December 27, 2020

The Old Courthouse Became a Living Wreck

Note: This was originally written as a "Days Past" article in June 2018. However, since the Sharlot Hall Museum website was hacked, it's been unavailable to read. Therefore, it is republished here. 
UPDATE: A week after this post was published, the author received word that the situation had been remedied. However, this article posting is being retained because it includes the sources used. The address for the original article is this: the-old-courthouse-became-a-living-wreck

As Yavapai county grew at the turn of last century, the Old Courthouse had become too small. At a cost of $6000 an addition was constructed, but the old building never had the structural integrity to support it. 

December 20, 2020

Christmas Shopping in 1897 Prescott

The Christmas of 1897 was a bright one for Prescott. “It is only two days until Christmas, yet the very air breathes of the coming event,” the Journal-Miner noted.

After a nationwide economic slowdown, the economy was finally rebounding. The Postal Service reported that money orders “evidently intended as Christmas presents, [indicated] a tremendous increase… These conditions are accepted as a pronounced indication of the return of better times and improved financial affairs,” the paper reported.

Yet, there was something else that had recently transformed the downtown business district into a virtual box of consumer eye candy.

December 13, 2020

The Senator Highway

 There was a time when Senator Highway was being considered as being a part of the north-south territorial highway, connecting Prescott to Phoenix, but it would never make it.

December 6, 2020

Yavapai Co's First Prohibition Sting

Prohibition went into effect January 1, 1915 and Sheriff Joe Young was intent on making it stick. It was the middle of May when he made his first big sting. Before all was said and done, however, one of the informants would be charged with soliciting a bribe.

November 22, 2020

The Chinese Den of Iniquity


No one knows what the business was actually named. A Sanborn-Perris mapmaker identified it only as “Chinese” in 1895. 

This writer might have considered it “The Chinese Entertainment House,” but authors of the archeological report, "Celestials and Soiled Doves..." used biblical verbiage to describe it as a “den of iniquity.” Specifically, it was found to be a “gambling parlor/saloon/opium den/drugstore, [that] filled many needs.”

November 15, 2020

The REAL Charles P Stanton Story Now Comes to Light

When Parker Anderson put the folklore of Charles P Stanton in the crucible of fact-checking, nearly all of it burned away. Indeed, nearly everything one thought he knew about this famous legend is either untrue or highly dubious.

November 8, 2020

Preacher’s Son Shoots Bully

It was all over some disparaging remarks made about a young Mayer woman “whose name none of the witnesses were able to pronounce or spell,” the paper reported. She confronted Louis Price, age 20, about the “sliding remarks” purportedly made by him at the Mayer mercantile. Price became embarrassed, and later, angry. When Price asked her where she heard the rumor, she evidently replied that the it was Ned Cagle, age 18, and son of Prescott Methodist Pastor CM Cagle.

Now it was Price’s turn to confront Cagle.

October 25, 2020

1866: Indians Scare Off Pioneer Merchant

William Harrison Hardy had a good gig going. He owned businesses in a town named for him: Hardyville (present day Bullhead City.) He also owned an important and well used ferry service at that point and a tollroad that led to Prescott. Soon he started opening businesses there that were successful, but in late 1866, he abruptly started to sell off all his interests in the Mile High City.

In 1901 at age 77, he revealed why to the Journal-Miner newspaper.

October 18, 2020

1920: Million-Heir Boy Kidnapped Near Drake

A group of three detectives parked their automobile about a mile and a half away from the Puntenney lime mine near Cedar Glade (present day Drake) and began to walk toward the office. It seemed a long way to trudge, but they wanted their story to be believable.

“Our car broke down,” one of them told the office manager. “What kind of mine do you have here? May we look around while we wait for help?” The three began to fein interest in the operations as they set about to look for their real objective—an 11 year-old boy named Willie. 

One of the detectives peered into a building and spied the youngster. The three men left, but that would hardly be the end of it. They were plotting to steal William Hurd Barrett for the third time in less than a year.

October 11, 2020

1910: A Killing Near Thumb Butte

Miss Virginia Hite, a popular school teacher, arrived at the Plaza with her horse in a lather. She had come from the Sweeney and Anderson mining camp near Thumb Butte. The ride “of over seven long miles, on dangerous ground,” was made in a “record-breaking 30 minutes,” the newspaper reported. She had rode her horse “at almost full speed the entire distance, never drawing rein until she reached the Courthouse Plaza.” 

