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Wed, Nov. 20

Ruth Gilpin, Paulden pioneer, receives Sharlot Hall Museum award

Courtesy photo
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett of Prescott, left, presents the Sharlot Hall Award to Jessie Ruth Gilpin, during the museum's annual membership meeting June 18.

Courtesy photo Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett of Prescott, left, presents the Sharlot Hall Award to Jessie Ruth Gilpin, during the museum's annual membership meeting June 18.

Jessie Ruth Gilpin - a 94-year-old author, historian and fiddler whose parents founded the community of Paulden - is the 2008 recipient of the Sharlot Hall Award for valuable contributions to the understanding and awareness of Arizona and its history.

Gilpin, much like the late Sharlot Hall who founded a museum in Prescott, came to Arizona as a young girl and soon became deeply rooted in the state's history.

Gilpin's parents founded Paulden, which consisted of a grocery store, café, gas station, garage, cabins, and a post office where she ultimately served as postmistress for some 17 years. She and her husband, Lionel Gilpin, raised their four children in Paulden.

Her interest in the area's ranching history inspired her to author "Paulden Pioneer Family and Ranching History," detailing the lives of her parents and other early settlers of the area.

Gilpin's second book details memories of her interesting life. Over the years, she has played key roles in bringing a fire station to Paulden and a municipal swimming pool to Chino Valley.

At age 94, she remains active in community events and the preservation of local history, and continues as a cornerstone of the Arizona Old Time Fiddler's Association. An accomplished musician, Gilpin has won many awards over the years in state fiddling competition.

The annual Sharlot Hall Award originated in 1984 to recognize a living Arizona woman as a counterpart to the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame, which honors women posthumously. A committee reviews nominations from around Arizona.

Gilpin's award presentation took place at Sharlot Hall Museum's annual membership meeting June 18 on the museum grounds in Prescott. Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett of Prescott, the meeting's keynote speaker, presented the award to Gilpin and congratulated her on her life achievements.

In accepting the award, Gilpin said, "I would just like to say thank you to everyone who had a part in choosing me, and to Mary Leavitt who nominated me for this award. I had no idea it was going to turn into something like this.

"It's a thrill of my life, especially with Ken here. I knew Ken when he was just a little guy, not very old. I was good friends with his mother and dad. I'm very happy to have gotten this award tonight."

Museum founder Sharlot Mabridth Hall (1870-1943) achieved fame as a poet, activist, politician, and Arizona's first territorial historian. As early as 1907, she saw the need to save Arizona's history and planned to develop a museum. She began to collect both Native American and pioneer material.

Hall became the first woman to hold territorial office (as territorial historian) in 1909, which was 11 years before the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in the United States. In 1928, she opened a museum in the first territorial governor's residence and offices in Prescott, featuring her extensive collection of artifacts and documents.

For the remainder of her life, she worked to preserve Arizona's historic past. Her diligent efforts inspired others to continue contributing to the preservation of early Arizona and American history.

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