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Sun 17 December 2017
FEATURE ARTICLES
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PEOPLE: MCRAES OF ST. DAVID, ARIZONA
As you cross the San Pedro River heading into St. David, Arizona, you will find on your left, McRae Lane. It is a short country lane, which was named for two of its residents George and Gladys (Bingham) McRae.

In 1876, George’s grandfather, Joseph, was one of the original settlers who were sent by their religious leader, Brigham Young, to colonize the Arizona territory. The information of this area had been recorded by the Mormon Battalion as they made their 2000 mile march from Council Bluff, Iowa to San Diego, California at the request of President James K. Polk to assist the U.S. Army in the Mexican War.

When Joseph and Maria (Taylor) brought their family to the San Pedro to live, it was still the home of such famous Apache chieftains as Victoire, Cochise and Captain Kidd. It wasn’t until ten years after their arrival and the establishment of St. David, that Gerinomo made his final stand against General Miles, in the Dragoon Mountains, located only a few miles from St. David.

Shortly after their arrival, ore would be discovered in the area, some samples of which assayed as high as $15,000.00 a ton. With those reports came the legends of Old Tucson and of the lawlessness of Tombstone.

Maria gave birth to the first white baby in Cochise County, born during a downpour and under a collection of pots and buckets place over the bed to keep mother and child dry. Eight years after arriving, Joseph and his sons drilled the first artesian well in Arizona and soon over 2000 acres were being irrigated by the St. David canal which sustained a population of 600 people.

Joseph and Maria McRae raised ten children while homesteading 160 acres, three of which would either remain or return to St. David to live out their lives. During the crash and the on set of the depression, two of Joseph’s grandsons would also return to raised their families. George was one of those grandsons who first lived near his parents, John Kenneth and Pearl Elizabeth (Sabin), and eventually located on what is now known as McRae Lane.

George and Gladys raised ten children. Gladys was a wonderful cook and served many delicious meals not only to her own children, but also as a cook at the local school. She was in great demand for many church and civic functions.

Later Gladys developed an interest in entering her creations in the local and state fairs. Over her lifetime she won enough red, white and blue ribbons, that she was able to sew queen size quilt tops for each of her ten children. Her American flag quilt design, using strips of her fair ribbons, was eventually discovered by Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museums and is still on display through out the country. Gladys was selected as Mother of the Year for the state of Arizona in 1976 and lived to be almost 99 years old.

George supported his family by farming and working at the “Apache Powder” a local manufacturer of gunpowder and explosives. He and his sweetheart were married for more than 60 years. All of their ten children graduated from college and on two different occasions were awarded the “A” blanket from the University of Arizona, for having the most children enrolled with the highest grade point average.

No one by the name of McRae lives on McRae Lane anymore, but the history and legacy of George and Gladys lives on in more than 400 descendants.

Georgeana McRae Cook

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