Buried in City/Loosley
Block 10, Lot 8
There is no grave marker.
Joannes Baptiste Steyaert was born 7 October 1859 in Evergen, Belgium—a very small village. He and his wife, Matilda Van Damme, had a total of eight children, whose birthplaces provide a map of the family’s journey from Belgium to Arizona.
The three eldest children—Marie Victoria, Emil Johan, and Augustine Bernard--were born in Belgium. The fourth child, Marie Leona, and the fifth child, Benjamin Paul, arrived in 1890 and 1891 while the family was living in Winnipeg, Canada. The Steyaerts seem to have gravitated to heavily forested areas, suggesting occupations associated with lumber.
By the time the seventh and eighth children, Medard Tracy and Joseph Julius, were born in 1894 and 1897, the family was in De Pere, Wisconsin. In the summer of 1897, the Steyaert family left Wisconsin for Arizona with newborn Joseph. Within just a few weeks of their arrival, Joannes fell desperately ill. After a protracted bout with typhoid which exhausted the family’s financial resources, he died on July 21, 1897, and was buried in the Loosley Cemetery. His daughter Marie Victoria died of pneumonia a few months later, on November 21, 1897, and was buried in the same cemetery.
This left Matilda Steyaert destitute, with seven children to support. They ranged from Emil, almost 12, to Joseph, a mere babe in arms. The local newspaper, the Arizona Republican, appealed to its readership to assist the family. The Steyaerts were listed intermittently as indigent between 1898 and 1900.
In time, however, the Steyaert children became old enough to support themselves. In 1913, the boys built a fine house, designed by Howard B. Claflin, for their mother at 1021 East Washington. The ten-room brick bungalow is said to have had screened sleeping porches and much built-in cabinetry. Owing to the use of an innovative truss, the front porch offered an unobstructed view of the street.
Ben and Gus Steyaert became locomotive engineers for the Santa Fe Railway and the Southern Pacific Railroad respectively. Emil was by turns a miner, prospector and truck driver for Union Oil. Joseph Julius worked as a heavy equipment operator. Only Medard and Frank carried on the family tradition of working with wood. In 1928, Medard was managing a planing mill at 1501 South Central, which made cabinets and office furniture.
With her children grown up, Matilda converted her bungalow on East Washington into a boarding house and rented rooms to guests regardless of race. After her death on 27 July 1941, the house was sold to Golden and Elvira Swindall, who continued Matilda’s legacy of providing accommodations to African American guests who were not welcome at the segregated hotels in downtown Phoenix. The Swindall Tourist Inn was listed in the famous ‘Green Book’ for Negro travelers; Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Jackie Robinson are believed to have stayed there. Bought in 1996 to serve as the headquarters for the Desert Mashies golf club, the house is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
© 2020 by Donna L. Carr. Last revised 20 December 2020.
Photo of Steyaert/Swindall House courtesy of Donna Carr
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.
Butcher and Meat Cutter
Buried in IOOF Cemetery, Block 2, Lot 1
Frederick “Fred” was born August 18, 1831 in Jugenheim, Germany, to Bartholomew Balsz and Phillipine Gerisch. The couple had eleven children born between 1814 and 1836, several of whom came to the United States. Frederick’s mother Philippine is believed to have died around 1836 in Germany shortly after the birth of her last child, David. Bartholomew, a butcher, then immigrated to the United States with some of their younger children, settling in St. Louis, Missouri.
Young Fred is thought to have married at the age of 17 in St. Louis and had a son he named Frederick, Jr. The name of Fred’s first wife is unknown, but she died about 1849.
Soon thereafter, Fred left his son with family and went west with his brother David, who would have been 13 years old. The brothers drove a team of oxen along the California Trail to Sacramento, where they found work as butchers. They remained there until Fred eloped with his second wife, Mercedes Gonzales, around 1860. The couple had three boys and one girl before Mercedes died about 1867. Shortly after, Fred married Eliza Tapia who was about 16 years of age on November 12, 1867. She bore him five more children before her death in 1878.
By this time, Fred’s younger brother David had opened a slaughterhouse north of Phoenix in the Arizona Territory, so Fred moved his family there. Between Fred the butcher and David the cattleman, they had the perfect vertical business model.
Fred married his fourth wife, Sotela Bracamonte, on October 29, 1879 in Phoenix. She was about 17 years old; he was 48. Fred and Sotela would add at least ten more children to the family. Between Fred’s family and David’s family, they had enough children to open their own school--Balsz School—which still exists today in Phoenix.
Fred continued to work as a butcher, going into business for a short time with Frank D. Wells in Phoenix. That partnership was dissolved in 1884, by which time Fred’s sons were in business with him.
Sotela died February 8, 1899, in Phoenix of heart disease and was buried in the family plot in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Fred did not remarry this time, but he had plenty of children to care for him in his final years. The number of children he fathered fluctuates by different accounts, but in 1906 he said he had had 19 children by his four wives.
Fred died at the home of his son Joseph on June 13, 1910. He had suffered a bout of pneumonia the year prior and never fully recovered. He was buried next to Sotela.
© 2020 by Patty Gault. Last revised June 28, 2020
Grave marker photo courtesy of the Pioneers’ Cemetery Association
To obtain a copy of the sources used for this article, please contact the PCA to make a suggested donation.
Buried in the Masons Cemetery,
Block 16, Lot 4, Grave 4
Samuel Korrick was born in April, 1871, in Grodno, then part of tsarist Russia. After coming to the United States around 1890, he worked briefly as a dry goods clerk in New York before moving on to another store in El Paso.
In 1895, Korrick was on his way to California when he stopped in Phoenix. Something about the up-and-coming city attracted him, and he decided to stay.
Despite his relative youth, he was able to combine his previous experience in the dry goods business with a flair for merchandising, determination and hard work. He set up his first store in a narrow space at 218 East Washington Street. To make his shop sound more sophisticated, he called it the New York Store.
Korrick was a savvy businessman. Newspaper advertisements for his store trumpeted quality merchandise, low prices, seasonal and annual clearance sales. The ads noted his buying trips to Eastern markets, which must have added a certain cachet for his customers.
Korrick was more than just a successful merchant. He joined the Freemasons and the Elks, and he donated handsomely to Sisters’ Hospital, now St. Joseph’s. He was active in the local Jewish community and ran newspaper notices announcing the Jewish high holy days.
Running the New York Store left Korrick little time for a private life; he never married. As the business expanded, he brought his younger brother Charles over from Russia in 1899. Charles became his understudy in running the business.
Tragically, Korrick’s health began to decline in 1901 and he died on March 23, 1903, at the age of 32. According to Korrick’s obituary, no other man had "left such a deep impression upon the mercantile life of Phoenix." Customers and competitors alike esteemed him as an honest and upright businessman.
Korrick’s funeral service was an ecumenical affair. After the reading of Jewish rites, a Methodist minister delivered a eulogy. The hearse was accompanied by a long cortege, and Korrick was interred in accordance with Masonic rites in the Masons Cemetery.
© Derek Horn and Debe Branning. Last revised May 21, 2023.
Photo of Charles and Sam Korrick, about 1901, courtesy of the Korrick family