February 17, 2019

It Took 18 Years to Build the Post Office

Prescott PO & Federal Building when brand new.
The people of Prescott were excited when, in 1913, a sizable portion of the southern end of the Plaza district was approved to be the site of a new federal building and post office. It would be the first post office built by the US government in Prescott--perhaps even in Yavapai County.

Unfortunately, for nearly 18 years, this plot of land at 101 West Goodwin Street would largely remain a yawning cavity on the Plaza, until the building finally opened its doors in 1931. 

February 10, 2019

1919: Murder Plot at the Pioneers' Home

For attorney AG Baker, it was a routine chore. He left his office with a will in hand to be signed by a paralytic Pioneers’ Home resident, William Debus. Debus asked Baker to come down to the car for the formal signature that would leave nurse Clarance Dyer Debus’ worldly possessions upon his death.

“Two copies of the will were made for him. The name William E Debus was written in the proper space and with his left-hand, (the man) executed a cross. The document was witnessed by Baker and…the legal work (was paid for) with two $5 bills.” 

It was at that moment that undersheriff Ed Bowers suddenly appeared and leveled a large six-shooter directly at the aged man’s chest.

“Throw up your hands!” He shouted…

February 3, 2019

1867: Squatters Try to Purloin the Plaza

In 1867, the only permanent structure on Prescott's Plaza was a flagpole. But one morning in March, people arriving downtown came across an infuriating sight. "We are sorry to announce the arrival of the notorious and vagabond called ‘squatter’ in our devoted town,” the paper reported. A small party of men, “mostly strangers” to the area, “deliberately located or 'jumped' our town plaza, and are now proceeding to take and fence it.” 

When one is in mining country, being called a “jumper” is one of the most derisive comments that could be leveled in public discourse.

January 27, 2019

Horsethief Basin: Heart of a Rustlin' Racket

The first use of the name “Horsethief Basin” in an Arizona newspaper was November 1st, 1911, but its history as the heart of a criminal syndicate stretched back 30 years prior.

In the end, the illegal activities there would continue for decades until a road to the site was finally built. 

January 20, 2019

The "Shirley Temple of Silent Films" Was a Prescott Girl

Virginia Lee (born LaVerne) Corbin
On March 2nd, 1910, the Weekly Journal-Miner reported that Mrs. LE Corbin, wife of a wealthy business owner in Prescott, left for Long Beach, CA to visit relatives there for several weeks. The couple’s parting must have been both cordial and celebrated, for nine months later, on December 5th, a future star was born.

The couple named her Virginia LaVerne Corbin, but outside Prescott, she would become known as Baby Virginia Lee Corbin; “The Dresden Doll,” comparing her fair complexion to the celebrated porcelain-headed playthings. 

January 13, 2019

The Great Diamond Swindle of 1872

John Slack and Phillip Arnold were 10 years apart in age, but both were born in Elizabethtown, KY and both went to fight in the Mexican War at the same time. They developed a friendship that had one thing in common: they both yearned to become rich quick. So they both travelled to California to become “49ers” during the gold rush there.

Although neither man was considered a mental giant, together they would pull off one of the most successful cons in Arizona history.

January 6, 2019

Prescott's Plaza Pets

Through the years Prescott's Plaza has been blessed with a few beloved, exceptional animals that stole the hearts of the entire city. Here are the stories of Old Joe the horse, Stub the cat, and Mike the dog.