Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden

Hazel, daughter of Miner Emerson and Lavine Mutchler Swiger, was born on April 19, 1902, in Bellingham, Washington. Hazel came to Arizona with her parents and her motherís parents in 1910. The family took up a homestead east of Jerome Junction along with other new settlers.

Hazel attended school at Jerome Junction through the ninth grade and took a two-year business course in Prescott. On June 29, 1920, Hazel married Claude Webb Aiken, whom she had met while attending the Jerome Junction School.

The Aiken family had moved to Jerome Junction in 1905. When Claude was 16, he went to work for the big Baker-Campbell Ranch, and later he worked for Marion Perkins as camp cook and drove the chuck wagon.

Claude's and Hazelís first home was on the Charley Burton ranch. Hazel recalled that while they lived on the Burton place, they could see the huge herds of sheep that were driven through the area on their way to higher country around Williams for the summer months. She also said it was not unusual to see 15 or 20 head of burros tied outside Henry Peterís store while salt, barley and other supplies were being purchased by those in charge of the sheep drive.

Hazel and Claude had two children; Doris May Aiken Echols, born May 25, 1921; and Betty Lo Aiken Wells, born January 30, 1924. In 1928, the couple took up a 360-acre homestead. Claude and Hazel had adjoining homesteads in each of their separate names. In order to fulfill the requirements of living on the land, they built a house on the boundary lines, and thus they could live on both homesteads.

Those were the years of the great Depression, and their daughter Betty related that by todayís standards they were certainly poverty stricken, but thank goodness, they didnít know it. Claude worked a variety of jobs wherever and whenever he could. The couple raised huge gardens, and many times those gardens were watered by lantern light. Claude and his father would help with the preparation of the produce, and Hazel would can hundreds of quarts of fruits, vegetables, jams and jellies. Hazel also took in washing for many years to supplement the family income.

The family was always well fed and clothed and happy, lacking many of todayís luxuries, but probably better for it. Hazel was a member of the Homemakers' Club of Chino Valley and belonged to the Chino Valley Community and sang in the church choir. She loved to play the piano and gifted the church with a piano. Her love of music went back to her days as a little girl at Jerome Junction, when she would ride the narrow gauge train to Jerome for piano lessons.

In April 1958, while attending to ranch duties, Claude was killed in an accident with his pickup. Hazel continued to live at the ranch home, quietly going about the things she enjoyed and continued to sing in the church choir.

In her later years, she would go to Prescott weekly and would include visits to friends, those hospitalized and those at the Arizona Pioneers' Home. She was generous with others and would transport friends to town, to the post office and to church. For many years she kept the weather records for the U. S. Weather Bureau, faithfully recording the rainfall and barometer readings.

At the time of her death, Hazel Swiger Aiken was the last of the homesteaders in that area to be living on land they had homesteaded. She passed away on June 8, 1971, at the age of 69 and was buried in the Prescott Masonic Cemetery. Her sister-in-law, Annie Laura Aiken, is also commemorated in the Rose Garden.

Donor: Betty Wells, daughter
July 2004

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