Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden
NELLIE BLY NELLIS GOLDTHWAITE
Nellie was born on June 24, 1892, in a log cabin on a cattle ranch at the foot of Bill Williams Mountain, about 10 miles from Williams, Arizona. She was the daughter of Maud Mary Johnson and Leverette Pierce Nellis. She was named after Nellie Bly, the first woman to travel around the world in 72 days, whose courage her mother admired.

When the price of cattle dropped, the ranch was sold, and the family moved to Ashfork in 1892 or 1893. In 1900, they went to Mayer, where Nellie survived diphtheria, crediting the new serum call antitoxin. She was probably the first person in Arizona to receive it. Her father established the town of Turkey, later called Turkey Creek, where he had a store located on the tourist railroad to Crown King.

Nellie said that she "tried school in Prescott, the old and also the new Convent but couldn't take either." A private tutor was hired for her and the three other children in Turkey. Nellie learned to read in 1903 and from then on reading became a lifetime hobby.

Nellie was 15 when she met Walter Goldthwaite, who had been trekking all over California and Arizona and was doing odd jobs around Turkey. The two of them joined other young folks in recreation during that summer and, Nellie recalled, "I don't remember how he asked me to marry him, but we made plans for our future. We planned a house we were going to build some day."

When the young couple told her parents, they "blew their tops." So Walter went back to California, alone. In the summer of 1910, Walter came back and gave her a diamond ring. She had graduated from high school in June 1910, and in September she was sent to St. Mary's Catholic Academy in Los Angeles. She graduated on June 20, 1912.

In a solarium in Los Angeles on June 26, 1912, she and Walter were married by a Congregational pastor. She wore her graduation dress of white crepe de Chine and carried yellow roses.

They moved to San Francisco, where Nellie was told the weather was causing her flu or grippe, so Walter, who was working for Southern Pacific Railroad, secured a transfer to Tucson. On November 11, 1914, George Nellis Goldthwaite was born in Tucson; on October 16, 1916, Walter Scott Goldthwaite, Jr. was born in Mayer while Nellie was home visiting her mother. In Tucson, the Goldthwaites lived in a garage home near St. Mary's Road. In 1916, they drove to Mayer to show off their new Maxwell automobile. Nellie thought that "Mayer seemed like heaven after Tucson."

Walter decided to work for the Humboldt Mine, and they lived in Humboldt until 1921 when they took over the lumberyard in Mayer. Nellie organized the Campfire Girls and was one of the founders of the Royal Order of Moose in Mayer.

In 1928, Nellie took a correspondence course studying American history, and this prompted her decision to go with her sister Erma to Flagstaff Teachers College. After two summers and one winter, she was graduated and got her Teacher's Certificate in 1929. She had no intention of teaching, but Walter was laid off, and the teacher had just left Cleator so she was hired to teach in the school.

Later she taught in Crown King. In 1939, the family moved to Phoenix to start a service station shaped like a watermelon. She substituted at Cotton Center, Baltz, Madison and Washington schools. During World War II, she worked on the burring table at AirResearch.

In 1955, they bought a place in Mayer again. Walter died February 23, 1976, in Prescott, and Nellie Bly died October 18, 1982, in Tempe.

DONOR: Walter Scott Goldthwaite, Jr.


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