PE: I uh, I can say this. I did live ever day. I enjoyed living and I done a lot of foolish things that my wife didn’t approve of and that. You know, we uh . .
JM: And she rolls her eyes. (Laughter)
PE: Oh this Gary Hatch, him and I used to run dogs together you know. Go lion hunting and bear hunting and . . .
JM: Were there a lot of lions around here?
PE: Oh, there was quite a few. Wait until wintertime when it’s snowing. You can take a track and then. I don’t think I told you about killing the big bear.
PE: Well, maybe I should tell you. It may not amount to nothing to you, but I’ll tell you about it anyway.
We lived down there in Show Low and I kept two dogs tied, had the kennels for them right behind the house. Gib Brewer and uh, Boyd and Gib Brewer was down there waiting for this bear to come in. And about dark this bear come in and they shot and they hit him in his front leg. And he left out.
They messed around there and it was getting dark enough, so they decided, “We’d better not just be walking around here with a wounded bear.”
They said, “I’ll tell you what let’s do. Let’s go to Show Low and get Pete Ellsworth and his dogs.”
It must have been, it wasn’t quite midnight when they got here, wasn’t it? I was in bed. They woke me up and said, “We’ve got a wounded bear down here and we need you and your dogs.”
JM: Where was it?
PE: Down at Corduroy Bend, Corduroy Canyon on the Reservation. Are you familiar with that area there? Anyway, the road from Corduroy goes right off there. They wasn’t back up in there too far.
So, I got dressed and went out and got my dog and loaded them in the pickup, and we went down there. Like I say, it was a dark night, and I looked around there and I thought, “You know, we can’t see nothing. It’s stupid to turn these dogs loose until we know what we’re doing. We’re going to build a little fire right down here and we’re going to lie down by it. When it comes light enough we can see, then we’ll look this deal over.”
So as soon as it was light we got up and I looked the situation over. On this mountain to the right was kind of a little bench that went around there that was pretty level.
I told them, “A wounded animal would probably go that way. I don’t think he would take this. This mountain is pretty big here.”
I told Gib Brewer, I said, “You go around that side and you check for blood and that.” Because I knew they’d hit him in the leg.
I said, “I think the bear would probably have went this way. I’m going to go check it.”
So, I even got on my hands and knees, where I could tell whether there was a leaf turned over or anything. I come back and Gib was coming back.
I said, “That bear didn’t go this way.”
Gib said, “Well, he didn’t go that way.”
I said, “Well, he had to. He didn’t go to Show Low, you know, so!”
I went around right where I’d sent Gib and I didn’t go far until I saw a little rock, a little spot of blood.
I said, “Gib, what’s that?
“Oh, I didn’t see that.”
I went right on around and there was a manzanita bush about 3 or 4 feet high. Right on a leaf was a spot of blood.
I said, “You see that? Here’s where the bear come.”
I reached down and unsnapped my dogs, and it wasn’t three jumps until they’re wooo, wooo, wooo! And then I could see the ol’ bear starting up this hill and them dogs right behind him.
Well, ol’ Doc Boyd, he had a gun. I don’t know what kind but it shot a bullet that long. (Laughs) Anyway, going up the side of this hill, Boyd pulled that ol’ gun and BOOM! He kicked up dust about 6 feet behind him, and I said, “Don’t kill my dogs!”
He said, “I won’t kill them!”
I said, “The way you’re shooting, you’re very apt to!”
About that time, this ol’ bear just turned and here he come! Boyd was over there quite a ways, but he was . . . I don’t think he was coming to me to get me. I think he was just confused with these dogs. But he was still coming straight to me.
I was packing a .38 pistol on my side. When that bear got out there about 15 feet from me, still a’coming to me. I shot him right in the, behind the ear, and I knocked him down. He just downed, and he come up again and come right me again. So, I shot him again behind the ear and knocked him down the second time.
By that time, Boyd had got with this ol’ big, and of course the bear was still. He had this left side, he got that foot in his mouth and just got to chewing on it. Then Boyd shot him clear through with this big rifle. But it still took him a little bit to die, because he grabbed a little jack tree in his mouth and he just kept gnawing on it.
He was an old-timer. One ear was half chewed off and he had a crease down his nose where he’d been fighting and that. But anyway we brought him in and hung him up and took a picture or two.
