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    About Sharlot M. Hall

    Sharlot Mabridth Hall

    "To the mother that bore my body;  to the land that mothered my soul."

    —dedication from "Cactus and Pine," Sept. 10, 1924

    Sharlot-M-Hall-HistorianSharlot Mabridth Hall was an unusual woman for her time: a largely self-educated but highly literate child of the frontier. Born October 27,1870, she traveled with her family from Kansas to the Arizona Territory in 1882. Her impressions of this journey remained with her all of her life. She loved ideas and the written arts and expressed her fascination with Arizona frontier life through prose and poetry.

    The Hall family raised horses and mined gold on Lynx Creek, then built a homestead that they called Orchard Ranch. James and Adeline along with their children, Sharlot and Ted, kept pigs and cows and grew vegetables, apples, and pears.

    Sharlot attended school for a couple of brief terms in a log-and-adobe schoolhouse four miles from the ranch, then boarded in Prescott for one year of schooling in town. There she met Henry Fleury, who had come to Prescott in 1864 as secretary to the first governor, John Goodwin, and who lived in the old log Governor's Mansion. The gruff, grey-bearded Fleury told Sharlot many fascinating stories of Prescott's early times.

    In 1909, Sharlot was appointed Territorial Historian and became the first woman to hold territorial office. At about this time she was also very active in the national political arena, first as a lobbyist and later as a presidential elector. In 1927, Sharlot agreed to move her extensive collection of artifacts and documents into the Old Governor's Mansion and open it as a museum.

    Her diligent efforts inspired others to contribute to the preservation of early Arizona history. After her death on April 9, 1943 a historical society continued her efforts to build the complex that bears her name. In 1981 Miss Hall became one of the first women elected to the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame.

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    Moving West and Sharlot as Ranch Woman

    Sharlot-Hall-Museum Sharlot-M-HallBorn in Kansas in 1870, Sharlot was given her name by an uncle who claimed it was of Indian origin. Her earliest memories were of Comanche raids, grasshopper plagues, prairie fires, and of pet buffalo killed by wolves. In 1882 the Hall family crossed the Santa Fe Trail and went on to Arizona. They settled on Lynx Creek near today’s Prescott Valley. It was the final decade of the great western frontier, and it’s memories stayed with Sharlot.

    Sharlot’s father, James Hall, worked the hydraulic, gold mining operation on Lynx Creek. In 1890 he built a ranch above the junction of the creek with the Agua Fria River and planted fruit trees. Until 1927 "Orchard Ranch" was Sharlot’s home. However, this home was often a burden for Sharlot as she lived the title "Ranch Woman." The hardships of ranch life, and particularly of ranch women, were a frequent theme in her writing.

    Saving the Past

    Sharlot Hall saw the need to save Arizona’s history. The territory had been founded in 1863 and by 1900, as early settlers died, their possessions were lost, along with their stories. There was also widespread looting of Arizona’s spectacular Indian ruins to supply the eastern market with "Indian relics." To save what she could, Sharlot began to collect both Native American and pioneer material.

    A Home for Her Collection

    As early as 1907, Sharlot Hall planned to develop a museum for her collections. Finally, on June 20th, 1927, she signed a contract to house these artifacts in Arizona’s 1864 Governor’s Mansion and to operate it as a public museum. For the rest of her life she worked to preserve the old log building and to save Arizona’s historic past. Sharlot had called her home and business the Old Governor’s Mansion Museum and in the 1930s with the help of Civil Works Administration she had the Sharlot Hall Building built behind it and began to call the new building the Sharlot Hall Museum. After Sharlot’s death in 1943 the entire museum was officially named for her.

    Sharlot as a Woman

    Sharlot-Hall-Museum-Sharlot-Hall-As-A-WomanIn an age when woman were often considered inferior to men, she loved a good fight, and broke gender barriers. Sharlot was a free soul and her writing expresses this sense of freedom.

    "But I do enjoy everything - just the sunshine on the sand is beautiful enough to keep one giving thanks for eyes to see with. And all day long I'm glad, so glad, so glad that God let me be an out-door woman and love the big things. I couldn't be a tame house cat woman and spend big sunny, glorious days giving card parties and planning dresses -- though I love pretty clothes and good dinners and friends - and would love a home where only the true, kind, worth-while things had place.

    I'm not unwomanly - don't you dare to think so - but God meant woman to joy in his great, clean, beautiful world - and I thank Him that He lets me see some of it not through a window pane.

