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Fri, May 24

Confederate soldier gets new headstone

The Daily Courier/Les Stukenberg
Yavapai County Facilities employee Jeff Banus places a Confederate flag in front of the new headstone for “Chloride Jack” Owens at the Citizens Cemetery in Prescott.

The Daily Courier/Les Stukenberg <br> Yavapai County Facilities employee Jeff Banus places a Confederate flag in front of the new headstone for “Chloride Jack” Owens at the Citizens Cemetery in Prescott.

It is a good thing that Pat Atchison has a stubborn streak.

Others might not keep up the effort after nearly a decade of trying to get grave markers for Confederate headstones at the Citizens Cemetery in Prescott.

The U.S. government will honor all U.S. veterans with free headstones, including Confederates, as long as applicants can prove their service.

That proof is where the trouble comes with Confederate soldiers.

As one can imagine, Confederacy government records aren't easily accessible. Some burned, some just became lost as the Confederacy crumbled.

Atchison, long-time president of the Yavapai Cemetery Association that helps care for the county government's historic Citizens Cemetery in Prescott, has located four Confederate graves in that cemetery. Three have no stones or they are illegible.

Her first success story has now come with the acquisition of a stone for a colorful character named "Chloride Jack" Owens, who died in Prescott in 1907 at the age of 67.

Owens served in the Confederate State Guard of Georgia as a 1st lieutenant in Company A, 7th Regiment of the Georgia State Guards, according to records Atchison obtained from the Georgia Department of Archives and History.

He was a well-known miner in these parts who apparently got his nickname from his knowledge of minerals.

His real name was Hiram Alfred Owens. He and "Hassayampa Jackson" McCrackin, who was a member of the Walker Party that discovered gold near Prescott, located the McCrackin mine in the remote Mohave Desert west of Prescott in 1874. The common spelling later changed to McCracken.

Owens and McCrackin reportedly sold the mine for $120,000, a goodly sum in those days. It was one of the most famous Arizona mines of its day and produced more than $6 million worth of silver ore.

Chloride Jack first came to these parts in 1866, according to his obituary in the Arizona Journal Miner. His wife gave birth in 1895 in Prescott to one of their seven children, Raymond, according to his pension records.

"None of my nieces believe me when I tell them my grandfather fought in the Civil War," said Marie Owens, Raymond's 77-year-old daughter. "That just blows their mind."

She never met Chloride Jack, but her father told her plenty of stories. She wasn't sure how many were true.

She heard that when her father was a young child, her grandmother left the Prescott area with her children for San Francisco because she was fearful of the wild west. Chloride Jack had to come to the coast when he wanted to see her after that.

"Grandfather would bring silver and gold blocks when he would arrive in town," she said. Her family still has silverware, ice cream spoons and a silver cereal bowl made from Arizona silver, she said.

"In the early days, his magnificent physique, combined with his genial fellowship and generous manner, gave him a wide range of friends," an obituary in the Arizona Journal Miner stated.

Prescott Miner newspapers from the 1870s carry weekly columns that Chloride Jack wrote from the Cerbat Mountains near Kingman, wrote Nancy Kirkpatrick Wright in a Daily Courier "Days Past" article.

Undoubtedly Chloride Jack also visited the mining boomtown near Kingman called Chloride, which still exists today albeit in a much smaller state. Owens, another Mohave County town, that locals actually named for Chloride Jack is now a ghost town.

At his request, they buried Chloride Jack in his old gray Confederate uniform with photos of his wife and two surviving sons.

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