1899-1900 COTTONWOOD: The Forest Described by Charles Stemmer.

The hills across the Verde River from the Old Town Jail (built in 1929) were heavily wooded. The forest with a thick growth of pinion and cedar stretched for miles. There were scattered stunted ponderosa pines. According to Charles Stemmer (born 02/07/1883), this dense forest existed until the early 1900's.

Mary Ann (Schlensker) Stemmer Dykes was a widow for the second time when she bought the old Ricker place from Mr. Sparling (now, the Blazin' M Ranch). She moved there with her 2 sons, Charles Stemmer and Clayton Dykes, arriving September 11, 1899. There were 65 fruit trees (peach, apple, plum, apricot), 24 grape vines, and a crop. She brought a large team of horses, the loaded wagon, a cow, a heifer, and about 50 chickens.

Charles Stemmer and his mother took their team and wagon into the forest and began to cut wood into 4-foot lengths. Wood was hauled back to their ranch. A pile of wood 4 feet wide, 2 feet high, and 8 feet long is called a "cord of wood." A cord of wood could be sold for $8.00 in Jerome. There were about 15 cords when Charles began to load the wagon with ranch products and half a cord of wood. He hauled it to Jerome, where he easily sold everything each day. Later, Indians were paid $2.00 for each cord of wood they cut.

The family moved back to Flagstaff, selling the property to Charles D. Willard. In 1908, they bought the Schnebly place in Sedona and used the house for their Cypress Hotel from 1909 to 1916. Lured back to Cottonwood by business prospects, Mary Stemmer Dykes operated a boarding house. Charles Stemmer was President of the Progressive Association from July 1917, until April 1924, then was Postmaster from January 1, 1924, until February 24, 1953.

(see: A Brand From the Burning; 1959; by Charles C. Stemmer; and Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; 1954; pages 112-115.)

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