Thank You For Visiting Sedona Legend-
The Jack And Helen Frye Story!
Sedona's Celebrity Love Story!
This is the official, not to mention only, web portal in the world
dedicated exclusively to the legacy of Jack and Helen Frye!
The Frye Legacy-
a Lifetime of Accomplishment!
By Randall Reynolds
The Sedona Legend Web Site is a copyrighted historical photo enhanced narrative presented for
educational and entertainment purposes. Some materials may be displayed in regard to the
United States Fair Use Act. This web portal is totally non-profit and generates no income nor
does it seek or has it ever accepted a single donation. It is an independent venture.
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
Cross Creek Ranch- Sedona Arizona
Formerly the 320-acre Frye Deer-Lick Ranch
Very 1st Jack Frye Sedona Property Purchase Known Today as:
Cross Creek Ranch & Helen Varner Frye's Cup of Gold Estates
In mid-1941 Jack and Helen Frye bought a substantial amount of ranch property in Sedona
Arizona. Jack Frye, long-time president and one of the original founders of Transcontinental &
Western Air (Trans World Airlines or TWA), purchased the property for use as a working
cattle ranch and TWA get-a-way. The property was also utilized throughout the years to
entertain many Frye guests to include associates of Transcontinental & Western Air, Hollywood
celebrities, and the "Who's Who" of our government. Helen named the first parcel of the new
Frye property "Deer-Lick Ranch" and the second parcel "Smoke Trail Ranch". Eventually, the
Fryes sold a 120-acre parcel (per Helen Frye interview) which included the Deer-Lick Ranch
buildings in 1947. This parcel was part of the original 320 acre Frye purchase from 1941. This
1947 sale (which did not close and record until 2-9-1948) was misleading; however, as Frye
actually increased the size of his Sedona holdings, rather than decreased them- Jack Frye
merely shuffled his property a bit. The Deer-Lick sale was in conjunction with other land trades
and purchases. As an example of Frye National Forest Service land trades I cite just a couple:
Initiated by Jack Frye February 20 1946
Finalized- November 6 1947 (110 acres)
Initiated by Jack Frye February 20 1946
Finalized- November 6 1948 (52.50 acres)
Initiated by Jack Frye 1950
Finalized- April 9 1952 (32.5 acres)
The Wings of the Wind was built on the 32.5 acre parcel (see Page 1962). Land trades were with
the Frye Sunshine (22,000 acre) and Spring Valley (4,500 acre) Ranches in Northern Arizona
(which were substantially larger properties than any of the Sedona Frye holdings). By 1948 the
Fryes owned over 50,000 acres of ranch property in Arizona alone, this aside from other
residential properties around the country and sizeable Texas ranch holdings with oil interests.
The photo (left) of Jack and Helen was used in
a Fortune magazine profile on Jack from 1945.
The image was a Frye photo sent to Fortune to
use with the article (similar) to another photo
(below) which features just Helen taken at the
neighboring Smoke Trail Ranch. Both images
are from the earliest Frye time frame of about
1942. In Fortune the caption was as follows-
"Jack and Helen Frye like best the life on
their 22,000-acre ranch near Flagstaff,
Arizona. With a weeping willow in the front
yard, mauve cliffs in the background, and
1,200 cattle, the ranch reminds Frye of his
Texas boyhood. When international routes are
settled, Frye would like to take less active part
in T.W.A., and spend more time at the ranch."
First time ever I have seen in print that Frye
indicated a desire to semi-retire from TWA.
The photo to the right (captured in June of
2008) matches exactly the backdrop of the
image loaned to Fortune for the Frye Profile in
1945 (seen above). The lot in the foreground is
across the street from the former Frye
bunkhouse which Helen converted to a guest
house (discussed on this Page 1956). The
mountain (Schuerman) is just to the west of
the Armijo homestead and the former Frye
ranch. The caption which ran with the image
above implies the photo was captured at the
22,000 acre Frye Sunshine Ranch currently
known as the Red Gap Ranch at Sunshine
Meteor City Arizona. However, I feel the writer
To the left we see Helen Frye in a photo taken
at about the same time as the (Jack and Helen
photo) above. In this image Helen is in a
corral riding her horse bareback. The corral
was east of the Willow House at Smoke Trail
Ranch (now Red Rock State Park). She is
wearing a similar outfit in both photos, this
one thought to have been captured by Jack
Frye. The man behind Helen? He is not
identified but possibly could be Frye Deer-Lick
Ranch foreman (Joe York Sr.) 1942-1945.
Deer-Lick Ranch was the Operations Center of the Frye Holdings
at Sedona for the first 7-years of nearly 40-years of Frye Ranch
Ownership. Smoke Trail Ranch came later after 1947
The remaining ranch (Smoke Trail) remained intact and grew throughout the years. This was
accomplished by land purchases from adjoining ranchers and various National Forest Service
land trades. The Frye holdings soon came to encompass well over 700-acres of prime Sedona
Oak Creek ranching property. The massive Sedona Frye Smoke Trail Ranch was the result of
Jack and Helen Frye purposely creating a large ranch not as a result of the purchase of an
existing ranch as some may believe, although some of the smaller parcels were associated with
local Sedona ranchers. The Frye Ranch officially existed for some 40-years. The remaining 286
acres remaining today exists as the undeveloped nature preserve of Red Rock State Park. The
other outstanding portions of the Frye ranch survive as large tracts of development, Cross
Creek Ranch (as the former Deer-Lick Ranch), the Helen Frye Cup of Gold Estates, Smoke
Trail Ranch Estates, (the last land trade of Jack Frye, 1952) and many smaller segments. The
Frye legacy is well represented in rural Sedona and will remain so for the foreseeable future!
A Variety of Operation Buildings and Ranch Help Housing
In the early years Jack and Helen utilized both Deer-Lick and Smoke Trail Ranches. There
were a variety of structures which were used by the Fryes to "put-up" their many celebrity
guests. This included the Deer-Lick Ranch houses and adjoining outbuildings which were built
by or before Jack and Helen bought the property in 1941. (Two red rock homes remain today as
private residences). Other buildings were located at the Smoke Trail Ranch portion of the Frye
parcel. One was the "Willow House" (remaining today as part of Red Rock State Park). In
addition were nearby small structures which were used for housing ranch hands and an old
rustic homestead ranch house which was modified in the 1970's to become the bunkhouse
building that remains today. In the mid 1940's the Fryes built an adobe guest house for some of
their many guests (this building no longer exists). After 1947, the Apache Fires became the
primary home of the Fryes when at the ranch. Many of the Frye ranch employees lived "on
property". The Fryes had 4 cattle brands of which 3 are documented today. One was a "F"
which was used for their Arizona and Texas ranches (Jack used this for his own cattle since 8
years old) please see Page 1923. Specifically for the Deer-Lick Ranch Helen Frye designed a
special and unique cattle brand in the shape of a deer antler with two prongs. This was the
brand used at the now Cross Creek Ranch when the Fryes occupied the property (see below).
History- Difficult to Document- the first Frye Sedona Residence
It was difficult to document which Deer Lick residence was the "first" Sedona home of Jack
and Helen Frye. This is not because oral history was in error but because not all Frye residences
from the 1940's remain today. For several years this detail caused real difficulty identifying
Frye ranch buildings. Eye witness testimony from former employees of the Fryes who lived at
the Deer Lick property and new photos finally help us solve this mystery! This recent
breakthrough has uncovered a third ranch house (long since demolished) which was previously
forgotten. Our first eye witness paints the scene from when Jack and Helen first bought their
Sedona property (now Cross Creek Ranch Estates) in the summer of 1941.
A Proposition from Sedona's First Millionaire- Jack Frye
Jack and Helen's first long-term ranch foreman was Roy Kurtz. An earlier hire did not work
out and Roy was asked to fire him. He may have been "inherited" by the Fryes when they
purchased the old Armijo Ranch. Roy, a remarkable gentleman (now passed away) clearly
remembers the first time he met Jack Frye in the summer of 1941. Roy was working for
Andrew Baldwin at Big Park (now known as the Village of Oak Creek). One day he and his
friends looked up and observed a TWA Lockheed Electra flying low through the valley. One of
the men said "that's Jack Frye, he bought the Armijo Ranch over by Baldwin's Crossing!"
