Rose Garden PhotographsCora May (Merrell) Hatch was the second child of Charles William and Mary Francis (Adams) Merrell born in Brigham City, Apache County, Arizona Territory, on February 8, 1881, at two o’clock in the morning. Brigham City was a settlement of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) or Mormons.

When she was ten months old, Cora, who went by her middle name May, was given to another of Charles' wives and was raised by her until she was about six years old. She requested to be able to live with her birth mother, and this request was granted.

In the fall of 1884, May went with her father to Willard, Utah, for a visit, and they spent Christmas there. While they were in Utah, Brigham City was abandoned because the families there were polygamous, which was against the law in the United States.  May and her father left Utah and met the group traveling from Brigham City. They all went on to Mexico.

May grew to womanhood in Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico. She acquired a twelfth grade education and taught school in Diaz. May met a young man, John Alma Hatch, from Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. He was doing carpentry work and boarding with her aunt.

John and May were married on January 2, 1901, in Colonia Juarez. Their family began on February 27, 1902 with the birth of Thelma, followed by John Merrell, born December 22, 1903; Charles Jenner, born November 29, 1905; Virginia May, born March 20, 1908; Ernest Kay, born August 15, 1910; Mary, born April 8, 1914; Ivan Eugene, born April 19, 1916; Ione Louise, born November 5, 1919; Frances Irene, born February 7, 1922; and Amy Jean, born June 26, 1924.

Fearful of Pancho Villa’s raids in their area, the Hatch family packed up and left the country in a wagon train in 1916.  The family finally arrived in Gilbert, Arizona, on March 7, 1917. They lived in a tent that John had boarded up to make habitable.

In 1928, the family moved to Chino Valley, Arizona, and bought a small farm. May was very involved in their truck garden that supplied produce for the Prescott markets. May preserved fruits and vegetables by canning and freezing. The family planted an orchard and berry patch, while also raising chickens and rabbits.

May helped establish a community cannery housed in the schoolhouse. She was also a cook at the elementary school and was very active in the Chino Valley branch of the LDS as a leader in the Relief Society, a church organization for women, as well as a teacher of youth and children for many years.

May and John celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on January 2, 1951, along with their ten children, thirty-one grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. At the time of the celebration, May looked tired and was later diagnosed with cancer. She passed away on October 26, 1951, and was buried in the Chino Valley Cemetery.

May's daughter-in-law, Irene Rogers Hatch, is also commemorated in the Territorial Women’s Memorial Rose Garden.

Donors: John Alma and Cora May Hatch Family
Photo Located: PB-5, F-77-169, I-620
Updated: 6/04/2015, D. Sue Kissel