There had been a shooting at the camp and the sheriff and a doctor were needed immediately.

September 27, 2020

Humboldt Suffers Two Conflagrations in Three Weeks

In July, 1910, William Oliver, manager of the Shumate confectionary, billiards, and cigar store in Humboldt was vacationing in Prescott. He spoke to the newspaper “in glowing terms” of his new hometown, describing it “as a coming commercial and mining center.” Little did he know that within a month Humboldt would suffer two “great fires”; the latter of which would start in the basement of the building in which Oliver’s business was housed!

September 20, 2020

1910: Shootout in Downtown Mayer

T.F. Averill had “long been known as a resolute and desperate man,” the newspaper wrote, and he was now infuriated with a Mayer saloon owner named Charles Wells. He told nearly everyone he came across that he intended to kill Wells at noon on September 29, 1910.

September 6, 2020

What Yavapai County Has Sent to the Smithsonian

Yavapai County has sent hundreds of thousands of items to the Smithsonian Institute; most of these being insects and indigenous artifacts, but several other intriguing and occasionally mysterious items have been sent there as well. The most interesting of these are the items that the Institute had never seen before.

August 23, 2020

Harrison Yarnell and the Mystery of Rich Hill

“It was a piteous scene and remarkable in the extreme,” the Journal-Miner observed. Harrison Yarnell (for whom Yarnell, Arizona is named,) stood before Judge Frank O Smith a broken man. He was applying for admission to the Pioneers’ Home in Prescott—something reserved only for the destitute. “I’ve tried hard to keep from this,” he told the judge, “but I’ve fought my battle and I’m through.”

At the very least it was bitterly ironic. His namesake mine, which he founded, had yielded $12,000,000 worth of gold at that point. "All the money, however, went back into the ground in an attempt to find the big deposit of gold which he believed was to be found within a space of five miles square around the Yarnell mine,” the Hassayampa Miner described; but it was his attempt to solve one burning mystery that took his last dollars.

August 9, 2020

My Life as an Indian Scout

Pleasure to meet you. 

My name is Albert Sieber and I was considered one of the best Indian scouts in the Arizona Territory, if not the Southwest. I was born in Germany February 19, 1844 and came to America as a young boy; the 13th of 14 children. 

Early in 1862 I enlisted in Company B, 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. I saw some terrible sights during the Peninsula Campaign in the Army of the Potomac as a Corporal and a sharp-shooter. I thought I was a goner at Gettysburg when a piece of a shell hit me in the head. I sat laying on the battlefield until long after the fighting before they found me. 

August 2, 2020

Deadly Revenge Over $78

The Arizona Republican wrote in 1890: “The murder was one of the most cold-blooded ever committed in this territory, and is universally condemned.”

In January of that year, George Johnson, a respected cowboy, sued John Chart, who used to be a rancher in Thompson Valley, for $78 in unpaid back-wages. Nine months later, it cost Johnson his life.

July 26, 2020

The Women Who Civilized Prescott

Despite being the Territorial Capital at the close of the 19th Century, Prescott still clung to many aspects of a rough mining town and the educated wives of the politicians wanted to make it more civilized.

So in 1895 they formed a group dedicated to making Prescott a city where families could thrive. Originally, it was simply called the Prescott Women’s Club, but since many other groups with that title were solely focussed on women’s suffrage, they soon changed the name to the Monday Club. It still is the oldest women’s organization in Arizona.

July 19, 2020

The Mysterious Figurine-Making Forest People

Were these 1000 year-old artifacts tokens of black magic?

Much mystery surrounds the small, clay figurines found in the forest south of Prescott, as well as the people who made them.

July 12, 2020

The Intriguing Story of Cathedral Cave

Dud Clark had been contracted to build a road from Prescott to Ash Fork, when Lee Burhans called out to him. “Burhans was a member of a picnic party and was going through a large cave that had been well known for years, when he found a small opening that he had never before perceived,” the paper described. Peering through the hole with a match, he noticed that this opening was just below the roof of a large cavity. Lee got Dud, who then lowered a rope and descended to the cave floor with an “automobile lamp.” When he turned it on, his jaw went slack.

July 5, 2020

Early Independence Day Celebrations

Surrounding the Civil War, not everybody was inclined to celebrate Independence Day. Many who lived in Yavapai County were sympathetic to Southern causes. “There was an apprehension that such diversity might exist here,” the Prescott paper observed, “and interfere with a genuine and hearty observance of the day.”

