Be it by chance or divine design some folks are simply destined to become ghosts. Consider the story of Miss Pearl Taylor. An attractive, petite Canadian girl from a middle-class family, Pearl was fascinated with stories of Annie Oakley. This may have emboldened her efforts later when she became notorious as Arizona’s first and only female stagecoach robber.
At seventeen she fell in love with a shifty gambler named Frederick Hart. And when Frederick lost his job as a carnival barker, Pearl gave up an enjoyable singing career to move on with him. Their travels eventually led them to Arizona. Two kids and two failed attempts at saving the marriage ended when Fredrick knocked Pearl unconscious during an argument.
Having deposited her children safely with her mother back home in Canada, Pearl headed back to Arizona where she struggled to make ends meet. Depression led to several attempts to take her own life though each time she was saved by acquaintances; one of whom was a miner by the name of Joe Boot.
Since Joe had been planning to rob a train anyway, he had several daring ideas when Pearl turned to him with the news that her mother was gravely ill and needed money. One such idea was for Pearl to lure men to her room under the premise of romance while Joe hid in the closet waiting to attack and rob the unsuspecting ‘customer’. When this didn’t prove as profitable as they’d hoped, Joe had another idea.
They would rob the stagecoach that ran between Florence and Globe. After careful planning Pearl chopped her hair and donned Joe’s clothes for a heist that went surprisingly well (no one was killed) until afterward, when the two found themselves lost in an unfamiliar area of hostile desert.
A few days later, famished, parched and weary from the arduous ride, the sheriff and his posse found the two napping in the shade of an aged mesquite. Temporarily held in a small jail in Globe, Pearl seemed to enjoy her new found notoriety and readily signed autographs for clamoring visitors; seeking a glimpse of the ‘Lady Bandit’. Her subsequent and short-lived escape further enhanced her growing legend.
Located near the dry wind-whipped sands of Imperial Valley, temperatures held steady at upwards of 110—morning through night from spring well into fall, and the facility was far from equipped to accommodate those conditions.
Wayward Joe, who managed to escape less than two years into a thirty year sentence, is believed to have fled to Mexico and has never resurfaced, while Pearl beguiled her captors into early parole after only eighteen months and eventually settled down with a rancher in Dripping Springs.
The Yuma Territorial Prison has long since closed and now serves as a museum within an Arizona State Park. It has been the setting for many TV shows and western movies and remains the subject of much fodder because—you guessed it!—it’s haunted.
Purported sightings or auras include the fleeting visage of a prisoner pacing his cell, a distinct presence in the “dark room”, that likes to pinch people, is attracted to the color red and once terrified a reporter from a high profile magazine who requested time alone in there to research. In addition there are reports of morning female serenades…
Since Pearl loved to sing almost as much as she loved her notoriety, Could she have enjoyed her stay so much that she occasionally pops in for a visit? If you were going to haunt somewhere, where would it be?