Children of Ruth & Peter Howard McBride

(The authors of this web site are descendents of *Robert Franklin and Clara Sims*)

*Robert Franklin McBride & Clara Sims*
Peter Howard McBride & Elsie Elizabeth Craig
John William McBride -died infant
Israel Perle McBride
Ruth McBride - died infant
Enoch Jesse McBride - Infant meningitis, speach defects and crippled
Margaret McBride - died infant
Elizabeth Geneva McBride - died infant
Marion Wallace McBride - died child
Heber McBride - died child
Mahonri Moriancumer McBride - died infant
Claud Duval McBride & Pauline Williams
Rulan Paul McBride - died child
Bessie Belle McBride & Robert George Geitz
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(Scroll down to see history of each individual child)

ROBERT FRANKLIN MCBRIDE - First Child, Eldest Son of Peter Howard McBride Sr. & Ruth Burns (m. Clara Sims)


 Clara Sims: Franks wife-to-be           Center: Franklin (Frankie in his youth).                                    19 to 21
                     About 14
                                               About 16 years

Born in Eden, Weber County, Utah, January 4,1875, Robert Franklin had barely reached the age of one year when his parents were called by Brigham Young to take part in a colonizing mission into Northern Arizona. By the time "Frankie" (as he came to be called by family members) was five, this pioneering family had chalked up more than two thousand miles of travel by team and wagon. By 1880 they had taken part in two colonizing ventures in northern sections of Arizona, finally to migrate to the Gila Valley in the southern part of that state. Finally settling in the vicinity of what is now known as Glenbar (then Matthewsville), young "Frankie" grew up on his father's homestead, well seasoned by the rigors incident to transforming mesquite flatlands into a productive farm.


           Ruth with one year old Franklin in her arms

In his early years Frank attended the schools of the fledgling communities of the Gila Valley, attaining something on the order of a junior high-school education. Other than hard work his life centered around youth activities in the church, and horseback riding, the latter throughout the vast desert and mountain areas of Southeastern Arizona. His love for horses, together with an early dislike for farming, spurred his ambitions to become a good ranch-hand, a goal realized early in life.

On August 16, 1899, at age twenty-four, Frank married Clara Sims, one of seven daughters of Samuel John Sims and Mary Oyler. Whenever he was asked which of the Sims girls he married, his response would be, "The pretty one, of course," a perplexing reply, since all of the Sims girls were popular among the local swains, and more than ordinarily "pretty." No doubt Clara held special attraction for the young rustic.

The happy couple built a modest house on part of the McBride farm. While engaged there, primarily in farming, Frank also did carpenter work with his father-in-law. This caused him to spend three and one-half years, from 1905 to 1908, in Globe, Arizona, where he developed into a first-class carpenter.

After the birth of their first child, a daughter, Gladys, and six months before the arrival of their second child, Frank was called to serve a gospel mission. Leaving his young family in the care of others, he filled a two and one-half-year mission in the state of Texas, beginning November 14,1901. He didn't see their new son, Floyd, until his return - the lad then nearly two years old.

Following his gospel mission Frank McBride continued his farming, ranching and carpentering pursuits. Also, though exact dates are not known, Frank, for a good period of time, held the position of Cattle Inspector in Graham County.-this was a state controlled operation: The condition of livestock coming into the state and going to slaughter was his responsibility.

Frank devoted much time and effort to religious duties. He became not only a good teacher in the auxiliary organizations of the church, but an accomplished public speaker, which served him well throughout his life.

Over the years nine children were born to their marriage, the eighth of which died in infancy. The last child, a girl, Frankie, would be born two months after the untimely death of her father.

In January, 1915, Frank received the appointment of deputy to the sheriff of Graham County, Arizona. the following year he ran for the principal office. Elected sheriff, he took office in January, 1917, at which time he moved his family to Safford, the County Seat.

The election of Franklin McBride to the sheriff's office soon became a bane to the bootleggers of this prohibition era. Frank, along with his under-sheriff, Kempton, soon proved their determination to stop the distribution of the illegal stuff. It wasn't too many months after their taking office that a basement room of the courthouse was overflowing with bottles of the "stuff" in varied colors and assorted sizes.

