Arizona Pioneer Cemetery Research Project

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One interesting historic mining area of Arizona, and there are many, is the area of San Domingo Wash and the wash just east, Trilby Wash. Kevin Hart and I left for our tour early (oh-dark-hundred) to avoid the heat of the day and we were back by noon.


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Over the past several years Rusty and Betty Hasting have told me about the cemeteries and graves along San Domingo Wash.  Recently Bill Cordeiro had found graves and cemeteries along the wash, I was anxious to find and research the sites in person.

Such was our quest this 19th day of October 2008. Leaving from Morristown we proceeded NE on Castle Hot Spring Road, turning to the NW. A short distance later we proceeded down to San Domingo Wash and followed it north. 

Active mines at that time were the Little San Domingo, Morning Star, White Cloud, Sunset, Picacho View, Lower Jumbo, Climax, Midnight Owl and Independence Mine will be found near San Domingo Wash.  Presently there is no visible organized mining activity other than Hobby Mines working placer claims along and in the wash.


Anderson Mill, San Domingo Wash. Photo by: Neal Du Shane


A very well preserved Anderson Mill is along the banks of San Domingo Wash. 


Anderson Mill: Caution, the structure is worn, weathered and should be considered unsafe. There is a nest of Bees or Hornets that have taken residence in the structure and aren’t receptive to trespassers. Keep a watchful eye for the ever present Rattlesnakes and Gila Monsters.

Evidence of several small communities dot the wash and were most likely built to house the miners and owners of the various mines. The settlements are nothing of any size and probably consisted of no more than one to four houses plus structures to support the mine near them. Many foundations are still visible if you take the time to walk the banks near the mines.

APCRP research has documented and verified if there is a mine that was operational for any time, there will be graves near the mine. These graves were probably children, family members or miners that died for various reasons during the time the mines were operational. Rarely do we find headstones or markers for these graves but do find rocks placed to outline the graves. Wild life and cattle move these rocks out of their original alignment and contrary to popular belief vandals do very little damage to these historic sites based on our infield research.


Kevin Hart, documenting seven graves at the Sunset Mine. Photo by: Neal Du Shane 

At the Sunset Mine Kevin and I discovered seven graves, all adult male, all died in a mine accident at the same time by an explosion. We are researching to see if we can uncover and documentation as to the cause of this accident and the time frame it happened.

In addition closer to the Lower Jumbo Mine there are markers of graves that number six or seven.

Past the Anderson Mill approximately ½ mile, on the west bank of San Domingo Wash are seven graves. Four of which have cross’s for members of the Underwood family. In addition there are three more unidentified graves, presumably Underwood family members also. Of the seven graves there is one female grave. On this flat area along the banks of the wash there is evidence of houses and structures that dot the banks, indicating several families may have lived here over the years and worked the mines in the area.


Four of seven graves along San Domingo Wash. Photo by: Neal Du Shane

1. June Patricia (JP) Underwood (72) Wittman, AZ  1936 - April 24, 2008

2. Bill (BJ) Underwood (71) Pine, AZ June 22, 1932 - October 4, 2003

3. Johnny Lee Roy (JR) Underwood Jr.  Surprise, AZ January 20, 1979 - February 2, 2007

Above research information provided by: Pat Ryland APCRP Coordinator

Update 10/16/11, Don Witt, Mesa, AZ writes:

I just happened upon your website concerning graves found in the San Domingo Wash in Arizona. I have some info to give you. In case you have not had contact with the Underwood family (whose graves you showed in the photographs) they are a family who hunted deer and Javelina in that area for 50 years or so - not miners or whatever. I personally, hunted with them for over 15 years or so from 1988 on. The graves are at the corner of the San Domingo wash and the Eddie wash. Our camp was a little up the Eddie Wash from there. On the corner (where the graves are) is a miner's homestead. He was rumored to have been murdered and dumped in a mine. The ruins of his home are what is evident there. That corner was where Bill Underwood (the patriarch of the family) used to camp. From what I understand, when the miner moved there, the family started camping a little further up Eddie wash.

The marked graves shown belong to Bill and his wife, June, and (I believe) a grandson who was adopted, JR. They really represent scattered ashes, as I do not believe any person was actually buried there. The 4th grave belongs to the family dog, Reggie, who was actually buried there. The survivors include Bob & Vickie Underwood and family, Litchfield Park, AZ. Bob is Bill's son. I have very fond memories of hunting with the Underwood family in that area. They had an old WWII Willis Jeep that we would drive up and down the worst hills around that area. They welcomed myself and two other (no-family) hunting companions hunting with their family there for many years. We would meet there at the camp and drive up the Eddie wash to the "Raster Mine" or the "Little Divide" or the "Big Divide"...or up the Mitchell wash. Great memories.

Update 01/12/15, Jamie Underwood, writes:

Johnny Leroy Underwood (JR) was not adopted by Bill and June Underwood the grandparents.

My parents Bob and Vickie Underwood who lived in Peoria and Glendale at the time had guardianship of JR. He went to high school with Robbie and Jamie Underwood his first cousins . . . he lived with us for almost 4 years.


Jamie Lee Underwood 

(Daughter of Bob and Vickie Underwood)

If you have additional historical information on the graves we would welcome your input. Please contact us at. n.j.dushane@comcast.net

Once our research was complete in San Domingo Wash we traveled to Trilby Wash and explored the west side of Red and White Picacho Mountains. We traversed to a point near the Alleged Indian Massacre site of Col. Jacob Snively. Jack Swilling is documented to have exhumed Col. Snively’s remains in 1878 and returned the remains to Jack’s Stone House in Black Canyon City. We have found and documented the remains of Col. Snively’s remains there. It was rumored there were other soldiers killed with Col. Snively on that fateful day at White Picacho Mountain. The research I have completed on Jack Swilling always left me wondering exactly where he traveled the trip he made to exhume Col. Snively.

Our theory, the travel route for the three good Samaritans, they would have departed Gillett, traveling west to Tip Top, west to Swilling Gulch, down Stonewall Gulch to Humbug Creek. Resting a short time that late afternoon in Columbia, then traveling on to Castle Hot Springs where they stayed overnight.


Next morning the three proceeded to White Picacho Mountain to exhume Col. Snively’s remains. Unfortunately in this act of benevolence, put the three close to Wickenburg to be accused of robbing a stage coach west of Wickenburg. Jacks outspoken ability to tell a tall tale led to them being accused of robbing the same stage coach.  

Arrested and jailed they were acquitted in Prescott of the crime. Alas it was discovered they tried the three in Yavapai County, and the actual robber happened in Maricopa County. Jack was carted off to the Yuma County Jail for a second trial for which Jack died from his extremely poor health. I still am amazed what the sweltering heat would be like in August at the Yuma County Jail in 1878.


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