Some say Angeline Hoagland’s ghost still haunts her grave.
And probably Angeline Hoagland herself would be amazed. After all, she was but a baby girl when she died near the Old Black Canyon Highway, Arizona, in 1889.
But stories of her death, including her ghost, are alive and kicking still today.
Maybe it’s because travelers can see her lonely grave from the Old Black Canyon Highway as they cross Lynx Creek east of Prescott, or because Arizona poet laureate and territorial historian, Sharlot Hall (1870-1943), wrote a poem dedicated to the little girl.
Or it could be that Angeline’s death, at the tender age of 2, deeply touched the gold miners, as well as settlers and cowboys of the time, her story spread and became part of local legacy.
In any case, the story begins in the mid-1880s, long before the iconic old Lynx Creek Bridge was erected in 1922.
David Hoagland and his wife, Catherine Stewart Magee Hoagland, left Texas to settle on the banks of Lynx Creek, perhaps drawn like many by the discovery of gold in the creek.
Their daughter, Angeline, was born in 1886, and passed away on January 15, 1889. According to her headstone, exactly 2 years, 3 months and 15 days later.
She was buried not in a cemetery, but along the creek near the historic Old Black Canyon Highway, began in the pre-statehood days of the mid-1860s before there were highways, automobiles or railroads and declared in 1864 the first public road in the new Arizona Territory.
The cause of the little girl’s death is in dispute.
She was killed by a bobcat or coyote, or maybe she drowned in the the creek. Or maybe did she freeze during the blizzard that was blowing at the time? It’s not even known if she is actually buried near their home, or if she died on the way to Prescott for medical help, and was buried where they were. Some stories say she was on a wagon train heading west, some say she was killed by Indians, but more likely she died from pneumonia.
Despite the cause of death has been the subject of speculation and folklore, probably she took ill and died, as many children did during that difficult era.
Catherine and David separated shortly after Angeline’s death. Nobody knows what happened to David, and Catherine took her daughter Julia McGee, and moved to nearby Prescott, where she spent the rest of her life.
It was much later that a headstone, engraved with Sharlot Hall’s poem, was placed on her grave. It’s not known what Miss Hall’s relationship with the family was.
“Here lies our baby Angeline
For which we weep and do repine.
She was all our joy and all our pride
Until the day our baby died.
We hope in heaven again to meet
And then our joy will be complete.
But until our Maker calls us there
We trust her to His righteous care.”
The ghost of little girl is said to haunt her gravesite and, over the more than 130 years since she died, reports have circulated that her restless spirit still wanders the banks of Lynx Creek.
More than one passerby has claimed to have seen her eerie, luminescent presence by the grave, and some witnesses have reported seeing the spectral figure of a small child standing on the grave. Others say the ground will shake if anyone dares stand inside the iron fence around the grave.
However, there is a scientific explanation, as the stone from which Angeline’s tombstone was carved is of a luminous variety that absorbs sun and, when stuck by car headlights, glows brightly.
Unfortunately, the tombstone became a target of vandals and the Sharlot Hall Museum of Prescott removed it at some point to store it for safekeeping before replacing it on January 15, 1993, exactly 104 years after Angeline died.
The Prescott Valley Historical Society adopted the gravesite, and her lone grave is now surrounded by a black iron fence, the one that some say rattles if you get too close. Driving from Prescott, down Old Black Canyon Highway, the grave can be seen to the left, as you pass Lynx Creek.
Remains of other Hoagland family members are buried in the Citizen’s Cemetery on Sheldon Street in Prescott.
Images from web – Google Research . Local sources