Although he was an authentic Arizona pioneer, the gentleman with the extraordinary first name--Czar--was born in 1846 in the state of Michigan and grew to manhood there.
Dyer enlisted in the U. S. Navy at the age of 18 and served from August 20, 1864, to July 28, 1865 as a 'powder monkey' aboard the U.S.S. Mattabassett. Upon discharge, he received a small pension as a result of an injury to his eyes.
After his year of service in the Union Navy, Dyer's travels took him to California. The federal census of 1880 shows C. J. Dyer residing in Oakland, Alameda County, California, in the household of Frank and Nellie Jones. He gave his age as 31 and his occupation as 'artist'.
Shortly thereafter, he moved to Prescott in the Arizona Territory. Within a few years, he had moved further south to the young settlement of Phoenix, arriving on the scene as the city was in a period of rapid growth and development.
A personable fellow, "C. J.", as he was popularly known, made the acquaintance of many key individuals in town, thus immediately involving himself in local commerce and government affairs. An artist, specifically a cartographer by profession, Dyer was soon appointed mapmaker for the growing city. Visitors to the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park are encouraged to take note of the large map titled "A Birdseye View of Phoenix" which adorns one wall in Smurthwaite House. (image above) The original was executed in 1885 and signed by its creator, C. J. Dyer.
Dyer served two terms as a city councilman from the second ward during the mid-1880s, and was interim mayor for three and a half months in 1889 (January through April). Notwithstanding his prominence in Phoenix politics of the time and his participation in business and industry, no photograph, sketch or likeness of him has been found. Historians and genealogists alike hope that some collateral relative of this man or a descendant of one of his many friends will come forward with a photograph or artist's sketch of him.
In addition to his artistic endeavors, he enjoyed collecting prehistoric artifacts from the local Hohokam sites. According to one source, his collection was "perhaps better than any in the United States outside of the Smithsonian Institution".
Dyer was residing at 27 East Van Buren when he died on March 28, 1903, at the age of 52. He is buried in Rosedale Cemetery. The grave marker itself is a standard military marble stone quarried in Massachusetts. It is sculpted in relief--but incorrectly, with an 'A' for Dyer's middle initial. The stone should have been inscribed with a 'J' for James.
© 2014 by Rosé Sullivan. Condensed from the original 28 April 2018.
John Tabor Alsap was born 28 February 1830 in Frankfort, Kentucky. He was the only son of Rev. John Alsap (sometimes spelled Alsop) and his wife Keziah Randall. After studying medicine in Ohio, young John went to California in 1853, intending to practice medicine there. Once in California, however, he developed an interest in mining--an interest which brought him to the Walker diggings in Yavapai county, in November 1863.
Alsap’s medical skills came in handy in 1864 when he accompanied King Woolsey's second punitive expedition against the Apaches as the party's surgeon. His reputation thus established, he was appointed territorial treasurer in late 1864 by Gov. John Noble Goodwin.
He soon opened the first saloon in Prescott, a shrewd business move which brought him into contact with much of Prescott’s electorate. On 6 June 1866, Alsap married Louise A. Osborn, daughter of pioneer John Preston Osborn. Tragically, she died barely a year later.
Alsap became Yavapai County's representative to the territorial legislature in 1868. However, his larger political ambitions were not to be fulfilled in Prescott. In 1869, he moved south to the Salt River Valley, where he helped to select the 320 acres comprising the original Phoenix townsite. He was one of the original commissioners of the Salt River Town Association, formed in 1870 to promote settlement along the Salt River.
Alsap now turned his attention from the practice of medicine and mining to the practice of law. As the fledgling community along the Salt River gained a foothold, he petitioned to have a new county created, with Phoenix as its seat. Following the creation of Maricopa County in 1871, Governor Safford appointed Alsap its first probate judge. As judge, he sometimes officiated at civil weddings when no minister was available. He also served as superintendent of public education.
Between 1873 and 1879, Alsap held a seat in the territorial legislature. On 7 September 1876, he wed Anna Dugan Murray, one of the eight daughters of William P. Murray and his wife Margaret. All the Murray girls married well-connected men and founded some of Phoenix’s ‘first families’. Alsap's contributions to the city of Phoenix were recognized when he was elected its first mayor in 1881.
Alsap was an ardent Mason throughout his life. A photograph taken in Contra Costa, California, shows him dressed in his Masonic regalia. He was the first master of the Azlan Masonic Lodge in Prescott and also of the Arizona Masonic Lodge in Phoenix, and he chartered the Royal Arch Masonic Lodge. Upon his death in 1886, he was buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Phoenix. A modern granite headstone marks his grave.
©Donna Carr, 2013. Last revised 7/24/2013.
In the middle of City/Loosley Cemetery stands a solitary marble headstone bearing an inscription in Chinese. It is testimony to the fact that, for a brief time, Chinese immigrants made up nearly 10% of the population of early Phoenix . Some were railroad workers who had been laid off after construction on local rail lines was completed. Others came because the political climate for Chinese was better in sparsely populated Arizona than it was in the gold-mining towns of California and Nevada. They worked in small, family-run businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, hand laundries and vegetable farms . Although many of Phoenix's early Chinese residents eventually returned to China, about fifty were buried in the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park.
