Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden
FLORENCE BELLE RIGGS SHIELDS
Florence Belle Riggs Shields was born at Fort Grant, Arizona, on July 4, 1887. Her father raised horses on Mt. Graham where Riggs Lake is today, and he had a farm at Thatcher. He had wanted a boy so Florence was raised as a cowboy. She helped her father butcher livestock and broke horses for him that he sold to the Army.

Florence married Frank Ward Shields, also an Arizona native, who was born in 1882 in the Four Corners area in a wagon train coming from Salem, Utah, during the Mormon Migration. When he was a child, he lived with the Bales family on the 76 Ranch near Pima, Arizona, and it was at school in Thatcher that Florence and Frank met.

After teir marriage, they lived on the 76 Ranch for a while, then they bought the UX Ranch in Cochise County, one of the oldest ranches in Arizona. They team-roped together and won prizes all over Southern Arizona.

In 1918, the Shields moved to Yavapai County and purchased the Cross S Ranch that encompassed Palace Station and several other small ranches nearby. The Cross S included the E Cross land and the AC that they consolidated into one operation.

Shields' cattle ran south to Wagoner and clear into Prescott until the city made them erect a drift fence to keep the cattle off the city watershed. As a matter of fact, there were shipping corrals at the north end of Virginia Street by the railroad, and ranchers used to drive their cattle through town at shipping time. The next year the Shields bought the Baldwin place near Wagoner.

Mr. and Mrs. Shields had six children who lived; twins died in infancy. When they moved their family to Wagoner, they lived in the old bar (built during the construction of the Walnut Grove Dam), and the children went to school there. Florence worked alongside her husband during round-ups, as well as driving a truck.

Once a month Florence made a shopping trip into Prescott in a horse-drawn wagon. She stayed overnight, shopped all day the next day, and then took three days to get home with her big load. She cared for her children, a big garden, a flock of turkeys and chickens and usually sheep and a goat or two. Her mother lived with them, and her sisters came to visit. It was said “you never sat down at a table that there wasn’t (sic) 12 or 14 people.”

Although she worked hard as a ranch wife, Florence found time to socialize. She organized dances at the Wagoner schoolhouse and got enough local musicians together to provide the music. The family always gathered at the Shields’ ranch for Christmas and on her birthday, July 4. She and “Grandma Lange,” her nearest neighbor, baked birthday cakes for their children and they had parties and danced.

Florence Shields died on July 24, 1962, at the age of 89. She was buried with her family in Genung Memorial Park in Peeples' Valley.

Florence's daughter Theora Shields Widener and her mother Elizabeth Margaret Babcock Riggs are also commemorated in the Rose Garden.

Nominated by Mona Lange McCroskey
February 2007


Additional documentation and photographs may be available in the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library.