The story goes, and is pretty well documented, that they caused a goodly quantity of these collected spirits to be dumped into a half-tank of water in the old horse-drawn sprinkler wagon used by the City of Safford to wet down the dust of its unpaved streets. If true, the city holds the dubious distinction of being the -only one in the country to have streets wet down with whisky, diluted though it may have been.

Little more than a year later, Sheriff McBride in company with his two deputies, Martin R. Kempton and T. Kane Wootan, along with United States Deputy Marshal Frank Haynes, went into the Galiuro Mountains to apprehend John and Tom Power, brothers, for draft evasion (World War One). Well documented in Arizona history is the "Power Affair," culminating in a show-down at the site of the Power mining claims in Kielberg Canyon. The sheriff and his two deputies were shot and killed there February 10, 1918

Never were peace officers more highly respected than these three men. An enraged populace of Safford and Graham County seemed ready to vent their fury on the Power Brothers and Tom Sisson, who had perpetrated this outrage. To assure a fair trial, the proceedings were held in the neighboring county of Greenlee, at Clifton, Arizona. To many the sentence of life imprisonment fell short of justice in the case of this infamous trio.


Shoot-out at the Powers Cabin

Before dawn, February 10, 1918, four lawmen rode the Squaw Creek trail in a remote section of the Galiuro Mountains of Southern Arizona. Grim-faced and saddle weary they made their way through Rattlesnake Canyon and up the steep south wall. Topping the ridge at daybreak, they began the descent into Kielburg Canyon, their destination less than a quarter of a mile below: a small primitive log cabin located in the vicinity of a mine tunnel. A few rods from the cabin the riders dismounted and tied their mounts.

The posse consisted of Graham County's sheriff, Robert "Frank" McBride; his two deputies, Martin R. Kempton and T. Kane Wootan; and deputy U.S. Marshal, Frank Haynes. A series of developments of the past weeks had brought them to this secluded hold-out in the precipitous Galiuros. the objects of their mission were the occupants of the cabin: Jefferson Power; his two sons, twenty-six year old John and twenty-four year old Tom; and a live-in friend, Tom Sisson.

The two boys were wanted for evading the draft of World War 1. The four were wanted for questioning in the death of the daughter of the Power family, twenty-two year old Ola May, whose untimely demise, only a few weeks earlier, had been attended by unusual circumstances. A coroner's inquest had left a suspicion of foul play, making imperative the further questioning of the four men.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Sheriff McBride was convinced the men would come peaceably. McBride, though firm, was a kind, persuasive man; his disposition and capabilities as a lawman were well known to the men in the cabin. As it developed, however, the sheriff had gravely underestimated the desperation of the quarry and their determination to resist the law. Within a very short time four men would be dead: the sheriff, his two deputies, and the senior Power. The two boys would be seriously wounded, fleeing with their older friend, Sisson - fugitives for a capital crime. Marshal Haynes, the only survivor of the posse, would be hurrying down the mountain, back to the Upchurch ranch, to spread the alarm of the tragedy.

For nearly a month the desperate trio would be the object of the most famous and far-flung manhunt in the history of Arizona. Finally captured, they would be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Cautiously the officers approached their objective on foot, Sheriff McBride and Marshal Haynes moving close to the north end of the cabin; the deputies, Kempton and Wootan, near the south end. Then the unexpected happened - Jeff Power stepped out of the front door into the yard. He was well armed with a six-gun on his hip and a rifle held horizontally across his waist. It was evident that the man was more desperate than the officers had anticipated, and that the arrival of the law was no surprise to him.

The first men Power saw were Kempton and Wootan, toward whom he took a few determined steps. Deputy Wootan announced himself and called to the elder Power to put up his hands. The officer made the request three times. Stubbornly, Power refused to do as ordered, resolutely taking another step or two. Sheriff McBride, sensing the gravity of this unexpected confrontation, and intent on defusing an explosive situation, moved toward the men in the yard. McBride, walking with Marshal Haynes at his side, spoke the words, "Boys, boys, boys!" so as to be recognized.

