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Mon, March 18

Amazing Places: Exploring Bradshaw Grave

Grave with white picket fence. (Nigel Reynolds/Courtesy)

Grave with white picket fence. (Nigel Reynolds/Courtesy)

Today’s article is about the grave of Isaac Bradshaw. Some of you may have heard about this grave, and a few may have visited it. It’s a tough place to find — if you want full directions, contact me directly or through the Courier’s senior editor, Tim Wiederaenders, at twieds@prescottaz.com (use subject line “Bradshaw Grave”). Be aware it is a long ride (more than 100 miles), over some rough but interesting dirt roads, either via Wickenburg or up Castle Creek past Castle Hot Springs. I last drove there with friends in April 2014.

The first photo here shows the white picket fence surrounding the grave. You can see from the saguaros and palo verde trees that it’s in the Sonoran Desert — the elevation there is about 3,200 feet. It’s close to the headwaters of Castle Creek. Did you know that the palo verde is Arizona’s state tree? The second photo shows the current grave maker. Isaac was born in 1818 and died on Christmas Day 1886 — he was 68 years old, not bad in those days. Here is more about his life.

photo

Isaac Bradshaw’s grave marker. (Nigel Reynolds/Courtesy)

He was born in Tennessee, and had three brothers. He spent much of his adult life with his younger brother William, first in California and then Arizona. They ran a ferry across the Colorado River at Ehrenberg, under a toll franchise granted in 1864 by Goodwin, the first Arizona governor (Gurley was appointed to be the first governor but died before taking office). This ferry was the western end of the Ehrenberg Road to Prescott (reference my article on Nov. 29, 2018). William was a successful gold prospector in Arizona, but died mysteriously in Ehrenberg in December 1864, maybe suicide but maybe murder — he was a heavy drinker. Isaac sold the ferry in 1867 and, leaving his wife and daughters behind in California, began prospecting for gold and silver in Arizona, following in his brother’s footsteps. Bradshaw City, near Crown King, was founded by Isaac (or Uncle Ike as he was known). Bradshaw City has now completely disappeared, marked only by a Prescott National Forest sign, but at one time 5,000 people lived there. There is an old cemetery one-half mile south. Isaac sold his interests in 1882, and moved on to the Castle Creek gold mining district. That’s where he died four years later. The Bradshaw Mountains were named after these two respected brothers, important early pioneers, but this didn’t happen until they were both deceased.

The grave marker in the second photo is modern — placed there by the American Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project (APCRP) in 2006, led by Neal Du Shane. The inscription is not easy to read because of all the coins that have been dropped onto the marker from outside of the fence. It says “Isaac Bradshaw 1819 - DEC 25, 1886 APCRP 2006.” An earlier inscription on a rough piece of granite just said “BRADSHAW” — that was probably the original marker. The picket fence isn’t the original either. The grave and fence were maintained and painted by the Gray family for many years but by 2006 the fence needed to be replaced. They donated the money for the new fence that was brought in and built by APCRP, with help from many people, including 4-wheelers from Wickenburg.

When I lived in Phoenix, I did a lot of exploring up Castle Creek and found a number of Amazing Places there: the ghost towns of Copperopolis and Briggs, two old buildings (one called the Doghouse and the other where adventurers were stranded for over a week by floodwaters), and the graffiti of Snoopy on a cliff face. That will be an article later this year.

Nigel Reynolds was born in England and has lived in Arizona for 40 years, and in Prescott for over 20 years. “Exploring is in my blood,” he says. To see today’s or previous articles with the photos in color, visit dCourier.com and enter “Amazing Places” in the search-bar at top right — you’ll need to be a subscriber.

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