Angeline Hoagland would be amazed.
After all, she was but a toddler when she died near the Old Black Canyon Highway in 1889. But stories of her death – and reports of her “ghost” – are alive and kicking today.
Perhaps that’s because travelers can see her lonely grave from the Old Black Canyon Highway as they cross Lynx Creek east of Prescott.
Maybe it’s because Arizona poet laureate and territorial historian, Sharlot Hall (1870-1943), wrote a poem dedicated to the little girl.
Or it could be that Angeline’s death, at the tender age of 2, deeply touched the gold miners, settlers and cowboys of the time, and the tale spread and became part of local lore.
The story begins in the mid-1880s, long before the old Lynx Creek Bridge was erected in 1922. David Hoagland and his wife, Catherine Stewart Magee Hoagland, left their Texas roots and put down stakes on the banks of Lynx Creek, perhaps drawn like many by the discovery of gold in the creek.
Their daughter, Angeline, was born in 1886, and passed away on Jan. 15, 1889 2 years, 3 months and 15 days later, according to her headstone.
She was buried not in a cemetery, but along the creek near Old Black Canyon Highway. We recently published a blog about this historic stretch of highway.
The cause of the little girl’s death is in dispute. Was she killed by a bobcat or coyote? Did she drown in the the creek? Did she freeze during the blizzard that was blowing at the time?
Prevailing wisdom says she died of illness.
"The cause of death has been the subject of speculation and folklore, although the family’s descendants say she took ill and died, as many children did during this difficult era," the Sharlot Hall Museum of Prescott says on its website.
It was much later that a headstone, engraved with Hall’s poem, was placed on her grave. The poem is at the base and reads:
Here lies our baby Angeline
For which we weep and do repine.
She was all our joy and all our pride
Until the day our baby died.
We hope in heaven again to meet
And then our joy will be complete.
But until our Maker calls us there
We trust her to His righteous care.
Over the 132 years since Angeline died, reports have circulated that her restless spirit still wanders the banks of Lynx Creek. More than one passerby has claimed to have seen her eerie, luminescent presence by the grave.
According to Alan Brown, author of “Haunted Southwest,” some witnesses have reported seeing the spectral figure of a small child standing on the grave. Others say the ground will shake if anyone dares stand inside the iron fence around the grave. College students are said to have camped out by the grave in hopes of catching a glimpse of the supernatural spectre.
But there is an explanation, and it's based on science, according to Brown. The stone from which Angeline's tombstone was carved is of a luminous variety, that when stuck by car headlights, glows brightly.
Unfortunately, the tombstone and poetic epitaph became a target of vandals. The Sharlot Hall Museum of Prescott removed it at some point and stored it for safekeeping before replacing it on Jan. 15, 1993 – exactly 104 years after Angeline died.
Remains of other Hoagland family members are buried in the Citizen’s Cemetery on Sheldon Street in Prescott. It is largely accepted today that the ghost stories probably originated because Angeline’s tombstone is made from a luminous rock. Therefore, if your car headlights hit the rock, it glows brightly! Unfortunately, the tombstone and poetic epitaph became a target of vandals. The Sharlot Hall Museum of Prescott removed it and stored it for safekeeping before replacing it on Jan. 15, 1993 -- exactly 104 years after Angeline died. Remains of other Hoagland family members are buried in the Citizen’s Cemetery on Sheldon Street in Prescott. The Prescott Valley Historical Society adopted the gravesite. Angeline’s lone grave is now surrounded by a black iron fence – the one that some say rattles if you get too close. Prescott Valley Historical Society adopted the gravesite.
Angeline’s lone grave is now surrounded by a black iron fence – the one that some say rattles if you get too close.