Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

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Version 110307

STANTON, ARIZONA

 

Table of Contents

 

Rich Hill 1

The Defrocked Tyrant-Priest Of Antelope Station. 1

Stanton, Arizona Sign. 2

Historic Site Sign. 3

Charlie Stanton’s House. 4

Hotel Stanton Photograph. 5

Stanton area Mine Claim Map. 6

Hotel Stanton Office. 7

Charles Stanton Final Resting Place. 10

Charlie Stanton's Grave documented, October 2007 update: 11

Stanton rich in gold, history, people. 12

 

Rich Hill

Pioneer E. Plorer Pauline Weaver led an expedition in 1863 that discovered gold nuggets the size of potatoes on the top of Rich Hill. The hill became the richest fold placer discovery in Arizona. Miners worked Rich Hill found deposit’s of gold in nearby Weaver and Antelope Creeks as well the towns of Stanton, Weaver and Octave grew up near the creeks. By the early 1900’s the gold began to play out. That and the general lawlessness of the area drove out most of the population.

 

The Defrocked Tyrant-Priest Of Antelope Station

 

Author: Tom Barkdull’s book “LONESOME WALLS”

Black & White Photos by: Author

 

A mile above the warped and bleaching walls of Stanton, the unmarked grave of Arizona's most infamous character lies forsaken amid a camouflage of greasewood, cat's claw and scrub oak. The path to this sequestered spot is over­grown and practically impassable, as no human feet have trod its tortuous ascent for many, many years. The utter silence is broken only by the hushed sigh of the lonesome, searching wind, and sometimes by the rustling escape of a desert chipmunk or startled cottontail. Dry arroyos are white and sun-parched; dust devils start in these arroyos and spin their ways up the tangled slope to spend themselves at the timber line. For eighty years denizens and elements of the living desert have scampered across this last resting place of Charles P. "Chuck" Stanton.

 

On a scorching, gluey day in the early fall of 1886, seven men labored silently up Antelope Wash, pausing fre­quently to mop their brows and gaze back at the village below. Six of these were clad in the rough attire of miners. Their burden was in a rough pine box nailed securely around the remains of a tyrant. The seventh man, dressed in black, walked at the rear and carried only a Bible. Thus the bullet ­riddled body of Chuck Stanton was transported as far as practicable from the town he had terrorized, buried deep in the ground he had drenched with blood. . . buried and forgotten.

 

Stanton, Arizona Sign

Photo by: Neal Du Shane

 

Stanton's early years are shrouded in murk. The hand­written notes of Sharlot Hall tell us that he was the illegiti­mate son of Irish nobility and had once been a priest, excommunicated for immorality. These same notes quote a friend of Stanton's as stating, "He was a very fine priest, but became a very bad man."

 

Carefully preserved news items place Stanton in the vicin­ity of Wickenburg as early as 1866 and cast him as a habitué of the many isolated villages and mining camps of the area. In 1870 he visited the Vulture Mine and learned the process of amalgamation. At the same time one Dennis May found the Leviathan Mine and immediately took Stanton in as a full partner. Dr. Jones's team was sent up to haul a load of ore down to the mill, and as a result of this sample Dennis sold his half interest in the Leviathan to the Vulture Com­pany for $10,000. Stanton, however, retained his interest and moved to Antelope Station, a tiny community beginning to sprawl along the base of Rich Hill and which would one day become Stanton's namesake. He opened a small store and bought a cabin on Antelope Creek adjacent to the home of Yaqui Wilson.

 

Historic Site Sign

Photo by: Neal Du Shane

 

Antelope Station prospered with the mining industry, which by 1871 was flourishing along Weaver Gulch on the east and Antelope Creek on the west. During that year Charles C. Genung started construction of a road through town to accommodate the stage lines. Yaqui Wilson opened a store in partnership with John Timmerman, and a man named William Partridge started a hotel and station in prepa­ration for the arrival of overland passengers. Barney Martin and his wife owned a neat red-brick store in the center of town. Thus Chuck Stanton had three competitors; and he had a consuming determination to dispatch them all and be­come the town's absolute ruler.

 

He hadn't long to wait for his chance to act, as prosperity soon brought the least desirable element to town with the advent of the notorious Venezuela gang, as bloodthirsty crew as ever roamed the Southwest. Stanton immediately be­came an intimate of the Venezuelas and in mere weeks was their recognized leader. So began the bloody extermination of his competitors, one by one, and a rapid rise to power by methods as devious and ruthless as the man himself.