As they began to cross the narrow front yard, another man, ostensibly John Power, appeared in the doorway of the cabin with a rifle against the door jam aimed menacingly toward the officers. Suddenly the scene exploded with gunfire, the first four or more shots seeming to come all in a bunch. Pit least the first two shots came from the rifle in the doorway directed at McBride and Haynes. Both these went wild, one striking the ground, the other striking tree limbs overhead.

Marshal Haynes would later testify that immediately there was an exchange of fire between the men in the yard and those in the building. Perhaps the first to respond was Martin Kempton, who fired into the doorway of the cabin. Sheriff McBride and Marshal Haynes instinctively whirled, each likewise placing several shots into the doorway where they had seen the man with the rifle. Then moving rapidly toward the north end of the building whence they had just emerged, the sheriff and the marshal each fired several more shots into a window to the right of the door.

During this fast action, Jeff Power, whose natural reflex would be to bring his rifle up for action, was cut down by a single shot through the upper body by Kane Wootan. Power fell about eight feet from the door of the cabin with the exclamation, "I am done for!"

The canyon resounded with the crack of rifle and boom of six-guns. Bullets were flying thick and fast. Realizing their vulnerable position, the two deputies now sought the comparative safety of the building. They headed for the south end, only a few steps to their left.

At what point in the furious fight Martin Kempton went down is not definite. It appears highly evident from the location of his body, he never made it to the safety of the building. In all probability he went down very near the spot where he stood when he fired into the doorway of the cabin. In any event, the officer, known for his courage and unswerving devotion to duty, was felled by a ball through the neck which carried away two vertebrae, no doubt causing near instant death.

Deputy Kane Wootan, in seeking the safety of the building, made it to the south end where a primitive stone fireplace structure protruded from the cabin wall about two and one-half feet. Crouched by the rough masonry of the fireplace, a small window afforded him a partial view of a figure in the building. He fired at an angle. Splinters of glass from the window pane caught Tom Power in the left eye, closing it permanently.

Evidently believing he had put the younger of the Power brothers out of the action, Kane, just seconds later, started toward the ravine off the front corner of the cabin. The slight drop-off there with trees and boulders would provide some advantage. This valiant attempt cost him his life. Before he could reach the safety of the embankment, he received a shot in the back from Tom Power's gun thrust through the window. The bodies of the two under-sheriffs now lay lifeless, close together at the edge of the yard.

At the other end of the cabin, meanwhile, Sheriff McBride and Marshal Haynes carried on a heated exchange of fire with the men in the building, their shots having little effect because of the angle. Obviously the officers were at a disadvantage, the cabin a virtual fortress to the men inside. The marshal moved to the rear of the cabin, hoping to find some way of being effective there.

Suddenly a terrible burst of pain brought Sheriff McBride to the ground. Tom Sisson had poked the muzzle of his high powered rifle between the logs of the lean-to structure at a low level, where mud chinking had fallen away, and blasted the sheriff through the right knee. Now down, with excruciating pain, there was little he could do unless he could obtain shelter. But Tom Sisson took full advantage of his newly found and effective angle of attack. More than once, hot lead tore mercilessly into the side of the prone sheriff's body. He lay helpless on his back among the rocks, his head in a low thorny bush, with death but a breath away.

Though he would later be criticized for his action, Marshal Haynes made the difficult decision to leave the scene and spread the alarm. Undetected, he slipped away to the horses and made the desperate flight to the nearest ranch. As later determined at the inquest, the sheriff, though mortally wounded, was found to be still alive when the men emerged from the cabin. One of the wanted brothers, ostensibly John Power, administered the coup-de-grace at close range through the right temple of the fallen officer.

The elder Power, although barely alive, was abandoned by the other three desperate men as they fled in a southern route to the desert, in a bid for the Mexican border. Jeff Power would die within a few hours.