Several days later, a big sedan drove up to where Roy was working. The man driving was no
other than Jack Frye. He stated he was seeking a qualified man to handle the management of
his Deer Lick Ranch holdings. Andrew who had sold Jack the Armijo property recommended
Roy. At the time, Roy was married to his wife Dorothy and together they had a young daughter
named Mary. (Later they had a daughter named Helen who was named after Helen Frye). Jack
asked Roy if he and his family would come out and live on the ranch and work for he and
Helen. Roy happily agreed. Kurtz was living on a family ranch at Jack's Canyon, which adjoins
Big Park. Within a short time, the move was made over to Deer Lick Ranch. Per Roy, he and
his family took up residence in the red rock and frame house closest to creek (now demolished)
and Jack and Helen stayed in the second house from the creek (Armijo homestead). The latter
ranch building is now part of the Cross Creek Ranch development (Weber Cottage) and is
located behind the massive gates across the new bridge which connects Red Rock Loop Road
with Cross Creek. Helen has stated she elected to stay at Deer Lick even after her and Jack
purchased the adjoining Smoke Trail Ranch, primarily when Jack was away from the ranch in
the early years. This is thought to be perhaps because of its close proximity to the ranch family
dwelling? Adjoining the houses were several outbuildings (one with a fireplace), and adjoining
corrals, etc. Jack and Helen also resided at the "Willow House" on Smoke Trail Ranch starting
in October 1941, to summer of 1948. (The Fryes owned this cottage for over 30 years). By 1948
Jack and Helen moved up to the Apache Fires house which was nearly completed, after having
been under construction for nearly two years.
Frye Ranch Manager Roy Kurtz Meets the Glamorous Helen Frye
One day in the fall of 1941 Roy was walking with Jack at the Deer Lick property along the
Armijo irrigation ditch when he spotted a shiny new convertible pulling up the road to the ranch
entrance. Jack turned to Roy and said "come on down and meet my wife". Jack and Roy
walked down to the road where Helen Vanderbilt Frye waited in a bright red '41 Pontiac
convertible. Jack proceeded to introduce his wife to Roy. Kurtz as interviewed today (2005)
remembers Helen as very beautiful and gracious "pretty as a movie star" he recalls. Instantly,
he liked her. Roy admired the beautiful sleek convertible and mentioned to Jack that he
needed to buy a new car himself. Jack turned to Roy and said "don't do anything until I get
back out here, I'll make you a good deal on a car." Cars were very hard to get at the time.
Sure enough, the next time Jack came to the ranch he presented Roy with a new 1941 Pontiac
4-door-sedan. Roy was thrilled! This was not an unusual act of kindness for Jack Frye but
merely one of many similar stories remembered about this great man by many people that
actually knew him! You see, no matter how busy Jack was and no matter how heavy the
responsibility of TWA weighed on his shoulders, he never passed up an opportunity to help
people associated with him. This was the real essence of Jack Frye. After Roy and his family
were comfortably settled on the ranch Roy stated that Helen would often wave when they would
drive by and inquire "how's my little sweet pea?" She was referring to Roy and Dorothy's little
girl Mary of which Helen doted. Roy and his wife named their second daughter "Helen" in
regard to how highly they thought of Mrs. Frye. It was not common knowledge that Helen was
unable to have children and had miscarried several times when she and Jack tried to start a
family. Therefore, although heart wrenching for Helen Frye deep inside, she adored all the little
ones who came into her life throughout the years.
A Jack Frye Sky Harbor Flight to Buy Cattle For Deer-Lick Ranch
This story also appears on Page 1940- (Lockheed Electra Jr. 12A)
Because of Jack's involvement with TWA it seems many people who remember the Fryes
always have a story about planes. Jack Frye was all about air transportation and Sedona's early
history is forever cemented with TWA. The Frye’s ranch manager, Roy Kurtz, who worked for
Jack and Helen Frye from 1941 to 1943 fondly remembers Jack and Helen, the ranch, and
Jack’s Lockheed. One story he recalled when I interviewed him was a flight with the Fryes
when Jack needed to go to the Valley (Phoenix) to purchase stock for the ranch. Jack who came
from a long line of very successful cattle ranchers kept his Sedona ranch stocked with bovines,
more so in the early 40’s than later. Jack and Helen by 1948 had acquired over 50,000 acres of
ranching property in Arizona alone. All this property was successfully operated.
Roy, happened to be free this Saturday morning so Jack asked him if he would like to fly down
with Helen, Dolly Schuerman, and himself. Roy jumped at the chance to take a flight in the
futuristic Lockheed 12A airliner. Jack drove them all over to the Frye airstrip where Jack had
his Lockheed Electra tied down. After everyone was on board and settled into their seats, Jack
started the radial engines one by one. After running them up, he released the brakes. The
Electra gently started rolling down the packed sod runway, smooth as silk. As the plane gained
speed, the tail lifted and the ship rose with a throaty roar. As the polished to a mirror-finish
TWA Electra Jr. climbed into the sky over the Red Rock Country it would have been a blinding
sight in the intense early morning sun.
Keeping low in the air, Jack flew northeast for about 15 miles at which he flew low over his
Deer-Lick Ranch so they could all see it from the air. Roy was amazed at how small the
property looked from above- a fairytale land of red rock spires and pinnacles. At Baldwins's
Crossing (now Crescent Moon Ranch) Jack banked to the south and proceeded to climb to about
10,000 feet, throttling back to cruise speed. At over 200 mph they followed a sky-route from
Sedona to Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. In mid-flight, Jack asked Roy to come up and sit in
the right seat of the cockpit and take control of the Electra, a seat Helen often occupied.
Roy related that he was very nervous and remembers resting his hand on the throttle levers of
the two R-985 Pratt and Whitney radial engines. He immediately felt the vibration of the
powerful power plants and was abruptly taken aback. Jack showed him the basics of controlling
the plane and then let Roy take over. At least Jack let Roy "think" he was flying the plane.
Eventually, Roy surrendered the controls back to Jack, who navigated the 36 foot mini-airliner
on south into the Valley of the Sun.
In our day it takes 2 hours to drive from Sedona to Phoenix. In 1942 it would have taken more
than 3 hours on the long narrow winding Highway 89A through Jerome and Prescott because
there was no Black Canyon Freeway (I-17) at the time. On this hot summer morning it took
Jack and his passengers less than 30 minutes to reach Phoenix Sky Harbor. As one of the most
outstanding airplanes ever designed the Lockheed Electra is still one of the fastest vintage twin
engine planes ever produced and remained one of Jack's all time favorite private transports.
The ship’s engineering was so remarkable that both Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes chose
nearly identical Lockheeds for their round-the-world flights.
As they neared the airspace over Phoenix Arizona Jack radioed the tower saying- "this is TWA
240 requesting landing clearance." This airport was very familiar to Jack as he and his
partners, Paul Richter and Walter Hamilton, initiated the very first scheduled passenger
service into Arizona (1927), with Jack flying the very first passenger flight! The routes between
Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, Douglas, and El Paso, were pioneered by Standard Air Lines,
with company president Jack Frye often the pilot. Later, Jack, along with TWA, launched the
very first Trans-Continental and Trans- Atlantic passenger service for the United States.
Roy, Helen, and Dolly sat visiting while they watched the palm trees and burnt orange tile roofs
come in closer and closer. As the Electra's mirrored reflection raced over the ranch estates of
Scottsdale they gradually glided in, settling on the tarmac, with the engines rumbling lightly, as
the tail dropped to the ground with a slight thump. After they taxied to a parking area Jack
went through his shut down procedures and in a moment he was opening the door and setting
out the steps (the 12A did not have Air-Stairs). Roy waited for Helen and Dolly to be helped out
of the plane by Jack, and then he too jumped into the baking sun. The intoxicating fragrance of
citrus trees wafted all around them on the runway.
