Rose GardenCynthia Maria (Miller) Sanders was born on December 28, 1858 in Princeville, Peoria County, Illinois to Jane Maria (Reeves) and Jacob Leroy Miller. Her father was a freighter and left the family for long periods.  Jacob and Sam, his brother, were part of the Walker Party, which prospected in Yavapai County, Arizona Territory in 1863. 

When Jacob was gone on one of his long treks, his wife, Jane, believed him to have been killed by Indians.  Therefore, Jane married a man named George Cook. However, in 1872 Jacob returned to Illinois to find his three children, Leroy Daniel “Roll,” Cynthia, and Serilda.  Jacob asked the children if they wanted to come with him or stay with their mother; all three chose to go to Arizona Territory without telling their mother. They arrived in Prescott in May of 1873 and lived in what is now known as “Miller Valley.”

 On October 2, 1873, Cynthia was married to a Prescott freighter, Thomas Dudley Sanders, in Miller Valley by Probate Judge Henry Fleury.  Cynthia was fifteen and Thomas twenty-eight.  According to “My Arizona Adventures,” by Thomas Sanders, edited by Al Bates and published by Corral of Westerners of Prescott (page 108), “The moment I saw Cynthia Miller I felt she was the girl for me.” For their honeymoon, these newlyweds went to California.   

 Later, eleven children were born of this union: Herbert Leroy (1875), Nora Ellen (1876), Lena Leota (1878), Edward J. “Ned” (1880), Millicent F. (1883), Serilda Edna (1886), Georgia Anna (1889), William T. (1891), Rollie D. (1893), Louise E. (1899), and Harley Hugh (1901). Herbert and Nora died in 1877 from typhoid fever. Harley lived only twenty-five days.  In addition, Cynthia miscarried a set of twin girls.

 Life was difficult, but the families who came to settle in Arizona learned to cope. Cynthia worked hard beside her man, in addition to taking care of the house and family.  Thomas was often away from home, working as a freighter, cattle rancher, and miner, as well as serving with General George Crook.  Over the years, Cynthia cooked at and ran a hotel in Humboldt, Arizona, helped run the stage stop at Yeager Canyon, and helped with the horses and the cattle. The family moved from place-to-place and adapted. According to Thomas, Cynthia learned to make “first class butter,” which she sold to the locals.

 According to her great-granddaughter, Karen Pouquette, an article was published in the Arizona Weekly Journal Miner on April 18, 1894 stating that a grand May celebration was given at the home of Thomas and Cynthia Sanders. It was a fundraiser for school commencement and to build a new schoolhouse. Tickets were $2.50. Cynthia was active in many causes to benefit Prescott and the surrounding area.

 On December 29, 1915, the Arizona Weekly Journal Miner reported that the Sanders family returned to Humboldt, Arizona and in January of 1915, they reopened the Sanders Hotel, where Cynthia cooked at and ran the hotel.

 In 1921, Cynthia’s health began to fail. She went to California to live with her oldest daughter, Lena. Thomas traveled between Prescott and California to see her between jobs. She returned to Prescott six weeks before her death and died on June 29, 1926, of natural causes in Prescott. She is buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

Donors:  Karen (Packer) Pouquette and Linda Powell Packer, great-granddaughters, August 2015
Photo Located: RGC MS-39, Box S, F-Sanders, Cynthia (Miller)
Updated: 2/4/2016, Gretchen Hough Eastman