Completely exhausted, and in the most pitiful physical condition, the fugitives were finally apprehended by members of a U.S. Cavalry detachment near the Mexican border. Tried and convicted, the three were incarcerated in the Arizona State Penitentiary at Florence. Tom Sisson died in prison at age eighty-six. Tom and John Power were eventually paroled, then several years later pardoned, after serving forty-two years. Their deaths - Tom's in 1970 at age seventy-seven, and John's in 1976 at age eighty-six, brought to an end the saga enacted around two of Arizona's most controversial figures.

Buried in Pima, Arizona, Robert Franklin McBride is remembered as a gentle, persuasive man, devoted to his wife and family, and passionately believing in the worth of his fellow beings. Those who knew him best, without exception, have labeled him a fearless, hands-on champion of law enforcement.

Under the most trying circumstance the sheriff's widow, Clara Sims McBride, raised their eight children alone, they to become honorable men and women.


PARDONS GIVEN JOHN AND THOMAS POWERS
WHO SHOT GRAHAM COUNTY SHERIFF

Robert F. McBride

Governor Jack Williams signed a proclamation giving a full pardon to two Power brothers after serving 42 years of the 50 given them.

Governor Williams issued the following statement:

"I have put my signature to these documents with some concern. But that concern is outweighed by a feeling that justice will be served by this action.

"This feeling is supported by the recommendations from the sheriffs of Cochise, Graham and Greenlee Counties and from other county and judicial officers, that the Power brothers be granted pardon. The consensus of their views is that the debt of these men to society had been fully paid; that is it right and just to return their civil rights and citizenship to them.

"My hope is that this action will not, by any stretch, be taken as condoning draft dodging or attacks upon official authority.

"The full circumstances of this situation, the exemplary life conducted by John and Thomas Power since their sentences were committed by (former) Gov. Paul Fannin, and their present age, all combine to lead me to believe that their full pardon well serve justice. If that is in fact the case, then I have no "qualms over granting these pardons."

The brothers claimed they killed three Graham County lawmen in self defense in a blazing gunfight in 1918, at the Power’s log cabin in the remote Galiuro Mountains.

When the smoke cleared away, Graham County Sherrif Robert F. McBride and two of his deputies, Martin Kempton and Kane Wootan were found dead from rifle fire.

The posse members slain were well-known, reputable men. Their relatives maintain the killings were simple murder, and some remain bitter about the incident.

When word was received in Safford of the shooting incident, upward of 3,000 men, law officers, civilian volunteers and U.S. soldiers, scoured southeastern Arizona in one of the most intensive manhunts in the state’s history. It was the soldiers from Ft. Chihuahua that finally ran the Power boys and their hired hand down, 29 days later in Mexico.

After parole, these two brothers returned to the Gila Valley and made it their home. There they were model citizens until the day they died and were buried in Klondyke, where a sister and other members of the family are buried.

The story of the Powers brothers closed like the end of a wild west fiction tale, with friends of the family as the mourners, and the burial in a beautiful spot of the mountain.


 Return to Top of Page

PETER HOWARD MCBRIDE JR. - Second Child and Second Son of Peter Howard McBride Sr. and Ruth Burns
                                                                                                                                  (m. Elise Elizabeth Craig)

Born in Ash Creek, Kane County, Utah, May 29, 1877, Peter Howard came to know the rigors of pioneer life at an early age. His parents had been called by the Mormon leader, Brigham Young, to take part in a colonizing effort into Arizona. The colony failed to get permanently established in the northern part of the state. donsequently, in 1880, the McBride family moved into Southern Arizona, arriving in Smithville in February of that year. "Howard" was just short of three years old when this arduous journey by team and wagon took place. They took up a quarter section of land about three miles to the west on the banks of the Gila River, in a place first known as Matthewsville (name later changed to Fairview, then to Glenbar).

Industrious and dutiful, Howard grew up on the farm - for which he and his brother, just older, assumed major responsibility throughout their youth. During this time Howard also helped his father haul freight between Bowie, Arizona, and Globe, Arizona. At the early age of fifteen he took his first freight wagon out alone. An excellent horseman, he also worked for ranchers, driving cattle to Holbrook and Tucson, Arizona, railroad loading areas.