A TWA courtesy car was waiting for the President of TWA and his guests, soon they were
whisked off to the now famous Tovrea Stockyards. Jack and Roy viewed cattle to purchase and
made arrangements for them to be shipped up to Sedona in a big cattle truck. These were added
to the cattle Jack had already purchased, to include 20 from Roy's family ranch. (By 1947, Jack
had 501, 2 to 3 year old Hereford steers at the ranch in Sedona). After Helen and Dolly
returned from shopping they all had an Arizona steak dinner at the stockyard’s famous
Late in the day, after Jack took care of some business at the TWA terminal office, they
returned to the Electra which looked to Roy like a rocket ship, its nose pointed high into the
sky. Jack started the engines one by one and they took off again soaring into the light of a
magnificent Arizona sunset. As the clearance lights twinkled far above the city Roy fell into a
hypnotic trance staring out the port window. He imagined he could see all the way to Los
Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. Over the background of the engines he could just barely hear
Jack and Helen visiting with each other, sitting in the cockpit. The daylight horizon lost its light
to the crimson hues of a setting sun as the executive airliner continued north to Sedona. Just
as Roy was starting to really relax Jack announced they were due to touch down in about 5
Roy watched intently as the ground quickly rose up to meet them. The engines nearly silent,
almost at idle, purred as the plane swung in low and glided over the highway where the brilliant
flip-down landing lights illuminated the sage brush and pavement like daylight. They touched
down amid running jack rabbits and rolled to a stop near where the Frye ranch car was parked.
Roy stepped down from the Lockheed into the cool desert evening. The Arizona stars reflected
brilliantly off the mirrored surface of the Electra and the smell of sagebrush and hot oil assailed
his senses. The only sound was crickets and the steady ticking of the hot radial engines.
A milestone in his young life Roy vowed to never forget the experience! Now after 63 years his
memory of that special day vivid in his 96 year old mind. Roy has now passed away but each
time I interviewed him he was a delight and a gentleman. He never failed to mention how much
he thought of the Fryes and how they had “enriched” his life.
Please note- I wrote the piece above to reflect in “story-form” Roy’s recollection of his trip to
Phoenix with the Fryes. I filled in details only as I felt appropriate. Roy did not mention
whether there was a TWA co-pilot onboard that day. Jack did fly the plane alone, but more than
not, the crew of the Frye private planes were staffed by a pilot (Frye) and copilot. Especially
when flying out west to the Sedona ranch. This extra pilot was necessitated by Frye who always
worked in the cabin on paperwork and entertained TWA clients and associates on flights. It
appears this day the copilot stayed behind at Cottonwood (where Jack always put them up at a
motel) and Jack flew the plane down to Sky Harbor himself. (This plane had been retrofitted by
Frye for 2 pilots, 4 passengers only). A few years later with Jack’s larger Lodestar the flight
crew included the Frye’s private TWA V.I.P. Hostess, Harriet Appelwick, who later also worked
for Howard Hughes. In regard to Dolly Schuerman, it was thought this was her first flight and
at one time, that she was afraid of flying. However, recently in 2010, I found out that she was
certainly not timid about flying with Jack and Helen in their 12A. At least twice, when the
Fryes stopped in Sedona on their way to California (and had a seat available) Jack and Helen
invited Dolly on board for a flight to the west coast where she would visit her sister. It is not
known if she was able to connect with the Fryes for the flight back though. This would have
been complicated as Jack's flights were 'oft delayed due to TWA business, and as well, he would
often fly different routes due to business engagements.
Roy didn't take any pictures the day he flew to Phoenix in
the Electra Jr., but he did take one of the best pre-flight
photos of the Fryes (together) to have survived some
70-years later. So few images of the Fryes at the Sedona
Ranch exist. As seen to the right Helen and Jack were
waiting for Roy to drive them out to the Frye airstrip to
board Lockheed 240 outbound to TWA corporate offices
at Kansas City MO. Jack is wearing his flight glasses and
holding his trademark cigar and as always dressed in
suit and tie. Helen, in western duds with cowgirl boots,
western cut jacket and slacks. Jack is holding his sport
jacket and Helen's sable coat. This image was captured at
the old entrance (low water crossing) to the Frye
Deer-Lick Ranch. You can see the bumper of the car
which was being loaded in the right of the frame. This
ranch is now known as Cross Creek Ranch Estates and it
adjoins the Frye Smoke Trail Ranch.
There is a new bridge and entrance farther south to this property (currently). Interestingly,
Helen is holding a piece of Zierold flight luggage which was heavily promoted and tested by
TWA. This luggage was designed and manufactured by Jack Frye's friend Herman Zierold. It is
said that in 1920's Los Angeles where Jack and Herman both struggling to get a foothold, they
were once roommates after which they remained life-long friends, both the same age.
The above photo is priceless- this is not stated lightly! As mentioned, it was photographed by
Roy Kurtz, Jack and Helen's first permanent Sedona ranch foreman. This image is thought to
be one of the very first ever taken of Jack and Helen (together) in Sedona. It is one of only a
handful of photographic images to survive which show them together at Deer-Lick Ranch or
Smoke Trail Ranch in Sedona, all others are lost! Displayed above is the clearest of these
images and we have only Roy Kurtz to thank for snapping the shot and preserving it for over 60
years! Many thanks to Roy who allowed me to scan the original rendition of the image creating
the most detailed copy available anywhere. Roy states that the image was captured near the
west side of the original low water crossing over Oak Creek to the now Cross Creek Ranch on
the edge of the now Lower Red Rock Loop Road. It was not photographed near the Willow
House at Red Rock State Park as many originally thought. The occasion? Jack and Helen were
ready to be driven out to their private airstrip by Roy where their executive airliner (TWA
Lockheed Electra Jr. 12A NC18137) awaited them. The destination was TWA headquarters in
Kansas City, MO., and their home-base at Merriam, Kansas (Overland Park). This Frye home
was a Tudor-like mansion which sat on 5 acres of rural property which still exists today. The
planes utilized by Jack and Helen Frye as TWA executive transports, by 1945, were staffed by a
TWA Hostess- (Harriet Appelwick) and usually a TWA co-pilot. Jack piloted all his air flights, as
Captain, to include many TWA airliners that he traveled on. It is undisputed that Jack Frye was
TWA's best pilot so you were in the best of hands when he was on a TWA flight or piloting TWA
revenue flight (which was often)! Roy relates that Jack and Helen often traveled with a valet or
butler, as well, a gentleman named "White". This man was part of the staff at Jack and Helen's
Merriam estate. After 1944, White was employed at the Washington D.C. mansion (Hillcrest
Farm aka: the Doubleday Mansion- The Cedars.)
Communication with Sedona Ranch Foremen was by Telegram
Above is just one of many Western Union Telegrams that Roy received from the Fryes.
The one displayed here is the only one to survive. It reads as follows:
July 28 1942- MAIL CARE DEER LICK RANCH- SEDONA, ARIZ.
MY HOUSEKEEPER AND SECRETARY DRIVING TO RANCH, SHOULD ARRIVE
FRIDAY EVENING OR SATURDAY. DO NOT BOTHER TO CLEAN HOUSE BUT
PLEASE TURN ON REFRIGERATOR AND HAVE STOVE FILLED. MR. FRYE AND
I AND BUTLER EXPECT TO ARRIVE SOON AFTER. BEST REGARDS, HELEN FRYE
Many times Jack and Helen for one reason or the other did not have the luxury or the time to
fly their executive plane out to Sedona. They would arrive via TWA commercial airliners into
Winslow Arizona near their Sunshine Ranch, now known as Red Gap Ranch. On one of those
occasions Jack had flown back to Kansas City and Helen was at the ranch by herself. Roy
remembers her asking him to drive her to the Winslow Airport for a flight to New York City.
