in Rim Country, White Mountains of Arizona & Beyond...

Time Travel in the Old West

By Rob Betasso


It amuses me just a bit when I hear people (usually someone in the media) refer to the 1990’s as though it occurred way back in the horse and buggy days. Now granted, that decade did start over a quarter of a century ago but, to me, it seems like only yesterday…. In 1990, I hired on with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and my first project involved rafting down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon studying the ecosystem’s fishes.


By the mid 1990’s, I had bounced around a bit from one Game and Fish job to another and wound up settling down for a spell at one of the agency’s trout hatcheries. The setting was idyllic as the hatchery was situated just off the Mogollon Rim and nestled down along Canyon Creek in the Tonto National Forest.


Among the many highlights of working at Canyon Creek Hatchery was the opportunity to get to know our nearest (and only) neighbors -- the folks who lived and worked at the OW Ranch, about a mile downstream from the hatchery. Often, come quitting time, I’d take my pup for an evening walk along the creek and we would check in at the OW to visit with Patty and Larry who, then and now, attend to all of the daily chores that keep the Ranch operating in tip top condition. READ MORE...

The Murder of William Ellexson

By Robert Hutchison


“Modus operandi” (M.O.) is a Latin term that means the mode of operation of a crime; in the case of Ellexson, it is murder. Occasionally, as in this case, a more recent crime must be solved prior to solving a previous crime. The M.O. of Ellexson’s murderer, in my opinion, fits James Dennis Houck like a glove.

To put this in perspective: The murder of Ellexson, who was a sheepherder, took place on July 20, 1885, according to the markings on his headstone. Consequently, his flock of sheep disappeared around the same time. His headstone is located about 10 miles north of where Al Fulton was murdered in 1888. Approximately seven miles southeast is where the “Hanging Tree” is located where Stott, Scott and Wilson met their demise a month earlier than Fulton in 1888. Houck was present at the Hanging Tree, along with 27 other men, when the hanging took place and Houck’s sheep ranch is located two and a half miles east of the Hanging Tree.

Of the five gravesites that I have discovered in the past year, Ellexson’s is the only one that has a footstone and is the only one that hasn’t been violated by grave robbers or relocated, such as they did with the graves of Stott, Scott, Wilson and Fulton.

The St. John’s Herald Newspaper, printed on October 14, 1886, gave Houck’s testimony as follows: “James D. Houck came in from his big sheep ranch this week on business connected with commissary department. Mr. Houck, having READ MORE...


Greer: Experience the Old West

By Anne Groebner


Greer is one of the most beautiful areas found in the White Mountains. A small village nestled along the Little Colorado River, it is a summer and winter destination for those who want pristine surroundings and a one-on-one with nature. The cool mountain air and starlit nights (and you can really SEE the stars!) provide a distinct distraction from city life.


The history of Greer can be found in the names of local ranches and landmarks. Americus Vespucius Greer was a town planner for whom the town was named and Jacob Noah Butler, homesteaded in his namesake, Butler Canyon.  One of the most beautiful hikes in town is named Butler Canyon Trail. It was a rough and tumbling time back in the days of settler’s wagons, horses and cattle. People came and went, including cowboys and outlaws, artists and writers but Greer survived through persistence and determination.

  One of the first settlers was Amberion Englevson (Amberion Point). He was either a Norwegian ...


GREER DAYS 2017: JUNE 9th-10th

The village of Greer will kick off a summer full of fishing, hiking and relaxation with the annual Greer Days celebration on June 9th and 10th. At an elevation of 8,300 feet in Arizona’s White Mountains, Greer offers plenty of cool weather and beautiful scenery. What folks call that “little slice of heaven.” Greer Days will feature an old-fashioned parade, music, arts and crafts, delicious foods, an auction, Lucky Duck race, children’s games and much more. Featured events and activities (subject to change) include:

Opening ceremonies

Friday, June 9th, 5 p.m.

The Greer Desperadoes ain’t fooling around as they officially open Greer Days with a Wild West shoot-out at Molly Butler Lodge.

Old Fashioned Main Street Parade

Saturday, June 10th, 10 a.m.

This is a Greer tradition evoking the good ol’ days with horses and riders, Native American dancers, floats, antique cars and more on Main Street in Greer. Arrive early to avoid the closure of Main Street. Enjoy the parade. Apply to be in the parade here.

Heavenly Vendor Village

Friday and Saturday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), June 9th and 10th

Exhibitors will offer arts and crafts, food, jewelry, clothes, photographs, paintings, furniture, toys and more along Main Street and in the Greer Community Center. Enjoy the shopping and eats or apply to sell your wares.  For more information: http://greercivic.org/events/


Tied to the saddle they led them West

along old General Crook’s Trail.

