Historic Structure Report
Historical and Archeological Data Sections

A History of the Building and Structures of Faraway Ranch
NPS Logo


*The schematic drawing of the Main House should be consulted while reading this chapter to aid in understanding the additions and major changes made to the structure over the years.

A. Establishing A Homestead

Even before they were married on January 25, 1887 Neil Erickson, who was a first sergeant in the United States 4th Cavalry Regiment, and Emma Peterson, who was both companion and maid to the wife of an army colonel, were familiar with the Sulphur Springs Valley and Bonita Canyon in Cochise County, Arizona. They had known each other since 1883, but it was not until 1886, when they were both at Fort Bowie, that they took regular excursions into the canyon to enjoy the magnificent splendor of the Chiricahua Mountains that surrounded them. [1]

Bonita Canyon had been the home of at least one or two pioneers and the camp of a small detachment of black troops of the United States 10th Cavalry Regiment in the 1880s. It is possible that Neil had some contact with the troops as well as with the few settlers who had lived in the canyon while still in the service.

There are conflicting stories about when and under what circumstances the Ericksons came to homestead in Bonita Canyon. Clarifying this event may help to understand the original structure occupied by the Ericksons. Most of the conflicting reports come from the members of the family--particularly Neil, Emma, and Lillian, their oldest daughter. Since the details of many of these stories were revealed in later years, usually in the form of reminiscences, memory often failed them. Providing accurate dates of events was not one of their stronger attributes, though they wrote prolifically. They not only contradicted one another when providing accounts of an event, but they frequently contradicted themselves. Nevertheless, after carefully reviewing and weighing these accounts, it is possible to piece together many of the events surrounding the Ericksons and their properties at Faraway Ranch with some degree of accuracy.

While reminiscing in the 1940s, when she was already at an advanced age, Emma Peterson Erickson noted that just before she was married she "filed" for a homestead of 160 acres. This would have been sometime in 1886. She attempted to explain how this came about by saying that while she was at Fort Bowie she learned of a "beautiful" place in Bonita Canyon which turned out to be a two-room cabin owned by a certain "Nuton" (actually Newton). Emma said she purchased the dwelling and then filed for the 160 acres upon which the cabin stood. She added that because she did not want to embarrass her future husband, she had him file for the homestead. [2]

In another of her recollections, written some twenty or twenty-five years earlier she was a little more accurate. At that time she wrote:

He [Neil] was in the Army when I met him. I told him I would never marry a soldier. I bought a little house with improvements in beautiful Bonita Canyon, and my plan was to move there, raise cattle, horses, chickens and plant an orchard. As soon as my Fiance was discharged from Army he went to Bonita Canyon to build fences, and make improvements. [3]

The last statement was corroborated by Neil as early as 1912 at which time he wrote, "I have a little home in the foothills of the Chiricahuas where I have resided ever since my discharge from the 4th U.S. Cavalry in which I served five years," adding "where I have lived since in the fall of 1886." [4]

As he prepared to retire from the United States Forest Service, Neil wrote in 1927 in an autobiographical sketch of his life that shortly after he was discharged from the Army on October 10, 1886, he located a homestead in Bonita Canyon. [5] In one magazine Neil was quoted as saying that "I was batching here [i.e., in Bonita Canyon] for a while, but didn't like that. . ." [6] Neil was referring to the time before his marriage but after his discharge. In writing a tribute to a neighbor that had died in 1935, Neil said, "I met her the first time in the fall of the year 1886, now nearly 49 years ago, when I was summoned to go and get her to perform an act of kindness for my near neighbor Mrs. Pauline Stafford." [7]

There can be little doubt, after analyzing and weighing these accounts and comparing them with Emma's, that Neil had lived in Bonita Canyon at least during the fall of 1886. While there it was logical for him to have occupied his time in the improvement of facilities. Finally, it is not unreasonable to assume that he lived in the structure that Emma claimed she had purchased.

Perhaps the best account of how and when the Ericksons first appeared in Bonita Canyon was given by Neil in 1931. At that time he wrote that it was

. . . about 43 years ago when I moved in here with my bride and baby then 5 months old. Our first night in the Canyon. No! not mine for I had been here before and had added one room to the two that were here built by a man named Newton and had been occupied by a Captain Chas Cooper of the 10th U.S. Cavalry during the Geronimo campaign 1885-86. [8]

An analysis of this account reveals that forty-three years earlier would have placed the Ericksons' arrival in Bonita Canyon as 1888. If Lillian, the baby Neil was talking about, was five months old when they came to the canyon, then we can determine with considerable accuracy the approximate month in 1888 this event occurred. If Lillian was born on February 9, 1888 at Fort Bowie, then the Ericksons established themselves in the Canyon sometime in July 1888, if Neil's memory was correct. Neil also implied that he had lived there before. Finally, he stated that he made improvements to a house at one time owned by a person named Newton and occupied by an officer of the 10th U.S. Cavalry. These are all very significant points in this study, and although they were made several years after the event occurred, they were made by the principal participant and therefore should be given considerable weight. More will be said about the improvements Neil made to the house and about the previous owner and occupants later in this study.

Schematic Drawing: Main House (click on image for a PDF version)

Corroborating much of the preceding account was another story that appeared in a 1934 publication. Much of the information contained in this story was undoubtedly provided by Neil because of the remarkable similarity of details with the preceding account. The account reads in part as follows:

In Bonita Canyon at that time was a small cabin owned by a man named Newton. Captain Cooper purchased the cabin as a home for his wife and daughter and shortly after, moved them into it. A tent was erected to serve as a kitchen and dining room with a Negro woman in charge. The present site of Faraway's ranch house is the exact place where Captain Cooper's cabin stood and the tent kitchen stood where the ranch yard now is. Captain Cooper occupied the cabin for the eighteen months that the Geronimo campaign lasted. It was on this site that the plot was laid and conceived for the book, "When Geronimo Rode," by Forrestine C. Hooker, who is the daughter of Captain Cooper. . . ."

. . . Captain Cooper sold his cabin to Mr. Stafford, who later, while visiting Fort Bowie, told of the very beautiful place he had bought in Bonita Canyon near his own home.

Mrs. Neil Erickson, then Miss Emma Peterson, living in Fort Bowie at the time heard Mr. Stafford tell of his beautiful place and decided to see it. She found the place and thought it the most gorgeous spot she had ever seen. Large oak trees lined the canyon, grass was three feet high wherever she walked, and Bonita Creek was then running like a full sized river.

Miss Peterson purchased the cabin from Mr. Stafford and then went to Tucson to file on the land. . . . In the course of the conversation in the land office, Miss Peterson mentioned the fact that she intended to be married in about eight months. At that time a homestead consisted of only 160 acres and she was informed that if she filed on the land her husband would not be allowed to file on any government land as only one in the family was permitted to homestead. She then decided to wait until after she was married so that her husband might do the filing.

On January 25, 1887, Miss Peterson and Mr. Neil Erickson were married. . . . Shortly after the wedding Mr. Erickson filed on 160 acres in Bonita Canyon where Mrs. Erickson's cabin then stood and where Faraway Ranch now stands. . . ." [9]

Except for the different ownership, that is, Newton or Stafford, attributed to the cabin, Neil's brief account and the one just cited are remarkably similar.

Forrestine Hooker's novel When Geronimo Rode is fiction, yet it contains thinly disguised personal experience based on fact, though it must be used with caution. At one point she stated that Captain Duncan (actually her father, Captain Charles Cooper) leased the cabin from a rancher named Erickson who had built it. According to Mrs. Hooker, Mr. and Mrs. Erickson and children were tired of running off to Fort Bowie every time there was an Indian scare in the canyon. They were, therefore, happy to place the cabin in the captain's hands while he and his troops, a detachment of black cavalry, were there. Moreover, she continued, by having Captain Duncan live on his land, Erickson could satisfy the terms of his homestead claim and not lose title. [10] The accuracy of her statements must be seriously questioned. Although Captain Cooper and his troops were stationed in the canyon as late perhaps as mid-1886, Neil Erickson was not married until January 1887, and according to the latter's testimony, he had not brought his family to the canyon until 1888. Mrs. Hooker's statement does not stand the test of accuracy even if we assume that Neil had been living in the canyon soon after his discharge and before his marriage, that is, between October 1886 and January 1887. Neil could not have established himself in the canyon any earlier than October 1886. By then, the cavalry detachment had moved out. We must conclude, therefore, that Captain Cooper leased the cabin from either Newton or Stafford, not Erickson. It might have been the Stafford family that Mrs. Hooker had in mind as being tired of having to run off to Fort Bowie for protection during each Indian scare, rather than the Ericksons.

