Morristown Area History

scroll down for more stories and a list of the charter members

Castle Hot Springs and Morristown Ranches 1988 As related by Ena McGuire

The history of Castle Hot Springs Hotel is well told in other stories.

The Hotel, originally a sanatorium started by one Lloyd Griscomb, sold to Frank Murphy, brother of the territorial governor Nathan Oakes Murphy. Frank Murphy also owned the Congress Mine, and was builder of what is now the Santa Fe Railroad which ran from Prescott to Phoenix.

Mr. Murphy developed the Hotel around 1895 and it was operated as a resort and came into ownership of Walter Rounsevel of New Hampshire about 1928 who continued a successful operation for many years.

It was well renowned as Arizonas first resort hotel, catering to the socially elite. The main building which included the kitchen and dining room was destroyed by fire in 1976, and thereafter was operated in a different type of service for seminars.

It has been under other ownerships since, and was idle for about five years. Recently, it was purchased by Charles and Stephen Trainer Milwaukee developers, who hope to restore it to its former elegance.

Prior to Mr. Murphys purchasing the Hotel property, there was a toll road from Phoenix to Prescott, via what is now Lake Pleasant and into the mining country of Oro Belle and Crown King.

It was by this route that the two Champie brothers Charles and Alfred, with their families migrated into the Bradshaw Mountains around 1886 and settled in the Tip Top, Columbia, and Oro Belle vicinities.

They were occupied with mining and raising goats. A number of their own children were born in that area.

There were twelve children in the Charles Champie family. Eventually they got into raising cattle. Charles and his wife, Elizabeth and family settled in what is known as Champie Ranch area, which is three miles northwest of Castle Creek.

The road down to Castle Creek was built by that family. The Alfred Champie family moved to Wickenburg.

The Champie Guest Ranch was established by Clyde and Ann Champie Douglas in the early 1920s. The parents built the Two Shoe House around 1925, where the family lived for many years and was later occupied by their son, Lawton Champie and his wife Elinore. The Champie Guest Ranch was also headquarters for their cattle operation. The current headquarters was built in the late 1940s.

The ranch is now owned by Dr. Jud Davidson and his wife of Phoenix and known as the U.T, Ranch. The only living child is of the original family is Clara Champie Cordes of Glendale. Two daughters-in-law are living. Widow of Lawton, Elinore of Chino Valley, and Pearl Champie Hurd, former Postmaster of Castle Hot Springs Post Office, and widow of Charles. She now lives in Sedona.

Mrs. Cynthia Earle of New Hampshire and Prescott ran the Two Shoe House as a cattle ranch for a number of years from the early 1950s using the old original Two Shoe Ranch house as headquarters. Later she built in the Lake Pleasant area and ran cattle until her death and that ranch still belongs to her family.

The Champie Guest Ranch was operated from its start by Anne Douglas until sold to Frank Carson in the 1940s who continued in the guest ranch business until selling and moving to Prescott.

The ranch is no longer operated as a guest ranch and is owned by the Sutton family of Phoenix, as well as the old Two Shoe Ranch house which is in deterioration, and the area surrounding the Champie School building which is closed, the Champie family cemetery and Hot Springs, which was changed from Castle Hot Springs Hotel to this site in 1937, and closed in 1966.

Anne Champie Douglas joined her husband on the cattle ranch he had established in the late 1930s on the Hassayampa River north of the White Tanks which they operated for a number of years before selling to Az.-Colorado Cattle Company in 1961 and moving to Wickenburg. The present ownership is not known.

The Bard Cattle Ranch which included the VX Ranch was established by N. Bard of Chicago prior to 1940. It is located northeast of Castle Hot Springs Hotel. It was here the Barzona breed of cattle was developed, and about 1958 the breeding stock was moved to the Bard Ranch at Kirkland. The original ranch had several owners, but was split ways at one time.

The Two Shoe operation by Mrs. Earle acquired the lower section running to Lake Pleasant, the VX was added to the Layton ranches, and the remaining portion was acquired by Ackerman developers, the N*O part by Ken Udall. The VX now belongs to the Sutton family.

On the road to Lake Pleasant from Castle Hot Springs Hotel are two ranch houses which were built about 1930. They were winter homes for two eastern newspaper families who were related. The ranches sit on either side of Castle Creek across from each other. Ranchetta on the right, was named for Etta Annenberg, wife of a prominent New York newspaper man Max Annenburg, and sister of Lou Rose who built casa Rosa, named for his wife Rose. He was a circulation manager of the Chicago Tribune. Both ranches were operated as guest ranches after the original owners sold, with not a great deal of success. Both are now private homes.

Leaving Castle Hot Springs, coming towards Morristown, one passes the old JL Bar Ranch, which originally was a cattle operation by John Hardee of Arkansas, which was established by 1900. He was the great uncle of John Hardee Jr. of Morristown. By 1930, Mr. Hardee had sold and was living in Phoenix.

Around the turn of the century most of the cattle operations were in the ownerships of three families, Champies, John Hardee, and the Tiptons adjoining him and expanding to Morristown.

After other ownerships, the JL Bar. By 1940 was owned by a Champie grandchild, Anna Mae Laflin, wife of Lloyd Laflin of the Elgin watch Company. Mrs. Laflin sold to Ed and Dorothy Henderson of Phoenix about 1965, they still own this property.

Up Castle Creek from JL Bar is the 3 Canyon Ranch established about 1930 by Gwen Bowen of Lake Forest Illinois, and former guest of Castle Hot Springs Hotel. The cattle business here was operated by James Norman until his death in the early 1980s, and is now owned by his niece and family.