With a suspended sentence...

 they were hanged from a tree

instead of going to jail.


Now sometimes out on Black Mesa

along the Hangman’s Trail

you’ll hear a sad and lonesome cry

 when the wind makes the pine trees wail.


It crys for Stott, Scott and Wilson,

left hangin’ in the trees...

found by a cowboy chasin’ strays...

just swayin’ in the breeze.



Yes...the night owl still sings of Azteca Springs.

A sad song of long, long ago.

And the moon still shines on those lonesome pines and that cabin way down below.

Artist and Poet: Steve Taylor

Eagle Nest Studio: Home Studio at

858 White Mountain Drive, Show Low AZ 85901

928-537-7174, stjat@cableone.com


By Steve Taylor

Almost forgotten, that tale from the past

of calamity at Azteca Springs...

where Stott, Scott and Wilson met destiny that day.

A story the night owl still sings.


‘Twas breakfast time on the Stott homestead

 for Jamie and two of his friends.

The knock on the door surprised them for sure,

not expecting life’s journey to end.


A long haired killer with a badge

was waiting just outside

with trumped up charges and a posse of men

to take them on a one way ride.


Lawman Houck was known to say,

“Stott won’t ever homestead that land!”

He wanted to graze his sheep herd there

so he took the law into his hand.


Gentleman Jamie invited them in

and fixed breakfast for the whole lot

and when Houck was done, that son-of-a-gun

arrested Scott, Wilson and Stott.

Steve Taylor

Western Watercolorist


 As a child growing up in Rockford, Illinois in the

Forties, life and times were simple for Steve – no TV,

video games or computers, just radio and a vivid

imagination. He learned very early that drawing

and singing got him a lot of attention. As a result,

his best friends were  pencils and paper and,

fortunately, his mom and dad saw to it that he

never ran out.

 When he was ten, his family moved to Arizona for

one year. It was a short, big adventure but the

West was in his blood. After all, he had drawn

mountains and cactus and horses. The die was cast!

After completing high school in Illinois, he returned

to Arizona. He recalls riding horseback in down-

town Scottsdale and tying up at Lute’s Pharmacy

for a soda – great weekend fun for a young dude

who was “all hat and no cattle.”

 After college in Chicago, earning a living and raising a family put Steve’s art on hold. Then, in 1976, a commercial art firm in Phoenix recognized his talent and soon made him an art director. It was there that he met his friend and mentor, the late Dick Axtell, a western artist who introduced Steve to the world of watercolor. That has been his medium of preference ever since.

Steve’s love of the West has led him and wife JoAnn to the White Mountains of Arizona where he enjoys painting the working cowboy, Native Americans and the beauty of God’s creation.  Over the years and through many occupations, Steve has become an actor, poet, singer-songwriter and musician.  He plays harmonica, sings, records and tours with Mountain Saddle Band. (www.mountainsaddleband.com)

Steve says, “I thank God every day for the beauty of  His creation and for leading us to the White Mountains of Arizona where the ‘Cowboy Way’ is still a way of life.”




More on Stott, Scott & Wilson

J. D. Houck claimed that a group of thirty masked men took the prisoners and he didn’t know what happened after that. Houck had been overheard saying that Stott would never get that land homesteaded.  He, Houck, wanted to graze in that area . . .To make matters worse, they hung those guys just a few miles from Houck’s Ranch. Most people lump these murders in with the Graham/Tewksbury feud killings. According to Will Croft Barnes, he (Stott) was “well known to have stolen horses” and normally that diatribe was about stealing from the North; selling to the South! Ben Irby was a friend of Jamie Stott and he cornered J. D. Houck in Holbrook and accused him of killing those boys, trying to provoke Houck into a gunfight . . . It didn’t happen. Houck weaseled out of a direct confrontation.

Visit www.gymoaz.com for more information about

the murders of Stott, Scott, Wilson and Fulton.


No one has ever seen the warrant that Houck claimed he had when he arrested the three boys, Stott, Scott & Wilson. It is possible that some misfiled document may exist deep in the bowels of the courthouse but, even if there is a warrant, that warrant doesn’t make them guilty.

  All who researched the issue have come up short of anything close to pinning something illegal on these boys. No warrant for their arrest has ever been documented or produced. Houck died from drinking

Strychnine Poison.