Lillian Erickson's unpublished novel "Westward Into the Sun," which actually consists of reminiscences of her childhood in the canyon disguised by use of fictional names, noted that the detachment's commanding officer had built "a small home near the camp and had his wife and young daughter with him." After Geronimo was captured and the Apache raids subsided, the outpost was recalled, and the officer's house was abandoned. The house, said the author, stood on the 160 acres of land that Krispin, the character in her novel (her father Neil), had filed on his homestead. [11] Although this work is probably correct in placing the officer's quarters on what eventually became Erickson's homestead, it appears incorrect in stating that the officer built it.

Several early accounts provide conflicting dates as to when Neil filed for his homestead. Nor do the homestead records at the National Archives and Records Service clarify the situation. The year that Emma was said to have purchased the cabin and when Neil began to live in the canyon, that is, 1886, is frequently confused with the year that he filed for his homestead. One 1927 newspaper gave the date as 1886, and one book provided the same year. In early years, Lillian said that the homestead was filed in 1888. [12]

The 1934 account in the Hoofs and Horns periodical pointed out that Neil filed for his homestead soon after the wedding. A later issue of this magazine was more specific, giving the year in which he filed as 1887. [13]

Much of the confusion about these dates was caused by Emma's references to the purchase of the cabin prior to her marriage. Neil also contributed to the confusion in his autobiographical sketch wherein he stated that "shortly after being free from the Army, he located a Homestead in Bonita Canyon." [14] The implication here is that he filed sometime in late 1886.

The homestead records have confused matters further, and it is perhaps largely their fault that succeeding writers, including family members, have been mistaken. A government document dated November 22, 1894, granted Neil Erickson his homestead, describing it as the South half of the South East quarter and the

South half of the South West quarter of section twenty-seven, in Township sixteen South, of Range twenty-nine, East of the Gila and Salt River Meridian in Arizona Territory, containing one hundred and sixty acres. [15]

A further examination of the records reveals that the sale of the 160 acres was on January 31, 1894. This was actually the date of filing. Moreover, the records indicate that Neil "refiled" in 1918 and finally "acquired" his homestead on August 12, 1924, after offering final proof that he worked his land. Neil claimed that each year he grazed ten head of cattle on his land, which included a dwelling. The final certificate, which he received at this time, encompassed 240 acres, and not 160. Thus the addition of 80 acres to his homestead may serve as some explanation for the misunderstanding in dates, but how do we account for the filing date of January 31, 1894, as opposed to the grant dated November 22, 1894? [16]

In spite of this confusion, the dates given in most accounts as to when Neil filed for his homestead are 1886, 1887, or 1888. If we accept the grant of November 22, 1894, as having some validity, one can then reason that these dates have some basis in fact, the year 1888 probably being more correct. The five-year requirement established in the Homestead Act of 1862 would then have been fulfilled.

Another conflicting date in the history of Faraway Ranch is the year that Neil first settled in the canyon without his family. Emma wrote in 1923 that after Neil was discharged from the Army, he went to Bonita Canyon "to build fences, and make improvements." [17] Neil has corroborated this statement. In 1912 he wrote that he resided in his "little home" in the Chiricahuas ever since he was discharged from the Army, and "where I have lived since in the fall of 1886." [18] In 1935 he wrote "I met her [a neighbor] the first time in the fall of the year 1886, now nearly 49 years ago, when I was summoned to go and get her to perform an act of kindness for my near neighbor Mrs. Pauline Stafford." [19]

There can be no question about the accuracy of these dates. Neil was quite certain about them. One can conclude therefore that Neil lived in Bonita Canyon in the fall of 1886 before his marriage and that he made improvements to the facilities while living there. Both Emma and he made this point quite clearly.

After Neil and Emma married and a brief honeymoon ensued, he remained alone in Bonita Canyon for a while. One day in February 1887 he wrote to his bride of one month "I am now this evening writing by the fireside in our little cabin and oh, how I wish you were here." He then added, "Mr. and Mrs. Stafford [his neighbors only one-quarter mile up the canyon] send their best regards to you and wish you would come out here and live. They say that it's kind of lonesome now with this house empty." [20] Neil was busy making improvements on his homestead although not living there permanently.

He found himself going to and from Bonita Canyon frequently before and after he was married. It was not until the latter part of 1888, however, that he and his small family moved permanently to the canyon. At that time the Ericksons had only one child, Lillian, who was born on February 9, 1888 at Fort Bowie. There were two reasons why it took them so long to relocate after Emma had purchased her cabin. First, Neil had to make an adequate living for his family, and he could only do this if he remained in Bisbee, Arizona, or some other town where men with his carpentry skills were needed. Second, he was reluctant to have his wife and child settle in a relatively primitive area without the minimum of adequate housing and facilities. Building equipment to construct these facilities was not cheap, and until he could work to purchase them, he preferred to remain away from Bonita Canyon. He felt strongly that the only solution to this problem was to work at his trade wherever fortune would take him, save enough money to improve his ranch to the level he wanted, and then move there. He even attempted to run a business in New Mexico after his marriage, but this failed. After Emma briefly managed a hotel in Lordsburg, New Mexico, she finally convinced Neil that they should move to their ranch in Bonita Canyon. [21]

B. The Original Structure

The cabin that Emma is purported to have purchased in 1886 was the same one that had sheltered the commanding officer, Captain Charles Cooper, of that small detachment of black soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment. Who built and owned this cabin is not certain. That the commanding officer built it, as Lillian said in her fictional work, is unlikely. It is more probable that the captain leased it from Stafford who earlier purchased it from Newton, the original builder. Newton may have been a squatter in the canyon. There is some reason to believe that such a person did exist. Neil has referred to him and to the ditch named after him that ran north and south alongside of the Main House.

It was this cabin, acquired by Emma, that formed the nucleus of the Main House. This cabin was the initial member, but it was already there. There are several descriptions of this structure, most of which were written independently. Emma described it briefly as a "small house with two rooms in it." [22] At a much earlier date she described the house as containing three rooms, but here she was counting the room that Neil had added to the house in 1886. [23] Neil said in 1931, while speaking of the first day he moved his small family to the canyon, "for I had been here before and had added one room to the two that were here built by a man named Newton. . . ." [24]

Hildegard Erickson, the youngest of the three children who was born in 1895 in Bonita Canyon, recalled her mother telling her that when she moved to the canyon there was "one big room and a lean-to kitchen." [25]

There are three detailed descriptions of the original structure. Two appear in autobiographical fiction written by authors who were participants in the events that took place in the canyon. The first description appeared in 1924 with the publication of the historical novel When Geronimo Rode. Its author was Forrestine C. Hooker, daughter of Captain Charles Cooper, commanding officer of the black cavalry company assigned to police Bonita Canyon during the Geronimo campaign. As a young girl, she lived in the canyon with her father and mother, and the cabin in question was their home. She described it as a "tiny two-room cabin back of several tall, wide-spreading oak trees" and went on to say that

it did not require many minutes to explore the cabin. A front room well built and with two windows, had a fairly good wooden floor and an open fireplace. This room led into a smaller one which evidently had been used as a kitchen. The floor in the back room was of earth, packed down solidly enough to be swept. A small sliding window and a hole in the roof for a stovepipe, with a door opening from the back, completed the dwelling. [26]

She pointed out other details of the cabin, for example, that it had old newspapers posted on the walls to take the place of wallpaper. The crude cabin, she said, had been transformed into a cozy home, with the front room arranged jointly as a sitting room and bedroom. A tall screen concealed the bed during the day. [27]

The author described the back room, formerly the kitchen, which

had been arranged for her [Forrestine is named Bonita in the novel] boudoir. Heavy canvas tightly stretched on the earth floor was practically covered by an enormous buffalo robe, fur side up. A Sibley stove, which was simply a conical bit of sheet iron with its open base planted firmly in a box of solid soil, afforded ample heat. . . . The window at which Bonita stood slid sidewise when opened, and flaunted a gay cretonne curtain.

The author described a "low step" at the door and said that Bonita's mother found the house "so comfortable." [28] The conclusion is that while Captain Cooper was using the cabin, it had two rooms, one a front room with a wooden floor, the second a rear room with a dirt floor. Moreover, most of the walls were covered with newspapers.

