Cordelia Adams Crawford
Cordelia Adams was born February 27, 1865 near Lampasas, Texas. Her father, having lost his land as a result of the Civil War, moved the family to Maricopa Wells, Arizona, in the fall of 1867. Two years later, they relocated to California, where they remained until 1877.
In 1877, after a brief return to the Phoenix area, the family moved to the Tonto Basin and established the 76 Ranch, so-named for its distance from Globe. On August 8, 1880, Cordelia married Bush Crawford, who owned a small ranch located about four miles north of what is now Roosevelt Lake.
Living conditions on the ranch were primitive. Water was carried in buckets from the creek. Food generally consisted of beans, jerky, and biscuits, supplemented by vegetables and fruits from the garden in season. All the cooking was done outdoors over an open fire or in the fireplace.
Cordelia quickly became known for her healing skills. Even the Apaches “brought their sick children to the Crawford Ranch for her to heal. They would sit under a tree at the bottom of the hill in front of the ranch house and when she came down to them they would lay the child in her arms and remain under the tree until Cordelia returned it.” The love and respect of her Apache neighbors probably saved her life.
The battle of Cibecue, on August 30, 1881, sent many of the Apaches on a war of extermination. The Tonto Basin was one of the targets, but the Crawfords were not molested.
In 1887, the family moved to Tonto, a stage stop not too far from Jake’s Corner on present day Highway 188. This was the period of the Pleasant Valley War, and participants on both sides of the feud occasionally stayed at Tonto. Cordelia needed a way to serve the men without seeing them, so she came up with a clever plan.
“If [the men] needed a meal they could get it after dark by coming to the door and telling her how many men were in the party, and how many meals and beds they would need. While she prepared the meal, they cared for their animals. When the meal was ready, she called the men and left the kitchen where the food was either on the stove or the table. When the men finished they went outside again and mounted to the sleeping quarters, a loft over the kitchen and sleeping rooms downstairs. Breakfast was prepared and served before daylight. Money for the meals and beds and the fodder for the animals was left under a stone on the stoop. Thus she could honestly say that she had not seen the men in the party.”
By the fall of 1887, with the main participants either dead or in custody, the feud was over; Cordelia and her family returned to their Tonto Basin ranch.
The Crawfords remained at the ranch until 1893, when they moved to Globe. Bush died on September 26, 1935, at the age of eighty-four. Cordelia outlived him by seven and a half years, dying on February 2, 1943, at the age of seventy-seven.
Did You Know?
Tonto National Monument is home to a crested saguaro. Botanists disagree as to why some saguaros grow in this unusual form. Some speculate that it is a genetic mutation. Others say it is the result of lightning or freeze damage. About one in 150,000 saguaros develop this unusual growth.