The Tuweep Valley was unlike anything the Kent family had seen. Far from human contact, they were the only settlers for miles. As they drove their car along the bumpy roads, they took in the sights and smells of the desert. Sagebrush wafted in the air, a warm breeze brushed their cheeks, and the sun soaked every inch of the valley. When they arrived at their property in 1927, Walter appropriately named their homestead “Our Valley of the Moon”, an homage to the isolation and beauty of their new home. Mattie wrote fondly in her journal of their first night in the Tuweep valley: “That night we camped under the canopy of heaven, with a big silvery moon looking down upon us, and seeming to say, ‘at last you have reached Your Valley of the Moon.’”
Making the arid Tuweep landscape a welcoming home proved to be a daunting task for the Kent family, but Mattie was up to the task. Walter was away for work much of the year, leaving Mattie and their only son, Amos, to their own devices. Mattie began by clearing two acres around their house. It was hot, back-breaking work, but Mattie’s determination was unfazed. With the help of her son’s small wagon, she made walkways by hauling gravel from a nearby wash, built window boxes, dug garden beds, and constructed intricate trellises. Soon, her garden began to flourish. Her first blossom, a vibrant blue morning glory, was the first of many to brighten their Tuweep home.
Kent ranch began to thrive in the hands of Walter, Mattie, Amos, and their newest son Hugh. Virginia Creepers clung to the trellises, while violets, pansies, honeysuckles, and roses bloomed around them. There were blackberry, dewberry, and grape vines, as well as peach, plum, elm, and mulberry trees. In the well-tended ground grew corn, beans, squash, strawberries, and tomatoes. Her garden was so inviting she spent much of her time fighting off the little critters that found her fresh fruits and veggies to be a nice snack. In the back garden, was an area specially dedicated to cacti, and in the springtime the colorful blooms of the cacti flowers were truly a sight for sore eyes. After a visit to Kent ranch, Chloe Bundy described the abundant orchards as the Garden of Eden, an appropriate moniker, since Mattie’s piety was renowned across the Arizona Strip. “They really have the old hen set on golden eggs,” remarked Chloe.
The Kent family spent 30 years tending to their Eden, until the water ran out. Several years of drought left the land too arid for cultivation. In 1957, with Amos and Hugh at school in California, Walter and Mattie packed up their belongings and moved to California. Today, only remnants of the Kent ranch can be found. The lumber carefully picked from the Mt. Trumbull sawmill is collapsed and crumbling from disrepair. Tools, machinery, and household items lay strewn across the yard. However, the Kent family’s influence on the land can still be felt. Perhaps if you close your eyes, you can feel the same breeze, and smell the same sagebrush that the Kent family did as they arrived at their new home. You may begin to feel the same sense of awe and wonder that crept over Mattie as she set out to make the Tuweep Valley her home, sweet home.
Last updated: September 13, 2017