September 24, 2017
Teddy Roosevelt once said: "Chautauqua is the most American thing in America!" (*1)
"Chautauqua is an institution that began in the late 19th century to provide higher education opportunities through the combination of lectures, concerts, and public events." (*1)
It was also a grand celebration of the freedom of speech and in 1912, Prescott would climb aboard.
September 17, 2017
Knowing that Prescott's Whiskey Row is central to her history, it's surprising that it took until the 21st century for such an important subject to be addressed thoroughly in a book.
Bradley G. Courtney not only brings this significant story to light, but he does so in a cohesive and entertaining narrative commensurate with the professionalism of an author holding a master's degree in history and a doctorate in education.
September 10, 2017
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries William "Buffalo Bill" Cody was a superstar recognized by nearly everyone. So when the people of Prescott noticed him walking their streets, they were both surprised and excited.
However, Buffalo Bill did not come with his "Wild West Show." Instead he came with his mining engineer and they meant business.
September 3, 2017
As Professor Price sat on the train, he looked again at the sample of onyx sent to him from Mayer, Arizona. So impressed was he by the beautiful sample and the accounts of its source that he was now on his way from San Francisco to see the deposit for himself.
When the train pulled into the station at Mayer, he looked out the window and was astonished at what he saw. Previously all known deposits of onyx had come in the form of boulders and smaller rocks and was mined. However, this Mayer onyx was part of the natural strata of the earth! It could be cut into blocks of nearly any size like sandstone or granite! (*1)
Indeed, this was no boulder of onyx. This single deposit covered nearly two-thirds of a square mile and ran from 10 to 20 feet deep! It was more factual to call Mayer an onyx quarry. Nothing like this had ever been found before.
Before departing, Prof. Price found a onyx-rich tract of land that had not yet been claimed and quickly procured it for himself.
August 27, 2017
This incident would be only the beginning. Soon the town would be abuzz over a massive wave of UFO sightings and the curtain would be raised for the most bizarre event in Prescott history.
August 20, 2017
"Even the town of Parker had such an organization," the Journal-Miner grumbled, "and it has sufficient influence to cause the government to consider seriously throwing open the lands of the Indian reservation for settlement." (*1)
However, this time the Chamber would meet great success. For it not only included Prescott's businesses, but the involvement of her citizens as well.
August 13, 2017
Indeed the area would become so notorious and so avoided that the anglos eventually allowed it to melt back into the wilderness. Today there are no roads going to Bell's Canyon.
August 6, 2017
Puzzled, he wondered what animal it could have come from.
He continued to dig finding more large bones until, about three feet in, he discovered a giant human skull!
July 23, 2017
It was in 1876 when Jefferson Harrison Lee built the large two-story hotel and stage stop. It was located at a prime intersection on the Prescott to Hardyville tollroad. Named the American Ranch, it was the most elaborate stage stop on the entire 150 mile road. (*1)
July 16, 2017
|Rare photo of the USS Yavapai|
When naval history is written, it's the large capital ships that get all the attention. Yet aircraft carriers and battleships require a large amount of support ships--not just destroyers and submarines, but a myriad of logistical ships that require fuel, food, and fresh water.
The USS Yavapai was a ship that provided these necessities to the smaller ships; quietly "serving with distinction" in her logistical missions in Iwo Jima and Okinawa before going to Korea and China.
July 9, 2017
According to Lew Rees, former Fain Signature Group executive director, and former CEO of the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce, Bill Fain was the most important man in Prescott Valley history. (*1)
“'He had the brains, the fortitude, the work ethic and the strength to put together a community. His handprint is on every aspect of Prescott Valley and, indeed, the entire quad-city area,' Rees said." (*1)
"Known as a man of his word – and for his generosity, work ethic and foresight – Bill Fain’s handshake was all anyone needed to seal a business deal." (*1)
July 2, 2017
The area in which Cleator, Arizona stands today was the scene of one of the earliest settlements of anglos in Yavapai County. At first the area was known as "Turkey" with nearby "Turkey Creek." (*1)
The selection of this name was obvious enough. Even to this day one can happen upon wild turkeys in this area of the Prescott National Forest.
June 25, 2017
It was Sunday, January 22, 1911. Two young men had made the risky climb to the summit of Thumb Butte. While enjoying the view and carefully moving about the top, one looked down into a deep crevice and was shocked to see a person!
"So stupefied and astounded were they, that after a few minutes observation...and satisfying themselves that life was extinct; (they) hurriedly left the scene and gave alarm in this city."
