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Thu, Nov. 14

Learn some western history at symposium

Prescott Fire on Whiskey Row. (Sharlot Hall Museum)

Prescott Fire on Whiskey Row. (Sharlot Hall Museum)


Tent City on Whiskey Row. (Sharlot Hall Museum)

This weekend is the time to learn some western history, more specifically Southwestern history, at the 16th annual Western History Symposium Saturday, Aug. 3, co-sponsored by Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott corral of Westerners International.

Lecture presentations on six topics are expected over the day, including a comparative examination of Wyatt Earp and Geronimo, the ongoing saga of the Lost Dutchman Mine and its legends of riches, a pictorial essay of the Great Whiskey Row Fire and the cold-case murder of Sheriff Pat Garrett, according to a news release from Sharlot Hall Media & Marketing Manager Ken Leja.

Author Leo Banks begins the morning session at 9:30 a.m. contrasting and comparing Earp and Geronimo.

“Both had celebrity reputations on the Arizona frontier at roughly the same time,” the release states. “Leo Banks asks the question, ‘did these legendary men have anything in common?”


Wyatt Earp (Sharlot Hall/Courtesy)

Following at 10:30 a.m., Erik Berg will talk about the Chicago cowgirls at Muleshoe Ranch, telling the story of Chicago-born artist, wealthy socialite and divorcee Jessica McMurray, who created a rustic refuge in a remote canyon. During the Great Depression, she and a small group of once-wealthy women created a hideaway for artists, scientists and scoundrels.

After lunch at 1 p.m., Dr. Thomas Collins is set to explain “The Story of Howey’s Hall,” looking into where laughter, applause, music and melodrama rang for 16 years as Prescott’s forgotten frontier playhouse.

“Collins distinguishes legend from documented fact and gives a vivid picture of the actors and plays that thrilled Prescott’s pioneers, and traces the building’s history from a mercantile to play house to fire house,” the release states.

Brad Courtney will dive into a pictorial presentation of “The Great Whiskey Row Fire of 1900” at 2 p.m., showcasing that for a frontier town such as Prescott, “a fire of frightening dimension wasn’t a question of ‘if?’ but ‘when!”


Geronimo (Sharlot Hall/Courtesy)

At 3 p.m., Dr. Tom Glover will then explore the legend of the “Lost Dutchman Mine” and the story of Jacob Waltz, a man who claimed to know where its riches were.

During the event’s dinner program, for which reservations are closed, Christine Marin, professor emeritus at Arizona State University will be presented with the Sharlot Hall Award, an annual recognition given to an Arizona woman who has made valuable contributions to the understanding and awareness of Arizona and its history.

“A native of Globe, Arizona, Ms. Marin is being honored for her extensive research and education work in 20th century Mexican-American and southwest history,” according to a second news release from Leja. “Ms. Marin joins a who’s who of distinguished women that includes Catherine Ellis (2017 honoree) for her four decades of documenting the Mormon influence on Arizona; Nancy Kirkpatrick Wright (2016) for her lifetime of research work as an historian and author; Winifred ‘Winn’ Bundy (2015) of the Singing Wind Bookshop near Benson for her literary preservation; and Sylvia Neely (2014) for her research and preservation.”

The final presentation, at 7:30 p.m., highlights “the story of the man who killed the man who killed Billy the Kid.” In 1908, Wayne Brazel claimed fame with his announcement of having killed Sheriff Pat Garrett, and Dr. Heidi Osselaer will go behind the story, look into a possible more sinister story and take a look at one of the Southwest’s most intriguing and enduring cold cases.

Held at Prescott Centennial Center, 1989 Wineglass Drive, the symposium is free to attend, though there is limited seating available.

For more information, visit

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