Grave markers for Henry (left), Mary and Bertha (right) Barton. Mary and Bertha share a headstone, with separate inscriptions on each side of the headstone. Photo by Wade Bunting

Fruitland Cemetery was established on April 30, 1915 when Daniel and Adriene Saur deeded a 246 ft. square of land in the NW corner of the SW 1/4, NE of 1/4, Section 25, Township 20E, Range 17S to “accommodate those who could not afford the cost [of burial].” [Santa Cruz County Recorder, Book of Deeds 8, p. 20]. In 1939 Santa Cruz County abandoned the portion of the road that led to the cemetery. Several private individuals owned the cemetery property over the years. In 1992 concerned citizens including Peter Bidegain, Sr. approached Santa Cruz County with concerns about the maintenance of and access to this historic cemetery. With county assistance, the owner of the property was located who agreed to issue a grant deed to Sonoita Bible Church in 1993. Byrd R. Lindsey, C.L. Honnas, Winser Ellefson, and Leslie B. Jackson were appointed trustees of the cemetery at that time. 

Brothers Daniel (1857-1941) and Abraham (1839-1916) Saur homesteaded in the Elgin area starting about 1912. Abraham, a Civil War veteran, claimed 160 acres in Section 25, while Daniel and his wife Adriene claimed 160 acres in Section 30. It was reported that “Abraham and Daniel Saurs are erecting new dwellings on their homesteads. The structures are to have concrete foundations, with large cellars and the superstructures are to be frame, one of four rooms, the other, three and when complete they will be commodious and comfortable, farmhouses. Both quarter sections are enclosed completely with five-foot hog wire fences.” [The Oasis, 11/30/1912]. In 1915 Abraham was hospitalized at the Sawtelle Soldier’s Home in Los Angeles, where he died on December 14, 1916. It is likely that Abraham deeded his property in Section 25 to Daniel and Adriene who in turn provided land for the cemetery. By 1920 Daniel and Adriene were living in California. 

When deeding the land for the cemetery, the Saurs named I. P. Fraizer, A.C. Dalton, and Charles L. Wood as trustees. As noted in last month’s article about the Fruitland townsite, Ike Fraizer was one of its developers. Albern C. Dalton and his wife Lorina homesteaded 275 acres in Elgin in Section 35, close to the cemetery. They had nine children and operated Dalton’s Dairy, first from Elgin and later from Nogales. A.C. died in 1952 and is buried in Black Oak Cemetery. Charles L. Wood and his wife Millie homesteaded in the Rain Valley area about 1912. By 1919 he had sold his property and moved to Los Angeles, where he died in 1920. 

The graves in the “Homesteader’s Plot” include Ida I. Miller, who died in 1917 at age 57. Her husband David homesteaded 160 acres in Section 26, close to the cemetery. Willard Delton McGuire, who, with his wife June, homesteaded 320 acres in Elgin, is also buried there. He was killed in 1919, age 33, when he was thrown by a mule. Three members of the Barton family are buried in the Homesteader’s Plot. Bertha Barton who died in 1919 at age 19; Bertha’s mother Mary Sherman Barton who died in 1922 at age 52; and Mary’s husband Henry Barton who died in 1940 at age 73. In 1920 Henry and Mary were renting a farm in Vaughn; they had two children, Bertha and Henry, Jr. 

Phoebe E. Lewis Arnwine, age 73, died in 1921. A widow, Phoebe homesteaded 160 acres in 1915 in Section 25, adjacent to the cemetery. Charles Putnam died in 1954 at age 85. Charles homesteaded near Sonoita in 1912 and was a rancher, carpenter, and musician. [Tucson Citizen, 10/5/1954]. Dorothy Putnam Sprung died in 1984 at age 84. Dorothy came to Elgin in 1912 with her family; her father Fred was Charles Putnam’s brother. She married Lyle Sprung, who had a 160- acre homestead in Elgin. Lyle worked for the Coronado National Forest and discovered Sprung’s Spring on Mount Wrightson. [Arizona Daily Star 11/9/1984]. 

Burial at Fruitland Cemetery is available via Sonoita Bible Church. Contact Pastor Mike Wright, 520-455-5779, for additional information