He had to get up early before dawn for the 3-hour-drive. By the time he finally returned to the
ranch it was late in the day. Roy often conducted business at the ranch, as instructed per letter,
from Jack's TWA secretary. Jack was so busy that often this was the only way he could manage
his properties. One of Jack's personal secretaries at the time was Meriam L. Furse, later his
long-term personal secretary was Jean Phillips. Many times Roy would receive a telegram from
the Frye's advising him when they would be arriving and to meet them at Winslow Airport or
their private airstrip on certain days and times. Several times, later in years, Roy and his wife
were asked to join the Fryes at the "Willow House" for dinner. On one of these occasions, Fritz
and his wife Dolly Schuerman were also guests. The Schuermans built the "Willow House" and
Jack and Helen bought that portion of the ranch from them in fall of 1941. Roy remembers the
evenings as always being fun and Helen as being a terrific cook!
Pearl Harbor Disrupts Lives of Many
Because of the attack on Pearl Harbor, eventually, Roy felt he should join up himself. Roy
talked to Jack about his feelings and Jack totally understood. However, he asked Roy if he
would wait until the cattle were down from Flagstaff for the winter. The cattle were currently at
their summer pasture. This was the Lee Doyle ranch three miles south of Flagstaff. Doyle was a
rancher and horse wrangler who provided stock for many big Hollywood movie companies. Roy
had personally branded these 100 or so cattle with the Deer-Lick brand. Finally the cattle were
moved back to Deer Lick Ranch by truck. If the cattle were driven down Oak Creek Canyon
Roy said they would have lost too much body weight. Finally by November of 1942, Roy was free
to join the military and he and his family moved from the ranch.
Ad (Help Wanted Male) column
October 3, 1942 (AZ and NM publication)
'Ranch foreman wanted at once. Experienced. Must be expert in general irrigated farming,
orchards, hogs, cattle, horses, fowls. Modern home in Oak Creek Canyon. Wonderful climate.
Right salary to right man. State proposition in first reply.
Jack Frye Deer-Lick Ranch, Sedona, Arizona'
The Frye main ranch house at Deer-Lick as it appeared about 5 years after the Fryes sold the
property. The house reflects all renovations completed by the Fryes in the 1940's and had not
been altered by anyone else at this time. Photos of the house from 1943 appear below on page.
Deer-Lick Ranch Employs 2 Ranch Families in the Early 1940's
After purchasing the Deer-Lick Ranch Property at Sedona in June 1941 (former Blackmore
Ranch, and prior Armijo Ranch) Jack and Helen soon purchased the adjoining Schuerman
Ranch. During the early 40's the Fryes initiated major renovations on the houses at Deer-Lick
and the adjoining former Schuerman properties. The Willow House at (now Red Rock State
Park) became the Fryes primary residence after 1941-42 and they enlarged the cottage by half.
They kept their ranch foreman families at the working portion of their ranch (Deer-Lick). This
included the Armijo Ranch House (now Weber cottage) and an adjoining smaller ranch manager
residence. The Fryes did not use the Deer-Lick Ranch buildings as a residence after about 1942.
Frye Ranch Foremen Compiled from Incomplete Records
June 1941 to fall 1941 (name unknown) Jack instructed Roy to fire this lazy worker
1941 to 1942 Roy Kurtz
1943 to 1945 Joe and Joel York (Hazel York- Manager)
1944 to 1947 Paddy (Patricia) Mountfort- (Manager only- oversaw ranch operations)
1945 to 1947 Al Nuanez
1947 to 1949 Joseph Targhetta
1950 to 1977 Walter Duncan (worked for Helen Frye)
This page addresses the 120-acre "Cross Creek Ranch" portion of the original Frye Ranch
holdings. This page starts with the Frye association of this parcel in 1941 (when it was called
Deer-Lick Ranch) and closes after the Leenhouts purchased the property in 1951. Even though
my focus is the Frye association- the property has a beloved history throughout the years with
many different parties.
Forgotten Memories of a Sedona Ranch Family
Travel Back in Time to the Frye "Deer Lick Ranch"
Early 1943 to Late 1945
“The Fryes were very generous people. Wonderful people! I took care of the books, payroll, and
answered all the mail for the Frye Ranch. Everything I asked for I got, they never turned me
down. They were very generous people!” Hazel York- Frye Ranch Manager (1943 to 1945). This
anecdote and others following in this York family photo section unless otherwise notated are
from interviews with Hazel York Barnett....
"The Fryes were Generous and Kind...." Hazel York Barnett
Above is Joel York (Frye Deer-Lick Assistant Ranch Foreman) at front entrance to the Frye
ranch property off Red Rock Loop Road (now Cross Creek Ranch Estates). This is the old road
into the ranch which crossed the creek farther north at a low water crossing (not the current
new bridge). To the right Joel York (Hazel's husband) as seen with the famous Frye Santa
Gertrudis cattle that Jack Frye obtained from the King Ranch and Congressman Richard (Dick)
Kleberg (a Frye intimate). It is said that these were the very first SG ever distributed by the
King Ranch (in this case a gift) although the Fryes eventually purchased many others from the
King Ranch- Jack Frye liked their gentle nature.
This photo has been very difficult to identify but it is known to be of one of the 2 ranch family
houses at the Frye Ranch in 1942. It shows little Dean Dispain standing on the porch of what is
thought to be the (now torn down) second ranch house which sat closer to Oak Creek from the
current Armijo (Weber) ranch house. To the right, Geraldine Bird poses aside the main ranch
house (also referred to as the Armijo Homestead and Frye House). Behind her is the 2nd ranch
manager house shown to the left, where Hazel and her husband Joel lived. Roy and his family
lived in this cottage previously and the Frye's stayed at the main house when on property.
All the York photos in this above section are courtesy of Geraldine Richards Bird who granted
permission for their use here. Also thanks to Patty Denison (Assistant Park Manager)
Red Rock State Park for assistance in connecting Sedona Legend with Geraldine!
The Assistant Ranch Foreman family for the Frye Deer Lick Ranch (Joel and Hazel York) lived
in the small cottage (above) near the main house. The Ranch Foreman's family (Joe and Mimi
York) lived in the main house. By this time Jack and Helen Frye were in residence at the
Willow House over at Smoke Trail Ranch. These buildings at Deer Lick Ranch or (Farm) as
Helen may also have called it were the "operations center" for the Oak Creek Frye ranch(s)
from 1941 to 1947. According to deed records, even though the Fryes sold the parcel @ (120)
acres where these buildings sat on July 31 1947 the sale did not close until February 9 1948. This
is not unusual in the sale of large land parcels with many assets. The assistant foreman's
dwelling (as seen above) sat directly west of the main house toward the creek, per Hazel York.
Shown in the image (left) are ranch family visitors Aunt Bet and Harold.
Hog Wild at the Frye Ranch
Hazel York stated, “Papa York and Joel went to Phoenix to get the hogs that Jack wanted them
to pick up. It may have been a tax write off or something. Unfortunately, they kept dying for
whatever reason. Every day it seems we would wake up and find more of them dead, at which
point, Joel and Papa would have to pile them up and burn them. We didn’t dare eat the hogs
because we were unsure why they were dying. For a while the Fryes replaced them. Finally
though they gave up on the venture. It seems other ranches in the Sedona area also found that
hogs could not be sustained on the valley ranches. In the image above right we see Vera
Despain, Hazel York, little Dean, and the Frye Ranch hogs at Deer Lick Ranch- 1945.
Serious Business- Ranching
"Whenever Jack and Helen flew in, after they got settled, they would drive over to Deer Lick
in a truck or car to visit and go over the operations of the ranch. “Jack would always put his
arm around me and beg me to stay out there.” Help was so hard to come by during the war. He
was a very warm person-- what I would call, jovial.” -Hazel York
The Frye Deer Lick Ranch shown with out-buildings and main house. Large duck pond with
huge cattle barn, main house, smaller barn (nearby). From left to right, Wendell, Vera
Despain, and little Dean Despain, 1945. To the right older girl appears to be Geraldine Bird.
