Using water from Oak Creek, the homesteaders irrigated small patches of ground to raise fruit and vegetables. Some made wine, for which the Schuerman family became well known. Every homestead had a collection of chickens, turkeys, and geese, for the family table and to sell in Flagstaff. Cattle provided beef for the table and market, as well as dairy products. Most men also took advantage of the opportunities presented by the forests in the area to cut railroad ties, lumber, shingles, and firewood. Men often left the homestead for the women and children to manage while they took paying jobs in the mines or smelters.
At right: Roe Smith mowing on George Black Ranch (now Doodlebug area)
Most of the agricultural pursuits in Sedona were for home consumption, or a limited seasonal market in Flagstaff or the mining area of Jerome. However, fruit growing-particularly apples and peaches-played a significant part in the early Sedona economy and thus is an important historic theme.
Will Jordan first began growing fruit in the Verde Valley near Clarkdale, but the smoke from the smelter damaged the trees, so Jordan moved to Sedona in 1927 and settled near Oak Creek. George and Walter Jordan took over for their father in 1930. One of the most difficult tasks was getting water to the orchard. In 1929, Walter Jordan and his brother George improved an irrigation ditch and built a water wheel to pump water from Oak Creek to the trees. George Jordan later added wells and pumps; his system provided the first commercial water supply to Sedona residents.
The Jordans drove their fruit to markets in Jerome, Prescott, Wickenburg, and Phoenix. They also shipped fruit to Seattle, San Francisco, and St. Paul, Minnesota. Local residents and tourists purchased fruit at George Jordan's retail store. Walter and Ruth Jordan sold most of their orchard land in 1972 for a subdivision; and the remainder is now the City's Jordan Historical Park.
Other Sedona residents also grew peaches and apples. Henry Schuerman, Jr., son of 1885 homesteader Henry Schuerman, grew peaches near the Red Rock Crossing. His nephew, Fred Schuerman, had an even larger peach orchard. Other growing locations in the Sedona area included the Charles Allen homestead (now Junipine Resort). His son-in-law, Tom Anderson, grew fruit to sell at a roadside store. Tom Pendley grew Red and Golden Delicious apples on the homestead of his father Frank (now Slide Rock State Park).
Cattle ranching also played a significant role in Sedona's history. Herds were driven to high ground on the Mogollon Rim to graze in summer and returned to the Red Rock area in winter. Cattlemen leased grazing right on the National Forest lands.