Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden

Laura, daughter of Mahala Dawson Riggins and Andrew Steinbrook, was born May 2, 1870 on the homestead of her parents at Walnut Creek, Arizona Territory. Mahala and Andrew came to Arizona via oxen team and wagon in 1864 from Kansas with a party of pioneers who later settled in Miller Valley. Mahala and Andrew were married en route.

Laura’s father was killed by George Thrasher, just hours after the birth of Walter, Laura’s youngest brother, who was born in October 1873. The young mother then moved her family to Prescott, where they lived until 1877. Mahala was blessed with an Army Pension from Andrew’s service as a Civil War Corporal in Co. K, 3rd Kansas Reg. Volunteer Calvary.

Laura lived in Camp Verde in 1880 with Mrs. Florida McNeely until the time of her marriage to Martin Luther Wilson in Ash Fork, January 1, 1885. There were three children born of this union: Nora Belle, born February 20, 1886, and died October, 20, 1886; Luther Franklin, born March 20, 1888, at Banning Creek, five miles south of Prescott and died January 27, 1961; and Stella Gertrude Fowler, born June 27, 1890, and died December 4, 1981.

Luther and Laura and their two babies were saved from the flood at Walnut Grove and then moved again into Prescott. The couple divorced soon after this move.

Eighteen years passed and Laura married John Elijah Shearer on August 5, 1903, in Prescott but later a second divorce "became necessary."

In between marriages, Laura lived and worked a small ranch in the Bradshaw Mountains near Crown King. Her young son Frank was her devoted “cowboy” of the day. Frank was later instrumental in finding his Uncle Walter’s (Laura’s brother) body and helping in the apprehension of his uncle’s murderer.

Laura devoted several years to the care of tubercular patients in a small house near the hospital on Main Street in Mayer.

In 1925, she had built at what was then 624 Crest Avenue (now Country Club Drive) a charming bungalow-style house that she called home for many years. When in her 70s, she sold the home and moved into an apartment in a house on Summit Avenue. That house was moved to Willow Creek Road in 1962 and became known as the Willow Creek Inn.

Laura was blessed with dear friends and a loving family. In 1951, she moved into the Arizona Pioneers' Home, where she died on January 19, 1952. She was buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

Her mother, Mahala Dawson Riggins Steinbrook, and her daughter-in-law May Larremore Wilson are also commemorated in the Rose Garden.

Donor: Yvonne Wilson Morgan, granddaughter
June 2009

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