Saturday, October 15 will be a day that will bring back memories to a few and commemorate a western author of long ago – who still lives through his books. Zane Grey (1872-1939) was a best-selling author of over 85 books which have sold well over 100 million copies worldwide. Most of these books drew upon the Old West, and many had their origins in the Mogollon Rim country of Arizona – which Grey referred to as the Tonto Rim. His original cabin was located next to the Anderson Lee “Babe” Haught Cabin near Tonto Creek under the Rim. While at this cabin between the years of 1918 and 1929, he was inspired to write several books, including Under the Tonto Rim, Code of the West, and To The Last Man. Grey’s famous Arizona cabin burned in the Dude Fire in 1990. No longer could people visit the cabin and see the beautiful country as Zane Grey saw it.
The Zane Grey Cabin Foundation, headed by Dick Wolfe, decided that Zane Grey’s cabin must be rebuilt. Even it is could not be rebuilt where it stood originally, it still had to be built. Payson would be the place. And so the cabin was rebuilt and now we have the opportunity to attend the dedication on October 15 and witness history in the making. The cabin was rebuilt as authentically as possible within the guidelines of Town of Payson codes. Great care has been taken to make the inside of the cabin appear as it did when Zane Grey was there. It will be a great experience to visit his cabin and appreciate the sentiment of an earlier time.
Zane Grey has been acknowledged as penning some of the best Western adventure novels ever written. Although Grey died in 1939, his legacy remains with us today. He has inspired countless imitators and his work has been adapted to all modern media. A record 111 of his stories have been made into movies. Other media such as radio & television (Zane Grey Western Theatre), magazines (Zane Grey Magazine), comics (King of the Royal Mounted, etc.), paperbacks, talking books, Internet (websites and electronic texts), all have used Zane Grey’s stories to bring entertainment to a willing audience.
Zane Grey celebrated the natural beauty of the West with descriptions that caused his readers to visualize the scenes his words described. His written paintings of some of the world’s most spectacular country may never be equaled. His characters seem real, because they were largely patterned after people he met in the West and in some cases, like Buffalo Jones and the Haught families, he wrote of actual western characters. Grey’s central characters, although they often took the law into their own hands, most always upheld frontier values. His books despised a cheat or a liar, and rejoiced in the spirit of honor and bravery.
It is interesting to note that Grey couldn’t find a publisher for his first book. Even after Grey was and established writer many of his peers harshly criticized his writing, some even claiming that he couldn’t write. This, while Grey’s books were gathering millions of readers and their own books were gathering dust.
While he was rejected as a writer by most of his peers, his magazine stories and books were welcomed by the American public.
Charles G. Pheiffer, Director of Zane Grey’s West Society, wrote an article for the Society’s website titled, So You Want to Read Zane Grey and Don’t Know Where to Start. It is pretty interesting, so we decided to share some of it with you:
“Remember that these books were written between 1903 and 1939, and literary fashions have changed drastically. Remember, also, that Grey was concerned with more than spinning a good yarn He was interested in geography, nature, and history; he visited the areas about which he wrote, took careful notes, and engaged in extensive research. Further, Grey believed that every worthwhile author was obligated to have a viable philosophy of life, which should be convincingly presented in his writings - read for these values as well as for the story. Finally, Grey specifically claimed to be writing historical romances - not historical novels. The novel fulfills its function when it is true to the facts of history; the romance strives to be true to the spirit of history. Do not judge Grey on his use of facts, but on how well he caught the spirit of the West.”
If you have never read Zane Grey, and live here in the Rim Country, here are a few books you might enjoy:
The Arizona Clan (Tonto Basin) - The book is concerned with "White Mule" (bootleg whiskey); its production and distribution rights, and its evil effects upon people.
Arizona Ames - Another horseman uses his trusty revolver defend honor, right wrong, and protect the weak. His search for adventure and love takes him from Arizona to Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.
30,000 on the Hoof (Mogollon rim in Arizona) - Originally titled "The Frontier Wife," this is a tribute to the unsung heroines of the West. It deals with some of the problems growing out of World War One.
To The Last Man - A graphic account of Arizona’s bloodiest feud. The foreword alone is worth the price of the book. This book encompasses the spirit of the Pleasant Valley War, but strays widely from the facts. Grey came to Arizona to gather information on this war, but it was too recent for much knowledge- gathering. Feelings still ran high and it was dangerous to know too much about this feud.
Under the Tonto Rim - The story of the Babe Haught family who lived under the Mogollon Rim in the Tonto Basin. Edd Denmeade (a character based on Edd Haught, son of Babe Haught) is the main character. A social worker seeks to improve the living conditions of settlers in a remote area - some who want, and some who don’t want to be improved. This story was first published under the title, The Bee Hunter.
The Code of the West (Tonto Basin in Arizona) – This story involves the Thurman family (based on the Pappy and Mammy Haught family) who lived under the Tonto Rim. Many Haught descendants still live in Payson today. In this book, Grey presents his values and philosophy of life.
The Hash Knife Outfit (The Mogollon Plateau) - A sequel to The Drift Fence. An outlaw befriends two damsels in deep distress, teaches them what it means to be frontier women, and goes straight.
The Man of the Forest - A lone woodsman living in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona is forced into struggling with the meaning of life and the ills of society he has rejected. This book is crucial in understanding Grey's philosophy of life.
Sue Malinski’s Art and Antique Corral carries the largest selection of Zane Grey books in the Payson area. She had first editions, hard covers, soft covers, magazines, etc. Stop by and visit her at 1104 S. Beeline Highway.
If you liked this story and want to hear more Gila County history visit www.discovergilacounty.com/history