Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden

Edna Grace Ritter was born into a pioneer Yavapai County ranching family on October 8, 1908. Her grandfather ran cattle on the open range all the way from Prescott to Congress Junction.

Edna grew up on the Ritter Ts (sic) Ranch between Kirkland and Hillside. She attended school at Thompson Valley and Kirkland. In the wintertime she dressed for school behind the kitchen range, putting on long underwear, a pantywaist, heavy black stockings, a wool jersey petticoat, and a wool dress. She told her mother, “When I grow up, I’m going to go to Africa where you don’t have to wear any clothes.”

In 1927, Edna graduated from Arizona State Teachers’ College in Flagstaff with a teaching degree. Her first year as a teacher was at Horse Springs, on the San Agustin Plains in New Mexico. She watched the last big cattle drive that went through Magdalena, when several thousand head of cattle were strung out over the trail. Sometimes, on the weekends, a Navajo horse-breaker appeared with a saddled horse to take her for a ride.

Edna came back to Arizona and was teaching at Chino Valley when she met Charlie Lange at a dance at Mormon Lake, and the rest is history. They married in 1929. After the wedding, his brothers and their friends kidnapped Charlie. When he finally appeared at daylight, his necktie was off, and he was wearing only one shoe.

As a newlywed, Edna moved to the Langes’ P Bar Ranch near Walnut Grove, where she remembers being asked for her grocery list the first time someone was going to town. She had never cooked. She said, “I fed the dogs many a batch of biscuits that I’d made before I made some that were ‘eatable’.” The whole Lange family was involved in raising her first two sons, Charles and Dean. Their grandpa, O.A. Lange, could not bear the thought of his grandsons being punished, and he championed their causes. Son Ralph came later, in 1938.

Charles and Edna lived in Blackwater, a camp east of Yarnell, where everything that went in had to be packed on mules. One time her pack mule was spooked and scattered goods the length of the trail; a sack of sugar that had a hole poked in it left a telltale track. Charlie didn’t even know the mule had come home alone until Edna came walking in all exhausted and angry.

The Langes lived on the Stillman Ranch at the head of the Verde River and on the Gainey Ranches on the Santa Maria River and in Scottsdale, now a subdivision. They moved to Oregon and lived on the Prairie Ranch for years. Edna returned to teaching. Ranching in Oregon also involved wheat farming and, on her part, cooking for harvesting crews and hunters.

Charlie got itchy feet, and the Langes went to California for a while, then to Idaho to be with son Charles. Finally he said, “Let’s go back to Arizona.” Charlie became foreman of the Bogle Ranch north of Wikieup when his brother Walter retired. Later, Charlie’s son Dean took the job, making three generations that had run the ranch.

Charlie and Edna retired to the old Big Sandy Hereford Ranch north of Wikieup. The Langes celebrated their 50th anniversary at the Kirkland Women’s Club several years before Charlie passed away. Then Edna moved to the Arizona Pioneers’ Home.

Now, in 2003, Edna Ritter Lange lives in Kingman, where she reigns as matriarch of the Lange and Ritter families. Four generations from both sides come long distances to gather ‘round her for birthdays and holidays.

Edna died on September 20, 2004, in Kingman, Arizona.

Donor: Mona Lange McCroskey, niece
May 2003

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