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.

The first movie made in Prescott was called "The Cringer" and its production and the wooing of the Lubin Company to the city was explored in a previous article:

First Movie Made in Prescott: The Cringer

Story of and behind the first movie made in Yavapai County through a nationwide search of movie reviews and newspaper articles.

“Among the very successful Lubin pictures…being sent across the country nowadays [are] the western Lubins made right here in [Prescott] Arizona,” the Arizona Republican reported; but most of these have been lost and forgotten.

Here now are the descriptions of the earliest movies made around Prescott:


The second movie produced in Prescott was entitled “The Uprising.” This was the first use of the real Indian extras that Lubin was promised when they headquartered in Prescott. A New York newspaper noted its “good action and beautiful scenery.”

It’s “a picture quite out of the ordinary,” a Pennsylvania paper wrote. “The situations are new and fresh with a strong and appealing impression of realism.”

It was the Pittsburgh Daily Post that offered the best description of the film:

“An Indian uprising threatens Arizona Dells, where reside the Ryans—father, mother and three daughters. Mary Ryan asks Bob, her sweetheart, to go and save her married sister. A bloodthirsty horde of Apaches wound Bob, but he preservers until he reaches the cabin of Mary’s sister, where he finds her and her husband massacred. Bob snatches the baby from its cradle and starts homeward. Settlers, trappers and scouts surround Bob on return, and, hearing his story, determine to exterminate the redskins. This is done with loss, but brings victory to the whites. Bob is rewarded.”


Prescott’s third movie, “The Forest Ranger,” was probably best known for an amazing wildfire scene. “The principal episode is a fire—a real forest fire,” the Bangor Daily News wrote in astonishment. “This is a marvel of realism, and it must have required a good deal of daring on the part of the actors. It is a real forest, a real fire—burning, too, over a wide area. The flames lap up the big trees and the smoke drifts by in clouds. It is not likely the Lubin people would have been permitted to start any such conflagration—they probably took advantage of one already raging. Anyway, it surely furnishes a genuine thrill.” The News-Journal (OH) described it as “a most dramatic and instructive western playlet.”

Exactly where this fire took place isn’t clear. One source mentioned Spruce Mountain, but no newspaper corroboration could be found during the time Lubin was in Prescott. The Daily Arkansas Gazette felt the forest fire was the most interesting part stating that the film showed “close range pictures of a forest fire and of modern methods for saving the forest from destruction from fire. A love story is woven in.”

Indeed. “Mary is courted by Jim [Black], a wood contractor, and Bob [Miller], a ranger. Bob is her favorite,” the East Oregonian newspaper revealed. At one point, Mary leaves Jack to take a ride to Lookout Point where Bob is on duty. Tension between the two men continues to grow when Bob finds that Jim has taken too much wood. Jack tries to bribe Bob, but is unsuccessful. 

“One day the rivals meet, and Jim passes a remark for which Bob knocks him down. In revenge, Black sets the forest on fire.” Bob spots the fire, calls on a firefighting crew, and the action begins as they fight to save the forest.

Meanwhile, Mary watches the action and spies two men trapped in the flames. One fell and could not escape. By the time Mary saddled-up and rode to the scene, she learned that Bob risked his life to save the man.

In the aftermath, a Mexican woodcutter who had been harassed by Jim reported that he saw him start the fire. “Bob asks if he may go and arrest Jim. He gets permission and brings Jim back to jail. [Bob] is promoted to the office of supervisor and he and Mary are threatened with marriage,” the paper concluded.


The fourth Lubin film produced in Prescott was a comedy and was originally entitled The Family Next Door. “A fine farce comedy, involving complications of a furiously funny brand,” the Lexington (KY) Herald described. It’s “a comedy of characters with a taste that is quite new,” the Idaho Statesman observed, “an extra good comedy and a good laugh maker.” 

“The story [was] how a couple of lovers succeed in marrying despite the fact that their respective parents objected strenuously,” the Leavenworth (KS) Post explained. “A common place enough plot,” the Evening Times-Star noted, “but it is the amusing detail and situations that count.”

The neighboring Ford and Heap families once had a dispute with both “swearing eternal war.” However, two of the children, Bob Ford and Mary Heap fall in love. When father Hop Heap discovers them kissing, he chases Bob away and locks Mary in her room. 

