The sad tale of Bertha Wahl.

The Wahl family, mother and a least one daughter, as there is no mention that the father also came, arrived in the Springerville area in probably the late 1880s.  The family had to be in the area by 1892 from the events that unfolded.  Mrs. Wahl brought an unknown number of sheep to graze on the lush grasses from New Mexico.  Whether in seriousness or jokingly, she promised one of her herders that if he would work for her tending to the flock of sheep for seven years, she would give her daughter, Bertha, to him in marriage .  Bertha was only seven years old.

When the seven years were up (1899), the herder showed up at the Wahl home to claim Bertha.  Bertha was now a teenager, age 14.  Mrs. Wahl reneged on her promise to give her daughter in marriage to the sheepherder. Unfortunately, the herder did not like that he had worked those seven years and would not get a wife.  One night, he came to the house and seeing Bertha through her bedroom window, shot her to death.  I guess he figured if he couldn’t have her, no one could have her hand in marriage.

Who the herder was or what happened to him still is being researched.  I’ll post an update when I have finalized researching all the period newspapers.


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