Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Heritage Lost

The last few days have been busier than usual as we watch the Wallow Fire in Eastern Arizona move through the White Mountains. Much of my time as a child, youth, and adult has been spent in the small mountain communities. I remember one Scout outing that I convinced the leaders to take the time to drive to Big Lake and camp. One of the leaders got out of his car and just stood there in the campground looking for a long time and finally said, "This is the most beautiful place I have ever been."

This is also the area where my grandparents, my great-grandparents and some of my great-great-grandparents lived, worked, died and are buried. This beautiful valley, shown above, was the home of my Great-great-grandparents. Almost everything you see above has now been burned in one of the largest fires in the history of Arizona. All we have now are memories.

I won't say that all of my experiences have been positive. Some of the hardest and most difficult times of my life have also been spent in Eastern Arizona and with the people living there. I always like to say that the national sport of Apache County is suing people, but despite the contention, I do love the places. Although, I have lived most of my life in the Arizona Sonora Desert, I feel most at home in the wide open spaces of the Springerville Volcanic District.

I hope we all take time to enjoy those places that mean the most to us. Although we will all pass from this earth eventually, we don't always realize that the earth itself is fragile and can be lost.


  1. James - I am sorry you are having to sit by and watch as your past seems to burn away. If its any help my Uncle lives in the WildCat Canyon area near the Barona Indian Reservation in California where a few years ago there was a terrible fire taking many houses, including his, and quite a few lives. He was lucky to not only survive but he was the one driving from home to home waking his neighbors and getting people to get out fast. I went back there last summer and it is now quite beautiful again. The fire produced a lot of damage but now it has all grown back and been rejevenated.

    From a Genealogy standpoint its great to see you posting your memories of this area of Arizona online.

    Good luck to you.

  2. i've been listening to the coverage of the wildfires. thank you for this post uncle james!

  3. I would feel the same way if my ancestral mountains were burning, although they have been timbered out, drag-lined and now fracked by more direct human hands. At least destruction of surface habitations and vegetation by fire leaves hope for renewal in the future.

    Our Earth has never remained the same. Somehow the "on the ground" changes seem so much more heart-rending than do the technological changes.