paper, using crayons.
Louisa Wetherill also collected and translated the legends and folk tales of the Navajos. ”Relatives have told that it was not an uncommon sight in the summer to see as many as one hundred Indians sitting on the lawn under the trees at Kayenta, telling stories, with Louisa in their midst, laughing and chatting as volubly as any of them,” Comfort wrote.
Among her original translations was “Prayer to the Big Black Bear,” a prayer to ward off evil. The folk tales she translated include “The Woman Whose Nose Was Cut off Twelve Times,” “How the Raven Got His Coat,” “Story of the First Lie,” and “Creation of the Burro.” It is not surprising that her children preferred these stories to Mother Goose rhymes.
Louisa’s knowledge of the language helped her to become an intermediary between the military, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Navajos. The Indians trusted her, and because they believed she would be fair, they abided by her judgment.
In 1918, Louisa won national recognition for the drive she made on the reservation to help the Red Cross war effort overseas. Although the Navajos had no money to donate, they gave a sheep or a goat from their flocks as their contribution to the war effort.
Beginning in 1921, Louisa made a number of trips to Mexico, intent on proving a theory that certain Navajo clans had migrated northward. Although she intended to write a history of the Navajo people, she never completed the project and whatever material she collected on her trips has been lost.
From the 1920s on, Louisa suffered from a variety of illnesses and was unable to continue life at her old pace. Her husband died in November 1944; lonely and unhappy, she died less than a year later, on September 18, 1945, in Prescott.
Used by permission from the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe
Patricia Ann McGee, granddaughter of Chieftess Viola Jimulla, led the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe as president for 20 years. She followed the family tradition of serving her people by helping the tribe to advance economically while retaining their culture.
Born July 9, 1926 in Holbrook, Patricia Ann Vaughn was raised by her grandmother Viola Jimulla, chieftess of the Yavapai-Prescott tribe from 1940 to 1966. Viola Jimulla was also an Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame inductee in 1986. Patricia McGee’s grandmother taught her the values of integrity and self-reliance, along with the importance of service to her tribe. McGee served on the Yavapai- Prescott tribal board from 1966 to 1972 and as President of the tribe from 1972 to 1988 and 1990 to 1994.
McGee attended the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) School in Valentine, Arizona and graduated high school from Prescott High School. She then attended the Haskell Indian Junior College in Lawrence, Kansas and Prescott College from 1966 to 1969 where she majored in anthropology. She married Ernest McGee, and their marriage lasted until her death. During her working life, she held various positions in the BIA finance division at Truxton, Arizona and later in public health at Peach Springs, Arizona. During the 1960s, she took her grandmother’s advice and returned to Prescott to lead in tribal affairs. In 1966, after her grandmother’s death, she became a tribal council member and then remained in tribal government for nearly 30 years.
Patricia McGee worked for educational programs and economic development for her tribe. In 1984, she secured a $1.2 million grant and persuaded the city of Prescott to issue municipal bonds to finance and build a resort hotel on the Yavapai-Prescott Reservation; this became the Sheraton Resort and later the Prescott Conference Center. McGee led the development of tribal land for the Frontier Village Shopping Center which eventually housed many retail stores and restaurants. In addition, through her leadership, the Yavapai-Prescott tribe signed the first agreement to allow gaming in Arizona.
McGee viewed economic development as a means to achieve improvements in housing, cultural preservation and health care. She prioritized preservation of Yavapai culture, saying that:
“Our young people need to know their own history, culture, tradition, and their own language. This lack of knowing hurts them and you can’t have self-esteem and self-determination without self-knowledge.”
President Nixon appointed McGee to serve on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. McGee also belonged to the Inter-Tribal Chairman Association of Arizona, and acted as secretary-treasurer of the Indian Development District of Arizona. She testified in Congress for the Water Settlement Act that resulted in her tribe getting additional water allocations. She also helped to create the Yavapai Language Program. Her years of work for the Yavapai-Prescott tribe yielded many benefits. When she died in 1994, tribal members and Prescott citizens lauded her ability to use economic development to further education and cultural preservation.
“These have been wonderful years, forty of them. It hasn’t been a job, it’s been a wonderful life, and not one single day in those forty years have I gone home tired at night. Not many people are privileged to work at the same thing for forty years, and for such grand people. I’ve been proud of my job and the envy of every other woman.”— Abbie Keith, in her farewell letter to the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association
When Abbie Keith retired as secretary of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association and editor of the Arizona Cattlelog in 1963, ranchers, meatpackers, and government officials from across the country wrote letters to express how much they would miss her.
