Founding Families

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How often have we driven down a street or seen a school and wondered the origin of its name? For many of our local roads, we can thank the families that settled in the shadows of the San Tan Mountains. Their stamina, tolerance for inconvenience, and passion for success have been the foundation for these communities.

In 1914, everyone but John and Mathilda Germann knew that it was impossible to farm on the desert of Arizona. The Germanns purchased a relinquishment of 480 acres from a discouraged homesteader and established their home and pumping plant.

First schoolIn 1917, J.O. Power moved to the Queen Creek area with a brother, Bernard (Buck). Their homestead consisted of 320 acres and was located a half mile east of what is now Power Road on Ocotillo.

Jasper Sossaman, along with his mother and brother Lee, moved to the homestead in 1919 after his father died. It consisted of 320 acres on what is now the southwest corner of Sossaman and Ocotillo roads. Jasper (Jap) began working for Charlie Rittenhouse, operating and maintaining the diesel engines that powered the pumps used to irrigate Queen Creek Farms.

Charles Rittenhouse was well established by 1924 with the Queen Creek Farms Company. The wells typically pumped 2,150 gallons of water per minute and were 400 feet deep. The availability of water made his 1,000 acres of farmland very productive.

Charles Brandon and his family arrived in Queen Creek in 1924. Charles found work on the Rittenhouse farm and later purchased some land to start his own farm. Brandon was involved in the decision-making process to name all the roads in Queen Creek after the local farmers, but he chose to not have a road named after him. An elementary school in the area, Frances Brandon-Pickett Elementary, is named after Charles' daughter.

SchoolhouseIn 1928, the Rittenhouse property was sold to Leo Ellsworth. He and his brothers formed The Ellsworth Brothers Farms, an operation that soon consisted of cotton, large acreages of farm produce, cattle, sheep and a dairy herd. Leo is credited with bringing the first phone line to Queen Creek.

Ernest E. Hawes started farming in Queen Creek in the 1930s. The original homestead was on the south side of Chandler Heights Road, north of the Sonoqui Wash, just west of what is now Hawes Road.

Johnny Crismon moved to Queen Creek with his wife Margaret in 1946. They partnered with several other farmers in growing lettuce and carrots. Queen Creek’s first school, an old muleskinners cook shack, was located a half mile north of Queen Creek Road on the west side of what is now Crismon Road.