    Your telegram came yesterday - on from Phoenix. Every one of my happiest thoughts, all the days through, ends in a prayer for you - and gratitude beyond words that I have you to call friend - dear, dear, dear Great Comrade. Goodnight, Amigo, God keep you everywhere. (signed) S. M. H."

    —Sharlot Hall to Matt Riordan, September 1910

    (Typewritten letter to Matt Riordan, September 1910)

    Sharlot as a Politician

    Sharlot M Hall Copper Gown Hat Sharlot Hall Museum Prescott ArizonaWhen Calvin Coolidge won the presidential election of 1925, Sharlot was selected as the elector who would deliver Arizona’s three electoral votes to Washington. For the trip the Arizona Industrial Congress commissioned an overdress of copper links which she wore to the inauguration. Later, Sharlot often wore this unusual garment with its copper accessories and a cactus hat as she lectured about Arizona and it’s resources.

    Photo: Hat made of prickly pear cactus, worn with oversheath and Copper overdress by Whiting and Davis Co. (Makers of Mesh Bags) of Plainville, MA. This was presented to Sharlot in 1925 by the AZ Industrial Congress for her trip to Washington D.C.

    Sharlot as Activist

    In 1906, Sharlot Hall became active in the crusade against the congressional measure which would have brought New Mexico and Arizona into the Union as one state. Sharlot toured Arizona gathering opposition to the bill, and wrote a 64 page article in "Out West Magazine" praising Arizona’s resources. Her epic poem, "Arizona," describing why Arizona deserved separate statehood, was placed on the desks of each congressman. The measure was defeated, perhaps due, in part, to Sharlot’s efforts.

    Sharlot as a Historian

    Sharlot served as Arizona’s territorial historian from Sept. 1909 until Feb. 1912. She was the first woman to hold a salaried office in the territory. During her tenure, she visited prehistoric ruins and Indian Reservations, and collected pioneer material throughout Arizona. In July 1911, Sharlot began the longest expedition of her tenure, a ten week wagon trip across the wild, remote Arizona Strip north of the Grand Canyon.

    Sharlot as Poet

    Sharlot-Hall-BookARIZONA
    by Sharlot M. Hall

    No beggar she in the mighty hall where her bay-crowned sisters wait;
    No empty-handed pleader for the right of a free-born state;
    No child, with a child’s insistence, demanding a gilded toy;
    But a fair-browed, queenly woman, strong to create or destroy.
    Wise for the need of the sons she has bred in the school where weaklings fail;
    Where cunning is less than manhood, and deeds, not words avail;
    With the high, unswerving purpose that measures and overcomes;
    And the faith in the Farthest Vision that builded her hard-won homes.

    Link her, in the clean-proved fitness, in her right to stand alone –
    Secure for whatever future in the strength that her past has won –
    Link her, in her morning beauty, with another, however fair?
    And open your jealous portal and bid her enter there
    With shackles on wrist and ankle and dust on her stately head,
    And her proud eyes dim with weeping? No! Bar your doors instead
    And seal them fast forever! But let her go her way –
    Uncrowned, if you will, but unshackled, to wait for a larger day.

    Ay! Let her go barehanded; bound by no grudging gift;
    Back to her own free spaces where her rock-ribbed mountains lift
    Their walls like a sheltering fortress; back to her house and blood;
    And we of her blood will go our way and reckon your judgment good.
    We will wait outside your sullen door till the stars that ye wear grow dim
    As the pale dawn-stars that swim and fade o’er our highty Canyon’s rim;
    We will lift no hand for the bays ye wear, nor covet your robes of state –
    But Ah! By the skies above us all we will shame ye while we wait!

    We will make ye the mould of an empire here in the land ye scorn;
    While ye drowse and dream in your well-housed ease that States at your nod are born.
    Ye have blotted your own beginnings, and taught your sons to forget
    That ye did not spring fat-fed and old from the powers that bear and beget;
    But the while ye follow your smooth-made roads to a fireside safe of fears,
    Shall come a voice from a land still young to sing in your age-dulled ears
    The hero song of a strife as fine as your father’s fathers knew
    When they dared the rivers of unmapped wilds at the will of a bark canoe.

    The song of the deed in the doing; of the work still hot from the hand;
    Of the yoke of man laid friendly-wise on the neck of a tameless land.
    While your merchandise is weighing we will bit and bridle and rein
    The floods of the storm-rocked mountains and lead them down to the plain;
    And the foam-ribbed, dark-hued waters tired with that mighty race,
    Shall lie at the feet of palm and vine and know their appointed place;
    And out of that subtle union, desert with mountain flood,
    Shall be homes for a nation’s choosing, where no home else had stood.

