Dick Pierce    |   OW Ranch History, of sorts!

Much of what is seen below is true... some I think is true but can't prove... and the rest is folklore!

10:38 am, Sunday, April 21, 2024

How the OW got its start! As a farm no less...
The Adams Family...

The Mormans sent a contigent to settle in the area some seven miles south of the current Heber location. They managed to hold out in that area for a couple of years but it soon became apparent that the rainfall and accessible water were way short of that needed to farm, which was their purpose! Jerome J. Adams was the leader of this effort, and two of his sons, John Quincy and William Benjamin scouted the area to the south and found the area at the head of Canyon Creek more suitable for farming and therefore started what would become the OW Ranch in years to come.

Jerome Jefferson Adams
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Wilford, Arizona Territory Founder

Head of the Adams family, and founder of Wilford. My estimate would be that at its maximum Wilford had 20 to 30 inhabitants. Like many places that seemed to be good for settling, the lack of water and the Edmunds Act of 1885 eventually spelled the demise of Wilford.

From wikipedia:

Wilford, Arizona was a town in Navajo County, Arizona located approximately 7 miles south of Heber, along Black Canyon Rd. During the 1880s, discouraged Little Colorado River settlers began migrating to the forests of the Mogollon Rim. The town of Wilford was settled in April 1883 by a group of Latter-day Saints from the failed Brigham City settlement. Originally called "Adam's Valley", after founder (Jerome Jefferson Adams), the name was changed to "Wilford", President Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), at a quarterly stake conference in August 1883.

William Benjamin "Will" Adams
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First to farm the OW

Brother of John Quincy Adams, they both moved into the Canyon Creek ranch area for the purposes of farming, and often refered to it as the “farm on Canyon Creek.” Will and John Q. sold the place to Andy Cooper Blevins (possibly under duress) , but in subsequent meetings, it is said that Will backed down Andy. He never started anything, but he wasn't to be bullied by Andy Cooper. Because of the events I doubt that Andy ran them off the ranch without paying for it. Wilford was slowly becoming aware of the water shortage problem in that area. Soon to be abandoned, for a long, long time. Same thing happened to the first settlement at Heber, water was scarce and only the second coming of the Mormans in that area with better water sources made it a permenant settlement.

John Quincy Adams
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Brothers on Canyon Creek

Brother of Will Adams, they both moved into the Canyon Creek ranch area for the purposes of farming, and often refered to it as the “farm on Canyon Creek.”

John Quincy Adams, 81, of Logandale, Clark County, Nevada, died Sunday, May 2, 1937. Born on Saturday, March 22, 1856, in Sidney, Fremont County, Iowa, he was the son of the late Jerome Jefferson Adams formerly of Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico and the late Mary Angeline (Frost) formerly of Thatcher, Graham County, Arizona. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Mary (Humphreys) Adams. John Quincy is survived by five children, John Quincy, Minnie, Joseph Henry, Jennie, and Living; five siblings, Mary Frances, Jerome Jefferson, Sarah "Sadie" Louisa, Hettie Millicent, and Georgiana. John Quincy was preceded in death by five children, Jerome Samuel, Mary Elizabeth, Ella, Ishmael, and May; six siblings, Rebecca Jane, Cora, William Benjamin of Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico, Martha, Forman Eastwood, and Wilford; two grandparents, William Jefferson of Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio, and Jane (Eastwood) Adams of Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio.

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Wilford, Arizona Territory ca 1885.
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Typical farm in this narrow canyon.

Wilford in a couple of early photos

Beautiful little valley, but lacking water... photos courtesy Aztec Land and Cattle Company, Ltd. There is an historical marker about seven miles south of Heber on Black Canyon Road that marks this location.

As Winston once said: "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." Read More Here!

This page shows how the OW almost became a farm... when in fact if you go there today you will see that it operates more as a farm than you might think. They do run several head of beef cattle but not the thousands that once roamed the area.