 

The road was completed by Genung in 1872, and Ante­lope Station became a regular stop for two stage lines: the Pierson and the Jim Grant. Passengers from both lines in­variably went to the Wilson-Timmerman store for rest and refreshments, a fact that infuriated Partridge and at the same time afforded Stanton a method of disposing of two hated rivals with one stone. His chance had arrived sooner than he'd expected.

 

In addition to running his store and stage stop, Wilson raised pigs and prickly pears at his home. One day when he was on a trip to Prescott, the pigs got out and caused considerable damage at Partridge's. Before Wilson's return Stanton instructed his Mexican ruffians to pass the word along to Partridge that Wilson was out to get him. Receipt of this message, together with the existent ill feeling concerning the stage passengers, stirred Partridge to a white-hot fury, and immediately upon Wilson's return, Partridge sent word for him to come and get his pigs forthwith. Wilson started to retrieve his pigs, carrying a sack of prickly pears with which to entice them home. A stage driver who witnessed the entire affair testified at the resulting trial that Wilson was unarmed when he started from his home. As he approached Partridge's place Partridge shot him dead without warning, then ran away and hid in the hills above town. The next day he proceeded to Prescott, where he gave himself up and was subsequently sentenced to the Territorial Prison at Yuma.

 

Charlie Stanton’s House

House/Stage Stop where Charlie Stanton was shot and killed. Photo by: Neal Du Shane

 

Stanton's plan had worked perfectly. The proprietor of the hotel and station was behind bars and one of the part­ners of the Wilson-Timmerman store was dead. Two and a half competitors to go and all of the business in Antelope Station would rest firmly in the hands of the Venezuelas and their leader.

 

Historians wrote that at that time travelers avoided the town as they would the plague. However, due to the influence of Stanton a post office was established in 1875 and the town officially named Stanton, with none other than Charles P. himself appointed postmaster. In a short while he also be­came deputy sheriff and justice of the peace. Terror stalked the streets and murder was prevalent. In fact, there are thirty-five bodies buried around town in various spots as a result of that gory era.

 

It's small wonder that in September, 1875, citizens suc­cessfully petitioned to have the town's name changed to Antelope Valley.

 

With Wilson dead, his partner John Timmerman came up from Smith's Mill, closed out the store and formed a new partnership' with Barney Martin. There were some debts against Barney's store, so to head off a sheriff's sale Timmer­man took $700 and started by mule for Wickenburg to pay off the note. Upon hearing of this, Stanton hired one Juan Reval to waylay and kill Timmerman. At a narrow curve halfway between Antelope Valley and Wickenburg, Reval shot his victim through the heart with a pistol. Before he died in prison, Reval related how Stanton had watched the murder from a nearby hill and had then received his half of the $700. Douglas Brown, one of the Brown brothers of Prescott, was returning home from Wickenburg that after­noon, when he and his sister-in-law came upon Timmerman's body, still on fire from the close-range pistol shot. They dragged the body off the road and put out the flames.

Hotel Stanton Photograph

In 2006, Hotel Stanton, Rich Hill in background. Photo by, Neal Du Shane

 

With his property still encumbered, Barney Martin sold it to Stanton, receiving a sizable down payment in cash to­gether with the problem of collecting monthly payments. At that time the Martins were renting the Partridge house. They had two little boys, aged nine and eleven. Sharlot Hall's notes quote a friend's description of them as "nice little boys who sang nicely together."

 

Thus Chuck Stanton had systematically disposed of each and every competitor. However, the cash Barney Martin had received for his store was not forgotten, nor was the note which Barney held for the balance due. Stanton and his band of cutthroats were already devising a plan to relieve the Mar­tins of both-a plan as vicious and cowardly as any conceived by man since the beginning of time. The first step was to compel Barney and his family to leave Antelope Valley.

 

The Martins were subjected to constant molestation and harassment. Barney was challenged to a dozen fights everyday, Mrs. Martin dared not even go to the store for fear of jeers and insults from the Venezuelas, and even the little boys were stoned in their own yard and set upon in the streets by children of Stanton's sycophants. The family had but one person whom they considered their friend: Francisco Vega, who had a Mohave wife and four children. The Vegas were very poor and had been helped many times by the Martins. Unknown to Barney, Francisco had been a tool of Stanton for years. Consequently every move and plan of the Martins was known to Stanton scant minutes after being made.

