Originally Published: June 1, 2014 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT, Arizona - History repeated itself Saturday when Robert Groom led a community meeting at Fort Misery on the grounds of the Sharlot Hall Museum.
Hundreds turned out to hear speeches by Territorial Gov. John Goodwin (former Sharlot Hall Museum director John Langellier), Territorial Secretary Richard McCormick (Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis), Territorial Treasurer John Alsop (Sharlot Hall Museum Interim Director Fred Veil) and Groom (museum volunteer Troy Grove), who is responsible for Prescott's courthouse plaza and wide streets as the original surveyor.
"We're here for one purpose: to carve a capital out of this wilderness," Gov. Goodwin announced.
They stood next to the same log cabin where the community gathered on May 30, 1864 to choose the name of the new capital of the new territory of Arizona: Prescott. Gov. Jan Brewer's proclamation said Prescott is the only capital in the country's history created where no town already stood. It was the gold that drew in the settlers.
Visitors to the Sharlot Hall Museum this weekend have been celebrating the establishment of Prescott as well as the pioneers celebrated 150 years ago.
The free living history fun continues today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., including a 1 p.m. talk by Al Bates about the founding of Prescott and a 2 p.m. performance by cowboy musician Gail Steiger. The museum is located a few blocks west of the Yavapai County Courthouse where more festivities are taking place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Western Village also remains open all day.
Dozens of living history re-enactors are staffing the museum's schoolhouse, mercantile, blacksmith area, print shop and military encampment. They're even teaching visitors how to play Faro.
Volunteers at the print shop are giving away sesquicentennial posters created on the 1869 printing press. The three Azlin girls visiting from Oklahoma couldn't get enough of that on Saturday. Five-year-old Nicole Azlin called one of the historic presses "the twirly thing" and said it was her favorite activity of the day.
Who knows what she would have thought of the Civil War era medical devices that Bob Erb was displaying at the military encampment, especially when he described Civil War amputations in detail.
The museum opened its weekend celebration Friday evening with the Territorial Dinner, a fabulous garden party amidst the well-manicured lawn and flowerbeds of the museum grounds while the Central Arizona Concert Band performed period pieces.
Tables featured sesquicentennial memorabilia for guests to take home including calendars, wine glasses and a sesquicentennial poem by R.A. Greninger. The tables were named for pioneers and adorned with flowers and old-fashioned penny rugs made by museum volunteers.
Attendees included elected officials and long-time residents such as Yvonne Morgan, whose family has lived in the Prescott area since 1864, and U.S. District Court Judge Paul Rosenblatt, who remembers meeting Sharlot Hall as a child before she died in 1943. His late sister Dora Rosenblatt Heap later was the museum's director.
Territorial fashion show
The fashion show was more like an animated history show, with announcer Jennifer Bartos talking about the popular clothing of the day while quoting entertaining stories from historic Arizona Miner newspapers.
Men with grizzled beards were among the models, so it wasn't the usual fashion show in that sense either. They modeled clothing worn by everyone from military doctors to hunters.
Penny Cramer modeled the clothing a prostitute would wear when she wasn't working. While her hat and colors were relatively flamboyant, her dress covered all her skin from her ankles to her neck.
"When they came out on the street, they put their clothes on," Bartos noted.
The 1864 Census counted 1,087 people in Prescott, and only 42 of them were women, Bartos noted. Residents' listed occupations included housewife, laundress, mistress, jeweler, confectioner, silversmith and shoemaker.
The women of the day wore corsets that molded their rib cages the way historic Chinese women molded their feet by wrapping them with cloth, Bartos related.
"So you have to appreciate their suffering," she said.
The Arizona Miner made note of relatively frequent parties or "hops," including one by the Elysian Dance Club in the county courthouse. Although the Board of Supervisors refused to allow the dance in the courthouse, Deputy Sheriff Johnny Behan arrested the board chair and let the dance go on.
He later became the Cochise County sheriff during the infamous shootout at the OK Corral.
President Abraham Lincoln and his wife were the final models in the show before all the costumed participants fanned out onto the museum grounds, making it easy to imagine how the city must have looked 150 years ago.
Follow Joanna Dodder on Twitter @joannadodder
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