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These are the life stories of Mormon girls, young women, mothers, and grandmothers who traveled to Arizona by covered wagons and by train. These women drove teams and knitted socks while their men trailed the cattle. They settled the Arizona Strip and along the Little Colorado, San Pedro, Gila, and Salt Rivers. With references to recent publications, footnotes to explain long-forgotten phrases and events, and over three hundred photographs, this second edition will not only keep these stories alive for descendants and general readers but also provide a wealth of information for specialists in women’s studies, Arizona history, Mormon history, and Western Americana.

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Size8.5 x 11
PublishedDeseret Book and RSC BYU 2017

About the Authors

David F. Boone

David F. Boone received a master's degree from Brigham Young University in American western history, with an emphasis in LDS pioneer history. He received his PhD in educational leadership with an emphasis in LDS academies and Church education. He specializes in Church history in the Southeast and Southwest; LDS Church colonization in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada; history of the LDS education system; and LDS biography.

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Catherine H. Ellis

Catherine Ellis is a fifth-generation Arizonan. Her ancestors first marched through southern Arizona with the Mormon Battalion and later returned in 1878 to settle in northern Arizona. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 1968 with a degree in biology and has contributed to many scientific articles, but her real commitment is to the history of rural Arizona

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Roberta Flake Clayton

Roberta Flake Clayton originally dedicated Pioneer Women of Arizona "to the descendants of the noble women who pioneered the west." She spent thirty-three years collecting over two hundred sketches of Mormon women who shaped Mormon settlements in Arizona.

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Average rating:

(based upon 6 reviews)

By , Submitted on 2017-11-15

This review originally appeared at:

Clayton, Ellis, and Boone, eds., “Pioneer Women of Arizona” (reviewed by Elizabeth White)


Title: Pioneer Women of Arizona
Authors: Roberta Flake Clayton, Catherine H. Ellis, David F. Boone
Publisher: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University in cooperation with Deseret Book Company
Genre: Biography
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 946
Binding: hardcover
ISBN10: n/a
ISBN13: 978-1-9443-9409-7
Price: $49.99

Reviewed by Elizabeth White for the Association for Mormon Letters

Mesa Arizona is hot in the summer. It was hot in the summertime when I was a child there. It doesn’t really matter which decade I am referring to, since Mesa and the surrounding areas have had hot summers for as long as anyone can remember. After playing and splashing in the irrigated fields of the community park, I could head over to one aunt’s home who lived on MacDonald where the old Mesa Theatre was, then walk down Sirrine, and see where the library stood, whose beauty and majesty had captured my imagination ever since I stood in the checkout line and read, “one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish”.

I knew I had to come back to this wonderful, magical place that had unlimited free books. If I headed home a different way, I passed the Johnsons and my cousins’ home until I came to the Freestone’s Chiropractic Center. That sign always confused me since it had a picture of a Freestone peach, and I could not understand for the life of me what the peach had to do with the chiropractic doctor who worked there. I walked over to my other aunt’s home, who was a Turley, and then turned right past the Huber home down LeSueur street. The church there on the corner had families worshipping together with last names like: Brimhall, Russell, Farnsworth, Riggs, Crandall, Brinkerhoffs, and dozens more.

The park where I played? It was Pioneer Park, directly north across Main Street from the Mesa Arizona Temple. I had lived in the shadows of great people and families, growing up relatively carefree in a supportive community of hard-working, religious, family loving people.

But it wasn’t until I opened up the second edition of Pioneer Women of Arizona by Roberta Flake Clayton, Catherine H. Ellis, and David F. Boone, that I began to grasp the extent of the impact the LDS pioneers had on the settlement and development of Mesa, Arizona. The book index reads like class rosters from my elementary and (Kino) junior high years. My direct lines, the Johnsons and Turleys, are in the book as well as Sirrine, Robson, and LeSueurs that I had only known as disconnected street names. The Taylors, Tanners, and Tenneys are all represented. I lived on Stapley Dr and passed Standage on a regular basis.

The authors Ellis and Boone have researched and expanded on the work of Roberta Flake Clayton, who personally interviewed and cataloged biographical sketches of hundreds of women for over thirty three years. This second edition has added dozens, if not hundreds of photographs, explanatory footnotes, and an overview of the history of colonization in many parts of Arizona and related area such as Bluff, UT and parts of Colorado and New Mexico. Tucson, Thatcher, the Gila Valley, Snowflake, Holbrook, St. Joseph all have extensive information about the early LDS families in this volume.

The research is superb; the index, which was a labor of love by itself, is detailed and easy to use. Often entire families with complete lists of children and later marriages are included along with additional information about various family members. The appendix outlining different communities and their origins make this book a treasure.

I knew where my grandmother was born and I had heard bits of stories, but this book has greatly magnified what I knew and gave me rich layers of connections throughout the areas where I traveled and lived as a young girl. I recognize pictures of relatives that I first saw hanging in my grandmother’s bedroom. I found new photos of relatives that I didn’t know existed. As I read sketches of people not related to me, I found myself imagining that they sometimes may have been neighbors or school mates to my relatives.

Reading the personal sketches made these people’s names on the page come alive for me like I had never imagined they could. At very close to a thousand pages, this book covers hundreds of families that at one time were involved in the Southwest region. Most stories are of LDS women who travelled with their men to establish towns and communities in a variety of locations. The stories are written with a optimistic attitude portraying general cheerfulness and hope, even while living through many extreme circumstances. Many personal writings have been used to describe the life, times, and culture of these women and their families. The isolation, fright, barrenness, loss, tragedy, and deprivation are all there woven alongside unremitting faith in God and trust in His plan.

