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Days Past: Henry Fleury and the Territorial Governor's Mansion in Prescott
Sharlot Hall Museum/Courtesy photo
Henry Waring Fleury, shown here circa 1880s, lived in the Governor’s Mansion from the time the log house was built in Prescott in 1864 until his death in 1895. He had spent only three nights out from under the roof of this house in all those years.
8/18/2012 10:00:00 PM
Henry Waring Fleury (1817-1895) was part of the first territorial governor's party (that "outfit," as early journalists would come to call the group of officials) in 1863, which arrived in the area to soon be dubbed "Prescott." Yet, while most of these politicos moved on seeking fortunes in the newly discovered mines of the Prescott region or to further their political notoriety elsewhere, Fleury stayed on in local politics. Originally engaged as private secretary to Gov. John Goodwin, he was also elected first chaplain for the two houses of the new Legislature, largely because of his resources to supply the lawmakers with whiskey and his general indifference to religion
One of the more interesting events in FIeury's legacy is his battle with Richard McCormick, the second territorial governor. The controversy was over the Governor's Mansion (located at its original site on the grounds of the
Sharlot Hall Museum
). The Journal-Miner in 1864 reported that the "Pinal Ranch" (as the mansion was called at first) was almost completed and that the property was McCormick's. However, the property had been pre-empted by Fleury almost a year before!
Who truly owned the land where the log house was being built? McCormick had already been attacked for "stealing" the Capitol from Prescott (to be moved to Tucson in 1867) and was not warmly welcomed upon his return to Prescott. He had interest in land bounded by Carleton, Gurley, Granite and McCormick streets. No one was too eager to purchase any of those lots. As McCormick was busy trying to promote himself, Fleury continued to occupy the Governor's Mansion. For those he entertained there, none went home hungry; Fleury's culinary skills went unmatched. The dispute would seesaw back and forth through a decade until Fleury and Lorin S. Jenks sold the land to McCormick at a sheriff's sale in 1873. Yet, the gentleman Fleury was allowed to remain in the prestigious dwelling without a bother.
In 1876, the U. S. General Land Office, through Certificate No. 77, awarded the right to Fleury to "sell" Prescott, lot by lot, to incoming immigrants. Lots had been sold already in the "township," or "village," as Prescott was once described. Yet, under the new-fangled laws, many of the lot sales were found to be illegal. Fleury allowed the folks to continue their livelihood by giving them their honed and improved lots.
Fleury became a probate judge and later, a justice of the peace. It was during this latter occupation that his name became somewhat muddled in the affairs of one of Prescott's leading physicians, Dr. Warren E. Day. Following the death of a close friend of Day's and the absolution of the guilty party, Day and Fleury went on a "walkabout" to all the watering holes on
. In the inebriated giddiness of the circumstances, Fleury married off his live-in friend, Ella Howard, to the good doctor. Unfortunately, the doctor was already married! He was brought up on charges of polygamy and spent a short time in the Yuma Territorial Prison. Upon his release, he came back to Prescott to a forgiving populace and, in turn, forgave Fleury.
Fleury's long time associate, Judge C.G.W. French, took ownership of the Governor's Mansion due to the financial misfortunes inflicted on Fleury. Yet, Judge French made provisions in his will that Fleury could reside there until his death. He had moved in with the first governor (as his secretary) at the end of September 1864 and spent only three nights out from under the roof of this house, where he died in September of 1895. As a young girl, Sharlot Hall had spent hours at his feet in the old house, listening to the stories of days past. Upon his death, the Prescott Weekly Courier wrote, "He was a Hassayampa of Hassayampers, a pioneer of pioneers. His was one at those adventurous, still kindly, spirits whose hardihood in hewing the way has enabled others to follow and build up a great commonwealth..."
Sometime in the 1870s, Fleury had donated a tract of land to the Aztlan Masonic Lodge for use as a cemetery. "When the good old man's friends cast about for a place to lay his bones, the Masons came forward with a lot from the ground he had given them, and his body now lies in the northeast corner of Prescott's Masonic cemetery." He was buried in a brief and simple ceremony.
For a full history of the Governor's Mansion at Sharlot Hall Museum, go to sharlot.org/library-archives/days-past/ and look up the article for Dec. 31, 2006.
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