The second major description of the cabin was written by Lillian in her unpublished novel "Westward Into The Sun." Although intended largely as fiction, the work can best be described as thinly fictionalized reminiscences of the author's childhood. Lillian took great pain to describe the cabin and other facilities she attributed to her father's workmanship. Some description of the structure can be gleaned from the several brief statements by the author. Thus she said, "the tired horses came to a stop before the little house. . . ." "Victoria [Emma] followed him [Neil] into the house. One room had been cleaned and a stove had been put up in a corner. The other room was so crowded with their unpacked furniture and other household goods that there was no place to turn around." [29]

Thus Lillian described the cabin as containing two rooms. One can also conclude that someone, undoubtedly Neil, had already delivered household goods and had cleaned the cabin prior to their arrival.

The author provided other bits of descriptive information. For example, the inhabitants secured "enough wall paper to paper the large front room." "Krispin [Neil] put it on and put in a ceiling of white muslin tacked between the dark varnished oak beams. This was whitewashed to keep it clean and dustproof. The little bedroom was too small for the lovely bird's eye maple bedroom suite . . . so they put the tall chiffonier and the dresser with the large beveled mirror into the front room." The floor of this room was painted. The kitchen and small bedroom were papered with pages from newspapers and periodicals, chiefly Harper's Weekly and New York Times. Poems and one-page stories were used mostly. [30] Forrestine Hooker mentioned the papered walls in her novel, but Lillian was not clear as to whether the newspapers she described had been there already or were new ones put up by her father.

In 1931 Neil recalled that the floors of the cabin were made of boards. Both Mrs. Hooker and Lillian noted that only the front room had wooden floors, the other room having an earthen floor. [31]

Lack of adequate space seems to have plagued the Ericksons throughout most of their lives in the canyon, and this led to the many structural changes in their home. Neil was always inclined, perhaps largely due to Emma's constant prodding, to make facilities at home more comfortable for his family. This was true whether he was living in Bonita Canyon, in Bisbee, or elsewhere--he could always be found looking for ways of improving living conditions.

According to Lillian in her novel, soon after the family's arrival in the canyon, they realized the need for more room. "Another room was imperative," but how to build it when funds were low was another story. In place of finished lumber, her father found a substitute--Pearl Oil can cases. "He had a dozen or so of them. He had seen hundreds of them thrown away at the Post. Everyone used kerosene for lighting their houses and it was shipped in strong wooden cases that held ten gallons each. He would use the ends like shingles. It would make a warm snug room." Both "Krispin" and his brother "Jim" (John in real life), who "Krispin" had sent for from Sweden, constructed the extra room. They intended to use it for a kitchen, the old one reverting to Lillian's bedroom. Her father lined one wall with cupboards and shelves. [32]

Lillian's account gives the impression that efforts to improve the cabin's comforts were made after the family arrived in Bonita Canyon. Although some of this may be true, it is more likely, as both Neil and Emma have testified, that most of the remodeling took place before the family's arrival, especially after Neil was discharged from the Army and before his marriage and during his trips to the canyon while living elsewhere.

A third account, this one non-fictional, published in Hoofs and Horns in 1934, supports the story given by Lillian concerning the addition of a third room, indicating that "the cabin . . . was a two-room frame building. A third room was added. . . ." [33]

There seems to be no doubt that the small two-room cabin was enlarged to include a third room, but whether Lillian was correct in implying that it was built after the family had arrived in the canyon is questionable. Neil was quite specific when writing in 1931, as he recalled his family's first night in the canyon. "No! not mine," he said, "for I had been here before and had added one room to the two that were built by a man named Newton." [34]

The several months spent in Bonita Canyon after his discharge from the Army would have been the proper time to have built this extra room. Moreover, Emma said on more than one occasion that Neil had lived there after his discharge making improvements.

There are several photographs and one drawing of what is purported to be the cabin. These illustrations were made between 1890 and 1910. A drawing by George Dunn has the caption "The original home of Mr. and Mrs. Neil Erickson in Bonita Canyon about 1892" (Illustration No. 1). [35]

It is not known who wrote the caption, although the handwriting might be Lillian's. The sketch depicts a structure with walls built of vertical logs and a gable roof made of wooden shingles. The front of the cabin has a porch with a lean-to roof. Lillian mentioned this porch in her novel. In an 1896 entry to one of his early diaries Neil also mentioned that he repaired "the porch." [36]

The photographs, most of which are not dated, reveal all or a section of the cabin. One photograph taken around 1905, viewing the cabin from the south after a major addition was built, depicts a part of the gabled roof with shingles. The long dimensions of the cabin extended east and west, the front of which faced the west. On the south side of the structure was a lean-to with a shingled roof. Because the side of the lean-to was covered with shrubs and vines, it is difficult to determine its composition. The caption contains the words "Faraway Ranch," so it had to be written after 1917 when that name was first used (Illustration No. 2). [37]

A second photograph, probably taken around 1907 and also viewing the structure from the south side, is a better picture in that it shows more of the cabin and more structural detail. By the time this picture was taken, the lean-to had been removed. The photograph reveals external walls made of upright logs and a gabled roof with wooden shingles. The south wall depicts the outline of what might have been the connecting door between the cabin and the lean-to. It also reveals the remains of what probably was part of the lean-to. These had yet to be removed (Illustration No. 3). [38]

Two other photographs taken about 1908-1909 reveal essentially the same details of the cabin (Illustration Nos. 4 and 5) but a third one, probably taken around 1910, does not show the remains of the lean-to; by then all signs of the lean-to had been removed (Illustration No. 6). There is also a sketch which was obviously drawn from this 1910 photograph. [39]

It is not clear whether the lean-to observed in the ca. 1905 photograph was the one built by Neil just before the family arrived in the canyon or a different one. The 1892 sketch, which is viewed from the northwest, could not show the lean-to on the south side of the cabin, but it does show one at the rear (or east side) of the house. Of course, there could have been more than one lean-to built over the years, and either one might have been the earlier structure noted in the several accounts.

C. The Stone House

After the third room was added to the cabin, Neil was determined to build a stone house, a single room structure that would serve a double purpose: to act as a small fort in the event of an Indian raid, and to serve as a cool room for the storage of food. As far as the first purpose was concerned, building the stone house turned out to be a lost labor of love. With the exception of one brief scare, there was never any reason to use the stone house as a means of protection against the Indians. On the other hand, the stone house and its large room served Faraway Ranch well into the end of its life as a cool "cellar" where food was stored. The 1934 account that appeared in Hoofs and Horns said that the "stone storehouse with its two-foot wall, was originally built as a refuge in case of Indian attacks. Today it is a part of the present ranch house and still serves as a storeroom." [40]

An article appearing in a 1958 issue of the Saturday Evening Post said that after the Ericksons settled in Bonita Canyon, the "first building to go up was a windowless structure of stones--more a fortress than a home." [41]

Hildegard described this stone structure as follows:

Neil Erickson decided to dig his well. His brother, John Erickson came from Bisbee to help him.

The Indians were still out at times, so they decided to use the rocks dug for the well to build a stonehouse [sic] separated and apart from the dwellings. It had walls at least 3 feet thick; portholes on all 4 sides; and a sapling roof with dirt over it. It was also sunken about 1-1/2 to 2 feet. It was later used as a storage room [or cellar] but originally used to keep the milk and butter. The floor [dirt] was sprinkled down each night and the screen doors left open. [42]

In a description written years before the above one, Hildegard noted that her father and uncle built the stone house from the "mud and muck" removed from the well. [43]

In her novel Lillian described in considerable detail how the stone house was built:

Krispin had built rough forms three feet high, three feet wide, and twenty feet long for the lower walls. When they [Krispin and Jim] took dirt from the well, they had emptied it into these forms. When they struck water, the wet mud was placed on top of the dry. The water soaked through and made mud of it all. Thus the earth from the well was disposed of and made useful at the same time. Since the dirt from the well did not go far enough to complete the walls, they were left to harden till the well was finished. Then the floor of the room was excavated and thrown into the forms. Again this mud was left to harden. This mud when dried was almost as hard as rock. Then the forms were raised, and, since stones were plentiful, they were used with mud to complete the structure. Its outside measurements were twenty foot square, with walls ten feet high. A small high window was placed on the side overlooking the well and a heavy door of oak planks in double thickness, in the adjoining wall. A fireplace was put into one corner.

