Update: January 23, 2013 — see Pinal City Cemetery Preservation for an update on the preservations efforts and upcoming dedication of the cemetery.
Near Superior, Arizona on a hill overlooking the old townsite of Pinal City lies an old cemetery that is all but forgotten. All that is left of many of the graves are scattered stone piles, tattered flowers and a few headstones that lie haphazard on the rocky ground. As far as we can tell the last person was buried here in 1916. The cemetery gets more visitors than one might expect though, as it claims a famous permanent resident.
Celia Ann Blaylock (or Mattie to her friends) died in Pinal City on July 4th, 1888. At thirty-eight she succumbed to her addiction to alcohol and laudanum (an opiate).
Mattie and Wyatt met in Dodge City in 1879, where Wyatt was an Assistant Marshall. Though not officially married, Mattie introduced herself as Wyatt Earp’s second wife.
In 1879 Wyatt, Mattie, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday and his wife “Big Nose” Kate Elder left Dodge City for Tombstone, Arizona. Wyatt’s brothers and their wives were living there and Wyatt wanted to be near them.
On the way to Tombstone the party stopped for several months to try prospecting at the booming silver town of Pinal City. Wyatt decided the silver badge was the only kind of silver for him and the group moved on to make history at Tombstone.
In 1881, shortly after the famous “Shootout at the OK Corral” Wyatt left Mattie for the last time. Heartbroken, Mattie returned to Pinal City to live out her days. The boom was long over in Pinal City and the town died less than a year after Mattie.
As Lance and I walked the hillside we tried to imagine what the missing headstones would say. A short grave might signal a small child, a cluster of graves might be a family plot. The most heart-wrenching was a small wooden cross that simply said Mom.
It seems like we are losing something valuable, perhaps the only remaining proof of that person’s existence. Or perhaps it is better this way, to let them fade into the earth, into the sunset.
View the Pinal City Cemetery photos.
[UPDATE Feb 2007: In case you are interested in visiting this cemetery, we have posted detailed directions to get there.]
[UPDATE Jan 2013: We have closed comments on this post because there is now an update here: http://fautrever.com/2013/01/23/pinal-city-cemetery-preservation/.]