They took this skull. You either have to, you could do two things to measure for to go in the record book. You could either let them dry for a month or two, or else you could boil them to get all the meat and stuff off. So they boiled this skull, and when they measured it, it lacked a 1/16th of an inch of being a new world record for black bear. At that time in , I believe it was in Wisconsin, there was a bear that was in the book that was just, like I say, this one lacked a 1/16th inch of being a new record. He is down in the book now to about I think 8 or 10th place.
They sent this to the taxidermist in Phoenix. At that time, I thought he was as good a taxidermist as there was in the country. But Boyd wanted this, had him mounted.
The taxidermist said, “I didn’t have a big enough head for him for a black bear, so I cut down a Grizzley head for him.”
When he come back, I was very disappointed in that. It didn’t look as big, it didn’t look as good. But anyway, Boyd had this man in Phoenix mount him up. He’s still got him.
I’m telling you stuff that’s not even interesting to you. You know it’s stuff.
JM: It’s fascinating! See, I told you, you had a good story! I didn’t even ask you about this barn yet, and I know that’s what everybody is wanting to know. It’s about that ol’ barn. Tell me the story of that old barn.
PE: The one down here that they’re tearing down?
PE: Okay, in about I believe it was the year of ’32. I was four years old and we had a big snowstorm. And my father was up in that barn a’ shucking corn when he heard one of the rafter (click) pop. So, he told my older brother, who he had to be about 14 or 15 years old, to bring that scoop shovel. “We’ve got to shovel the snow off this barn.”
Before he could get there, that barn just caved in like that. Left all of his feed out in the snow and everything. Anyway, he kept feeding the cattle around the best he could.
Right up here at the foot of Ellsworth Hill, they was a little sawmill in there. They sawed lumber there all the time. So my dad took his wagon with nothing on it except the running gear up there and got a load of lumber and come back. Them big posts are still standing there. He cut them by himself, but he put that barn back up. And that was our barn for years, you know.
JM: Who built it originally?
PE: My father built it to start with, and then when it broke he rebuilt it. That was in the winter of ’32 when we had that big snow. And my brother just older than me had what the doctors said later on was leakage of the heart. Back in them days they never even thought of touching the heart. This day and age it would have been a minor thing. But he passed away.
And this snow was deep. Men came there to the house and helped my father take. They built a little casket and took him and buried him out in this snowstorm.
My oldest sister was riding behind my father a’ horseback and my older brother Monroe and my second sister, Zola, was on a little horse. He hauled them a’ horseback to school every day in this deep snow.
Right down there about Reidhead’s there was a truck stalled. This little horse jumped sideways and my older brother and sister fell off in the snow. Well, she got up a giggling and that, but Monroe just sat there.
My dad said, “What’s the matter?”
He said, “My leg’s broke right there.”
We got us somebody that had transportation that took him and my father to McNary to the hospital. My aunt, my father’s sister, she was a nurse, and she worked there at the hospital. She stayed there all the time.
Anyway, with him being in the hospital up there and my brother just older than me passing away and the old barn caving in, it turned out to be quite a winter for the folks, you know. It was quite a, quite a deal for them.
JM: You dad inherited this when your grandmother died? This property here?
PE: Yes. He gave me 40 acres and he gave my older brother 40 acres and my younger brother Lamell, who lived down there where the . . . He just passed away last year. He had a stroke. But he passed away last year. He gave the rest of it to him, which was as it should have been. He stayed there and took care of my parents. Every time he worked, he just handed his check to my mother, you know. He took care of them, and so he definitely deserved the rest of this.
It’s this big field right below here and up on top. Right here where they’re building this new motel down here. That was our north fence right there. But he owned this up on top here. My brother Monroe owned 40 and I owned.
So I had a piece of property out just north of the cemetery. My brother wanted it, so I traded that 10 acres for his up this canyon here. And then, my brother Lamell, I bought three pieces from him. I bought the rest of the cattle. I owned all the cattle and the permit, but I owed him $10,000 for the rest of the cattle.
He told me that he was going to go buy him a new pickup. And he said, “I’m going to buy me a 4-wheel drive pickup.”
Sam Solomon and I was at a car sale in Phoenix and we looked. There was a black Chevy, 4-wheel drive, almost new pickup.
