Prescott Arizona Business Directory

Prescott Arizona History

Early Cultures

The first known settlers to the area are believed to be the Prescott Branch Patayan and Southern Sinagua (whose name means without water). They inhabited the area between 500 AD and 1425 AD. It is not known why they left or where they went though it is assumed it was due to warfare, drought or clashes with the Yavpai people. Several Hopi clans trace their origins to the Sinagua and believe their ancestors left due to religious reasons. In more recent times the Yavapi occupied the area. The Yavapai people had little contact with Anglos until the discovery of Gold in the Prescott area.

Petroglyphs near Lynx Creek
Petroglyphs (Rock Engravings) from early Prescott cultures near Lynx Creek

Gold!

The discovery of gold in 1838 put Prescott on the modern map. And the Walker's finding more deposits in 1861 further influenced development. President Abraham Lincoln, looking for funding for the North during the civil war created the Arizona Territory in 1864.

Prescott Arizona, named after famed historian and author William H. Prescott, started in 1864 and was incorporated in 1883. Prescott was named the capital of the Arizona Territory as President Lincoln wanted the capital far away from Confederate leaning cities in the south. Prescott remained the capital until 1867 when the honor was bestowed upon Tucson. 10 years later Prescott again became the capital, only to have the capital moved to Phoenix in 1889. Today, Prescott remains the County Seat of Yavapai County which includes the cities of Prescott Valley and Chino Valley among others.

Fort Whipple

Originally named Fort Cienega and established in 1864 the fort was a simple row of shacks along the river. Renamed for Lt. Amiel W. Whipple the fort grew and once was spread out over 1,700 acres. The Fort served as a base for the Calvary during the Indian wars of 1864 to 1882. It also served as the headquarters of the Arizona Volunteers, also known as the Rough Riders during the Spanish American War. In the 1880's a hospital was built. After the turn of the century Fort Whipple was converted to a tuberculosis sanatorium and in 1920 began to be used for the treatment of disabled veterans, a role it continues to be used for today. Officers quarters built in 1907 serves as a museum at Fort Whipple and is open to the public though with minimal hours of operation. If you can find them open, the museum has an extensive display of historical artifacts and is well worth visiting.

Modern Day Fort Whipple / Prescott VA
Modern Day Fort Whipple / Prescott VA Facility, Granite Mountain at top right

Fire

Several fires plagued early downtown Prescott, as it did many towns including nearby Jerome. One story relates that as the fire of 1900 started by a miners candle was burning the town, the townspeople saved the bar from the Palace Saloon, Arizona's oldest restaurant and bar, and continued to drink from the Courthouse square as the town burned down. Whiskey Row as the area was called still exists today and draws crowds to the many "drinking establishments".

Whiskey Row in Prescott Arizona
Whiskey Row - Downtown Prescott

"Everybody's Hometown"

Downtown Prescott has a small town flavor with the center square holding the granite courthouse in a beautiful setting of green grass and large beautiful trees. Surrounding streets have a great variety of shops from restaurants and boutique shops to specialty shops for hiking gear. With nearly 450 miles of hiking trails in the 1.25 million acres of the Prescott National Forest, you may just wear out a pair of boots trying to hike them all. The hiking trails in the area were a huge attraction to me in moving here.

Other Claims to Fame

Prescott has many Victorian style homes and is considered to be one of the most Midwestern appearing cities in the Southwest. This may contribute to the "Everybody's Hometown" moniker. In fact the "Town Square" contributed greatly to my desire to move here. There are over 800 buildings in Prescott on the National Register of Historic Places.

Home to the World's Oldest Rodeo, established in 1888. A great and exciting event worth going to. So far I've yet to see 8 seconds on a bull!

Arizona Pioneer's Home, a retirement home, was intended for Arizona founders. Originally built to house 40 men it was expanded in 1916 to accommodate 20 women. In 1929 it was expanded again to with the addition of Arizona's Hospital for Disabled Miners. Capacity today is 150 beds. Residents of the home have included John Miller who claimed to be Billy the Kid and "Big Nose Kate" Elder, real name Mary Katherine Horony Cummings who was the common law wife of gunfighter Doc Holliday.

Famous Prescott residents include...

  • Sam Steiger, former Congressman and former Mayor of Prescott
  • Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille, The Captain and Tennille duo
  • John Kinney was an outlaw who formed the John Kinney Gang, rival to Billy the Kid's Lincoln County Regulators
  • And Cody Lundin, survival expert and co-star of the Discovery Channel series Dual Survival

For more information on Prescott Arizona see the Prescott Demographics page.

Research for this page came from...