Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project


Internet Presentation


Revised 111312




William Andrew Woodward. 10



Wagoner, AZ 1971

Photo courtesy: Bonnie Helten


The town was named for Jaye Edward Wagoner, who founded the community in the early 1800’s and his wife Minerva served as postmaster.


Gone are the two-story hotel with ten rooms, the bar with stalls for stagecoach horses, the dance hall, the old store with its hand pump gasoline tank and gone too are the miners who once depended on the store for their supplies.


Wagoner was a busy place with the construction of Walnut Grove Dam, about a mile south of town.


The hotel burned in October 1942, the dance hall was brought to a fiery end in 1948 all sings of Wagoner were bulldozed away in 1997.


Source: Ghost Towns and Historical Haunts in Arizona Thelma Heatwole.


The following written by: Bonnie Helten


Wagoner exists today only in the minds and memories of local residents and people that have traveled Wagoner Road in years past. Only a water tower and windmill remain to mark the location of this historic community.


Wagoner Water Holding Tank c. 12/19/07

Photo courtesy: Bonnie Helten


In the early 1800’s Wagoner was named for Jaye Edward Wagoner, founder of the community. His wife Minerva was postmaster. During its existence, according to local historian and rancher, John Cooper, Wagoner boosted of having the oldest Sinclair Gas Station franchise in Arizona.


Wagoner, Arizona

Photo courtesy: Mrs. John Cooper


There was a two story hotel with ten rooms. A barn with stalls for stagecoach horses. A dance hall with all the trimmings. The old general store with its hand pump that deposited gas in a vehicle via hand pump and gravity feed. A corral to hold horses and live stock. The old 500 gallon gasoline holding tank still remains if you look close enough.


Like all historical Arizona Ghost Towns Wagoner had its highlights and lowlights. Being on the main thoroughfare between Phoenix and Prescott kept the town thriving and full of activity. Local merchant Peter Verdier was murdered at his store by a Mr. Lopez who was shot and captured by Charley Genung. Lopez was tried, convicted and sentenced to 99 year in prison.


Wagoner was the gathering place for government officials and newspaper reporters for the double homicides at Tussock Springs in 1923. During this time Wagoner didn’t have a telephone and communication of this sort was done at Kirkland.


Phoenix mothers would bring their ailing young children to the Wagoner area via stagecoach during the summer months to escape the sweltering heat in the valley. This practice stopped once the railroad was completed and mothers would ride the train to cool Iron Springs, AZ several miles farther west and north of Wagoner. Many of the graves in Wagoner Cemetery are those of children who died during these summer visits.


Reservoir before dam broke

Photo courtesy: Mrs. John Cooper


The workers on the Walnut Grove Dam project are also buried in the Wagoner Cemetery. A beautiful cemetery setting about one mile east of Wagoner. The only headstone remaining is of James Clark Hunt a veteran. Unfortunately someone with a bulldozer started prospecting the area and has disturbed much of the ground here destroying many of the graves.


The winter of 1889/90 was unusually wet and the reservoir behind Walnut Dam just a mile southeast of Wagoner, soon filled. Storms and snow melt pushed the reservoir to its limit in February 1890. Trees and brush choked the spillways. The dam superintendent, Thomas H. Brown, grew concerned that the pressure may cause the dam to break.


Swollen flood gates could not be opened, not even with dynamite. By the afternoon of February 21, a torrent of water 3 feet high had crested the dam. Only then did Brown order an employee to race down the 22 mile stretch, to warn the more than 50 people at Gulch Camp that the dam may break.

Dan Burke, employee and prospector, was chosen to deliver the message because of his supposed familiarity with the territory. But Burke, obviously more thirsty than concerned, stopped in at Goodwin's Station said to have been somewhere along Oak or Cherry Creek, to have a drink.


Late that evening, a second messenger, William Akard, caught up with a drunken Burke at James Cameron's ranch, not far from Goodwins. Still within sight of the lower diversion dam, the unleashed river would claim Akard's life. The message of warning was never delivered.
It was around midnight of that fateful day, a deafening blast and a blinding flash marked the snapping of an immense steel cable that connected the water tower of Walnut Dam to its east bank. Witnesses would later claim they thought a giant box of gunpowder had exploded. They watched in horror as the tower teetered and fell. In the next instant, the entire dam, including 90,000 tons of rock, seemed to move bodily downstream in slow motion, sweeping clean everything in its path.

A roaring maelstrom of water, its crest a florescent glow in the darkness, towered 100 feet high and was said to "sound like Niagara Falls, only tenfold greater", was moving at over 60 miles per hour. It took the mass of rubble and water less than a half hour to sweep away the lower dam and main camp, fifteen miles downstream. Between the lower dam and Wickenburg, approximately 150 people were living. One of the few survivors, fittingly named Mr. Hardee, claimed that the flood filled the 200 yard wide valley, 60 foot deep.


Notably Wagoner could have been a resort community on the edge of the reservoir if only the dam had held. An attempt to rebuild the dam failed in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. Wagoner was a bustling community with the construction of the Walnut Dam, which sat about a mile southeast of town.



J.C. Hunt grave at Wagoner Cemetery c. 2007

Photo courtesy: Bonnie Helten


As you stand on the high bluff there is only one headstone remaining but ample evidence of many graves exist. If you pause and look to the southwest once on this bluff you can see the flat lake bottom that would have been Lake Walnut Grove in the valley below. Pictures still exist of boats and people enjoying the resort atmosphere in this lovely area.


