VERDE HERITAGE COTTONWOOD ARTIST: Ray H. Manley
Cottonwood was "the home of one of the noted artists of the West, Ray H. Manley, the products of whose brushes have for many years attracted wide attention." His paintings hang in the Cottonwood Community Club House and in many private homes in the Verde Valley.
Ray Halleck Manley "was born in Canton, Ohio, on the 23rd day of October, 1885, and is a son of W. A. and Emma (Steese) Manley, both of whom were natives of the Buckeye state, where the father followed his profession as photographer and artist. Mr. Manley received his early education in the public and high schools of Akron, Ohio. So early in life did he show signs of artistic talent that at the age of 9 years he was given instruction in art under a special tutor."
"He took special courses in physical and electrical science, and later entered the Buchtel Academy of Art, of which his grandfather, George Steese, was one of the original founders. After leaving school he obtained employment in the art department of the Globe Lithographing Company, of Akron."
"Later, he went to old Mexico, where he devoted some time to the painting of rural life, and some of his work of that period is now  to be found in the homes of official families of that country." An unpublished manuscript, "Gold Mines West: adventures of Ray Halleck Manley in the gold mining days of the early 1900's" describes his travels in the southwestern United States and Mexico is now at the University of Nevada at Reno (Special Collections Dept. identifier 87-35, donated by widow Catherine M. Manley in 1987).
"At the time of the great earthquake in San Francisco, in 1906, he made a number of color sketches during the fire which followed the quake, and these sketches were later used by other artists in their work."
"Mr. Manley has spent much time painting in the national parks of the West and is now so engaged in the Red Rock and Verde Valley district of Arizona, a region abounding in superlative views. Besides his art work, Mr. Manley is financially interested in various business enterprises at Cottonwood, where he resides."
("History of Arizona;" Biographical Volume III; 1930; Ward R. Adams, Author; Hon. Richard E. Sloan, Supervising Editor; Record Publishing Company, Phoenix, Arizona; page 272.)
Ray Manley began working as an automobile tire vulcanizer at the Cottonwood Garage [built in 1915 by Charles Willard and leased to various auto salesmen and mechanics, like P. V. D. Neff]. His business was considered prosperous and after 3 years he moved to his own building across the street.
"Ray H. Manley and Miss Mildred L. Hiatt, both of Cottonwood, Arizona, were united in marriage at the Congregational parsonage yesterday at high noon by Rev. James Hoffman Batten. (Journal-Miner; Prescott; October 17, 1918.) She was born in Indiana and is the daughter of Leonidas L. and Nina Grace (Toon) Hiatt. Ray and Mildred became the parents of Ray J. Manley, born at Cottonwood on September 4, 1922(1). (Certificate of Birth.)
Ray H. Manley purchased 2 business lots on Main Street from Alonzo Mason on January 20, 1920. (Yavapai County Books of Deeds.) The main sales room and garage is at 1037 N. Main. He expanded onto the lot at 1039 N. Main, which has now been demolished for a new ground-level building with a second story which extends over the neighboring original Ray H. Manley Building.
1920: "NEW SERVICE STATION: Owing to an increase in his business, R. H. Manley is erecting a fire-proof structure to accommodate his automobile tire vulcanizing and oxy-acetelene welding business, which is widely known in the Verde Valley. Work on the new building was commenced the early part of the week and the concrete walls are now several feet above the foundation. When completed, the building will be 20 x 40 feet in size with a basement for the storage of tire stock. The entire front of the building will be an automobile tire and accessory sales room, while the back will be equipped with steam vulcanizing machinery for retreading tires and oxy-acetelene welding apparatus chiefly used in welding broken motor parts. (Verde Copper News; January 28, 1920.)
"R. H. Manley is gradually getting his modern concrete building on Main Street ready for occupancy. The roof of this building is supported by steel trusses, manufactured in Cottonwood by Mr. Manley." (Verde Copper News; March 29, 1920.)
"R. H. Manley, versatile sole saver and vulcanizer, has placed a new galvanized iron roof over the steel bars and is now coating over the iron with cement. When completed it will be the most complete and beautiful building in town." (Verde Copper News; July 20, 1920.) Manley's Cottonwood Tire House sold "Racine Tires." (Verde Copper News; December 20, 1920.)
The 1920 Census lists Ray H. Manley, age 34, living with Mildred E. Manley, age 21, at Cottonwood. He works in a garage and is a vulcanizer.
1924: "R. H. Manley has climbed another rung in the business ladder of the district and has a pile of lumber on hand for the erection of a frame building to adjoin his concrete structure on the south. It will be entirely of frame construction with the exception of the roof which will be covered over with composition. The new room will be used for the display of Durant and Star cars that Manley is going to handle in the district. He is a full-fledged auto salesman now." (Verde Copper News; March 21, 1924.)
"The new addition covers an area of about 25 x 32 feet. John H. Carlisle, who did the framing for the Stemmer Building [across the street; now a driveway owned by the city], is in charge of the work." ... "The structure will be finished off in front with a Mission top, pebble-dash finish, and 2 huge rolling doors each with large glass windows, which will permit the casual passerby to feast their eyes on the Star and Durant cars. In another week the building will be about ready for occupation." (Verde Copper News; March 28 and April 11, 1924.) The building was built above or at street level (however, the street is now much higher). Cars were driven from the street into the showroom. "Manley sells Flint, Durant, and Star cars and has made quite a record since he took the agency." (Verde Copper News; June 10, 1924.)
