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The Jack And Helen Frye Story!
Sedona's Celebrity Love Story!
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dedicated exclusively to the legacy of Jack and Helen Frye!
The Sedona Legend Web Site is a copyrighted historical photo enhanced narrative presented for
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Sedona Legend was envisioned and created to provide Red Rock State Park visitors a
comprehensive historic overview for Jack and Helen Frye and their Deer-Lick and Smoke Trail
Ranches. This effort is now officially cited by R.R.S.P. as an indepth historical venue
representing Jack and Helen Frye.
Sedona Legend is encouraged by the many friends of Jack and Helen Frye. A gracious thank
you to the Frye and Varner families for invaluable support and Red Rock State Park staff and
volunteers for their enthusiasm.
Sedona Legend Helen Frye a.k.a. the Jack and Helen Frye Story
A Decade of Research and Presentation- Created By Randall D. Reynolds
Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved
The Frye Legacy-
a Lifetime of Accomplishment!
By Randall Reynolds
William John Frye (commonly known as Jack) was born in Sweetwater Oklahoma,
on March 18, 1904 (near his family’s cattle ranch in neighboring Wheeler County Texas).
Jack was born in Sweetwater only because his parents happened to be there that day and Jack
decided it was his time to make his appearance! His parents were Dr. William Henry and Nellie
Cooley Frye, members of a Texas family recognized, then and now, as one of the earliest and
most prominent pioneers of the region. Jack's parents were both born in 1884 (his mother
January 7) and they were married in about 1903, Jack was born a year later. The Fryes lived in
nearby Texola Oklahoma at the time of Jack's birth, where his father was working at a bank,
later in life, though, William Henry was a local chiropractor. The photo above is of the Texas
Frye Ranch and adjoining pond where Jack Frye grew up near the town of Wheeler, Texas.
Frye (Fry) ancestry- in the veins of Jack Frye pumped the blood of one of America's most
illustrious colonial families. The Frye family of the Texas Panhandle was a direct descendant of
Virginia patriot Colonel Joshua Fry, (Fry later became spelled Frye). Joshua Frye, born in
Somersetshire England, attended Oxford University before traveling to America and settling in
Virginia. Fry was a many faceted man as well as an American Patriot. He was the department
head and Professor of Mathematics at William and Mary College, a Member of the House of
Burgessess, Presiding Justice and County Lieutenant of Albemarle County Virginia, map
maker, and land surveyor. Fry became the official surveyor for the Virginia territory, as
appointed by the then Lt. Governor Dinwiddie. In 1751, with Thomas Jefferson’s father (fellow
surveyor Peter Jefferson), they conducted one of the very first surveys and maps of (quote
from map) -the most inhabited part of Virginia and the whole province of Maryland, with parts
of (Pensylvania, Pensilvania) New Jersey, and North Carolina. (Spelling is reflective of 1751.)
The “Fry-Jefferson Map” remains, even today, one of the most historically significant of the
new territory and is currently displayed at the Library of Congress. In association with these
connections, Fry made a comfortable living buying and selling land and was a large early
Fry lived in Albemarle County Virginia, with his wife Mary Micou Hill Fry, and five children, at
a plantation called Viewmont. The location was on the Hardware River near Carter’s Bridge
close to what is now called Charlottesville, Virginia
In a complicated time of pre-United States independence, Joshua Fry who had commanded the
Albemarle regiment from 1745, became the Commander-in-Chief of the newly formed Virginia
Regiment which was organized to address the French and Indian War. Young George
Washington (later General, and U.S. President) was at the same time appointed Lt.
Commander, serving under Fry. This regiment left Alexandria Virginia on April 27, 1754,
marching to Fort Monongahela, with artillery, supplies, and soldiers. One month later, on May
31, 1754, at Fort Cumberland, Col., Fry was fatally injured after a fall from his horse. At the
place of his death was a large stately oak tree, it was here that he was buried. At the base,
George Washington himself, carved deeply into the trunk the following memorial, as a
monument to Fry- “Under this oak lie the body of the good, the just, and the noble Fry.” It was
said that this is the only time in Washington’s entire life that he honored a fellow officer in
this manner. Fry was very widely respected and beloved by the people of Virginia and his
funeral was well attended, to include, the entire Virginia Regiment who felt they had lost a
great leader. In regard to this tragedy, Lt. Col. Washington was appointed to fill Fry’s position
and became the new leader of this regiment. As history played out Washington became the
first president of the United States of America. Peter Jefferson was Fry’s executor after his
death and the two families shared a rich and close friendship for many generations.
Back to the Texas Panhandle- Jack’s grandparents were Henry R. Frye and Lula J. Miller Frye,
they were called “Pa” and “Ma” by Jack and his siblings. In 1884 they built a comfortable home
constructed of red rock on the Frye ranch. This home had the first wooden floors in the county.
The planks and windows were hauled over 200 miles from Dodge City Kansas. These floors were
considered a real luxury over dirt and people would come from all over to attend the popular
dances which were held there weekly. This red rock house at the ranch also served as the first
county U.S. Post Office (1897 to 1909) and Jack’s grandmother Lula Frye, was appointed the
first postmistress. The post office was designated 'Frye - Wheeler County - Texas.'
Tragically for the family, Jack's mother passed away June 11, 1912, leaving Jack to be raised
by his grandparents and father at the tender age of 8. Jack had a brother Patrick McDonald
(1906) and a sister Ople May “Sunny” (1909). The youngsters were first sent to live with their
Aunt Cornelia (Nelie), and her husband, but their Uncle didn’t want them so they were taken
to live with their grandparents, Henry and Lula, at the Frye Ranch, outside of Wheeler Texas.
Here, Jack with his younger brother and sister had a charmed and carefree childhood.
The Frye family ranch consisted of 15,000 acres of cattle-raising land (now oil and gas land)
near Wheeler Texas (west of Sweetwater Oklahoma). It is currently owned by cousins of the
Fryes- the Puryear Family. The area of the Frye Ranch is just 30 minutes north of I-40,
between Albuquerque and Oklahoma City, in the beautiful lush rolling grasslands of the Texas
Panhandle. When I visited I found the Frye and Puryear Families very engaging and cordial!
Note: Much of the information above came from Jack’s baby sister Mrs. Sunny Frye Thomas. It
must be noted that the story of Joshua Fry’s death is handed down to us in several versions. I
have notated what I feel is the correct scenario. I dare say that patriots like Fry are the pride,
the blood, and the glory of this great nation and it gives me pause to relate his story. This
coming from a man whose family too was a part of this tender time in America’s youth.
The image to the left is the "red rock" house
where Jack Frye grew up with his brother and
sister near Wheeler Texas. One wonders if his
latter beloved red rock Sedona Ranch
reminded him of the soil and rock of his birth.
One secret of the Frye red rock house, Jack's
sister Sunny asked me to watch for, was the
“springhouse”. Sunny hoped it was still there. It
was a special place to her when she and her
brothers grew up there, playing around the
house. Before refrigeration, Jack’s grandparents
kept perishable foods, like eggs and cream down
there. A spring house is a small building built
over a spring which keeps food fresh as it sits in
the flow of cool water or adjoining it. We walked
around the old red rock Frye homestead and
found the springhouse just where Sunny said it
would be, water still running through its heart as
it had for over 100 years. What a special feature!
The Frye house above and to the right was built within feet of the old red rock house. The Fryes
desired more room, modern amenities, and a small garage. Sunny mentioned both homes in her
recollections. Helen didn't care for this prairie region. She and Jack bought property in Arizona.
The red rock
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