A Pioneer Log Cabin in Bonita Canyon
The History of the Stafford Cabin
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The Stafford log cabin is known to be the earliest extant pioneer home in Bonita Canyon and the area surrounding it. Ja Hu Stafford and his young wife Pauline, beginning in 1880, built the cabin and developed a viable commercial vegetable farm and fruit orchard on their 160-acre homestead, providing much-needed fresh produce to nearby military units, residents, and towns. Mrs. Stafford bore seven children, five of whom survived; a number of descendants still reside in the area.

The Stafford family occupied the cabin and worked the homestead for 37 years until 1917, when Lillian Riggs purchased the property and transformed it into a part of "Faraway Ranch," a popular early Arizona guest ranch. For the next 51 years the cabin, the historic core of which remained in place, served as a rustic guest cottage for visitors from around the country. Sold to the National Park Service in 1968, the cabin was subsequently listed on the National Register of Historic Places both individually in 1975 and as part of Faraway Ranch Historic District in 1980.

The Stafford Cabin has significance in architectural, agricultural, pioneering, business, and social history, both locally and regionally. The somewhat crude double log cabin, that has nonetheless withstood well over one hundred years of use and weather, is apparently the earliest remaining example of a pioneer log cabin in the area. The cabin's agricultural significance results from Stafford's contributions to the region as one of few suppliers of fresh produce to the people of the area, and as an important supplier to the Tenth Cavalry troops in Bonita Canyon, the garrison at Fort Bowie until 1894, and elsewhere in Cochise County. In pioneering history, Ja Hu Stafford, a military veteran (1852-1857), and his wife, daughter of Mormon immigrants, were among the first whites to permanently settle the eastern Sulphur Spring Valley.

In business and social history, the cabin is significant for its owners' contribution to the area in providing agricultural products and the services of a guest ranch. Both had significant contributions by a number of people including these women: Pauline Stafford and her daughters, especially Clara, who had important functions at the homestead, and Lillian Erickson Riggs, known nationally as the "Lady Boss of Faraway Ranch," who was the co-founder and operator of one of the early 20th century guest ranches in Arizona.

The significant elements include not only the log cabin but the remaining orchard, baby's grave, rock walls, and remains of Stafford's irrigation system. All contribute material evidence of a significant era and place in Cochise County, the State of Arizona, and Southwestern history.

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Last Updated: 25-Aug-2008