by Elisabeth F. Ruffner

In the early 1970s, Florence B. “Pat” Yount, MD, a busy pediatrician, found her interest in Prescott history sufficiently strong to attract others to her causes, including Mayor Taylor T. Hicks, Sr., a practicing dentist, whose avocational interest in history matched Dr. Yount’s.  A number of other Prescott professionals and businessmen and women soon began studying the possibilities of historic preservation initiated when Congress provided for a National Register of Historic Places within the Department of the Interior in 1966.

These busy people were not successful in interesting the city council in creating the entire corporate limits of the small town of Prescott as an historic district, but they did acquire sufficient knowledge to react to various conditions they wished to improve upon.

When a suggestion was made to the city to change the name of Fleury Avenue to a name honoring a local teacher, a committee of five, Dwight Bennett, Lloyd Clark, Gail Gardner and Lester W. Ruffner, with Florence Yount as chairman, addressed Mayor Hicks with a history lesson in a letter signed by all five, dated June 23, 1972.

 

“Dear Mayor Hicks:

 “Recently a suggestion has been made that the name of Fleury Avenue be changed to another name.

 “This street apparently was created by Judge Fleury - at least here is an item from the  ARIZONA MINER, March 2, 1877:

“‘…The Judge (Fleury) has, at his own expense, graded a good road in the edge of the Granite Creek face of the mesa, over which carriages and pedestrians…now go.’”

 

 The article continues an account of prehistoric remains found in the excavation, and states that the artifacts are now on display in the Judge’s rooms in the Governor’s Mansion (now the centerpiece of the Sharlot Hall Museum Campus).  Fleury was a major force in the settling of Prescott, traveling with the Governor’s Party to establish the Territory, serving as private secretary to Governor, chaplain of both houses the Legislature, and also serving as Territorial Governor in the absence of elected officials.  He lived in the Mansion from 1864 when construction was completed until his death in 1895.

Continuing the committee’s letter from Florence Yount:

 

“You will remember that Henry Waring Fleury came with the (Territorial) Governor’s Party as the private secretary of Governor Goodwin…in Prescott he lived in the Governor’s Mansion from the time it was built in 1864, until he died in 1895.

“On land surveyed by Robert Groom, Governor McCormick filed for a quarter section of land on the west side of Granite Creek, including ‘the mesa.’  It was called ‘Pinal Ranch.’  In 1867 McCormick gave the Masons 150x250 feet …for a cemetery.

“Fleury remained bachelor, and upon his death, friends arranged for his burial in the Masonic Cemetery.  He had befriended many in his lifetime, including the Methodist Church by providing the members with two lots for their church at Summit and Gurley Streets. In the Centennial year of the church, for which Dr. Yount published a tract on the history of the church, it was discovered that Fleury’s grave lacked a stone marker, and the church provided one.

“So we see that Judge Fleury not only built the street that bears his name, but lived all his Arizona life at one end of it, and lies buried up at the other end.  This is certainly quite a different story from that of Montezuma, Cortez, and his girl friend Marina, who never were here, and must have earned their honors in other ways.” *

 

*  NOTE:  These three street names were derived by the settlers who chose the name of the town from the book published in 1843 by William Hickling Prescott titled “The History of the Conquest of Mexico,” naming streets on the Groom map of 1863 after those Spanish Explorers.

This area of the west of the United States was acquired from Mexico in the Treaty of Hidalgo, following the Spanish-American War 1846 - 1848, and the Gadsden Purchase in 1854.

Continuing the Yount letter from the committee to Mayor Hicks:

 

“For those who wish to honor teachers in this laudable way, may we suggest that there is another street that reaches “the mesa” from North Summit, forms a loop around the Sacred Heart School and opens back up on Summit, that might actually need a name.

“Good teachers should be honored, we sincerely do believe, but we think Henry Fleury’s street should remain his.

Sincerely,
Florence B. Yount.”

 

“Days Past” is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International (www.prescottcorral.org). This and other Days Past articles are also available at www.sharlothallmuseum.org/library-archives/days-past. The public is encouraged to submit proposed articles to dayspastshmcourier@gmail.com. Please contact SHM Library & Archives reference desk at 928-445-3122 Ext. 14, or via email at dayspastshmcourier@gmail.com for information.