Rim Country Museum Back Bone

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The Harer-Hazelton families were some of the first settlers in the Payson country. They left an important imprint and many progeny.

Obedience Harer and Richard Pierce Hazelton were married in Niles Valley, Napa County, California on September 29, 1859. Richard died in Modoc County, California on March 8, 1878. The oldest child, Mary Ann, married Samuel Reese Conley in that state in 1879.

In 1880 Obedience Harer Hazelton with her six children, Sarah, Laura, Ida, Charles and George came to Payson, then called Green Valley.  Accompanied by some of Obedience’s brothers, they had journeyed by way of Winneca, Nevada, crossing the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry.

One brother, Nathaniel Green Harer, was a Methodist Minister and a widower with four children. The children were George Evan Harer who married Lula Ann Burris in 1890; Frances Jane married David J. Peter in 1890; Trissa May married George Webb in 1893; Register Albert married Dollie Rebecca Cline in 1899.

Another brother, David A. Harer, and his wife Josephine Bean, and their children had already settled in Greenback Valley in the Sierra Ancha mountains in 1875. They are acknowledged to be the first settlers in that area.

Obedience’s oldest son, Carter, built a house for his mother and the children in Green Valley. Sarah Jane Hazelton was a guest at the Meadow’s ranch when it was attacked by the renegade Indians.

In 1883 Sarah Jane Hazelton married William McDonald in Payson.  Two daughters were born here: Myrta Ina in 1884 and Willa Obedience in 1889. Bill McDonald with his brother-in-law William Burch owned and operated the first sawmill in the area. The McDonalds moved to Buckeye Valley in 1891.

Samuel and Mary Ann Hazelton Conley arrived in Payson in 1883.

Enos Carter Hazelton married Julia Mattie Stewart, a member of a pioneer family, on July 28, 1889 in Payson. Their first son, Lewis Brooks, was born in Globe in 1890. He was killed in World War I and is buried in France. The family moved to Buckeye Valley in 1891.

Laura Somelia Hazelton married John Cullen Gilleland, who was the first man shot in the Pleasant Valley War, on November 9, 1886 in Tonto Basin.

Charles Evan married Meta Louise Bolzau on August 21, 1906 in Phoenix. At one time he owned the Flying W Ranch in the Sierra Ancha mountains near Gisela, an outfit formerly owned by Andy Wilbanks. Charles also had the TVX Ranch in the Four Peaks range in the Mazatzal mountains.

George Hazelton left Payson for San Francisco where he died in 1899.

Charles died on February 6, 1942 and Meta on July 17, 1960, both in Phoenix and are buried at Greenwood Memorial Cemetery.

Obedience Harer Hazelton died on April 13, 1908 at the home of her son Charles in Phoenix and is also buried at Greenwood Cemetery.


Sarah Jane Hazelton was born December 16, 1860 in Saint Helena, Napa County, California and came to Payson with her family in November 1880. She was the daughter of Richard Pierce and Obedience Harer Hazelton.

William McDonald was born on April 24, 1842 in Elbridge Illinois. He was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Maddock McDonald of Ohio.

William and Sarah were married in Payson on September 24, 1883.  Bill and his brother-in-law, Bill Burch, owned and operated the first sawmill in Payson.

William and Sarah, after the births of their two daughters in 1884 and 1889 in Payson, moved to the Buckeye Valley, where many of their relatives had gone.

William died January 18, 1912 and Sarah died March 24, 1936 both at Liberty, Arizona. They are both buried at the Liberty Cemetery.


Samuel Reese Conley was born on May 9, 1848 in Van Buren, Crawford County, Kansas, the youngest son of Richard and Rosanna Stout Conley. The family moved to California in 1860.

Mary Ann Hazelton, born on February 11, 1860 in Saint Helena, Napa County, California, was the daughter of Richard Pierce and Obedience Harer Hazelton.

Samuel Reese Conley married Mary Ann Hazleton on December 5, 1879.&nbs;Shortly after marriage the couple departed for Oregon and took up residence there. In 1880 and 1882, two children, Elida Grace and Georgia Pearl were added to the family. In 1883 the family packed their belongings into two wagons and left for Arizona. The child, Georgia Pearl, threw out the horse hobbles, made of chain and leather, a loss that made handling the horses difficult.

