White Mountains Online

Pinetop-Lakeside HistoryWhite Moutain Roundup  


1885 - 1985
The first 100 years!

by Jo Baeza

Seasons of sun and snow rolled over the Mountain and no one was there to feel them.

Mornings fluted with birdsongs and evenings croaked with frogsongs and no one heard.

Winter sunsets, mauve and blue-pink hazed above the depths of forest, but no one saw them.

Dawn raised wild turkeys to pick and scratch on grassy hillsides. Elk grazed in the moonlight and bugled challenges across the dank tules. Deer sipped water from the seeps and springs, ears turning in danger. But, no one killed them.

Later, much later, when people came to the Mountain, Pueblo hunters from cities like Forestdale and Kinishba stalked game with atlatls and spears.

Until about 1200 A.D., they planted crops, built masonry houses, made fine pottery, established a complex religion and government and traded with their neighbors. Then their life was forever disrupted by drought and perhaps, enemies.

No one knows for sure when the nomadic bands of Athabaskans came down from the north and found the mountains to their liking and stayed. Recent evidence points to their migration into the area about 900-1,000 years ago.

They gathered pinyons, acorns, and juniper berries...wild grapes and berries...roots and herbs. They were hunters and gatherers and raiders of settlements. They lived off the Mountain and took the drought with the rain, the blizzard with the sunshine.

When Coronado with his cumbersome band trooped up from White River in 1540, they camped at springs on top of the Mountain and lost some men to poison hemlock which grew there. He did not see the natives, and so assumed they were not there. His soldiers passed by on their Andalusian horses, searching for gold and glory, and left the Sierra Blanca as wild as they had found it.

Much later, fur trappers came looking for beaver on the Mountain, but found the pelts inferior to those in the northern Rockies. They left no trace.

Spanish colonists in Nuevo Mexico came to know the marauding bands of Athabaskans well. They called them Apaches de Navahu, from a Zuni word which meant "enemy." For more than 300 years, they and their cousins, the Navajos, effectively blocked the settlement of Northern Arizona, until it became an isolated island in the pattern of westward expansion.

To protect trade routes and encourage settlement, the Army established an outpost at Camp Mogollon (later called Camp Apache, then Fort Apache) in 1869. One of the scouts hired to explore and survey the area was a frontiersman named Corydon E. Cooley who came to the area in 1870, found good grass and year round water, and decided to stay.

Because of Cooley more than any other man, this region of Arizona was spared the bloodbath of the Indian Wars which took place elsewhere. He married two daughters of the White Mountain Apache chief, built a house in present day Show Low, and kept the peace with his in-laws. By 1878, Cooley and his partner, Henry Huning, were farming along Show Low Creek, had installed a sawmill, and were ranching on a large scale.

In the same year, William L. Penrod and his wife, Polly Ann Young, were called by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help colonize Northern Arizona. They left Utah Oct. 26, 1878 with two yoke of oxen, a team of horses, their nine children and enough supplies to last six months.

They arrived at the Willis Ranch on Show Low Creek December 31st. ON New Year's Day, 1879, they awoke to three feet of snow. As soon as William could get through, he rode to a small Mormon colony in the Forestdale Valley. When he returned, he had made up his mind to go back to Utah. His wife, being in poor health, refused. So John Henry Willis hired them to take care of his ranch, and they stayed on.

Cattle and sheepmen had already established herds on the open range of The White Mountains when the large influx of Mormons arrived. Among the ranchers will Will Amos, Bill Morgan, Jim Porter and George and Bob Scott. A military road called Crooks Trail was in use from Camp Verde to Camp Apache. Hay and grain were being freighted from the Rio Grande Valley, through St. Johns, to Camp Apache, and Col. Cooley's sold local hay and produce to the fort.

Cooley and Huning hired William Penrod to work for them, and for the next two years, Penrods lived on the ranch that was to become the townsite of Show Low. They operated a mule-powered shingle mill and sold shingles for $2.50 a thousand.

Between Camp Apache and Show Low were open, park-life forests of yellow pine (Ponderosa) broken by a series of mountain meadows along the drainages of streams. In September of 1886, William Penrod moved his family to one of these meadows, near the top of the mountain pass before the trail dropped off to Camp Apache, to take up a homestead.

The Penrods and their 14 children lived in their wagon box for ten days while William and his son, Ralph, cut logs and built a one-room cabin. In a 1950 interview with Norman Mead, Ralph Penrod said they could see smoke from the cabin of their only neighbor, Johnny Phipps (or Fipps). Phipps had been there for about a year when the Penrods arrived, according to Ralph Penrod.

