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Yuma Territorial Prison in Arizona and the Discovery of "Me Mudder"

Arizona is a fabulous state filled with beauty and natural wonders. Amazing canyons (Grand!), mountains, and desert scenery await visitors.

Yuma prison main guard tower

Yuma prison main guard tower

Yuma Territorial Prison State Park

My grandparents often escaped the cold Wisconsin winters by traveling south. They had the time to leisurely explore many southern states and check out the different sights and places of interest that they encountered. One such location that they discovered on their sojourns is now a State Historical Park in Yuma, Arizona.

Here are a few quick facts about the prison:

  • It was the first prison in that part of the country and operated from 1876 to 1909.
  • After the old territorial prison no longer functioned as a usable building for housing prisoners much of the material used for construction was hauled off and utilized by people residing in the area for other purposes.
  • The three-foot granite walls changed purpose during the years between 1910 to 1914 and became that area's high school.
  • During the Great Depression, it served to shelter homeless families.
  • What remains to be seen there today are the cells as well as the main gate plus the guard towers.

Few Escape Attempts From This Prison

This State Historic Park sits high up on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River. The Sonoran Desert surrounds this area. It is a hot and dry location.

At the time the prison was built the land adjacent to it would have been inhospitable. Because it was remote from other more settled locations escapes from the prison were seldom. If escapees were found they would then have a ball and chain attached to their leg to wipe out any further thoughts of doing such a thing. A few people were killed during escape attempts. 104 people are buried in that prison cemetery.

Other than putting up with loss of freedom and having to withstand the extreme heat of the area the prison experience there was actually rather humane for its time.

Is the Yuma Prison Haunted?

Discovery of a Poem at Yuma Prison

The poem that is shown below was discovered and carefully hand copied by my maternal grandfather who saw great humor in it when he and my grandmother were visiting the old territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona.

"Me Mudder"

When my prayers were early said

Who tucked me in my widdle bed

And spanked my ass till it was red?

Me Mudder

Who lifted me from my cozy cot

And set me on an ice cold pot

And made me pee if I could or not?

Me Mudder

And when the morning light had come

In my widdle crib I dribbled some

Who wiped my tiny little bum?

Me Mudder

Who did my hair so neatly part

And pressed me gently to her heart

And sometimes squeezed till I'd fart

Me Mudder"

"Who looked at me with eyebrows knit,

And neatly had a king size fit,

When in my Sunday clothes me shit?

Me Mudder.

When at night the bed did squeak,

Me raised me head to have a peek,

Who yelled at me to go to sleep?

Me Fadder.

Funny Poem

This poem so amused my grandfather that he memorized it and often recited it through the years to groups of family members and friends. Supposedly it was written by one of the inmates of the prison. The author is unknown.

I thought that I would share this bit of my family's history with you so that you can enjoy this bit of humor that we have thought so amusing for many years.

Though my grandfather has long ago passed on to the next life this handwritten bit of poetry that he copied down on a piece of paper has survived. It has been placed in one of my photo albums. It may now entertain future generations of people who may never get to read the original in the old territorial Yuma prison.

Yuma, Arizona Today

Agricultural products can be grown in the desert if there is enough availability of water. You can see how lettuce is harvested in the Yuma area by watching the video below.

If you are visiting the old territorial prison in Yuma you might also be interested in taking a river tour. The video below shows what refreshing fun there is to be experienced. You will also see more landscapes from this part of the country.

Two Vintage Postcards from Yuma

My grandparents took a few photographs but they largely relied upon picking up postcards of places that they visited and places they stayed while on vacation. Both of these vintage postcards below show the same lodging in Yuma from different angles. On the back of both the same thing is written.

Coronado Motor Hotel

233 4th AVENUE - YUMA, ARIZONA - On U.S. 80

Recommended by Best Western Motels, AAA and Duncan Hines. Telephone 3-4453. Room phones. The Sunshine Capital of the United States.