The Conleys brought 35 head of Morgan horses from Oregon, selling some of them along the way to Arizona. Several colts were born enroute. Their journey was slowed because they had to wait until the colts were old enough to travel. One colt was named "Moccasin Foot" because they wrapped his feet in burlap sacks. Another was named "Lodi," born in Lodi, Nevada and one was named "Winnemuck".

They arrived in Payson on September 13, 1883 after three months of hard traveling. After arriving in Tonto country, the Conleys bought 50 head of range cattle from William Burch and William McDonald their brothers-in-law. The price was $50 a head. In dry years, they were forced to sell cattle for as little as $5 per head after driving them from Payson to Phoenix.

Samuel built a home on the flat that is now East Verde Estates with lumber obtained from the mill then in Payson. The elder Conley cut cypress logs along the river and constructed a barn. He used hand-hewn pine shingles, three feet long. They planted a large garden on the flat, raised vegetables, and grew hay, grain and corn. Many of the garden items were canned. Adobe bricks were used to construct a smokehouse of curing the meats. Candles and kerosene provided lights in the new home, which also had a fireplace. When Georgia Pearl was about six years old, the family traded houses with and moved into Grandma Hazelton’s house. This house was nearer to Payson and permitted the children to go to school.

At times, Samuel took his own burro train to Phoenix to get supplies needed by the family. On one occasion he made an emergency trip with his pack train to Phoenix for flour and sugar when the whole community was without these essentials.

The Conleys pushed their cattle to the west of the river and built corrals on a point about three miles west of the homesite. The point shows on the map as Connally Point (Conley misspelled). In 1896 the family moved to Buckeye, Arizona where the descendants are still active in farming and cattle raising. Samuel passed away in Buckeye in January 1902 and Mary Ann passed away in Liberty on October 3, 1932.


William Burch came to Gila County (then Yavapai County) in 1876. He was the first settler to build a house located where the 5th green is now on the golf course in Payson.

He was prominent in the founding of the town. He entered into the mining business and had the first sawmill. He was in on the cattle interests. He served as Justice of the Peace in Payson in 1891. As a sheriff’s deputy during the Graham-Tewksbury feud, he went with a posse from Green Valley (Payson) to Pleasant Valley.  Here John and Jim Tewksbury were arrested and required to appear in Prescott for a court trial over the shooting of Gilleland.

Burch Mesa was named for William Burch who was the first settler on the cienega (marshy meadow)at the base of the mesa. This is the site of the Burch Mesa Airport in Payson.

Saloon business was a lucrative and popular business in Payson at this time, and William Burch did his share in contributing to this phase of the economy. One time he was the judge in a calf-rustling case. The Houston brothers accused a young man of stealing a calf John W. Wentworth was the defendant’s counsel. When the case was not going well (Wentworth knew his client was guilty), Wentworth invited all the participants to take a recess and have free drinks at his saloon next door. Judge Burch accepted. The place had barrels for seats. After a few, or more, drinks, William Burch sought to sit down. He mistook the water barrel for a stool. He fell in and had to be extricated by Wentworth. The court reconvened; the judge dismissed the case.

In 1883 William Burch married Ida Jeanette Hazelton, daughter of pioneers, Richard Pierce and Obedience Harer Hazelton. The couple were married in Payson.

The children born in Payson were: William Hazelton "Haze" on June 14, 1884, Jewell Beda, Talmadge DeWitt, Claude and another child (twins).

William and Ida Burch moved from Payson in 1893 to Liberty as other Hazeltons had settled in the Buckeye Valley. Children born there were George Vivan in 1898, Laurel Sarah (Dolly); and Carter in 1900. One infant twin died at birth. The last five children remained unmarried, four dying of tuberculosis.

William Hazelton Burch married Dora Christina Murr of Phoenix.  He was killed in a shoot-out by the Lawrence Brothers at 15th and McDowell Streets in Phoenix in February 1925. William Burch was a law officer and had been called to a robbery that was taking place at the site. William and Dora Burch had three children: Frank Haze, Lewis Richard and Ida Emma.

William Burch died in Imperial California in 1902. Ida Burch died in Phoenix on December 17, 1946 when she was 82. She is buried in Greenwood Memorial Park Cemetery.


"Through Eagle Eyes"
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Midi Files By Elan Michaels

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