Rose Garden PhotographsVirginia Lee (Lane) Lessard was born October 10, 1865, in Merced, California to James Harlow Lane of Indiana and Elizabeth Jane (Hooper) Lane of Missouri. In 1882, when Virginia was only seventeen, she moved with her family from California to the Arizona Territory mining districts. Her father established a freight wagon company that moved supplies and materials from the Colorado River port of Hardyville (the current Bullhead City), Mohave County, to the territorial capital of Prescott, and on to the mines and mining towns of the Bradshaw Mountains.

Virginia initially lived on the Lane Family Homestead Ranch that was six miles north of the town of Cordes, on the Agua Fria River at a place that later became known as “Lane Flats.”  She helped with the family ranch and her father’s freight wagon business.

Virginia met the man whom she would later marry, Alphonse (Albert) Walter Lessard, of St. Ursule, Quebec, Canada. He had arrived in the mining town of Big Bug, Arizona Territory, in May 1880 to work in the growing mining industry. Both a miner and a rancher, he was also a highly skilled packer.  Packers were hardy, skillful men who provided freight wagon transportation. They performed unbelievable feats, moving construction materials and heavy mining equipment by mule-drawn freight wagons up narrow, steep and treacherous mountain trails and roads to the mining locations.

Virginia and Alphonse were married in a ceremony performed at the old Congress Hotel in Prescott on June 17, 1886. They made their home on their ranch, which Alphonse had homesteaded in 1885, on land lying by the banks of the north and high side of the upper Agua Fria River, about four miles northeast of the town of Mayer. On their forty-acre homestead, Virginia and Alphonse planted a large orchard of varied fruit trees, very near the river bank.
They designed and constructed an irrigation system, drawing from the river, and eventually produced large quantities of fruit for the ranch and for profit. They also maintained at least five hundred head of cattle as the ranch business.

Virginia Lessard was known to area ranchers as being just as skilled at handling wagon teams of mules and horses as many of the men and ranchers in the region. She had driven one of the family wagons from California to Arizona Territory, and she had often helped drive extra wagons for her father’s business.  Later, as an adult, she drove wagons for her husband, for other ranchers at cattle round-ups and for local ranch projects.

Virginia and Alphonse had four children:  Ethel Chase (Lessard) Edwards, (1888-1979), Grover C., (1890-1951), Myrtle Violet, (1892-1907) and Elva (Lessard) Burlson Breckenridge, (1894-1973).

Virginia Lessard died on July 23, 1940, on the Lessard Ranch. Alphonse lived only a few months longer and died on February 12, 1941, also on the ranch. Alphonse and Virginia are buried alongside their daughter, Myrtle, in the Aztlan Masonic Cemetery in Prescott.

Virginia’s daughters, Ethel and Elva, and, her mother and her sisters, Jessie Bellfield  (Lane) Edwards, Mary Tennessee (Lane) Motsinger, Martha Jackson (Lane) Enright, and Melissa Hannah (Lane) Schornick Strong, are also represented in the Territorial Women’s Memorial Rose Garden.

Donors: E. Breckenridge, E. Edwards and Dennis J. Lessard, June 2015
Photo Located: RGC MS-39, Box L, F-Lessard, Virginia
Updated: 6/14/2014, D. Sue Kissel and Gretchen Hough Eastman