Updated: Feb 25
Even if you are a newcomer, you’ve heard the name Colcord: Colcord Road, Colcord Estates, Colcord Mountain, etc. All of these places were named after the pioneering Colcord family.
William C. “Bill” Colcord was born in Louisiana in 1867. His father, Colonel William Rogers Colcord, returned home from the Civil War and found his Louisiana sugar plantation in ruins, so he moved his family to Oklahoma Territory. On the death of his father, Bill, and his younger brother, Harvey, moved to Arizona.
*photo by Arizona Memory Project
They arrived in Flagstaff in 1885 with a herd of cattle. Here, Bill worked for Babbitt Brothers Cattle Company, and Harvey tended the Colcord cattle. After a year, they moved to Walnut Creek, west of Pleasant Valley.
While in Pleasant Valley, Bill and Harvey became acquainted with both factions of the Pleasant Valley War – the Grahams and the Tewksburys.
In 1894, Bill moved to Payson and married Carrie Mish Stewart, the daughter of pioneer settlers Ben and Sarah Stewart. They married September 17. Harvey Colcord never married.
Bill and Carrie settled on a ranch in Round Valley, a few miles south of Payson, and lived there until 1910. While living in the area, Bill was active in civic affairs and politics. He served three terms on the Gila County Board of Supervisors, and was instrumental in the building of the county hospital and the county court house in Globe. Bill was also a founding member of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association.
In 1912, Bill bought a ranch near Lake Mary. In 1916, his wife, Carrie, died in Flagstaff, following the birth of her sixth child. This was a blow to Bill and he moved to Sunflower. Bill bought the Diamond A Ranch and Harvey bought the Circle M.
After Bill quit ranching, he built a service station and a store at Sunflower. Later, he owned and operated the Tonto Basin Store. He left the store in 1938.
Bill and Carrie Colcord had six children: (1) Claire, born 1895, married Len Collins, and was a Tonto Basin schoolteacher; (2) Benjamin Franklin “Frank”, born 1900, a well-known hunter and race-horse man; (3) Willie Harold, born 1903, died at age 7 weeks; (4) Dora Lee “Tudy” born 1905, married Walter Russell; (5) Harvey Colcord, born 1909, who was killed in a World War II plane crash (1944); (6) baby died at birth in 1916. All were born in Payson, except the last child.
Bill Colcord later married a woman named Lillian and they lived in Tonto Basin.
Bill Colcord died May 16, 1961 in Globe, Arizona.
Bill and Carrie’s son, Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Colcord was a colorful figure in the Rim Country and we will write more about him later. He first married Ruth Downs, a step-daughter of Christopher Howard “Chris” Cline (born 1881) who ranched in the Four Peaks area. Ruth had to be tough to marry Frank. Raymond Cline said that Bernard Hughes once told him that he met Ruth Colcord leading a wild steer out of the Four Peaks. Bernard was taking salt into the Four Peaks from the Dos S Ranch with a pack string. Leading a wild steer takes some doing, but coming out of the Four Peaks with one takes even more. The country is rough, steep and the boulders are big. Frank and Ruth had a son, Wayne Franklin Colcord, born April 13, 1924 in Tempe, Arizona. Wayne was the only child of this marriage which ended when he was 14.
Frank married twice more. His second wife was Jo Booth, daughter of Albert and Susie (Hardt) Booth of Gisela. They had one son, Brent, born in 1944. Frank’s third wife was Linda Lopez. She gave him three children: Michael, born in 1952, and twin girls, Lois and Cathy, born in 1957.
Now that we have given some background, we want to focus on Wayne Franklin Colcord, known to his friends as Wayne. As mentioned above, he was born in 1924. Wayne was raised on cattle ranches in the Four Peaks, Sunflower, and lower Tonto Basin areas. He also lived in Payson, Gisela, and other small communities. He learned to cowboy and to hunt lion and bear with hounds, since his father was a well-known big game hunter. When he was 32 years old, he married Pauline Merritt of Prescott. Pauline taught at several schools in Arizona, including Payson High. Jinx and I both enjoyed having her for a teacher. Wayne worked on various ranches under the Mogollon Rim, and he worked for the Arizona Highway Department.
