Virginia Flaccus is the granddaughter of Edward Nye Fish and grandniece of William Wakefield who owned the 160 acre homestead purchased in 1876 by Walter L. Vail and Herbert Hislop to start the Empire Ranch. Mrs. Flaccus notes that Uncle Will did a lot of the footwork for her grandfather E. N. Fish. “Grandpa would put up the money, and then Uncle Will would go out and do it.” She recalls that when her grandfather owned the Empire they had their headquarters at Rosemont; she did not recall the current buildings at Empire Ranch headquarters. She recalls a horse ranch owned by her grandfather in Gardner Canyon, and his good luck at avoiding serious encounters with the Apache Indians while traveling throughout Southern Arizona on business.
Mrs. Flaccus’ grandmother, Maria Wakefield Fish, was a teacher who was encouraged to come to Tucson by Governor Anson Safford. She stopped teaching after marrying E. N. Fish, but remained interested in education. Maria Fish was the president of the Tucson chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and helped to start Protestant churches in Tucson. Mrs. Flaccus recalls a story told by her Uncle Will, Maria Wakefield’s brother, about the Earp-Clanton feud in Tombstone.
Mrs. Flaccus was born and raised in Tucson. Her mother, Clara Fish Roberts was one of the first students enrolled at the University of Arizona. Mrs. Roberts insured that her children had similar experiences to those she had growing up, including becoming fluent in Spanish and learning to ride and hitch a team of horses. Mrs. Flaccus recounts her experiences riding in several Tucson Rodeo Parades. She graduated from the University of Arizona, and met her husband, Elmer Flaccus, at a bridge game. Mr. Flaccus taught English at Roskruge before moving to Austin, Texas, to obtain a Ph.D. in Latin American history.
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Date of Interview: July 3, 2002
Interviewer: Jane Woods and Laurel Wilkening