Color Photo by Bob Van Luchene

Published by Petley Studios, Phoenix, Arizona

Yuma, Arizona


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcome.

Robert Sacchi on February 17, 2019:

I think the situation has only gotten worse since the '80s.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 17, 2019:

Hi Robert,

Sometimes people just do not seem to have a sense of humor and/or take things much too seriously. My grandpa surely did have fun with this poem for many years. Just thinking about him reciting it and having people laugh makes me smile to this very day.

Robert Sacchi on February 17, 2019:

It seems one of those interesting places that dot the American landscape. The poem reminds me of one written by a priest. It has the same form of saying what mother does then the last line says what father does. He posted it in the base newspaper circa 1960 and it was well received. He posted it again circa 1970 and got a couple of negative comments. Then he posted it circa 1980 and got a ton of negative responses.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2013:

Hi Suzanne,

Every time I am reminded of this poem often recited by my grandfather, it makes me smile. So thanks for your comment and votes. Smiling!!!

justmesuzanne from Texas on May 11, 2013:

Interesting information with a cute personal touch! Voted up and interesting! :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 15, 2012:

Hi Vinaya,

This is a funny little poem. Nice to know that you enjoyed it. Yuma, Arizona is an interesting place that I have never seen in person although I have been to many other places in Arizona. That prison must have been something in its day! Thanks for your comment.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on April 15, 2012:

I don't know about the background, but enjoyed reading this cute little poem. The imagery and choice of expressions are wonderful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 28, 2012:

Hi Sadie14,

That "Me Mudder" poem has obviously been passed around for many years now and people have had fun reciting it. Nice to know that your family also had fun with it. Thanks for your comment.

Brittany B from U.S. on March 28, 2012:

Haha! My grandma used to tell me that poem! It's cool to see things that that brought up on here :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 28, 2012:

Hi Charlu,

My grandfather always had such a smile on his face when he would recite this funny poem. Brings a smile to my face just remembering him doing that! Glad that you liked this. Thanks for your comment. :)

Charlu from Florida on March 28, 2012:

Hysterical poem and fabulous hub. The things people think about in prison :) All the ups for this one!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 19, 2011:

Hi Mark,

It is a funny little poem. Glad that you liked learning a bit about Yuma, Arizona. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 05, 2011:

Hello frogyfish,

I agree that the poem "Me Mudder" is hilarious. Glad you enjoyed this hub including the video. Thanks for your comment.

frogyfish from Central United States of America on November 05, 2011:

Interesting hub with LOTS of great inviting detail. The poem was hilarious, no matter who wrote it. Enjoyed the river walk, but toned down the cars while I flew over Yuma. It appeared much different than I would have expected, even seeing the clouds on the video.

Great hub and thanks for sharing!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 22, 2011:

Hi Ann,

I never did find out the author of that poem but whoever wrote it surely had a sense of humor. Thanks for the visit and comment.

anndavis25 from Clearwater, Fl. on October 22, 2011:

Oh my gosh..........did you ever find out the author of that poem....funnnnnnny.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 15, 2011:

Hello melodyandes,

Glad that you enjoyed this whimsical poem. Thanks for your comment. :))

melodyandes on September 15, 2011:

Very interesting. i love the poem.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 27, 2011:

As far as heat goes in Yuma, Arizona verses Texas...I'll bet Texas would be vying for those high temps this year! At least it seems so (from our perspective).

billyaustindillon on June 27, 2011:

Yuma can't be much hotter than Houston at times :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 16, 2011:

Hello lilyfly,

Since that old territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona closed for use as a prison back in 1909, was that an old family friend who was imprisoned there? Do you know the story? Might make for an interesting and historical hub? Thanks for your comment.

Lillian K. Staats from Wasilla, Alaska on March 15, 2011:

had a friend there in prisons... be well, be happy

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 15, 2010:

Hello Tony,

My grandfather surely recited this poem that he found after visiting that territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona for many years and people always seemed to enjoy it. Glad that you also found it enjoyable. Thanks for the comment.

