Sun, Jan. 26

1895: UPPER VERDE NEWS, November 2.

"UPPER VERDE, Nov. 2. --- Rev. Hedgepeth, who has been appointed pastor of the Methodist Church at Cottonwood, preached here on October 29th. The attendance was not large, owing to sickness and death in our community."

"On that day Mrs. Ricker lay dead at the family residence near Cottonwood. The funeral, which took place on Monday, the 28th of October, was a very impressive service, and was attended by all of our people who were able to be out. The sympathy of our community is very great for the husband and children, who have lost life's truest and best friend."

"We had quite an excitement in our school a few days ago. Miss Windes' horse ran away with her and caused considerable consternation in the hearts of the scholars who witnessed the catastrophe. The horse was hitched to a road cart, and then the two little brothers of the young lady were in the cart with her. The horse took turns at kicking and running, until he upset the cart and left its badly frightened contents by the road side. That particular horse is now filling himself with wild grass and mesquite beans, and Miss Windes drives a horse whose chief recommendation is his antipathy to locomotion."

"Rev. Windes is in Jerome three days each week attending to his mission work there. Rev. Wynkoop will preach in the Jerome Baptist Church Nov. 3rd. The Methodist friends have kindly been granted the privilege of holding services in the Baptist Church one Sunday in each month. The good ladies of the town are helping in the Sunday School work and in the religious work generally. Our school is doing finely, our lodge ditto, but out prayer meeting, 000."

"The Upper Verde parsonage has been turned into a hospital. Its inmates are now caring for an invalid cow, a wounded dog (stray one), a one legged chicken and an orphan calf. There is still room for a cat that has fits."

"We are having perfect weather now. Nature has taken advantage of it to change her green summer gown for a light yellow costume for autumn wear."

"Would it not be a good thing for one of the Prescott undertakers to keep caskets for the dead at Jerome and thus save our valley people and those in Jerome from having to send so far and wait so long for the caskets in which to bury our dead? The valley is very warm and we have several times been compelled to lay our dead out of doors, and watch them during the night. Why can not one of your undetakers have a branch establishment in Jerome?"

(Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; November 6, 1895; page 2.)

As soon as a casket arrived, Nellie Willard Ricker was buried in the Cottonwood Cemetery.

MARY ELLEN "Nellie" WILLARD was born in Clear Lake Township, California, on December 19, 1856, and died at her home on October 26, 1895. Her parents are Joel and Mary Grace (Vineyard) Willard.

The Willard family moved from Sacramento to a ranch near Pine Valley, Nevada, where Nellie joined them in 1877. A railroad connecting Palisade with Eureka, was built across the Willard ranch. Alfred L. Ricker (born in Detroit, Maine, in January 1855) was a conductor on that train. He married Nellie in 1879, then they lived in Palisade. Al and Nellie moved to live near his family in Detroit, Maine. After a few years they moved to the Verde Valley.

Mary Grace Willard was granted a land patent for 160 acres on December 9, 1892. The southeast corner of her homestead is at the corner of Main and Pima in Cottonwood, then it extends north across the river, with a parcel of 40 acres back of where the Old Jail was built. Alfred L. Ricker was granted a land patent for 160 acres on December 18, 1896. That land, mostly across the river, joins the land of his mother-in-law on the south and west (part is now the Blazin' M Ranch). Al and Nellie Ricker became the parents of 3 children; Maude, Ned and Clyde. After Nellie died, the Ricker family returned to their home in Maine.

The "Ricker Place" was rented out and sold several times. A man named Sparling had the place. Charley Elder share cropped the land. Charles Stemmer wrote that there were 65 fruit trees and about 21 nice grape vines when he went to live in the old Ricker home with his mother and half-brother on September 11, 1899. The "Ricker Place" was purchased by Charles D. Willard, the brother of Nellie Ricker, on November 6, 1902. (Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; 1933, 1954; The Verde Valley Pioneers Association; pages 113-114; and Yavapai County Recorded Documents.)

See: "Descendants of Alexander Hamilton Willard, Sr." ( #8.vii. Joel Willard; #47.iii. Mary Ellen Willard; and Bureau of Land Management (Land Patents).

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