Rose Garden PhotographsLaura (Steinbrook) Wilson Shearer, daughter of Mahala Dawson (Riggins) and Andrew Steinbrook, was born May 2, 1870, on her parents’ homestead at Walnut Creek, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory. Mahala and Andrew came to Arizona from Kansas via an oxen team and wagon in 1864. They traveled with a party of pioneers who later settled in Miller Valley. Mahala and Andrew were married en route.

Laura’s father died just hours after the birth of Walter, Laura’s youngest brother, in October 1873. The young mother (Mahala) then moved her family to Prescott, where they lived until 1877. Mahala was blessed with an army pension from Andrew’s service as a Civil War corporal.

Laura married Martin Luther Wilson in Ash Fork, January 1, 1885. Laura and Martin had three children: Nora Belle, born February 20, 1886, and died October, 20, 1886; Luther Franklin “Frank,” born March 20, 1888, and died January 27, 1961; and Stella Gertrude Fowler, born June 27, 1890, and died December 4, 1981.

Luther and Laura and their two babies were saved from the great flood at Walnut Grove, as reported in the Journal-Miner on February 26, 1890.  Nearly swept away by the flood, the Wilson family escaped with only the clothing on their backs. The upper dam, which had held back the Hassayampa River and its tributaries since 1887, had failed from poor design and extremely heavy rains a few nights previous. The lower dam failed as well, as reported to the Journal-Miner.  Approximately one hundred people lost their lives, and most who survived lost all of their possessions.

The family then moved into Prescott to pick up the pieces of their lives.  Mr. Wilson owned a saloon; however, a fire occurred just four years after the flood and consumed the whole of his business.  The couple divorced soon after.

Laura went to live and work on a small ranch in the Bradshaw Mountains near Crown King. Her young son Frank was her devoted “cowboy.”  On August 5, 1903, in Prescott, Laura married John Elijah Shearer, a local miner and veteran of WWI.  During this time, Laura became interested in mining and filed a certificate of assessment work on the Estella mine in the Pine Grove District.  The couple continued to live in Crown King for several years. But later a second divorce "became necessary."

As a woman with few formal educational opportunities, Laura continued in her mining and cattle interests. The Estella mine, Survey #3187, was approved as a mineral claim, and Laura received the patent in 1916.  Upon receiving the patent for this mine, which was on federal land, she owned it outright.  By 1917 she had located the “Lucky Frank” mine in the Pine Grove District. She sold her Estrella Mine interest to her brother, Walter Steinbrook, in 1918.

Laura devoted several years to the care of tubercular patients in a small house near the hospital on Main Street in Mayer. In 1927, she had a charming bungalow-style house built in Prescott, at what was then 624 Crest Avenue (now Country Club Drive).  She lived in this house until she was in her seventies, when she sold it and moved into an apartment. Her former house was moved to Willow Creek Road in 1962 and became known as the Willow Creek Inn.

Laura was blessed with dear friends and a loving family. In 1951, she moved into the Arizona Pioneers' Home, where she died on January 19, 1952. She was buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Prescott, Arizona.

Her mother, Mahala Dawson (Riggins) Steinbrook, and her daughter-in-law, May (Larremore) Wilson, are also commemorated in the Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden.

Donor: Yvonne Wilson Morgan, granddaughter, June 2009
Photo Located: PB-5A, F-77-169, I-1275
Updated: 09/21/2015, N. Freer