Upon telling his brother of his plight, Bob in advised “to go after the girl.” Bob decides to get some cowgirls to assist him and they hold up Hop while Bob and Mary steal away to elopement. Bob’s brother decides to help him and gathers “another bunch of boys and girls” who support the matrimonial effort.

When the fathers are informed of the wedding plans, they start out in pursuit to stop the marriage. However, Bob’s brother held-up the parents at the church door and the couple is wed. The crowd then escorts the couple to the train station. Both fathers, seeing they are too late, head into the bar where their original dispute started. There, a number of the girls “coddle the old men” into signing a telegram stating that all is forgiven and the two should come back home as a married couple.


Scene from "The Way of the Mountains"

Prescott’s fifth motion picture was “The Way of the Mountains.” Although filmed in Yavapai County, the story is set in the hills of Kentucky. “Mountaineer life in all its attractiveness, together with a good plot, make a splendid drama,” the Butte (MT) Miner believed. “A highly dramatic story of the mountaineer’s life,” the Evening Mail agreed. “It is thrilling and teeming with excitement in every foot of film and holds you breathless to the finish.”

According to the East Oregonian, It was a “story of love and jealousy.” The plot involved a love triangle between two young mountaineers and a “comely lass” named Mary. Her younger brother preferred “Bob,” which aggravated the other man, “Don.” While Mary was out fetching a pail of water, Don declared his love, but began to show it in a forcible way. Bob, who happened to be hunting nearby, heard her screams and rescued her. After taking Mary home, Bob left, and was ambushed by a jealous Don. Don fires his weapon, but unfortunately,  missed Bob, killing Mary’s young brother instead.

Bob tracked Don on horseback and overtook him, starting a “grueling fight.” This time Don beat-up Bob and left him for dead. Don then went to Mary’s house claiming that Bob shot Mary’s brother and he took care of Bob. However, when Don’s lie was exposed by the still living Bob, Don was “taken out by the rough mountaineers and one can easily guess his finish.”

The Lubin Company would produce four more films in 1912 before leaving Prescott forever. These films will be explored in a future article.


Tourist Tip:

The Western Heritage Center, located in the old Sam Hill Hardware on historic Whiskey Row has an exhibit on the film history of Yavapai County. Included are stories, posters, the phone booth that appeared in Junior Bonner and a monitor playing 100 year old silent films that feature Prescott back then. Check their website for operating hours:



Drew's book is now available!

Available in paperback and Kindle!


Paperback: $21.99

Kindle ebook $12.99 

CLICK HERE for Amazon (PB or Kindle)


Also available at:

Western Heritage Center, 156.5 Montezuma (Whiskey Row)


And everywhere Prescott history books are sold!


#PrescottAZHistory publishes a new article on Sundays. Follow the blog in one of the following social media to be sure you get the latest article!

Want more Prescott history? Join the "Celebrating Historic Prescott" group.
(Daily pics and featured articles.)
Drew Desmond is on Facebook (For the latest article and posts about Drew's writing.)

(Daily pic featured at 7 am and featured articles.)

(For the latest article.)

Follow PrescottAZHistory on Instagram



Arizona Republican, 8/7/1913; Pg. 3, Col. 4

The Uprising:

The Chat (NY), 10/26/1912; Pg. 17, Col. 2

Public Opinion (PA), 12/11/1912; Pg. 5, Col. 1

Arizona Republican, 12/26/1912; Pg. 7, Col. 4

Pittsburgh Daily Post, 10/13/1912; Pg. 35, Col. 1

The Forest Ranger:

Bangor (ME) Daily News, 1/4/1913; Pg. 10, Col. 5

News-Journal (OH), 11/12/1912; Pg. 12, Col. 5

Daily Arkansas Gazette, 11/5/1912; Pg. 4, Col. 5

East Oregonian, 11/25/1912; Pg. 2, Col. 1

The Family Next Door:

Lexington (KY) Herald, 11/13/1912; Pg. 9, Col. 2

Idaho Statesman, 11/24/1912; Pg. 10, Col. 4

Leavenworth (KS) Post, 12/7/1912; Pg. 5, Col. 4

Evening Times-Star, 11/24/1912; Pg. 2, Col. 6

The Way of the Mountains:

Butte (MT) Miner, 11/25/1912; Pg. 8, Col. 7

Evening Mail (Stockton CA), 11/25/1912; Pg. 3, Col. 4

East Oregonian, 12/16/1912; Pg. 2, Col. 2

No comments:

Post a Comment