Rose Garden PhotographsMary Alice (McLay) Atkinson was born on December 25, 1852, in Scotland. She and her husband, Robert Atkinson, came to the Arizona Territory from Massachusetts in 1870. They brought with them their only child, Minnie, who is also represented in the Territorial Women’s Memorial Rose Garden as Minnie (Atkinson) Seaman.

Mary’s husband, Bob, arrived in the area with the army. When his enlistment expired, he left Fort Whipple and went to present-day Iron Springs to prospect. He located a couple of claims near Spruce Canyon and established squatter’s rights. The name Iron Springs came from the Atkinson family, as Bob ran an iron pipe from the spring to a large watering trough.

Around 1874, the couple moved cattle into the area and built a large two-story house near the spring.  When the road from Prescott to Skull Valley was completed, the Atkinsons opened a stage station. Here, travelers could stop for meals, change of horses, and even lodging for those looking to stay overnight. In addition, a bar and grocery store were built.

As he prospected the area, Bob was successful in discovering several rich strikes in the claim. With the use of an arastra, a primitive mill for grinding and pulverizing gold or silver ore, he performed experimental runs to determine how many dollars per ton could be produced from the mine before putting men to work to develop it.

With growth and notoriety from both the mining claims and the stage station, the Atkinsons’ place became one of the most popular gathering spots for the Fourth of July Celebration.  In 1878 the family held their first Fourth of July event and spared no expense to make the holiday celebration memorable for their visitors.

In 1895, after the railroad from Prescott to Phoenix was completed, the Atkinson Stage Station was greatly affected, as traffic on the stage road declined. Five years later, an organization named the Iron Springs Outing Club was formed in Phoenix and offered to pay $2000 to the Atkinsons for the rights to the 80 acres.  Bob and Mary sold the land and moved to Prescott, where they established another ranching location.

Mary was a true pioneer woman and a dedicated housewife. After three years of illness, she passed away on February 17, 1922, at the home of her daughter, Minnie. The following year Robert also passed, and the two were buried in the Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) Cemetery in Prescott.

Donor: Dan Seaman
Photo Location: RGC MS-39, Box A, F-Atkinson, Mary
Updated:  4/2/2015; D. Sue Kissel