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14th annual Western Heritage Symposium set for Saturday

Margaret McCormick is the subject of a presentation at the Western Heritage Symposium Saturday, Aug. 5.

Margaret McCormick is the subject of a presentation at the Western Heritage Symposium Saturday, Aug. 5.

For the 14th year, the Sharlot Hall Museum will offer Prescott residents and visitors on Saturday a chance to travel back in time with a daylong exploration of the town’s early history.

What folks will glean in this Western Heritage Symposium is not the typical tales of people and places found in textbooks, or professed in classes about state history. Rather attenders will be treated to tales of a mysterious murder, a lawman attributed with taming Whiskey Row, the frontier version of debauchery and mayhem, and the early fight for women’s rights. And that’s not all – the event will include six sessions on a variety of topics given by local historians, educators and authors.

The symposium will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Prescott Centennial Center near the municipal airport and the Antelope Hills Golf Course. The seminars are offered at no cost with no reservations required. The event is co-sponsored by the museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners.

The morning will begin with a presentation by Juti Winchester, a history professor, about Margaret McCormick, wife of the second territorial governor, whose journals and letters provide insight into the people and pioneering spirit of early Prescott, according to museum officials.

An hour later, author John Westerlund will examine the “myth and mystery” behind the murder of Flagstaff pioneer Johnny Elden in 1887. The infamous killing was never solved.

In the afternoon, beginning at 1 p.m., Linda Ogo, a Yavapai tribe leader, will offer a detailed look into the Yavapai of Central Arizona. Her presentation, titled “From Time Immemorial,” traces the lifestyles, successes and challenges of the native people from prehistoric times to the early 1860s, museum officials said.

At 2 p.m., author/historian Janolyn LoVecchio presents an investigative look into the struggle for Arizona women to serve on juries. After gaining the right to vote in 1912, it took another three decades and two world wars before women were allowed to be impaneled in the courtroom, the release said.

The final talk of the afternoon, at 3 p.m., will be given by Brad Courtney, an author/historian. Courtney will share the story of James Dodson, the unheralded lawman who tamed Prescott’s most famous stretch of businesses – Whiskey Row – once home to more saloons than there was acreage.

Dodson’s life was the stuff of legends, undeniably making an impact on early Prescott, yet he remains an elusive figure, according to museum officials.

Sharlot Hall Museum Executive Director Fred Veil said this is a don’t-miss event.

“It’s a program that is certainly representative of Prescott … and its western heritage,” Veil said.

The presentations will highlight a variety of topics related to Prescott’s beginnings that many may not know -- stories of people and events that helped build the Prescott community, their legacies not to be forgotten, he said.

“We’ve got some really experienced speakers who are authors and historians ready to share their expertise and research with the people of Prescott,” Veil said. “It’s all about Arizona history.”

For additional information, contact Veil at 928-277-2002 or by email:

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