Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden

Mary, daughter of Joel and Elizabeth Ann Shanberger Barrington, was born April 23, 1871 in Maumelle, Arkansas. She came with her parents to Arizona in 1881 at the age of ten. The family lived briefly in Phoenix before moving permanently to Prescott, where they lived for some time in the Groom Creek area. Mary’s father took up gold mining there.

On October 7, 1886, she married Benjamin Franklin Major, a rancher and farmer, in Groom Creek. Mary had a brand for their livestock registered in her name in October of that same year. The couple had 10 children: a child born July 23, 1887, died the same day; Benjamin Franklin, Jr., born July 18, 1888; Younda Gertrude Allen, born February 24, 1890; Catharine Margaret Fitzgerald, born September 9, 1891; Irving D., born May 4, 1893; Ruth Orpha Boren, born February 5, 1895; Grace Mable Borehart, born May 4, 1898; Harry Ike, born October 26, 1901; Charles Norman, born August 22, 1903; and Paul Edward, born September 26, 1909.

In addition to being a ranch wife and mother, Mary was a wonderful cook as well as industrious, honest and kind with compassion for all. She was a fine seamstress, and crocheting beautiful items was one of her special talents. She was also a member of the Cottonwood Baptist Church, the Cottonwood School Board and the Gold Star Mothers.

The Irving D. Major Post, American Legion was named for her son, who lost his life in France in World War I. Another son, Ben Major, was awarded the Carnegie Medal for heroism for pulling a live fuse that threatened the life of a fellow miner trapped in a rock slide in the open pit mine of the United Verde in Jerome.

Benjamin Major died in 1924. In 1931, Mary married John Lesher, who died in 1945. On only two occasions did Mary ever leave Yavapai County: once, as a member of the party of Gold Star Mothers who visited France, and the other, on a trip to the Grand Canyon when she was 62 years old.

Mary Elizabeth died on January 2, 1952, in Prescott and was buried in the Cottonwood Cemetery in Cottonwood, Arizona. Her grandmother, Elizabeth Heckert Shanberger, is also commemorated in the Rose Garden.

Donor: Patricia Ruth Major Miller, granddaughter
October 2003

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