The Story of Iven Bundy


   The trip isn’t over after Lava Falls, no matter what some boaters think. There’s still a lot to do, see and talk about, especially if you’re getting new folks in for the lower end. The Hurricane Fault Zone, The Hydes, The Hualapai people, Bridge Canyon Dam, and of course, the story of Iven Bundy. This tale is reprinted with permission from Footprints on the Arizona Strip by Nellie Cox.

Drowned in the Colorado

   Iven Leroy Bundy was the oldest son of Roy and Doretta Iverson Bundy, having been born in the Mormon Colony of Moroles, in the state of Sonora, Old Mexico, on June 18, 1908. With his parents and sister, Bessie, he was a refugee from the Revolution of 1912 and became one of the original settlers of Bundyville.

   Iven was a steady, dependable lad, very trustworthy and reliable. After his father became crippled by arthritis, Iven delayed his plans of going on a Mission to preach the Gospel and of getting married in order to help care for the cattle and do the farm work.

   On April 19, 1931, when he was nearly twenty-three years of age, Iven and his cousin, Floyd Iverson, with whom he had always been very closely associated, were down close to the Colorado River caring for their fathers’ sheep. Having nothing else to do, they decided to swim across the current. Floyd made it; Iven was sucked under by a whirlpool and lost. The following is the search for his body as told by Chester Bundy, an uncle of the two boys.

   “I was herding our sheep down in Mule Canyon in the spring of 1931 when I got word that Iven had been drowned in the Colorado. It was one of my brother Jim’s boys who brought the word. He said that they wanted me to go help search for his body. That ridge there close to the spring was two thousand feet high, but I climbed out of there in ten minutes. Floyd, Pat, Ensign Griffiths, and I then went down to the river. It was raining when we got there and we built a fire in a cave to keep warm and spend the night. Almost immediately, centipedes, scorpions, and other varmints came crawling in. None of us slept that night. We found nothing at the river next morning, so went back to Mt. Trumbull.

   “Roy wanted Floyd, Pat and me to take a galvanized boat, which weighed one hundred and eighty pounds and had an air chamber in each end, and go down the river. Aunt Rettie fixed us some grub–cookies, beans, and jerky, and we started. South of Parashaunt, we had the bad luck to upset the boat, and since things weren’t properly tied in, we lost a lot of our food and a box of dynamite we had brought along to blow up fish for eating. We had made an agreement with Albert Snyder that we would build a signal fire if we were going on down the river. We did, and he gave us a signal in return.

   “It was Sunday when we reached Diamond Creek. We decided to go up it, hoping to find some trout, as we badly needed something to help out our food supply. We had been five days on that river without having a real meal. Bad rapids were always just ahead, and worrying kept us from digesting our food very well. We walked a heck of a long way, but didn’t get any fish.

Discovery at Diamond Creek

   “When we got back down to the first landing at Diamond Creek, we saw this big wooden boat with something written on the side. A young honeymooning couple had vanished two months before while going down the river and were believed to have drowned up above Diamond Creek, their boat coming on over the rapids afterward. The boy’s father had sent a party to search for them, thinking they might have gone up a canyon and choked to death. But they found no trace of them.

   “A government survey camp had been at this point at one time and had built a blacksmith shop. A big two-foot wide plank had served as a place to put tools. I lay down to rest on an old bed springs, which lay partly under this bench. Of course, I looked up, and there I saw written the name of the young couple! (Proving that they had reached this point alive, instead of drowning farther up river.) Later on I notified “Doc” Marsten, the first man to run a power boat through the Grand Canyon, of what I had found.

   “Our boat wasn’t capable of taking the larger rapids, so we tried to steer around them, and we also carried the boat around a lot of them. Once, trying to steer around one bad rapid, we broke an ore, which meant we could do nothing but ride on through. We kept this up until we came to a narrow place where the river wound through a gorge and there was no way to get around.

   “We figured that we could ‘leg’ one another up over a high ledge on one side and push and pull the boat up, too, by means of a rope. Pat was the first to go up, Floyd and I having all we could do to get him up. He got his nose over the edge, and there, within a foot of his face, was a big rattlesnake. Pat had one of our two six shooters in a holster fastened around his waist. He reached down and got it and shot that snake right in the head!

   “I prayed that we might find Iven’s body. I don’t think I ever prayed so hard in my life. Roy was crippled and unable to help us hunt, and Iven was his oldest child.

   “On Monday morning we left Diamond Creek, and two days later reached Separation Rapid, though we didn’t know its name at the time. Five days floating down that old river without knowing where we were! Several times we had climbed to the top of rims to try to determine our whereabouts. I had climbed to the top of a mountain, as far as I could, without being able to see out.

   “Separation Rapid was so bad we couldn’t see how we could take a boat through. There were big boulders, situated here and there so a boat couldn’t go through without hitting. We decided to tie a log to the end of the tow rope, with two going below and one staying above to cut the boat loose. The one cutting it loose would then fire a shot and the other two would swim out and get hold of it - if the boat made it through!