Tony McGregor from South Africa on December 15, 2010:

I really enjoyed this read - funny and poignant.

Thanks for sharing.

Love and peace


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 29, 2010:

Hello Eiddwen,

Glad that you enjoyed this poem that my grandparents found in that ole territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona. My grandfather certainly enjoyed reciting it through the years! Thanks!

Eiddwen from Wales on November 29, 2010:

Hi Peggy,

A great read with such a history.

I now looking forward to reading more of your work.

Take care.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 13, 2010:

Hello epigramman,

Micky Dee pointed me in your direction with his brilliantly written hub featuring you. I am happy to have re-discovered your writings. Glad that you found this old poem "funny and timeless" and thanks for the comment.

epigramman on October 13, 2010:

.....what a brilliant life affirming hub this is - and surely has become one of my all time favorites - and of course the 'discovered' poetry is the icing on this proverbial cake which is so funny and timeless but for some reason with me (because it came/or was found in prison) there is a touch of sadness here.

As always your hubs are a labor of love they touch upon so many 'life' bases and you really know how to make them look so beautiful and so very enlightening!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 06, 2010:

Hello saddlerider1,

Loved your comment! Haha! Nice to know that your "mudder" raised you up to be such a "fine feller" and that this poem brought a smile to your "kisser." I'm now smiling too! :-)

saddlerider1 on October 05, 2010:

If it wasn't for me dear old mudder this cowboy would still be a twinkle in my old man's eye, but he's gone to.

Yes me dear old mudder was my angel and savior God bless her cotton picking heart, I can only thank me mudder for raising me up to be a fine feller. I love this poem, sure put a smile on me kisser:0) Hugs

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 20, 2010:

Hello Granny's House,

Glad that you liked this poem found in an Arizona prison of Yuma discovered by my grandparents so many years ago. Thanks for the comment.

Granny's House from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time on July 20, 2010:

That was great, thank you so much. I am going to bookmark and share. Will rate up.

Thanks again, Tina

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 18, 2010:

Hi billyaustindillon,

Yuma, Arizona without air-conditioning would certainly have been a tough spot for a prison...although back when this poem was first written, air-conditioning was probably not a common commodity. Yes...hot, hot, hot!

billyaustindillon on July 18, 2010:

That poem is timeless - there is a good movie a few years back about Yuma from Russell Crow - tough town as your hub shows well - hot hot hot!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2010:

Hi again lindsay,

Happy to have been able to fill in the last two verses for you. Old postcards do have some minor value, but it sounds as though you are enjoying the poem better framed and hanging on your wall than any dollar amount it is possibly worth. Am sure it brings smiles to the faces of anyone reading it. Thanks for the comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2010:

Thanks sameerk.

lindsay on May 21, 2010:

Peggy W. The back of the postcard is blank. It was purchased but never mailed. In addition, I guess the card is to small for the entire poem. I never new the last two verses untill I read it on this site. Thank you for posting it.

sameerk from India on May 21, 2010:

nice hubs

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 19, 2010:

Hi Lindsay,

I have a bunch of old postcards from the days of my grandparent's travels also. They did not get a postcard of the "Me Mudder" poem but actually wrote it down by hand from what they found in that old territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona when traveling through there years ago. My grandfather recited it for years bringing laughter to each group who heard it. Thanks for the comment and good luck with getting a value on that postcard. Any credits on the back of the postcard?

