May 19, 2019

1919: Growth Causes Prescott to Run Out of Water

Old City Dam, 1920s
By the time summer came along, water pressure had consistently fallen so low that everyone was required to boil it. Unfortunately, that did nothing to relieve its foul smell.

May 12, 2019

Prescott Moms Support the "Prairie Dog Boys" (First Cub Scouts)

When scouting first came to Arizona, it started in Prescott and became hugely popular. Not only were boys of the proper age being turned away for lack of space, but the younger brothers of scouts became jealous of their activities and wanted a group of their own.

“These youngsters invaded the regular meetings of the various scout troops in such numbers that something just had to be done to keep them away from the regular Scout meetings,” the paper reported.

April 28, 2019

The Amazing Mascots of the Arizona Roughriders

Arizona Roughrider mascot "Cuba"
The Arizona Regiment of the Roughriders had three different animal mascots. Two were canine and one was feline. All were extremely popular among the entire army.

April 14, 2019

Prescott's Old Gateway to the World

For decades, Prescott’s front door was her railroad depot. Thousands entered and left the city through its doors. However the acquisition and construction of the iconic structure was not without its hurdles.

April 7, 2019

Mail-Order Brides of Yesteryear

Perhaps it was because their hearts were extra-lonely. Perhaps it was because they were caught-up in the romance of western novels. Perhaps it was both. But some women were determined to find themselves a rugged, handsome, western man.

March 31, 2019

Rough Rider Cofounder Gov. Alexander Brodie

November 13, 1849 - May 10, 1918
Because he gave his life during the Spanish-American War, it is Buckey O’Neill who is the most widely remembered Prescott Rough Rider. However, when the regiment departed the Prescott depot to go to war amid the echoes of celebratory dynamite blasts, the Arizona Republic observed: “Col. Brodie is the most popular man in the command.”

March 24, 2019

In 1879 No One Died of Old Age

If one were to think that the Arizona 1880 Mortality Schedule for deaths in 1879 was as dry a source as the Arizona desert just prior to the monsoons—he’d be right! But when one extracts the data for Yavapai County, the way of death in 1879 paints a poignant picture of a most difficult way of life.

March 17, 2019

Tom Mix Helps Start the Northern Arizona Fair

In 1913, the Arizona State Legislature allowed for counties to use a certain amount of property tax dollars “for the support and furtherance of county fairs and exhibitions.” For the northern counties, it was felt that more money could be raised and result in a better fair if they could pool their resources and stage the event together. “This was agreed upon and the Northern Arizona Fair Association came into being (with) bylaws formally adopted on August 7.”

However, the prime mover in helping to bring the fair together was western silent movie star Tom Mix. Prescott was a second hometown for Mix who produced scores of films around the Granite Dells area. He was named “Program Chairman and through his efforts raised $6000 (over $150,000 today,) to put on the fair. He planned and staged a Wild West show using local cowboys” to help raise the money.

The effort turned out to be more popular and successful than the planners could have dreamed.

March 10, 2019

1863: The Indian Raid on Peeples Valley

Abraham Harlow Peeples was one of the true early settlers of Central Arizona. He first arrived at Ft. Yuma in 1863 in order to prospect in the virgin wilderness of what would become Yavapai County. 

Leaving Yuma on April 1st with a party of other renowned pioneers, both their journey and their results were epic and will be the subject of a future article here.

Peeples not only made mining claims, but he also quickly made a homesteading claim in a valley, 35 miles southwest of Prescott, which now bears his name. However, that winter the Peeples’ ranch would suffer the crippling theft of 29 horses and mules.

March 3, 2019

1952 Saw Six Air Accidents

In the early 1950s, the Prescott Airport was a bustling place. Two airlines, Frontier and Bonanza, offered commercial service while many planes, including military, used Prescott Airport as a refueling stop. Of course, with increased activity comes the chance of increased mishaps and accidents.

Such was the case in 1952 when no less than six airplane accidents occurred around Prescott.

February 24, 2019

1867: Needed a Jail; Built a Courthouse

It had only been three years since Yavapai County’s seat was formed and there was already need for a jail. Prisoners were being kept under an expensive 24/7 armed guard and two criminals already cost the county $2000 each (about $180,000 apiece today,) to keep them before and during trial. So the county floated bonds, worth nearly a million dollars today, to build a new (now referred to as the “Old,”) Courthouse.

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.