Christmas Through The Years in Arizona

How Arizona has celebrated Christmas tells us as much about our state history as it does the holiday’s more universal symbols. A quick tour through our historic newspapers finds stories of church, trees, masquerades, gifts, Santa Claus, and cheer happening in ways that could only take place in our state.

 

Christmas 1920
Bisbee Daily Review, 1920-12-15, CHRISTMAS EDITION

The Weekly Arizona Miner-Prescott-1878

140 years ago, Prescott chronicled a visit from Santa Clause, with gifts for between two and three hundred children. “Some of the older ones also received valuable presents and immediately forgot their childhood days were things of the past,” the Miner reported. The 12th Infantry Band provided music. Among these celebrations, the paper also noted a soldier “partaking of the good things generally yesterday , including egg-nog and perhaps something stronger in the line of ‘O be Joyful’”. He later mistook a private residence for Ft. Whipple and demanded entry.

Salt River Herald-Salt River Valley-1878

Meanwhile, in Phoenix, the Salt River Herald reported on the Christmas tree at public schools, crowded church services, private parties, and turkey shoots and horse races. A ball took place at Smith & Stroud’s hall.

Christmas 1913
Arizona Republican 1913-12-25

Arizona Weekly Citizen-Tucson-1888

Ten years later, the Arizona Citizen in Tucson noted their city celebrated “appropriately”, detailing local church celebrations as well as a gathering of the Southern Pacific Library Association at the Masonic hall, with gas lamps dimmed to let the tree’s lit candles flicker.

The Argus-Holbrook-1898

120 years Holbrook saw a masquerade ball by both adults and children. The Argus reported on two masquerade balls. The children’s party lasted from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. “The little folks were attired in a variety of costumes, some beautiful, and some very ludicrous.”  The “fun ran high” until 9 p.m. Later, in the same hall, a party for the adults began at 11 and continued with dancing until 3 a.m.

Christmas 1915
Arizona Republican, 1915-12-25

 

Arizona Republican-Phoenix-1898

At the same time, if you wanted to do some shopping for the holidays in Phoenix, you could do so at the New York Store. If the name is unfamiliar, note that it was run by Sam Korrick and would be Korrick’s shortly thereafter.

Arizona Republican-Phoenix-1918

Overindulging in the holidays had not ceased when the Republican reported three men “wrapped in the arms of Bacchus” narrowly escaped a building burning in 1898. The fire, in the back of a shoe shop at 13 Wall Street, was probably caused by a lit cigarette. The men got rescued, the  fire put out, and the paper noted cause and consequence: “… their condition was due to potent libations they had consumed in an heroic endeavor to usher in the Yuletide in a fitting and proper manner. They will be arraigned in the city court this afternoon.”

Bisbee Daily Review, 1915-12-19, CHRISTMAS EDITION

 

 

 

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Research tip: Societies and Organizations

Societies and organizations can provide a clue to city life for both sociological and biographical researchers. Membership in the Elks, Masons, International Order of Odd Fellows, Woodmen of the World and similar societies can help genealogists make sense of their ancestors’ after-hours activities.

In this case, the Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner published a report of a Chautauqua group meeting in Prescott.  Chautauqua meetings were part of a national system of adult education featuring lectures, musical performers, and religious preachers. It had both local chapters and a tent-show circuit. Prescott’s appears to be a local, or “daughter,”  chapter.

Chautauquans 7-25-1888
Arizona Weekly Journal Miner : July 25, 1885

 

The death of Johnny Ringo

2018-07-13 Johnny RingoGunfighter Johnny Ringo died 136 years ago today, and legends still circulate on whether anyone was his “huckleberry,” as the fictional Doc Holiday states in 1993’s Tombstone. According to the Weekly Tombstone Epitaph, John Yost found Ringo’s body near the mouth of Morse Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains.

“Many friends will mourn him, and many others will take secret delight in learning of his death,” the story closes. Historians and writers have speculated on whoever would take secret delight ever since, but the Cochise County Coroner ruled it suicide. Ringo is buried not far from where his body was discovered, currently on private property.

Ringo 7-13-1882 picture
Tombstone Weekly Epitaph

Digitizing history: The Apache Sentinel

In 2017, the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records and University of Arizona Libraries received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to digitize 100,000 pages of historic Arizona newspapers as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

The newspapers digitized through this grant will be available to the public on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website as well as the Arizona Memory Project website.

A particular focus of this grant stated that newspapers would be selected to include communities under-represented in previous grant cycles, such as Spanish language and Mexican American newspapers, Native American community newspapers, African American community newspapers, and more.

