Monday, October 13, 2008

June's Arizona Grave

June Mansfield died on February 1, 1979. Or so it seems. Thanks to an anonymous tipster on my blog post about June, I was directed to a listing for "June E Corbett" on Find-A-Grave. The grave info seems to fall in line with what we know about June, but there's no image of the actual grave. Thankfully, I also discovered the Arizona Gravestones project, which provides photos of every single tombstone behind the gate of the Valley View Cemetery in Arizona. And here is the grave that appears to be that of June Mansfield (re-named Corbett after her last marriage):

Grave of June E Corbett at Valley View Cemetery in Cottonwood, Arizona. Photo by Kelly Townsend.
The last published examination of June's life appeared in Vol. 3 of the Nexus Journal, in an article by James Decker entitled "June Miller: Remnants of a Life" (2006). In it, references to June's personal information on the U.S. Social Security Death Index establish that she'd died in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona in the 85017 zip code. The death date is listed only as February 1979 (no exact day). Although she died in Maricopa County, her burial apparently took place in Yavapai County, about 130 miles away.

Before making any definitive statements about this in fact being the grave of Henry's June, I need to determine factual connections that help verify this assertion. The Arizona Gravestones website provides additional information not found on the gravestone, which I assume is drawn from burial records.

The birth date on this grave stone is Janury 28, 1902. The birth date listed with the SSDI is January 28, 1901, but, as Decker points out in his article, "most of the biographers agree on 28 January 1902" [p.88], adding that, on the original Social Security applications made in New York in 1956 (and 1958), June had listed her birthdate as January 29, 1902 (one day off) [p.91].

The birth info provided by Arizona Gravestones lists her birthdate as "June 28, 1902"--this appears to be a transciption error related to her name being June. It also mentions that her birth place was New York; this is not in fact true, but she was raised there from the time she was a young girl.

So far so good: The birthdate, whether the 28th or 29th, seems to check out.

The grave marker states February 1, 1979 as June's death. The SSDI record lists simply 'February 1979.' To me, this means one of two things: 1) SSDI made a clerical error of omission, and the exact date could be any in February, including February 1st; 2) June died in the month of February, but perhaps her body wasn't found for several days or weeks, so a death month was determind to be February but the exact date was never known. In both cases, February 1979 seems to be right.

The death date checks out as well.

The SSDI record places June in Phoenix zip code region 85017 at the time of her death. According to this zip code map website (image below), this area is in Alhambra, bounded by Glendale Ave (N), N. 35th Ave (W), W. Thomas Rd (S), and Black Canyon Fwy (E). 130 miles north of Phoenix is Cottonwood, in Yavapai County. Valley View Cemetery is located in Cottonwood, Clarkdale. This is in the vicinity of Phoenix, which is encouraging for verification purposes. I imagine it was much cheaper to bury her this far out of the city than right in Phoenix.
"June E Corbett": June's middle name was Edith. June married Stratford Corbett in the 1930s, not long after her divorce from Henry [Decker, p. 86].

Although her gravestone makes no mention of it, Arizona Graves notes interestingly that June's occupation was "social worker." This also matches the life of Henry's June, who, in the 1960s, was working for the Department of Welfare in New York City [1].


June's gravestone is dedicated to a "beloved sister." June had a sister and three brothers (according to early census records). Decker [p.90] connects a closer relationship between June and her brother Edward (Ignatz), who lived in Arizona, than to her other brothers Sigmund and Herman (with no mention of elder sister Gustava).

Feedback on this hypothesis is encouraged in the Comments section below.

If you haven't already, check out the recent posting on the Walking Paris With Henry Miller website regarding new documents that help clarify the origins of June and her immigrant family.


[1] Dick, Kenneth, Henry Miller: Colossus Of One; p. 210. Dick mentions that he met June in July 1965, and that this was her vocation at the time.


Anonymous Eric L said...

Wow - good find, RC.

10:49 am  
Anonymous JamesD said...

This looks solid, RC, and should close the book on one mystery. I hope that they can handle the increased traffic from the "pilgrims" who will now wind there way to this sleepy town.

2:31 pm  
Anonymous JamesD said...

That should be "their way," damn it!

2:32 pm  
Anonymous Susana (from Portugal) said...

June is the "beloved sister" that the tombstone refer... not her real sisters ;) Wasn't she living, at that time, with one of her brothers? Maybe was he that asked to write those words...
By the way, I'm very happy that you have been searching (and finding) more things about June and her life :) I think that she was a very special woman! Maybe, if wasn't June, now we didn't know any writer named Henry Miller...

12:31 pm  
Blogger RC said...

Susana,you're right--I'm not quite sure what I was thinking about interpreting "Beloved Sister" to mean June's sister. This has now been changed.

12:36 am  
Blogger Rob O'Neill said...

I can't be sure but this could be her brother in the same cemetery. Date of birth in the right ballpark. If he had children, they may have more info on June.

1:15 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am June's grand niece.
She was living with Edward in Arizona this is true.
She was close to SIgmund but closer to Edward.
Sigmund was my grandfather.

3:52 pm  
Blogger RC said...

Anonymous (Sigmund's grandchild), I hope you will send me an email. I am very interested to be in contact with you to ask you some questions about June and her family. Thanks.

9:05 pm  
Anonymous ANIL KAPUR said...