“You may not realize it,” wrote Tom Glazer of Swift & Company in Chicago, “but the State of Arizona is not the only benefactor of your time and talents … I have heard many of your associates in neighboring states express appreciation for the devotion and farsightedness of Abbie Keith.”
Other letters came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service, the Montana Stock Growers Association, and from ranchers throughout Arizona. What had Abbie Keith done to earn such esteem in the eyes of these ranchers? Bob Bowman, President of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association explains:
“Mrs. Keith’s greatest contribution was keeping Arizona’s isolated, far flung, and disconnected ranch families together so they and their industry could continue their great contribution to the young state’s economy.”
The newsletter which Abbie Keith founded in 1923 was the single medium through which isolated ranch families, who often owned no radios or telephones, learned about cattle sales and markets, weather conditions, university research, conventions, legislative actions, and personal affairs such as births and deaths. Keith also impressed upon the often-struggling ranchers the importance of their work to the rest of the nation.
Abbie Ware was born on a farm in Olatha, Kansas, on May 23, 1888. When she was eleven years old, her family moved to Oklahoma. After finishing high school in 1909, she took a job with the Forest Service in Magdalena, New Mexico. It was there that she met Jack Elbert Harvey Crabb, a young man who was also born in Kansas but raised on a farm west of Phoenix. Abbie and Jack were married on December 1, 1910. Jack had also worked for the Forest Service, but in 1911 he joined the Coconino Cattle Company in Arizona, the range of which ran from the Verde Valley to Rogers Lake, south of Flagstaff. The Crabbs’ first two children died before their second birthdays. In 1915, they adopted Jack’s two nieces, whose mother died while giving birth to Saralee; Verna May was five years old. Abbie’s parents also lived with the family. It was during this time that Abbie learned how isolated ranch life could be. The Crabbs had no radios, newspapers, phonographs, or telephones. The family ate beef three times a day, and vegetables came in a can from the store.
Jack Crabb died in 1921 of a ruptured appendix. The next year, Abbie and her family moved to a five acre peach orchard in Phoenix. In 1923, Abbie accepted a position as a secretary for the Arizona Cattle Growers and so began her tenure as the center of information for Arizona’s ranchers. At the beginning, Abbie helped to publish a weekly, one-page market report. Very quickly, the single page became four pages, as ranchers began to drop by Abbie’s office and give her information. As the years went by, people began to send her letters and bulletins through the mail, and by 1945, the association decided to publish a monthly magazine called the Arizona Cattlelog.
In 1920, Abbie married John Murray Keith, a rancher from Bellson, who had two daughters, Lillian, 15 and Murray Louise, 12. Since John Keith spent a good deal of his time at his ranch, Abbie raised the four girls on her own. After Abbie resigned as secretary of the ACGA in 1963, she was anything but idle. She worked as a volunteer for the Maricopa County Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Prescott, earning high praise and letters of appreciation. As a member of the Republican Women’s Club of Phoenix, she worked on several political campaigns, earning letters of thanks from Governor Jack Williams and Senator Barry Goldwater. Abbie was a member of the Altrusa Club of Phoenix, and an honorary member of the Arizona Cowbelles; she did volunteer work for both organizations.
Abbie Ware Crabb Keith died on July 8, 1984, at the age of ninety-six.
“Mr. Hayden, though extravagant in large business matters, was thrifty in small New England ways. On a day of strenuous house cleaning, she (Mrs. Hayden) had accumulated a pile of household rubbish. Mr. Hayden came in and saw some moth eaten yarn on top. He said to her. ‘This ought not to be thrown away’. ‘Where shall I put it?’ She replied with asperity: ‘Eat it!’ The Judge went away with the yarn in his hand and shortly returned, offering it to her and saying mildly. ‘Won’t you take the first bite?’” — From son Carl Hayden’s reminiscences in Sallie Davis Hayden, Thoroughbred Pioneer.
From the state’s earliest days, the Hayden name has been associated with progress. Charles Trumbull Hayden established the Hayden mill and ferry along the banks of the Salt River in Tempe. Carl Trumbull Hayden served Arizona for 56 years in Congress. Less well known, but equally as important, was Sallie Hayden, wife of Charles and mother of Carl (and three other children). She played an important role in Arizona’s development and is remembered as a woman of enormous vitality, intelligence and wit. She created a home where education and religious tolerance were taught. She took an active interest in national as well as local politics, an interest that was passed along to her son.
