Frontier Christmas: Visitors step back in time at Sharlot Hall Museum event
As visitors entered the Ranch House Saturday night during Sharlot Hall Museum's Frontier Christmas, they noted how good it smelled.
"Earlier we made a Christmas dinner for volunteers from recipes used in 1863 that included boiled wee pork, baked yams, beans, and plum pudding," said Jennifer Bartos with the Barrington Education Center.
Visitors to the annual event experienced the holiday as it was celebrated during territorial days before 1912.
Outside by the cooking fire, Dakota North, of Phoenix, asked a volunteer what a rag doll on display was made from as her mother Holly North stood nearby.
"The dolls were made from fabric scraps and were put on the Christmas tree as gifts for little girls," said Doris Mintz, a volunteer. "Little boys received pennywhistles for presents."
People listened to 11 members of Womansong sing "Whence Comes This Rush of Wings?" and later to the Sharlot Hall Museum Generation Youth String Band perform.
Nearby, children made Christmas decorations similar to those popular more than a century ago from nuts and paper.
Several children drew on circles of paper, then cut out spirals with help from Bi Sallomi, a volunteer with Sharlot Hall's Living History group, dressed in period clothing.
"There you go," said Sallomi, as James Roberts IV and Rhiannon Roberts of Dewey, finished cutting their ornaments and handed them ribbons to attach.
James said he liked learning about what Christmas was like back then.
"I like the cookies and apple cider," said Rhiannon.
Many people who attended the Yavapai County Courthouse lighting ceremony said they came to Frontier Christmas after seeing people in historical costume during the lighting who told them about the event.
"I saw a man in a military uniform from the 1800s. I'm in the service, so I asked him about it, and he told me about the event here," said Ferenc Feher of Yuma.
Costumed interpreters, including young Sharlot Hall, portrayed by Sarah Gibson, told about Christmas traditions in Prescott and guests looked at Christmas trees with 1865 vintage trimmings including homemade mittens.
Judge John Howard, portrayed by Mick Woodcock, sat by a table lit by candles and kerosene lamps and answered visitors questions inside a small cabin.
"If you can't get your work done during the day, it can't be that important," Howard said.
At the Frémont House, Jessie Benton Frémont, portrayed by Pattie Conrad, told people about how she met John C. Fremont when she was 15 years old, fell in love, eloped with him when she was 16, how he led multiple surveying expeditions through the western territory, and was governor of the Arizona territory from 1878 to 1881.
Schoolmaster Samuel Rogers, portrayed by Troy Groves, talked about how a 14-year-old who did good work on a ranch or farm was as valued in that culture as a clerk.
"To get an education back then you had to really want it, and work hard to get it," Groves said. "It's not like it is today."
People gathered around a player piano in the Sharlot Hall Building and explored displays.
Carmen Goswick, who lives near Poland Junction, said she knew about many of the mines here and knew a person who donated some items for the exhibit.
"It just brings back the history of the place," Goswick said.
Around the corner at the Frontier Mercantile, Reed and Robyn Wahlstrom of Phoenix enjoyed homemade cookies and hot apple cider.
"I like the time period and the way they portrayed life in the past," said Robyn, who is on the board of Pioneer Village in Phoenix, noting she would be taking some ideas from the event.