Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project
HARDYVILLE PIONEER CEMETERY
BULLHEAD CITY, MOHAVE COUNTY
By: Kathy Block
Photos by Ed & Kathy Block
Hardyville was one of the many Colorado River port and shipping towns, and served as Mohave County's first seat from 1867 to 1872. At Hardy Landing, boats ferried people across the river and the landing also served as a freight depot. At the most, Hardyville had about 20 permanent residents, but more were there at any given time due to people passing through. The post office was established January 17, 1865 and discontinued Feb. 19, 1883. The town was founded by William Harrison Hardy in 1865.
During its lifetime, Hardyville was struck by two major fires, in 1872 and 1873. In 1883 the ferry was moved to Needles, California when the A & P Railroad was completed to that point. The port was deemed obsolete and the town was deserted. It was reborn as Bullhead City with the construction of Davis Dam on the Colorado River below Hoover Dam in the 1940s.
William Harrison Hardy
William Harrison Hardy, born in Allegany County, New York on April 25, 1823, was a pioneer adventurer, town builder, and businessman. He went to California with a wagon train in 1849 and became "Captain Hardy" when elected captain of the company. Captain Hardy, as he was known for the rest of his life, was drawn to the new frontier of the Territory of Arizona and founded the town of Hardyville, in 1865, at the approximate site of the present day Bullhead City. He erected a cluster of adobe buildings for a mercantile store, hotel, and saloon. He took an active, influential role in Territorial politics. He established the post office (and invented a riveted mail sack still in use today), ferry crossing at Hardyville, and a stage line and mail route to Prescott on a toll road. (Road toll rates were not cheap, ranging from 4 cents a mile for each wagon drawn by two horses, mules or oxen. Extra charges were assessed for each additional span of animals, each head of loose livestock, and any individual on horseback. Ferry tolls were even more exorbitant than road tolls.) However, Hardy was well-liked and generous and known to give complementary ferry rides to those who were "down on their luck."
In developing his varied business interests, he traveled frequently, especially to Prescott, which was 165 miles from Hardyville via his Hardyville Toll Road, which cost $35,000 to build - a great sum of money in those days. One experience that illustrates dangers travelers faced was described in Thomas Edwin Farish, History of Arizona, Volume 5, Phoenix, 1918. It told how on one of his trips from Hardyville to Prescott he rode one evening by mistake into a camp of Wallapais (sic), who were at war with whites. He saw one Indian, whom he knew, and gave him his horse to take care of, and asked for a place to sleep for the night. He received the courtesy due to a brave man who had placed his life in their hands. The next morning he was permitted to resume his journey without molestation from the Indians.
In later years Captain Hardy was a member of the first board of prison commissioners who supervised the construction of the Arizona Territorial Prison at Yuma. He died a man of modest means at the home of his sister in Whittier, California in June 1906.
Hardyville Pioneer Cemetery
The only relic of Hardyville still in existence is its cemetery. It sits on a bluff at the northern edge of Bullhead City, facing the Colorado River and a Safeway store.
There are estimates of the number of burials in this cemetery ranging from 16 to more than 2 dozen. The site www.FindaGrave.com. lists 11 burials, with 10 known and 1 unknown. Many graves are unmarked because" the University of Arizona hauled them away and apparently does not intend to return them, just circled the graves with stones." "And a heavy rain some years ago washed out a few of the graves, sending the coffins and their occupants tumbling onto the highway. They restored them to their graves and then coated the hill with cement to avoid any further disaster.
Capsule biographies of these 10 known burials, from several sources, including www.ArizonaGravestones.org., offers a fascinating glimpse into life and death in the 1870s in a region of Arizona that was still the frontier. Here's a list of the people and sketchy information about them. (Note there is only one female listed.)
Adelida Amaro. Born in California 1854, died in Mohave City 1870. She was a married white female who died in childbirth at age 16. Believed to be buried in Hardyville Cemetery.
Charles Atchison. Birth date unknown. Death July 1891. Documented as being buried in Hardyville Cemetery. One of 5 people listed on memorial plaque in cemetery.
Edwardo Bernol. He was a blacksmith born in Mexico in 1835. He was a white male known to be a victim of a homicide shooting, died at age 35, in 1870. Believed to be buried in Hardyville Cemetery.
Robert Keffin. He was born in Scotland in 1845. Died in May 1870 of accidental drowning. He was a white male laborer age 25, believed buried in Hardyville Cemetery.
