By Dorothy Chafin

My family was living on a ranch in the Peach Springs area at the time I was born.  Samuel Franklin Crozier and Lotti Grounds Crozier, my father and mother were both natives of Arizona.  When I was four they moved to Colorado.  My father and my uncle Bill Grounds were partners, they sold the Arizona property and bought Ora Haley's outfit consisting of a ranch on the Green River (near the Canyon of Lodore in Northwest Colorado), a ranch on the Snake River (also up in that part of Colorado) and a holding pasture in between.  The headquarters of these ranches were about 30 miles apart, so the cattle were gathered at the Green River ranch, shoved up to the Snake River ranch to add to the cattle there, and then on to summer range in California Park north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.


So we all rode, even my sister at the age of four, accompanied by a chuck wagon and a wagon for bed rolls, remuda, and other things.  We all camped out on the way and established a camp in the park.  I do not remember seeing anyone in the area except those who came as our guests. 

One summer when my family had gone down to the Green River ranch to help round up the cattle for moving to the summer range, my cousin Sue Grounds and I decided to go for a ride.  We stopped to visit with Mrs. George Bassett who was the teacher at the country school which the Grounds children attended.  She did inquire as to why I was there; we did not know that the school teacher was the wife of one of the cattle rustlers, so we told her all.  When we reached home some time later my Aunt said "you girls have been gone a long time; where did you ride?"  We told her that we had stopped to visit with Mrs. Bassett; my Aunt asked what we had told her, and we of course related the conversation, including the fact that the cattle would be in the holding pasture that night.  As soon as the men came in that afternoon my Aunt immediately told them what had happened.  That night my uncle and my father stationed themselves in the back of the holding pasture, leaving my cousin and my brother near the gate.  Soon after dark the Bassett brothers arrived, opened the gate and started to drive some cattle out; one of the boys asked what they were doing and of course they laughed.  At that my uncle and my father rode up and the Bassett brothers changed their minds!  Uncle Will always packed a gun as he had been appointed Deputy Sheriff in that area. 

Made famous by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Brown's Hole country was always a dangerous area, even after Queen Anne (Bassett) and Black Sue (Bassett) and other famous outlaws had been forced to leave. 

One of the few honest families that lived in the area were friends of ours; an attractive young lady by the name of Mary Ethel helped my mother care for my brothers and sister and me.  On one of the trips to Fresno mother took her with us.  My two aunts were still living at home with my grandparents and they entertained her.  After that trip she said she would never return to live in that cabin across the river with no conveniences and a dirt floor.  She went to Hollywood to become a second for the stage stars who rode horses in the pictures.  She was such an excellent horsewoman that she was retained for some time.  Her brother joined her about a year later and also rode as a second and later he married the daughter of the man who started Sun Valley, Idaho. 

Mary Ethel marred the man who trained the horses for Ben Hur.  It must have been in the early sixties that they came to Wickenburg to visit my mother and father.  Since it was Thanksgiving the whole family was there, and it was a delight to visit with this attractive and interesting couple.  I had met her husband in Rome at the American Embassy when I was there arranging to come back to America after the Iraqi revolution in the late 1950s; he was in Rome working on Ben Hur and invited me to come out to the set. 

Moving to the Snake River ranch after a year in Brown's Park must have been both a delight and a relief to my mother.  Our closest neighbor was ten miles away, but the atmosphere in the area was so different with friendly and honest people. 

We had a teacher who lived with us on the ranch during the school term.  School was held in the store room and sometimes even in our living room if the weather was particularly bad.  When I was in the fifth grade and my brothers were in grammar school my family bought a house in Hayden, Colorado in order that we might attend public school there.  Hayden was a delightful small town, but we were always ready to go back to the ranch during the summer to swim, ride and do just what we pleased. 

On the Snake River ranch we put up tons of hay in order to feed the cattle through the winter.  Since it got to be 49 below, as low as the thermometer registered, and stayed there day and night, the river froze over and the roads were impossible except by horse-drawn sleighs.  Supplies were brought in great quantities in order to get through the winter.  Of course we had our own beef, milk and eggs.  We had a milk house and an ice house where three foot cubes of ice were stored after having been cut from the river; the ice kept until summer so that we had ice cream for the 4th of July.  Our storehouse contained 100 pound sacks of flour and sugar, barrels of vinegar and our cellar had potatoes, cabbage, and carrots that we raised in our ample garden.  For years we had a Japanese gardener who also cooked at the bunkhouse.  Since we kids were not suppose to eat between meals we would sneak over to the bunkhouse and beg bread and butter from the cook until one day we discovered him petting the cat while making bread. 

Life was not easy for my parents and other adults; there were few conveniences, no easy access to the things we have today.  It was ten miles to the post office and one hundred to a very small town that was the terminating point for the railroad.  We had a telephone, but with a party line so everyone could listen in along the way.  We had a modern bathroom which didn't work, so we used outside facilities.  We also had a delco system for lights which seldom worked, especially if we had company, so we depended on oil lamps.  But for us as children, we thought it was wonderful; the Grounds family with four and my family with four were together all summer for riding, swimming, and teasing.  When we were teenagers we were allowed to go to the country dance at the school house in Brown's Hole.  These were few, and only in the summer. Families would come for miles to stay all night, dancing and visiting. 

When we moved back to Arizona, the Grounds family moved to the Kingman area and my family moved back to Prescott, for which I will be forever grateful.  My father worked for my grandmother Crozier, who had purchased a ranch in Walnut Creek, having sold the ranch at Peach Springs.  Since two of my sisters were still in school, we had a house in town, visiting the ranch only occasionally. 

Ranching in Arizona was easier than in Colorado; no haying, no gardening.  At the Peach Springs ranch, however, grandfather raised lots of fruit.  Some time after returning to Arizona, Bill Grounds bought the Crozier ranch at Peach Springs and with all of water there he irrigated some native grass in a small area to prove that it could be done. 

Ranching until a few years ago was a wonderful way of life; ranchers were self-sufficient, independent, and yet ready to help each other. 

Dorothy Chafin moved to Prescott in 1933 and is active in the local arts and music association in town.

Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (ra138ph). Reuse only by permission.
Dorothy Chafin grew up in northwestern Colorado on a ranch much like this one.  Fun and trouble could be found on the ranch including a close call with cattle rustlers that Dorothy accidentally brought on.