If you love the Prescott Area as much as we do, you’ll be interested to hear about its history. For better or worse, the bustling community that we know today as Prescott Valley is largely due to those who came before us.

Prescott Valley was once very different, so read on to find out more about how things were before we had housing communities, libraries, churches, and schools! 

Bill Fain famously said that someday, this valley would have more people than Prescott.

Prehistoric Prescott Valley – From Volcanoes to Tribes 

Before humans inhabited the land, Glassford Hill was an active volcano. After the volcano became inactive, wooly mammoths may have inhabited the area. Part of a tusk and some wooly mammoth bones were found in the Agua Fria riverbed in 1985.  

The Fitzmaurice Ruins show that hunters and gatherers inhabited the area for a while. The Mountain Patayan people may have lived here during that time, but local historians call the group who inhabited the area the “Prescott Culture,” due to the fact it may have been a mix of tribes.

Later, the Yavapai dwelt here and were influenced by the Hohokam  people. The Hohokam dwelt throughout Arizona and is believed to have thrived between AD 1-1450. They were highly organized artisans. 

Antonio de Espejo came to Jerome Mountain with Hopi guides in 1583. He was looking for gold but only found copper. Antonio’s visit was the first recorded contact with the Yavapai.

Another contact came when Farfan de los Godos came to the mines. He called the Yavapai “cruzados,” because they had crosses painted on their heads. After that, Juan de Onate led a group to Yavapai lands in 1598 and 1604-1605, and no European contact was made for over 200 years.  

The 1800s – Gold and War 

The Tolkepaya (Western Yavapai) joined with the Quechan (Yuma) tribe to fight US troops in early 1837.

The tribes’ goal was to defend against Major Samuel Heintzelman over a Quechan ferry crossing. They killed a group led by John Glanton, who had taken over the crossing. In response, the US government burned the fields of the Quechans and regained control of the area.  

In 1851, the Oatman family was ambushed by a Yavapai tribe. Roys Oatman and his wife were killed, and so were four of the seven children.

Lorenzo, their son, was left for dead but survived, while Olive and Mary Ann were sold to the Mojaves as slaves. In 1861, the Yavapai/Tonto Wars began, and 366 to 489 Yavapai were killed in massacres. Another 375 of them died during deportation.  

In early 1863, the Walker Party discovered gold in Lynx Creek (near Prescott). Pioneers eager to strike it rich moved westward in droves.

White settlements were built along the Hassayampa and Agua Fria rivers and the nearby valleys – in traditional Yavapai territory. In 1882, Sharlot Hall’s family moved to the area from Kansas and settled at Orchard Ranch, between present-day Prescott Valley and Dewey.   

William and Cary Fain came to the Arizona territory in 1874 and began ranching and farming in Verde Valley. In 1885, Englishman Thomas Gibson Barlow-Massicks came to the area.

The Massicks stage shop included a general store, post office, and other buildings, with about 100 people settled nearby. Mr. Barlow-Massicks built “the Castle” in 1890. The historic Victorian mansion on the southeast edge of Fain Park is one of the few still standing in the Prescott Valley area.  

The 1900s and on – A New Name 

A Fort Whipple soldier gave this area the name it kept for nearly 100 years when he said, “there is hardly a soul in that lonesome land between Fort Whipple and Fort Verde.” From that day until the day of its incorporation, the land was known as Lonesome Valley. 

The descendants of the Fain family were named Dan, Norman, and Bill. Dan (born as “Granville) was Norman’s father, and Bill was Dan’s grandson. Each one of them was instrumental in developing Prescott Valley but Bill is the one who earned the prestigious title of “The Father of Prescott Valley.”

Bill married Nancy Fain in 1960 and was the owner of Rafter 11 ranch. He famously said, “Someday, this valley will have more people than Prescott.” It is due to his efforts that it does.   

In 1965, developer Ned Warren purchased land from Norman III (Bill’s son) and officially named the town “Prescott Valley.” It was incorporated in 1979, and since then, the area has only continued to blossom.

Bill’s generosity toward our community continues to live on for everyone who has been blessed to live here. Fain Signature Group and Fain Land & Cattle Co. are still operated by the family to this day by Bill and Nancy’s sons, Ron and Brad Fain.  

Try Prescott 

Prescott and the surrounding areas are wonderful places to live, and we’re thankful for the contributions of everyone who made it possible. Although Prescott Valley’s official history began in the 1970s, there was a great deal of momentum leading up to its official incorporation.

(A big thank you to Darlene Packard of Prescott Valley Historical Society for helping us with this article!) 

The Yavapai and Apache tribes that settled here were among the first to see the value of the land. The popularity of Prescott due to gold mining operations played a part in the area’s development as well.

Of course, we can’t forget the many contributions of the Fain family. Without the help of all who came before us, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the medical care we have here. There would be no parks, playgrounds or restaurants. We’re so grateful to have a fantastic place to raise our children and grandchildren.  

Do you love Prescott and Prescott Valley as much as we do? Try Prescott today and stay at one of our top-of-the-line hotels. Prescott Valley is great place to visit and an even better place to live, so we hope you’ll give it a try.   


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