"R. H. Manley is very much like an old-fashioned Kansas prairie fire --- he is gradually growing a little larger." ... W. McCrory is "putting the extension on the back of the Manley Annex. ... The extension is 20 feet and built to conform to the front of the building. Manley is gradually getting quite a large establishment and manifested a long time ago that he has the qualities that go to make a successful man in anything undertaken." (Verde Copper News; August 22 and 26, 1924.)
1929: "Luke Blaisdell and Ivin Barnes have rented the garage [south] end of Ray Manley's buildings and will handle the repair work on all makes of cars. Luke has been until recently with the Liberty Garage, of Cottonwood, [located across the street] and has built up a splendid reputation as an automobile mechanic." (Verde Copper News; January 8, 1929.) Ivin "Barnes and Luke Blaisdell are the Essex salesmen for this side of the mountain." (Verde Copper News; February 1, 1929.)
"Perry Francis and Dan Francis, of Flagstaff, have rented the show room of the Manley Garage [1035 N. Main Street] and will handle Hudson - Essex cars for the district. (Verde Copper News; May 24, 1929.)
"Ray Manley has started work on some new improvements for his service station in Cottonwood [1037 N. Main Street]. He is adding another new gas pump, wash rack, hydraulic lift for oiling cars and will do some extensive paving in the front and [north] side of the station. He hopes to have a first class service station when completed where he can give everyone the best of service." (Verde Copper News; February 5, 1929.) The work was completed by February 19. Mr. Manley was installing another gas pump on February 26, 1929. He sold "Standard Gasoline" and had 3 pumps in in front of the building.
1930: "Mr. Manley is a member of the National Geographic Society, the Yavapai County Chamber of Commerce, and is a professional member of the Phoenix Fine Arts Association. He shows a splendid interest in everything concerning the welfare and prosperity of his community and is regarded as one of its best citizens, commanding the respect and esteem of all who know him." ("History of Arizona; p.272.) Mrs. Ray Manley was a correspondent for "The Verde Copper News" beginning in 1929 or earlier.
Another business venture was the establishment of "tourist camp houses" at the south end of the business district. By 1929, the occupants were listed in the newspaper. Ray Manley's "Hopi Court" advertising and postcards continued through the late 1940's and early 1950's. These buildings at 767 North Main have the appearance of adobe construction.
Mildred Esther (Hiatt) Manley, born July 30, 1898, died at Cottonwood on October 20, 1951. (Certificate of Death.)
Ray H. and Mildred Manley's son, Ray J. Manley, developed an early interest in photography. He took pictures for the Clarkdale High School yearbook. While enrolled in college at Flagstaff he saw a photograph by noted Arizona photographer Esther Henderson, and began to take photography more seriously, submitting a photo to "Arizona Highways" in 1940. Ray enlisted in the Navy during World War II and became an instructor at the Navy's photography school at Pensacola, Florida. He made his home at Tucson and worked for "Western Ways." Ray Manley Commercial Photography opened at Tucson in 1953/54. (See Wikipedia.)
Ray J. Manley's photographs appearing in "Arizona Highways" from 1944 to 1988 helped define the magazine's photographic style. "Arizona Highways" featured his "Return to My Valley" in their magazine in September 1957. He traveled the world and his photographs appeared in "National Geographic," "Life," "Look," "Popular Science," "The Saturday Evening Post," and in his own books. He won photographic awards for a quarter century. Ray J. Manley's photographs of Arizona painted a view of the state that helped increase tourism and migration to Arizona.
Ray Halleck Manley devoted a lot of time in his later years to painting and was also a freelance photographer. He died on December 25, 1964.
"Hopi Court" was sold by Ray J. Manley, a married man, and Catherine M. Manley, a widow, to Irene A. Blume, wife of Lloyd A. Blume, on February 14, 1968. (The deed was recorded on March 8, 1983; Book 1520 of Deeds, page 998, #6761.)
During the 1970's, Ray J. and Ruth Manley opened Indian Land Tours guiding visitors to places Ray had photographed. The business expanded as Ray Manley Tours to offer international tours. (Arizona Historical Society; Tempe; Catherine Manley Collection - MSS 71.)
After Cottonwood Postmaster Charles Stemmer retired, the Post Office moved into the Ray H. Manley Building at 1037 N. Main and occupied the building from 1953 until 1960. The 1920 building and open garage on the north was occupied by the Cottonwood branch of Flagstaff Imports (Fiat, Saab, etc.) after July of 1974. (Verde Independent August 8, 1974.) More recently the building was occupied by Cindi Bee in 2010, who was joined by Pretty Shabby Boutique in 2011, followed by Fandango in 2012. Dragonfly was there in 2019. The new 2-story building with residential and retail space was approved by Cottonwood Planning & Zoning in 2019. (Verde Independent; January 31, 2019.)
See: Sharlot Hall Museum Archives for images of artist Ray H. Manley photographed by Ray J. Manley.
The Verde Independent; "1920 COTTONWOOD; Ray H. Manley Building;" January 30, 2013.
See: Ray Manley Photograph Collection; University of Arizona Library, Tucson; Special Collection MS 462; 1958-1988; 1960-1965. (Ray J. Manley died at Tucson July 15, 2006.)
Ray Manley books are also available.