June 18, 2017
The reasons why Yavapai County needed a new, third, (and current) courthouse seemed endless. First, the Old Courthouse had become too small for the growing county. Added to that was this stunning list of deficiencies:
June 11, 2017
"People wishing to come to Arizona traveled with freighters for protection." Every precaution would have to be made to protect both riders and supplies. (*1)
June 4, 2017
The first mention of the mountain that would become known as Mingus is found in the origin story of the Yavapai people. A girl named Kamalapukwia was placed in a water tight log to survive the worldwide flood. After the waters receded she went to Mingus mountain before dawn and allowed the rising sun to hit "her inside" in preparation for having a child. (*1)
May 28, 2017
It was April of 1867 and ranchers in the area were both highly anxious and on alert. "Information of the presence of a large body of hostile Indians in Hell Canyon" prompted General Gregg to send two companies "to examine and explore that locality, and if possible to break up this band." However, by the time the army arrived, the Indians had left and were heading southeast towards the Black Mountains, several miles south of Woodchute and Mingus. (*1)
It would take several days for the Army to catch up, but such a large party of Indians and their animals left a trail even anglos could follow. But this time, for the first time in Arizona, the troops were armed with the lethal and already legendary Spencer Repeating Rifle. It had already been used, with devastating effectiveness, against Confederate soldiers.
May 21, 2017
When word first came out that there was a movement to relocate the capital from Prescott to Tucson, most of Yavapai County thought the idea to be both unfathomable and impossible.
Traditionally American capitals had always been located near their geographic center. Even Washington, DC, now far to the east, was centrally located in relation to the 13 original colonies.
But now there was a movement to relocate the capital hundreds of miles away from the majority of the population, close to the Mexican border, where it's so hot that "one can fry a rattlesnake without a fire."
In the end, it was politics that made the unthinkable become reality.
May 14, 2017
The pioneer ranching mother was one of the true unsung heroes of the West. Her lot was an especially hard one; not only because of a lack of conveniences, but because her toils were a necessity in order to survive.
May 7, 2017
Sure--I've seen more than my share of Indians--most of them hostile.
I ran freight on two roads--one that ran from La Paz to Prescott and one from Hardyville (or what you call Bullhead City,) to Prescott.
One time in particular I had a seriously close brush that ended-up in a military battle.
My name is Freeman and not only did I fight in the Battle of Skull Valley, but you might say that I was the cause.
April 30, 2017
It seemed just a normal sleepy night in Prescott early on Saturday, April 21st, 1917, when at 2:30 am an explosion rocked the city.
It was "a diabolical attempt to blow up the home of JS Acker, (at) 205 North Mt. Vernon Street." (*1)
It seemed someone wanted to see the future donor of park land to Prescott dead. But why?
April 23, 2017
It was 1872 when the John Sturns family was making its way from Arkansas to Del Rio Springs. On the way they picked up a young man heading in the same direction.
It was prudent for the family of five (as well as the lone traveller) to join together as they headed deeper into Indian country and the lawless wilderness. An extra gun could mean safety and survival.
The young man told the family not to worry. He wasn't afraid of any injuns. He boasted that he was going to shoot the first Indian that he laid his eyes on!
Perhaps he thought doing so would mark a passage into manhood. Perhaps he wanted to amass a fearless reputation in his new haunts. Whatever his motivation, it would all end up horribly wrong.
April 9, 2017
Kirkland Valley was not immune.
April 2, 2017
When it first opened August 1st, 1920, it was declared "Yavapai's Greatest Attraction." (*1)
"Members of the National Geographic Society...proclaimed (Highway 79) as 'the most beautiful drive in America.'" (*2)
To cynics (and the carsick) the curvy, mountain road might seem to have been designed by a carnival-ride engineer, a drunk, or both. In fact, Highway 79 would be considered an engineering marvel even by today's standards. It cut the travel time and distance between the two cities nearly in half.
While some history is buried under the sands of time, Highway 79 was eventually buried under a ribbon of asphalt and given a new number: 89A. Still, the twists and turns of this roadway only mirror the odyssey taken to construct it.
March 26, 2017
|The Fitzmaurice Indian Ruin today.|
Most of the commuters who go up and down Stoneridge Drive each day probably have noticed a peculiar zig-zagging fence surrounding a hilltop east of the road.
They might wonder: "What is this fence guarding?"
Answer: Perhaps the most significant, undeveloped tourist attraction in all of Yavapai county!
The Fitzmaurice Ruin is far more than a few scattered rock formations. The 27 room main pueblo and its several satellite structures encompass the largest Indian ruin in the Prescott region.
March 19, 2017
It was with a small amount of irony that Joseph Mayer's funeral was held in Prescott. For it was a fateful trip to that city that unexpectedly ended 30 miles short that would define his life and his legacy.
"He was loved and mourned by all who knew him. People came from all over the state, rich and poor alike, hundreds of them. They said among themselves, 'There will never be but one Joe Mayer'" (*1)
An Apache chief who lived across the creek came to pay his last respects. "My people have lost their Big Chief," he said, "our brother and best friend." (*1)
"Tears were shed by both men and women as the remains were lowered into their last resting place." (*2)
As both an entrepreneur and a kind-hearted man, Joseph Mayer brought a great deal to both his town and Yavapai county.
