Family Histories Of Life On The Ranches And Farms Around Alpine

Posted on by az100

Oct 04, 2011

(ALPINE, October 4, 2011) – While the “Alpine Area Family History Preservation Project” – an official Arizona Centennial Legacy Project – is an informative treasure for the families in the Alpine area, the stories of lives and people captured in these interviews serve also as contributing historic documents for the State of Arizona.

This collection of 31 oral histories portrays the lives of pioneers and early settlers in the closely-knit communities of Alpine, Blue, Nutrioso, Eagar, Springerville, and nearby Luna, New Mexico, in the late 1800s and first half of the 1900s. Already entered onto the Arizona Memory Project, the photos, interviews, and transcripts are now available on CD and in print. The book, recently released by Acacia Publishing, is now on sale at Alpine Public Library. Copies are being distributed to Apache County libraries for check-out by patrons.

“The books and CDs are being distributed to all seven Apache County libraries,” reported Evelyn Williams, manager of Alpine Public Library, “as well as to the Arizona Historical Societies and to the St. Johns Family History Center. The stories are also on our website through the Arizona Memory Project. This project will increase and enhance the availability of historical and genealogical information available to all Apache County library patrons as well as to the larger community of internet users.”

The Alpine area is historically a ranching community. Therefore, several of the stories collected in this project will be published in an upcoming edition of Arizona Ranch Histories, published since 1976 by Arizona National Livestock Show and Arizona State Cowbelles to highlight stories of Arizona ranchers and ranches.

Vivid tales of pioneer ranching life are told in interviews with such folks as Dr. Sam Luce, born in 1932.

“Bill Hale was a colorful old fella,” Dr. Luce recounted. “A lot of stories remain about this guy. When Clell Lee was working with him they were herding cows and Clell was always curious because Bill Hale lived there and yet he didn’t have any cows. One time Clell asked him, ‘Mr. Bill, what do you do for a living?’ And Bill didn’t hesitate. He said, ‘I am a bank robber.'”

Of course the story goes on from there … and then there are histories told about Mormon ancestors. For example, David Noble talks about his grandparents coming to Alpine in a covered wagon, sent by Brigham Young.

Evelyn Reynolds Hulsey was born in Luna in 1918 and has lived in the area all her life. She is one of seven children, and her family farmed and raised cattle. She tells about helping her mother prepare food for the winter, making cheese, washing dishes, and feeding the chickens.

There are stories about water rights and arguments about water rights. A few outlaws are mentioned.

Alpine Library Manager Evelyn Williams was director of this Centennial Legacy Project. “This has been a very fun and engaging project!” she said. “I will probably continue to interview people from time to time, not as part of a grant project such as this one, but just for our library collection.”

The digitally recorded interviews were conducted by Jay Luger and Lenore Jones. Gloria Folsom transcribed and edited the recordings and notes. Interviewees were chosen by certain criteria – having lived in the area as a child before 1960; had parents or grandparents who lived in the area; were or are area ranchers.

Apache County encompasses several distinct landscapes, from the blue spruce and aspen covered mountains near Alpine and Nutrioso, to the Greer Valley with the clear, cold waters of the Little Colorado River flowing northward to Round Valley and St. Johns. The Navajo Nation begins near Sanders and is a world apart. It is a country of long, pinion covered mesas, red sandstone cliffs, huge open valleys and hidden canyons. The main population centers are Window Rock and Fort Defiance in the South, Ganado in the center and Chinle in the north, with many small towns in between. This particular Arizona Centennial Legacy Project captures the lives and times of early ranchers and settlers around Alpine through the stories of people who live there.

Visit the Alpine Public Library website at to hear these stories or read the transcripts, see photos of the storytellers, and learn more about the history of this fertile Arizona area. For more information, phone Evelyn Williams, Alpine Public Library, at 928-339-4925, or email

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