    We will match the gold of your minting, with its mint-stamp dulled and marred
    By the blood and tears that have stained it, and the hands that have clutched too hard,
    With the gold that no mas has lied for, the gold no woman has made
    The price of her truth and honor, plying a shameless trade:
    The clean, pure gold of the mountains, straight from the strong, dark earth;
    With no tang or taint upon it from the hour of its primal birth.
    The trick of the Money-changer, shifting his coins as he wills,
    Ye may keep–no Christ was bartered for the wealth of our lavish hills.

    "Yet we are a little people–too weak for the cares of state!" –
    Let us go our way–when ye look again ye may find us, mayhap, too great.
    Cities we lack–and gutters where children snatch for bread.
    Numbers–and hordes of starvelings, toiling but never fed.
    Spare pains that would make us greater in the pattern that ye have set;
    We hold to the larger measure of the men that ye forget –
    The men who from trackless forests and prairies lone and far,
    Hewed out the land where ye sit at ease and grudge us our fair-won star.

    "There yet be men, my masters" – though the net that the trickster flings
    Lies wide on the land to its bitter shame, and his cunning parleyings
    Have deafened the ears of Justice–that was blind and slow of old; –
    Yet Time, the last Great Judge, is not bought, or bribed, or sold;
    And Time and the Race shall judge us–not a league of trafficking men,
    Selling the trust of the people, to barter it back again; –
    Palming the lives of millions, as a handful of easy coin –
    With a single heart to the narrow verge where Craft and State-craft join.

    Sharlot as Writer

    shbookplateThe Genesis of the Earth and the Moon
    (A Moqui Folk-Tale) by Sharlot M. Hall

    Wabano, Great Goddess (this, believe we), sat in the Garden of the Worlds, and wove a large web of gray as a cloak for Maneti, Great God, the Sun.

    But being naturally careless, Wabano did not weave the cloak of good fabric, and Maneti becoming angry, bade her depart from the domain of gods. This Wabano refused to do, and became so angry, in her turn, that Maneti, Great God, the Sun, feared to force her to obey; for she was his sister and she knew the secret by which he kept his power and supremacy among the many gods.

    To pacify her, and that she willingly might continue to keep his secret, Maneti, Great God, the Sun, offered to grant any one wish she might make.

    Wabano, Great Goddess, walked in the Garden of the Worlds and reflected. When she next saw Maneti she asked to make a new world, for in all the worlds she knew the people were unhappy.

    Maneti said he would, of course, permit her to make the new world; but he warned her she would see only more unhappy people.

    Wabano called her husband to help in the work, and then she went out into the rimless space to find a suitable place for her new world.

    When she had decided upon a good location she called her husband and told him to bring rocks and build a strong foundation for her world. But he, being the Fire-God, could not resist throwing a fire-brand in, and the new earth caught fire. He, in his alarm, brought fresh piles of rocks, but he could not smother the flame he had made, and beneath all the earth-rocks the fire-brand is still burning, even to this day.

    Wabano, Great Goddess, in her anger ordered him to bring a jar of water to put out the fire, and when the water had cooled the surface, in her angry might she tore loose a mass of the fiery rock and hurled it away, high in the air.

    And when Maneti, Great God, the Sun, hid his face and darkness came, the fiery rock-mass in the sky shone like silver and gave light to the new earth, and the mass shines up to this time, at night.

    Where Wabano, Great Goddess, tore loose the burning rocks, streams of boiling water gushed out; and to this day these steaming streams may be seen in the country far to the north of Moqui-land.

    Wabano, Great Goddess, made her new earth very beautiful and she really was for some time as happy as she thought she would be; but her husband was sadly punished for throwing the ever-living fire-brand in among its foundations.

    He had seized an enchanted jar when he went to bring water, and touching its fatal handles he was condemned to bring water to the new earth forever.

    He is not allowed to return through Wabano’s Garden on his way back from the great lake where all the worlds get water, but is forced each time to pass through the moon, or shining rock-mass. His face frequently can be seen in the full moon. He often spills the water from the enchanted jar and this the Moquis call rain.

    And, further, in his despair that never may he be freed from his task he beats against the jar in a hope of breaking it; the noise he makes is the thunder.

    When Wabano hears the thunder her eyes flash with an angry, far-streaking and arrowy light that frightens the earth-people, and even Maneti, Great God, the Sun, hides his face under the gray cloak.