Castle Valley Comments

I was saddened to hear of the death of Marjorie Stucki last week. She died in her sleep at her home in Payson, Utah. She and husband Richard along with five of their eight children were early residents of Castle Valley River Ranchos, having arrived to the valley in June of 1976.

They had lived in their large Salt Lake City home for 24 years but had no room for a garden or animals so they decided to leave the “easy life.” They moved to a raw piece of Castle Valley land and developed it into a comfortable and productive homestead over the years. A paragraph from “Castle Valley Comments” in August 1976 stated: “Equipped with determination, ingenuity, courage, and a lot of organic gardening magazines, they moved to Castle Valley. With them came five children, one pig, twelve chickens and two goats.”

I have fond memories of the Stucki family during their nearly 30 years living in Castle Valley. Richard was the first branch president for the local branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as a result, Marge was the first mother of the branch. They were temple workers in the Monticello Temple and they served a mission together for the church in the Louisville Mission.


According to Leta Vaughn, who has organized the Chipper Day in Castle Valley for the last several years, the semi-annual event will not happen this fall. Traditionally, a large wood chipper and a crew is furnished by the State Division of Forest, Fire and State Lands in the spring and fall in an effort to reduce the amount of combustible fuel and reduce the fire danger. The FFSL cited the lack of funds for the reason to suspend the Chipper Day this fall. It is expected that the chipper will be available for the spring season. In addition, if the fire danger remains at “very high” as it was as of Tuesday, the open burn window may not open this fall as well. There is absolutely no moisture in the fuel and that is mostly what determines the fire danger.


Last week I noticed an item on a calendar, which had dates of interest for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that simply stated, “1850-Payson, Utah, is settled by James Pace, an early pioneer.” That statement would have little interest to most of us in Castle Valley except for the name. It was the grandsons of James Pace who settled in Castle Valley in 1888 and formed the very successful Pace Brothers Ranch where we now live.

James Pace Jr., in whose honor the town of Payson was named, lived in the community for only 11 years after the community was settled by Pace and two other families at the request of Brigham Young. Actually the settlement was near Peteetneet Creek, named after a Ute chief. Pace became the first branch president of Peteetneet and was responsible for helping to build the settlement into a respected community. Most people outside of Peteetneet could not spell or pronounce the name so Brigham Young renamed the town Pacen in honor of James Pace, but the name was later changed to Payson.

James Pace and his family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840 in Nauvoo, Illinois and was a bodyguard for the Prophet Joseph Smith and served on the police force until 1846 when the Mormons were driven out of Nauvoo. Pace and his wife Linda and six children packed their clothes and a few household items and crossed the Mississippi River on a flatboat and eventually departed to the west to Salt Lake City and on to Payson. He was the captain of 50 wagons of a wagon train that arrived in Salt Lake Valley in October of 1850. He eventually moved to Thatcher, Arizona and died there in 1888 about the time his grandsons settled in Castle Valley.

One of the children of James and Linda Pace was Warren Sidney Pace who was born in 1837. He was listed in the census of several years in Payson as a farmer, but he also ran freight wagons from the Missouri River to Utah. His pay for one trip was a stove, the first in Payson. He died in Payson in 1903.

Sid and John Ezra Pace were the oldest and fourth child respectively of Warren and Mary Jane Pace. Sid came to this country first and worked for local ranchers and sent glowing reports back to John who joined him and eventually returned with his wife, Anna. A plaque on the Castle Valley Cemetery states that the family had to descend the rock wall north of the Colorado River. “All of the family belongings including the horses and wagons were roped down the cliff. Ireta was so little she was secured to a pillow and was also lowered over the cliff with the aid of ropes,” according to the Pace Family plaque. They moved into a two-room rock house that had a dirt floor and holes where the window and door should have been that “had been built by a man by the name of Fish,” according to John Pace during a 1953 interview. John and Anna raised six children and a beautiful and successful ranching enterprise.