By: Barbara Ann Waite
In 1912, the first year of Arizona's statehood, rural Verde Valley was home to enterprising ranchers and farmers who raised cattle, crops ─ and children. These children needed a school. So just as they mail-ordered supplies from the Sears catalog, the community mail-ordered a teacher. Elsie Hayes, a college graduate, came from a world of concerts and literary clubs. The teacher's tiny shack in Cornvillle was a far cry from her family's lovely home in Long Beach, California. This cultured young woman drank water from an irrigation ditch, bathed in Oak Creek, and taught in a one-room schoolhouse to children first considered "common," but with whom she soon developed a mutual love. Though she had come to Arizona feeling a bit superior to these "backwoods" folks, her emotions transformed into admiration and respect, and the untamed wilderness became "breathtaking and glorious." IN THIS TRUE STORY, Elsie's 100-year-old journals, photographs and detailed letters home paint a picture of a time and place that has since faded, and give insight into the early history of Cornville and Williams, Arizona. Even more than this, they are a vivid portrayal of colorful adventure, tragedy, and a heartbreaking story of lost love.