Mary Lettie Mossman Jack

Areas of Achievement: 
Community Building
Home Making

Honored By

Honored by: Bolding, Betsy
Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Honored by: McManigal, Deborah Smith
Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Gift: Freestanding Bench
Honored by: Smith, J. Bixby
Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Gift: Freestanding Bench
Honored by: Graye, Jr., John A.
Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Gift: Freestanding Bench

Mary Lettie Mossman came to Arizona by train in 1897 to teach school in the Alhambra School west of Phoenix. She married Edgar Ewing (E.E.) Jack in 1901 and lived at first at Sahuaro Ranch on Lateral 18 (now 59th Ave.) where E. E. was foreman. She left teaching to help care for their four daughters*, and ultimately the citrus groves and livestock at the "ranch" on the corner of Camelback Road, Lateral 16 (now 43rd Ave) and Grand Avenue.

She founded the Glendale Self Culture Club in 1901, which became the GFWC Glendale Woman's Club, and volunteered regularly for its weekly Well Baby Clinics. She also founded the GFWC Alhambra Woman's Club which no longer exists.

Additionally, she was active with organizations such as the Community Chest and other similarly named groups that came and went, one of which was the forerunner to the United Way. She went by bus to Phoenix to roll bandages for the Red Cross during World War II, and likely volunteered similarly to aid the effort in World War I.

Always the activist, Lettie carried petitions door to door to get Grand Avenue paved, and later she sold bonds to finance Northwest Hospital - Glendale's first hospital that later become Glendale Samaritan and is now closed, the building housied the local Salvation Army, last we knew.

She was part of the original group that started Pioneer, AZ, a "living history museum" north of Phoenix (by now likely in the city limits) and she and the Glendale Women's Club, among others, devoted a great deal of time to create a spot to educate youngsters about life in early Arizona. After E. E. died, she sold the 'ranch' property to John F. Long for the area's earliest "development," or planned community, Maryvale. The ranch house was moved to Pioneer where it was for a time displayed as a "typical 1890s ranch house."

The Jack family headed north to flee the summer heat in the Phoenix area, first to a house in Oak Creek Canyon, and then in 1936, they purchased a 'cabin' in the historic community of Iron Springs, where the family spent summers from then on. We used to pack the car and leave the valley over Memorial Day weekend and stay until Labor Day, taking a small chick pen along with 13 chickens, one for every Sunday. Kids from other cabins would gather to watch Grandmother wring the neck of the unfortunate chicken of the week, and wager the distance it would flop helplessly down the hill, afterwards. These stories are shocking to her great grandchildren, but were part of life for us growing up with Lettie Jack.

During the week, life at Iron Springs was devoted to women and children and the activities of the week, including game nights, bridge and canasta parties for the 'ladies,' and the like. But when weekends came, the men would arrive, primarily via train from Phoenix, to enjoy the week's worth of planning and cooking for their benefit. We always had a houseful at the cabin, whether it be cousins from California or friends from the valley. The men took top billing on the weekends, but the women ruled the roost during the week.

Active in the Republican Party, Lettie claimed to have visited with Mrs. Herbert Hoover, who was essentially left behind with a few other wives at the train station, while her husband and other visisting and local dignitaries celebrated events surrounding the dedication of Hoover Dam. She was also happy to jump in early to support a handsome young Barry Goldwater when he first ran for Congress. When Goldwater ran for President in 1964, although Lettie had given up her position as chair of her precinct committee, she at age 88 doggedly vowed to "walk the neighborhood for Barry." And she did.

During her final years, Lettie Jack lived at the Beatitudes, a care facility in Phoenix, at first reading to, playing cards with and caring for other residents far younger than she. She celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by many friends and family members from out of town in November, 1975 and was most delighted when Goldwater, himself, dropped in to wish her well. Lively and feisty until the end, she died quietly at athe breakfast table a few months later.

Betsy Little Bolding
Lettie Little Zulfer
Updated ̱ August 2008

*Katherine Jack Smith, Elizabeth Jack Little, Margaret Jack Graye and Josephine Jack Smith are also honored in Women's Plaza of Honor - please visit their Honoree Records