The room must also be fireproof. This was a difficult problem. Krispin solved it by using his head and the materials at hand. First he went into the woods and cut long cypress poles which would reach from one side of the room to the other. Four inches in diameter at the small end would be strong enough for this purpose. He peeled the bark from these with a hand adz, and they came out white and shining. By placing the logs in the mud of the upper wall at the top of the building, large end to small end, and striving for uniform thickness, he was able to make an almost solid ceiling.

Next [Krispin] and Jim went to the hills that surrounded the canyon and took huge corn knives along. They returned with the bed of the spring wagon heaped high with bear grass. Mexicans used it to thatch their houses in much the same way that straw was used in Ireland. Load after load was laid upon the flat roof across the cypress beams. The last step was the most difficult. . . The creeks were full of clean, white sand. Wagonbox after wagonbox of this was hauled to the house. One man stood on the wagon and tossed the sand to the top of the house; the other spread it evenly. When the roof was finished, two inches of sand lay evenly over the bear grass. . . .

The stonehouse [sic] was warm in winter so that no vegetable ever froze there. The thick walls and earthen roof shut out the rays of the summer sun so that it was a haven of coolness for milk, butter, and eggs that would otherwise have spoiled in the long summer days. [44]

According to Lillian, the stone house was placed close to the newly built well so that in case of an Indian siege water could be quickly gotten. The well could also be closely protected in the event the Indians should decide to poison it. [45]

Neil had clearly distinguished between the cabin, which served as the nucleus of his home, and the stone house. Moreover, he made it absolutely plain that both structures were separate from one another. Thus, in speaking about the only Indian scare they had while living in Bonita Canyon he said:

One day while I was doing some improvement on my home, Mary Fife who was employed in the home of Colonel Stafford, came running. . .to our home. . . .Mrs. Erickson was ill in a room not attached to the one in which I was working. The one where I worked was stone. I went and got a bucket of water and then took all the ammunition, and my gun into that room and stood by to watch the Indians.

In another account of this Indian episode Neil established the date that the stone house was built. In it he said:

The first we heard of Massai after [he] escaped from the train, was in the early part of May 1890. . . .

My wife was sick in bed and could not get out. Brother John and myself were busy hauling away ground from around a well we had dug and walled up, close to the house, using a dump cart and one horse.

I got busy to carry water, and such food as was not already there, into the Stone house I had built for the purpose of storing food in and to stand Indians off from in case of an attack. [47]

One can conclude from the foregoing accounts that the stone house was built before May 1890, probably in 1889 soon after the Ericksons settled in the canyon. Second, the stone house was a structure separate from the frame cabin. Finally, although the stone house was the first structure to eventually become a permanent part of the Main House, it was not the Erickson's principal habitation.

D. First Major Renovation (The Box House)

Neil was always concerned that his home was never adequate to take care of the needs of his growing family. Moreover, he was always disturbed to see his wife living in a dwelling that was far from the relative luxury she had been used to in Sweden. After Lillian, Ben, his only son, was born in the canyon in 1891. Hildegard, his youngest daughter, was born in the canyon in 1895. Neil's efforts at farming and cattle-raising were never successful enough to provide him with adequate compensation to realize his dreams, partly because he had no inclination in those occupations. Fortunately, he was blessed with a skill in carpentry that placed him in great demand among his neighbors and in surrounding towns and settlements. His work took him away from his family and home for weeks and months at a time, much to Emma's chagrin because she was left in the canyon to fend for herself. Whatever improvements were accomplished on the ranch by Neil, sometimes with the help of his brother John, were usually done in between jobs elsewhere. During these long periods of absence John stayed behind to accomplish some of the improvements as well as to act as protector to Neil's family. Neil did not hesitate to let John know that he owed him this much for having been responsible for his coming to America.

Between December 1890 and December 1894, Neil worked in Bisbee for a mining company. During those years his family lived in Bonita Canyon. Although he found time to visit his family on occasions, he depended a lot upon his brother and neighbors to see that all went well with his family. When he learned of an Indian incursion along the Mexican border in 1892, he frantically wrote his wife, "have John and Stafford to ever be on the lookout for them. It is fearful to have you in the mountains and the red-Devils out, but should you hear of any imidiet [sic.] news of them go to Mr. Prue's Ranch and stay together so you will be out of Danger." [48]

His concern for his family was always reflected in his letters. Neil advised his brother of his need to stay in the canyon to help the family while he was away. He instructed him to see that they had plenty of wood. While Neil conceded that his brother could earn some money doing odd jobs for neighboring ranches, he must "first of all look after you and to fix the house", he wrote Emma. "You said it would blow down this winter." [49]

It is interesting to note that his letter revealed that the house in Bonita Canyon was in need of rehabilitation. The structure he referred to had to be the old picket log cabin. Other than the addition of one or two sheds, little had been done to improve it since they moved into it. How successful Neil was in getting his brother to do much of the work around the homestead is not entirely clear, but John may have had more to do with improvements around the ranch than we know. Emma, however, out of despair in not seeing her husband at the ranch, complained constantly about the poor facilities. The house her family lived in was her main concern. Neil recognized this from the very beginning when they moved to the canyon, but he put things off because he lacked the money.

It is difficult to learn whether any major construction was done to the Main House between the period 1891 and 1898. Except for one bit of evidence, a drawing said to depict the house in 1892, there appears to be a void in the records. This 1892 sketch mentioned earlier reveals three structures viewed from the northeast: the cabin on the right with a porch in front and a small attached shed in the rear; a small square frame structure with a flat roof to the left of the cabin; and the stone house on the left. Since the drawing is from an angle, the illusions is created that all three structures were connected. Certainly, no one can say this to be the case about the stone house. This sketch is extremely puzzling in the absence of other evidence. It may be that the artist took artistic license in portraying these structures.

By the end of the decade it was evident that the Main House was in need of extensive improvements since by now the Erickson family had grown in numbers.

Hildegard provided a description of the first major renovation to affect the Main House, but one must be cautious in accepting the date when this occurred. Thus she says:

It was several yrs. [sic] later that Branic [Brannick] Riggs put in a sawmill at the head of Pine [Pinery] Canyon. He sold Dad lumber and then the second part of the house was built: two downstairs rooms (dining room which connected kitchen to Mother's) and the kitchen with the door down to the cellar. Neil also built three rooms upstairs: two bedrms [sic] and the hall and landing of the circular stairway.

This was about 1908. [50]

From this brief description one can conclude that the addition made to the house was a two-story structure with two rooms downstairs (dining room and kitchen) and three rooms upstairs (two bedroom and a center hall). She was wrong, however, when she placed the date of this construction at 1908. The change was much earlier.

Lillian's account of this construction in her autobiographical fiction was much more thorough and accurate. Her explanation for acquiring the wood was somewhat different from Hildegard's. She said that "Krispin" received the wood as payment for doing carpentry work for the lumbermill's new owner. She noted that Rosalind (the girl who played the role of Lillian) could recall since she was a young child that there had always been talk of a "new house." The one they lived in was too small to take care of the needs of three children. Rosalind dreamed of having her own bedroom, and her mother reassured her that some day she would share one with her baby sister. Since Hildegard was born in 1895, this planning had to take place after that date. [51]

Lillian went on to say that "at intervals huge loads of new lumber arrived at the ranch. . . . Wagon, returning from town, brought doors, windows, shingles and hardware for the new house." [52] Construction finally began, and Lillian provided this account:

The little bedroom and kitchen were torn down. The big front room was to be kept for a bedroom till some distant day when another addition could be made. The stonehouse, never needed for a refuge, had become solely a cellar and storehouse. The new building was to connect it with the front room and make a single unit of the whole. The log and earthen roof of the stonehouse was removed and a roof put on which tied it in with the new rooms.

. . . One of the upstairs rooms would be Benjy's own, and the other was to belong to Rosalind and Baby Sister, when Sister was a little older. A funny winding stairway led up to the hall that separated the two bedrooms. Delightful twin windows looked out upon the mountains from the front of Rosalind's room. The back window opened onto a porch that ran the full length of the house.

The downstairs room that connected with the stonehouse was to be a kitchen, complete with tables, built-in cupboards and shelves. Large windows were to give it light and plenty of fresh air. The new living-room would connect the kitchen with the old front room. It, too, had large windows that gave pleasant views of the mountains, and an open fireplace in one end. [53]

According to Lillian, the new living room had a fireplace. [54]

There are at least eight early photographs that depict the Main House during this phase of construction and support much of the written evidence. While many of these illustrations reveal the front or south side of the house, it is unfortunate that only two provide some evidence of the east side and that none provide evidence of the north and west sides. Some of these illustrations have been mentioned earlier in our discussion of the cabin.

