Local History Archives




A finding aid is a guide to a collection. It will tell you about the person who collected it and/or an historical note about the time and events that the collection is about. It will give you some idea of the amount of material there is, such as a folder of 30 photographs or one or more banker’s boxes of materials.

CLICK ON the title links below and begin discovering what is in our Historical Society’s Local History Archives.

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The Backbone Newspaper Collection / March 3, 1995-March 26, 1999

This collection is the entire run of the Backbone.                      Subject Index to the Backbone

The Diaries of Nellie May Pyle Beard

The diaries cover a time beginning with January 1, 1933, with continuous daily recordings until December 31, 1947.

The Ed Delph Collection on the Pleasant Valley War

This collection comprises photocopies of materials that were collected by Delph relating to the history of the Pleasant Valley War and ranch history in the Pleasant Valley area, especially the OW Ranch on Canyon Creek.

The Clifford Edwards Photograph Collection

Cliff Edwards was known as “Tuffy”, when a rodeo performer, and “Tailspin” as a pilot. He flew the first plane into Payson.

The Glenn R. “Slim” Ellison Collection

Glenn Reynolds “Slim” Ellison was born in Globe, Arizona in 1891.  He moved to the Rim Country with his family in 1898, and from that point on was a lifetime resident of the Payson area.  His various “day jobs” included being a cowboy, cook, trapper, and rancher.

The Anna Mae Deming Collection on Payson Weather and History

The collection comprises materials related to Deming’s work as a weather reporter, including official report data for years 1958, 1960, 1962-1990, and 2005

The David T. Ricker Research Notes Collection

This collection consists of Ricker’s research notes on local history. He was particularly interested in Apache history.

The Doris Sturges Harger Papers /1963-1972 — “Ten For The Tonto”

Ten years of correspondence with government officials regarding the establishment of the Tonto Apache Reservation.

Bill Harrison Collection

The Harrison Collection contains articles about Main Street, chain of title documents, warranty deeds and a lease agreement on various properties on Main Street, Payson, Arizona.

The Harold C. Hulbert Papers

The bulk of the collection consists of documents pertaining to a portion of Hulbert’s time with the Forest Service and his retirement.

The Nyle Burnham Leatham Photographic Negative Collection

Subject Index to the Nyle B. Leatham Collection

Nyle Leatham took any jobs available in the Payson area and as a consequence he documented life in Payson, AZ in the mid-1950’s; school photos, photographs for businesses such as Owen’s Lumber, Oxbow Inn, Hoehn’s Station, etc., ranch work, roundups, Tonto Fish Hatchery, and the road work on the first paved highway into Payson.

The Frank Pierce Drew Collection

Index to the Frank Pierce Drew Collection

Frank Pierce Drew was born in Sacramento, CA in 1855. He moved to Arizona in 1880 after his friend, Joe Woods, wrote him and told him how wonderful it was in Arizona.

The Mogollon Advisor Newspaper Collection

The Mogollon Advisor was begun as a free weekly newspaper in 1979 by Carroll Cox and Janet Martin.  Ms Cox was the publisher and editor, and Ms Martin was business and sales manager.  In 1989 the Mogollon Advisor merged with the Payson Roundup, with Ms Cox as the publisher, and was known as the Roundup Advisor for a short time.  A non competing clause kept Cox and Martin from starting another newspaper for a time; however, on March 3, 1995, the first issue of the Backbone Newspaper appeared.  Due to legal issues, they had to suspend publication for another five months.                                   Index to the Mogollon Advisor

The Diaries Of Elwood Fremont Pyle

Elwood Fremont Pyle has been recognized as one of the pioneering people to live and make his home in the Payson/Rim Country area of Arizona.  His diaries cover from 1936 through 1940.

The Gilbert “Gib” Stiles Collection

The main portion of this collection consists of first editions of Zane Grey’s books. It also contains personal letters, photographs and other Zane Grey memorabilia.

The Tonto Trails Magazine Collection

Tonto Trails magazine was started in 1955 by Norman Mead, who later also published the Arizona’s White Mountains magazine.  Tonto Trails was issued once a year, and initially cost 25 cents. The magazine provided articles about Rim Country and its happenings, such as a “fish derby” on Tonto Creek and how to make beef jerky

The Ira Murphy Oral History Interviews

In the 1970’s Ira Murphy, a retired teacher, was asked to help write a book on Payson history.  He interviewed several individuals, visited research institutes and the library published A Brief History of Payson, the first book on Payson history.

The Lena Chapman Chilson Hampton Collection

  Index to the Lena Chilson Hampton Collection

Lena was an active participant in the Payson community.  She was the first and the twenty-fifth president of the Payson Womans Club, and wore the same dress to both installations. She was renowned for her generosity in lending money to her fellow townspeople and for the beautiful flower gardens she had at her home.


The Nan Pyle Scrapbook Collection

Currently in the works.

The Payson Junior High School Oral History Collection / 1985-1986

Ms. Nordlinski’s eighth grade classes took on the project of interviewing long-time residents of Payson. These included a representative of most of the pioneer families still in Payson at the time.

The Payson Womans Club Collection

The collection consists of materials related to the history of the Payson Womans Club, its operation of the Payson Pioneer Cemetery and Payson Public Library, and its ownership of the Arctic Extension mining claims.

Index to the Payson Womans Club Collection

The Vaughn Collection

This collection consists of materials related to the livestock and property that was owned by the Vaughn family.

The Payson Wildlife Preserve/Association, Inc., Papers 1979-1998

The Payson Wildlife Preserve/Association (PWP/PWA) grew out of an effort to assist the Payson Zoo, established circa 1979. Efforts were finally discontinued in 1998.

The Philip G. Smith Collection

Index to the Phil Smith Collection

Philip “Phil” Smith was a charter member of the Northern Gila County Historical Society.  He taught music for about 40 years, mostly at the high school in Globe.   An amateur archaeologist and historian, he was active in several historic preservation projects, including Friends of Fort Verde, the Fort Verde site, the Q Ranch, and the Camp Lincoln site.

The Ralph Fisher, Sr. Collection

Index to the Ralph Fisher Collection

Mr. Fisher was an amazing saver. This collection consists mainly of 21 scrapbooks having to do with local events and Mr. Fisher’s writings.

The Stanley C. Brown ‘Great Dude Fire’ Scrapbook– June & July, 1990

Mr. Brown kept a scrapbook of the Dude Fire, including pictures and his notes.

The Stanley C. Brown Oral History Interviews

Stan Brown, author, researcher, and former Payson Town Historian interviewed over 40 local residents throughout the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s.

The Don Wolfe Photograph Collection

This collection consists primarily of photographs taken by Wolfe in and around the Payson area. Subjects include historic roads, landmarks, business, vehicles, and buildings in the area, and areas relating to David Douglas Gowan.