Howard married Elsie Elizabeth Craig, August 10, 1899. Two other couples, married only a few days earlier, joined Howard and Elsie in a grand ball, a history-making event for this frontier settlement, that would be long remembered by family and friends. The couple had fourteen children, twelve of whom grew to maturity.

The following short summary is made by their eldest daughter, Florence McBride Turley:

Though Howard traveled over the state with his teams working on road construction jobs, hauling freight and ore to and from the mines, he still returned to plant crops and assist his father with the management of the farm.

In 1910 he purchased part of the land and built a nice four-room home, which he maintained until 1941. Over the years the river had cut away forty acres of farm land. This and repeated crop failures prompted Howard, in 1928, to lease out the land and move to Clifton, Arizona (later to Duncan), to work for the state Highway Department.

After his mother's death, Howard and family returned in 1933 to care for his father and an invalid brother, Enoch. Elsie dedicated herself to their care for seven years, while Howard worked for the U.S. Forest Service with the Civilian Conservation Corps on Mt. Graham and near Globe.

In 1942 the farm was sold and Howard and Elsie moved to Safford, Arizona, where they lived comfortably, never ceasing to work and contribute to the welfare of the community, their family, friends and the church.

Truly Peter Howard McBride Jr. proved himself a giant among men. Though hewn from the rugged environment of pioneer existence, his character was finely chiseled. Exhibiting many of the finer qualities of faithful, God-fearing parents, he loved music and did monumental service to his fellow beings in church and civic capacities. Howard's devotion to his parents and to his older brother, Robert Franklin, is legend. He died in Safford, Arizona, May 27, 1950, at age seventy-three.

Return to Top of Page
 

ISRAEL PERLE MCBRIDE - Fourth Child and Fourth Son of Peter Howard McBride Sr. and Ruth Burns (m. (1)Lavona June Hunsaker, (2)Florence Greenlaw)

Born October 14, 1880, in Smithville (now Pima), Arizona, Perle McBride is a good example of "the farm boy who went far." Thrift and industry, learned from doing his share of the work with his father and two older brothers on the farm, paved the way for a fruitful, eventful life of service to his community, church, county and state.

Perle took advantage of what little schooling the Gila Valley offered, receiving something less than the equivalent of a junior college education. However, in succeeding years he took correspondence courses in commercial law, psychology, vocabulary, effective speaking and typing. His quest for an education was intense. Displaying talents of his father, Perle wrote poems and songs.

Perle married Lavona Hunsaker January 23, 1901. Crop failure, due to insect pests and flooding, propelled him into fields of endeavor other than farming. In Globe Arizona, working for the Old Dominion Mining Company, his perseverance in performing menial tasks landed him a job as fireman on a steam-powered switching locomotive. In due time he passed the examination for engineer with the Southern Pacific Railroad, and when a vacancy occurred on the line between Globe and Bowie, Arizona, Perle got the job. He excelled in this job for forty-one years, retiring Aug. 6, 1945, at age sixty-five.

During his many years with the railroad, other activities held his interest, as revealed in his autobiography:

The Election: In 1924 I was elected a member of the County Board of Supervisors in Gila County and re-elected to the office in 1926. During this time the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River was completed and dedicated, which was at that time the highest highway bridge in the world. This dedication was attended by over 10,000 people including governors of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. I served as master of ceremonies in the afternoon session and had the honor and privilege of introducing Heber J. Grant, President of the Mormon Church, as one of the guest speakers. My name is on the plaque on the bridge and is also on the bridge across the Salt River at Tempe.

The Appointment: Governor Hunt of Arizona, in 1927, appointed me a member of the first Arizona Highway Commission. I was elected chairman of the Commission and served in that capacity for four years. This was only a part-time job and I retained my position with the railroad. The term as commissioner expired in 1931.

While chairman of the Arizona State Highway Commission, I succeeded in getting the Highway Commission to approve the construction of Highway 60, from Globe to Show Low.

