Western History Symposium


The Western History Symposium features interesting and informative talks by historians, educators and authors on a variety of subjects relevant to our western heritage. Admission to the presentations is FREE, open to the public, and reservations are not necessary. Highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the Sharlot Hall Award, an annual recognition to an Arizona woman who has made valuable contributions to the understanding and awareness of Arizona and its history. For more information about the recognition, go to: www.sharlothallmuseum.org/sharlothallaward

For additional information about the Western History Symposium, contact the coordinator Fred Veil by phone at 928-277-2002 or email: fred.veil@sharlothallmuseum.org.

Wyatt Earp and GeronimoWyatt Earp and Geronimo:
Study of Contrast and Comparison
 (9:30 a.m.)

They came of age on the Arizona frontier at roughly the same time and their fame has only increased in the 21st Century. They have become two of the wild, wild West’s biggest celebrities. But did these legendary men have anything in common? Surprisingly, yes. Even though Earp and Geronimo came from very different cultures, these two icons shared remarkable similarities. Both were defined by a desire for revenge that drove them and shaped them. It’s why we remember them. Both were said to be immune to bullets, but in very different ways. Both battled serious addictions and had final, failing battles with different demons before death. Discover a new perspective from this entertaining study of the contrasts and similarities of Wyatt Earp and Geronimo – two frontier icons. — Leo W. Banks


Socialites in the Saddle:
Chicago Cowgirls of Muleshoe Ranch
(10:30 a.m.)

In a remote canyon of the Galiuro Mountains (near Willcox), Muleshoe Ranch and hot springs became the getaway resort for east coast industrialists, scientists and artists (as well as a few scoundrels) in the 1930s. Jessica Wakem McMurray – a Chicago-born artist, wealthy socialite and divorcee – bought the historic ranch in 1928. During the Great Depression, it became the rustic refuge for a small group of once-wealthy women who suddenly found themselves single and financially struggling, including Jessica’s recently-orphaned niece, Pamela Johnston. Based on extensive research, original photos and correspondence, this presentation outlines the unique and amusing story of how a group of transplanted Eastern socialites transformed themselves into Arizona ranchers during the heart of the Great Depression, while creating a getaway for Chicago elite. — Erik Berg

Prescott’s Forgotten Playhouse:
The Story of Howey’s Hall
(1 p.m.)

The walls of Howey’s Hall reverberated for 16 years with laughter and applause, music and melodrama. In 1882 Prescott’s leading businessman, Levi Bashford purchased Howey’s Hall on the southeast corner of Cortez and Goodwin streets and turned it from a competing mercantile into a fine little “opera house.” In this colorful and entertaining presentation, Tom Collins distinguishes legend from documented fact, and gives us a vivid picture of the actors and the plays that thrilled Prescott’s pioneers in the 1880s and 1890s, tracing the building’s history from mercantile, general store to playhouse to firehouse. It’s a fascinating look at frontier Prescott’s culture. — Dr. Tom Collins

A Pictorial Presentation:
Great Whiskey Row Fire of 1900
(2 p.m.)

A big fire of frightening dimension wasn’t a question of “If?” but “When?” for early Prescott. There had been other fires before that hot night, July 14, 1900, when downtown Prescott was enflamed with an uncontrollable fury, almost destroying the business district of this small mining town and its Whiskey Row. Why did it happen? What caused it? And how did it become the raging inferno that laid waste to much of the downtown? Recent research has revealed certain facts not previously disclosed, plus errors in the standard telling of the stories of the Great Inferno of 1900. Author and historian Brad Courtney provides much of the “rest of the story” behind Prescott’s calamitous conflagration, including answers on whether there really was an absence of water at the time, the effect of dynamiting during the firefight, and was The Palace bar really pulled out to the Plaza, as legend and lore suggests. — Brad Courtney


The Lost Dutchman’s Mine:
A Mystery Solved?
(3 p.m.)

The Lost Dutchman Mine is arguably Arizona’s most famous legend – a gold mine that Jacob Waltz claimed was full of riches beyond belief. But if Waltz had such a gold mine, why didn’t he file a claim? Old claim records tend to list general locations: The Superstition Mountains in Maricopa County, the Four Peaks in Gila County, the Bradshaws in Yavapai County… all list a “lost Dutchman” mine from which gold was taken, but not the secret site of the Dutchman Waltz. The reason why Waltz failed to file a claim on “THE Dutchman” mine may lie in Yavapai County. In this presentation, Tom Glover shares the circumstances that gave us the tales of fraud, Indian attacks, claim jumping, and death surrounding the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. — Dr. Thomas Glover


The Man Who Killed the Man Who Killed Billy the Kid:
Wayne Brazel and the Murder of Sheriff Pat Garrett
(7:15 p.m. after dinner)

A conspiracy to murder one of the most famous peace officers of the Old West? “Lock me up. I’ve just killed Pat Garrett.” Wayne Brazel was catapulted to fame in 1908 when he walked into the Las Cruces sheriff’s office and made that startling pronouncement. Despite his confession, many people believed the mild-mannered cowboy was incapable of murder and that he shot in self-defense. Ultimately, a jury absolved Brazel of guilt, even though evidence demonstrated that Garrett, the law enforcement officer who killed the notorious Billy the Kid almost a decade earlier, was shot in the back of the head… assassination-style! Garrett’s murder remains one of the Southwest’s most intriguing and enduring cold cases. New evidence found in public records uncovers a disturbing trail of money and a web of conspirators that paints a more comprehensive and compelling picture of what happened to The Man who shot Billy the Kid. — Dr. Heidi Osselaer

Attendees are invited to enjoy the Westerners’ monthly dinner
prior to the evening talk. Social hour begins at 5 p.m.,
with dinner served about 6 p.m. Cost for dinner is $30
per person; reservations required. A part of the dinner
program will include presentation of the Sharlot Hall Award.

Mail payment by July 26 to:
THE WESTERNERS • PO Box 11086, Prescott AZ 86304

For directions to Event Center:

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