Monday, October 20, 2014

Long Since Forgotten

The past comes alive in this reenactment at Prescott’s historical Citizens Cemetery.

Take for instance Mary Ackerman who found her final resting place here in 1896. Known in town as Diamond May, she had built herself quite a reputation and business. Her business of course was, how do we say, she was a bit of a soiled dove who ran a house of ill repute. One year, while living in Tucson, she reportedly earned $12,000, not too bad for 1880.

 She had quite the reputation as she traveled from town to town and she had money to spend.  It is reported that while visiting San Francisco she purchased a very expensive diamond cluster, diamond earrings containing one large and one small diamond, a gold bracelet with a watch insert and a breast pin with diamonds and pearls.  She was so proud of her diamonds and enjoyed flashing their shine and sparkle around town. She was seldom seen without them.  In fact it sounds like her diamonds were indeed her best friends. By the time she landed in Prescott she was no longer the youthful girl of yesterday. So business was likely slow and life was surely getting lonely. Of course I’m just speculating here as not too many details were recorded and kept for a lady of the night in the late 1800’s.

So as the story goes a couple months before her death and while ‘entertaining’ guest it is speculated that she passed out either from drinking too much, or was drugged by opium.  But when she awoke her precious, beloved diamonds were gone! 

A complaint was filed with the local authorities, subsequently 3 men where arrested and a trial followed. The details are very sketchy but Diamond May’s diamonds were never returned to her and she was found 2 months later dead in her lonely room, reportedly her death was from natural causes. Perhaps she died of a broken heart. Her trusted ‘friends’ were no more.  She was 53 years old.

John Miller was a local respected proprietor who had a disagreement with a customer. His death came at the age 37 years and 8 months.  I believe he was shot to death because of a disagreement over a few cents, not even a dollars worth.

Ellen was an Irish cailin when she arrived in the US. But it didn't take her too long to marry. In fact she married three times and was widowed three times. She was Ellen Urfer, Ellen McCarron and lastly Ellen Cronin. Her husbands died coincidenly enough at the Keystone Salon from gunshot wounds, but the shooter was never found??? It is said that one husband wrote a suicide note which said he would kill his wife ( because of spousal abuse) and then himself. Guess we'll never know, but it's said the Ellen may have been missing just a few marbles. She died of natural causes July 13, 1914.

This Citizen Cemetery with it’s colorful history is located on a hill at the outskirts of town, well it was the outskirts back 100 plus years ago but now it resides in the center of town.  On the corner of Sheldon and Gurley daily travelers whip by without so much as a thought for the fenced off 6.5 acres that 2500 Prescott citizens call their final resting place.

 But when I drive by now I think of Diamond May, John Miller and Ellen and remember that there is a story behind every grave.

This information is based on  my visit to the cemetery and how I remember the stories being told.

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