Celia & Julius Sanders


Unknown Unknown 1700-2253-0000.jpg Miller-Cook-Sanders Family Collection, PC-75 B&W 1700-2253-0000 1700-2253-0000 Print 8x10 Historic Photographs Unknown Date Reproduction requires permission. Digital images property of SHM Library & Archives


Celia Sanders, was a more conventional woman pioneer whose journey to Prescott took several years. In 1859 Celia was 53 years old and living a comfortable life in Illinois with Julius Sanders, her farmer husband, when word arrived of gold discoveries in Pikes Peak, CO. Despite her objections, Celia, Julius and children Robert, Irvin and Mary soon left for Colorado.

After farming near Denver for a couple of years, a new report of gold strikes in California led the family further west. They were farming and producing good crops in Lone Pine, CA, when a report of gold in the central mountains of the Arizona Territory caught her husband’s attention. To Celia’s dismay, their ranch was sold and, in January 1864, they were on their way to the Arizona Territory.

The first part of the trip was uneventful, but after crossing the Colorado River, disaster struck. At Cottonwood Creek, Irvin’s gun dropped out of his holster and fired, shooting a bullet into his chest which came out near the top of his shoulder blade. Of course, there wasn’t any medical help near-by, so Celia had to treat her son herself. She applied a poultice of prickly pear flesh to avoid inflammation. They waited a month before resuming their journey to give Irvin time to recover.

Rainy weather and muddy roads forced them to abandon their wagon. While Celia, Irvin and Mary rode horses, Julius and Robert walked, finally making it to Prescott in March, 1864.

At that time, food and supplies were scarce, so for a few months the whole family worked at Ft. Whipple. Celia and eleven-year-old Mary worked as laundresses.

The family ultimately started a good farm in Miller Valley. It wasn’t long before Mr. Sanders thought it might be a good idea to move to Texas. The whole family rebelled and they stayed in Prescott. Celia lived to be 87 years old, passing away in Prescott on Dec 7, 1893.


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