Rose Garden PhotographsIda May (Finch) Redden was born October 27, 1876, in Florence, Pinal County, Arizona Territory, the daughter of Sarah (Lewis) and George Nelson Finch, early pioneers of California and the Arizona Territory. Ida was one of nine children born to her relatively poor but hard-working parents. Her siblings were Charles Edward, Louisa, Emma, Robert, Jesse Martin, Ira Lewis, George Nelson and Carrie Isabel.

In a 1961 interview, Ida related, “We lived in an old adobe house four miles east of Florence along the Gila River when I was born.… In a few years, Father and my brothers located a cattle ranch to homestead in the Oracle country. They put down a well, built a house, and put up fences for the cattle we had. Then the family moved there from Dudleyville. We opened up a dairy, everybody milking cows. The means of our living was butter we churned in a wooden churner with a dasher (run by elbow grease), then molded in a wooden one-pound mold. We traded butter to the Mercantile Company in Tucson. The trip was made twice a month, each way taking two days by wagon. We had $50 worth of butter every ten days—this being the only means of livelihood. We returned with supplies for the house and the ranch, from food to horseshoes. Our cattle were watered from troughs which were filled from rawhide buckets Father had made by hand. There was an iron ring on them with a rope fastened to it. The rope was also fastened to the saddle horn. As one of us rode the horse out, it pulled a bucket of water up out of the well.”

Ida grew up strong and gentle, committed and caring, nurturing and loving in a period of western history when little or nothing was easy. Strong and committed were one's best assets, while the gentler arts were in far less demand for survival.  She lived in a time when education beyond the eighth grade was difficult to achieve. So by seventh grade she was living far away from family and hearth, working as a maid, milkmaid and cook in order to attend school. She never stopped working fulltime to gain her education, and, in pioneer days, "fulltime" was measured by the sun not the clock.

At age 20 in 1896, Ida entered Tempe Normal School, not a commonplace occurrence for young ladies at the time. Ida met her future husband at a masquerade ball. She married Byron Alton Redden in Tempe, November 18, 1897.

She worked with her husband, behind a horse, clearing cacti and sagebrush from the desert that would become their modest ranch, south of Tempe. She bore and raised three children: Irene (Redden) Bishop, born in 1898; Lela (Redden) Barkley, born in 1902; and Evelyn (Redden) Pyle, born in 1908.

Ida was a hardworking pioneer woman, cooking, sewing, keeping house, gardening, quilting and tending to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of her expanding family and those of her neighbors. In addition to her sewing skills, she enjoyed painting and ceramics, making painted lamp shades, fire screens and painted china.

Loving flowers, she grew sweet peas wherever she lived and succeeded in growing roses in the desert; her favorite rose was named "Peace."

Ida was a member of the Tempe Baptist Church and in later years the First Methodist Church of Tempe. She also belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star, Chapter 18, the OES Matrons and the Social Club. When her three daughters had married and left home, they all carried with them their mother’s attributes and skills, as well as teaching degrees from her alma mater. Ida and Byron continued to hold their daughters close to their hearts. Their home became the center for their children's growing families. Byron died in 1939.

Her grandson, Thomas A. Pyle, writes, "She remains my oldest and dearest friend . . . my Grandmother." Ida's nieces, Esta Miller Redden Winchester and Rachel Deliah Redden Koontz are also commemorated in the Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden.

Ida died on September 15, 1962, in Tempe and was buried at Double Butte Cemetery in Tempe. In 1974, Tempe City Council, named a park site near the family’s former ranch, the Redden Park, in recognition of this pioneer family.

Donor: Thomas A. Pyle
Photo Located: RGC MS-39, Box R, F-Redden, Ida (Finch)
Updated: 1/22/2016, N. Freer