Rose GardenFrances “Fannie” (Markbreit) Kautz was born on June 24, 1848, in Baden, Baden, Germany, the daughter of Johanna (Abele) and Leopold Markbreit. When the family immigrated to the United States is unknown. On November 27, 1872, she married Brigadier General August Valentin Kautz (1828-1895), who was a Civil War hero, in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio. She was his third wife. From 1874 until 1878, he was the Colonel of the 8th U. S. Infantry stationed at Fort Whipple, Arizona Territory. Fannie and their young son, Austin (1873-1927), moved to Prescott with August in 1874.

General Crook welcomed the couple and permitted them to live in his spacious home at Fort Whipple. Fannie gave birth to a daughter, Frances (1975-1962), in April 1875, a few months after her arrival at Fort Whipple. Fannie eagerly participated in all the social events held for the officers and their wives at the fort. She attended night hops, suppers, card parties and musical soirees and flirted harmlessly with the young men in attendance, expecting to be the center of attraction.

With natural gifts of acting, singing, and painting, Fannie founded the Fort Whipple Dramatic Association, composed primarily of officers and their wives. She was determined to make Fort Whipple the social and theatrical center of Prescott. Building a makeshift stage in General Crook’s Club Room, Fannie and her fellow actors staged a one-act comedy open to the public. The Weekly Arizona Journal Miner gave the play front-page rave reviews and encouraged her to tackle stronger comedies.  The Whipple thespians became so popular that they converted the old headquarters building into a splendid little theater. Here, they staged many more plays.

When General Custer and his troops perished at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Fannie organized a musical benefit for the widows and orphans of the fallen heroes. She also held benefit performances for the Sisters of Charity for their establishment of Prescott’s first civilian hospital and also for the newly formed Prescott Library Association.

Fannie gave birth to a daughter, Lillie, on June 12, 1877, at Fort Whipple, who died shortly after birth. Lillie was buried in the cemetery at Fort Whipple.

The City of Prescott grieved when General Sherman transferred the Kautzes to Angel Island, Marin County, California in March 1878. Fannie had made a powerful cultural impact upon Prescott. The Arizona Weekly Miner, Prescott’s newspaper, idolized her endearing character: “Mrs. Kautz, by her genial and kind disposition, ladylike deportment, magnificent hospitality, and open heartedness in assisting in every good work of charity as well as amusement, has won for herself the hearty good will and esteem of this community." A third daughter, Navarra, was born July 12, 1882, on Angel Island, California.

Fannie died on August 11, 1913, at the home of her youngest daughter, Navarra (Mrs. Harry L. Simpson), in Wenonah, Gloucester County, New Jersey. She was buried in an Episcopal service in Arlington National Cemetery, next to her husband.

The Kautz story is on exhibit in the Fort Whipple Museum located at the Bob Stump Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona, on the original site of Fort Whipple.

Donor: Sylvia Neely, March 2011
Photo Located: PVF – PO-421p
Updated: 2/04/2017, Gretchen Hough Eastman