Ghost Portals of Jerome, AZ

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A Ghostly Encounter on Rt 66

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
Ghosts, Jerome, Jennie Bauters, Rt66 | Comments

 
     Kingman was still dark that morning, when I rolled over and glimpsed at the clock. Then came the knock on the hotel room door, followed by a voice that said, "Get up George, we have to go back and shoot the sunrise at the graveyard in Goldroad". It was my friend and co-producer Dave Johnson, and the tone of Dave’s voice told me that breakfast could wait - we had an adventure to go on.

     You might remember Dave’s uncle Barry Goldwater, as the "Next President of the United States" in 1964, but what you might not know is that Barry was quite a gifted photographer, making many contributions to Arizona Highways. With Uncle Barry in mind, Dave and I had left Prescott the day before, to photo-document the Arizona Doors of Route 66.

     We had begun collecting doors in Ash Fork and then shot the Snow Cap Drive-In and Delgadillo Barbershop in Seligman. From there we went west on old Route 66 and enjoyed the nostalgic Burma Shave signs along the way, as we drove by such wide spots as Truxton, Valentine, Peach Springs and Hackberry. We shot them all and passed through the remains of Goldroad on the way to Oatman, to photograph the door of the Oatman Hotel where Clark Gable and Jean Harlow spent their honeymoon. We had come back to Kingman to spend the night when Dave made the wake-up call.

     We hadn’t found much of anything left of Goldroad the day before, so I figured that Dave must have found his topographical map that shows all the abandoned cemetery sites or "graveyards". Being from Jerome, my interest in Goldroad is because our most famous Madam, Jennie Bauters, was brutally murdered there in 1906. I was particularly curious about the graveyard, because I had heard strange stories from several different sources about, Jennie’s grave being in Kingman. Dave and I had speculated about why poor Jennie hadn’t been quickly laid to rest in Goldroad, rather than having her corpse taken by wagon all the way to Kingman. That must have been a trip of a couple of days back then, and who got stuck with that job? Jennie had lots of money, but even so, given her profession, would she have been allowed to be buried in a respectable cemetery, so far away in Kingman?

     The strange stories I had heard claimed that not only Jennie, but also her murderer, who was executed, were both buried in Kingman, and this is where the plot thickens (pun intended). You see, the Kingman High School needed a new football field a few years ago, and seeing as how the cemetery was right next door, they decided to move the dearly beloved to a new cemetery to make way for progress. The officials contacted all the relatives, or so the story goes, but the not-so-dearly beloved ones, whose descendants would not come forward, were not moved, but rather left behind to become part of Arizona high school football history.

     You guessed it, that would include Jennie and her murderer.

     One version of the story says that the football team was practicing for the annual rivalry game one day, when low and behold, they found some bones that had worked their way to the surface of the field. Might have been cow bones planted by a conniving coach, to shake up the opposition, but somehow, supposedly the Daughters of the American Revolution got involved, and now the remains of Jennie and her murderer are interred in the same crypt in the end zone. What a macabre ending to a sad tale, but never let the truth get in the way of a good story, is what I always say. Still, if there was anything left of the graveyard in Goldroad, and if Jennie might have been buried there, I wanted to find out.

     To be continued ,,,