Buried in Masons Cemetery,
Block 20, Lot 2, Grave 6
Bryan Philip Darell Duppa was born October 9, 1832, in Paris, France, where his parents, Baldwin Francis Duppa and Catherine Darell, were living at the time. The family seat, Hollingsbourne House, was in Maidstone, Kent, England. It was to this mansion that Duppa came as a three-year-old in 1835.
Duppa received a classical education at Cambridge University, where he studied literature and learned French, Spanish, Italian and German, in addition to the required Greek and Latin.
Since he had an older brother, Baldwin, who would inherit the family estate, Duppa was free to travel. After a grand tour of Europe, he visited his uncle George’s sheep station in New Zealand. This might have whetted his appetite for further adventure.
By December 1863, Duppa was in Prescott, Arizona. He became friends with Jack Swilling and may have come with him to the Salt River Valley in 1867. Recognizing the area’s potential for growth, Duppa homesteaded 175 acres near what is now downtown Phoenix and, in 1870, built an adobe dwelling at what is now 115 West Sherman.
Both he and Swilling were much interested in the evidence of a vanished Hohokam culture on the banks of the Salt River—specifically, its system of canals. When the question of what to name the new settlement arose, Duppa proposed Phoenix, for it suggested a city rising from the ashes of a previous civilization. Duppa is also credited with having named Tempe.
Tall and thin, Duppa was an eccentric man with a flair for the dramatic. Locals took to calling Duppa a ‘lord’ because of his impeccable English accent and classical education. His besetting vice was drink, however. A ‘remittance man’, Duppa received a generous allowance from his family in England. Every four months, a check was sent to his friend Dr. O. J. Thibodo, who paid Duppa’s bills before handing over what was left. Duppa invariably spent it all on drink and gambling.
In 1872, Duppa sold his homestead in Phoenix to John B. Montgomery and moved to New River, north of Phoenix, where he ran a stage station. The station was no more than a crude ramada with brush walls and hardly a stick of furniture. Passing through the area, Captain John G. Bourke described Duppa as “hospitable to a fault and not afraid of man or devil…or Apache Indian”.
Eventually, Duppa returned to Phoenix where he lived humbly on a farm near the Salt River. He died January 30, 1892, at the home of his old friend Dr. Thibodo.
Duppa was originally buried in the Odd Fellows cemetery but, in 1901, the Daughters of the American Revolution had his body moved to Greenwood Cemetery at 2300 W. Van Buren. Once the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park was established, citizens banded together and petitioned to have the remains of the “Father of Phoenix” returned. An elaborate solid copper burial vault and a new casket were provided and, on November 26, 1991, a procession of officials and historical reenactors accompanied the horse-drawn hearse that bore Duppa to his final resting place.
© 2012 by Debe Branning and Donna Carr. Last revised 11/22/2012.