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Fain family, dating back to 1874, featured at Cowboy Poets Gathering

Norman Fain III speaks about his family’s history with three other members of his family Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, during the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering. (Jason Wheeler/Courier)

Norman Fain III speaks about his family’s history with three other members of his family Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, during the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering. (Jason Wheeler/Courier)

Through video and answering questions, members of the Fain family recounted the history of their family and the Rafter Eleven ranch at Yavapai College Saturday, Aug. 10, during the 32nd annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering.

Their family’s history in Arizona began in 1874 when William “Marion” Fain and Cary Burch Fain arrived at the cavalry post in Camp Verde with dreams of getting into the cattle business, Brad Fain said in his portion of the video. He added later that the eventual settling in Arizona came by way of Missouri to California for the Gold Rush and back to Missouri before prospecting in Nevada, where he picked up Cary, and then to Arizona.

“When they arrived in Arizona, they came in a covered wagon pulled by two milk cows with a buffalo calf tied behind,” Brad Fain said. “The story is that they had exactly 50 cents cash in their pockets and their provisions were about used up.”

The sixth child of Marion and Cary Fain, Granville “Dan” Fain, worked with the Hashknife outfit and helped organize the great roundups of the area before being put in charge of the 101 Ranch, owned by the Babbitt and Greening families, Ron Fain said in the video. After four years, he decided to start his own journey and build a life for himself, buying a 160-acre farm at Camp Verde, Ron Fain said. Over the years Dan Fain would expand the ranch to include the H-Triangle, Hundred and Eleven, the La-Tourette, Hatchet, Bed Bug and Ash Creek ranches as well as the Bloody Basin Range.

Dan Fain partnered with Kooge Wilkin on the ML ranch in Lonesome Valley in 1917, moved their cattle there and renamed it Rafter Eleven, Ron Fain said. Later, Dan Fain would buy Wilkins interest and, ever since, the ranch has been operated by the Fain family. At its peak, the Rafter Eleven ranch covered nearly 50,000 acres and encompassed all of what would eventually become Prescott Valley.

In 1940, Norman Fain Sr., Dan Fain’s son, was elected to the state senate in the 15th Arizona State Legislature, said Norman Fain III, in his portion of the video.

“Senator Fain represented the state stockmen and farmers with a focus on the welfare of the state for all,” said Norman Fain III. “Grandad spent three terms in the state senate during difficult wartime years. Those years brought lasting legislation regarding land use, water rights and labor rights.”

Between video portions, Norman Fain III said the biggest thing his grandfather accomplished for the Town of Prescott Valley, which was also a huge thing for the City of Prescott, was getting Highway 69 run through, making it so trucks no longer had to run the switchbacks and could drive a relatively simple road up Black Canyon Highway and to Prescott.

The second-biggest accomplishment, he said, was the language in the Right to Work Law. Though the law he pushed didn’t pass, his language is in the 1954 law that was approved, Norman Fain III said.

“It meant that you didn’t have to be a union member to have a job in this state,” he said.

During her portion of the video, Nancy Fain said that her husband and Norman Fain Sr.’s son, Norman William “Bill” Fain II, spent many years working cattle on the Rafter Eleven ranch but also had a dream to develop Lonesome Valley and build a town. He would say that someday the valley would have more people than Prescott, and now it does, she added.

Norman Fain Sr. would eventually sell real estate developer Ed Dudley 40 acres of land along Highway 69 for subdividing and then sold a section of land to the Glenarm Land Company in Phoenix. In 1966, Ned Warren bought five and a half sections of grazing land from the Fain family and named it Prescott Valley. The town would be incorporated in 1978 and hold its first elections in 1979.

The Fain family has been integral to Prescott Valley’s development, and Bill Fain’s generosity has had an impact on the town that continues to benefit residents today, Nancy Fain said.

Ron Fain added that his family has done a beautiful job of preserving things from generation to generation.

“We’ve got these beautiful photographs that we hang in our office and hang in the house and we’re also very blessed to have our great-great-grandfather’s rifle,” he said. “Those are some of the fun things that we have inside our office or place of business that always strike up wonderful conversations. That’s one thing that, being a fourth- generation native to the state, is that how conscientious that each generation was before my generation about preserving things and handing them forward.”

Today the Fain family’s company, Fain Signature Group, is operated by Ron and Brad Fain and the Rafter Eleven ranch, now known as The Fain Land and Cattle Company, is still a large part of the family business focusing on sustainable practices benefiting the consumer, environment and livestock.

For more information about the Fain Signature Group, visit

Editor’s Note — In addition to Saturday’s presentation, portions of this article are factually based on Fain Signature Group archives and the Cowboy Poets program.

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