 

Finally, in July, 1886, Mr. and Mrs. Martin, heeding repeated warnings from the ruffians controlling the town, de­cided to load their wagon and head for Phoenix. Suspecting that they wouldn't be allowed to travel unmolested, Barney sent a message ahead to his old friend Captain Calderwood, notifying him of their time of departure and their estimated time of arrival at Calderwood's home. The family arrived in Congress without incident and left that town at 2:15 in the afternoon. Between Congress and Phoenix there was but one spot suitable for waylaying passers-by: a small gulch near the Hassayampa River, and Stanton had men waiting to attack the family at this point. The men had been waiting impatiently for several hours for the wagon to appear and were on the verge of abandoning the project, when Barney's alleged friend Vega rode out to tell them that the Martins were in sight. The following half hour is unsurpassed for stark, bloody horror in the annals of the West.

 

Stanton area Mine Claim Map

 

 

As the wagon dipped down through the gulch the Martins were held up and taken off the road by eight men, headed by Vega. At about a half mile off the road the wagon was stopped and Elano Hernandez ordered Barney to get to the ground. As Barney leaned over to comply, one hand on the dashboard and the other on a wheel, Hernandez plunged a butcher knife through his heart. Hysterical with terror, Mrs. Martin jumped down on the opposite side and ran back to­ward Vega, who was standing with rifle ready. She cried, "Francisco, 'save our lives!" The little boys ran after their mother with Hernandez pursuing from behind. Catching her, he grabbed her hair, pulled her head back and cut her throat. He then cut the little boys' throats while they were still clinging to their mother's dress. Some woodchoppers were in the area cutting fuel for the pump near Seymour. One of these named Lucero started to run at the sight of the brutal murders, but Vega pointed his rifle at him and ordered that he halt. Lucero was then made to chop wood to bum the bodies.

 

When the Martins failed to arrive on time, Calderwood formed a search party and backtracked along the route he knew they would travel. From the point where the wagon tracks left the road, the party could see smoke rising at some distance up the gulch. Arriving at the scene of the massacre, they found the bodies still smoldering. The desert air was pungent with the stench of burning flesh. After the fire was extinguished, only charred skulls and bone fragments re­mained.

 

Hotel Stanton Office

Hotel Stanton – 2006, Photo by: Neal Du Shane

 

Indignation ran high throughout the entire territory and terrific pressure was brought to bear on public officials. Stan­ton was arrested and taken to Phoenix for trial. He pleaded his own case, called one after another of his henchmen as witnesses, and thanks to their testimonies, was exonerated!

 

After the Martin family murders and the subsequent trial, Chuck Stanton's carousals became more wanton and frequent. He had cronies and in-house doxies surrounding him at his hotel, where orgies were often continued around the clock, until the night that a Mexican boy named Lucemo fatally gun-shot him for trifling with his sister Froilana.

 

The Lucemo boy stood on the porch for only a moment, staring down with contempt on the man who had insulted his sister, then, turning, he mounted his waiting horse and headed for the border. The next day Tom Pierson from Crown King met the lad on the trail and listened to the story of Stanton's killing, whereupon he advised, "You should turn around and go back. They'll probably give you a reward."

 

And so ended the unbelievably gory career of Chuck Stanton, despot of the town that bore his name for a mere six months.

 

For some inexplicable reason the town's name was offi­cially changed back to Stanton in 1896. Mail was discon­tinued in 1905 and the old camp became another Arizona ghost.

 

Today, as the desert wind combs the tangled brush away from the old Stanton townsite, it seems to be attempting to lose the memory of a tyrant.

 

 

 

Charles Stanton Final Resting Place

 

November 18, 2005 – Neal Du Shane

 

On a quest to discover the grave of Charles Stanton, I ventured to the community of Stanton, AZ. Currently it’s owned by the Lost Dutchman Mining District and GPAA members and is active with RV’s and would be fortune seekers. After visiting with the woman at the office (former Charles Stanton Saloon) she gave me the name of an individual who owned the claim next to the burial spot.

