|Molly Butler, an early pioneer in Apache County, established the first hunting and fishing lodge in the area, and actively promoted tourism in the White Mountains. Over the years she hosted many famous people at her Greer lodge, while running a successful ranch and playing an active role in politics and her church.
Region: Northern Arizona
Theme: Women at Work
|Mary Ann (Molly) Wiltbank Crosby Butler was born in St. George, Utah, in 1877, the daughter of Hannah and Ellis Wiltbank. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent the Wiltbank family to Arizona when Molly was 6. She grew up on a cattle ranch in Round Valley, the collective name for the region that today includes the towns of Springerville and Eager. Her father built the area's first sawmill and she attended school in Eager. In 1897 Molly married Lorenzo Crosby and together they ranched and ran a small store near Greera vacationer's dream site, surrounded by pristine lakes, rushing mountain streams and pine forests, at an elevation of 8,500 feet. In 1902, the couple established a lodge for fishermen and hunters, making Molly Butler's Lodge one of the oldest guest lodges in the state.
After her husband's death, Molly served as Greer postmistress from 1907 to 1924. She remarried in 1908, to John Butler. Together they continued building their lodging enterprise, catering to trout fishermen in the summer and elk hunters in the fall, while also leading camping expeditions in the White Mountains. During the early years, Molly decided not to charge for meals, asking only that guests work in exchange for her hospitality. Her daughter, Hannah, however, began charging 25 cents a meal without her mother's knowledge, and the idea caught on. Early visitors included well-known authors Zane Grey, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Stewart Edward White, as well as U.S. Presidents Herbert Hoover and Theodore Roosevelt.
In addition to her lodging and ranching business, Molly participated in her church, the Business and Professional Women's Club of Springerville, and the Arizona Game Protective Association. She also headed the women's division of the Greer Cattle Growers Association. Molly Butler's Lodge includes a restaurant and private cabins and is still a thriving business in Greer.