That would place the first date of Anglo settlement at 1885. Johnny Phipps made his living buying and selling produce and liquor and freighting throughout the mountains. Phipps was still selling apples and oranges to settlers in the 1890's. Thelma Axline, who later owned the property the Phipps cabin was on, said he was buried in a willow grove in the meadow. The cabin burned down.

His store and saloon were taken over by Walt Rigney when Phipps died. Rigney is the man generally believed to be responsible for the name "Pinetop."

"Pinetop" was the nickname given to Rigney by black soldiers who were then stationed at Fort Apache. According to Ralph Penrod, they used to say "Let's go the the top of the pines and see Old Pinetop." Rigney, said Penrod, had a fuzzy lock of red hair on top of his head.

Some of the early settlers wanted to change the name of the town to Penrod, but there was already a Post Office by that name, so they kept the original name of Pinetop.

The Penrod cabin was located near the Phipps cabin. William Penrod set up another shingle mill in the meadow below his cabin. In 1888, 10 years after coming to the White Mountains, William Penrod and his sons were hired by Col. Cooley to build a new ranch house, forage station and telegraph office south of Pinetop. The Penrods hewed the logs, laid them and provided shingles for the buildings, according to a 1958 interview by Jim Cook. This was the famous Cooley Ranch, a stopover for all freighters and travelers by stage on the road between Holbrook and Fort Apache.

According to a history of Pinetop and Lakeside written by Leora Schuck, William Penrod came in 1886 and built a cabin with the help of his son. In the spring, the family cleared land, put in a crop and built a mule-powered shingle mill like the one they had in Show Low.

Schuck wrote: "The following June, Susan and husband with three children moved to Pinetop and made their home adjoining her father's place. Then Bert, Del and Eph cam with their wives and children. Liola, Liona (twins) and Mayzetta married and lived in Pinetop near their father. Soon he had all his children around him. Pinetop grew to be quite a town. It had a Post Office, store and small school."

The store belonged to a man named McCoy. It provided staples for the families from Lakeside and Woodland as well as Pinetop. The families of John Colvin, who built a small sawmill, and John Adair moved into the area shortly after the Penrods had settled it. A telegraph line between Holbrook and Fort Apache was built in 1889.

By 1891, Pinetop was a growing community. Bill Stephens, Ed Bradshaw, Neif Packer, John Hall, Charlie Savage and a man named Welch were living there, according to an interview with Augustus Hansen in 1950. Settlers earned extra cash by freighting, working in Hall's sawmill, or shearing sheep for one of the large sheep outfits.

Sheepmen had moved into the country in the late 1880's. Will Amos bought land and sheep belonging to Kinder and Adamson. Kinder had an old camp below Springer Mountain. The Jaques family and Jim Porter both ran sheep near Porter Mountain. Others were Bob and George Scott, Bill Morgan and Will Amos. The sheepmen summered in the mountains, but drove their sheep to the Salt River Valley for the winter, returning in the spring. (The old Heber-Reno sheep driveway is still in use.)

In the late '80's and '90's cattle belonging to the Hashknife Outfit (The Aztec L and Cattle Company) also roamed the range as far north as the Navajo Reservation and as far south as the White Mountains and Mogollon Rim. There were also large herds of feral horses running in the mountain country which early settlers trapped and broke for their own use, or sold. Drought and blizzard broke the Hashknife by the turn of the century, but the sheep outfits remained until the 1920's.

Most of the early settlers were hospitable and sociable. With only a few scattered settlements, people all over the country knew each other. Ralph Penrod said they believed in feeding the Apaches who came around to visit, not fighting with them. The Penrods built a six-room house which was always open to those in need. The early settlers entertained themselves with dances, horse races and sports.

"William (Penrod) loved sports," said Leora Schuck. "He could ride, he could rope, he could take a joke and give one, and he loved music and dancing. His youngest son, Ralph, had an ear for music. His father had bought him a violin when he was about 16 years old. Soon he played for dances, not only in Pinetop, but all around the country." The Penrods eventually built a dance hall in Pinetop.

A few settlers were already living in Lakeside and Woodland areas when Penrods homesteaded in Pinetop. Among them were about six LDS families, according to the records of the Show Low Stake.

In 1884, Hans Hansen, Sr., a native of Denmark, was called to be bishop of the Show Low Ward. In those days, it extended from Linden and Adair (Fools Hollow) to Ft. Apache. In the Show Low Stake History, it is written: "Bishop Hansen was a familiar figure on his little bay mule, making his bishop's calls from town to town, (it took him a month to make them all.)

Hans Hansen, Sr. left Show Low in 1891 when his house was burned down. He moved to the Warren Ranch in Pinetop, where he stayed for about a year, then to Woodland in 1893. Schuck said: "He bought a squatter's right there from Joseph Stock and added rooms to the small log house. He paid Stock twenty head of cattle for the place. The area had been called Fairview, and by some of the irreverent, Hog Town."

