December 19, 2021

1921: A Christmas Season Bright

Christmas 1921 in Prescott would see several dances, children’s events, charitable acts, and a new set of street lights for downtown. It would prove a season bright in every way.

December 5, 2021

1934: Christmas Spirits Prevail!

Pioneers' Home, Christmas Dinner

As Christmas 1934 approached, the Great Depression was hanging on doggedly. Yet by this time people were anxious to begin to get back to normal. Although money and (due to prohibition,) whiskey was scarce, people adapted and determined to make the season bright.

November 20, 2021

The Anti-Vaccination Movement of 1918

Ad for Election Day, 1918

“Arizona has a compulsory vaccination law, but it has long been a dead letter,” the Citizen wrote. “There has been so much opposition to it that public health officers have never tried to enforce it.” That was until the Spring of 1918 when Dr. WO Sweek, Secretary of the state board of health, decided it was necessary to require children to be vaccinated in order to attend school.

November 13, 2021

A Day Trip to Historic Stanton (A Pictorial)

Stanton, Arizona is not open to the public or tourists. Instead, it is owned, operated and occupied by the Lost Dutchman's Mining Association (LDMA) and its members. However, in driving his friend Parker Anderson to the town for a book signing, this author had the opportunity to capture some photos of the historic town as it exists presently.

October 31, 2021

The History of the Horribles

Due to their over-the-top, Mardi Gras-quality costumes, pictures of “The Horribles” often appear around Halloween in Prescott. However, their activities actually surrounded the Fourth of July as a comedic alternative to Independence Day with hints of Confederate sympathy and mourning.

October 17, 2021

Gurley: The Man Behind the Street Name


A year following John Addison Gurley’s untimely death on August 19, 1863, the first edition of the Arizona Miner wrote: “Be it ours to erect to him a lasting monument, by giving his name to one of the loftiest hills, or to a district glistening with the brightest gold.” Instead, the downtown main street of Prescott, Arizona’s first territorial capital, would be named in his honor.

The story of why is most compelling.

October 3, 2021

1878: Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman is Amazed With Prescott

It was Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s first trip to Arizona. He was on the way to inspect the area Army camps. He would visit Camp Verde prior to Prescott, and then would head “to Yuma and thence to the Pacific,” the Weekly Arizona Miner wrote. It was a trip that he had “been contemplating for a long time past.”

Sherman would traverse a wide portion of Arizona, but his welcome in Prescott would be the one he would remember the best.

August 29, 2021

Prescott's Best Early Movie


If newspaper reviews are any indication, “The Power of Silence,” (the sixth movie made in Prescott,) was the best one Lubin produced there in 1912. After reading the glowing critiques and lively descriptions, one is left only to lament its loss.

August 8, 2021

The Plaza Gazebo: A Fixture Since 1895

(Courtesy Tim Gronek)

Originally the Plaza “gazebo,” (as many call it today,) was the Prescott Bandstand. It was constructed in 1895 and has enjoyed a rich and colorful history—even at its genesis. The June 26 issue of the Weekly Journal-Miner reported: “The construction of the bandstand on the Plaza has not had a very quieting effect on the nerves of Loske and Shultz who have been convicted of the murder of McNary. The other prisoners told them that it was the gallows scaffold which was being erected, right in plain view of them.”

July 25, 2021

1878: Blood Flows in the New Town of Gillett

Ad for the saloon where the trouble started. 

It all started with a good old-fashioned bar-fight. It was midday, June 12, 1878. Deputy Sheriff James C Burnett heard a commotion inside Frank Smith’s saloon. He entered and found that a man only known as Setwright was arguing with another named Tom Farrell. As Burnett entered, Setwright twice struck Farrell over the head with a bottle, shattering it in the process. Burnett quickly broke up the fight, and arrested Setwright.

However, the incident would grow into two murders and a lynching and, at one point, 75 Gillette citizens were blamed for the killing of a peace officer.

July 11, 2021

Yavapai County's Wild Fruits & Their Medicinal Uses


What did the first pioneers eat? Basically, whatever they could get their hands on! Fortunately, Yavapai County’s diverse ecosystem includes many fruits that grow in the wild. Here is a listing with pictures and the lore surrounding their medicinal uses:

June 27, 2021

1888: The Great Fire Before the Great Fire

Many familiar with Prescott history are aware of the Great Fire, which occurred July 14, 1900 and destroyed Whiskey Row. However, twelve years earlier, there was another great fire which wiped out Cortez Street.

