Serilda Alwilda (Miller) Cartter was born March 13, 1854, in Princeville, Peoria County, Illinois, the daughter of Jacob Leroy (1830-1899) and Jane Maria (Reeves) Miller of Illinois.  Jacob and his brother Sam had come to the Prescott area of Yavapai County, Arizona Territory, with the Walker Party in May 1863, along with their father John.  Jacob had long before left his wife and three children behind in Illinois, where Jane later remarried.  Sam built the two-story family home in what later came to be known as Miller Valley.

Serilda journeyed to Prescott in May 1873 from Paris, Edgar County, Illinois, where she had recently been reunited with her estranged father, and moved into the Sam Miller home with her father, her brother Roll, and her sister Cynthia.

Serilda married Harley High Cartter, Jr., who studied law under his father in Prescott and was admitted to the bar in 1873.  The wedding took place on March 2, 1874, at the residence of Sam Miller in Miller Valley.  Serilda and Harley (known as Hal) first lived in a small house on South Marina Street next to the Baptist Church.  From there they moved to 329 S. Alarcon Street, where they built two successive houses.  Hal served two years as District Attorney and four years as Chief Deputy for Jim Lowery.  In 1885, the couple moved to their ranch in Yeager Canyon, between Prescott and Jerome.  Hal served on the Executive Committee of the Yavapai County Stock Growers’ Association in 1886.  He was County Assessor in 1895-1897 and Yavapai County Representative for the Board of Control in 1898.

In July 1877, Serilda bore a son (Frank), who died the following month.  Five other children were stillborn.  In the early 1880s, the Cartters informally adopted Florence (Ida Belle) Murphy (b. Skull Valley, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory, c. 1878) after the deaths of her parents William C. and Julia Murphy.  In 1900 they adopted Florence’s daughter, Ada Myrtle Neptune, after the divorce of Florence and her husband Frank S. Neptune.

Serilda was very active in church and club work.  She was a member of the Prescott Dramatic Club and acted comic roles in several plays, 1878-1880, at the Prescott Theatre on Alarcon Street.  Of special note was her memorable performance as Cornelia Carlisle in the international hit drama East Lynne (October 1878).  She was also a member of the Western Star Rebekah Lodge No. 9 in Prescott, the Degree of Honor of the Prescott Lodge No. 14 of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and the M.E. Ladies’ Aid Society, of which she was elected Vice President in September 1901. 

Hal became mentally ill in 1910 and Serilda had him committed to the Territorial Asylum in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona Territory, in April.  He died there in August 1913.  She died in February 1919 and was buried in the Citizens Cemetery in Prescott beside her husband.  A glowing obituary in the Miner (Feb. 23, 1919) extolled “her kindly nature, generous disposition and upright character.”  “This beloved woman passed into better days without a murmur, and her story of the long ago chills the warmest heart of today, as the picture is flashed again in another sacrificing soul passing on.”

For additional information, see Echoes of the Past: Tales of Old Yavapai in Arizona, Vol. 2.

Donor: Tom Collins, 9/15/2017
Photo Located: PO-0262pb
Update:  New Nomination 2017