June 28, 2020

World's Oldest Rodeo Was Not Yavapai County's First

One might think that carrying the moniker of “World’s Oldest Rodeo” would imply its being the first. However, the famous rodeo we love is actually the world’s oldest continuously running rodeo. Just 4 weeks prior to the first “Cowboy Tournament” in Prescott, one was held in Williamson Valley.

June 20, 2020

Remembering the Mingus Mountain Inn

Mingus Mountain Inn, 1949.
In the 1920s cars were far less dependable and, as a result, service stations were more numerous and spaced closer together. Particularly the tops and bottoms of mountains were excellent locales for a motorist to take the necessary precautions of checking his water and brakes before traversing the steep grade.

It was from this need that the Mingus Mountain Inn was born on Forest service land in 1925. Yet the Inn was far more than just a gas station; it also provided light groceries, camping and hunting supplies, and a sit-down restaurant.

June 7, 2020

Story Behind the Place Name: The Bradshaws

Oro Belle Mine & Mill in the Bradshaw Mountains

It was Autumn, 1863. Prescott had not yet been founded. William Bradshaw and a group of men were standing atop a mountain in the “Silver Range” with nothing to see but wilderness from horizon to horizon. Seeking gold and silver, they happened to be walking upon the largest deposit Arizona would ever know.

Not only would the mountains he was standing in be named for him, but there are no less than 9 other locales that bear his name: Bradshaw City, Bradshaw’s Ferry, the Bradshaw mining district, Bradshaw Mountain High School, Bradshaw Mountain Middle School, the Bradshaw Mountain Railroad, the Bradshaw Ranger District, the Bradshaw Trail, and the Bradshaw Springs and Stream.

May 31, 2020

The Prehistoric Residents of Mayer, AZ

The modern town of Mayer, AZ was not the first time this area was inhabited; at least three times previously the area was settled by indigenous, prehistoric peoples. Radiocarbon dating revealed human activity between the 6th century, AD and 1800 AD.

May 24, 2020

Prescott 1933: A Story in Pictures

Gurley Street, 1933
It was the poorest of times. It was the richest of times. Despite being in the depths of the Great Depression, Prescott would rise above its trials.

Here now are 24 more images that will give the reader a taste of what is was like to live in Prescott in 1933...

May 17, 2020

Railroad's Arrival Brought a Gala Day in Prescott

Prescott's 1st depot for the Prescott & Central Arizona RR
As the last month of 1886 began, anticipation in the young capital of Arizona had never been higher. The Prescott and Central Arizona Railroad was inching its way south from the main Atlantic & Pacific line. It would open up Prescott to the world.

May 3, 2020

Electricity Comes to Prescott...Gradually

When electricity came to Prescott, it was not fully embraced. Instead, the illumination of the city came with fits and starts.

April 26, 2020

Buffalo Soldiers March Into Whipple

When the newspaper announced in March 1885 that “it has been definitely settled that the headquarters of the 10th Cavalry (of Buffalo Soldiers) will be on their arrival in this Territory at Whipple and that a company of the colored troops will also be stationed at that post,” the citizenry was apprehensive. They had read about “the inevitable (poor) reputation given the 10th Cavalry by certain journals in southern New Mexico and Arizona.”

However, the proud 10th Cavalry would quickly allay such fears and the people of Prescott would become completely impressed by them. “Since their arrival in Prescott,” the paper later wrote, “the members of the 10th…are as well behaved and as soldierly looking a set of men that have ever been stationed at Whipple.”

April 19, 2020

Gigantic Cinnamon Bears Used to Roam These Parts

“A continuation of our present practice will result in the absolute extermination of all bear in Arizona within less than five years,” the 1926 editorial declared. “Get in touch with some of Arizona's old timers and have them tell you of the former, very plentiful, supply of bear. The only ones of this class of game considered as dangerous are the Silver Tip and the Grizzly bear—both of which are practically entirely exterminated in Arizona.” 

The editorial cried out for these bears be protected from hunting, but for the Silver Tip, the Grizzly, and the Cinnamon bear, the warning went unheeded and these creatures no longer exist here. 

