top of page

Gila County Settlers - Paul Vogel & Bill Craig

The names of Paul Vogel and Bill Craig have largely been skipped over in the writings of the history of Payson, mostly because the two men had no family, so little of their early history is known.

Most of what I know about Paul Vogel and Bill Craig happened after they were old men. These things I learned from my grandparents, Walter and Belle Lovelady and my mother, Dorothy Lovelady Pyle.

The two men were friends and partners and were among Payson’s first settlers. They were miners and they were cattlemen who farmed and ranched on Webber Creek where they had an apple, peach, Pear, and plum orchard. They were the main suppliers of fruit in Payson during the late1800s, and according to Ira Murphy, the two men planted 1200 fruit trees on the Webber Creek Ranch located above where Webber Creek joins the East Verde. They had big drying racks and also produced dried fruit by the wagon load.

Paul Vogel was born in France on March 24, 1842 and died in Payson on April 24, 1930. Vogel was a Civil War Veteran. He was in the Rim country a few years before William (Bill) Craig, but as soon as Bill came into in the country, the two men became partners.

Bill was born in 1846 and died in 1838. He served as Payson’s Justice of the Peace during 1895 and 1896. Both men are buried in the Payson Pioneer Cemetery. The two partners were bachelors and one’s name was almost never mentioned without the other’s name following. The only exception to this is that Paul Vogel is credited with building the oldest house still standing in Payson, the “Old Adobe” down on Payson’s Main Street on the Pieper house property. Henry Siddles owned the property and hired Paul to build a “mud house” because he had watched the Apaches burn his house on the East Verde and wanted a place that wouldn’t burn.

Paul Vogel and Bill Craig owned both the Grand Prize and Zulu mines. My Granddad Walter owned the Zulu mine later and showed me a single dug-out pocket from which Paul and Bill had taken seven thousand dollars. Most of the gold taken from Zulu was what they called “flour gold,” so fine that it would float on water and was hard to separate from the ore, but the gold taken from “the pocket” was wire gold running through white quartz ore. Walter said that the ore was rich almost beyond belief. They put all the gold ore from that pocket in a wheel barrow and took it out of the mine. It was the only gold of that kind found on the Zulu claims, although the mine was worked for many years and provided a good living for several old-timers during those years.

Paul and Bill’s ranch was above the Walter Lovelady Ranch on the Webber Creek and the two places were within walking distance. The two old-timers helped Walter get his ranch started, then when Walter went to fight in World War I, they took care of the ranch as well as they could. When Walter returned from the war, he took a bride. My Grandmother Belle was a girl of 17 when she married Walter and went to live with him on the ranch, so the two old bachelors made it a point to look after her when Walter was away.

There was a rabies flair-up in the Payson Country and Belle was warned to be aware of any strange acting animal, particularly one that was foaming at the mouth or acting unusually aggressive. She had spent the day before making soap and several hogs from Paul and Bill’s place were ranging around the house picking up acorns. She noticed one of the hogs slinging his head and acting strangely. Closer observation showed that he was foaming at the mouth, so Belle hurried into the house for a rifle. Bill Craig came up for a visit just in time to save his hogs which had gotten into Belle’s soap causing them to emulate the symptoms of hydrophobia.

Dorothy Lovelady Pyle recalls the black stud horse that Bill Craig owned. “Mother (Belle) used to ride Bill’s horse. He was a gentle old thing, but mother rode him from the ranch down to visit Forest and Dollie Hale at their place on the East Verde. Forest rolled up some bear meat and tied it on Belle’s saddle and the old horse was a high-stepper on the return trip to the ranch.

Paul and Bill later moved into Payson. They had a place between Lena Chilson Hampton’s home and the property where the Payson Art Center is now located. Walter Lovelady had also moved his family into Payson and the Loveladys remained close friends with the two old bachelors. Walter had been gassed in the war and had contracted TB, but Bill and Paul were there to lend a helping hand during the years when Walter was fighting for his life.

Dorothy also recalls that both Paul and Bill were well educated men. They subscribed to several major newspapers and magazines including the Arizona Republican, The Los Angeles Examiner, and a newspaper out of San Francisco. These newspapers they read from cover to cover and they were very well informed on everything from science to politics. Among the magazines they took were The Ladies Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post.

Dorothy recalls picking up this reading material to take home when Paul and Bill were finished with it. She said, “Several of those magazines had never been opened. I know that those two old men just subscribed to them so that mother could have them.”

Dorothy also remembers that the two old partners were well off and helped many a widow woman or hungry family make it through the hard times. They would haul wood to anyone who needed it and they also kept a milk cow and made sure that anyone needing milk was supplied. Mr. Lavender brought his family to Payson because he had TB and the doctors had sent him to the area because of the climate. The family had only a wagon and a tent. Bill and Paul invited the family to pitch the tent on their land. Mr. Lavender died shortly after coming to Payson and left his wife, Grace, and two daughters, Mabel and Helen.

Paul’s health was failing. He had something wrong with his feet and was confined to a cot in the living room, but the two men determined to help Mrs. Lavender. Bill was too old to build a house, but the two men put up the land and Bill organized a work party. Bill Boardman donated some of the lumber and most of the men in Payson worked on the house, took turns digging the well or hauled in fire wood. The well was located so that the porch covered it on one end. Mrs. Lavender could go out onto her porch and draw water.

Grace Lavender was a worker. She went to people’s homes and did washing, took care of kids, and did anything that she could to support her family. Grace later married Ole Casterson, but Bill Craig and Paul Vogel made sure that she was taken care of before that and even signed the land and house over to her.

Dorothy also recalls that Bill Craig had a rough voice and could sometimes be heard cussing that old black stud as he was chasing him around the corral trying to catch him. This made most of the town kids afraid of the old man. She said, “They used to hand out Christmas stamps at the school for us kids to sell. The money was given to handicapped children. All the other kids would bypass Paul and Bill’s place because Bill’s voice and manners scared them, but I wasn’t afraid of him. He liked me and would by all my Christmas stamps.”

Anna Mae Ogilvie Deming said that Paul Vogel and Bill Craig ate a lot of oatmeal. At that time, oatmeal boxes came with dishes inside. When she and Jimmy Deming were married in 1933, the two old bachelors gave them a complete set of Mother’s Oats dishes. “We were just as proud of those dishes as any present we got,” said Anna Mae.

Just as Bill Craig and Paul Vogel had helped Walter and Belle Lovelady when Walter was a young man, Walter helped the two old bachelors during their declining years. Walter raised hogs and took cured hams to Paul and Bill, made sure that they always had fire wood and brought them any groceries that they needed.

I will quote their neighbor, Ana Mae Deming to end this column. “Paul Vogel and Bill Craig were two wonderful men, good as gold.”

*story told by Jinx Pyle

For more early Gila County history visit

237 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page