Two Ranch Foreman Residences
High Water of Oak Creek Makes Shopping a Challenge
"During the 1940’s there was a swinging bridge across the creek. Occasionally, when the creek
was high we would not be able to drive into the ranch. When this happened we would park the
cars on the side of the road (Red Rock Loop) and honk for Joe or Joel to drive the tractor and a
flatbed trailer over to pick us up with the groceries and parcels." -Hazel York
As seen to the left above (left to right) Frye Ranch Foreman- Joe York Sr., George Richards,
Frye Ranch Assistant Foreman Joel York. Front row (left to right) Geraldine Richards (Joe's
granddaughter), Mime (Jeremiah) York (Joe Sr.'s wife), Hazel York (Joel's wife). The second
image (right) is (left to right) back row, Joe York Sr., George Richards, Joel York. Front row
(left to right) Geraldine Richards, (her mother) Zola Richards and Hazel York. Date is 1943.
The house in the background is the ranch foreman's residence or what we know in our today as
the Armijo homestead or Weber Cottage. The Fryes extensively renovated it in the 1940's.
Christmas at the Frye Ranch in 1943. Joe "Papa" York Sr. (Frye Ranch Foreman), Zola
Richards (Joe Sr.'s daughter and Geraldine's mother), and Geraldine Richards outside the
Armijo homestead. Two years later, a second Christmas at the Frye Ranch, with little Dean
Despain outside of the Frye Foreman's residence (Armijo Homestead) in 1945.
Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning-
Hazel knew Max and Dorothea well and says Dorothea was a very interesting lady. After the
Yorks left the ranch they worked at a little grocery, up near the (now) Oak Creek Tavern. One
day Max and Dorothea came in, Hazel had recently had a baby, and he was in a basket near the
register. Max spotted it, leaned over, and said in his broken English, “are its eyes open yet?"
(like you would say about a puppy). Hazel said, “well no, because he is asleep." Hazel said that
was about the funniest thing she ever heard anyone say about a newborn "human".
A Fashion Whiz!
“Helen Frye was a dynamic person, I thought she was a stunning lady and had the most
beautiful clothes. One day we were window shopping in old town Cottonwood-- a little nothing
town then. Helen told me when she was in New York or Beverly Hills-- places with fine shops,
she could look at any of the clothes displayed in the store windows and go home and create an
exact copy for herself. Helen was an accomplished seamstress. She also made hats and had her
own Hat Shop in Beverly Hills. She confided in me once that she and Marlene Dietrich
corresponded with each other. Helen took me under her wing and taught me many things," -
Hazel York. One time in particular Jack needed to leave the ranch on business. Mrs. Frye and
Hazel drove Jack to the Frye airstrip after which she and Helen went shopping. “Helen took me
shopping many times to Flagstaff or Cottonwood,” said Hazel, "we always had a lot of fun."
A Lonely Cowboy Meets Helen Frye- Careless Hair!
“Helen was so beautiful,” Hazel said, “she was very young when I was there and we had that in
common. One time she took me to a bar in Bridgeport. Helen Frye was so stunning that men
always watched her. That particular day Helen hadn't done anything with her hair- just ran her
fingers through it. When we went into the bar a man came up to her and said 'Dahhhling I love
your careless hair.' I never forgot that! That was the first time I had ever been in a bar," Hazel
York remembered fondly, "but we didn't have a cocktail, only something cold to drink."
Geraldine Richards Bird Comments
"When I was a little girl, I would come out to visit my Grandfather Joe York at the Frye
Ranch. There was a room in their home at the old Armijo Homestead where Helen had a lot of
her millinery supplies stored. We loved to go in there and see all the fashion materials and
hats!" A childs dress-up adventure to be sure! "The Fryes had a lot of things stored at the
ranch- gifts. Two items I remember were a were copper horse head pictures that matched. They
offered many items to my family, like for instance, a fireplace facade made out of copper. My
grandfather told them, 'no thanks, what would I do with something like that?'"
who was sent the image by the Fryes and who had never personally visited the ranches simply
mixed up the details of the two different Frye properties. Under close scrutiny, it's obvious the
image was actually captured at the Deer-Lick Ranch, now (Cross Creek Ranch) adjoining the
Frye Smoke Trail Ranch, at Sedona Arizona. The reference to a weeping willow? This was a
notated adjoining landmark at the Sedona Frye (Smoke Trail Ranch) Willow House for over 25
years. The 22,000 acre property referenced? This was the Sunshine Ranch and there were
indeed 1,200 branded Frye cattle kept there in the 1940's. Date of photo? Most likely 1941-1943.
In the image to the right we see the same
barn (seen behind Helen above) and the same
red rock bunkhouse (behind) which was built
by the Fryes in the early 1940's. Ranch helper
Rosie is milking the ranch milk cow (1948).
Glamour and Glitz and Marlene Dietrich
"The president’s son Elliott Roosevelt stayed at the ranch on his honeymoon with Faye
Emerson. Everything the Fryes did was so glitzy, we didn’t live the glamorous life they did.
Helen would tell me about all the parties she would attend, the people she met, and show me
photos, etc. I was always so enthralled with it all. One time, she told me she corresponded with
Marlene Dietrich and that they were friends. Helen and I would ride together whenever she was
here." -Hazel York
According to former ranch hand, Carmen Ryes, Marlene Dietrich did visit the Frye Smoke Trail
Ranch in Sedona and sing for the Fryes and their guests in the early 1940’s. Mr. Ryes states,
that during this time Marlene was touring the United States. Research shows Marlene did a one-
woman show of sorts, mostly singing for audiences across the country. Most people are not
aware she did this in the 1940’s. She did so between her filming schedule, either encouraged by
her studio or in regard to her own desires. I think it likely this was a way for this multi-
talented German star, recently arriving in America, to endear and publicize her talents for the
American audience. According to Mr. Ryes, she stayed with the Fryes when she visited Sedona.
He witnessed her wonderful performances himself, and said that there were many outdoor Frye
parties during this time, with “fiddles and guitars- sort of outdoor hoedowns by the creek in the
evenings.” Later he would see more of Marlene at the local picture houses.
Nature's Little Beasts
Jack and Helen entertained their many guests with mini-rodeos, square dances, trail-rides, and
cookouts! The ranch was even made to look like a Hollywood Movie Set for one theme party.
Jack and Helen's friends were treated to royal western adventures! If one imagines one can
visualize the fiddles, guitars, square dancing, singing, and smell the aromatic fires of mesquite
and juniper cook fires! One story goes like this from a local Sedona person (now Williams AZ.)
whom was actually there and worked for Helen and Jack as a guide when he was a little guy-
quote by Carmen Reyes- "The ranch used to be pretty big before Armijo sold some of it to Jack
Frye, he was president of TWA. I remember when Jack Frye came, he used to hire me to be his
'Little Indian Guide', him and Helen used to tell me- ‘and don't speak English.’ They had all
kinds of important people come. Marlene Dietrich- I would get all thrilled to death when she
came, I was about 12 or 14 at the time." Reyes continued, "where the creek goes around, there
was a little farm that was experimenting with soy beans during the war. It was pretty nice then.
We cleared a lot of rocks down by the creek for the Fryes, they wanted a place to swim. I liked
working for them! I was one of the best paid guys around. I made $60.00 a month, it was paid to
me under the table. I would work all day with the tours and then have to hoe or do anything
else that needed to be done. That was fun working with all those movie stars! Helen Frye had
two Great Danes- first two I ever saw in my life and the talk of the town. When she would go
out on horseback, I would have to follow along kind of like a puppy dog. She carried a .22 and I
had to carry boxes of ammunition. She would shoot at anything that moved- grasshoppers-
anything! One day a pack of coyotes came out and took after her dogs. She got so excited she
couldn't hit the coyotes and wouldn't give me the rifle! So I finally got off my horse and had to
get sticks to chase the coyotes off her dogs!"
Please note: the longer Helen lived on the ranch, the more respect she gained for the wildlife.
At the end of her life, she did not allow anything to be killed or harmed in anyway on the ranch.
Rattlesnakes, tarantulas, coyotes, all wildlife lived in harmony and peace on Smoke Trail
Ranch. As Carmen told me in a recent interview (summer 2008)- Helen told him at one point,
she no longer desired to kill anymore of "nature's little beasts" as she put it. This he said was
the result of some experience she had at the ranch. This would be the incident where Helen was
at the building site of the Apache Fires (in the sub-level) and suddenly she looked down and
found a rattlesnake coiled up near her feet. She was awestruck that the snake did not rattle or
try to bite her. From that point on she saw it as a sign that if she respected the wildlife’s
“space” at the ranch- they would respect her space too.
