Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hangings in the Old West town of Prescott, Arizona

Capital punishment was the law in Arizona since Arizona became a federal territory in 1863.  In 1790 the US Congress passed a law declaring hanging to be the method for all federal executions.  Even when Arizona became a state, capital punishment remained in effect and hanging was the method employed.

In Prescott, Arizona Territory the hangings took place on the east side of the plaza or in the vicinity of Honor Island Park on West Gurley Street.

The Hanging of James Fleming Parker
James Fleming Parker was hung in the Courthouse Square in Prescott, AZ on June 3, 1898.  A known robber/murderer, escaped from jail along with one of this fellow prisoners.  In the process, Parker shot and killed the Assistant District Attorney in the courthouse square.  When captured Parker was sentenced to death and hanged in the square.  He was buried in the Potter's Field of the Citizen's Cemetery in Prescott, AZ.

From the book, Outlaw Tales of Arizona, 2nd: True Stories of the Grand Canyon State's Most Infamous Crooks, Culprits, and Cutthroats by Jan Cleere, it is written:  "As the black hood was placed over his head, he asked it be removed so he could shake hands with everyone on the scaffold.  When he got to the jailer, he gave him a message for the other prisoners. 'Tell the boys that I died game and like a man', he said.  He requested his old friend, Sheriff George Ruffner replace the hood.  As he did so, Ruffner sprang the trap that sent Parker to his death."

Hidalgo and Rentezia hanging
Elijo Hidalgo and Francisco Rentezia were hung on July 23, 1904, for the murders at Goddard Station. This was the first hanging to take place in Prescott since the 1898 hanging of James Fleming Parker. After a prayer, the two prisoners rose, and at this time their hands and feet were bound, and black caps were pulled over their heads.  Sheriff Roberts pulled the lever and just before the trap door dropped, they heard Hidalgo say, "Adios amigos! Adios everybody!"  This photograph was taken from one of the courthouse windows.

The last hanging in Arizona was July 13, 1936, and was near Coolidge Dam with makeshift gallows and the preparation was so poorly planned that the victim hung by his neck and strangled for nearly 30 minutes before he died. Though the execution was considered "private", the horror of the event was widely discussed.  About that time the US Congress took action and stated that the method of execution should be that of the state in which the crime was committed.  The gas chamber replaced the gallows.  (Excerpts from The Prescott Courier, March 1988 by Budge Ruffner, Columnist.)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Arizona Pioneers' Home - Yes It's HAUNTED!!

Arizona Pioneers' Home 1912
In the early 1900's, an idea for a retirement home in the Arizona Territory originated with three prominent Arizonans.  They thought Arizona should provide a rest home for aging settlers who moved to Arizona to help establish the area.

When first built, the rest home could hold 40 men.  It was open to destitute men who were at least 60 years old and who had been living in Arizona for 25 years.  In 1916, it was expaned with a women's wing adding to house 20 women.  It was also opened to disabled miners in 1927.
Arizona Pioneers' Home 2012

The expanded complex can hold 155 residents. Applicants must have lived in Arizona for 50 years. 

One guest at the Pioneers Home was Big Nose Kate. She was a Hungarian-born prostitute and later longtime companion and common-law wife of Doc Holliday.

She was admitted to the Pioneers Home as the first female resident.  She died there in 1940 and is burred in the Pioneers Home Cemetery under her name Mary K. Cummings.

Another resident known as William H. Bonney (born William Henry McCarty, Jr.) better known as Billy the Kid moved in to the Pioneers Home as John Miller.  The long story short is that after his death, in an old trunk he had with him were items that only Billy the Kid would have.  This link will share a detailed account of John Miller.Another Billy the Kid?

So many more interesting residents can be found at:  Arizona Pioneers' Home History

Is the Arizona Pioneers' Home haunted??  A definite YES I was told by one of the staff at the home.  Footsteps heard a night when everyone is asleep but the creepiest thing she said was...they have a TV room where residents gather to watch a movie, hang out together.  After the movie ended everyone went to their rooms but they left the TV on.  So the staff went over and turned off the TV.  As she's walking out of the room, the TV comes back on. She goes back over, turns the TV off and starts to leave the room...and it comes back on.  So she decided she's fix that, she walks back over to the TV, reaches down to unplug it and it wasn't even plugged in.  Needless to say, that freaked her out.

Spirits stay around for many different reasons - because they don't realize their dead or they like being here or they have unfinished business or they committed suicide.  Whatever the reason, they have the same personality dead as they did alive.  We don't always need to know why they are staying behind but respecting them is important.

If you would like to find out more about the history of this incredible "old west" town and the amazing ghosts stories or even experience a ghost or two, visit our website and make your reservations for our tour.  A Haunting Experience Tours