This article continues the story of the Elgin Community Club (ECC) begun in the April PRT issue. The bare-boned clubhouse was completed in September 1932. In 1933 members focused on paying off their construction debts and planning for improvements such as lights, a permanent floor. and toilets. In 1934 they built two “board” outdoor toilets and added stoves and linoleum for the kitchen area. [ECC Minutes, 10/20/1934]. Throughout 1935 there was much discussion about installing a ceiling. ECC was declared an educational organization to avoid paying county taxes on dance income. The ceiling was installed in 1936 and the members worked to discourage the consumption of alcohol by dance attendees. In 1938 an unexpected gift provided seed funding for another building improvement—a fireplace and chimney. 

The Elgin Community Club’s chimney and fireplace were built in 1939 by Stone Collie and Ernest Axton. Photo by Alison Bunting

In April 1938, “Margaret Nally presented the Club with a $50 present from her mother Mrs. Nally who recently passed away.” [ECC Minutes, 4/20/1938]. The gift was to help fund the construction of a fireplace on the south side of the clubhouse. In September the ladies voted to immediately purchase a Heatilator insert for the fireplace. In April 1939 the Club received another $50 bequest from Mrs. Mattie Johnson for the fireplace, and a fireplace committee was appointed to obtain construction bids. Ernest E. Axton and Captain Stone Collie submitted a proposal “to build a fireplace, install the Heatilator, and furnish materials for $250” that was accepted. The hearth and exterior chimney were to be of “faced rock work.” A place was to be left in the rock work to insert a copper plaque with the names of five recently deceased members. Mrs. Ferris, Klene, Nally, Bartlett and Johnson.” [ECC Minutes, 8/1/1939]. The fireplace was completed by the end of the year and is still in use today. Who were the women honored on the bronze plaque? 

Lena Nally was born in Missouri in 1877 and married Claude R. Nally in 1899. In 1920 they were farming on the Oakland Ranch in Greaterville, where Claude was raising grapes. They also rented cabins on the ranch. In the early 1920s they adopted siblings Leonard and Margaret from the Arizona Children’s Home. [Tucson Citizen, 3/25/1987]. Lena had helped to establish the Arizona Children’s Home in Tucson and was a strong supporter. She was the recording secretary of the Empire Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and an active member of the ECC. She died, age 60, in 1938 in Tucson.

Mattie Riggs Johnson was born in Colorado in 1892. Her parents moved to Dos Cabezas, Arizona in 1875. Mattie was 16 when she married George Finley in 1889; they had one son, James. In 1898 she married J. L. Duncan who was shot and killed by a neighboring rancher in September 1899. In 1900 she married Homer “Doc” Goodin, a local cowboy and champion roper. The couple ranched in Cochise County until Doc’s death in 1908. By 1910 Mattie is ranching on her 160-acre homestead in Canelo. Sometime after 1915 she became Mrs. Johnson; no record of Mr. Johnson has been found. 

Mattie raised certified Hereford cattle. She was active in the ECC and was elected 2nd Vice President in 1938. She was a member of the Arizona Pioneers Historical Society. In 1917 she petitioned the U.S. Forest Service to designate 10 acres near her ranch as a cemetery, now called the Black Oak Cemetery. Mattie died in 1939 and is buried at Black Oak Cemetery.

The April 2022 Glimpses article has a biography of Katharine Klene, ECC’s first president. Next month’s article will feature Nellie Bartlett and Edith Ferris.