Long ago, an ambitious young man worked selling newspapers in Phoenix, Arizona. He sold his papers up and down Washington Street near the Arizona State Capital. Everybody knew him—including the Governor. One hot, blistering afternoon, Governor Hunt saw the lad walking down Washington Street and offered him a ride to his destination. The youth never forgot how important it made him feel.
It was about 1931 and Paul Jarrett was roughly twelve years old. One day Paul decided to take a short cut through the old Pioneer Cemetery located at 16th Avenue and Jefferson Streets in downtown Phoenix. The cemetery had been long closed to burials—no interments since 1914. It was pretty much deserted, overgrown, and not attractive to look at. With no real fencing back then—only a border of oleanders—it was no wonder some of the tombstones had “walked away.”
As Paul shuffled across the desert vegetation in the graveyard, he kept his eyes on the ground. He looked for Indian relics, rocks, and other treasures in the forgotten boneyard. One day he found a pewter plaque just lying there—partially buried. It wasn’t attached to anything—must have resurfaced after a heavy rainstorm. He picked it up. “At Rest” it proclaimed. It must have detached from one of the old coffins buried there. He took it home and kept it in his room for a long, long time.
Later, he placed it in a box with some of his other boyhood relics, packed it in the garage, and went off to college. This enterprising young man soon became one of Phoenix’s finest physicians. Dr. Paul Jarrett served the community for many, many years and was adored by all his patients.
One day the volunteers at the Pioneers’ Cemetery Association, located at the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park, received a phone call from Dr. Jarrett. Seemed he had done some spring cleaning and remember a box in the garage containing a few mementos. One of them was the pewter plaque he found long ago. He wanted to bring it back to the cemetery where it belonged.
The ninety-two year old retiree came to the Smurthwaite House and the volunteers were mesmerized by his stories of early Phoenix. (His family owned Jarrett’s Hardware in downtown Phoenix.) And, then he talked about the day he took the shortcut through the Rosedale portion of the deserted cemetery and discovered the plaque.
The whole time the group sat at the dining room table chatting, the “ghost of Smurthwaite House” set off the motion sensor every five or six minutes. The volunteers kept getting up to see if someone had come into the kitchen, but nobody was there. As soon as Dr. Jarrett presented the plaque to the pioneer cemetery and left for the day, the motion sensor ceased its spontaneous alerts.
A week or so later, Debe Branning was doing a book signing. She chatted with her friends and talked about the interesting man who came to visit at the cemetery. She told them about the historic relic he returned after almost 80 years. Gloria Pinkerton’s mouth dropped. It was her great uncle, Paul Jarrett, they were talking about.
Recently, the MVD Ghostchasers held a paranormal workshop at the old cemetery. An evening of tombstone study, scavenger hunt, and investigations of the Smurthwaite House’s second floor was on the agenda. Debe Branning also organizes a Historic Cemetery Walk in the old cemetery twice a year—March and October. Costumed characters portraying early pioneers in the cemetery come alive and tell the tales of how they lived and died in early Phoenix. One of the favorite characters at these fundraiser walks is the Madam—“Rose Gregory—AKA Minnie Powers”. Cindy Lee does the reenactment role of Rose Gregory from time to time and has done additional research on Gregory’s life. Her funeral was documented in the early Phoenix newspapers and describes the burial right down to the floral tributes and the copper lined casket.
PCA President, Sterling Foster, pulled the pewter plaque out of a display case to show Gloria and Cindy. Gloria smiled as she photographed the relic that her uncle rescued so long ago. Cindy gasped and turned pale. Gathering her composure, Cindy reminded us of the inscription plate on the lid of the Madam’s casket—“AT REST”.
Rose Gregory was known as a Madam who was loved because of her many acts of kindness. She was always ready to donate to the needy, help with disasters, and saved many misfortunate people from starvation. Her good deeds and generosity to the poor was not in vain. You know the saying, what goes around comes around? Rose Gregory has finally been awarded the ultimate act of kindness with the return of the missing plaque by Dr. Jarrett’s generous action. Rose Gregory can finally be “At Rest”.
Visit the Madam at the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park (Cemetery)
For more information: Debe Branning firstname.lastname@example.org