Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden
MARY ANN MONICA PECK BANGHART

Mary Ann Monica Peck was born in Vaughan Township in Upper Canada on May 22, 1833, to Washington and Mercy Mary (Wilcox) Peck. On March 26, 1850, she married George W. Banghart in Westminster Township of Middlesex County in Canada West.

The Bangharts lived in Missouri, New Mexico and California before coming to Prescott with the Sam Miller Party in April 1866. While traveling the Hardyville Road in a wagon train en route to Prescott with their five children, ranging in age from one to 12, the family experienced the famous confrontation in which Wauba Uba was killed, thus beginning the Walapais War.

As frightening as that must have been, Mary Ann and George were undeterred and became settlers on land purchased by Mary's brother, Edmond G. Peck (later of the Peck Mine fame) in Chino Valley near the site of old Fort Whipple.

During the winter of 1867, the Bangharts moved into Prescott for safety from Indian attacks. There George ran a livery stable. After the war, they returned to the ranch that soon became known for its hospitality and its dairy herd. Here, the family owned and operated a stage station in later years that eventually became a stop on the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railway.

Mary Ann was credited with making the first cheese in Arizona, an honor she quickly passed along to her neighbor, Mrs. Douglas. Regular deliveries of their butter and cheese to the people of Prescott were most appreciated.

The Bangharts' ranch was a welcoming first sight of civilization by travelers from Albuquerque. By 1875, an unidentified pioneer remembers, "When we reached the Banghart place, how beautiful the long lane with cottonwood trees on either side looked to desert-tired eyes."

Granddaughter, Helen Wells Heap, remembers as a five-year-old going to the annual New Year's Ball at the ranch, another example of how the Bangharts helped create a sense of community and celebration in those early days.

In August 1878, Mary Ann and George had a year of tragedy that began with the death of grandchild Edith Wells. On December 11 their ranch house burned. While housecleaning, Mary Ann had moved all the carpets and papers to the kitchen where the papers caught fire. The family moved into the house over the milk cellar while George and their neighbors began rebuilding.

Two weeks later, a second grandchild, Eddie Marion, died. Then on July 23, 1879, their 15-year-old son Georgie was struck by lightning while in the hills west of the ranch where he had gone to collect the dairy cows. He was found two days later beside his dead horse and was buried on the ranch. In October, a colt became crippled and had to be shot. Then George was robbed by a man whom he'd helped. The Miner said he "seemingly has fallen into bad luck, which sticks to him like bark to a tree."

Although the Banghart name disappeared with the death of their unmarried son Leon, the Banghart daughters' lives are interwoven with men well-known in Arizona history. Rosalind married Judge Edmond W. Wells; Flora married John H. Marion, flamboyant editor of the Arizona Miner; Mary Jane first married Elanson (Jesse) S. Penwell, a part owner of the Miner, and then William G. Oliver, a post trader at Fort Whipple; and Sarah E. (Nellie) became first lady when her husband N. O. Murphy became Governor of the Arizona Territory.

In March 1880, Mary Ann began suffering from poor health. With her daughter, Flora Marion, Mary Ann traveled to Washington Territory to visit her parents. They stayed six weeks, hoping the change of climate would help. It didn't. Mary Ann remained ill for the next year and died on May 12, 1881, of a kidney affliction. Her last child, Leon, was only six. She was buried in the Masonic Cemetery, but later her remains were moved to the mausoleum of Mountain View Cemetery along with those of her husband George. Her sons Georgie and Leon are remembered there with a marker.

Donors: Members of the Washington Peck Project: Susan Erb, Vern Fleming, John Wells Heap, Carolyn Schaeffer and Dr. Martin Zanna, all descendants of Mary Ann's father, Washington Peck (1801-1889)
January 2000


Additional documentation and photographs may be available in the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library.