Frye Friends- a lot of Celebrities!
"The Fryes always shared the ranch with their celebrity friends. When Jack would fly in he was
never alone. He would arrive with a plane full of important people. My husband (Joel York)
would saddle up the ranch horses for all of them so they could ride. Helen and I would ride
horses together whenever she would come out to the ranch. We would always have great fun!"
Hughes- Frye Inner Circle
Hazel and her husband Joel were riding one day
on the ranch when their trail ride took them
near the Willow House. Helen and Jack were
outside with some people Hazel didn’t
recognize. Mrs. Frye waved them over. When
they got off the horses Helen proceeded to
introduce them to her and Jack's tall guest. His
name? Howard Hughes! "He had a couple
beautiful young women with him, scantily
dressed. They were all having a 'really' good
time while taking photos! Howard Hughes would
fly in many times in his own plane and stay a
few days or a week. Jack would go get him at
the Frye airstrip, Hughes would then spend his
time relaxing and riding horses with the Fryes
at the ranch. Usually he would show up with
several beautiful women! The Fryes had a guest
house built near the Willow House, it was a
small rounded adobe-like building just for
guests. -Hazel York
“Helen was just beautiful- 5 foot 4 or so-- lovely and glamorous.
I loved hearing her stories about her exciting life!” Hazel York
Soul Mates and Lovers!
"Helen absolutely hated it when she and Jack,
or just Jack would have to leave the Sedona
ranch. They would be there a few days and
Jack would say ‘Honey we have to go to so and
so’. She wanted to stay at the ranch (with him)
they were definitely soulmates!" Hazel York-
Frye Deer-Lick Ranch Manager
I wanted to close this section with the photo above and to the right which was taken at the Frye
Ranch in about 1941. The location is hard to discern but it was over at the Deer-Lick parcel of
the ranch or at the Willow House area. When Helen's family sent me this photo I almost fell
out of my chair. Helen Frye was certainly a stunning beauty- there is no doubt about that- no
wonder so many people in Sedona were "wowed" by her personality and presence! 1941-1943
1945- A New Ranch Foreman- Al Nuanze- Starts Work for the Fryes
Al Nuanze took over the management of the
Frye Ranch in 1945. The B & W photo (left)
was taken at Smoke Trail Ranch. Location was
the (now) center of the parking lot at Red
Rock State Park Visitor's Center. Behind the
horses one can see Eagle's Nest- supposedly
named for the Walt Disney movie "The
Legend of the Boy and the Eagle" (Page 1967).
The 2 color images below show the same
location in 2008. B &W images in this section
courtesy of Red Rock State Park archives.
Al Nuanze (left) and possibly his wife Kathy,
or if not, perhaps Paddy Mountfort. The other
man is not identified. The Willow House (seen
behind) was considered the Frye headquarters
(1941-1948) and was only opened when the
Fryes were on property. The Fryes renovated
this small cottage expanding it by half and
adding the red rock fireplace. Notice the
blinds are shut, indicating Jack and Helen
were out of town. I have found many historic
photos of the Frye Ranch originated with Jack
and Helen because Jack and Helen used
expensive 35MM equipment and both were
Historical Narrative Below- From Interview with the Late
Al Nuanez on February 24, 1990 at Red Rock State Park
(Red Rock State Park Archives).
“In 1943 I went into the service, however, I came back in 15 months. The Frye’s had
interviewed me before I enlisted and wanted me to work for them.” Al declined the new
position explaining to the Fryes that he wanted to serve his country. However, soon after, he
was injured in action overseas and shipped back the states on a troop carrier. Four months
later in the mid-Atlantic he received official notification that he was “hereby officially exempt
from active duty."
Injured in World War II
Dinner with Mrs. Jack Frye @ the Frye Ranch at Sedona
Al was immediately re-assigned to the Navajo Army Depot west of Flagstaff Arizona for
presumably the rest of his enlistment. In early 1945, Jack and Helen Frye drove up from
Sedona and again requested Al come to the Frye Ranch and take the ranch foreman position. Al
said that he was unable to accept the position, as his hands were tied until he was eventually
discharged. (It must be noted that during this time-frame ranch hands were extremely difficult
to come by as most able-bodied local men were serving overseas in World War II). After several
weeks, Helen Frye drove up from Sedona again and met with Al. She invited him to dinner at
the Willow House that evening. Helen said she wanted to discuss some good news.
A Warm Fire and a Home Cooked Meal
Over dinner that evening Helen said, “Jack just called from Washington D.C. and cleared the
way for you to get out of that job! Tomorrow, you take our pickup truck and bring your things
down here to the ranch.” Al was flabbergasted, he told Helen, “I’ll believe it when the Captain
informs me.” Thanking Helen for the nice evening and dinner, Al returned to the Army base at
A Powerful Man in Washington- The Long Reach of Jack Frye
“Lo and behold when I got back to the Army Depot, the Captain called me into his office. I
thought I had a court martial or something! He saluted me and said, ‘Congratulations!’ I said,
for what? He said, ‘I just received a note from Jack Frye, you are to go work for him.’ I signed
on the dotted line and it was official-- I was released from the Army! He congratulated me on
bettering myself and I soon came down to the Frye Ranch where they handed me a shovel!”
Al’s family has conveyed to me, that Al knew the Fryes for years and worked for them many
different times. It is thought that he came down to the Frye ranch to work briefly in 1944, as
well. After the Yorks resigned in late 44 or early 1945, Al Nuanez officially became the new
ranch foreman for the Frye Deer-Lick and Smoke Trail Ranches at Sedona.
Al pitching hay into storage for the Frye livestock (below left). I think it was taken at the story
and a half pole barn which sat near the current bunkhouse at the center of Smoke Trail Ranch.
But it may very well have been taken at the Deer-Lick Ranch property (as seen below).
Frye Ranch Chores
Orchards of Alfalfa
These images are courtesy of Red Rock State
Park photo archives. It is thought after an
interview with Frank Nuanez (son of Al
Nuanez) that they originated with his father.
"There was a small orchard across from the Willow House for home use and the rest alfalfa.
Eventually, it became permanent pasture for the cattle. The Fryes called it Appelwick Meadow,
after their personal V.I.P. Transcontinental & Western Air Hostess, Harriet Appelwick. There
were four acres of grapes at the ranch (likely a carry over of the Schuerman days). Apples were
grown in Long Meadow (now known as the Twin Cypress Ramada area of Red Rock State Park).
The apple orchard eventually died and Jack asked Al to remove the trees in about 1946. "There
were irrigation ditches all over the two ranches. The one in front of the Apache Fires house was
2 ½ miles long. It was a vicious ditch to keep up! They were all originally built by the
Schuermans and the Armijos as a joint effort. The Fryes maintained and improved them."
(Native American laborers helped Al with the ditches at the Frye Ranch). "Helen Frye would
come by when I was supervising them and threaten to fire me every time she saw me working
along with them. She would say- 'Al-- you’re the boss!'" (meaning delegate the work to your
work crew- don’t do it all yourself!)
Mad Cows at the Frye Ranch
"Jack Frye was interested in Santa Gertrudis
cattle. They developed nicely. We bred them to
Short Horns, Brahmas, and Red Ruperts. They
came out beautiful, not like their Sires who
were vicious. They had enough of the other
strain to make them gentle, but couldn’t get
within 50 yards or make funny noises around
those bulls or they would be spooked. One
weighed 2800 pounds and the other a ton. We
had 8-foot-corrals at Deer-Lick Ranch (now
Cross Creek).... they’d take a little run and
clear (destroy) the fencing. The regular corral,
a 6-foot-one, you would stomp your feet or
something and they would go right over it. I
couldn’t get near the barn. At night they’d get
to fighting with each other and by morning
their eyes would be bloodshot. Very aggressive
stock! They had bad luck with them after I left,
one of them got injured on barbed wire and
developed an infection. Later, another got hit
by lightning. (This steer was found dead back
toward Turkey Creek Road-- and the ranch foreman (then Walter Duncan) had to use a tractor
to drag it back to the Willow House arena). "One was called Senator Kleberg and the other
Senator Brewster. They paid $28,000 for the Santa Gertrudis. (Likely he meant 28 hundred
dollars.) The others were beautiful Short Horns. There were about 25 of the various breeds and
mixes. (The brand Al used at the time was a small 'f' for Frye). That’s an Indian Brand, it
represents the owner and is registered. It has no special meaning."