I said, “Sam, buy that. I want it.”
So he did. If you can believe this, it cost me $10,000. I can’t even buy spare tires for my pickup for that. Anyway, I brought it home and I run it for a week and I hated everything about it. I literally hated that pickup!
So, I went down to Lamell’s and I said, “Was you still going to buy you a pickup?”
He said, “Yeah!”
I said, “I’ve got one that’s almost new. You want to try it?”
“Yeah,” He said, “Bring it down.”
I did. And he went to driving it and he just loved it. And I said, “Lamell, I owe you 10 grand on them cattle and I give 10 grand for that pickup. Would you take it?”
“Oh,” he said, “that would tickle me to death.”
I was never so glad to get rid of it.
JM: Taking advantage of your little brother like that!
PE: Before he died, he’d run it for 4 years. He went to Montana, to Colorado, to Idaho, hunting oh!
He said, “The next time you don’t like, bring it by.”
But anyway, these are just things that you know that happen.
I bought this one pasture right here and 10 shares of water. My father, on that field, owned 50 shares of water from Show Low Irrigation Company, so when I bought that horse pasture right there I bought 10 shares of water. I already own 2 shares, so I’ve got 12 shares now for my.
But my son, Wes, he does all the irrigating for Pam, that owned that other pasture there. He takes care of that for her and irrigates it. He irrigates mine.
JM: Do you ever still ride?
PE: It’s been two weeks since I rode, isn’t it? When did it start snowing? I haven’t rode since it snowed? But I would go out here on the church ranch and help them move cattle all the time.
Last year, they have this shute that they separate the calves from the cows. They got cutting gates that they. The first gate a cow can go out of it, but if you let her go by, she can’t get out these other little gates. See, you’ve got to back her up. I always stayed a’ horseback, because I can’t walk around. Anything that, the cattle to move or anything, I done it.
They said, “Pete, throw us your rope.”
So, I did. They put it around her hind feet and they came right up around this post and up to my saddle. This, this big bay horse I got, he can pull. So, we was pulling on that cow. But with this rope pulling this way instead of straightaway, it pulled my saddle over and I hit the ground.
So I told them, “Well, you know, I’ve hit the ground a time or two, but I don’t know as I hit it any harder than I just did.”
So, they got me up and I told them to put me back up on my horse. Straighten my saddle up, so they did. And that was about 6:30 in the morning. I never got off that horse until 2:00 that afternoon.
They brought me up here to the doctor and he told my boy, he said, “Get him down there at that x-ray outfit.”
The x-rayer said, “He’s got three ribs broke and this one is into his lungs. You’ve got to be awful careful with that.”
She was cussing me for staying out there.
I said, “What would I do? They couldn’t do nothing about it.” Just little ol’ things that happen.
JM: Just a punctured lungs, that’s nothing serious! That’s quite a story.
PE: Well I am sure, if I die tonight, I lived 79 good ones, good ones! I mean I lived. I lived every day. I’ve lived. And I’ve had a good one to live with. I can’t get by. She! She takes better care of me than when I was two years old, you know! And my boy down here, Wes. They won’t let me do nothing!
BE: We’ve been married 62 years.
BE: Yeah, it is.
JM: It is really amazing! What a life!
PE: Well, it’s just exactly what I told you. You’re going to be very disappointed.
JM: I am not disappointed! What a great story! What a great life!
PE: Well, there is nobody that enjoys cattle and horses any more than I do. Just like I said, that ol’ horse right there (pointing again to the picture) is the best horse I ever put my saddle on.
But uh, that left front knee. You notice it’s swelled. That’s the last saddle he had on him, right there. And I just put that on him and went right up here by the picnic ground and Debbie Austin took two or three pictures that I wanted of that horse. And so, we kind of went through them and I thought that was the best one.
So then, I took him down to Queen Creek. My cousin had a pasture down there that had feed that high, and water. I turned him loose. And every time I could, I went and I’d holler, “Duke! Dukus, come here.” That old horse would put his head right there. I’ll tell you, if there ever was a horse that you could talk to, that’s one little incident that, that . . . Yeah, he’d been a dandy.
END OF INTERVIEW
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The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee only. They do not represent the views of the Show Low Historical Society Museum. Please contact the Show Low Historical Society Museum with questions about the use and reproduction of this resource.