 

Spoke with a very friendly person at the information center, former Stage Stop and home of Charlie Stanton. Was informed the most likely person to identify Charles grave was Ben Evens. She gave me directions to find Ben “if he hasn’t gone to Congress to get his mail”.

 

Drove around to space 8 and setting in his pickup after returning from Congress to get his daily mail, sat Ben Evens a 92 year young gentleman who is a fountain of information on this area. Ben indicated he has been in Stanton for over 30 years and verified he once owned the claim next to the spot where Charles Stanton was buried. Ben’s description to locate the burial is to: drive up the road to Yarnell, about one mile. On the west side to the road near the Antelope Creek river bottom you will see a clump of trees. Walk down to the creek and look for a large black pillar rock formation. Up the bank (west side) is the burial spot of Charles Stanton.

 

Ben went on to explain that after the claim where Charles is buried, was sold the new owners came in with a bulldozer and leveled the ground. Charles explained “After that, when I used to go to my claim and try to stay there, I couldn’t as Charles was still active and I couldn’t get any sleep. When I moved across the creek on the east bank there were no problems and I could get some rest”. It would seem Charles didn’t like to be disturbed and was letting everyone know his dissatisfaction.

 

Ben also explained that as you travel up the road from Stanton to Yarnell if you get to the fence after approximately one mile from Stanton, you have gone too far and will have to backtrack slightly. Ben explained there was never a marker or headstone for Charles Stanton, and only a few local old timers can even remember where it’s located. Look for the large black rock formation and it’s just up the bank from that rock.

 

Charlie Stanton's Grave documented, October 15, 2007 update:

 

One of the main goals for the Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project is to delve into long forgotten historic Pioneer Cemeteries within the state. One such cemetery that has had nothing written or documented is the Stanton Cemetery and we knew it had to have one. It turns out that we have identified and located three separate locations with a number of graves.

 

Good friends Bonnie Helten, Shelley Rasmussen and my self set out on a quest to find the exact grave of Charlie Stanton. A friend of Bonnie and Shelley had showed them a location where when a young girl she remembered a grave with a picket fence surrounding it when she grew up in Stanton. This then was our beginning point.

 

The location was just west of Stanton across the creek. Almost directly west of the Stanton Dance Hall and Saloon. At first we were trying to identify a single grave, but as we researched the area be began to identify many graves. All unmarked with headstones as we know them today, but some still had the rock outlines where the individuals were buried. Some had no identification as all evidence has been strewn by cattle roaming the area. We briefly researched this site and didn't find Charlie's Grave but can safely say this may have been the main Stanton Cemetery with 20 to 30 graves.

 

Our next stop was to find the grave site approximately one mile up the creek from Stanton. To which we went a little too far on the road as there was construction at the site we wanted to park. But we found a level location and exited the vehicle. Heading directly for the creek we figured we could work our way done the creek to where Ben told us where the grave was.

 

Fortunately as we walked the creek on the west bank we continued to observe and identify graves. To our amazement we found and identified Charlie Stanton's grave approximately 1/4 mile farther up the creek than previously believed.

 

Interesting facts: At the foot of Charlie Stanton's grave is the grave of a small male - could this have been his dog? We proceeded to work the total plateau and found additional graves, all Hispanic. There are adult male and female graves and our estimate is the total may reach as many as 15 to 20 graves with detailed research of this area.

 

To answer our burning question, who is buried where it was believe Charlie was buried? Bonnie and Shelley came back at a later date and researched this area. Sure enough there are graves at that location also but not Charlie Stanton's grave. This research tells we have found Charlie Stanton's grave.

 

 

 

Stanton rich in gold, history, people

Courtesy Patti Jares, Staff Writer “The Wickenburg Sun”

www.wickenburgsun.com

 

The Original Stanton Opera House is presently being restored.

Photo courtesy: Patti Jares

 

Arizona is abundant in historic gunfights, hangings and rich gold strikes, but no town has displayed such a versatile cast of players than the settlement of Stanton. Stanton is tucked between Congress and Yarnell, seven miles east of Highway 89 along the primitive County Road 109 where it crosses Antelope Creek.

There was Charles P. Stanton, the ruthless villain for whom the town was named, Francisco Vega, Stanton's hired gun - a “mean, ornery devil,” according to history buff Willard Bass. Then there was Little Sam, in love with a local prostitute. He caught her with Stanton and shot her dead. They hung Little Sam, right in town.

