Martha Beatty was one of the early Phoenix, Arizona pioneer residents. She was born in Pennsylvania in August 1829. She married Benjamin Beatty, who was a local merchant and they had one daughter, Sarah, who was born in 1848. From the 1850’s through the 1880’s, the Beatty’s owned a lovely home in the Midwest state of Iowa.
In 1900, at the age of 70, Martha was a pioneer living alone in the Arizona Territory in the growing town of Phoenix. She arrived in the valley in 1894 from Eddyville Iowa. Martha’s main reason for uprooting to Arizona was for health reasons. Mrs. Beatty, now a widow, had no relatives living in Arizona. She resided in a lovely home near the park and the Phoenix streetcar barns.
Martha was 73 years old in 1902 and suffered from a bout of consumption. She was getting very weak in her old age. Her long time neighbor, Mrs. Conley was kind to look in after her from time and time. She often helped with her baths at the Frank Shirley “tonsorial parlors” (barber shop) in the basement of the Goodman Drug Store. The bath house was located at the corner of Washington and Center Streets. (Now Central Avenue)
Mrs. Conley was called to meet Mrs. Beatty at 1:00 PM at tonsorial parlor to assist with giving Martha her bath. Being old and feeble, it was not easy for her to bathe on her own. Unfortunately, Mrs. Conley had a small emergency and did not arrive to the bath house until 2:00 PM. They found Martha in the tub lying on her side with her face covered with water. The water was running over the edge of the tub and on to the floor. They lifted Martha from the tub and laid her on the floor of the bath house. Dr. Plath was summoned but she had already died by the time he arrived. Martha Beatty had fainted from the extreme heat of the water and drowned.
Her funeral was held at the near by undertaking parlor and she was laid to rest in Rosedale Cemetery where she could bathe in the eternal sun. A lot of interest was sparked when her will and testament was read. For years she had asked her relatives in Lincoln, Iowa to come to Arizona and help nurse and take care of her. None of them bothered to answer her pleas. To their dismay, she bequeathed her entire estate of $3,293.50 to Lincoln University in Iowa. Let that be a lesson to them!
Phoenix gets an occasional down pour of rain from time to time. If you happen to be in Rosedale Cemetery visiting Martha Beatty soon after a rain storm, you will quickly notice that a pool of water tends to form in a circle around her grave site. Just a humorous reminder of that disastrous day in the old Phoenix bathhouse that has not escaped her after death.
Guests can visit Martha Beatty in the Rosedale section of the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park (cemeteries) on Thursdays or during their once a month open house Saturday.
Pioneer & Military Memorial Park
14th Avenue and Jefferson Streets
Phoenix AZ 85007
Revamped from October 17, 2009 Arizona Haunted Sites story by Debe Branning