Perle became a life member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and for many years he represented the brotherhood as chairman of the Grievance Committee. In this capacity he gained great distinction, handling grievance cases which took him to many of the great cities in the United States. He endeared himself to his fellow workmen by collecting, for many of them, back pay amounting to many thousands of dollars. He had the enviable reputation of being a man of integrity - yet forceful, and never losing a case.

His wife Lavona died January 17, 1944, a year before his retirement from the railroad. On March 21, 1946, Perle married again -Florence Greenlaw Brown, in Ogden, Utah.

Not content to be unemployed, this indefatigable gentleman busied himself with real estate until July 1, 1949, at which time he received another appointment from the Governor - the first Safety Inspector for the State of Arizona. Retiring again at the age of seventy, Perle remained in Phoenix, writing and reading, always active in community and church affairs. At age seventy-eight he wrote a short autobiography, the source of this brief sketch of a long productive life.

Return to Top of Page
 

ENOCH JESSIE MCBRIDE - Sixth Child and Fifth Son of Peter Howard McBride Sr. & Ruth Burns (not married)

Enoch Jessie McBride was born July 14, 1884, in Pima, Graham County, Arizona Territory. Spinal meningitis, a disease that afflicted him at age three, left his body badly handicapped with weak and distorted muscles. With great difficulty-he learned to walk. His speech was also afflicted, which made it difficult for him to make his wants known. He developed his own mode of speech and created his own physical world on his parent's farm.

As Enoch grew to maturity his parents and older brothers showed him great love and affection. Despite his handicaps he learned to perform productive work and achieve some semblance of a normal life and a measure of joy in his own restricted world. Enoch had a great heart, a humble loving spirit, and an eagerness to learn. His devoted mother provided projects for his growth, teaching him thrift and industry.

Enoch, paid an awful price in the suffering he went through. He didn't learn to walk until he was twelve years old; he just scrubbed across the floor or yard. He couldn't talk much but the family understood him. He was industrious, always finding something to do; he could water the garden, and hoe weeds. He had hobbies, such as raising pigeons, and rabbits, always busy. No one ever knew how much Epoch suffered.

His brothers were his idols. He tried hard to do the things they did. Grief overwhelmed him when they left the farm to marry and have their own. Enoch became especially attached to a younger brother, Claud.

Following the death of his parents, Enoch went to live with his brother Howard and his wife Elsie. With great love and sacrifice they cared for him. Finally frustration and age took their toll, and death claimed his frail body, July 26, 1941, at age fifty-seven.

Enoch is buried in the Pima, Arizona cemetery, beside his parents.

Return to Top of Page

 

CLAUD DUVAL MCBRIDE - Twelfth Child, Ninth Son of Peter Howard McBride, Sr. & Ruth Burns (m. (1) Jennie Aleen Clark,
                                                                              (2) Gladys Jensen, (3) Ella Bateson) Submitted by son, Claud Eugene McBride, August, 1987

Claud Duval McBride was born in Pima, Arizona, February 28, 1895, the 12th child of Peter H. and Ruth Burns McBride. Claud grew up as a farm boy; he milked cows, worked on hay balers, headers and thrashing machines in the Gila Valley. He also helped his father raise potatoes in the Graham Mountains on Peter's Flat and Oak Flat. He helped build dams and canals to carry irrigation water from the Gila River to the thirsty farms in the valley.

He received his high school education at the old Academy in Thatcher, Arizona, where he was a classmate of Spencer W. Kimball, who was destined to become the President of the church. After graduation he set out to earn money to attend college, working on farms, cattle ranches, mining camps, and freight wagons. He entered Utah State University and continued to work part time; he was a baseball pitcher, and played on a team with Harold B. Lee, also destined to become the Prophet of the church. He met and married Jennie Aleen Clark while at college, Oct. 10, 1917, at Salt Lake City, Utah.

World War I led him to leave college and find work in the Arizona copper mines, then to return to Cache Valley, Utah, to lease a large dry farm and raise grain for the hungry people of Europe. The post-war depression (1930's) brought low prices, so he took up blacksmithing, and for a time sharpened drill tools at the Cutler dam site on the Bear River, Utah.