In 1993, archaeologist K. J. Schroeder asked William Tang, an associate professor at Arizona State University, to translate the inscription on the marble headstone in Loosley. Tang, a Mandarin speaker from northern China, translated it as that of Tang Xian Yuan, born in Canton province, Hoiping district, Da Lou village .
Years later, PCA researchers discovered the death certificate of Ong Sing Yuen, aged about 51, who died 8 June 1913 and was buried in Loosley . Since the man buried in Loosley had been born in province, he would almost certainly have been a speaker of Cantonese, and 'Ong Sing Yuen' is in fact the Cantonese equivalent of the Mandarin 'Tang Xian Yuan'.
At the time of his death from esophageal cancer, Ong was a merchant living at 529 S. 7th Avenue . Although the pronouncing doctor listed opium smoking as a contributory cause of death , it is probable that Ong was simply using opium to dull the pain of the malignancy that was taking his life.
In 1997, K. C. Tang of Phoenix produced a family tree that identified Ong Sing Yuen as a collateral relative of Tang Shing . It is even possible that Ong Sing Yuen invited Tang Shing to come to Phoenix and take over his business when his health began to fail. Tang Shing became one of Phoenix's foremost Chinese-American businessmen. In 1929 he built the historic Sun Mercantile Building which still stands in downtown Phoenix . He and his wife Lucy Sing were the parents of eleven children, including Father Emery Tang and Judge Thomas Tang.
The Ong family has since revived its practice of honoring Ong Sing Yuen as one of its family members with a short ceremony on Ching Ming, a Chinese holiday which occurs in early April.
© 2017 by Donna L. Carr. Last revised 8/29/2017. Sources are available upon request.
Nathaniel Sharp was born about 1816 in Tennessee . Very little is known about his early life. Apparently he served in the Mexican War, since his obituary says that he first came through Arizona as a member of an invading army in charge of a company . McClintock also mentions him as being in Arizona by 1856 .
Sharp settled first in Calabasas, intending to raise cattle . However, the outbreak of the Civil War and the expected arrival of Union troops from California caused Sharp, along with Thomas Farrell and Jack Pennington, to pack up and head for Mesilla, New Mexico, in August of 1861 . Their wagon train, which would become known as the Ake-Wadsworth Party, was accompanied by herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. This temptation proved to be too much for the Chiricahua Apaches. Under the leadership of Cochise and/or his son-in-law Mangas Coloradas, the Chiricahuas attacked the Ake-Wadsworth party in Cooke’s Canyon . During the running battle, Nathaniel Sharp received an arrow through the neck, but witnesses said that he simply broke the arrow in half and pulled the pieces out . Sharp was described as being about sixty years old at the time (he was actually 45) .
After Sharp recovered from his injuries, he and Thomas Farrell journeyed to Pinos Altos, where they enlisted in the Confederate Army . Both served as privates in Helms' Company, Herbert’s Arizona Battalion . Farrell was taken prisoner during the unit’s Trans-Mississippi campaign and did not see Sharp again until 1871 .
After the Civil War, Sharp went to California and was for a time a lawyer in Sacramento . However, he returned to Arizona around 1869, where he helped to dig the Tempe Canal. Thus assured of water, he started a cattle ranch south of the Salt River . After James T. Priest resigned as zanjero of the Tempe Canal Company to pursue other ambitions, Sharp was elected zanjero, a position of some importance in the community .
Nathaniel Sharp’s name appears on the Territorial Census of 1872  and in that year he ran for Maricopa County surveyor on the Democratic ticket. He also appears in the Maricopa County Great Register of 1876 .
Around 1879, Sharp married Emeline Stickney, a widow with three grown children . The 1880 federal census of Phoenix lists Nathan Sharp, aged sixty, living in Phoenix with his wife Emeline, aged fifty-three .
In March 1883, the couple sold their ranch in Tempe to George Crismon for $6000 and moved to a ranch on the Verde River north of Phoenix. On 5 September 1883, they came to Phoenix to pay their taxes, and Mrs. Sharp was heard to remark jokingly to the sheriff, “Now you will not have a chance to rob us again for another year.” 
On July 2, 1884, the Sharps were in Phoenix again to propose that a mail route be established to serve the growing communities along the Verde River .
On 14 July 1894, Captain Sharp bought several lots in the Capitol addition with the intention of making his home there .
Sharp’s wife Emeline died 2 February 1904 of pneumonia and was buried in Rosedale Cemetery . Chaplain Scott conducted the funeral service. A Mr. Frank Alkin, acting as an agent for Mrs. Sharp, paid the undertaker’s bill, so it would appear that the Sharps had turned over management of their financial affairs to him. Sharp himself was living in Los Angeles, California, when he died on 29 September 1906 .
On 30 September 1906, his remains were returned by rail to Phoenix, accompanied by his late wife’s daughters, Mrs. Burgher and Mrs. Grubbings. Easterling & Whitney, undertakers, were in charge of the funeral arrangements. The service took place at 2:30 PM on 2 October 1906, with Rev. Harold Govette officiating. Burial was in the Rosedale Cemetery .
Story courtesy of Donna L. Carr, last revised April 29, 2015. Sources are available upon request.
Welcome to a new website feature where we'll share short stories about some of the pioneers buried in our cemeteries and provide ways you can learn more about them! This is where we'll work to bring their stories to life - and maybe connect you with a long-lost relative!