I am looking for information about the legendry Nutrtionist Dr. N.W.Walker or Dr.Norman Walker who by chance is buried in the same cemetry. I was searching for a Kelly Townsend who took the photo of Dr. Walker's epitah and came to this page by chance. I would be grateful for any information that I can get of him, his family or friends or doctors teaching his way. Anil Kapur, Bangalore, India

7:32 am  
Anonymous KR said...

Seems to me the burial in Clarkdale might suggest June (and Edward) lived in or near there. That June died in Phoenix may only mean she moved there on a temporary basis to seek, for example, closer access to medical care. Clarkdale is fairly close to Sedona, but on the whole is and no doubt was an isolated place where in the 70's specialized medical care could have been hard to find.

10:44 pm  
Blogger Bill Arnold said...

Henry Miller wrote in Nexus Part I Greenleaf Classic, First Unexpurgsted American ed., page 185 and following that he visited with his second wife June's younger brother, not the older one who was a West Pointer, and picked his brain about June, then on page 189 and following went and visited June's mother and saw june's birth certificate, photos of the whole family and wrote down the name of the village they were from Carpathians where her mother and father were born, and a house they had lived in Vienna. At age fifteen, apparently, June was known as Réjane or Modjeska. June had a siste more beautiful than her.

It seems with above details that this family would be found in the US census records for relevant years. Also, according to rootsweb, below, June's death certificate was issued from New York, and she might have been buried with her family. The younger brother claimed the family was Jewish and the name in Polish meant death, hence the Smertd or Smerth. a brother by that name or Smith who was a West Pointer ought to have left a military record.

Bill Arnold

Archiver > AZMARICO > 2005-04 > 1114772265

From: "Betty" 
Subject: Re: Obit for June Corbett 
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2005 06:57:45 -0400 
References: <>

Hi Janine,

I just thought I would offer an FYI of the SSDI information from the LDS web

Birth Date: 28 Jan 1901
Death Date: Feb 1979
State or Territory Where Number Was Issued: New York

Death Residence Localities
ZIP Code: 85017
Localities: Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona

Death Benefit Localities
Zip Code: 85017
Localities: Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona

Betty (near Lowell, MA)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Janine Crandell"
Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2005 11:26 AM
Subject: Obit for June Corbett

> Hi,
> I am looking for a kind soul to look up an obit for June Corbett (maiden
> name of Smith or Smerth or Smerdt) who was once married to Henry
> Miller. She passed away in February, 1979. I'm sorry I don't have an
> exact date.
> I would be glad to pay for your time and effort!
> Thank you for your help,
> Janine

2:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Early in your blog entry, you write, "her burial apparently took place in Yavapai County, about 130 miles away." Later on, however, you correctly identify the cemetery as not being the one in Yavapai county. (There is more than one Cottonwood, Az.). To avoid confusing your readers, you might wish to change the assertion that "her burial apparently took place in Yavapai County, about 130 miles away." This is just a suggestion, and I hope you won't take offense. I enjoy your blog.

4:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I checked, and the cemetery in question is in Yavapai County, over 100 miles north of Phoenix. Clarkdale is sort of a suburb (if a small town like Cottonwood may be said to have a suburb) of Cottonwood. As to why June, who died in Phoenix, is buried 100 miles away, I think I can yield some information. People who become ill here in Northern Arizona (where I live) are not infrequently hospitalized in Phoenix, which offers much better medical care. I believe June lived in Cottonwood or in a nearby town, such as Jerome or Sedona, that lacked a cemetery. She became ill, went to Phoenix for medical treatment, passed away, and was returned to Northern Arizona for burial near relatives. Also, if you go to and enter "June Corbett" in "Arizona," you will get a listing for June Corbett, Phoenix, Arizona, 111 years old. (I've used this service a lot, and it tends to be accurate, even for people who past away many years ago.) This is apparently the info for the June Corbett who is buried at Valleyview Cemetery. For a few dollars, you can get the address and date of birth that goes with the listing. That will give you what is probably her last address in Phoenix, Arizona. I suspect it will be a hospital or nursing home. Hope you'll post your findings here.

4:46 am  
Anonymous Liz said...

Cottonwood and Clarkdale are NOT in the vicinity of Phoenix. My family is from there and it's a several hour drive from Phoenix. It's like saying that San Diego is in the vicinity of Los Angeles...yes, both on the West Coast but many miles apart.

I can't imagine if she was from the East Coast and she died in Phoenix, why she would be buried in Cottonwood/Clarkdale. These are tiny little towns.

What you might not know is that there is a stable retirement community in these towns due to lots of factors: it's close to Sedona and Red Rock area, so it is scenic, the cost of living is low and there are several quality assisted-living facilities in the area.

So, given what I know about these towns, it is logical to think that a person of her age would have retired to live in Cottonwood/Clarkdale but not that she would have been brought up there just to be buried.

And for what it's worth, it doesn't sound like an uncommon name.

5:09 pm  
Blogger JunigleichSommer said...

Vielen Dank für die Recherche von June. Sie war ihrer Zeit weit voraus. Henry und Anais haben sie unendlich ausgenutzt! R.I.P. June

4:20 pm  
Blogger JunigleichSommer said...

Sorry, my English is not this god. Say Hello from Germany.

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