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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
4:16 AM Tue, Nov. 20th

Honoring the fallen

Courier/Nathaniel Kastelic
Jo Boeckler, Yavapai Cemetery Association volunteer, places flowers Saturday morning beside a new headstone, installed by Veterans Affairs, in Citizens Cemetery in preparation for the Memorial Day observance.

Courier/Nathaniel Kastelic Jo Boeckler, Yavapai Cemetery Association volunteer, places flowers Saturday morning beside a new headstone, installed by Veterans Affairs, in Citizens Cemetery in preparation for the Memorial Day observance.

More than two-thirds of the graves at the historic Citizens Cemetery in Prescott are unmarked, but the volunteer caretakers are taking advantage of a long-time federal program to give veterans gravestones.

Ever since the Civil War when it established national cemeteries, the U.S. government has provided free gravestones for its veterans, said Don Murphy, chief of operations for the Memorial Program Service under the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Since that department took over the Headstone Marker Program in 1973 from the Department of the Army, it has commissioned headstones for more than 9 million veterans, Murphy said. The graves can be in any cemetery, not just the national cemeteries such as the one in Prescott.

"It's good that you have local groups out there trying to restore older cemeteries," Murphy said.

Yavapai Cemetery Association President Pat Atchison has done the required research to acquire eight marble headstones at Citizens Cemetery in recent years for veterans who served in the Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War and WWI.

She uses information from sources such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Archives, the U.S. Census and genealogical Web sites to provide the necessary proof of service.

"They served their country and they need to be recognized in some way," Atchison said.

She'd like to see stones for all the 2,700 people buried at Citizens, but the money isn't available.

By a strange coincidence, one of the veterans who now have stones was born in the same town as Atchison, Elgin, Ill. His name was Henry B. Quick.

"I love his name," Atchison said. "And I felt such a close companionship with him."

Quick served in the Civil War and later was a miner who lived south of Prescott. Not much of his history is available today.

Another Prescott pioneer who now has a headstone at Citizens because of Atchison was quite well known in his time. Dennis Burke served as Prescott's mayor as well as a territorial representative and county treasurer.

He billed the Burke Hotel as "the only absolutely, fireproof hotel in Prescott" until it burned down with the rest of the downtown area on July 14, 1900. Undaunted, he rebuilt his hotel, this time of bricks. Today, it's called the Hotel St. Michael.

Burke served during the Indian Wars at Fort Verde in Camp Verde and Fort Whipple in Prescott.

The county was banning public funerals in 1918 because of the influenza pandemic, so Burke's funeral had to be private, the Journal-Miner newspaper reported.

He was buried next to the body of his 5-year-old son, who still has no grave marker.

Paul Pulliam won recognition in 1914 as the brother of Harry Pulliam, the National Baseball League president from 1903 until 1909 when he committed suicide after reportedly becoming despondent over his inability to handle league controversies.

Harry Pulliam served in the Spanish-American War and later at Fort Whipple. He remained here after the service. The Prescott Journal-Miner said he died at the age of 55 from "paresis" (partial paralysis) but his funeral home records list the cause as "softening of brain ­ alcoholic."

While Pulliam rests at Citizens, his brother lies in Kentucky where the brothers were born.

Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com