Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden
MARY LOUISA WADE WETHERILL


Louisa, daughter of John James and Julia Francis Wade, was born on September 2,1877, in Ward City, Nevada. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley. She married John Wetherill, an explorer, guide and Indian trader, on March 17, 1896. She went with him to his thousand-acre ranch in the Mesa Verde Valley. John and Louisa had two children: Benjamin Wade and Georgia Ida Wetherill Kilcrease.

In December 1910, the family moved to Kayenta, Arizona, a place the couple had visited on their honeymoon. There they established a trading post and ranch. Interested in the Navajo Indians from the day she arrived among them, Louisa mastered their language and made a study of their customs, traditions, religion and homelife. The Navajos came to love and respect her and named her Asthon Sosi, which means The Slim Woman.

John and Louisaís home was always open to Indians and travelers alike. Many famous people such as Teddy Roosevelt came to Kayenta to meet Louisa. Zane Grey credits her as the source of much of the information he shared with his readers. The couple adopted two Navajo infant girls who became known as Fanny and Betty Wetherill. They raised and educated them as White people.

The Navajos considered Louisa their true friend and came great distances to seek her aid and advice. A Navajo Chief, Hoskinini, insisted that she was a Navajo girl who, when a child, was stolen by a group of White people crossing the reservation on their trek to California. He contended Mrs. Wetherill could not understand and speak their language so fluently or be so sympathetic with their customs and so helpful to them in all their difficulties if she were not a Navajo by blood. Hoskinini adopted her into his clan, the Tachini, and before his death requested that all his personal possessions be taken to the trading post so that Louisa could distribute them among his family.

During the Paiute uprising in the Four Corners country, none of the officers or settlers would go among the rebellious Indians to talk peace terms, but Louisa volunteered. She went alone, sat at the council fires and returned unharmed. She did not bring about peace, that honor being reserved for General Hugh Scott, but she did dare where the officers of the law dared not.

Louisa demonstrated that kindly treatment was not lost on the Red man. She made many significant contributions to the history of Arizona and the White manís understanding of the Navajos.

Louisa died on September 18, 1945, and was buried at Kayenta, Arizona.

Donor: Juanita Duncan, granddaughter



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