Queen Creek History

Celebrating Your Town

The History of Queen Creek
Since its incorporation on Sept. 5, 1989, the Town of Queen Creek has fulfilled residents’ dreams for the community. The Town has adopted several award-winning plans designed to guide future growth, planning and land use, as well as provide amenities. The Town has grown from rich rural roots to what is one of the most innovatively planned family-friendly hometowns in Arizona. Let's take a look at some of the rich history!

Origin of Street Names 
How often have we driven down a street 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 has 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. In 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, his mother, and his brother, Lee, moved to the homestead in 1919 after his father died. It consisted of 320 acres on what is now the S.W. 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. 

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 muleskinner cook shack was located half mile north of Queen Creek Road on the west side of what is now Crismon Road. 

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. 

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. 

In 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 in the first phone line to Queen Creek.

Who was Mansel Carter?
Some stories are so special that we never get tired of sharing them. And the story of the Man of the Mountain is one of those. Mansel Carter (1902-1987) made his home on Goldmine Mountain, where he had filed mining claims for 40 years.

Growing up in Ohio, he worked for a while as a mechanic and then left home for Indiana where, among other things, he flew a shuttle service with his airplane. He traveled West during the Depression and worked on the Zuni Indian Reservation as a logger before going to Idaho, leaving there in 1941 to settle in Gilbert. While managing a photography business, he became friends with the man who delivered ice: a Cherokee Indian from Oklahoma named Marion Kennedy. The town soon became too crowded for them, so they moved to the San Tan Mountains in 1948 to try their hand at mining. They worked their claims for silver and copper until Marion died in 1960. 

Mansel then started making his “cactus curios,” small carvings from cactus and wood. Over the years, he became a genuine celebrity; welcoming visitors from all over the world. He had a way with small birds and animals; a respect and understanding that can only come from the heart. A reporter once wrote, “Carter, who wears thick eyeglasses and has a long white beard, placed a bit of food on his fingertips and called out, ‘Come on.’ A woodpecker poked its head around a pole, landed on Carter’s fingers, and snatched the piece of food.”

His guest book, cactus curios, and many of his personal items are on display at the San Tan Historical Society’s museum. And the grave sites of Mansel and Marion reside in San Tan Regional Park. To view the graves, drive South of Empire Road/Hunt Highway on Wagon Wheel Road, and continue on Skyline Drive to the trail head parking lot. It’s approximately a quarter mile hike from there. 

San Tan Historical Society Museum
The Old Rittenhouse Elementary School, located on the southeast corner of Ellsworth and Queen Creek roads, was built in 1925. Used as a school through 1982, this building is now on the National Registry for Historic Places. The museum is open to the public every Saturday morning. Take some time to view the exhibits, and ask questions.