I came away from reading through this book with a desire to learn even more about these noble and selfless women and men who gave their names as well as their lives to establish communities of faith and family. This book honors their legacy. What a boon it is and will be for years to help with family research. I can see coming back to this book again and again for additional insights and information.

On behalf of everyone who has connections preserved in this book, I want to give the authors a huge thank you for the years they spent researching and compiling this work. So the next time I visit Snowflake, Heber, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert, Tucson, Safford or a hundred other places, I will be able to share stories with my children of the women and men lived and loved there and built their dreams and left a grand legacy for us.

By , Submitted on 2017-11-15

Review recently published in The Beehive,
“New History of Arizona Pioneer Women is Hot off the Press”
by Cindy R. Williams, The Beehive, August 1–October 1, 2017, p. 23.

Pioneer Women of Arizona is now available from Deseret Book. The beautiful hardcover book has its roots in the foundation, history and culture of hundreds of early Arizona women. It includes numerous pictures as well.
Roberta Flake Clayton, born in 1877, wanted Arizonans to know the stories of the real women who pioneered the West. She pursued this desire with thirty-three years of research, culminating in the 719-page book she self-published in 1969 when she was in her early nineties.
A few copies of her original book can be found in several special collection libraries in Arizona and in the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU.
Clayton was a member of the Arizona branch of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. She encouraged Mormon women to write their stories or gather stories from their female ancestors.
Most historical books deal with the pioneer experiences primarily of men. Clayton focused on struggles and challenges faced in the daily lives of young women, mothers, grandmothers, female leaders and businesswomen, as well as church services, births, deaths and changes in women's roles among other topics.
Researchers and authors Catherine H. Ellis and David F. Boone revised and expanded Clayton's original work, which now contains 946 pages.
Within minutes of opening the book Pioneer Women of Arizona, Jeff Williams, a native Arizonan, found several of his relatives and their stories.
"I was surprised. I thought I knew most of the stories of my Arizona ancestors, yet I found out much more about their lives at the time."
Williams added, "The book does not pass judgement, but does tell the facts, even a fact or two that could be considered family skeletons in the closet—incredibly intriguing."
Pioneer Women of Arizona is published by BYU and Deseret Book.

Emeritus Professor of History, Brigham Young University
By , Submitted on 2017-07-31

What a WONDERFUL and scholarly masterpiece Cathy Ellis and David Boone have produced with the second edition of Pioneer Women of Arizona. Cathy's and David's dialogue at the end of each biography is amazing! I can only begin to realize just how much time and research went into this second edition. The photos are wonderful. The authors have created an amazing document that will be a marvelous contribution regarding the lives of our Arizona pioneer heritage.

My eldest daughter brought a copy with her as a belated Father's Day gift during the 4th of July week when we hosted our family reunion here in Provo, UT with all of our five children and 21 grandchildren. With so much going on it was a few days before I got to it. Oh my goodness, I couldn't put it down, nor could my wife and all of our children. They are all very genealogy and family history oriented and proud of their heritage. This volume will serve to strengthen our love of and dedication to these remarkable ancestors.

Pioneer Women of Arizona
By , Submitted on 2017-05-27

This book is a wonderful blessing! I just found and purchased it at Deseret Book this week. I have many great-and great-great grandmothers included within the book--and although I was already familiar with much of the information, I'm learning so many new things, finding information I hadn't known before, new and heart-warming stories, and discovering photos that I never knew existed. I'm also loving the inspiration gained from the lives of the many women I'm not descended from. What an amazing and faithful group of women they were! I'm so very grateful for the phenomenal scholarship and effort put into this beautiful book. It will be a favorite keepsake to pass on to my daughters and grandchildren...thank-you!

Women Who Settled Western America
By , Submitted on 2017-05-27

The story of settling western America often centers on the contributions of men; however, women and young women played a vital role in shaping its development. This book features more than two hundred life histories of pioneer women and men who settled Arizona. In this significantly improved second edition, Arizona historians Catherine Ellis and David Boone have updated the original edition by Roberta Flake Clayton. They have added maps, added historical context, annotated, and corrected the original. Three major indexes provide access to vital information. Historians and descendants will find this book well worth their time to sift through the life stories and genealogical treasures.

pioneer women of arizona
By , Submitted on 2017-05-23

Ms. Ellis and Mr. Boone have done students of Mormon Women's history and descendants of Arizona Mormon Pioneer women a great service in updating Roberta Flake Clayton's classic book.

Reading the 200+ stories of women who were involved in the early settlement of Arizona by the Mormon people gives great insight into the lived experience of these women. You walk away from this book with a realization that the Mormon settlement of Arizona could not of been successful without the efforts and contribution of women.

In the last five years a number of books have made important contributions in our understanding of the role of Mormon Women in the growth and development of the Latter Day Saint People. I refer to the documentary history of the first fifty years of Relief Society, From the Pulpit a collection of sermons by Mormon Women, and Laurel Ulrich's A House Full of Females.
Ellis and Boone's book is as important as any of these works.

Leonard Arrington once spoke of "sunbonnet sisters". In 24th of July parades you see women in long dresses and sunbonnets. You can't see the women's faces.

Pioneer Women of Arizona is a step in taking of the sunbonnets so we can see the faces of these great women.

I must add a personal note, the book contains stories about two of my great great grandmothers and one great grandmother . I learned new things about all of them

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