Johanne Elise “Lizzie” (Schrumpf alternate Shrimpf) Cordes, daughter of Johann Henrich and Catherine Elisabeth (Strothmann, alternate spelling Strophmiann) Schrumpf, was born March 8, 1855, in Miten, Westphalia, Germany, according to the christening records of the Evangelical Church from Germany. She came to New York in 1871 where she met John Henry Cordes, who had also emigrated from Germany. In 1876, John headed west but kept in communication with Lizzie, who remained in New York.
In 1880, John was working in the ore mill in Gillett, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory. He wrote to Lizzie encouraging her to come west because the region was exciting. Many things were developing that made business better and provided more opportunities.
Lizzie boarded a train that took her to Maricopa, Arizona Territory, and then she took a stage wagon to Phoenix, where she met John. John and Lizzie were married on October 30, 1880.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds boarded the Gillett Stage and headed north to the Gillett Mine. Lizzie and John had seven children: Charles Henry, born February 11, 1882; Henry George, born September 9, 1884; Lucy Johanna, born December 18, 1886; William Harrison, born March 11, 1889; Fredrick James, born October 8, 1891; Grace Sophia Shrier, born February 23, 1894; and Mynne Anne Jarman, born November 22, 1896.
In 1883, the Cordeses moved from Gillett to Antelope Station, a tiny stage station in Yavapai County. Their living place was just an adobe house and a rock stable, both of which, according to the family, John bought for the small sum of $100.
John and Lizzie began a little enterprise and a store. In 1886, the opportunity arose to change the name of the town from Antelope Station to Cordes. When John opened the first post office and became the first postmaster, there was already another post office in Arizona named Antelope, so John named the town after his family.
In addition to being a wife, mother and helpmate in the family enterprises, Lizzie was a member of the Lutheran Church. She died on August 24, 1929, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery next to her husband, John, who died of pneumonia March 26, 1919. Lizzie’s newspaper obituary published in the Prescott Evening Courier August 24, 1929, stated: “’Grandma,’ as everyone loved to call her, was of a cheerful, kindly disposition and always was ready to lend a helping hand to those in trouble. She was a true pioneer of Arizona, bearing many hardships during the early days here, but met them all with the same fortitude and patience with which she bore the past few months of suffering.”
Donor: Edna (Cordes) Warren, May 2000
Photo Located: Oral History Vertical File, F-Cordes, Calvin - Interview Transcript, Photograph Section, By Sandy Gauthier, Pg. 2.
Updated: 7/12/2015; D. Sue Kissel