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  • Writer's pictureDavid Grassé

Gila County Histories

A while back, I was hosting tours of the Payson Pioneer Cemetery (not ghost tours, mind you), giving people histories about some of the more interesting interees. The program was designed to raise money for the library and to raise awareness about Payson's history. Unfortunately, the Payson Woman's Club, which owns the cemetery decided to nix the tours (they did not give a reason, but I believe it was an issue of power). Anyway, I still had all this knowledge stored in my head, and could not think of what to do with it. Then it occurred to me, I could write the cemetery stories out and send them to The Payson Roundup, the local newspaper. So, I penned an article about Fred "Gold Tooth" Pranty, the prospector who was held for 14 years for committing suicide, and sent it over to Alexis Beckman, the managing editor. She liked it and printed it. Then I sent her a few more which she also published. Then Alexis asked if I would want to be a regular contributor, with a column and a small photo. I said I would be willing to, but there were a finite number of interesting stories which I could pull from the cemetery. However, I said, if I expanded the scope to include all of Gila County, I could give her an endless number of stories. She agreed, so now I have a column called "Gila Histories" which appears irregularly in The Roundup (basically when it is slow week for local news). Upcoming articles include that story of The Apache Kid, the hanging of William Baldwin, The Pinal Creek Flood of 1904, and the lynching of Thomas Kerr. Yes, I am writing about the morbid stuff, but what do you expect from a former Goth?



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