|Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden|
CARRIE M. WELCH BIANCONI
Carrie was born in Mobile, Alabama, on September 16, 1900. Her parents, John O. and Mary E. Welch, came to Gilbert, Arizona, in 1907. They had four children: Carrie, Bert, Myrtle and Owen.
In June 1920, the Welches moved to Chino Valley, Arizona, and established Welch & Son Dairy on 40 acres on the north side of the Old Outer Loop road about ¼ mile west of Highway 89. The Welches sold milk, cream and butter door-to-door from their delivery truck and also to markets in Prescott. Owen helped his father manage the dairy.
Mrs. Welch died in Chino Valley in 1946, and the family moved to Tempe in 1948. Mr. Welch died in Tempe in 1954.
Carrie graduated form Tempe Normal School in 1922. Shortly after the family's arriving in Chino Valley, Carrie began teaching school in Skull Valley. In the spring of 1924, Harold Sullivan, who worked for the Santa Fe Railroad, bet Carrie a box of candy that she couldn’t walk from Skull Valley to Prescott in less then six hours. Sullivan, who called himself “Kid Lightning," called Carrie "Cannonball Carrie." Carrie made the walk in five hours flat and won the five-pound box of candy from Sullivan.
On June 6, 1925, Carrie married William T. “Bill” Bianconi at the Congregational Church in Prescott. Bill coincidentally had exactly the same birth date as Carrie. Carrie and Bill had two children: Betty M., born April 26, 1926, and William J. “Billy,” born March 4, 1927.
The Bianconis bought the Clough Ranch (now Kieckheher’s) at the Y of highways 89 and 89A in Granite Dells. They raised peaches for commercial sale along with a few pears, apricots and plums. With approximately 3,000 trees, it was the largest peach orchard in the state at that time.
During picking season, Carrie would drive to Prescott to hire day workers, who were paid a dollar a day and dinner, which Carrie cooked. The Bianconis ran a fruit stand, had a small flock of sheep to keep the ditches clear of weeds, and a cow that Carrie milked. The entire family worked in the orchard picking the fruit, packing it in lugs and getting it ready to be delivered to Pay-N-Take, Piggly Wiggly, the Westside Grocery or Lantz markets in Prescott.
About twice a week, Bill delivered a load of fruit to Safeway in Phoenix for shipping out of state. Carrie canned hundreds of jars of fruit each year. The Bianconis also had a 20-acre orchard at Fair Oaks where they raised apples.
In 1939, Peach Mosaic disease resulted in the peach orchard being destroyed by the US Department of Agriculture. The Bianconi’s sold the ranch to Harvey Cory in 1941 and moved to 209 North Mt. Vernon Street in Prescott, where they rented rooms and provided meals to paying customers.
Subsequently, the Bianconis moved to Yava for a couple years and then returned to Prescott to live at 744 Miller Valley Road (currently the location of Chase Bank). Carrie was a member of the Prescott Garden Club. She would walk across the street to Bohart’s Nursery for plants for her garden. She was often given “sick” plants to nurse back to health in her garden. On Sunday afternoons, local Prescottonians would often drive by Carrie’s house on Miller Valley Road to admire her beautiful flower gardens.
William died on March 16, 1974, and in November 1975, Carrie moved in to the Pioneers' Home. She died in Prescott on July 4, 1980, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery.
Donor: Betty Billingsley, daughter
|Additional documentation and photographs may be available in the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library.|