A 1905 photograph depicts sections of three basic elements of the house: the picket log cabin on the left; a box-like hip-roofed two-story structure in the center; and the stone house on the right. All three segments are connected to form an inverted L-shaped unit (Illustration No. 2). A 1907 photograph shows essentially the same details except that one can see more of each segment. The following caption appears at the top: "Dad, Ben and Mother/Hildegard in Window/Mr. Lewis and Mr. Grey." Of some significance appearing at the bottom is the following under each of the three members: "Our first Cabin located 1886/Second Addition - Stonehouse on Right 1888/Box-House-Later 1897 or 8" (Illustration No. 3). Both captions are in different handwritings. The top one was probably written by Lillian, the bottom by Neil.

The date that Hildegard gave for the construction of the box house, that is, 1908, is obviously wrong. The 1897 or 1898 date provided in the last photograph is far more accurate. In this respect, there were three letters written to Emma by a friend between 1900 and 1901 that lend support to this date.

The first one, written on November 5, 1900, said "I will always think of you where I knew you and of the many pleasant visits we had in the little house in Bonita Canon." [55] For the time being one need remember only that this correspondent referred to the "little house." In another letter written two months later, the same correspondent wrote:

What kind of a Christmas did you have? I thought of you all, and what a good time we had two years ago in the Old Barfoot [sic.] house, and of what a good dinner we had next day at your house. How many good times we have had in that little house! I often think of them, and wish that I could see you. [56]

Two points should be made here. This woman, who apparently was a good friend of Emma's and may have lived at one time in Barefoot Park, an area in the Chiricahua Mountains, again referred to the "little house." Secondly, she recalled the good times they had "two years ago" presumably at Christmas. Since she wrote this letter in January 1901, she was recalling an event that occurred in December 1898, at which time she remembered the "little house."

Finally, in a letter written by the same person in February 1901, it said, "I was delighted to hear of your comfortable new house, and I have tried to imagine how it looked. You did not say where you entered it." [57] The important point to be made in this letter is that this woman referred to Emma's "new house." In the first two letters written in late 1900 and early 1901 this woman recalled a "little house" in which the Ericksons lived. She remembered it as late as December 1898. By the time she wrote her third letter, Emma had probably answered her, telling her of her "new house." An interpretation of these letters can only lead one to conclude that by Christmas 1898, the Ericksons were still living in their little cabin, but by February 1901, they were enjoying their "new house," that is, the first major addition, or box house. Thus, 1899 (or 1900 at the latest) was probably the year that the box house was added.

A third photograph, taken about 1906, is important because it views the Main House from the east, the only early illustration to do so. The view of the house is too small to point to any significant details, but from what can be observed looking westward one is able to see a two-story narrow structure with a hip roof and a window on the second floor which faces east. This was the second addition that was sometimes referred to as the box house. One can also make out the east side of the one-story stone house that juts out from the box house (Illustration No. 7).

A fourth photograph, probably taken around 1908, views the complete Main House from a distant south. This is probably the best early view of the house at this time because it shows the whole house with all its segments. By this time, however, a small square window had been added to the second story probably to bring light to the center hall. The window overlooks the gabled roof of the stone house (Illustration No. 4).

There are two very interesting close-up views of the house that were probably taken around 1907-1908. The most important one is a picture of Emma seated just outside the east side of her house. What is interesting about this illustration is that it depicts the east wall of the stone house, or what by then became known as the cellar. The cellar had a window that still exists today. Further north is a section of the latest addition, that is the box house. There is a low square wooden platform that led to a door through which one entered the kitchen. This doorway is probably the same one that exists today. This picture is the only known illustration that provides some details of the east side of the house as it looked then and is therefore significant (Illustration No. 9).

The second photograph in this group is a picture of both Emma and Neil at the front of the house. Although not much different from the 1905 and 1906 views, this photograph does provide some excellent detail. The front door, for example, is clearly seen as having an attractive window (Illustration No. 5).

Another illustration without a caption was probably taken around 1910. It is similar to the 1908 photograph except that by now there appears a flagpole about 100 feet to the south of the house (Illustration No. 6). There is a sketch of the Main House that was undoubtedly drawn from this photograph. It contains the following caption: "Our second house in Bonita Caynon [sic] made by Roy Crofters [sic]." "Second house" refers to the second major construction. [58]

Some observations should be made of the strength and accuracy of the documentary and visual evidence that exists concerning the second stage of construction, at least those observations that are not readily apparent. Although the photographs generally do not provide dates, or if they do, have been fixed in later years when memory can be faulty, they can be placed in some chronological order.

With the exception of the date (1908) that Hildegard provides, her brief description of the new construction corroborates much of Lillian's more lengthy description. Lillian made some interesting observations in her fictional account. She noted that the "little bedroom and kitchen" of the old cabin were razed, leaving only the "big front room." Did she mean that the little bedroom and kitchen were shed additions that could be torn down without impairing the cabin's central unity? The several photographs depict a cabin that has not lost this central unity, so that one must conclude that if any sections were torn down, they had to be shed-roofed appendages. But if this is true, how does one account for the addition in the 1905 photograph, unless there was more than one, a distinct possibility?

Lillian described her new bedroom as having twin windows that faced the south. Ben's room was the one with the small window facing the east. Both these features appear in the photographs just reviewed.

Of considerable interest to the later development of the house is the knowledge that the back window in Lillian's bedroom, which faced the north, "opened onto a porch that ran the full length of the house."

The remaining "old front room" of the old cabin probably became Neil's and Emma's bedroom. This was likely for two reasons: first, the evidence indicates that there were three bedrooms—one occupied by the two sisters and another by Ben, so that a third had to be occupied by the parents; second, since Emma was physically handicapped, it made sense to give her a room on the ground floor where it was easily accessible.

Nothing is said about the type of wood employed to build the box-like addition, but the several photographs reveal that it consisted of boards with battens. The gabled roof of the cellar was also made of milled planks with battens to cover the cracks between them.

After the second phase of construction was completed, Neil continued to leave home to seek work to support his family. His dream of improving and enlarging his home continued to spur him on, albeit, some of this ambition may have come from Emma's constant prodding. His absence from home did take its toll, however, for Neil was a family man who missed his wife and children very much.

From the many letters that Neil wrote to his wife during these absences one can infer that there were some difficult times for the Ericksons. Jobs were scarce and the few he had he held on to very dearly. He found little time to return to Bonita Canyon. Instead, he implored Emma to come to the city and stay with him. The little he earned, Neil sent to his family. In the meantime, Emma purchased fruit and vegetables from Stafford's orchard and garden on credit. "I am now working on a little contract that I will have finished by the last of this week, and then I will send you some more money," Neil wrote Emma from Bisbee. [59] Sometimes in despair Neil blamed his home in Bonita Canyon for keeping him and his family apart. If it had not been for Emma who cared very much for her house in the canyon, Neil would probably have gotten rid of it. He resented Emma's strong attachment to their home. He felt a sense of frustration in trying to please his wife by holding on to the ranch while forcing himself to be away from home so that he could earn an adequate living to maintain his family in the style that Emma was used to in Sweden and in the manner she wished to raise her children.

Upon the establishment of the Chiricahua National Forest Neil applied for a position as a forest ranger in 1902. He was convinced that only this appointment would bring him security and afford him the pleasure of remaining at home with his family. At one point he wrote Emma, "I have not heard from Washington yet since I sent off my application [i.e., for forest ranger], but expect to every day, and I hope that it will be favorable so I can again come out and stay with you." [60] The following extract from one of his letters reveals the frustration and guilt that Neil felt:

but poor me unless I get the appointment as Ranger soon I will not be able to come home to se [sic] Lillian an [sic] you this summer, but remember now my dear--Dear Emma I would like to have that well home fixed up and little windmill on it I can not do so now. And always remember what I said when I left home, that unless I can get an income from the Ranch by staying on it I never will again go back there to live. And I do not feel like spending any more money on a place where there is no income at all. If I get the appointment I am looking for, then I will either fix it up or sell it. If not I will not willingly spend one cent more on the old place. And I will not either send any man out there to work where no benefit is assured for such work. Do now be reasonable my own Dear Emma. I love you as much as ever man loved woman and that old place has kept us constantly separated while ellse [sic] we should have been one united in mind and body and spent our days happily with our children, by our fireside and under our immediate care. Now Emma are you going to scold me for not sending you a man to work for you. You have to do as you deem best, and I am not going to grumble, but I am going right along seeking as I told you before I left you, new fields in which I can build a home that will hold us all. [61]

The above letter hints of the need for improvements on the ranch, but without Neil, Emma may have sought some person to come out to do the work. At one time Neil's brother did much of this work, but now even he was working in Bisbee and unavailable.