The Hanging Tree Update

By Robert Hutchison


We have discovered that the presence of one of the other “part time” deputy sheriffs at the triple homicides of James Warren Stott, James Lane Scott III and William Jefferson Wilson is making us question his presence at “the Hanging Tree.” (see getyourmountainonaz.com/history) Thomas N. Horn Jr. was a well-known government assassin, paid to do professional and anonymous sniping and he always killed alone. At the height of his pay scale, he would regularly receive $500 to $600 (a fortune in the 1880’s!) from cattle barons or the government for each cattle rustler or sheep herder he killed. For various lengths of time, he “worked” in Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico, depending on the “climate” after each job was done…Why was a known government-sponsored lone sniper of sheepmen riding with so many Tonto Basin and Pleasant Valley sheepmen to murder three young cattlemen so brutally on August 11,1888? It is our opinion that the sniping of Jakob Lauffer in the first week of August of that year was done by Horn so that it would be blamed on Stott, Scott and Wilson; which was it was. As we had mentioned, the attempted implication of Stott for the Tonto Basin Store robbery in May, 1888 failed. We now suspect that many of the 40-50 snipings in Pleasant Valley were done by Horn because his weapon of choice was a 45.90 Sharps with a rolling block action (similar to Tom Seleck’s rifle in the movie “Quigley Down Under.”)

Horn’s career ended on July 19, 1901 when he killed 14-year-old Willie Nickell in Wyoming — the son of READ MORE....

The Murder of Al Fulton

By Robert Hutchison

   In October of 2016, an anonymous donor placed the 45.55 copper black powder cartridge with a spent spun primer in my hands. This cartridge fired the bullet that killed Al Fulton. a sheepherder during the Pleasant Valley War. At the time, with the help of Dawn Wilson of Wilson Investigations, we were busy working on solving the triple homicides of James Warren Stott, James Lane Scott III and William Jefferson Wilson that took place on August 11th, 1888.

   After receiving the cartridge, we once again turned to Wilson as a consultant and proceeded to investigate the murder of Al Fulton, which took place on the General Crook Trail (a military trail sometimes called “Old Verde Road or, as the feudists referred to it, “the Deadline Zone”). The Mogollon Rim Visitor Center which sits on “Fulton Point,” provided us with the following information. Ranger Patti, very cautiously shared the location of the gravesite because of the previous desecrations of the site. I assured her that I would not release the information she provided.

Fulton Point is located at the top of the Rim, about 30 miles northeast of Payson, Arizona, off State Route 260, at an elevation of 7,529 feet. It is named for a man who, as the story goes, was murdered in 1888 by an angry rancher. According to the legend, Fulton and his brother were driving their flock of sheep through Wilford Scarlet’s cattle range and were driven toward a sink hole by Scarlet and his men. Fulton fell off his horse and was killed. There is a modest tombstone marking his grave today and, at one time, it read: “Al Fulton, murdered 1888.” It was later changed to “Al Fulton Shot 1901” — perhaps to mask the possibility that Fulton was wrongfully hanged. We are investigating this murder and hope to have it 99% solved by the time the February, 2017 issue of GYMOAZ hits the stands.

Note: This month, parts I through V of the Hanging Tree Murder stories were couriered to Governor Doug Ducey and placed in the Arizona State Archives Building, located at 1901 W. Madison in Phoenix.

The Murder of Al Fulton Part II

By Robert Hutchison


Around 1878, Harry Fulton came to Flagstaff, Arizona. Eight years later, he helped establish the Arizona Wool Growers Association and was elected its first president.

Governor Conrad Meyer Zulick was instrumental in having Fulton appointed as the first sheep inspector for Yavapai County in May 1887. Also, important to note is the fact that Zulick’s attorney general happened to be Briggs Goodrich. Briggs’ brother was a prominent attorney in Cochise County. His name was Benjamin Goodrich. Both these men were uncles of James Lane Scott III, who would be murdered with James Warren Stott and William Jefferson Wilson on August 11, 1888.

In 1886, Harry Fulton invited his younger brother, Al Fulton, to join him in the sheep business. Al was in his early twenties. He became a sheep herder for a rancher named Woods.  (Woods Canyon and Woods Canyon Lake were named for him.)

According to a story written by Stan Brown, columnist for the Payson Roundup, we learn that, while driving  READ MORE...

The Hanging Tree

Final Chapter

By Robert Hutchison


   On Friday, August 10, 1888, most of the 28 riders, if not all of them, met at the Bear Spring Ranch owned by Jamie Stott. This small ranch was located two miles west of the Aztec Spring Ranch, also owned by Stott. Many of the horses needed feed and water after having traveled over 125 miles in the three days to this location set by Owens, two months prior. On their way to the Hanging Tree…


Posse Members include:

   Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens was, beyond a doubt, the executioner ordered to murder James Warren (Jamie) Stott, James Lane Scott III and William Jefferson Wilson on August 11, 1888. His accomplices were his deputies who were employees following orders. Owens, who was 37-years-old at the time, was the only elected law enforcement officer. After the previous Blevins massacre in September 1887, Owens (4’11” in height), needed his ego re-stretched and fed to its limit as it would soon be election time.