Lindsay on May 19, 2010:

Hi Peggy W. I found a postcard in my Great Grandmothers storage room years ago. It has the Me Mudder poem on it. While trying to find its value, I stumbled onto this site. I thought the poem was so cute and funny, its framed and hanging on my wall. Maybe the author was from Rochester Michigan. Because thats where I found the postcard.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 18, 2010:

Hi Micky,

You can come back as often as you wish to read this poem found by my grandfather posted in that old territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona. It is a good one! :-)

Micky Dee on May 18, 2010:

I had to read this one again! And again!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 08, 2010:

Hi habee,

Not sure who wrote this poem but as you say...it would make for a good story. The fact that it was left in an old territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona...it surely meant something to the author! Ha!

Holle Abee from Georgia on May 08, 2010:

Loved the poem. Wonder who wrote it? Bet that would be a great story, too!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 30, 2010:

Hello Moulik Mistry,

It is a cute poem that my grandparents discovered when traveling to Yuma, Arizona. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Moulik Mistry from Burdwan, West Bengal, India on March 30, 2010:

Beautiful hub, loved the poem very much...

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 12, 2010:

Hello Becky P,

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. I just lost mine a few weeks ago also. Sounds like they had a great many similarities........both wonderful and loving and with great a great sense of humor. Love and hang on to those memories! Nice that you have kids and grandkids with which to share them.

Becky P on February 12, 2010:

My Mother passed away recently. She read this poem to me for as long as I can remember. I was very happy to find it. They don't write like that any more!! It is one more thing I will treasure and pass on to my kids and grandchildren. In memory of Hazel Leone Nordman, a wonderful loving Mother with one hell of a sense of humor.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 27, 2010:

Hi Hokey,

It is fun to travel and find unusual things like this poem in the prison of Yuma, Arizona. My family has had much fun with it through the years due to my grandparent's discovery of it. Glad you liked it. Thanks for the comment.

Hokey from In the energy. on January 24, 2010:

This is really cool. I have done alot of traveling and found some neat stuff along the way. Thanks.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 28, 2009:

Hello MFB III,

Point taken! Obviously prisoners have way too much time on their hands, unfortunately. Glad you liked this poem found in that old territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona. Quite funny, I thought. Thanks for the comment.

Matthew Frederick Blowers III from United States on December 28, 2009:

I also enjoy touring and reading the graffiti that has been scrawled on prison walls by men with way too much time on thier hands, and long past the scrutiny and correction of thier mudders. It is a form of poetry coerced into a wall of verse, by the lonely and the castoffs of society. There can be many lessons learned from such thoguht. great hub~~~MFB III

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 22, 2009:

Hi Micky Dee,

Happy to hear that you enjoyed this poem that my grandfather first spotted in that old territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona. It has brought much in the way of smiles and laughter to my family through the years. Thanks for the comment.

Micky Dee on December 21, 2009:

Very nice! I love the poem. I love your work.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 08, 2009:

Greetings Pachuca213,

I totally agree that this poem from the prison in Yuma, Arizona is funny. Brings a smile to my face every time I am reminded of it.........so thanks for the comment and reminder.

Pachuca213 on September 08, 2009:

This was funny! =)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 14, 2009:

Hello bananas09,

Whether your family member authored it or not (as you say many are taking credit) it certainly is a fun poem. That link you gave in your second comment certainly has a bunch of great poems in it which people might enjoy reading. Thanks for that and thanks for your comment. Nice to see a new face here!

bananas09 on August 13, 2009:

bananas09 on August 13, 2009:

Just thought I'd share. I googled some more and found it here on this site http://www.thankyouink.com/textdisplay.php?display... apparently someone else wrote it in the 1930's. Yet it made its way to Yuma...but I have found it previously in other geneology sites saying its even older. Wow lots of people taking credit, wonder if this woman really did write it, so much for family folklore and stories, lol. Its a great poem nonetheless~

bananas09 on August 13, 2009:

Could be my family folklore but I grew up being told my family wrote this. I believe it was my irish great grandmother that was given credit, she was a writer, or maybe it was one of her kin? Wouldn't be surprised if it were her husband that wrote it on the wall, he disappeared when my grandfather was a babe...makes me think more now and want to ask more questions. Thanks for the history lesson~

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 05, 2009:

Hi DarwinsLaureate, Glad this could bring some laughter into your life tonight. Boogie away! LOL

DarwinsLaureate on July 05, 2009:

This is delightful. I couldn't help but to laugh hysterically, and now I'm in the mood to get down and boogie.

