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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : features : features April 29, 2016

9/14/2013 1:51:00 PM
Verde Valley Heritage
Clarkdale to celebrate annual Living Legacy event

Yvonne Gonzalez
Staff Reporter

Clarkdale will honor two families and three individuals on Sept. 22 as Living Legacies who have seen the area evolve from a few buildings to what it is today.

Floyd James, the honoree's brother, said he, Geraldine and eight other siblings grew up on what would eventually become the reservation. They lived in a three-bedroom house without running water, electricity, or gas, and used a wood stove for cooking and heating.

"It was rough," he said. "Those were hard times."

He said all but one sibling graduated high school, and Geraldine got married in the '60s. Matt Tapija is Geraldine's youngest son.

Tapija said his parents had a house on the reservation up until they passed away.

"We have quite a few family that still live in the area," he said.

Locey Rogers was born in a small town just east of Flagstaff and has lived on the same nearly one-acre plot of land for 42 years.

He got married when he was about 29, and moved to Cottonwood in September of '59. He and his wife had six children.

"One of my children had asthma really bad and I was told honey would help him," he said. "So I've been working with bees for 35, 40 years."

Locey drove students hundreds of miles each week for school, sports and special events, and gave tours around the cement plant when it first opened.

He was there when three feet of snow fell in the winter of '67, when the river flooded, and when he paid $25 per month in rent near the Verde River.

Jess Valdez taught mostly middle school for 20 years in the Verde Valley. He was born in 1930, near the dump and "across the creek from the Indian village," where he made friends.

"Sure, it was tough, it was pretty hard to eat, but we didn't care," he said. "Because everybody, all of my friends in school, everybody was in the same boat. Everybody was poor, everybody was hungry, everybody wore hand-me-down clothing."

Valdez said he started to read during World War II, and used the dump to find material.

"(The dump) is where they invented rummage sales, except those sales were free," he said. "We would find magazines, Life magazine, the Saturday Evening Post. That is where I learned to read. That was my library."

Sally Jackson's mother was a Jordan, the family that "helped start the roots of the settlements that came through here" and was involved in a 1920s smelter lawsuit.

"The smelter and the mining had been well established and farmers had been here quite a bit sooner," she said. "The smelter smoke would damage the crops and so the mining company bought out a lot of the farmers."

Thirteen families decided they didn't want to sell, and sued the copper company. They settled around 1925.

"At that point, my family went, how far away can we get from the smelter smoke?" she said. "And that's when they went to Sedona."

Edith Lindner was born in Jerome, moved away and returned in '58.

"I graduated from Mingus Union High School," she said. "That was the first year they were consolidated."

She married her husband Gene in '61 and they had two children.

Her nephew, Curtis, will speak at the Sept. 22 event. Curtis was born in 1951, grew up in Clarkdale and graduated from Mingus.

His parents were born in 1927 at Jerome Hospital.

Clarkdale was a company town owned by United Verde Copper Company until the 1950s.

"My father's father worked in the mine up in Jerome and my father was the first mayor of Clarkdale," he said. "But at that time he had a job where he represented the company and that was a company town, so he was probably the shortest term mayor."

The council decided that Dr. Daniel Bright would be the best person to take over.

Curtis, a Jerome resident, said his dad was very community-minded and helped take the reservation out of company hands.

"My father helped make it possible to have the company divest themselves of that land and give it to the people so they could have that land back again," he said.

The honorees will all be given a chance to speak about their experiences at an event Sept. 22 at the Clark Memorial Clubhouse. Local wine and light refreshments will be served, and people will be able to meet the families and ask questions for a suggested $20 donation.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Hope the participents indulge in a heavy dose
of wine so the truth will be told with a twist.

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