Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Internet Presentation

Version 041808

Second Edition 051910





Wikieup, Mohave County, AZ

By: Pat Ryland

Sandy Cemetery 04/08/08

Photo by: Pat Ryland


My historical interest and pursuit leadís me to books about Arizona pioneer towns and people. Recently I purchased a book recently called "The Lunch Tree" by Irene Cornwall Cofer which is about her life in the Big Sandy Valley near Wikieup (Sandy). It starts in 1896 when she was born and chronicles her life. In the book she talks about all the people who also lived there when she did and if they passed away, where they were buried. Almost all of her family members are buried in the Sandy Cemetery along with some other of her neighbors in the Big Sandy Valley. It sounded so interesting and since Wikieup is close enough to get to in a day trip from Wickenburg, I just had to go see it for myself.

Sandy Cemetery main entrance

Photo by: Pat Ryland 04/08/08


I went to the Sandy Cemetery on April 8, 2008. I was there for a few hours taking photos and drawing my plot map. I would estimate there are 40 to 50 burials in total. I did a little dowsing, mostly to confirm that the names on the headstones were correct. They were! Then I dowsed around some of the "big boulder" graves, which are unmarked, to see if they were male or female. Some of the rock piles/graves along the fence got no response. I decided that I needed to study the names in the book and make another list of notes so when I go back I will have a better idea of what to research.

While I was there the owner of the cemetery land, Dale McGhee, stopped by for a chat. He lives just one block north of the cemetery on the same side of the road. He didnít know anything regarding the graves.


Dale McGhee is the owner of the Sandy Cemetery land. In the few years that Dale has owned the land, members of the Cornwall family asked if they could buy the land/cemetery from him. Dale told them it wasn't for sale.


I had the dowsing rods in my hand so I explained the theory of their use and even was brave enough to show him how they worked on one marked and one unmarked grave. He was extremely interested in our research techniques. He said he was a Vietnam vet and has had some life threatening medical problems lately but is getting better, is happy to be alive and living in such a beautiful area. He said people are welcome to come to the Sandy Cemetery to visit, take photos and gather information.

Further research on the Sandy Cemetery is in process and this web site will be updated as information is gained.





As we have learned in our historic meandering in cemeteries there is a wealth of information that can be gained by taking the time to identify and observe clues. Not always are grave obvious. Sometimes the only thing that marks a grave is one or two rocks giving indication there may be a grave below.At other times itís a depression in the ground that the earth has settled. This is most often interpreted by untrained observers as graves being disturbed. 99.9% of the time the interred is still interred based on our research.


Some circumstances are even comical as is the case on this marked that obviously one of the families didnít agree with ďWidow of Thomas HuntĒ and tried to chisel off the statement, doing a fairly good job getting the text removed.


We took the liberty to photographically enhance the text to make it more legible to the viewer. Take time when you walk a cemetery, you will be amazed the historical information you can gain.









Photo courtesy: Pat Ryland 04/08/08


History of Wikieup, Arizona


Part of one of Arizona's original four counties, Wikieup shares an interesting history with the whole of Mohave County. Prior to the coming of the white men in the valley, the place where the county is situated today used to be the settlement of the Hualapai Indians, also known as Walapais. The Indians used to cultivate corn and other food crops aided by the rich, river-nourished soil of the valley and still have a small reservation along the Sandy River. However, the Hualapai's are not alone in the region. They have fierce rivals in the tribe of the Tonto Apaches. Mostly, the two tribes do not seek disputes with each other but all that changed with the coming of the white men.


The settlement of the white men pushed both tribes farther from their source of livelihood. This resulted in several disputes between the white men, the Yavapai Apaches, and the Hualapaiís. In one of these disputes, two white girls were abducted. The white men laid the blame on the Mojave tribe but they found out after two years that the girls were taken by the more savage Apache Indians. Sold the girls (Mary Ann & Olive Oatman) to the Mojaveís and were actually treated as part of the chief's family. Mary Ann stared to death but Olive survived.


The white settlers and the Mojaveís coexisted in the area that is why it is common for a person from Mohave County to have a mixed heritage. The Mohave's and Hualapai's also fought if one got in the others territory. The name Mohave County was chosen by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Arizona along with Pima, Yuma and Yavapai Counties on Nov. 9, 1864. It was said that "Wikieup" is a Native American or Mojave Indian word for "shelter" or "home." The name Wikieup was chosen because an Indian brush shelter was at a spring near the proposed post office. Other names applied for were Owens, Neal & Sandy. (Reference; Arizona's Names, X Marks the Place by Byrd Howell Granger) (Information provided by: Kay Ellermann, Mohave Museum of History & Arts, Kingman, AZ)


Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Internet Presentation

Version 051910


WebMaster: Neal Du Shane




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