The Layton ranch, in the 1920s belonged to James Tipton, whose spread reached to Morristown. It was known as the A-D Ranch. Mr. Tipton and sons ran cattle here for a number of years. After several sales, defaults, etc., it became the property of Wes Barnett who raised goats in the general area for a number of years. Delbert Layton acquired this property in 1950 and the name was changed to the 11 L Ranch. Mr. Tipton sold out the remainder of his ranch the Double 7, Iron Group and the surrounding ranch lands in 1945.

After several changes of ownership, it was acquired by Irene Evans and her husband, Earl. After his death, she continued to run it as a cattle ranch, at least for 20 years in all, and she called her headquarters the place of the Little H. After her death and in ownership, it now belongs to R.B. Johnson of the Del Webb Corporation.

Sources: Recollections of Ena Lamar McGuire who came to Morristown in 1923. Was employed by and resided at Castle Hot Springs Hotel 1936-48. Her son is a descendant of the Hardee family and her sister was married to a Tipton son, now deceased.

1958 Obituary- Elizabeth Champie Az. Republic

1965 Obituary- Clyde Douglas

1987 December Article Wickenburg Sun Castle Hot Springs Brochure.

Inquiries of Scott Layton and Newt White 1988


   Morristown  School Beginnings

                                                        As related by Ena LaMar McGuire


The first school was in a vacated saloon on the south side of the railroad and town.  In a conversation with a former Wickenburg teacher, whose name was John OBrien, it was learned that his mother Leora Randall OBrien, also known as Peggy, turned the saloon into a school in 1915.

She and her family were early residents on the Hassayampa River.  Peggy was determined that her children would be educated. She approached School Superintendent R. E. Crousa.  She had fulfilled all of the necessary requirements to start the school with at least seven students.  Jack OBrien, Shade Hardee, and Harry Cox furnished the labor for the remodeling.  The county seat sent out Dixie Lacey as the first teacher.

It is reported there were two Ortega brothers, and two Champie children from the Champie Ranch at Desert Hot Springs.  This was the first year.

The new school at the present location opened in 1927-28.  Ena LaMar McGuire was the sole graduate in 1928 and still resides in Morristown.  Seven LaMar children, one grandchild, and Howard Lilly graduated from Morristown School and Wickenburg High School. 

For a number of years we had a one room school and one teacher over all eight grades.   Mrs. Golda Hardee and Mrs. Jess Hamilton were two of our early teachers.  Mrs. Golda Hardee first taught in the years of 1918-21, and again later.

Out of Morristown School we have had an attorney, doctor, two nurses, several teachers, our own Head Teacher, and the once Yo-Yo champion of the world, Sam[ Tex]Schultz.

Our attendance has grown from seven students in 1915 to over one hundred in 2001.



Early student Ena McGuire, 1928 graduate

Arizona Republic article

by James West 6-9-1991.


                   Morristown Elementary School District

                 School Years 1915-1916 through 2005-2006

This recollection presented at the 90th Anniversary Reunion, February 12, 2006

The School became a district July 1, 1916 according to the records of the County School Superintendent's Office


Morristown History 9/14/1903


Rose Mofford sent Mary Ann Rosehnal several articles about Morristown after she served as guest speaker for a Morristown School graduation ceremony in the 1980s.  This one was a print out from micro film or fiche and is now deteriorating ( 11/20/2007) so we are reprinting it here.


From the Republican (The early version of the Arizona Republic) 9/14/1903  marked 2:1


 MORRISTOWN PROSPECTS:  H. N. Cox, mayor of the twin cities of Morristown and Hot Springs Junction spent yesterday in Phoenix.  He says that community is quiet just now, but expects to have its commercial pulse quickened with the return of cooler weather, the opening up of tourist travel to the springs [Castle Hot Springs] and the development of the many good mines in that part of the county.  With enough population and public utilities Morristown would be a fine city.  It is already an important one for its size. 


Also Sent by Rose Mofford:

From Arizona Place Names page 188:



Elevation  1719                Location: Maricopa


The first name for the present day community of Morristown was Vulture Siding, but in 1897 after the importance of Vulture Mine (q.v.) had faded, the name of the place changed to Hot Springs Junction because at this station passengers disembarked from the train to take a stage to Castle Hot Springs.  The name was later changed to Morristown to honor the first inhabitant at the place, George Morris, the discoverer of the Mack Morris Mine in Gila County.


Post Office established December 30, 1897, Lee H. Landis, postmaster, Wells Fargo Station, 1903, (Hot Springs Junction).


Reference: Barnes; Arizona Journal Mining, November 4, 1897, 4:2; 16, p. 356; P.O. Records, Maps: C-9, C-12 ( Hot Springs Junction)

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In 1984 the following women embraced the vision for the GFWC-Morristown as Charter members

 Patricia Christofferson 

Mary L. Koontz 

Kay Roth 

Cassie Crowder    

 Shirley Lendborg

 Arvilla Rothermel

Ilene Dame 

 Pam Lilly

 Nelly L. Shepherd

Josephine Del Tufo 

 Ena McGuire

 Joan Stannifer

Marie Thersa Fimbres 

 May Mickles

 Elsie Stanning

Helene Gunther 

 Margaret Hodgson

 Novelle Spann

 Charlotte Hardwick                     

 Betty Mimnaugh

 Lea Way

Marie Hayes 

 Mary Rosehnal

 Kerry Wermerson

Helen Killer 

 Mary Ann Rosehnal

 Jacky E. Young