Kathleen and A.L. “Nig” Gooch

Memories shared at the Viewing (24 Jan 2000, Safford, AZ) and  Memorial Service (25 Jan 2000, Duncan, AZ) for Kathleen Matheson Gooch. These were memories of Kathleen’s brothers Jim and Mac and son Earl, as written down by Dayna Gooch Jacobs.


Kathleen lived in a house in Parowan that her father built.  He and his brothers fired the bricks and did all the woodwork on the inside and outside.  Then her dad took the job running the mill at Beaver, so they sold the house, which broke her mother’s heart.


Kathleen witnessed the bank robbery across the street from the telephone office where she worked.  Two riders tied up their horses, took the saddlebags into the bank, came out, and rode off.


Nig was engaged to Dall Sanders before Kathleen came along.  He was in the barber shop next to the telephone office where she was the operator.  Nig came into the office every day to make the fire.  That’s how they got to know each other.


He was a sign painter, and when they created “Gooch and Matheson” filling station  he painted it on the side of a building.  When he was finished, he had painted the “N” backwards.  Jim said they were afraid to tease Nig about it.  The filling station had several attractions.  Nig rigged up a skull so the jaw moved.  He had some animals in cages for people to look at, and lots of Indian relics.  They tried to attract customers in that way.


Nig was missing all his front teeth.  They were knocked out when he was riding in a car with Mr. Cohen.  They got into an accident, and Nig’s face hit the dashboard, knocking out his teeth.  He always had ulcers.  He spent time in the Prescott Hospital because of a lung problem.  The lung problem was a result of his exposure to poisonous gas in WWI.


Telio was a barber with Nig.  He played the violin, too.  They played together, with Nig playing the guitar.  They were such good friends, that when Telio died the family had him buried next to Nig.  Telio had purchased another burial plot but while he was alive he gave it to someone else who could not afford one.  Back then the cemetery was segregated, with the Mexicans having their own area.


Nig and Jim went up deep canyons in search of walnut tree burls.  One year, Jim took off from school to go with Nig.  They dug burls out after chopping trees down by hand.  Some weighed thousands of pounds.  They got them into the back of a truck and sold them to furniture makers.


Nig and Kathleen and Nig moved to California to get away from their families in Arizona, and because Kathleen’s father did not like Nig much.   He worked in a barbershop and lived on Bunker Hill for three years.  They had lived in Whittier for a short time.


Nig was killed about 20 miles from Duncan at the “Bar 20 Wash.”  He was coming home from Morenci where they had attended an American Legion convention.  It was nighttime.  As they crossed the wash their car was carried by the water and tipped onto its side.  The other man was trapped in the car, but climbed out on top, since the car was on its side.  Nig yelled for him to jump, but just as he did the car tipped and Nig jumped. He was washed down the river.  Editha, Kathleen, and Earl were awakened at 3 am by the police, and informed of the accident.  They drove down to where it happened.  The men waited for the river to subside a little, and waded down the river from side to side searching.  As they did this, Earl walked down the riverbank.  About dawn, they were met by the high school bus full of kids that had come to help search.  I’m not sure, but I think this is when Earl learned that the body had been found.


The Greenlee County Fair was held in Duncan.  They had horse races, and entered fruit, animals, and dresses.  They had a 4-H club.


Alexander Matheson was called to go from Parowan to Panguitch.  The first white child born there was Kathleen’s uncle Alexander.


Simon Alexander Matheson was named after Catherine Treasurer’s sweetheart, who she couldn’t marry.  She was married against her will to Donald Matheson.  There were two generations of Simon Anderson Mathesons.  One of them disappeared. But I need to ask Mac which one.  I think it must have been Catherine’s son.


Why Ivan Matheson is not buried in Duncan Cemetery:  Mormons were not really accepted in Duncan.  Members had to go to Franklin to church.  W.J. had a falling out with the Bishop, and didn’t want Ivan buried in Franklin Cemetery, nor in the “Gentile” cemetery in Duncan.  He took him to Verdin, where there were many Mormons.


1942 Duncan Flood experience:  Earl led Spencer W. Kimball through the back hills to Duncan because the roads were flooded out.


Evan Romney was a professor at UCLA.  He used mice for experiments and had trays full of mouse droppings.  He brought a barrel of it to Earl and Francene to use as fertilizer for their new yard in Reseda.


Earl remembers climbing Ash Peak.  It was a status thing to climb it.  Other mountains and hills in the area were:  Steeple Rock, Mount Royal, Vanderbilt, Twin Peaks, Kaneester, Black Hills, Mount Graham (behind Safford), and “Aunt Ethel’s Titty”.

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