A Zoroastrian Educational Institute



HomeArticlesAuthorsBook ReviewCommunityLibraryProminentsRegisterStoreArticle SubmissionAbout Us




Charles Debrille Poston The Fire Worshipper (1825-1902) [i]

















Against the backdrop of Victorian London, a member of the British aristocracy asks the Qajar emissary to London as to whether it is true that there are people in Persia who worship the Sun.  Not to be outwitted, the Qajar ambassador quips back at the duchess I am not sure about that, but next time the glorious rays of Sun grace the skies over London on a summer day, lets take a stroll through the city, and from the number of people sitting on Park benches or on the grass with their faces fixated towards the Sun and their eyes closed, we can see where the Sun Worshippers really are.

Charles D. Poston, 1863[iii]

Several years later, a trans-Atlantic telegram arrives at the court of Nassir-ul Dinshah Qajar, asking the Shah of Persia for assistance with funds to be used for building the first Fire temple in 19th century North dedicated to the religion of ancient Iran.  The Qajar king who was more on the take, retorts that religion is no longer widespread in Iran.   Not to be hampered by that rejection, the originator of that telegram turns to one of the native American tribes in whose religious practices Sun played a central role. With that source not panning out either, the man still very determined uses his remaining wealth towards the construction of a pathway to an existing Apache structure on an Arizona hills that looks more like an Egyptian Pyramid that a Zoroastrian Temple. That structure known as Poston Butte still stands and is accessible from State highway 79 North of Florence, Arizona. 

Some 23 years after his death, the metal casket containing the remains of Poston was moved and buried at that spot in Arizona that he seems to have had selected as the site for the first North American Fire temple.  The man behind that initiative was a significant individual in the history of the US and Arizona.  For Charles D. Poston, known as the father of Arizona, was able to convince president Abraham Lincoln and the law makers in Washington, D.C. to declare Arizona [ii] a territory in late 1863, and to serve at its first delegate to the US congress 1864-1865. That initiative paved the way for Arizona becoming the 48th state of  the union in 1912.   In a true sense, Charles Poston was a western pioneer, explorer, silver mining entrepreneur, journalist, and expert at Indian affairs and irrigation.

Poston Visualized the tower ruin of the Apache structure as a temple where Indians once worshipped a sun god somewhat akin to the fire temples of Ancient Iran. The idea started after his travel to the Far East where he came to learn about Zoroastrianism, [iv] the ancient Persian religion that uses fire as a divine symbol. Back in the US, he started giving speeches and writing articles promoting fire worship.

Charles Debrille Poston's final resting place at the summit of Poston Butte near Florence, Arizona [v]

Charles Poston was born in Kentucky, [vi] studied law which he practiced in Tennessee until he was lured to California in 1950 in search of gold.  He spent a few years in the Far East as a part of a US trade delegation, and finally become attached to Arizona, the Apache land.

With the loss of his first wife and daughter, his personal fortune on the decline he seems to have turned to ancient Persian for spiritual inspiration.

His legacy includes three books he wrote and published in London, Europe in the Summer-Time (1868), The Sun Worshipers of Asia (1877), and Apache Land (1878).

[i] This article was posted on 12. 4. 2004.

[ii] Until then Arizona was part of State New Mexico.

[iii] Picture courtesy of http://www.picturehistory.com/find/p/19050/mcms.html

[iv] He seems to have made contact with the Parsis of India who played a notable role in South-East Asian trade.

[v] Picture courtesy of   http://home.southwind.net/~crowther/Dibrell/CDP.html

[vi]More information on Poston can be found at various sources including Arizona Highway, Oct. 2002 issue or at    http://home.southwind.net/~crowther/Dibrell/CDP.html