Thanks. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 15, 2009:

Thanks for reading and commenting, Pete.

Pete Maida on April 15, 2009:

That is a fine piece of American history.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 10, 2009:

Hello Anna Marie, Thanks for your added bit of information. Makes this all the more interesting. Thanks!

Anna Marie Bowman from Florida on April 10, 2009:

Great Hub!!! I have been there, and surprizingly, the cells are warm, but not all that hot. They have thick walls and don't get a lot of light. It is a creepy place, and I wouldn't be surprized in the least if it was haunted. I had goosebumps when I went there, despite the warm temps.

On another note, the movie "3:10 to Yuma" was about transporting prisoners on a train to that very prison. They never show the prison, but that's the reference.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 25, 2009:

You are welcome, Tom. Glad that you enjoyed it.

Tom Cornett from Ohio on March 25, 2009:

Loved this....Thanks! :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 23, 2009:

Hi Sally's Trove, I love history now that I am older and am no longer being tested on memorizing things. Yes......stories make it so much more interesting and often easier to remember as you indicated. Thanks for your comments.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 23, 2009:

Very entertaining read, both the poem and your family reminiscences. If I had learned history this way as a kid, through personal experience stories, I'd have retained a lot more than I did. Thanks so much for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 17, 2009:

We will undoubtedly never know that. Hopefully he got out alive. If you looked at the causes of death within the prison, there was lots of TB back then among other things. At least he had fun with this poem.........as other people have (like my grandfather) since that time. And now you! (Smile)

MellasViews from Earth on March 17, 2009:

: ) I loved it. It would be so neat to discover who the author was, his history/life and all that, and of course what landed him in jail.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 17, 2009:

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, MellasViews.

MellasViews from Earth on March 17, 2009:

Loved the poem, and the story on how it was obtained.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 16, 2009:

Hi again AEvans, I agree that history is fun. I appreciate it more now than when I was being tested on it in school many years ago.

Julianna from SomeWhere Out There on March 16, 2009:

I love it and had to come back and rad it again, as you can see a gentleman probably in his late 20's early 30's someting like this, history has always been intriguing to me.:)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 16, 2009:

Hi Iphigenia, I added another link above as to the origin of the word Yuma. You guessed correctly that it is both Indian and Spanish. Read the details above. You'll find it interesting.

Iphigenia on March 16, 2009:

Funny poem and great family history - so imporant to preserve even the smallest of family memories. Never heard of Yuma before today ... where does the place name come from linguistically? American Indians? Spanish?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 15, 2009:

Hi Goldentoad, Yes, the heat must have been awful then prior to air-conditioning. The only relief would have been to jump in the Colorado River. Wonder if they let the prisoners bathe in the river back then on occasion?

Greetings AEvans, My cousin found two more paragraphs by googling the poem. Will go back......edit.......and add them to the poem. They were not copied down by my grandfather nor recited through the years to us by him, but they sound as though they belong.

Google does not credit the poem's author nor origin. So we can all just speculate. Even if a prisoner was not the author, the fact that he wrote it down while in the prison at Yuma makes it a very old poem and memorable at least to him. Thanks for your comments.

Julianna from SomeWhere Out There on March 15, 2009:

The poem was hilarious and I do agree with GT I would being crying however for more then my mother, I would also be crying for my iced latte' !!!:) With all of that heat one would have a serious caffeine headache as well. :)

goldentoad from Free and running.... on March 15, 2009:

I can't believe people existed in Yuma before Air Conditioning, why would they even need a prison there, just drop them off in the area and leave with their horse, I'd be crying for my mama too.

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