1926 Duddings move to Arizona
Hamilton Morris Dudding, called Ham, was the son of Charles Lewis Dudding and Josephine Madeline Sherman. He was born on July 4, 1867, in Winfield, Putman County, West Virginia.  Ham's wife, Nora Mae Campbell, called Nora, was the daughter of Samuel Henry Campbell and Emiline Epling.  Nora was born on May 6, 1876 in Peytona, Boone County, West Virginia.  She was raised by her stepmother, Nancy Jane Meadows.

Ham and Nora were parents of eight children:

          Helen born 19 July 1894, died 11 Oct 1968
          Dana Arnett born 27 Jan 1896, died 10 Aug 1954
          Samuel Henry born 23 Sept 1897, died 13 Dec 1985
          Anna Lucille born 9 April 1900, died 05 Jun 1962
          Harry born about 1904 and died about 1906 due to an accident in the home
          Frederic Arnold born 30 Nov 1908 died 20 Feb 1991
          Joseph Eugene born 14 Aug 1910 died 17 Aug 1999
          Charles William born 21 Nov 1914 died 20 Nov 2003


This record relates some of the events regarding the move of Ham and Nora from Huntington, West Virginia, to Arizona.

In the early 1920's Ham and Nora owned and operated the H.M. Dudding General Merchandise Store in West Huntington, WV It was a prosperous business and provided well for the family.  The store sold merchandise consisting of fabric, dry goods, women's clothes, shoes, and millinery.  It was also a grocery store.  Ham did not carry fresh meat in the grocery department.  However, he did purchase meat from a butcher shop, -took meat orders, and delivered meat with other food or merchandise.  Orders were taken phone or door to door and deliveries were made twice a day.  Everyone did not have a phone so Arnett would walk a route and take orders every day.  In the winter deliveries were made using a horse and sleigh.

Sam served in the United States Navy during World War I.  While serving on a submarine chaser ship, he developed tuberculosis.  He received a medical discharge from the Navy and was given a pension of $75.00 a month.  This was a good retirement income.  At this time there was no medical cure for tuberculosis and no treatment other than a warm climate and rest.  Sam and his wife, Mae, moved to Arizona because of his health problems.

In August of 1925 Ham, Nora, and three sons, Fred, Gene and Charlie drove to Arizona to visit Sam and Mae.  Their car was a 1922 Chandler Metropolitan Sedan.  They carried their own tents, sleeping cots, kerosene cooking stove, and camped in city parks at night.  They purchased and cooked their own food along the way.  They never ate at restaurants.  There were not many available at the time.

Sam and Mae were living on the desert east of Mesa.  They were caretakers of the home of Evan Bluett, during the hot summer months.  In addition to Mr. Bluett's large home, he had 3 additional cottages.  The Dudding family stayed in these cottages.  In the evenings Fred and Gene went hunting.  They used shotguns and hunted rabbits, rattlesnakes, or whatever was roaming about the desert.  They also drove around Phoenix and Mesa just for fun and to become acquainted with the area.  Gene remembers going to Chandler, Arizona to see his first rodeo.  He was not too impressed with the rodeo.  It was hot, dusty, and the benches were very hard.  Their first visit to Arizona lasted 7 to 10 days.

Ham and Nora were impressed with Arizona.  They liked the warm climate, open space, and slower pace of life.  Ham was 59 years old and ready for retirement.  The decision was made to move to Arizona.

Returning to Huntington, they made preparations to move their family to Arizona the following year.  Ham sold the store and moved his family in August, 1926.  Gene recalls that the three younger boys were happy to be moving.  Gladys was married and remained in West Virginia with her family.  Arnett also remained in West Virginia.

The family drove to Arizona in two cars.  Fred, age 18, drove the family Chandler Sedan.  Riding with him were Ham, Nora, and Lucille.  Lucille was divorced from Delmer Holly.  Gene, age 16, drove the Ford Roadster, a one seated touring car.  Charlie and a friend, Bob Stinson, rode with Gene.  Bob came to Arizona to live with his half-brother.  Like Sam, Bob's brother also had tuberculosis.  They traveled about 200 miles a day.  After they left St. Louis, Missouri there was no pavement except in the town and cities.

Sam and Mae had made a few trips to Huntington to visit his family before Ham and Nora moved to Arizona.  Gene remembers that they were there on his birthday, August 14, 1920.  Mae said: "Come here, Gene, I want to give you a birthday present." She gave him one dime, a penny for each year of his birth.  On Sam's car was a bumper sticker that read HELP LIFT MISSOURI OUT OF THE MUD.  When the Dudding family traveled through Missouri, they found out what the bumper sticker really meant.  At one place 15 to 20 cars were stuck in the mud and horses had to be used to pull the cars out.

In Kansas City, Missouri, the family found a group of cabins which they rented for the night.  Each cabin contained a few furnishings--table, chair, bed, electric light, and running water.  The bathroom facilities were out of doors, but Gene believes they had showers to use for bathing.

Upon leaving St. Louis, Missouri, those riding in Gene's car saw a large amusement park.  They pulled to the side of the road to watch the rides, etc.  They thought those riding with Fred would see them and stop too, but they did not.  The two cars became separated.  Gene tried to catch up with them during the day, but was unable to do so.  Gene's car carried no food so they stopped at a restaurant to eat.  Gene saw shrimp salad on the menu.  It sounded good.  He had never had a shrimp salad before.  He ordered one.  It consisted of diced shrimp, celery, and a little salad dressing.  He liked it.  No other shrimp salad has tasted quite so good.

