Who was Sharlot Hall? This remarkable, determined pioneer woman continues to be a part of Prescott right up to today—and not just because of the Sharlot Hall Museum, which finds its home in the most historic building in downtown (read on to learn more). In this short article, we’ll give you a small glimpse into the life of an impressive woman who’s left a big impact on this great northern Arizona town.
Journalist, Historian, and Poet from Her Youth
Sharlot Mabridth Hall was born in 1870 in Lincoln County, Kansas, and arrived in Prescott by covered wagon with her family at the age of 12. In those days, Arizona was still only a U.S. territory. Early on in life as young home-schooled girl, she began to develop an intense interest in the history of the Prescott area. As she grew, so did her interest in history, and in time she became quite the writer, authoring stories about Prescott’s early days. She also wrote about her own frontier experiences, both on the trail and on her ranch at home.
As she grew, Sharlot continued to display that same adventurous spirit she had as a girl. She also became a woman of great vision and had a deep desire to preserve the vanishing heritage and traditions of her adopted northern Arizona home. This passion—along with her skills as a writer—eventually led her to become an associate editor of Out West Magazine. She was also appointed Territorial Historian in 1909, making her the first woman in Arizona history to hold public office.
In 1911, Sharlot published her first volume of poetry, “Cactus and Pine: Songs of the Southwest,” which is still available for purchase today. She would go on to become a distinguished, celebrated poet during her lifetime.
Arizona Stands Alone: The Poem that Saved a State
As if being an accomplished poet, journalist, and historian weren’t enough, Sharlot was also an activist. One of her most important political dust-ups came when she lobbied against a bill that would have brought Arizona and New Mexico together as a single state. In what can only be described as true Sharlot Hall fashion, she wielded her pen in defense of her beloved state and published a poem entitled Arizona, and made sure that copies of it were on the desk of every U.S. senator and representative. The bill was defeated and Arizona’s autonomy was saved, due in part to her efforts.
Sharlot Hall’s Legacy of a History Preserved
Sharlot Hall was a woman determined to preserve Arizona’s history for future generations. In the mid 1920s, she leased the first Territorial Governor’s Mansion—still located at 415 West Gurley Street in Prescott. (The mansion is the oldest surviving building from Arizona’s territorial days and still stands in its original location.) Sharlot took it upon herself to restore the mansion and fill it with artifacts from Arizona’s pioneer days, then she opened it as a museum in June of 1928. As you might suspect, the museum now bears her name and is known as “the mother of Arizona’s museums.”
It is impossible to overstate Sharlot Hall’s legacy. She left an indelible mark on Arizona, especially in Prescott, and especially through her writing. Before her death in 1943, she published over 500 articles, stories, and poems.
Like History? Try Prescott!
Today, there are tributes to this outstanding pioneer woman all over the city of Prescott. For instance, the Sharlot Hall Room at the famous Grand Highland Hotel is just one great example. It goes without saying that if you like Old West history, you’ll love Prescott—so come and visit! We’d love to see you here!
With as much history as there is to this historic northern-Arizona city, this article has barely scratched the surface. Prescott has so much to offer for visitors and residents alike—top-notch artwork for art aficionados, great parks for the kids, tantalizing cuisine for foodies, and so much more. If you’ve never visited Prescott, there’s no better time than the present. One day here and you’ll know in an instant why it’s “everybody’s hometown.”
Well, what are you waiting for? Find a hotel and book your next visit to Prescott today!