According to an account of her early life written by her son, Sallie Calvert Davis was born July 12, 1842, near Forrest City, Arkansas. Her father, Cornelius Davis, did not believe in formal education and certainly not for his four daughters. When Sallie was 12 years old, she ran away from home because her father, a strict disciplinarian, threatened to whip her with his bridle reins. She took refuge at an aunt’s home, where she presumably found more freedom to pursue her interest in books and an education.
During the Civil War, the Davis family found its finances strained, and it became necessary for all of them to go to work. Sally obtained a position as a teacher in an Illinois elementary school. “Although she had received such limited and episodic schooling, she educated herself by reading serious books, a habit that she continued in later years whenever books were to be had,” her son wrote. Several years later, an uncle in California wrote to tell her that schoolteachers in that state were well paid. He advised her to move west.
She taught briefly in Nevada City, then moved on to Visalia, a little town in central California. There, she met the Alford family. “Dr. Alford and his wife were people of breeding and education who realized that the young Southern teacher should not live in her uncle’s rude cabin on the sheep ranch,” son Carl wrote. They found her a teaching job and with their love and guidance, she “rapidly matured into an attractive woman.” It was at the Alfords’ home that she met Mr. Hayden, who was visiting the doctor while on a trip to San Francisco.
“It took him two years to persuade Miss Davis to marry him,” according to their son’s account. “She was not then passionately in love with Mr. Hayden, but she had a profound admiration for his gentle dignity and his scholarly temperament and was interested in his dream of building up a civilized community in southern Arizona,”
Mr. Hayden, who was 17 years her senior, provided the intellectual companionship and the challenge she desired. The couple soon settled at the Hayden residence in Tempe. Mrs. Hayden was embarking on a new life, and from her son’s account we know she was “terribly depressed” by what she found in Tempe. She hated the hot weather. Her new home had a dirt floor and was cheaply furnished. There were few companions for conversation, and Mr. Hayden was often occupied with his business, neglecting his new wife. The desert seemed desolate to her, so she sent away for Bermuda grass seeds; the grass quickly spread and became a pest in the garden. She imported a cow to provide milk. In short, she set about making this new place a home. Gradually, she came to share her husband’s dream of building a community along the Salt River and making it a place where she could raise her children.
She served as postmistress of Hayden’s Ferry (later renamed Tempe) from December of 1876 to July of 1878. She became a member of the local school board and worked to bring better teachers to the region; she campaigned to see that the “right” politicians won; she established a library in her home which included many of the English and American classics, books not easily to be found in the Southwest; and she entertained suffrage speakers whenever they came to Tempe.
While her children were young, she moved the family to a new home two miles outside of town. The home would become known as the “Hayden Guest Ranch” because it served as a hostelry for teachers, writers, lecturers and many other distinguished Tempe visitors. It was also a place where persons with tuberculosis could convalesce.
“There was scarcely ever a time when some such unhappy person was not being entertained at the Ranch House throughout the winters, and often without charge,” her son wrote. “Delicate teachers, poor college professors, any educated person with limited means, and lame ducks of every sort, appealed to her sympathetic, generous heart.”
It was Mrs. Hayden’s sound management that kept the ranch going. She made it profitable by bringing in cattle, and she defended her water rights when they were challenged. When Carl was old enough for college, she insisted on borrowing the money to send him to Stanford. Even after the death of her husband in 1900, and despite the severe financial problems that he left behind, she managed to find the money to provide for her daughters’ education.
Mrs. Hayden died September 15, 1907, in Tempe. Her three children remained the visible testimony to her life. Her son Carl inherited her political acumen while her daughters carried on her service in the fields of education and social welfare.
“We have had great disappointments, but fortunately, the good Lord has never let us both become discouraged at the same time.” — Minnie K. Guenther, Extracts from the “Diary of a Missionary’s Wife,” 1929
On a bright Thanksgiving morning in 1910 Wisconsin, a knock at the door interrupted Minnie Knoop as she prepared for church. She opened the door to young E. Edgar Guenther, the tall, shy Lutheran seminarian who had been sparking Minnie for some time. With no preamble whatever, he said, “I have a call to the Arizona Territory; will you go with me?” The simplicity and directness of her reply was characteristic. “Sure,” she said and thus took up her role in Arizona history.
Edgar and Minnie Guenther would devote the rest of their lives to the care and development of the White Mountain Apache Tribe of east central Arizona. Although early missionaries had initiated some social work on the reservation, when the Guenthers settled there permanently, real progress began. In the early years of this century, the Guenthers’ life was a continual challenge. With nothing but begged materials and ingenuity, they immediately reopened the mission school, with rough desks built by Edgar. Students were sent by parents who responded to the care and love they saw given to their children. After the school was established, Minnie and E. Edgar Guenther opened the East Fork Orphanage, the first of its kind in the Southwest.