It all started with an ill-fated plan to blow the safe at TW Otis’ store. The burglars entered the establishment, under the cover of darkness, shortly after midnight July 1st and planted some dynamite around the store’s safe. Concerned that the noise from the blast would sound an alarm, the would-be thieves covered the safe with burlap gunny-sacks. They then lit the fuse and scurried out of the building to avoid injury.

June 6, 2021

Constant Indian Raids, Spring 1870

1870 dawned with the usual optimism of a new year in Prescott, but underneath laid a sense of anxiety. The first edition of the 1870 Weekly Arizona Miner wrote: “Our inveterate foes—the Indians— have been on their good behavior for a number of weeks past, and have not recommenced hostilities, hereabouts. But judging from the fact that they have commenced swarming around many settlements, we fear that, ere long, they will commence anew their business of killing and plundering, and we advise our people to be on the lookout for them.”

The newspaper would have done well to tell its readers not to travel alone and double their herders. For it was the Indians' strategy to begin a campaign of ambushing lone travelers and lightly guarded stock.

May 23, 2021

The Forgotten Westerns of Prescott: 1912

This article was inspired by the hard work of Tom Slaback, whose comprehensive list of the movies made in Prescott lives on the Sharlot Hall Museum website. (CLICK HERE)

1912 was the year the Lubin Manufacturing Company set up shop in Prescott to produce western motion pictures. In a mere four-month span they produced nine one-reel western shorts.

May 9, 2021

Obligatory Clean-Up Days Heralded Tourist Season

“Prescott has a splendid record with respect to cleanliness of the city and its environs,” the Weekly Journal-Miner noted in 1922, “but in order to keep that reputation, clean-up will be observed to the letter. Those not complying with the orders of the city health officer, will of necessity report to the chief of police.”

April 25, 2021

NEWSFLASH: Small Town Prescott Still Exists!

After a thorough search, lasting twenty years, this author and observer found a treasure that many have been missing for some time: Small-Town Prescott. 

Where is it located; you may ask? I found it in the reflection of an equally small cup of coffee!

April 11, 2021

The Premeditated Murderous Disaster at Wilson's Sawmill


William Zadoc “Zeb” Wilson was proud of the brand new boiler at his sawmill. He travelled to the Ohio manufacturer to deliver the desired specifications himself. According to the Journal-Miner, he “paid an extra price to have certain portions of it built extra strong.” When the boiler first arrived, it was examined by an engineer at Whipple and he testified that “he considered it the best boiler in the county.” Wilson’s pride was only equalled by the meticulous care he gave his new boiler.

However, at 7:30 in the morning of November 19, 1887, this brand-new, prized boiler would blast Wilson and five other workers straight into the afterlife. Worst of all, it was found to be a premeditated act.

March 28, 2021

Nuclear Testing Affected Prescott

For those back east, it meant troubling news stories, but for residents of the southwest, the cold war was much more tangible. It was a time when Prescott residents would occasionally be awakened to the ground shaking and an orange glow in the western sky from nuclear testing at Nevada’s Yucca Flat Proving Ground.

March 14, 2021

Deep Well Ranch Hosted Annual Cowboy Camp Meetings

Before becoming a subdivision, Deep Well was a working ranch. It was also the site for Yavapai County’s cowboy camp meeting starting in 1945 and stretching into three decades.

February 27, 2021

First Movie Made in Prescott: The Cringer

There are no known surviving copies of the first movie filmed in Yavapai County. However, a nationwide search of movie reviews and newspaper accounts for “The Cringer” offers a reasonable, albeit general, recapitulation of the film and some of its background.

February 14, 2021

Prescott's 50th and 100th Anniversary Celebrations

Ironically, Prescott’s 50th anniversary was largely celebrated... elsewhere. It was the Phoenix Board of Trade that had the idea of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the territory, and they would make sure they hosted the event.

February 7, 2021

Dudley House: First Real Hotel in Prescott

It is the Juniper House that is rightly designated as Prescott's first hotel. However, the Dudley House was the first hotel to offer something more substantial than a canvas roof!

January 24, 2021

Undercover Detective or Stagecoach Robber?

On May 12, 1877 the California-Arizona Stage left Prescott ultimately headed to San Bernardino. Stage robberies were far too prevalent in the mid 1870s and the party was relieved to arrive at Wickenburg unmolested. 

As the driver, Jesus Lujan, pulled out of the station, he couldn’t know that just a few miles down the road his stage would fall victim to a carefully crafted ambush. 

January 3, 2021

1909: Passenger Train Boiler Explodes

 It was nearly 3:30 pm August 17, 1909 when engineer Joseph Reese put his hand on the throttle, and Engine No. 11 began to pull a heavy six car passenger train out from the Iron Springs Depot. Little did he know he was a mere two minutes from disaster.