Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Manchester Maxwell - From the Civil War in Tennessee to Sheep Ranching in Flagstaff, Arizona


Amazing things happen when you have a blog.

A few days ago, Teresa (previously unknown to me) was doing some research, saw my blog about Flagstaff's Citizen's Cemetery, and wondered if Manchester Maxwell (her ancestor) might just be buried there. She contacted me, asking if I would look.

Of course, I love a good mystery, and, having lived in Arizona most of my life, I just dove right in and starting doing some research out here in Arizona! Teresa and I communicated back and forth, each providing new clues as to where Mr. Maxwell had been in Arizona.

Teresa already knew Manchester had been a soldier in the Civil War, had been taken prisoner, and when he was released, he left the area, disappearing for awhile, and her family lore had him going to Oklahoma's oil fields or to Arizona. Teresa had found his obituary in the Prescott, AZ newspaper, stating he was a sheep farmer from the Flagstaff area. Mr. Maxwell had died while visiting Los Angeles and his remains were shipped back to Flagstaff for burial in May 1905.

Then Teresa found a Google Book which listed Manchester as a Delegate to the Seventh Annual Convention of the National Live Stock Association in Portland, Oregon. He was the delegate from the Arizona Wool Grower's Association and it stated he lived in Bellemont, Arizona (about 7 miles from Flagstaff).

I did a little research and found out that Bellemont was the home of many sheep ranchers in that time period (late 1800's). I've been to Bellemont many times. It's a very small town, even now.

Yes, Bellemont, Arizona is the place where part of the movie "Easy Rider" was filmed (you remember? Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper starred in this famous film). Bellemont is featured in the film when Peter and Dennis stop in front of the Pine Breeze Motel, tried to rent a room and the proprietor (opening the door a crack, and seeing bikers) promply turned on the neon "NO VACANCY" sign. They still have that sign, hanging over the Route 66 Roadhouse Bar & Grill, located on the same 2.5 acres as the Pine Breeze Motel.

And so our research on Manchester Maxwell continued and I decided he just HAD to be buried in Flagstaff (he resided in this area for over twenty years) and it HAD to be Citizen's Cemetery!

We have had much snow over this past winter, and the last I had tried to go to the cemetery, it was under two feet of snow. But, as fate would have it, we've started having our Spring thaw. The cemetery had hardly any snow, and it was a gorgeous, sunshiney day!

Shawn and Greg, the caretakers of the Citizen's Cemetery are so very helpful and they directed me right to Mr. Maxwell's gravesite. I will tell you more about Shawn and Greg and the help they have/are providing me in my researches there, in another story. But, I digress.

What a beautiful gravesite it was! Surrounded by a wrought iron fence and positioned so that the San Francisco Peaks provided a backdrop to the view, Mr. Manchester Maxwell sleeps in eternity in what, I'm sure, he considered his home...Flagstaff, Arizona.

The uncanny part of this was, as I was walking toward the gravesite, I knew I'd been there before.

Yes, definitely, I was...I remembered that, quite some time ago, my husband and I had been at the cemetery and were drawn to this gravesite because of the wrought iron fencing and the beautiful view. Never did I think, then, that I would be photographing it and getting to meet his descendant!

Thank you, Teresa, for allowing me to post this story and photos on my blog! And thanks, Shawn and Greg for helping me out today!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The First in my Famous People Buried in Northern Arizona Series

William Wallace Bass
Birth: Oct. 2, 1849
Shelbyville, Shelby County, Indiana, USA
Death: Mar. 7, 1933
Wickenburg, Maricopa County, Arizona, USA

American Folk Figure. He was a pioneer of the Grand Canyon, where he built a cabin in 1884 with the help of the Havasupai Indians, whose causes he supported locally and in Washington. Established a river camp at Bass Ferry and made mineral claims. Guided the first geological survey of the Canyon in the 1890s. Constructed a cableway across the Colorado River in 1906 and helped found the first school at the Canyon, 1911. Bass's properties were bought out at the establishment of the National Park. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage and was cremated, his ashes scattered over the Canyon - the stone in the American Legion Cemetery is therefore a memorial only.