One notable newspaper is The Apache Sentinel which began publication at Fort Huachuca in July of 1943. At one point during the war effort approximately 25,000 people were living at the fort, making it the third largest city in Arizona at the time. A primary demographic was African American soldiers.  According to the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, 14,000 black soldiers and WACs lived at Fort Huachuca, and the Apache Sentinel was the newspaper that chronicled the social activities and training of those who lived at the fort.

Apache_Sentinel-1

The Apache Sentinel is an important historical record for researchers and genealogists alike, with compelling photojournalism and biographical information.

Here you can see an issue of The Apache Sentinel from August 6, 1943 featuring articles by Thelma Thurston Gorham and photographs of WAACS dressed up for events, African American nurses, The Service Command’s Band, Hollywood celebrities visiting, soldier training in an office with WAACS and artist Anna Russel who contributes cartoons to the issue.

The State of Arizona Research Library is excited to digitize (and preserve) this important piece of Arizona cultural heritage. As part of these efforts, we are producing a short documentary about the history of the Apache Sentinel newspaper and its role at Fort Huachuca.

Fort Huachuca housed the 92nd Division of the Army – an all-black division of men. It also housed two companies of WAACs, the 32nd and 33rd, becoming the first WAAC companies assigned to an army training post. (The acronym WAACs was used until September of 1943 when the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps became the Women’s Army Corps.)

Apache_Sentinel-6

African American soldiers and WACs at Fort Huachuca lived under segregated conditions. In fact, at Fort Huachuca two officers clubs were built – Lakeside for white officers and Mountain View for black officers. When the Army built the Mountain View Officers Club it was supposed to be temporary, but more than 70 years later the building still stands, albeit in need of preservation.

In March of 2018, came the announcement that state officials, historic preservationists, and community members had received a $500,000 grant to continue their efforts to restore the Mountain View Officers Club building, saving it from demolition.

Army garrison spokeswoman Tonja Linton said only two black officers clubs from World War II remain standing in the U.S.  – Mountain View and one in Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

This announcement adds further excitement and interest to the story of Fort Huachuca, which swelled to a population of over 25,000 at war time, and thereby introduced thousands of soldiers to the Arizona desert.  It is a great example of how a single historic newspaper contributed to the cultural identity of Arizona.

This the 4th NDNP grant received by the State of Arizona Library, Archives and Public Records.

For more information, contact:

Alison Sweet, NDNP Project Coordinator
State of Arizona Research Library
602-926-3856
asweet@azlibrary.gov

Sativa Peterson, News Content Program Manager
State of Arizona Research Library
602-926-3662
speterson@azlibrary.gov

The Apache Sentinel, Vol. 1 No. 4, August 6, 1943.

 

Book Curses

Libraries have long employed book curses to protect their volumes, and the State Research Library is no exception! However, instead of calling upon ravens to pluck out the thieves’ eyes, ours invoke honor, history, and money.

Mulford Winsor, State Librarian from 1932-1956, affixed this warning to newspaper folio volumes kept at the State Library, noting they are “compiled and bound at considerable expense of time, labor, and money.” Winsor was active in newspaper work as well as politics. As State Librarian, he developed the newspaper collection for “all investigators, research workers and historians who may have need of it.”
Book PlateIronically, the changing nature of preservation and access would make such measures unnecessary.  The warning correctly notes “The pages become brittle with age, and are easily broken.”  But, to preserve the newspapers for the future generations, State Library staff have had to disobey many, many of these printed warnings.

Unbinding and cutting apart the volumes is the first step in microfilming and digitizing newspapers. Researchers who have seen microfilm of bound pages, with important details swallowed up in the bound crease of the page, know why.  Collators over the years have encountered stitched bindings, and newspapers held together with staples as thick as carpenters’ nails. At first the papers were merely microfilmed for preservation and access, but beginning in 2004, the National Digital Newspaper Program began funding digitization of the microfilm, which the State Research Library has participated in since 2007, leading to the Arizona Digital Newspaper Program, where researchers can enjoy what those massive newspaper folios protected—without the threat of a curse!

 

99 Years Ago Today: The Bisbee Deportation

bisbee_deportation

On July 12 1917, Sheriff Harry Wheeler and 2,000 deputies arrested over a thousand Bisbee men. Members of the International Workers of the World, these striking miners were forced at gunpoint onto a train and then left in the desert outside Columbus, New Mexico. The event soon became known as the Bisbee Deportation. To see what The Bisbee Daily Review or other Arizona newspapers have to say about this event visit the Digital Arizona Library and  explore the Arizona Digital Newspaper Program webpage.

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