In the poignant photo above we see Al's shadow in the frame as he captures a photo of the Frye
steers at the feed line. Location- Frye Ranch Operations Center, Deer Lick Ranch- now Cross
Creek Ranch Estates.
Mystery Flight with the Daredevil Hughes?
"There was a lot of Indian in Jack. He told me when we were talking education one night, that
he barely made the eighth grade. He was a pilot and small mail carrier between San Francisco
and Los Angeles for years. President of Transcontinental & Western Air for about 20 years.
The only accident he ever had was when Howard Hughes wrecked his plane. That is when
Hughes went underground, he didn’t want to be seen, he was all disfigured.” (This statement is
a mystery, as it appears to refer to the famous Hughes Beverly Hills crash of 1946. Jack was
not a passenger as Hughes was the sole occupant of the special military test plane. However,
Jack did fly out to Los Angeles from New York immediately and stayed with Hughes at the
hospital for 24 hrs. straight! Other Hughes intimates were at Howard’s bedside as well, 24-7.)
Jet-Setting Fryes New York to Sedona on Private Luxury Liner
“When the Fryes were married, they were mostly traveling- she was between here and New
York City most of the time. Jack used to land over near Cottonwood, but most the time I had
to pick him up at Winslow. He had a jet, converted jet, a Lockheed Lonestar, twin jet. I enjoyed
riding with him, he took me up twice.” (Presumably Al is referring to Jack’s 1942 Lockheed
Lodestar, which was a small 14-passenger twin engine airliner. Jack favored the Winslow
airport to the nearby Frye airstrip (after 1945) as it was longer and paved. Jack and Helen also
flew into Winslow often on Transcontinental & Western Air passenger liners).
Pioneer Cabin- Rustic Fences
As you go down into (the now Cross Creek
Ranch) there is a big partial fence made out of
logs from 2 cabins north of the main house,
(the Armijo Homestead). My grandfather
hewed those logs (Manuel Chavez) my uncle’s
father-in-law. He homesteaded the Bullard
Ranch.” (This ranch was down below the
current Eagle Mountain Ranch Estates). The
adjoining cabin rested on the Frye property.
The image to the right shows the cabin with
Sedona backdrop in the early 1950's.
Unfortunately the mystery fence that Al speaks of is no longer there (as of 2008). However,
with Leenhouts family photos from 1951 on-- we can identify the last remains of the historic
cabins when they were recycled into fencing material. See images adjoining from nearly 50
years ago. In photo above (right) notice the flood waters are nearly up to Red Rock Loop Road
and the original entrance to Cross Creek Ranch on Thanksgiving 1965.)
SURPRISE! The Apache Fires House was Built by Apaches!
“I used to watch the builders work on the Apache Fires house, they used all native stone and
Indian laborers. The workers stayed in little cabins (down by the creek) and would return to
Camp Verde on the weekends. They were Apache Indians. Helen lived there (Apache Fires
house) after the divorce on the ground level. She was an artist and had her studio upstairs, you
could see all around.” (Note- Helen never "lived" on the ground level- she lived in the studio.)
Team of Mules Drafted for the Frye Ranch
Al Nuanez did the horseshoeing at the Frye Ranch and he often used a team of mules that Jack
Frye bought from Al’s uncle.
Haunted Frye Ranch- Another Version of an ‘Oft Repeated Story
“The Frye Ranch was haunted by a mysterious ‘Blue Light.'" (A mirage that would bounce
from mountain to mountain spooking the cattle and horses).
Heartwrenching Divorce Eventually Drives Helen to Cults
“At one time, Helen trained for the Ziegfield
Follies, when she was married to Vanderbilt.
When they were divorced, she married Jack
Frye. She was a beautiful lady- beautiful!
Later in years, she changed drastically and
joined cults, etc.” -Al Nuanze
All the property to the right of the ribbon of
(Red Rock Loop Road) seen in the image
(left) was at one time part of the 700-acre
Sedona Oak Creek Frye Ranch. Photo
captured on the original entrance road to the
Frye Deer-Lick Ranch (now Cross Creek
Ranch Estates). 2008
"Like a Friendly Pup...."
In September 1946, Helen Frye, writing from the Frye Doubleday Mansion in Arlington VA.,
described her ranch manager and foreman to her and Jack's architect, John Gaw Meem, in a
letter- “There is an Irish-born writer staying at our house. Her name is Mrs. Patricia
Mountfort. She will be expecting you, if you arrive before I do. Tell her you are the architect as
she has not been there long enough to know all the many strange names in the neighborhood.
You may need to explain your business, for she will make sure you are the one I am expecting.
The foreman is a Spanish fellow named Letatio Nuanez. If you see him first, he’ll accept you
like a friendly pup and won’t be concerned whether you are my acquaintance or someone who
has come to carry the ranch away. They are a good balance for each other but you’ll like them
both.” -Helen Frye
Santa Monica and the Promise of the Good Life
1940’s California was where the great paying jobs were- what with the defense contract airplane
plants and many other rich opportunities. In 1947, Al and his wife, Cathy, decided to move
farther out west, leaving the Frye Ranch behind. Their son, Frank Nuanez was born in Santa
Monica, December of 1948. Eventually, though, the family returned to Sedona and Al remained
friends with the Fryes for the remainder of his life. (It is interesting to note that Frye intimate
Rosie Armijo who lived at the Frye Ranch in the summers during this same time frame, also,
went to school at Santa Monica).
Entry Fence to Cross Creek was Fashioned from Homestead Cabin
Missing Fence- Found
Transition for the Frye Ranch
1947 was a milestone event in Jack Frye’s life. In February, he left TWA, one of the largest
aviation concerns in the country. At the same time he took a position in N.Y.C. as CEO of the
only world rival of Kodak; General Aniline and Film or ANSCO GAF Corporation. He would
remain with them till 1955, at 4 times his salary with TWA. For the first time since buying the
Sedona Ranch, and the war, Jack had time to evaluate his expenditures in Sedona and his cattle
operations. He spent more continuous time on the ranch this year (than any other previous
period). Jack decided that the buildings at Cross Creek, and maintenance thereof, were not
financially feasible. He decided to increase the size of the ranch and decrease the unnecessary
upkeep. On July 31, 1947, Jack and Helen sold the 120 acre parcel of land which was up until
that time the Frye Deer-Lick operations center. This included the Armijo homestead, adjoining
barn and pond, old bunkhouse (now guest house- discussed on Page 1956) a second ranch family
residence, smaller buildings and several historic cabins. Jack consolidated his operations to the
Willow House parcel of the adjoining Smoke Trail Ranch. He retained cattle and horses but
kept them, for the most part, at 2 other ranches (Sunshine and Spring Valley). The sale did not
close and record until February 9, 1948 but it appears the new owners, with rent or lease from
the Fryes, took up residence in the summer of 1947.
The ranch was sold to a couple named Albert E. and Francis A. Burhop of Chicago, Illinois. This
couple retained the property for just 4 years and used it sparingly as an investment ranch. It
appears business kept Mr. Burhop in the east a majority of the time. The Burhops would come
out to Sedona sporadically and if Mrs. Burhop was at the ranch she would drive up to Flagstaff
to meet her husband, who seemed to arrive regularly by train. As followed through media
sources, on October 8, Mr. Burhop took the train from Flagstaff back to Chicago for several
weeks while his wife Francis stayed at the ranch (“near the Jack Frye place” per newspaper)
with her parents. On Tuesday, November 18, Mrs. Burhop drove up to meet her husband at
Flagstaff after which he again spent some time at the new ranch. The last entry found shows
the Burhops again were at the ranch for several weeks in mid-March of 1949. As Helen Frye
later said in a newspaper interview, the Burhops were not a “good fit” and later the property
was sold in 1951, to (Willis) Bill and Margaret (Pug) Leenhouts who retained the property until
1971 after which it was again sold to the Hal and Jane Maloney. It was the Leenhouts who
renamed the parcel "Cross Creek Ranch" for no other reason than the property was in fact
across Oak Creek from Red Rock Loop Road.