Deputy Sheriff James Dennis Hock; 41-years-old

Deputy Sheriff Hugo A. (Hook) Larson; 30-years-old

Deputy Sheriff St. George Creaghe (Apache County Board of Supervisor)

Deputy Sheriff Osmer D. Flake; 20-years-old

Jim Roberts (Indicted for previous murders and the most READ MORE...

The Hanging Tree

Part IV


By Robert Hutchison


    This is a continuation of our report of the triple homicides of James Warren (Jamie) Stott, James Lane Scott III and William Jefferson Wilson on August 11, 1888. For 128 years, the mystery has remained unsolved. The following is research that has been gathered and is critical in the solving of the triple murders.

    The Sheriff back then was Commodore Perry Owens. During his two-year term, Owens switched bondsmen five times. According to the August 27, 1887 Apache County Critic, Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens was ordered to arrest Andy Cooper Blevins within ten days or be ousted. Ironically, Owens and Blevins had been cowboys who had hunted and fished together — even courted the same girl.

     On September 4, 1887 (seven days after the warning), Owens, armed with his Winchester rifle and an old warrant from March 26, 1886, walked up to the Holbrook home of widow Blevins and shot her son, Andy Cooper,


The Aztec Spring Ranch where Stott, Scott and Wilson were abducted.

R-L: Jenny Caster, Wayne Ramey, Ruthie Yeats, Robert Hutchison, Dawn Wilson, Carol Mathewson, Stacey Sanches, Scott Klaus and Autumn Golden.

The Hanging Tree

(Part III)

 By Robert Hutchison


   This part is dedicated to proving the innocence of the three hanging victims—Jamie Stott, James Scott and Jeff (Billy) Wilson.

   In recognition of the tragic event, a group gathered again at the Aztec Spring Ranch on August 11, 2016—the 128th -year anniversary of the abduction and subsequent triple homicide—to sort out the factual events and testimony provided by witnesses.

   Unaware of their upcoming fate on that date in history, Jamie and Jeff prepared breakfast for the 25 men who were there to abduct and murder them.  Included in the breakfast fare were five dozen eggs, 70 pancakes and 100 cups of hot coffee.  Some of the men had traveled more than 100 miles to the location.  Preparation of the meal would have required about two hours.  Each man ate his fill, and dishes were then washed, rinsed and dried.

   The testimony of eye witnesses Lamott Clymer and Alfred Ingram indicates that:

   (1) The Aztec Land and Cattle Co. had to be taught a lesson by the “prime movers” of the Tonto Basin and Pleasant Valley residents; otherwise, said boys would have been sniped off like the other 45 to 50 previous victims.  The well-planned murders were to be committed at the Aztec Spring Ranch.  This proves itself by the fact that Scott was brought from Pleasant Valley, past the hanging tree, and then another 25 miles, to the Aztec by the Tewksberry group.  If the Read More...

The Hanging Tree

(part two)

By Robert Hutchison


This is a continuation of a piece that was published in the August issue of this publication concerning the well-planned triple homicide of Stott, Scott and Wilson, on August 11, 1888.


   Jeff (Billy) Wilson and James Scott were hung from a ponderosa pine tree that now bears the chevron V reflector indicating the General George Crook Trail, which was established in 1870.  The tree is 22 inches in diameter and has been cut off 10 feet high to preserve the “V” trail marker.  The tree has approximately 275 annual rings.

   The other ponderosa used, to hang Jamie Stott, is 19 inches in diameter and is the only other available tree of that time period.  It also still stands at the junction of the two trails indicated in the book They Shot Billy Today, by Leland J. Hanchett, Jr.

   Rope burns still exist on the tree limb used to repeatedly hoist and torture Jamie Stott. Read More...

The Hanging Tree

Part I

 By Robert Hutchison


   On the morning of August 11, 1888, between 25 and 27 men converged on the Aztec Spring Ranch of James Warren Stott.  They moved in from five locations—Tonto Basin, Pleasant Valley/Young, Heber, Snowflake/Taylor and Holbrook.  With only substandard telegraph (or none at all) and no newspaper or post office service to record the specific date, it was a well-planned conspiracy—to commit the triple homicides that were about to be carried out.

   Deputy Sheriff J.D. Houck of the Black Canyon Sheep Ranch was the leader.  He had no warrant for


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