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Ygnacio Garcia's Gifts to the Community

After the Walnut Grove dam disaster in 1890, the narrow minded leaders of the community of Wickenburg refused to allow the Mexicans and Chinese who had perished in the ensuing flood to be buried in the local cemetery. Ygnacio Garcia was a local rancher who responded to this affront and donated land for a cemetery so they could have a proper burial place. The cemetery is located about one mile west on Highway 93. The cemetery is on your left set back from the highway. Not wanting to acknowledge the generosity of a Mexican, the town called the cemetery “Catholic Cemetery.” It wasn’t until some time later that it began being called “Garcia Cemetery.”

Garcia Cemetary
Garcia Cemetery

Around 1895 Don Garcia again donated land, this time for the town’s first school house. The first school house on the site was a temporary wooden building that was brought in from a local mine. It served for ten years and then in 1905 the town raised money and built the brick structure that still stands. It was originally known as the “Wickenburg Grammar School”. It wasn’t until years later that it became known as “Garcia School.” This school served the community for about twenty years. A new school was built alongside Garcia School. This school was in use until 1978 when it burned to the ground.

Little Red Schoolhouse
Garcia School House

Last 5 posts by Scott Rogers

5 comments to Ygnacio Garcia's Gifts to the Community

  • Martha Maxon

    Another irony about the Garcia Cemetery is that not only are Mexicans and Chinese buried there, but at least one black person, Elizabeth Smith. She was a prominent business woman, establishing the Vernetta Hotel, a two-story brick building on Frontier Street in 1905 (currently used as offices for Remuda.) According to Fry (1997), she was also one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church in Wickenburg. She is depicted in the Desert Cabelleros Western Museum. Since I first observed her grave, I have wondered about the story behind her being buried in Garcia Cemetery. Does anyone know?
    Martha Maxon
    Fry, Mark. 1997. “The Town on the Hassayampa.” Desert Cabelleros Western Museum.

  • My understanding of the story is that although Ms. Smith was a prominent business woman and her hotel was a shining example of civilization come to the west, as outsiders began coming to town, they brought their prejudices with them. It soon became “unfashionable” to socialize with a black woman. When she passed away, the prejudices put her in the same category with the Mexicans and Chinese and she was buried with them rather than the white people who had once been her friends.

    A few years back, there was a town play (for lack of a better description) that depicted several incidents in Wickenburg history. Among them was a performance by a black actress doing a monologue from the point of view of Ms. Smith. It was the most moving performance of the show. It gave me insight to the feelings of a person who had once been an outstanding member of the community and was reduced to an outcast because of the color of her skin.

    There’s an article about her on the Sharlot Hall Museum site (http://www.sharlot.org/).

  • Rick Garcia

    Pretty cool story. I had heard these stories from my Dad and grandfather (Gabriel Garcia), but to see them in print is pretty nice. Thanks much, the big Garcia family in the Bakersfield Ca. area are enjoying them.

    Rick Garcia
    Buttonwillow Ca
    P.O. Box 272 93206

  • Glenn Brown

    I was also blessed to hear these stories while growing up. I am
    Ygnacio’s great great grand son and great grandson of Philipe and Carmen My grandmother was Esther Garcia De La Fuente. Having grown up surrounded and loved by this wonderful, family I am not at all surprised by these acts of compassion and generosity. I would love to hear from any family members that would like to share stories and family history with me.
    Glenn Brown
    P.O.Box319
    Crestline, Ca. 92325

  • Edward Molina

    I am also related to the Garcia family mentioned here,and share these same stories with my kids.
    My grandmother is Theodore Garcia and is daughter to Ygnacio Garcia Sr, my grandmother also had some brothers and sisters, brothers by the name of Nachito, Bill and Johnny, sisters , marie,(Piva)and Mari elena(Lena) Garcia,and Carlota (Lota). My grandmother mentioned other cousins of hers , by the names of Ana and Vera Garcia.
    If anyone would like to get in touch with me please email me @ ny_yankee27@yahoo.com