By Stan Brown


To find the beginning of white settlement in the place later called Pine we have to dredge up old legends that claim the first settlers there came in 1866. These were brothers Paul and Bill Gregg, and they cleared some land then built a cabin. That is the extent of the story, except to ponder the fact that in 1866 bands of Apache and Yavapai Indians were in control of the Rim Country and settlers were keeping clear until the Army could make it safe. However, there may be a "rest of the story" regarding the mysterious Gregg brothers. A high school student searching for gemstones at Diamond Point found a crudely chiseled grave stone that read "R.I.P. Gregg 1867." It is easy to imagine that one of the brothers was killed as they explored or hunted near Diamond Point. The other brother probably buried him on the spot before leaving the territory.[1]

We have to move ahead eleven years to pick up on the permanent settlement of Pine. In the year 1878 several families arrived including "Old Man Bunch", Henry Sidles, John and Amanda Hough, and the Price Nelson family. The Nelsons moved from Rye Creek and were the first Mormons in the Pine settlement. Meanwhile a number of Mormon families were called by their Church to establish a settlement in the lush grazing areas under the Mogollon Rim. Their number included three Fuller brothers, a family name that soon would become inseparable from the Pine settlement. They were Wyllis "Wid" Fuller, Cornelius Fuller, and Revilo Fuller.[2] Their father was a Mormon patriarch named Elijah Knapp Fuller, and they were the sons of his first wife Harriet, who had died in 1845. He was a polygamist and had six wives in all, but it was his fourth wife who would make her mark at Pine.[3] She was Ellen Celeste Woodward Fuller, married to Elijah in 1851, and they eventually had eleven children. She and her husband did much missionary work, being called to several different missions in Utah and Nevada.

The families answering their Church’s call for a mission in the Rim Country settled at the mouth of Pine Creek and spread out along the East Verde River, calling their settlement Mazatzal City. In addition to the Fullers, other pioneer families were part of the two Pine Creek communities, among them the Allens and Randalls. Meanwhile word of Arizona’s opportunities for settlement spread among other members of the Fuller clan in Utah. Ellen Fuller had become discontented with her life in Utah, and hearing from her family about Arizona’s delights she decided to join them. By this time some of Ellen’s children were married and sons David, John Hiram, and Manson James Fuller had already joined their uncles in the venture.[4] When she decided to leave Utah for Arizona her husband Elijah Knapp Fuller planned to follow with his sixth wife Harriett as soon as he completed another mission for the Church. However he broke his hip in a farm accident and was never able to travel to Arizona. It was the spring of 1880 when Ellen moved to Pine with the rest of her brood.

During the several years since the first settlers arrived the threat of Indian raids made life very fearful down along the East Verde River. Gradually those families moved up to the village of Pine, and when in 1882 a band of 100 Apaches broke out of the reservation, leaving a trail of blood, stolen herds and burning ranches in their wake, near all the rest of the settlers moved out of Mazatzal City.

The village of Pine had a fort in which in which residents took cover when warnings came about Indian raids. Ellen and her family lived in that fort while the Fuller men helped build her a four room log house. It was situated on the east side of Pine Creek along a bend in the original road, just before the road crossed the creek to meet the south end of today’s Main Street in Pine. Even though there was a large family to support her, Ellen earned a living from her garden, her fruit trees, a cow and chickens. She also served as a midwife. Ellen had so much to sell she opened a store on Main Street. It was on the west side of the road, south of the school and the first church building, and being on the road that connected Payson and Camp Verde she got plenty of business from travelers as well of local families. A sign was erected on the corner of her lot, "E. C. Fuller, General Merchandise" and indeed it was a General Store as her stock expanded to carry everything folks needed. By 1890 the government management of Indian reservations was relaxing and the Indians were beginning to return from reservations to their family’s birthplaces. They provided even more customers for Ellen, and would bring baskets, pine nuts and blankets for trade.[5]

In the spring of 1884 the first Post Office was established in Pine, and Mary D. Fuller was appointed postmistress. She wanted to name it Alpine, but that was disallowed because there already was a post office with that name. She next

submitted the name Pine Creek, but was informed that was too long. So she settled on simply "Pine". This was the first official recognition of the town’s name.

Ellen Fuller was 81 years old when she decided the store was too much for her and sold to her son David Fuller, who would operate the store for many years. Ellen now felt free to visit family members in Utah and California, as well as her daughter Lucy in Washington. In 1915 she began a trip to San Diego to visit the World’s Fair. Stopping off at her daughter Edith’s in Mesa she became very sick, and died on January 14, 1915. She was 83 years old.


[1] The Boy Scout troop from Payson together with the local Rotary Club restored the grave site and set the headstone in concrete. Three years later vandals broke the stone and dug up the grave.

[2] See Chapter 21, "Mazatzal City" of this series "Rim Country Places", published in the Roundup June 19, 2013. Wid Fuller’s wife Anne died in Utah during childbirth before he came out. Cornelius married Anne Elizabeth Lewis in 1865, and that same year Revilo married Mary David Everett.

[3] After Harriet died Elijah Fuller married his second wife in 1846, but ten years later they separated and were divorced. She remarried and remained in Utah with her five Fuller children. Elijah married Sarah (Sally) Ann in 1850 and she remained in Utah with one child. His fourth wife was Ellen Woodward, and his fifth wife was Elizabeth, who died after giving birth to a child in 1865. The next year the patriarch took his sixth wife, Harriet Alice Walker.

[4] John Hiram Fuller married Anna Elizabeth Randall. Four of their children were born in Pine, three at Cold Springs where they ranched, and one in Navajo County. Mary Celeste Fuller married the Pine schoolteacher who had been hired by the Fullers. He was Andrew J. Houston of Starr Valley. Manson James Fuller married Emerett (Emma) Randall and their seven children were all born in Pine. So the complex of Pine families intermarrying continued, creating a very interesting task for genealogists.

[5] Information about Ellen Fuller’s life in Pine comes from her granddaughter Edith May McClendon Brown who wrote her biography. Also, the most concise and authoritative history for the town of Pine is Mike Anderson’s book A Place In The Land: The Settlement of Pine Arizona 1878-1900. Revised copies available at the Pine-Strawberry Museum.

(Stan Brown is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. His books can be purchased at the Rim Country Museum in Payson or on the Kindle Reader. Call up on Google "Stanley C. Brown".)