Celebrating the Centennial: 10 People that Shaped Arizona

Arizona’s history was shaped by an eclectic group of people from very different backgrounds. Learn how some of our communities originated and who left their footprint on today’s culture:

  1. Arizona State FlagJames Ohio Pattie: Arizona’s First Storyteller: The first Anglo-Americans to penetrate the wilderness regions of Arizona were that reckless breed known as Mountain Men. Prior to their arrival in the 1820s, few people east of “the Wide Missouri” were even aware of the vast, uncharted lands that would, some forty years later, be called Arizona.
  2. Antoine Leroux: An Old West Hero You’ve Probably Never Heard Of: Heroes of the Old West came about gaining public recognition in a variety of ways. Some, like Buffalo Bill Cody, came about it by self-promotion. Custer’s greatest glory came after his death at the Little Big Horn. Jim Bridger was glorified in the dime novels of Ned Buntline. The prolific journals of Pathfinder John C. Fremont, along with florid writing of his talented wife Jessie, made Kit Carson a legend in his own lifetime. Others like Pauline Weaver, Tom Fitzpatrick and Ewing Young never got the recognition they so richly deserved. Perhaps the most deserving of them all, yet the least known in Arizona, is Antoine Leroux.
  3. Greenway Road Named After Hero with Remarkable Wife: Greenway Road is named for Gen. John C. Greenway, a World War I hero and mining magnate. There is a statue of him in the old Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. He was, as noted, a war hero and big shot, but the street could have just as easily have been named for his wife, Isabella S. Greenway, one of the most remarkable women in Arizona history.
  4. The Story of Carl Hayden: A New Breed of Frontier Lawmen: The Old West was still pretty new in 1877 when Carl Hayden was born. His birthplace was a mud adobe house on the south bank of the Salt River that is now Monti’s La Casa Vieja. The railroad linking Phoenix with the Southern Pacific transcontinen­tal line at Maricopa and the rest of the civilized world was still ten years away.
  5. The Story of Sarah Bowman: Yuma’s First Citizen Left a Lasting Impression: One of the most colorful ladies who ever rode the old West was Sarah Bowman of Yuma. She didn’t fit the common frontier stereotype woman—calico dress, sunbonnet and a youngster hanging on each arm with another tugging at her skirt. In fact, there wasn’t anything common about Sarah.
  6. Pauline Weaver: The Story of Prescott’s First Citizen: When old Joe Walker, a big, strapping, ex-mountain man, and his party of prospectors arrived at Granite Creek in the Spring of 1863, another old mountain man, Pauline Weaver, was already camped there. The area where the future territorial capital city of Prescott would be founded was the stomping grounds of the Yavapai and Tonto Apaches.
  7. Lieutenant Amiel Whipple’s Good Deed Saved 47 Lives: On a hot afternoon in 1849 not far from the Yuma River Crossing, a small party of Army Topographical Engineers came upon a young Indian girl wandering in the desert. She was nearly dead from exposure, hunger and thirst. Many would have left the youngster to her fate. It was a tough, unforgiving land where the strong survived and the weak perished. The officer in charge was a kind, thoughtful man from Massachusetts, named Amiel Weeks Whipple.
  8. Old Arizona’s Dick Wick Hall Puts Salome on the Map, Humors Travelers: Some of the West’s most colorful characters ended up in Arizona sooner or later. For some, it was the lure of the boom town bonanzas. Others found it a refuge from the restrictions of more established societies in the East. For DeForest Hall, it was the wide open spaces and the weather. He liked the high desert around Wickenburg so well that he changed his middle name to Wick.
  9. Who is Ol’ Bill Williams… as in Williams, AZ?: The picturesque town of Williams takes its name from Bill Williams Mountain that towers above and provides as beau­tiful high country setting for a community as can be found in America. It’s a fitting place-name for ol’ Bill Williams, the “greatest fur trapper of ‘em all.”
  10. Ewing Young: The Southwest’s Premier Mountain Man: By and large, the history of the fur trade in the Southwest regions has been left out of the mainstream of American history. Trappers like Walker, Bridger, Fitzpatrick and especially Carson have become American legends and folk heroes, their fame coming primarily from exploits in the northern Rockies and Sierra Nevada. Contrary to popular myth, the Mexican border­lands had a great impact on industry. During the early 1830s, the heyday of the business, a third of the total furs shipped east came from the Southwest. And when discussing the Southwest fur trade, an obscure individual stands out above the rest. His name was Ewing Young.


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    Tombstone, “The Town Too Tough To Die,” used to have a beauty shop called “The Curl Up and Die.”

    If you live in Moccasin, Arizona you have to drive through three states and travel 360 miles to get to your county seat at Kingman. It’s only 140 miles as the crow flies but the crow flies across the Grand Canyon.

    The largest family living in Strawberry Arizona was named Peach. Tuffy Peach was the last pony express rider. He carried the mail from Camp Verde to Strawberry, Pine and Payson from 1910 until 1914.

    For many years the town of Nothing, population four, had a saloon called the “Ain’t Much.” It burned in 1988 and for a while there was nothing in Nothing.

    Liberty, Arizona was originally called Toothaker Place, not because of bad water but for the Toothaker family who farmed there.
    It was changed to Liberty during the patriotic fever of World War I.

    Out in the bleak desert of western Arizona is a town called Hope. Living there doesn’t dampen the spirit of its residents. They erected a sign on the way out of town that says, “If you can read this, you’re beyond Hope.”

    South of Prescott is a small community named Nowhere. The biggest problem facing the resident’s is do they spell it No Where or Nowhere.
    The Annual Corn Festival isn’t held in Cornville but down the road at Camp Verde. Part of the festivities is a “corny joke contest.”

    Buckeye Road doesn’t go through Buckeye. The main drag is Monroe.

    When the notorious Yuma Territorial Prison closed in 1909 it was empty until a year later when the Yuma High School burned down. For the next several years the inmate, er, students attended classes in the old prison. Yuma High’s students renamed their mascot the Horned Frogs, changing it to “Criminals.”

    The hillside town of Bisbee made “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not,” because its high school was the only one in America that stood four stories high and had a ground floor entrance on all four levels.

    Pinetop, Arizona is nestled in the largest stand of ponderosa pine in the United States but it was named, not for the trees, but for a tall, bushy-haired bartender named Walt Rigney. His pine bough-like hair inspired the nickname, “Old Pinetop.”

    But wait….there’s more…..later

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