Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden
Sarah Jessie Wootan was the eighth child of William Elijah and Sarah Hickman Wootan. She was born August 6, 1891, at Fort Grant in the Aravapai Valley.

On March 3, 1909, Jessie married Albert Gallatin (A. G.) Walker, a rancher, at Klondyke, Arizona. During their short marriage, Jessie and Albert lived at Klondyke, the Armstrong Place, Rattlesnake Canyon and Old San Carlos. They had five children: Cassie Ethel, Ira Franklin, Ora Katherine, Thelma Inez and Violet Vera.

Memories of Jessie, filled with pathos, come from her oldest daughter Cassie, who was only seven at the time of her mother’s death. Cassie remembered Jessie sitting out in the evenings, waiting for her husband to come home, and singing to her children. Cassie recalled having a brindle bulldog that, one night, barked on and on. The dog treed something, and Jessie got the gun, shot “it” out of a tree and cooked it!

At one time, flood waters from a heavy rain forced the young family out of their home. Jessie and A.G. put the children in a light buggy, and they waded out and went to their grandfather’s in Rattlesnake Canyon.

When Jessie was ill with the flu, she called Cassie to her bedside and told her to get some potatoes and peel them, and then she told her how to make potato soup. Cassie said, “So, when I can’t think of what to cook over the years, I do potato soup.”

A.G.’s job in Old San Carlos was helping the Apache Indians with their cattle. When a sixth baby was born, someone had to go for him, and then Cassie’s grandmother came by train and was with Jessie when the baby was born. Cassie was allowed to help bathe and dress the infant, and her grandmother put the baby in a basket near the kitchen stove. The child lived only a few hours and was buried as “Baby Walker.”

Cassie and her siblings were at their aunt and uncle’s home when her Grandma came up, gathered the children around her, and told them their mother was dead. Jessie died on October 14, 1918, during the great flu epidemic.

The family went to Safford on the train with her body. The effects of the flu had been so bad that they could not have an open casket at the funeral. The next day, A.G. took Cassie and her Grandma to the Safford cemetery. “He sat over that grave for a long time. Money was tight, and Dad couldn't get a marker on her grave for many years.”

Later, he went to Safford on a trip, and when he came back to the ranch one day he told Cassie, “Honey, I put a bronze marker on your Mama’s grave.” He told her that for a lot of years he had planned to do that, but then he would hear Jessie saying that their children needed shoes or clothes.

Sarah Jessie Wootan lived only 27 years. She was a pioneer matriarch who did not live to know any of her grandchildren or any of her 31 great-grandchildren.

Her daughter Cassie Ethel Walker George and her sister Ethel Wootan Montierth are also commemorated in the Rose Garden.

Donor: granddaughter, Pauline "Beth" Russell.
April 2005

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