Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden

Ida Mae Finch was born in Florence, Arizona, on October 27,1876, daughter of Sarah Lewis and George Nelson Finch. She was one of nine children born to relatively poor, hard-working parents in the Territory of Arizona.

Ida's first home was an old adobe house on the banks of the Gila River. She grew up strong and gentle, committed and caring, nurturing and loving in a period of western history when little or nothing was easy. Strong and committed were one's best assets, while the gentler arts were in far less demand for survival.

Ida lived in a time when education beyond the eighth grade was hard to come by, even for young men. So by seventh grade she was living far away from family and hearth, working as a maid, milkmaid and cook in order to attend school. She never stopped working full-time to gain her education, and, in pioneer days, "full-time" was measured by the sun not the clock.

At age 20 in 1896, Ida entered Tempe Normal School, not a common-place occurrence for young ladies of the day. Ida married Byron Alton Redden in Tempe on November 18, 1897.

She worked with her husband, behind a horse, clearing cacti and sage brush from the Arizona desert that would become their modest ranch just south of Tempe. She bore and raised three children: Lela Barkley, born in 1902; Irene Bishop, born in 1898; and Evelyn Pyle, born in 1908.

Ida was a hard-working pioneer woman, cooking, sewing, keeping house, gardening, quilting and tending to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of her expanding family and those of her neighbors. In addition to her sewing skills, she enjoyed painting and ceramics, making painted lamp shades, fire screens and painted china. She also loved flowers and grew sweetpeas wherever she lived and succeeded in growing roses in the desert, her favorite rose being "Peace."

Ida was a member of the Tempe Baptist Church and in later years the First Methodist Church of Tempe. She also belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star, Chapter 18; and the OES Matrons and Social clubs. When her three daughters married and left home, they all carried with them the attributes and skills of their mother as well as teaching degrees from her alma mater. Ida held all of them together in her heart and Byron's. Their home became the center for their children's growing families. Byron died in 1939.

During Ida's lifetime, she remained the loving matriarchal head of the family, and yet, not one family member ever heard her give an order or ask for anything for herself. She remains today the matriarchal head of the family for her descendants who remember her.

Her grandson, Thomas Pyle, writes, "She remains my oldest and dearest friend,. . . my Grandmother." Ida's nieces, Esta Miller Redden Winchester and Rachel Deliah Redden Koontz are also commemorated in the Territorial Pioneer Women's Rose Garden.

Ida died on September 15, 1962, and was buried at Double Butte Cemetery in Tempe.

Donor: Thomas A. Pyle

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