 

Stanton eventually died in his home with a bullet to his head, but the mysteries surrounding him are alive to this day, including an estimated $60,000 worth of gold he supposedly hid somewhere between Antelope Creek and Prescott, possibly along County Road 109, through Yarnell to Prescott. Many have intensely scoured the area in search of the treasure, but it has never been found.

The settlement diminished into a ghost town about four years after Stanton's murder.

In the late 1950s The Saturday Evening Post is said to have purchased the 10-acre town, and then gave it away during a contest. It remained uninhabited until the late 1960s, when hippies moved in, pulling rafters out of the ceilings of the original buildings for firewood.

The town was finally scooped up in 1976 by then-President of Lost Dutchman's Mining Association (LDMA) George Massey, purchasing 65 deeded, patented acres for LDMA members to enjoy six months out of the year. The organization recently purchased an additional 60 acres. It now owns the entire town and surrounding area, including the wash that flows from Rich Hill.

LDMA members arrive in the fall in RVs of all shapes and sizes.

These days, Stanton attracts mostly senior citizens from all walks of life: geologists, teachers, those in the medical profession, artists, writers, and the list goes on. But one thing these winter visitors have in common is a belief that there is still “gold in them hills,” and they can keep all they find.

According to membership rules, the maximum stay at Stanton is six months, unless members are involved in maintenance.

Members Larry and Linda Walton are year-around caretakers, residents a total of 10 years. The couple, like many others, found Stanton through a gold mining show on TV.

Assistant caretakers are Dave and Joanne Ringquist, who also stay all year.

The resident who has lived at Stanton longest is 91-year-old Ben Evans. Evans keeps the grounds meticulous all year long and is full of stories of the area - some involving him.

In addition to basic amenities offered in Stanton, such as water, a main office with a telephone, showers and electrical hookups; the town utilizes the 11-room original Stanton Hotel, which has been renovated to offer a large, functional kitchen and dining room, a library, a laundry room, a poker room (money is not supposed to change hands in the room) and a TV room.

Stanton has its own Red Hat Society chapter, and has published its own cookbook.

“This is mostly a man's town,” exclaimed one resident. “But we women have our moments!”

The town members possess a rare camaraderie, reflected in their potlucks, parties and friendliness within the community. As one part-time resident exclaimed: “When you start doing this, you become a member of a big family. A neat thing about it here is that nobody cares whether you have a $300,000 motor home or a tent.”

There is not much left of the town that once boasted three stage stops, but original buildings sit among the RVs, and many have been restored. The Stanton Opera House is presently being restored and workers are being careful to leave the bullet holes intact - they are a reminder of a wilder, more dangerous time. The town originally named Antelope Creek sprung up virtually overnight after an incredible gold discovery in 1863 - a gold prospecting party led by Mountain Man Pauline Weaver - yes, he was “Pauline” - found gold nuggets the size of potatoes at the top of a mountainous hill later named “Rich Hill.” The town developed at the base of it.

The settlement was later changed to “Stanton” in 1875, when Charles Stanton became postmaster. So many legends exist about the Irish immigrant that it is hard to tell fact from fiction, but from court transcripts published in the Prescott newspaper in the 1800s, he was said to be a ruthless and power-hungry man.

Stanton was never convicted of murder, but it is believed through manipulation or hired killers, he is responsible for the death of virtually everybody who came between him and his lust for power and gold.

Two brothers of the Lucero family eventually murdered Stanton. The most accepted story is that Cristo Lucero and his brother shot Stanton to avenge their sister's compromised virtue. But there is also a rumor that the Lucero brothers were leaving the country for Mexico and were paid to rid the area of Stanton on their way out.

So hated was Charles Stanton that he was not permitted to be buried next to the decent residents in the town cemetery. He was put in the ground along the banks of Antelope Creek. His gravesite is no longer visible.

Although some residents take gold mining seriously, most are hobbyists. But whatever the attitude, it is a pleasure shared by residents.

Caretaker Larry Walton summed it up when asked how he like living in Stanton year-round.

“It's heaven - absolute heaven - after you get used to the heat.”

 

APCRP Interned Edition

 

WebMaster: Neal Du Shane

 

n.j.dushane@comcast.net

 

Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Internet Presentation

Version 110307

 

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