By this time, Minnie had entered a pattern of activities which would remain unchanged in essence for half a century. The backbreaking daily labor of homemaking under harsh, primitive conditions hauling water, growing food, chopping wood for heat and light was actually secondary to Minnie’s chosen path: she would type all school lessons and every sermon her husband would deliver, cook daily hot meals for the students, teach Sunday school, learn to speak Apache, make calls by horseback on outlying camps, teach herself to play hymns on a portable pump organ, nurse the sick, and counsel Indians caught in a changing world.
The scarcity of medical help in the early days and recurrent killer epidemics created a serious health threat on the reservation. The constant, selfless response of Edgar and Minnie reinforced the Apaches’ confidence in the Guenthers’ commitment to them. Of the paralyzing winter of 1914-15, Edgar Guenther wrote, “My wife and I spent many weary days in the saddle … Having no medicine of any kind I trapped skunks, rendered the fat and mixed it with turpentine and coal oil. To give the concoction a pleasant odor, my wife added some of her precious perfume. For chest pads … our long winter underwear was dedicated to the cause.” (Guenther, Autobiography, 1956) Minnie Guenther also worked to help Indian children afflicted with a laming congenital hip disorder, eventually sending many to Phoenix for surgery. As the Guenther’s work expanded, so, too, did their family.
Throughout her life, Minnie considered children her greatest gift. Aided by Shima, her devoted Apache nursemaid, Minnie raised nine children of her own, and numerous Apaches. The impact of Minnie’s character and values shaped strong individuals. Several of the children she raised were trilingual in English, Apache, and German. Occupations pursued by her children and those she adopted included engineering, nursing, a librarianship, the military, medicine, and education. One the Guenthers’ sons succeeded Edgar as a Lutheran pastor on the reservation.
In 1961, Minnie lost her life’s partner when Mr. Guenther died. She continued working among the Apaches for another 20 years. Minnie’s exemplary motherhood was widely recognized and nationally honored, when she was selected the national 1967 Mother of the Year.
Inadvertently, she became an entrepreneur. Minnie was often the only source of ready money on the isolated reservation, and she regularly exchanged cash for Indian handcrafts. She then sold the craft items to recoup her investment, and so a bustling tourist enterprise was underway. Besides purchased items, 70 years on the reservation brought Minnie a vast personal collection of traditional Apache cultural materials. Sought by several institutions, this unique collection was given in Minnie’s will to the Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona, already the repository of the Grenville Goodwin Apache collection. Together, the Goodwin and Guenther collections probably comprised the most comprehensive record of Apache material culture in the world.
Illness and advances in age saw Minnie spending more and more time with her children off the reservation, near needed medical facilities. Irritated at her confinement when her pioneer spirit still saw work to be done, she needled her children constantly, usually playfully, to take her back to “her” reservation.
Minnie Knoop Guenther died at 91 on January 8, 1982, in her house, on her reservation. A few days later, people came through a mountain snowstorm by the hundreds, to show their love for a woman whose life was spent loving them.
Used by permission from the Arizona Historical Society
“All the honors that Mrs. Douglas received can never express what an extraordinary woman she was. Her vitality, her great ability and knowledge and her kindness were known to all of us and…her influence will always live and enrich [others].” — Garden Club of America Bulletin, October 11, 1963
Margaret Bell Douglas’ greatest achievements sprang from a gift for horticulture that was recognized nationwide. Her contributions live on in Phoenix and Bisbee, which was the Douglases’ home for twenty-six years.
Born in Montreal in February of 1890, Margaret began her life of travels at an early age. Her father, Robert Bell, was a geologist who conducted surveys and mapping expeditions in Canada. On one trip when he ventured into Alaska, his young daughter traveled in a cradleboard on the back of an Eskimo. When she was about 18, she went to study in Europe. The highlight of the trip was a visit to Great Britain where she was presented to Queen Victoria in ceremonies at the Court of St. James.
After her return to the United States, Margaret met Walter Douglas, a young Canadian-born mining engineer who managed the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company’s operations in Bisbee. Walter’s father, Dr. James Douglas, served on the board of Phelps, Dodge and Company of New York, which owned the Copper Queen. Walter also acted as managing director of the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad, built by the mine to ship ore from the smelter at Bisbee, and later from the newly created town of Douglas.
Margaret and Walter married in September of 1902, and Walter brought his bride to Bisbee. That same year the newlyweds celebrated his promotion to the position of general manager of the Phlelps Dodge western operations. Living first in an adobe home at the center of town, Margaret and Walter Douglas raised five children. In 1908, they moved into a forty-one-room house in Warren, just outside of town, and gave their original home to the YWCA.