April 12, 2020

The Odd Jobs of Prescott's First Reverend

Rev. HW Read was Agent for the Duke's and Co. stage.
For Reverend William H Read, ministering in the Central Arizona wilderness in 1864 was challenging. There weren’t many anglos to begin with and even fewer were interested in religion. As a result, Read needed to to take regular employment and the jobs he worked were civic in nature.

Read was Postmaster of Tucson before coming to Prescott in 1864. The Arizona Miner reported that he had “received orders from the Post Office Department, authorizing him to establish an office at the capital wherever it may be.” He arrived in Prescott with the Governor’s party and was the first clergyman to lay eyes on the fledgling camp. 

April 5, 2020

Earthquakes Around Prescott

Some might be surprised at the frequency of earthquakes in the “Quad-City” area,* while those who were aware might be surprised at some of the odd ways they manifest here.

March 29, 2020

Story Behind the Place Name: Poland Mine, Creek & Junction

His name was Davis Robert Poland and he was a true frontier placer miner. He came to Yavapai County early, when one could walk down a creek bed trail and find large gold veins, embedded in quartz ledges, glittering in the sun. Indeed, this happened to Poland several times.

March 22, 2020

The Tragic Tale of the Piper Family UPDATED

Miss Niles was a night nurse at Mercy Hospital and was working her rounds one Sunday evening, when she started up the main staircase. The stairway hugged the walls like a spiraling square donut with an hollow space in the middle. As she ascended, her peripheral vision caught an object falling through the center void followed by an echoing thud on the basement's concrete floor. She rushed to the bottom to see what it was. 

Immediately the Sister in charge would be called to offer guidance… 

March 8, 2020

The Indian Uprising of 1872

The ruins of Camp Date Creek
From February through June, 1872, Native Americans launched raiding attacks around and surprisingly close to Prescott. The newspapers were filled with accounts of Indian depredations during this time and the citizenry was both frightened and filled with consternation.

Orders came from Washington to change the practice of largely shooting Indians on sight to one of feeding and educating them instead. Initially, however,  the Indians, many of whom were starving, became emboldened and started to attack.

March 1, 2020

1921-23: Downtown Prescott Becomes Modernized

“Yesterdays in Prescott are memorable for their mud, their amiable let-it-alone (attitude) and their slow fight to weld public opinion into a lever,” the paper editorialized in 1922. “Tomorrow, Prescott will be a city, beautifully located, clean, sightly and well cared for. Today, Prescott is in its period of transition. 

“By fall, at least, this city will have been transformed. No longer will its charm consist only of the scenic setting, the beauty of its women and the open-hearted hospitality of its citizens. It will have the city touch.” 

February 16, 2020

Wily, Creative Prohibition Stills

For Arizona, prohibition came early in 1915. Although it is probable that stills were put to work almost immediately, law enforcement did not seize many for the first 4 years of enforcement. Then starting in 1919, a crackdown on the illegal practice revealed just how wily and creative many of the bootleggers had become.

January 26, 2020

Archeological Survey at 140 N. Granite St.

In 1994, 16 people from the Yavapai Chapter of the Arizona Archeological Society spent over 400 hours investigating the lot at 140 North Granite St.

“The team of dust-caked investigators found building foundations and artifacts seven feet below street level,” the Courier reported. Although nothing particularly mysterious or unexpected was located, the excavation did offer insights into everyday life and what happened with some of the tons of waste material from the Great Fire of 1900.

January 19, 2020

The Forgotten Mother-Load at Richenbar, AZ

Many are familiar with the mining riches that came out of Tip Top and Crown King, but there was another mother-load of gold in that area known as Richenbar.

It was 1867 when three miners decided to explore what appeared to be an ancient worked-out mine. They descended a 45 degree angled shaft into what appeared to be a cave. There were no timber reinforcements to be seen and the only thing connecting the ceiling to the floor was a single 4 foot pillar in the middle of the expanse. Upon closer inspection, they noticed a pure vein of gold within the pillar measuring 2 inches thick. Two of the miners wanted  to extract it, while the third thought it too dangerous. The two carefully worked the pillar and were successful in extracting a “coffee sack” full of ore which eventually was found to contain a whopping 937 ounces of gold.

This mine would come to be known as the Aztec Mine when ancient Native American tools were discovered inside. Eventually the entire surrounding area would have claims and the town of Richenbar was born. Soon the gold deposit there became famous, and the famous would invest in an area so rich that one miner thought it would bring "death to gold."