The long-awaited appointment to the U.S. Forest Service finally came, and on July 8, 1903, Neil started on his new career. [62] Neil finally got his dream. About half the time he found himself working out of his own home, which he referred to as his "headquarters" in Bonita Canyon, for several years. The rest of the time was spent at ranger stations in the Chiricahuas and at the district headquarters in Paradise, Arizona. A part of his duties was to build cabins, corrals, stables, barns, and other facilities for the Forest Service. [63]

Because Neil worked out of his home much of the time, he needed an office. In October 1910 he recorded that with a wagon and team of the horses drove to Wilcox where such freight as a filing cabinet, lumber, and chairs were waiting for him. The lumber was intended for the construction of a floor in a tent that was to be his office. On the following Saturday, which was a work day, he set the joints and layed the floor in his new office, and on the following Monday he refitted a door to the office tent. Several days later he set up a seven by nine-foot tent. He also used a battery-operated telephone in his office. As part of his duties he put shoes on a saddle horse, which implied that Neil had blacksmith tools. [64] Such tools were essential around ranches where the horse was a common animal.

Neil used the tent as an office until December 1911, at which time he moved his office into the house. As late as 1915 he referred to his office as being in the house. [65]

E. Second Major Renovation (The Adobe Structure)

The date of the second major phase of renovation on the Main House is somewhat elusive. The Erickson-Riggs Collection reveals little on this point. There are a few documents, however, that provide some clues and together with an abundance of old photographs one can arrive at a date with some degree of accuracy.

The first of these documents was a map drawn by Neil in 1911 in which as an employee of the Forest Service he processed an application submitted by his daughter Lillian for permission to build a drift fence extending southward into Forest Service preserve. Lillian had requested a special use permit. The map depicts the Main House as an inverted ell-shaped structure with the base of the ell parallel to the mountains that ran along the north side of the canyon. The flagpole is located to the south of the house and a second structure is depicted just to the southwest. Of some significance was the location of the famed Garfield Monument to the southwest of the house, facing the road that ran past the house. The map also depicts the position of the Stafford cabin as another ell-shaped building the base of which was also parallel to the mountains. Finally, the map reveals that Newton Creek ran in a northeasterly direction, passing to the west of the Main House and connecting with Bonita Creek to the north. [66]

Our interest in this map for the moment is in the Main House. Other points will be made later when discussing the Stafford cabin. Although not drawn to scale, the Main House is shown as an ell-shaped structure. This form matches the general design of the house as it looked after the board and batten, two-story addition (box house) was built to connect the old cabin to the stone house. Neil must have clearly had this design in mind when he drew this simple map and could therefore not have been mistaken. One must therefore conclude that by 1911, when this map was drawn, the Main House had not undergone any major alterations since the first renovation at the turn of the century.

The second bit of evidence appears in 1915 in a small diary kept by Neil, listing bills and amounts paid. At one point this list read

"In account with
"Mr. W. R. Collin Carpenter.
"Started work Sept. 6th
"Finished Nov. 18th 1915
"Worked 61 days at $4.50

"By Check Oct. 28

"By Board $1.0061.00

"By Check Nov 1850.00

to Balance$113.50
"By Check Dec. 2470.00

"Paid by Note
"Note redeemed to
"Bank of Willcox
"Feb. 2nd 1916" [67]

Two points should be made here. First, a carpenter was hired to do some work at the ranch. Second, judging by the length of time (61 days) the carpenter was hired, the job he performed had to be a sizeable one. This work could have been the second major remodeling of the Main House.

On October 6, 1915, Neil wrote in his diary, "The Carpenter work having been completed in my new office, I cleaned it out scrubbed up the floor and window and door frames and gave it one coat of oil." On October 27, he wrote, "Put a coat of oil on floor in my new office in the afternoon." [68]

The dates in these two entries coincide with the dates that the carpenter worked at the ranch. Neil's reference to "carpenter work" could mean he did the work himself, that the carpenter did it, or that perhaps both may have worked on the office.

On March 4, 1916, Neil wrote in one of his many diaries "carried back into the office furniture that was taken out for the finishing of the office in my absence to the Dragoon District. Endeavored to set paper, books and files in some order in the forenoon." [69] Why it took four more months to finish his office after the new office had supposedly been completed in October 1915 is not clear unless some new work was added.

One year later (April 4, 1917) Neil noted in his diary that he had "assisted Hildegard in papering kitchen." Three days earlier he wrote that he "labored under difficulty fixing top of mantle and freeze around chimney in front room (quite sick)." [70] On the back of a photograph of the Main House, having no date but believed to have been taken about 1915 to 1920, Hildegard wrote "I, Hildegard, stained, painted and papered it [i.e., the house] all of the inside when it was built." [71]

It is evident that between 1915 and 1917 there was a considerable amount of construction going on at the Erickson ranch. In general, the written evidence seems to point to extensive work at the Main House. Unfortunately, the documents are not specific in outlining the work that was done and when it was done, but if the evidence we have is combined with photographs of the period, one can conclude that in all probability the second major phase of renovation of the Main House took place well after 1911. On the other hand, the assertion made in Janet Stewart's work on Arizona ranch houses that this construction at Faraway Ranch took place around 1924 cannot be supported. [72] It should also be pointed out in support of the date of construction that Neil's so-called "new office" was part of this remodeling, which meant that his "headquarters" was still at the ranch. Since Neil was not transferred to Flagstaff, Arizona, until 1917-1918, this construction had to have been accomplished before this time. The above evidence is further supported by Hildegard who wrote in later years:

The fall of 1914 Lillian got a school [i.e., teaching position] in Bowie and I stayed home. The next summer [1915] the cattle money of the entire family went to take mama and Lillian to Weltmers Inst. and Galesburg, and the following winter [1916] Lillian taught again in Bowie . . . Dad at the same time built the new house and I worked nights to finish two rooms besides the downstairs in time for Lillian's first house party. . . . [73]

In this manuscript Hildegarde established the date of remodeling as somewhere between 1915 and 1916.

The many early photographs in the Erickson-Riggs Collection, albeit without dates and containing few captions, were obviously taken before 1920. In all cases they reveal the latest extensive work that was done in remodeling the house. Most important among these illustrations is a photograph of the southwest corner of the house. At the top of the stairs was Emma and a "Mrs. Collins." This could have been the carpenter's wife who worked at the ranch for 61 days. What is extremely significant in this illustration is the extensive rubble, mostly wood scraps, strewn about the grounds, an indication that construction was going on or just recently completed. The large window under the balcony has no curtains, another indication that work of some kind was underway. Still other evidence that remodeling was taking place were the several boxes, barrels, and sacks visible against the walls underneath the balcony. Finally, the long dresses, high about the neck and tight around the waist, worn by the two women were in style around 1915-1916 (Illustration No. 9).

Another photograph shows Ben in front of the remodeled house. Ben is in a World War One uniform, an indication that this illustration was made around 1917 or 1918 at the latest. Thus, the conclusion is that the house had been remodeled by the time this photograph was taken (Illustration No. 10).

A third photograph taken of Lillian and Hildegard in front of the remodeled structure has this caption on the back, "Lillian and Hildegard Erickson in front of House about 1918." Judging from the attire these women were wearing, there can be no mistake in the date of the caption (Illustration No. 11).

Finally, another photograph taken of several guests in front of the remodeled house contains the following caption: "Guests at Hildegard's announcement party 1920." This caption refers to Hildegard's wedding announcement. Since her wedding was in 1920, the house had to have been remodeled before that time (Illustration No. 12).

The photographic and documentary evidence is abundant and indisputable in establishing the date of the second major phase of remodeling as between the years 1915 and 1917. This period is well supported by other evidence deduced from events that affected the personal lives of the Erickson family. The period before 1917 were years when Neil was working out of his home for the Forest Service although he would soon be transferred. [74]

Emma was busy with household chores, and Lillian was teaching, first at the Old School House in El Dorado and then at Bowie. Hildegard, upon returning from school in Illinois, remained at home to help her mother. Ben did odd jobs on his father's ranch and on neighboring ranches and then entered the Army in World War I, attaining the rank of sergeant.

