This is part three of the Sunnyside story, begun in the January PRT. 

Roberta Nye Lamma, known as Biff, wrote “A Place Called Sunnyside” in 1982. Her account is based on stories told to her by her mother, Anna Laura O’Harra Nye and other Sunnyside residents. Biff came to Sunnyside in 1915, at a time “Arizona was considered booming and again Sunnyside dreamed a dream…of getting everyone to return…build their homes…and maybe even getting the mine going again. This dream…did not materialize and the population…never got over eighteen or twenty.” [Lamma: 32]. The remains of Sunnyside are located on private property. For permission to visit the area contact JD Hathaway [].

Laura Nye

Anna Laura O’Harra was born in Boswell, Indiana in 1872, to Henry and Almyra O’Harra. The family relocated from Indiana to western Kansas in 1877. Anna Laura, known as Laura, was an early Donnelly follower who came to the camp as a single woman. In 1895 she married Charlie Blomberg, the camp teamster who “took the ore by mule team over the mountain to Fairbank and the train.” [Lamma:11]. Their daughter, Cora Louise, was born in 1896. Charlie deserted Laura and Cora Louise and in 1901 Laura was granted a divorce. In 1909 Laura married Robert Nye, a Donnelly convert who was a gifted carpenter. Robert and Laura moved to the Phoenix area where they had two daughters: Emma (b. 1910) and Biff (b. 1914). Robert died in 1915 and Laura, Emma and Biff returned to Sunnyside. Her oldest daughter, Cora married Ralph McIntyre (see Glimpses, Feb. 2023) the same year and lived nearby. 

The Donnelly converts Biff came to know included the Gattrell and Langford families, and Cyrus Cooper. Cyrus, an elderly woodcutter, who had no living family, had been the only Sunnyside resident in 1907. In 1920 he was living with the Nye family. 

Edwin Langford (b. 1857) and Lucy Herrick Langford (b. 1867) had six children. Ed was a “mechanical genius” and “the majordomo of the shop.” Lucy was the community’s midwife. [Hathaway:61, 65]. In 1910 Ed was managing a sawmill in California with two of his sons while Lucy remained in Sunnyside with one son and their daughter. 

Biff Nye Lamma

Lucy became Sunnyside postmistress in 1914. “On mail day…the men mostly, from the ranches, came early to get their letters off and…stayed until the mail returned in the afternoon…and partook of a free lunch with us.” [Lamma: 35]. Ed died in 1918 in a mine cave-in near Sunnyside; Lucy died in 1921.

Albert Gattrell (b. 1844) and his wife Diane Ely Gattrell (b. 1865) remained ranching in Sunnyside after the community dispersed; around 1912 they filed a homestead claim on the 53.26 acres that comprised Sunnyside and were granted a patent for the land in 1919. Albert had primary responsibility for mine operations and Diane taught the Sunnyside children. Diane “was the last convert of Sam Donnelly…she taught school in the old way, reading, writing, and arithmetic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick.” [Lamma:12-13]. Albert died circa 1922 and when Diane died in 1925, her living will left the Sunnyside property to Laura Nye and Lucy Langford. Laura became the sole owner since Lucy had died in 1921.

Laura became the postmistress and “sold houses, took in boarders, fed the government hunters, rented houses to health seekers, and sold scrap iron by the truckloads…somehow she kept Sunnyside in the black…” [Lamma: 39]. She kept the community going until about 1941 when she was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease. 

Laura could no longer live at Sunnyside and sold the property to Will and Mary Lucille Hathaway (see Glimpses, Feb. 2023). Biff married Francisco “Frank” Lamma in 1933 and lived in Patagonia. Laura moved to Patagonia where she died, age 92, in 1965. Frank and Biff were married 53 years until Frank’s death in 1986, age 74; Biff died, age 92, in 2007.