Wayne and Pauline have two daughters: Carrie and Amy. Carrie married Bob Foisel in 1979, and they have four sons: Rick, Ray, Ben, and Matthew. Amy married Kurt Stuht in 1980, and they have one son, Wayne.
In the past two years, I have spoken to Pauline on the phone and she has written me with information on her family. She told me how much she and Wayne enjoyed their daughters and families. They bought all of our books and read about many people they once knew. I knew that Wayne had diabetes and wasn’t doing well. They moved from Camp Verde to Colorado last year and stayed with Carrie for a while, but then moved back to Camp Verde. Pauline ordered the Rodeo 101 books and called and said how much they enjoyed it. We included a photo of Wayne when he was a little boy. Then I heard no more. I thought maybe they were just busy, but the Friday after Thanksgiving, Raymond Cline called and said he read in the Arizona Republic that both Wayne and Pauline had died. I was shocked. I called the newspaper and did everything I could think of to get more information on what had happened. Chach Barkley called me and told me that she had read that a memorial service was held for them in Prescott. I called there and still, nothing. Finally, I sent a letter to Pauline Colcord at the last address I had for her in Colorado, hoping her daughter would get it. She did! Carrie emailed me, then Amy emailed me and I found answers. I thought that the many people who knew them might like to know what happened to them.
Email from Amy: Our mother bought your books for us, and Carrie and I both enjoyed them. I think they were even more important to our sons, as they were a bridge to help the boys understand where a character like their grandad came from, and what life was like as he was growing up. Our mother was so proud that you and your husband had been her students.
Email from Carrie: My mother bought a copy of your book for each of us. It is really wonderful that someone has put together such a nice compilation of the interesting incidents in the lives of early Payson residents. I remember some of the people you wrote about, including Ralph Hale, who was in my class in grade school, so I really enjoyed your book. I know Mama was proud of your accomplishments, too.
Email from Carrie: Dad had been ill with diabetes and congestive heart failure for about ten years. He had a lot of complications which accompany those diseases and he weighed over three-hundred pounds. He had been hospitalized five times in the last six months before he passed away. They had only been in Colorado for about six weeks when he died, Sept. 26, (2004), although they had spent about four months here the year before. We surely enjoyed being near them. We had hoped for lots more time to spend together.
Four days after Dad was hospitalized, he took a turn for the worse and we were told that he might not survive. I took Mama home that evening and called her before she went to bed that night, to check on her. She was fine then, but when I got to her place at 7:30 the next morning, I found her in her bed. She had had a massive stroke, and we lost her Oct. 8, (2004). I think that hearing that Dad was dying was just too much. They had been married 48 years.
My parents were married on February 18, 1956, in Prescott, AZ. They lived there for a few months, until my mother sold her house. They lived in Camp Wood, Pine, Gisela, and Payson, where my dad worked on various ranches, including the R Bar C Scout Ranch near Kohl's Ranch. He had a brand, E-K, registered in my name for years. Later, he worked as a fencing contractor and he worked for the AZ. Highway Department after we moved to Valentine in 1967. My parents bought a little 40 acre place there, where they raised hay, peaches, cattle, and us two girls. We lived about 40 miles east of Kingman. I attended a two room school for three of my elementary/junior high years. Mama was my teacher in 7th and 8th grade. She was wonderful! Those years hold many cherished memories.
Jinx and I are so glad that we made contact with Carrie and Amy Colcord. We have great memories of their parents and know that many other people in this area do, too. After 48 years of marriage, Wayne and Pauline died nine days apart.
Want more history? Visit www.discovergilacounty.com/history