It was before 1917 that the idea of a guest ranch developed, and according to some reports, Hildegard must take much of the credit for nurturing it. Her youthful exuberance led her at first to invite many young people, mostly friends, to the ranch on weekends. It then occurred to her that perhaps the ranch could be opened to paying guests. She experimented with people in surrounding communities who would come to Bonita Canyon for the day or a weekend. As she gained more confidence, she lengthened the visitors' stay. In the meantime, Lillian, who was interested in cattle and horses, decided to quit teaching, and at Hildegard's persuasion, together they developed a guest ranch. [75] Hildegard once said,

After that there were crowds nearly every weekend so in Dad's defence and much against Lillian's wishes I started the boarder business. When our business was a proven success in the fall of 1917 Lillian gave up teaching and came home to assume managership and we together went in to buy the Stafford place. [76]

Lillian has corroborated much of what her sister said, although they disagreed in later years about the success of the guest ranch business and who should take the credit. Nevertheless, Lillian took over the management of the new business in 1918. [77] The cattle ranch, meanwhile, continued to receive her attention.

The impending transfer of their parents to Flagstaff may have prompted the two young ladies to try their hands at this new venture. It was around this time that the name Faraway Ranch came into use. [78]

The records at the Assessor's Office of Cochise County described the Main House as a single dwelling, two-story house consisting of solid masonry. The foundation consisted of concrete, the exterior walls were of brick adobe, and the roof was of asphalt shingles. The floors were made of wood joists and softwood flooring. The interior walls were plastered. Heating was largely produced by space heating and a fireplace in the new living room. The records gave the date of original construction as 1891, probably a reference to the construction of the stone house. [79]

In the second major phase of remodeling the old picket log cabin was razed, and the west wall of the house was extended to approximately where the west wall of the old cabin once stood. The south wall of the house was also brought forward so that it reached the south wall of the cellar (stone house). In the process the gabled roof of the cellar was removed and a second story added above it. Thus, the major transformation accomplished in this construction witnessed the conversion of a rambling ell-shaped structure into an enlarged, almost square, two-story building.

In some of the early photographs in which the front of the house appears the new adobe brick section of the front wall is clearly distinguishable from the stone in the front wall of the stone house. At the base of this latter wall one or two rows of stone are visible while the upper part seems to have been covered with a coating of mortar. The new walls are made of adobe brick. [80] Adobe was still a popular construction material in this area of southeast Arizona.

Other major features of the new construction were the open porches. Most significant was the two-story porch in the southwest corner. The two stories were connected by an open staircase. The lower deck had a doorway leading to the newly constructed bedroom at the rear, said to have been Emma's and Neil's. The upper deck led to a room, above the bedroom, which was said to have been used by Neil as his office before he was reassigned to Flagstaff.

A second porch, of which there are a number of early illustrations, is one that extended the full east side of the house. In earlier years this porch was open except for a pitched single-story roof. In later years the porch was screened. [81] It had a doorway leading to the kitchen, the same doorway that existed on the box house.

A third open porch existed at the rear, or north side, of the house. This feature was present when the box house was built and continued there after the addition of the adobe section. Unfortunately, there are no early views of the rear of the house which show the open porch. An entry of May 10 in Hildegard's diary, probably written in 1916, stated that "We sat on back porch and talked a long time." [82] This is the only written evidence of this porch which this writer was able to find. By closely examining the fabric of the house it is evident that a porch was once there. Moreover, a floor plan of the house, drawn to scale, described this area as the "Closed in Porch." As we shall see, the porch was enclosed several years later, possibly in the 1930s.

Other features of this phase of construction was the addition of three dormers--one each on the west, south, and east sides. The dormer on the south side differed from the other two in that it consisted of twin windows whereas the others were single windows.

A floor plan of the house reveals the number of rooms it contained and what they were used for. The plan was drawn in later years; hence, it included changes made over these years. When the third phase of remodeling was accomplished, the first floor had the following rooms: the old family dining room, kitchen, and cellar (already in the former structure), a new living room on the south side adjacent to the cellar, a bedroom to the west of the family dining room (said to have been Emma's and Neil's), and the three open porches.

The second story contained the following rooms: "Neil's First Office" (just above his bedroom, with a private entrance from the upper deck of the southwest porch), a second bedroom above the living room, a third room above the cellar, the old hall containing the spiral staircase above the family dining room, and finally what might have been either a fourth bedroom or bathroom over the kitchen. [83]

F. Third Phase of Renovation

After the second remodeling, several events occurred in the Erickson household to change their lives. Neil and Emma left for Flagstaff in 1917 where they were to remain ten years. Hildegard was married in 1920, first to live in Bowie and later relocating to California. Finally, in 1923 Lillian married her childhood sweetheart, Edward Riggs. She and her husband remained to assume responsibility of Faraway Ranch with Ben's help from time to time when his interests did not lie elsewhere. The guest business began to assume greater importance in the ranch. Even before they were married, Ed encouraged Lillian to expand the business. A significant move in this direction was the purchase of the Stafford homestead, including its cabin and other facilities, in 1918. Said Lillian in later years, "The beginning of this particular trial was in the war days when Ben had to go [to war] and I thought I was needed to help carry on here. It was then that Hildegard and I decided to buy the Stafford place." [84] After Hildegard was married and living in California, the burden of operating the ranch fell entirely upon Lillian's shoulders which left a considerable strain upon her. In a letter to her father several years later she recalled the frustration of those earlier days:

Then with you and Mama in Flagstaff, Hildegard married, and myself tied up with notes and the determination to pay out the Stafford place, there seemed nothing else to do but to stick or die. It didn't even occur to me to go away and desert the home. But carrying on was an almost [sic] impossibility. [85]

This brought on a third phase of development in the metamorphosis of the Main House. Upon Lillian's and Ed's return from their honeymoon, one newspaper wrote that they were returning to the ranch "where they will in the near future begin extensive building improvements." [86]

Although dates for this work are elusive, this writer has concluded that this phase took place over an extended period of time and in a series of actions occurring between 1924 and the early 1930s. It was during this period that the Riggses were anxiously seeking to expand their guest ranch by trying to interest eastern investors. The Riggses wished to incorporate in their business what later became known as the Silver Spur Ranch, a separate property outside the historic district. [87] It was this thinking that led Lillian and Ed to make extensive improvements not only to the Main House but to other facilities of the ranch as well. They added an electric lighting system, modern plumbing, and rebuilt old facilities and added new ones so that Faraway Ranch eventually became a fairly well known dude ranch in Arizona frequented by vacationers from many parts of the country and some even from abroad.

Of all the remodeling that went on at the Main House during the ensuing years, two aspects of this work must receive attention. First of these is to learn when and how the rear, or north porch, was enclosed and the small rooms added above it. The second is to learn when the stucco was placed on the house. Since both features altered the size, shape, and appearance of the house, they are obviously important.

Although specific evidence is lacking, there is proof of a general nature that construction did go on at the ranch beginning in the mid-1920s. In an expense account kept by Ed Riggs in 1924, one entry included the purchase of lumber, windows, hardware, paint, cement, and beaver board, all items, so the account stated, intended for the "Dining Porch." [88]

There is no doubt that the area referred to was originally the open porch at the rear of the house, which when finally enclosed became the guest dining room.

An estimate prepared by a prospective contractor of what it would cost for certain construction intended for the Main House in the 1920s included building materials for the "Dining porch." [89] Murray Riggs, Ed's son by a first marriage, who lived at Faraway as a child, said that his father and a carpenter by the name of David Ingle built the guest dining room by enclosing the screened-in porch. [90]

The construction of this one long room involved the emplacement of the stones that formed part of the so-called Garfield Monument into a new fireplace. A magazine article written in 1924 noted that the monument was still in place at the Faraway Ranch, albeit in a ruinous condition. Although the specific date of this article is unknown, the article is about Dr. J.J. Armstrong's visit to the Indian Caves in 1924 accompanied by Ed Riggs, a visit that was instrumental in the establishment of Chiricahua National Monument. Thus the porch had yet to be enclosed at the time this was written. Why this article called attention to this monument at this time is questionable, but it may have been because the owners were thinking of incorporating the monument into their construction plans. On the other hand, it may have been the article itself that provided the Riggs with the idea of employing the stones of the monument as part of the new room. In any event, the evidence seems to establish the date of enclosing the rear porch as sometime between 1924 and 1925. Since Neil was still in Flagstaff at the time, he had nothing to do with its construction unless Ed and Lillian had sought his advice by letter.