Sunk!

   “Floyd and I went downstream, and Pat stayed to cut it loose. Then the boat shot down toward us, hitting something and bursting an air chamber. She was sinking and taking on water, but the log floated over to the edge. We got hold of it and pulled; but the air chamber had filled up with sand, and pulling it just made it go deeper into the sand. One of us dived down and lifted, while the other two pulled. The one who dived would get it up a foot or two and then would have to come up for air. We kept at it, anyway, and after a heck of a long time, we got her out.

   “We were getting low on grub, with flour and rice for just one more meal. We hated to give up, but we knew we were going to have to quit the river. The water was high, much higher than at any place we had been before. We lugged and pulled until we got the boat way up on the ledge at least fifty feet higher than the highest high water mark.

   “Separation Canyon has a little stream coming down it, though today it sinks out of sight before reaching the river. We took off up that canyon at five o’clock in the afternoon and walked until ten that night. Next morning, we filled a little quart canteen - all we had - and went upstream until we came where three canyons branched off. We were getting pretty weak, wanting to hold on to our last mouthful of food. So instead of eating, we took turns going up the canyons, figuring we were done for if one of them didn’t lead us out.

   “Pat said, ‘I’ll take my turn first and go up this west canyon. You fellows stay here until I get back.’ After about an hour, he returned. ‘A bird would have to go straight up to get out of that,’ he declared.

   “Floyd said he would take the middle one. An hour or two later he came back, saying that not even a bird could get out of it.

   “I thought for a few moments and then said, ‘ You fellows might as well go up this other canyon with me. Because, if we don’t get out of it, we are done for - we will never get out at all.’

Escape from the Canyon

   “So we started up this third canyon. We found a bird’s nest and sucked those eggs right now. We climbed and struggled up this canyon practically all day. But it took us out! Finally, we got where we could see out on top, and the first thing we saw was an old road that used to go down on the point to what was called “The Snyder Mine.” It led down on the sandstone level, half way down into the bottom of the canyon. We followed the road until we came to Kelley Seeps, where we got a drink of water. That in our canteen had vanished quite a while before.

   “A reservoir was not too far up ahead, and soon we saw a jackrabbit, which I managed to get with my six shooter. Boy, we were sitting pretty, now, with rabbit and rice and pancakes, though we had only one cake apiece. But boy, did we enjoy it!

   “Two cowboys came riding out of the trees, very surprised to see us and to learn what we were doing there. Luther Swanner and Tine Heckathorne were their names, and Luther told us if we would follow the road, we’d find a cabin with some jerkey on the north side of it, and to help ourselves. We never did find the cabin, though.

   “We kept walking and finally came to Slim Waring’s ranch over in Horse Valley. No one was there, but we went in and helped ourselves to something to eat. We were ready for another meal, though, when we reached the Mathis Ranch. An old fellow staying there asked us where we had been, and when we told him, he said, ‘Anybody crazy enough to go down the Colorado River looking for a dead man ought to starve!’ He insulted us so that we just walked off and left him without finding out who he was.

   “George Weston and family were living at Penn’s Valley. He had been in the party which had searched for the Hydes - the young honeymooning couple. Mrs. Weston said, ‘You fellows just stay here, tonight, and we will put you up with a bed.’ She fixed us a good meal, and next morning cooked us a good breakfast and made us a nice lunch. So we made it on to Belnap’s place, where my brother, Jim, and a bunch were shearing sheep, and went on home next morning, it being only a short distance away.

   “My prayers had been that we might find Iven’s body, and I had been so sure we would that I was somewhat bitter when we didn’t. I just couldn’t get it off my mind.

   “Later on, we read a description of a body which had been found by two prospectors down at Gregg’s Ferry. But it didn’t sound like Iven’s body. The men had buried the remains and reported it at Kingman; but nothing was done about it. Then, a year later, my brother, Omer, was on jury duty at Kingman, and one of the jurors was one of the men who had helped bury the body. He told Omer that the newspaper account had not given a correct description at all, and told Omer the true facts. We felt that it was Iven, but of course, were not sure. Then they got to working on Boulder Dam, and the Government offered to move any of the graves in the area to any place the families desired. Iven’s sister, Barbara, went down and she looked at the teeth, and judging by the way they were worn off, she figured it was Iven. When I heard what she said, I felt very strongly that it was Iven. This was a lesson to me to never doubt that prayers are answered.

Memories of Iven

   “Iven and I herded sheep for Fred Schultz and the Greeks out on the Strip, and he was preparing to go on a Mission. He used to herd sheep and study the Scriptures at the same time. At night, he would come in and give Book of Mormon Scriptures to me. He was well prepared to be a Missionary. And he had plenty of nerve. I have seen him sit on the edge of those cliffs down at Frog and he would dangle his feet out over the edge, while he yelled across the canyon to me. I am sure that wherever he is now, it is the place where he is supposed to be!”