It was during this transition that another
ranch foreman was hired to replace Al Nuanze.
This was Joseph Targhetta from Albuquerque.
Joe came on line, it is thought, in the spring of
1947 and stayed until about 1950. The House
of Apache Fires was built during his
employment, from late 1947 to 1950. Around
the time he was hired, Helen Frye had broke
her arm in a fall from a horse and needed
someone to help her when she was out west
from N.Y.C. staying at the ranch. Joe
volunteered his sister Rosie, who was still in
High School but free for the summer to come
over to Sedona from Albuquerque to help out. Helen agreed and for the first summer Rosie
stayed with Jack and Helen Frye at the Willow House in the guest room. The next summer she
lodged in the Apache Fires house servant's wing. Shown above are Joseph and Rosie Targhetta,
(who were members of a large Italian pioneer ranching family at Corrales, N.M.). Also Copper.
Dedicated to The Fryes & Their Imprint on Sedona Arizona
This Narrative Continues with the Leenhouts Saga on Page 1956
Because of page constrictions this narrative continues on Page 1956
The Frye Deer-Lick main house (one of three on-site residences) with nearby small barn in
1945. On the right rear of the stone main house is what appears to be a white framed addition
or perhaps the edge of the assistant ranch foreman's residence (long since demolished).
Frye Ranch Cattle and Brands- 3 of 4
Brands seen here were registered with the State of Arizona (Live Stock Sanitary Board) as
found in publication of Arizona brands (1943) and the last one found in (1945). The registered
Frye brand (Deer Antler) seen above used on the initial ranch the Fryes purchased in 1941.
They named the ranch Deer-Lick for the natural salt licks found on the property. This land
(60 years later) would become Cross Creek Ranch Estates.
The above registered Frye brand was thought to be used on Smoke Trail Ranch which was the
second ranch the Fryes bought in Sedona (3 months after the first purchase). One rancher
friend has suggested the brand looks like a river crossing. Could it have been an ingenious
brand that represented the straight line (access road) and the curled (Oak Creek) at the same
time, a "ST" meaning Smoke Trail Ranch? And perhaps also a perfect looking "lazy f" on its
side for "Frye"? We will never know for sure but it would be just like Helen to creatively
incorporate all elements mentioned to represent many aspects of the ranch and owner.
The brand above is seen here for the first time, it is a true mystery! Whatever does it represent
and where is the property it is associated with (Cornville). Most importantly what does the (B)
represent? I may have a clue- the B means Brahman and the symbols adjoining are interpreted
as horns; however, this conclusion fades when one considers that most ranchers didn't create
brands to represent specific types of cattle (per ranching friend). More research is needed.
Interestingly there appears to be no record of Frye brands associated with the address of the
Sunshine Ranch or Spring Valley Ranch. (The center drawings are ear markings).
The Fryes had the Following Stock on their Ranches:
Santa Gertrudis (Sedona and Florida ranch)
Red Rupert (unknown breed)
Several milk cows (Guernsey)
Chickens, Turkeys, Geese
To keep the Pack Rats and vernon under control ranch cats (mousers) were employed
Frye Cattle Cited in Media and Witness Accounts:
1,200 cattle (kept at the Sunshine Ranch) media report (1945) 501 (1947) Jack Frye (in letter)
100 cattle (transported from Oak Creek Canyon summer range to Frye Ranch in Sedona) about
1942 (all were branded with Deer-Lick brand) Roy Kurtz (Frye Ranch Foreman)
25 kept at the Sedona Ranch (late 1940’s) Al Nuanez (Frye Ranch Foreman)
(These figures are just select numbers mentioned from time to time in regard to Frye cattle
they are not meant to include all the stock owned by the Fryes overall. This figure would have
been much larger). Please see Page 1952 for further details.
Jack Frye- A Cattle Ranching Legacy
Jack Frye grew up on the family ranch in Wheeler Texas, at one time more than 15,000 acres,
which belonged to his grandparents and father. The property today is still lush and beautiful, as
owned by the Puryear family (cousins of Jack Frye). Jack received his first heifer when he was
born, and remarkably by 7 this little entrepreneur had increased his herd to five. Jack had his
own registered brand, a “JF”, for Jack Frye. Through the years, Jack was to retain ranch
property in Texas or as the press stated, “owned a ranch in Texas.” His other properties were in
Arizona, and in the 1950’s (Florida). All his properties were working cattle ranches.
In Arizona Jack owned over 50,000 acres (cited in 1948) as cited by press reports from the
1940’s. This may have been a combination of leased government grazing land and private owned
land but the article says “owned”. We know from research of historic materials that the Fryes
owned approximately 700 acres of property at Sedona on 2 adjoining ranches, over 22,000 acres
(cited in 1945) at Sunshine, Arizona, (near Meteor Crater), and 4,500 acres (cited 1945), at
Spring Valley (near Williams, Arizona). Could this be all the property they owned in Arizona?
Not likely, as a recent unknown brand has come to light, as registered to Frye property which
was previously unknown (at Cornville, Arizona). There are 22,800 unaccounted Frye acres.
In total Jack Frye used 4 registered Brands on his ranches that are documented as follows:
The first brand Jack Frye utilized (Texas) was the “JF” for “Jack Frye”
The second was a “deer antler” for “Deer-Lick Ranch” (Cross Creek Ranch Estates)
The third (used at Smoke Trail Ranch) was a lazy “f” on its side for Frye or ST (Smoke Trail)
The fourth brand was a “B” (association unknown)
Names of Frye Ranches:
Jack Frye Ranch, Wheeler region of the Texas Panhandle
Deer-Lick Ranch (now Cross Creek Ranch Estates) Sedona, AZ.
Smoke Trail Ranch (now, in part, as Red Rock State Park) Sedona, AZ.
Spring Valley Ranch (current state unknown) north of Williams, AZ.
Sunshine Ranch (now Red Gap Ranch) currently owned by the City of Flagstaff for its plentiful
water resources and rights)
Nevajac Ranch (now in part Ventura Ranch) Davis Family holdings, Crystal River, Florida (the
Fryes owned several large parcels of ranch property in this part of the state
In closing, we must try to reconcile the Frye brand seen above with the registry of Cornville,
Arizona. This is a mystery as history does not document Frye ownership of a ranch or satellite
property in Cornville (south of Smoke Trail Ranch). However as I have encountered many
times in this work, facts and associations are often forgotten by time and witnesses. My
personal feeling, in lieu of future research, indicates that Jack and Helen had another parcel of
property in Cornville where they kept some of their cattle or this brand was used on the
property Jack owned/leased at Cornville Road and 89A. This is where Jack built his private
airstrip- combo Verde Valley Airport. The land was leased or owned and was much larger than
the needs of the airstrip. Is it possible that part of the Frye stock was kept here? Certainly it
can't be ruled out. Even today this property (state owned) has cattle grazing on it.
TWA President Jack Frye & Helen @ Deer-Lick Ranch Sedona
With great honor I post a photo of Helen
Varner Frye never seen by the public before.
Taken in 1941-1942, Helen had recently
become Mrs. Jack Frye, and was no longer
Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr.
This is one of the earliest photos of the Frye
association with their beloved Sedona.
Captured by Roy Kurtz and offered by his
daughter Helen Hopp (named after Helen Frye)
this image is a treasure! Roy was the Frye
Ranch Foreman for several years starting in
1941 (right after Jack & Helen purchased their
Sedona property). Helen was a horsewoman
from before she married Vanderbilt and in this
image she is re-shoeing a ranch horse.
Thank you to the Kurtz family for your
support of Sedona Legend Helen Frye and the
Jack & Helen Frye Story! Click on image for
Helen Shows How It's Done!