It was by chance that he took a teaching position in Clarkston, Utah, which started him on his lifetime career, and led to the completion of his education, including a Master's Degree. He rose through public school ranks to become founder and director of Industrial Management Institute at Utah State University. He is the author of a number of books, covering such subjects as boyhood adventures, religion and philosophy, and theory and practice of management.

His wife Jennie died in 1956 leaving three children. He later married Gladys Jenson, who died, then Ella Bateson, who also died.

He now (1987) resides comfortably at Porter's Nursing Home in St. George, Utah. At age 92 Claud is still active in writing and reading his favorite subjects.

Return to Top of Page

 

BESSIE BELLE MCBRIDE - Fourteenth Child and Fourth Daughter of Peter Howard McBride, Sr. & Ruth Burns
                                                                                                                         (m. Robert George Geitz)

Bessie Belle McBride was born July 2, 1901 in Matthewsville (Glenbar), Graham County, Arizona, the last in her father's family by his first wife, Ruth Burns. Her pioneer parents, having arrived in that section of the Gila Valley in 1880, had, by the time of her birth, grubbed the mesquite, cactus and chaparral; dug ditches; and cultivated the land, to produce a thriving farm. Eight of the children born earlier than Bessie had died in infancy from childhood diseases, which took a heavy toll in those frontier days. A bouncing, blue-eyed baby girl, and a joy to her parents, Bessie's life was seriously threatened by pneumonia when one year old. It is said that "a neighbor, Grandma Carter, came with her mustard plaster and brandy, and pulled her through."

Bessie's quest for an education began in the humble adobe school in Matthewsville. Eventually graduating from the Gila Academy in Thatcher, a neighboring town, she began a teaching career in the valley schools. Spurred by a desire for further learning and improvement, she later attended several schools: San Diego College, University of Utah, Denver University and the Utah Agricultural College. She taught school in Clarkston, Utah.

In 1923 Bessie returned to Arizona where she married Robert George Geitz, December 24, 1924. They moved to Laramie, Wyoming. There engaged in the cattle business, she and Robert raised their family of four children. Together they operated a successful ranch for nearly forty years, producing the now famous strain of Brae - Arden Hereford cattle, noted for their high grade beef. A devoted mother and ranch cook Bessie also taught school in a neighboring country school. During those years Bessie wrote stories for children, which are unpublished but cherished by her family.

Robert's failing health and a desire for a milder climate prompted their move to Grand Junction, Colorado. Robert passed away in 1962, after which time Bessie turned the cattle business over to a daughter and her husband, Jim and Janet Talbott, and returned to Laramie. At a college there she performed a great service in the position of Dormitory Mother and Counselor of girls. Through her sympathetic understanding and appreciation of their problems, she endeared herself to the many young women attending that institution. Greatly loved and appreciated, not only by the girls, but by the administration as well, she retired in 1969 and moved to Spokane, Washington, to be near her son, Bob, and her daughter, Ann.

Not content to let the world pass her by, and typical of her zest for the good things in life, Bessie traveled widely in Africa and the British Isles. In Scotland she visited the homeland of her ancestors. At home she continued to apply her unusual intellectual and leadership talents in Church and civic organizations in various capacities, always endearing herself to her many associates.

Bessie had triumphed in an earlier bout with cancer. But now, after the malady had been dormant for twenty-five years, it again attacked her. It took her life on Christmas morning, 1976, at age seventy-five. She was buried beside her husband in Laramie.

As a final tribute her brother, Claud Duval McBride, had this to say: "Bessie was a chosen spirit of Mormon pioneer stock, highly intellectual, courageous, honest, devoted. Loyal, deeply religious in a realistic way. She faced reality bravely, not trying to escape into a world of fantasy, make-believe and wishful thinking. She left a rich heritage of character and ideals. She left the world a better place for us to live in.

A whiter and braver soul never winged its way to heaven." (We are indebted to Claud for her history)

Return to Top of Page

Return to Ruth Burns page