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History lives at Western History Symposium on Saturday

Dennis Dilda, circa 1885, went on trial for murder, and was hanged within four months of killing a deputy sheriff.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Courtesy photo)

Dennis Dilda, circa 1885, went on trial for murder, and was hanged within four months of killing a deputy sheriff.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Courtesy photo)

RESCOTT - From its time as a territory to its statehood and beyond, the state of Arizona has seen its fair share of history as part of the West. And on Saturday, Aug. 1, historians, educators and authors will present various aspects of that history at the Western History Symposium, sponsored by the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International.

The 12th symposium, topics of the sessions include historic Indian trails, law and order in Yavapai County, and the legends surrounding Doc Holliday.

Sharlot Hall Museum Executive Director Fred Veil said that in the 12 years of presenting the symposium, it's grown from being held at the museum to the Centennial Center, where it will be this year.

"We started to present it here at the museum... it was very successful, we had the theater in here that seats about 75 people. We outgrew it," he said, noting that attempts to expand to other venues on the museum's campus were unsuccessful. "We moved to the Hassayampa about three years ago... but now we have moved this year to the Centennial Center."

He added that last year the symposium had over 300 people attend over the course of the day.

The topics for this year's presentations include George Hunt, the first governor of Arizona as a state, by Dr. David Berman; Discerning Warfare in the Archaeological Record, concerning the prehistoric hilltop sites in the central highlands, by Dr. David Wilcox; Childbirth on the Frontier, by Dr. Mary Melcher; Historic Indian Trails, by Jerome Ehrhardt; Law 'n' Order in Yavapai County, featuring a panel by Judge Paul Rosenblatt, Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher, and Deputy County Attorney Henry Whitmer; and a deconstruction of the legends and myths surrounding Doc Holliday, by Victoria Wilcox.

Veil said he believes the Law 'n' Order presentation will garner a lot of attention, mentioning the current exhibit in the museum displays the 150 years of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

"That particular exhibit inspired me to develop a program that will feature a sheriff, a prosecutor and a judge," Veil said. "The three of them will be taking various events that occurred during the course of this 150 years, with which they have familiarity."

Veil said that the panel will present stories about such events as a murder case in 1885, the story of Sheriff Jim Roberts and a robbery and murder over which Judge Rosenblatt presided over. And with the symposium touching on the history of the territorial to the early 20th century, Veil said that the Law 'n' Order panel will contrast the Dennis Dilda murder trial of 1885, where he was arrested and convicted in four days and was hanged four months later for shooting Deputy Sheriff Murphy, to the modern case of the Poland brothers that went on for 23 years before they were executed.

"It's an interesting contrast," Veil said. "People who come are very interested in history and archaeology wand things of that nature and we have a tremendous panel of speakers."

The 12th annual Western History Symposium will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Prescott Centennial Center, 1989 Clubhouse Drive.

Admission to the presentations is free, but there also is a dinner prior to the evening talk that is $24 per person; reservations are required - contact Veil at 928-445-3122 or to see if space is available or for more information.

Follow Reporter Jason Wheeler on Twitter @PrescottWheels. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2037 or at 928-642-5277.

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