Even though the two cars were separated, Gene remembers they did have money for gas.  Gene also had some money that he had earned before leaving West Virginia.  Gene felt that his Dad would stop for the night at the U SMILE CAMP on the east side of Kansas City, Missouri.  They had stopped at this camp the previous year on their first trip to Arizona.  When he hit the slab, as the paved road was called, just before entering the city, Gene started blowing the whistle on the car.  He would blow the whistle, then listen and blow the whistle, then listen.  Finally he recognized the horn honking from his Father's car.  The family was reunited that evening at the U SMILE CAMP just as Gene had predicted.  The whistle on cars at the time was in addition to a horn and could be heard for about 1/2 mile.  These whistles were eventually outlawed because of the noise they created.

When the two cars arrived in La Mar Colorado, the family rented some cabins for the night.  Ham talked with a man in a neighboring cabin.  They agreed that since they were heading into Indian country, it might be safer to travel together.  The two families started out together the next morning.  At one point the Duddings had to stop because heavy rain flooded the road.  They were unable to proceed through the water.  They camped for the night.  During their stop no other cars came down the road.  This is an indication of how few travelers there were on the road at this time.  The next morning the water had receded so they drove on, never to meet their friends again.  In reality, there was no need to be concerned about Indians.  Trouble with the Indians had ceased in the 1880's with the capture of Geronimo.

Upon arriving in the state of Arizona one car developed heating problems coming over the mountains.  The family stopped in San Carlos on the Indian reservation.  They found lodging in some old army barracks which were rented out to travelers.  They had the car repaired and drove on into Globe, Miami, Superior, and arrived in Mesa in late August.  It took 7 or 8 days for the family to reach Arizona.  The children enrolled in the Mesa Public Schools the following day.

Sam and Mae were living in a nice home 5 or 6 miles east of Mesa, not far from the Knolls.  Ham's family stayed with Sam for a month or two.  Then, Ham rented a home in Mesa.  Gene remembers that it wasn't much of a home compared to their home in Huntington.  Lucille obtained a job in Phoenix and eventually married James Garvin.  Sam obtained a job taking charge of the rifle range in Papago Park in Phoenix.  He literally moved his home to the rifle range and lived there many years.

Ham remained in Arizona for only a few months because the man who had purchased his store was unable to make his payments.  Ham had also co­signed some additional notes for some of their friends.  They too, were unable to make their payments.  Ham left his family in Arizona, returned to West Virginia and repossessed his store.  He worked for one or two years trying to save his business.  Difficult economic times made this unsuccessful.  The bank foreclosed and took over all the Dudding assets.  Mona remembers Nora saying that they even took her piano.

While Ham was working in Huntington, West Virginia in 1927, Arnett came to Arizona to join the family.  The government had opened land east of Mesa to homesteading.  Names were drawn by lot.  Each family was allotted 160 acres of land.  Arnett put his name in for the drawing and it was drawn.  He homesteaded 160 acres at the Knolls east of Mesa.

Sam and Arnett built a 2 room shack, as Gene calls it.  It was built in one day.  The walls and floor were made from lx12 inch boards.  The holes were patched with additional pieces of board.  The home also had a door, 2 windows, and a tin roof.  The family meals were cooked using a kerosene stove.  Arnett did most of the cooking.  He had been a cook in the United States Navy during World War I.  Later a tent house was made nearby where Fred, Gene, and Charlie each had a cot to sleep on.  The tent house floor was dirt.

Arnett drove the school bus each morning and evening.  While the students were in school, he spent his time at the Pay'N Takit Market, forerunner of Safeway Markets, learning to become a butcher.  After his training, he obtained a job as a butcher with the Pay'N Takit Market in Phoenix.  He moved to Phoenix and lived with Sam and Mae on the rifle range.  Fred took over the job of driving the school bus.

Nora, Fred, Gene, and Charlie lived on the desert from February, 1927 until June, 1928.  Rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, and other reptiles lived in abundance on the desert.  Gene fashioned a contraption consisting of a board and piece of wire to catch reptiles.  The wire looped around the reptiles head.  The loop was pulled tight trapping the reptiles head on the board.  Nora put the captured reptiles in a box and sold them to the Reptile Gardens in Phoenix.  One morning Gene got up and sat on his bed to put on his shoes.  Under a nearby camp stool he saw a rattlesnake.  Using his contraption he captured the rattlesnake.  Snakes react more slowly in the winter.  Otherwise, Gene is sure he would have been bitten.  The snake probably crawled into the tent to get warm.

In June of 1928 Nora decided to return to Huntington.  Gene resisted He did not want to leave his girl friend, Mona Enloe.  He tried to persuade his mother to let him stay in Arizona, to no apparent avail.  Nora, Fred, Gene, and Charlie began their drive back to Huntington one afternoon.  When they reached Glendale, Nora asked Gene: "Are you sure that you want to stay here in Arizona?" Gene answered" Yes".  The family stopped at the Stinson's home.  Gene telephoned Arnett and Arnett agreed to come and get him.  Nora, Fred and Charlie drove on to Huntington.  Gene had told Mona that he would remain in Arizona, if his mother would allow it.  Mona waited outside in her yard that evening wondering if Gene had stayed or gone with his family.  At 11:00 p.m, she decided that there was no use waiting any longer.  Just as she was getting up to go into the house Gene came into the driveway driving the Ford Roadster.  The courtship of Gene and Mona continued while Gene lived with Sam and Mae in Phoenix Gene was asked if Mona was the main reason he wanted to stay in Arizona.  He answered: "absolutely the only reason!"

Eventually, the Dudding family returned to Arizona and made several trips back and forth to West Virginia, but this is the story of how the Dudding family first came to Arizona as told by Gene Dudding to his daughter, Monagene Dudding Vance, December, 1990.

Huntington, WV 1917 City Directory


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