It was called Hog Town because of Al Young's hogs which ran wild in the woods. Later, the area was named "Woodland" by Mormon President Jessie M. Smith.

In addition to the Stock family, other settlers in the Woodland were Albert Crandall, Alex McCleve, John Marvin, Al Young, and Ezra West. Rufus Crandall was the first child born in Woodland. A spanish family who "appeared rich" were among the earliest settlers, according to an interview with Augustus Hansen. Their names were Ojeno and Jose Guivera.

Hansen and his son, Hans Hansen, Jr., began working at his building trade. He was a mason and brick layer. He and his son, Hans, Jr. did all the rock work at Fort Apache, many of the first houses in Whiteriver, and nearly all the two story brick houses in the area.

Hans and Loretta Hansen, like the other Pioneers, raised vegetables they could keep the year round in underground root houses. With their own pork, chickens, eggs, milk and a few staples from the store, they could survive.

The only store in Lakeside was run by Billy Scorse, an Englishman, for whom Billy Creek is named. He was the only permanent year round resident until the Mormon families came. Scorse grew some hay, sold a few groceries, but made the bulk of his living selling liquor to soldiers from Fort Apache at his "Last Chance Saloon." Scorse had 40 acres on the creek and squatters rights to some land in town, according to a 1950 interview with Hans Hansen, Jr.

Soldiers created trouble every time they went to the dances, said Augustus Hansen. At one drunken brawl after a dance, they took a sheepman out and castrated him, he said.

The 1890's saw the development of farms and orchards, legal battles over water rights, and the first attempts at schooling. The first schools were held in homes, woodsheds and root houses. In 1896, a school district was formed. Catherine Whipple, a descendant of those Pioneers wrote: "In those early days the schooling the children received was very scanty, two to five months in a year, but meager as it was, some will tell you that it was more practical than what some of their grandchildren are now getting with nine or 10 months of school a year."

In 1903-04 all the water on the Mountain dried up except Adair Spring, and Pinetop settlers had to haul water from it. The following year, the Pinetop-Lakeside settlers experienced the wettest year they had seen. That may have contributed to a decision to build a reservoir in 1904. Niels Hansen surveyed Show Low Creek in that year and decided where to build dams and irrigation ditches.

A story is told that a neighbor, seeing him work with his homemade instruments, said, "Niels, you are trying to make that water run uphill. It will never work."

Unperturbed, Niels said, "Never mind. Plow your ditches where the stakes are and your water will run." It did, and that first dam on Rainbow Lake held.

In 1905, the bottom fell out of the sheep market and many of the sheepmen had to sell out. Niels Hansen, Han's younger brother, took the opportunity to buy the Will Amos ranch in December, 1905 (he built the adobe house for Amos earlier for $300). He moved his wife and six children tot Lakeside in the spring of 1906.

At the south end of Niels Hansen's barn one spring day in 1906, six men sat in the sun and named the town "Lakeside." They were John L. Fish (who later bought out Billy Scourse), John Heber Hansen, Joseph Peterson, Louis E. Johnson and Alof Pratt Larson.

Leora Schuck, daughter of Joseph and Amanda Peterson, said her father had suggested the name. When the men decided on it, Belle Hansen tied a red cloth to a broom handle in lieu of a flag, and waiving it call out, "Hurrah for Lakeside!"

Some of the men rode out to the area horseback to take stock of its assets. Arriving at Adair Spring, one member proposed a toast. Lying down flat, they drank the pure mountain water and toasted "the mayor Lakeside."

When the founders of Pinetop and Lakeside came to the mountain, it was a different prospect from ours that they saw.

Leora Schuck said, "Countless mature trees stood tall and straight, their trunks smooth and free of branches many feet off the ground. With a minimum of underbrush, one could see vistas through the trunks for hundreds of yards...It may be that sheep kept the small stuff grazed off, or that fires from the lightning cleared the ground. At any rate, it was only after the sawmills came in and cut down many old trees that new young pines suddenly sprang up in jungle-like proportions."

Even as late as 1924, the essential character of Pinetop and Lakeside were not changed. An account in the Globe "Silver Belt" said: "Several mountain streams are nearby. One of these, fed from a great spring, serves for the irrigation of the acre home lots of the villagers...In winter, thousands of wild ducks visit the streams fed from the springs in the vicinity to feed on watercress."

There are few left whose memory goes back to the days of Leora Schuck's childhood "when we roamed the forest from Show Low to Paradise Creek and from Lake Mountain to Forestdale, unstymied, unfenced, unrestricted, except for a scattering of homesteads that we had to go around. And we knew everybody. Ah, yes, those were the days."