Wagoner, Arizona c. 1996

Photo courtesy: Bonnie Helten


A local rancher and property owner bulldozed all remains of Wagoner into a hole in 1997. The old general store was a derelict structure of days gone by, at the time. And of course was an irresistible adventure for anyone passing by to explore as it sat on the edge of the road. Safety we are sure was an issue to eliminate any potential accident or injury.


Wagoner, Arizona in 1996, one year before it was bulldozed.

Photo courtesy: Bonnie Helten


In addition to the water holding tank, windmill there are still some graves in and about the area if you know what to look for. In 2007 one grave still has a wooden cross marking its location. It is an adult male but nothing else is known about the grave according to John Cooper. Sadly when termites complete their work on the wooden structure nothing by rocks will mark this grave.


Believed to be the grave of William Chautran

 Wagoner, Arizona c. 2007

Photo courtesy: Bonnie Helten


About 4 miles to the west is the community of Walnut Grove that still can be identified by the School House and local Church. The Walnut Grove Cemetery is a beautiful well maintained cemetery. It is on private property, do not trespass, and ask permission before you venture out to the cemetery.


Al Francis who built and named Fort Misery on Humbug Creek, was a neighbor of “Kentuck” by ½ mile to the north. Al freighted ore and supplies in and about Crown King is buried in the Walnut Grove Cemetery. Al died on the James Minotto’s Mission Ranch on January 23, 1946.


Wagoner Hotel c. 1890’s

Photo courtesy: Mrs. John Cooper


The Wagoner Hotel burned in October 1942, the dance hall came to the same demise in 1948.


Mr. John Cooper 12/19/07 recalls history of the area,

standing at the remains of downtown Wagoner.

Photo courtesy: Bonnie Helten


William Andrew Woodward

By Neal Du Shane


William Andrew Woodward

Photo Courtesy: Marilyn Woodward Blumell - APCRP Booster


It has not officially been historically documented that the cemetery one mile SE of Wagoner was ever recorded as the Wagoner Cemetery. We are referring it as the Wagoner Cemetery as it seems logical as a historical reference name.


APCRP received an email from Marilyn Woodward Blumell of Las Vegas, NV with an inquiry if we could locate the final resting place of her great grandfather.


“Neal – Are you still involved with The Arizona Pioneer Cemetery Research Project?  Is this project ongoing?  My great-grandfather was William Andrew Woodward who died 3 Sep 1925 while working on the Cooper Ranch.  Roy Cooper paid for his coffin and William was believed buried on the Cooper Ranch.  On a Jan. 30, 2009 you posted that “a couple of APCRP professional research teams work the grave site extensively and found an additional five graves in and about Capt. Hunts grave.”  Do you have any additional information on these graves and who is buried in them?  I believe there’s a good chance William Woodward is in one of these graves.”


Subsequent emails were exchanged and a research trip by APCRP Certified Coordinator Bonnie Helten was forthcoming. Some locals estimated William was buried in the Walnut Grove Cemetery but no documentation could be found to substantiate this belief. However Williams Death Certificate was found and it stated he was buried “near Wagoner, Ariz. 9-4-1925”. Bonnie was able to identify in which cemetery William was interred and was also able to identify the unmarked (without headstone) grave for which he was interred.


L-R: Shelly Rasmussen, Ivan Rasmussen, Marilyn Blumell,

Bonnie Helten, Mel Blumell


On October 5, 2012 the APCRP team along with the Blumell’s met at the cemetery and placed a marker at the grave of William Andrew Woodward. We were joined by local rancher Barbara “Bobbie” Davis who felt what we were doing was extremely honorable and fitting to pay respect to those that pass before us.


Photo courtesy: Neal Du Shane


In research on this cemetery several possible internments were discovered. APCRP has performed initial research here and it is believed there could be up to 20 grave sites, all but two unmarked. Local legend that residents tell, mothers of the Phoenix area (before air-conditioning) would pack up their ailing children and come to Walnut Gove reservoir in the heat of the summer to a cooler place. Many of the children did not survive do to their illness and there are children buried here. More research on this subject is ongoing.


July 19, 1902: Word was received at the sheriff’s office yesterday that Tom Clark was found dead either mile’s northeast of Wagoner on Thursday. Deputy Sheriff Jack Nelson of Crowned King was notified to go and look after the body. The dead man is said to have been a placer miner who has resided in that section for a number of years.


July 10, 1903: The remains of the late Louis Wagoner, who was killed in a mine accident recently were shipped to San Francisco, CA today by P. Mohn & Co. R.C. Ackley, a friend of the family came to Prescott and accompanied the remains to the above city.


A telephone message was received last night stating that Jacob Merchant a resident of Wagoner, 55 years old had committed suicide by blowing himself up with a giant powder.


Nov. 15, 1907: Jack Minor, colored, indicated for the murder of William Chautran, colored, near Wagoner. APCRP research believes the grave (wooden cross) behind the old Wagoner general store is the grave of William Chautron.


Minerva Wagoner it has been researched was buried in California, but our research finds an unmarked grave of what is believed is that of Jaye Edward Wagoner just north of Capt. Hunt’s grave site. Research will continue to document this.





WebMaster: Neal Du Shane




Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Internet Presentation


Revised 111312


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