Photographs of the Main House taken in the early 1920s show no metal smokestack above the roof line, an appendage that was placed at the top of the chimney at the time the latter was constructed. On the other hand, photographs taken later on depict the smokestack, an indication that the chimney had been built by then.

The construction of the second story to the enclosed porch was done at a later date. This work and the placement of stucco on the house are difficult to fix, and they can only be established after a careful review of the evidence and after allowing for some speculation.

After retirement, Neil and Emma were back at the ranch around 1927. One day in June 1930, Neil "drove to Willcox . . . for eve-troughs, for north side of House." Several days later he "Put up eve-troughs over dining room with assistance of Ed and Tommy Conroy." Later that year Neil wrote in his diary "Helped Ed put siding and windows on one room on back portch [sic]," The following day he "fitted windows and casing on back portch [sic]" [91] Neil mispelled the word "eaves," and what he called a "trough" was probably a gutter. Although he referred to putting siding and windows on the back porch, he probably was thinking of the area above the porch, because he said that the work was "on one room." It was only the upper deck that had more than one room. If he had been talking about the guest dining room, there would have been no need for a reference to "one room" since it consisted of only one room.

The foregoing analysis of the records provides ample evidence that extensive work was going on at the rear of the house, and that in all probability the upper story over the guest dining was completed in 1930 to form two or three rooms and a bathroom. A rare photograph in the Erickson-Riggs Collection of the north side of the house, taken in the 1930s before Neil's death in 1937, shows the latter in front of the enclosed rear (Illustration No. 14). In conclusion, therefore, insofar as the rear extension was concerned, the lower part, or porch, was converted to the guest dining room around 1925 and the upper deck was built about 1930.

Several photographs taken in the early and late 1920s depict the Main House as bearing the same general appearance as it had when the adobe section was added. One photograph in particular, taken of Emma and Neil in front of the house, has this caption on the back: "Mother and Dad Home from Flagstaff" (Illustration No. 15). Although this photograph bears no date, its reference to Neil and Emma being home from Flagstaff can only mean that the picture was taken shortly after Neil had retired in 1927. Since the house shows no stucco, we can only conclude that before 1928, stucco had not been added. Other photographs taken in the 1930s and before Neil's death in 1937 reveal the complete house covered with stucco. Thus, we can safely say that the stucco was added between 1928 and 1936. Murray Riggs has said that the house was plastered during the early 1930s, and he may have been correct. [92]

A photograph taken before 1930 when the house had no stucco revealed that the owners were in the process of enclosing the space underneath the staircase on the southwest porch. They were doing this with brick, and at the time this photograph was taken the wall had almost reached the halfway mark. Photographs taken in the 1930s, after the stucco was put on, depict an enclosed area under the stairway, the wall covered with stucco to match the rest of the house. A small, almost square window was built into the wall overlooking the west. In all probability there was a door on the east side of the stairway for access to what may have been a storage space.

Other substantial alterations were made to the Main House not only for the convenience of the guest but also for the Riggs family that lived there. Several of the changes had a decided affect on the improvement of the heating and lighting systems as well as other important amenities. It was soon after Lillian and Ed were married that two bathrooms and modern plumbing in the kitchen were installed. One bathroom was on the first floor, the other on the second. Before the bathrooms were installed there had been two outhouses, one on the east, the other on the west side of the Main House. Up to that time the kitchen had no indoor plumbing. [93]

The earliest heating system consisted of fireplaces and wood stoves. Oil heating was introduced later and this eventually gave way to the use of carbide gas stoves. [94]

Oil lamps were the earliest means of lighting at Faraway Ranch. Lillian noted this in her unpublished novel. Later, probably in the early 1920s, a carbide plant was installed outside the house. It consisted of a hopper with a float. From this plant acetylene was piped into the house through jets attached to the walls. The acetylene was ignited with a match struck near the jet. [95]

The next lighting system employed at Faraway Ranch and the Main House was butane fuel, which was delivered from Willcox and stored in a tank. Butane gas also powered the refrigerator. Before this, an ice-box, containing one hundred pounds of ice blocks delivered from Douglas and wrapped in canvas, was used to prevent food from spoiling. The change to a fuel-run refrigerator probably took place in the 1920s. In the Erickson-Riggs Collection is an invoice addressed to Lillian, dated April 5, 1922, listing the purchase of such items as a 50-pound Colt generator, Colt burners, rod iron, lighting fixtures, gas stoves, and pipe fittings. The cost of all these items was $406.15. [96]

By the early part of the 1930s the ranch produced its own electricity through the installation of a gasoline-powered generator plant. [97] The generator house may have been built at this time to house the generator.

The 1930s witnessed a considerable amount of work designed to further improve facilities. The records indicate that the Riggses had grandiose ideas for the guest ranch, but the Great Depression prevented their realization. In 1931 a Tucson contractor wrote to the Riggses, "I am busy on your plans and hope to have them complete with wiring, heating, etc. by the end of this week; then I will make a definite figure on the job and also give you a list of logs and adobes that will be required. This will make it possible for you to have the logs and adobes ready and on the job in case we go ahead." In speaking of their reunion at Faraway, the contractor noted that "we were able to accomplish a lot in regards to making a definite layout for the house." The Riggses were thinking of applying for a mortgage for the work that was being considered. [98]

One year later the subject was again raised, but little had been done to either finance or otherwise accomplish the contemplated work. This situation went on for still another year, and it was apparent that economic conditions were taking their toll on Faraway Ranch so that any major work would have to be postponed. In March 1933 the contractor wrote to the Riggses:

How has your guest season been this year and do you think that you will soon be able to do some work on the proposed Ranch House? I sure hope that you can and that I will be able to do the work for you. If you can see your way clear to pay me a little on the work that I have already done it sure would be appreciated. [99]

What all this meant is difficult to say. The Riggses did entertain some ideas of establishing a new modern ranch-house, and this may be the plan the contractor was referring to. In any case, the plan never materialized, perhaps because it was too elaborate and beyond the Riggses means.

Work to modernize and remodel facilities continued during the following decades, but this work did not alter the dimensions of the Main House nor did it change the floor plan materially. There was evidence that a carpenter had been hired in 1935, but it is difficult to determine whether he was hired to work on the Main House or some other building; work was going on at the bunkhouse at this time. [100]

In these years Neil was frequently ill with asthma, and he did less and less of the carpentry. Whenever there was extensive work to be done, a carpenter was hired. A bill dated September 1936 revealed a sizeable order of building materials from a lumber yard in Willcox, but for which structure the items were intended is not clear. [101]

In 1938 extensive work was done on the Main House. Victor C. Shaver, a carpenter - contractor, drew up specifications for work desired by Lillian. A portion of this work dealt with the roof; other work called for remodeling. The specifications provided some excellent detail concerning the house. Thus, Shaver was to "over" shingle the existing roof with "No. 2" cedar shingles. All portions, except the east dormer and the 6-foot 33-inch lean-to roof on the north side of the house over the guest dining room (the closed-in porch), were to be covered, presumably with cedar shingles. The roof of the top deck, that is, the area above the guest dining room, was to be covered with a ninety-pound roll of roofing securely nailed and cemented down. The portion of the roof over the guest dining room, which was then covered with a felt roofing, was to be shingled. Sheet metal work was to be of a standard gauge galvanized metal. The new cedar roof over the guest dining room was to be painted with a red stain consisting of linseed oil mixed with two pounds of red mineral coloring per gallon. [102]

Other rooms of the house were also being worked on: living room, family dining room, "Mothers Room" on the west side of the first floor, kitchen, upstairs bathroom, Lillian's bedroom, Pink Room, and Green Room. Several changes were made to doors, stairs, and kitchen facilities. One interesting point to be made concerning this work was that the windows on the north side were to be "stipple frosted to make them opaque." Screens were to be on the inside. Most of the items in this contract were completed. [103]

After this work was finished, little more was done to the Main House in later years. In 1960 the house as well as the rest of the ranch was rewired. More than half the cost of this work was on the Main House. Other work of any significance was the installation of a new walk along the east side of the house. [104]

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 27-May-2008