Margaret and her children escaped the summer heat by taking the train to Santa Barbara, California, where they owned property and where she rented out several cottages to other Arizonans heading for the beach. During these years Margaret began to develop her interest in plants and gardening. She supervised tile landscaping of the Copper Queen Hospital. Her next undertaking had a broader impact. The El Paso and Southwestern (EP & SW) Railroad had been expanding, and in 1912 finished a line from Benson to Tucson, giving competition to the Southern Pacific, which had operated in Tucson since 1880. Margaret knew that an attractive garden would help promote the EP & SW’s new Tucson depot, which opened in December of 1913. The Douglases hired Carmillo Fenzi, a landscape architect from Santa Barbara, for the job. Next Margaret organized a garden contest to improve the isolated railroad settlements along the line from Tucson to Douglas and El Paso. She provided flower and vegetable seeds and succeeded in transforming dreary barrenness with luster and beauty.
After Walter’s promotion to president of Phelps Dodge in 1917, the Douglases traveled constantly between Bisbee and a second home in Chauncey, New York. In 1928, the Douglases bought a 120-acre farm in Phoenix. They supervised construction of a house and garden and the planting of date and citrus bees. Margaret canned dates and other delicacies as gifts for her friends.
More traveling was in store for this energetic woman when her husband’s career took a new direction. A member of the board of Southern Pacific since the EP & SW’s merger with that company in 1924, Walter retired from Phelps Dodge in 1930. A year later he became president of the Sud Pacifico de Mexico railroad line, and the Douglases moved to Mexico for nine years. There Margaret broadened her knowledge of botany with exciting results. A member-at-large in the Garden Club of America since 1921, she now created her own agenda. Working with Sud Pacifico and the Mexican government, she and an East Indian horticulturist established experimental agricultural stations along the west coast of Mexico in carefully chosen locations. The goal of this project was to improve native varieties of corn, flax, and other crops. Margaret also imported the solo papaya plant from Hawaii, thus introducing a new crop to Mexico.
She continued her landscape design work when the railroad built the Playa de Cortez hotel and gardens in Guaymas. Other activities included staging flower shows as she had in the States and hosting the Garden Club of America’s trip to Mexico in 1937.
Margaret’s involvement in local, national, and international cultural organizations increased after Walter’s second retirement in about 1940. She was a member of the New York Horticultural Society and served on the advisory Council of the New York Botanical Gardens and the board of New York City Memorial Hospital. As chairperson of the members-at-large of the Garden Club of America, she entertained many club presidents in her New York home, winning support for the American Red Cross project to landscape the grounds of recreation halls and hospitals at army bases. In Arizona, Margaret oversaw the landscaping at Luke, Williams, and Davis Monthan Army Air Force Bases and at Fort Huachuca.
Margaret’s outreach to the community continued after Walter’s death in 1946. A member of the Phoenix Garden Club, in the late 1940s she joined her friend Gertrude Webster in establishing the Desert Botanical Gardens and donated 1,500 specimens to its herbarium. Preservation and conservation were increasingly important to Margaret. In the early 1950s, she worked with Phoenix council members Barry Goldwater and Margaret Kober to save Camelback Mountain from development. She also participated in the movement to save California’s redwoods.
Years of study and experience had established Margaret as a well-known botanist, respected for her extensive knowledge of the plant world and her work in conservation. Her work garnered a variety of tributes and honors. Three colleagues named plants for her. In 1952 Margaret received one of her greatest honors when tile Garden Club of America created the Margaret Douglas Award. Sculptor Rene P. Chambellan designed the medal, given yearly to a club member for outstanding contributions to conservation and human betterment. Two years later Margaret received the Garden Club’s Achievement Medal.
Margaret Douglas is also remembered for her support of cultural arts in Phoenix. In addition to helping the Phoenix Symphony and art museum, she served for more than thirty years as a trustee of the Heard Museum of Anthropology and Primitive Art, founded in 1929 by Margaret’s friend Maie Heard.
This unusually gifted woman remained active until a year before her death at the age of eighty-three. She died on October 10, 1963, and was buried beside her husband in Quebec, following services in Phoenix and Westchester, New York. Throughout her long life, Margaret Bell Douglas used her talents for her community and country. Her work with plants beautified many lives, and her conservation efforts inspired others to respect plant life. In Phoenix she joined other prominent citizens in founding and supporting various cultural and social organizations. As her friend Sylvia G. Byrnes said, Margaret Douglas’s “achievements will live on for all of us.”