“She was quite a lady!”
With her husband, John F. Wright, and their five-year-old daughter Patricia, entrepreneur Hallie Bost Wright first saw Arizona’s Yuma Valley in the early fall of 1917. The Wright family came to the area from San Angelo, Texas, at the request of a relative, Wilson Edwards, who needed workers for his cotton farm which was located between Somerton and Gadsden. He paid their way and was reimbursed from their wages of $1.25 per day. Edwards and his wife, Desda, and their daughters, Violet and Gladys met the Wrights at the Southern Pacific Depot when they arrived. For five and a half months, the family lived in a tent and picked the long staple Pima Cotton.
John and Hallie Wright farmed in the Crane area until 1917, then moved to a farm between Somerton and Gadsden. When it became necessary for Hallie B. Wright to support herself and her daughter in 1924, she chose to stay in the Somerton area where she operated a 300 acre farm on shares with one of the local banks. In 1925, Hallie B. Wright and Floyd E. Jones bought a truck and obtained a permit to haul farm produce, cotton, and cotton products. They also trucked fertilizer to the new citrus groves being planted on Yuma Mesa. As the farming scene changed, the primary products became lettuce, melons, citrus, flax, and related products, and Hallie and Floyd Jones divided the business. Jones took over the truck farming, and Hallie concentrated on the cotton industry, hauling from five gins in the Yuma Valley.
As business increased, Hallie bought more trucks to add to her original 1 1/2 ton Dodge flatbed and hired more drivers. Supervising the business and still having time for her young daughter meant Hallie worked long hours. Arising at 4 or 5 a.m., she would drive to the gin yards, some of them as far as fifteen miles away, and using a flashlight would mark the bales that her drivers were to pick up. She would return home to awaken Patricia and get her off to school, then spend the rest of the day keeping track of the men and the trucks. Her day usually ended about 10:30 p.m.
In 1926, Hallie Wright bought ten acres of land on Avenue B between 11th and 12th Streets and built a home there. She planted the entire acreage in pecan trees and developed a special, though unorthodox, method of pruning that was frowned upon by agriculturists at the University or Arizona. A local newspaper later reported that Hallie Wright Hopkins “always had more and better pecans than anybody else.”
In 1931, Hallie married Howard H. Hopkins who was a Yuma Mesa citrus grove manager. After Mr. Hopkins died in 1934, Hallie’s daughter, Patricia, and her three children came to live with Hallie. In 1944, the family moved to a home Hallie purchased from Dr. Kimball at 544 6th Avenue in Yuma. In 1946, she sold the trucking business but remained active in Yuma community affairs. Hallie B., as she was affectionately called, was a member of the First Baptist Church, the Order of Eastern Star, and Business and Professional Women. She was an excellent seamstress all of her life and often made dresses for her daughter. After merely looking at a dress in the store, she could then go home and cut out a pattern from memory. She was an avid fisher and played bridge regularly with her cronies until she was in her mid-eighties.
Feminine and petite, Hallie B. Hopkins was remarkable in her aptitude for business, especially since the work she chose to do was, at that time, considered a man’s job. She was remembered as an astute businesswoman whose word was her bond.