March 12, 2017
It was May 12th, 1873 when the Village of Prescott's Council met to pass its first two ordinances.
The two simple and quaint laws offer an interesting insight into the everyday life of the early, small settlement.
The first ordinance dealt with the job descriptions of the four primary city workers. The second dealt with criminal laws concerning "Breaches of the Peace."
March 5, 2017
|The Burnt Ranch house that replaced the burned cabin.|
By then the property had been known as "Burnt Ranch" for nearly a century.
This is the tale of the Apache-Mojave (aka "Date Creek") Indian raid that gave the ranch its name.
February 26, 2017
It was around the turn of the century when author and Prescott historian Parker Anderson was reading an account of (Fleming) "James" Parker, notorious outlaw and subject of many wild west dime novels. It was an interesting account, but much to Anderson's chagrin, it did not include proper sourcing.
Perhaps it was at this moment that Anderson succumbed to a syndrome not uncommon to historians: he was bitten by the "dig-up the truth" bug. Little did he know that he would be embarking on a sixteen-year odyssey that included hurdles, difficulties, and an occasional dead end.
February 19, 2017
|Granite Mountain--one of the homes the Kakaka.|
For those of us whose minds were formatted in the style of Western Civilization and culture, the Kakaka pose a paranormal puzzle. Are they spirit beings? Are they aliens? Are they elementals? Do they even exist at all? However, for the Yavapai and other Arizona tribes, the Kakaka aren't only real--they're a vital part of their culture.
For it is the Kakaka who give instruction and teaching to their medicine men.
February 12, 2017
In this edition of "Stories Behind the Names" we look at:
Prescott, Chino Valley, Paulden, Drake, Hell Canyon, Ash Fork and other minor locations along the way.
Prescott: (Includes Early Street Name Origins)
Most students of Prescott history are aware that the town "was named in honor of Massachusetts-based historian William Hickling Prescott, who was already deceased at the time and had never set foot in the west. (*1)
It was unusual for towns to bear the names of people who were not involved with their founding, yet the start-up community of Fort Whipple officially renamed itself Prescott in May, 1864. (*1)
February 5, 2017
|Walnut Grove Dam|
"Besides being the largest piece of solid masonry in the United States, (the Walnut Grove Dam) also drain(ed) the largest watershed in the world, being upwards of 400 miles of territory." (*1)
But in the dark, early hours of February 22, 1890 heavy rains would cause the dam to "literally explode."
"The disastrous breach of Arizona's first major dam poured 4 billion gallons of water into a canyon above Wickenburg and killed approximately 100-150 people, although no one will really ever know how many people drowned." (*2)
January 22, 2017
There wasn't anything particularly new to look at, so he happened to look down at the rock he was sitting upon.
Soon he noticed something shiny and matted within the rock that caused an instant double-take. It was shiny; it was heavy; it was gold!
The foreman stood up and examined further. Not only was there some gold in the rock, there was a great deal of it!
Not only was there one gold bearing rock, but an entire vein was visible!
He couldn't wait to rush back to Jerome Junction and tell of his unbelievable luck. So he broke off several pounds of the ore as a sample and took his handcar to get back to the hotel in town.
January 15, 2017
|Charles P Stanton in front of his hotel.|
When Charles P Stanton first set his eyes on the town of Antelope Station, he coveted to make it his own personal empire. Eventually he would name the town in honor of himself and rule it with a murderous tyranny that would even make Al Capone blush.
"While Stanton, Arizona never had the glamor of Tombstone, in the days of Charles Stanton, no town in the West could equal the murderous, evil environment predominating life in this (otherwise) thriving gold-mining community." (*1)
In fact, Stanton gained such a heinous reputation that travelers in the area steered clear of the town. (*1)
January 8, 2017
Whatever happened to the pioneer miners when they got too old to work?
As Prescott began to mature at the beginning of the 20th century, this was hardly a theoretical question. The old pioneer miners were becoming aged, infirm and could no longer toil after years of back-breaking work.
They worked in extraordinarily tough and dangerous conditions, bringing wealth and the very founding of the community and the state. Now, in their sunset years, they needed Arizona to help them.
January 1, 2017
The winter of 1915 in Yavapai County was one of the wettest in the area's history. Wave after wave of heavy moisture came through the Prescott area stretching all the way down into the Sonoran desert. (Ultimately, this unusually wet winter would change the ecosystem of the Prescott National Forest forever introducing the white-tail deer to the area.)
In the valleys, there were copious amounts of rain with Williamson Valley flooding several times. Initially, ranchers were excited that "the ground was soaked to the grassroots" and they anticipated "one of the very best ranching seasons ever." (*1) However, this wet abundance would prove to be a two-edged sword.