Exploring Hunt's Tomb

Jun 17, 2013

Although I have lived in Phoenix all my life, it wasn't until recently that I made time to check out Hunt's Tomb. Located in Papago Park, Hunt's Tomb is the final resting place of Arizona's first governor, George WP Hunt.

His tomb is unusual because it is not located in a cemetery. Instead, he is interred in a gleaming white pyramid on a hill top in Papago Park. The 20-foot tall pyramid is visible from almost everywhere in the park.

George Wiley Paul Hunt was a man of great character. Born in Missouri in 1859, he came out west to Arizona at the age of 22. His travels brought him to Globe, Arizona, which was a booming copper mining town.

With little money, Hunt worked odd jobs until he found work as a delivery boy at Bailey and Company in the 1890s. He was a hard worker and quickly moved up the ranks, getting promoted to clerk, then grocery manager, then secretary. 

The Old Dominion Building is the dark 2-story stone structure in the center of the photo.
When he wasn't at work, Hunt was hitting the books reading up on business and political science. After 10 years he became President of the company, which was later renamed the Old Dominion Commercial Company.

This dry goods and general merchandise store did well, and Hunt was later able to open the Old Dominion Bank inside of the store. As a successful local businessman, he decided to take things to the next level by running as a candidate in a Gila County Election in 1890. 

Hunt didn't win, but two years later he was elected to the Arizona Territorial House of Representatives in 1892. The mural in Globe claims that Hunt campaigned from the back of a burro and gave away jars of his wife's homemade jams.

Hunt served a variety of political offices and was briefly the Mayor of Globe in 1904. A mural in downtown Globe commemorates Governor Hunt and Rose Mofford, another important figure in Arizona's history.

In 1912, Arizona Territory became the 48th state to join the United States of America. George WP Hunt was elected Arizona's first Governor that same year. He must have done a pretty good job, because after his term was up, he was elected again as Arizona's 2nd governor. And again as the 3rd, 6th, 7th, and 8th, and 10th governor! In all of US politics, Hunt is the only governor ever to be elected to seven terms.

Throughout his career, Governor Hunt did a lot for the State of Arizona. He was a key writer of Arizona's Constitution and also helped improve roads, education, and the prison system. He also helped to secure water rights from the Colorado River for Arizona.

The State Capitol Museum in downtown Phoenix has a life-like representation of Governor Hunt in his office, as it would have appeared when he was in office.

According to my research, George Hunt was appointed the US Ambassador to Siam during one of the years when he wasn't serving as Governor. This position allowed him to travel, and on a visit to Egypt he was fascinated by the pyramids.

Hunt's beloved wife passed away in 1931, and he wanted to construct a memorial for her. He received permission from Congress and from President Hoover to have the memorial pyramid built that same year.

George WP Hunt passed away in 1934 at the age of 75. He is buried in the tomb alongside his wife and his wife's parents, his wife's sister, and their daughter Virginia.

Governor Hunt may be gone, but his legacy lives on in the State of Arizona. If you have the time, I would highly recommend checking out this one-of-a-kind memorial which is a unique part of Arizona's history.

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