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New book traces town’s history: Longtime residents say creating work was a ‘labor of love’
By David Madrid   - 09/28/2008

The Arizona Republic

The birth of Tolleson can be traced back to January 1908, when Walter Gist Tolleson bought a 160-acre dairy ranch homestead west of Phoenix.

In 1912, he subdivided 40 acres.

"I believe this would be a good location for a town," Gist Tolleson told his brother, Leon Tolleson, and a friend, Arthur Finley.

And so Tolleson was born.

That information is contained within Images of America: Tolleson, authored by residents Jim Green and Jimmy Ruiz.

Green said the idea for the book came when he noticed several books about Valley areas, from Avondale and Ahwatukee to Phoenix and Prescott. He contacted the publisher and found that no book was planned on Tolleson.

So Green turned to Ruiz, Tolleson's de facto historian, to help him compile the information and photos for the project. Ruiz has a den full of historical photos and artifacts, and the two men's combined years living in Tolleson is 130.

"I said, 'I'll do it if Jimmy will help me,' " Green said. "We were friends, not really close friends, but we were friends. He has all the pictures already. So then it was just kind of a labor of love. We both have been in Tolleson a long time. We love our community, and everything kind of fell into place."

The pair began their work in spring 2007, and the book was published in July by Arcadia Publishing, which specializes in local histories via its Images of America series. The book costs $19.99 and can be purchased at www.arcadiapublishing.com or in bookstores around the Valley.

Green and Ruiz describe Tolleson as a 109-square-mile area that was the Tolleson Union High School District. When the authors were growing up, Tolleson was considered the school-district area, Green said.

The two men met with many of the "old-timers," the patriarchs and matriarchs of Tolleson families, and interviewed them for the book. What they learned was fascinating, Green said.

"We discovered that behind every family and every picture is an entire story or an entire book," Green said. "We certainly got to renew old acquaintances and we got to relive a lot of nostalgia. If a person is into nostalgia, anytime they're doing history, they get engulfed in it, and that's what we were."





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