WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees


"When she was a girl she rode on the wings of Firefly. Horses meant more to her than anything. She was really an outside girl. Erman G. "Polly" Browning said of her mother, Marie Louise "Mila" Warren. "Firefly was her horse when she was a girl and she kept a lock of his mane as a keepsake.”

Mrs. Warren died at the age of 93 in 1974. The last two years and seven months of her life she lived in the Willcox Nursing Home.

Mrs. Warren was born September 11, 1880. She came to Willcox at the age of four with her parents, Thomas and Maggie H. Allaire, and her brother and sister. The family came from Warrington Junction, Virginia. They lived in the Kansas Settlement, 17 miles south west of Willcox, in a two-story fortress-like adobe house with double-thick walls. Indians could be seen from the upper story windows as they came from the Cochise Stronghold. The family was never harmed by Indians.

“When she was a girl she loved to ranch. She loved to ride horseback and work outside. And she loved to dance,” Mrs. Browning says. Mrs. Warren's schooling was limited. J.A, Rockfellow taught a four-grade school. He picked the children up in a buckboard, took them to school and returned them in the evening.

Mila Allaire married Robert E. Warren on April 10, 1900. The couple had eight children, four of who preceded Mrs. Warden in death: Alice, Tom, Henry, and Julia. Besides Mrs. Browning, two other daughters live in Willcox: Jean Seney and Peggy Wear. Doris Forbus lives in Payson.

During the summer of 1916 the family moved to Silver City, New Mexico. They returned to Willcox in the spring of 1917, and Robert went to California. It was then that Mrs. Warren took up ranching on the ranch that her father owned. She borrowed money from the Willcox Bank & Trust Company. Mrs. Browning said that in later years the banker, Dana Milner, said: "I loaned that lady money when I didn't think there was a chance in the world that she would pay it back, and, you know, she paid back every penny of it."

"She took care of her cattle," Mrs. Browning says, adding that she couldn't remember how many head of cattle her mother ran. "She had them all named: Daisy, Star, Croppy and there was a pet Hereford milk cow named Judy," Mrs. Browning says.

During those years Mrs. Browning, the second child, took over the household and acted as mother to the younger children. Mrs. Browning remembers her mother had a "very pleasant personality. She was a friendly person, a very humorous lady who always had a smile on her face. She was a very good housekeeper and cook."

Mrs. Warren worked the ranch with the help of her two sons. She moved to Willcox from the Kansas Settlement ranch so that her children could go to high school. But she kept her ranch and managed the Willcox Hotel for some time.

She maintained a zest for life. Being especially fond of dancing, she often danced the entire night away to the accompaniment of fiddle and guitar at area dances.

Mother wanted discipline but she wasn't a stern person. The family was well disciplined and appreciated what she was doing," Mrs. Browning says.

The family had its share of tragedy. Mrs. Warren's father was hurt in an automobile accident, which brought on a heart condition. He died in 1919. Her mother went blind and Mrs. Warren cared for her until she died at the age of 85.

When Tome grew up, he left the ranch to enter the mining industry. Henry continued to work on the ranch. Henry got hurt when a horse fell on him, driving his shoulders into the ground. He was paralyzed in both arms although he eventually did get partial use of his right arm. "Henry died in 1941 of a ruptured appendix," Mrs. Browning says.

Mrs. Warren lived alone until she was 85. Then the daughters talked her into moving in with them. She would spend a month with each of them except when she was with Mrs. Browning, then Mrs. Fortbush would come from Payson and the two sisters would care for their mother for two months at a time in the Browning house. When Mrs. Warren moved to the nursing home for the last two years and seven months, the daughters made sure that one of them was with her every day. "She was a loving person. You couldn't help but be fond of her when you were around her," Mrs. Browning said.

Mila Warren died in 1974 at age 93.