John Killian. Some name confusion, also listed as John Gillian. Birth date unknown. He was from Davenport, Iowa and was ambushed by Indians. He was "buried in Oct.1866 on a high bluff overlooking the Colorado River." One of the names on the memorial plaque in cemetery.
G.E. Mathew. He was born in 1852 and died just short of his 15th birthday in May 1867. His wooden grave marker was removed to the Colorado River Museum just north of Bullhead City and is "very hard to read." One of the names on the memorial plaque in the cemetery.
A.O. Perkins. One of the names on the memorial plaque in the cemetery. His wooden grave marker was moved to the Colorado River Museum and is "in very poor shape." His obituary from the Mohave County Miner, Jan.8, 1898 reads: "A.O. Perkins, who conducted a small store at old Hardyville, was found lying unconscious on the floor of the store, on Dec.31st, by a Mohave Indian. The Indian immediately reported the matter at Fort Mohave. Prof. McKoin and farmer Allison at once drove up to Hardyville, but the old gentleman only lived a short time after their arrival. His death was due to heart disease, from which he had been a great sufferer for many years. The deceased was about sixty years of age and for many years past had resided in Needles. Prof. McKoin saw that the remains had a decent burial. The deceased leaves several children in Los Angeles and Santa Monica."
William Taylor. He was a farmer, white male, born in Illinois in 1831, killed by Indians in 1870. Believed to be buried in Hardyville Cemetery.
Samuel Todd. One of the names on the memorial plaque in the cemetery. He was a white male born in Indiana, approximately 1820, died Feb.24, 1873. He was a resident of Hardyville and was well known as a founder of Mohave City. When that City was closed down, he moved to Hardyville in May, 1871, and opened a store, the largest in the territory. When fire destroyed Hardyville in 1872, he and Hardy lost $150,000 due to lack of insurance. Todd rebuilt but died shortly thereafter. He also owned a store in nearby Mineral Park, Arizona, as well as a house in Chloride, Arizona, and a stake in Todd Mine in Mohave County. (Named after him?) At the time of his death, Samuel's mother Maria Todd was alive in Alameda County, California. The father is not mentioned in the probate records and was most likely dead at this time.
William J. Tuttle. One of the names on the memorial plaque in the cemetery. His birth date is unknown, died May 1867. William was a stagecoach driver. When he arrived across the river from Hardyville, he was supposed to fire a shot to summon the ferry. Instead, a passenger fired a shot, hitting the back of his head and killing him!
These are the short notes about people who may be interred in Hardyville Pioneer Cemetery. Some of the information was found by researchers on the web sites from death records and census records for Mohave County for 1870. What a lot of data these records can yield!
Miscellaneous Comments Relating to Hardyville Pioneer Cemetery
Hardyville Pioneer Cemetery is listed on the National Registry of Historical Places, site #01000905, listed Aug. 30, 2001.
Historic significance: event/settlement
Area of significance: exploration/settlement
Period of significance: 1850-1874, 1875-1899.
Owner: local government
Historical function: domestic
Historical sub function: single dwelling
Current function: domestic
Current sub function: single dwelling
On a web page,(www.johnnyjet.com) for February 2007, Laughlin, Nevada, "Carly's Corner" gives this description of a "Haunted Laughlin Tour."
"Our leader shared stories of friendly and not so friendly ghosts in the area, participants had the opportunity to use dousing rods - L-shaped pieces of metal that locate electromagnetic energy and which spin when spirits are sensed. Even non-believers had a difficult time not getting a little freaked out when their dousing rods mysteriously spun out of control as we walked thru the Hardyville Cemetery."
The author, Kathy Block, visited the Hardyville Cemetery on January 10, 2009 and she and husband Ed took photos for this article. It was a very windy day, making it difficult to hold the camera steady. The cemetery is very small, maybe 100 feet square, but would make an interesting side trip if you are in the Laughlin, Nevada area.
GPS Coordinates: (D/S. WGS84) LAT., N35.120839, LONG., W114.587333
Street address: 1776 Arizona 95, at Dorado Drive, off corner of Highway 95 and Plata Drive, on bluff top facing west towards Safeway Store across highway 95, in Bullhead City, Arizona, in the north end of old town, just south of the bridge to Laughlin, Nevada. Watch for brown "historic site" sign on east side of Hwy. 95 and arrows will direct you to the cemetery. The site is surrounded by homes and the shopping center across the highway from the bluff.
Map by: Neal Du Shane 01/11/09
Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project
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