Western History Symposium

Copyright Prescott Corral of Westerners International, 2010-2015

About the Symposium


The Western History Symposium is an annual event co-sponsored by the Prescott Corral and the Sharlot Hall Museum featuring interesting and informative presentations by historians, educators and authors on a variety of subjects relevant to our western heritage. 


The Symposium is an all-day event comprised of hour-long presentations between 9:30 AM and 4:00 PM and an evening presentation held in coordination with the regular monthly dinner meeting of the Corral.


The Symposium always attracts a large audience of wide-ranging interests from throughout the state.  The quality of our programming is evident from the fliers used to publicize our past symposiums, which you can access by clicking on the links below.


The Skull Valley Historical Society, the Arizona Rough Riders Historical Association, the Prescott Valley Historical Society and the Arizona Humanities Council are regular participants in the event.


Hotel Information:


Hassayampa Inn

122 E. Gurley St

Prescott, AZ 86301


Click on any of the links to see previous Symposium programs

The Eleventh Annual Western History Symposium, Sponsored by


The Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International


was held Saturday, August 2, 2014 at the Hassayampa Inn, Prescott, AZ.

Western History Symposium—A Huge Success Once Again!


Once again, the Prescott Corral of Westerners and Sharlot Hall Museum put on a hugely successful program. The Eleventh Annual Western History Symposium presentations were informative, interesting and exceptionally well-delivered, making for a good show for the folks who turned out to hear the talks.  And there were plenty of attendees — an estimated 300 or more! Special thanks to the Symposium Coordinator Fred Veil for doing it again

Fred Veil, Symposium Coordinator

11th Annual Symposium
Aug. 2,  2014

Stage-Struck Soldiers: Military Theatre in Territorial Arizona (1867-1880)

Speakers: Dr. Thomas Collins & Wendy Collins   Time: 7:15 PM, Marina Room


This lively Readers Theater presentation tells the story of the rise of amateur military theatre at Camp Lincoln, Fort Whipple, and elsewhere in Territorial Arizona.  Amateur military theatrical performances date back to the Revolutionary War, when English soldiers on the Atlantic Coast entertained themselves with popular plays of the 1700s. American soldiers during the Civil War carried on the tradition, and as the U.S. Army moved into the Western Frontier, stage-struck soldiers performed in multi-purpose halls in the mining towns they protected. Men played the female roles until the 1870s, when officers’ wives broke the gender barrier.  Through amusing dialogues from melodramas, comedies, and a minstrel show, this presentation offers a glimpse of the kind of diversions enjoyed by the settlers of northern Arizona. 

Thomas P. Collins, Professor Emeritus of Theater, taught speech and theater at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville for thirty-one years. He and wife Wendy Collins co-founded the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival, for which he served as artistic director and she as costume designer.

Tom has authored the book Stage-Struck Settlers in the Sun-Kissed Land: The Amateur Theatre in Territorial Prescott, 1868-1903 as well as numerous articles about Prescott history.  He volunteers at the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and has made educational presentations at Fort Verde, the Sharlot Hall Museum, and service clubs in Prescott.  Tom is currently at work on a new book about the professional theater in the Arizona Territory.




Jewel on the Courthouse Plaza: The Legacy Behind Prescott’s Bandstand

Speaker: Don Larry                Time: 9:30 AM                         Place: Marina Room


The bandstand on Prescott’s Courthouse Plaza has much to tell. It begins with Lucien Bonaparte Jewell, Prescott’s first mayor, who organized Prescott’s first brass band, and was the first musician to perform on the new Courthouse Plaza in 1864. Over the years, civic bands and Fort Whipple’s regimental bands gave Saturday evening concerts at the bandstand for Prescott citizens. Among the musicians was Achille La Guardia, with his young son Fiorello alongside him learning to play cornet. For decades, the bandstand was where Prescott came to hear music, and after the Great Fire of 1900, the place to get a haircut. The bandstand was witness to Prescott’s long band legacy and a symbol of Prescott’s cultural heritage handed down by Lucien Jewell 150 years ago.


Don Larry is an architect and euphonium musician who founded the Territorial Brass, Arizona’s Official Historical Brass Band, in 1987. A graduate of the Arizona State University College of Architecture, his architectural practice includes working at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, plus London and Beijing. Don was an associate professor at the ASU College of Architecture from 1988 to 1998. He is a member of the Arizona Historical Society, the Historic Brass Society, and Prescott Corral of The Westerners. Don was recognized as an Arizona CultureKeeper in 2003 for the Arizona Centennial. He is the author of a pamphlet on Bungalow Architecture in the Pacific Northwest for Portland’s Museum of History. His paper on the brass band movement was recognized as the best territorial period paper at the 2014 Arizona History Convention.

Along the California Trail

Speaker: Dr. Jay Cravath                  Time: 10:30 AM                 Place: Marina Room


An ancient set of Indian paths and the natural flow of the Gila River created a major artery for travel through Arizona. The Gila provided a ready route for the earliest traders, including Toltecs of Mexico, who traded with the Mogollon, Anasazi and Hohokam, and later was utilized by the Butterfield Overland Stage Company. This program focuses on the varied travelers along this route—their struggles, stories and fates. It also explores the legacies these explorers left. The journals, stories, songs and art that came from these travels is rich and revealing of our state’s explorers and citizens.


Jay Cravath is a composer, musician, writer, and scholar in the field of music and Indigenous studies. He holds a Ph.D. from Arizona State University in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis on cultural education. He crafts programs built on his interests, creating interactive experiences that include stories, musical performances, illustrations and photography. His most recent publication is The Mohave Book for Little Ones. Cravath currently serves as the Cultural Director for the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe.

“They Was Out to Kill Us:” The Power Cabin Shootout

Speaker: Dr. Heidi Osselaer                 Time: 1:00 PM                     Place: Marina Room


The deadliest gunfight in Arizona did not take place on the streets of Tombstone, but rather in a remote canyon of the Galiuro Mountains in Graham County in 1918, decades after the frontier had closed.  Much of this shootout remains a mystery: Were the Power boys evading the draft during World War I? Who was ambushed that day, the lawmen or the Power family? On the surface the story looks like an Old West shootout, complete with a feud, murder mystery, and conspiracy theories galore, but it also foreshadows the emergence of a powerful federal government in the lives of average citizens.


Heidi Osselaer has a Ph.D. in History and teaches at Arizona State University, Tempe, focusing on women in Arizona history. Her book, Winning Their Place: Arizona Women in Politics was published by the University of Arizona Press and she served as the historical consultant for a documentary film on the deadliest gunfight in Arizona history, the Power shootout. She is a recipient of the Sharlot Hall Award for her “valuable contributions to the understanding and awareness of Arizona and its history” and plays an active role with the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail.  Heidi’s paper on the Power cabin shootout won the Goldwater Award for the best paper at the 2014 Arizona History Convention.

Mining in Yavapai County

Speaker: Bill Hawes     Time: 2:00 PM          Place: Marina Room


Yavapai County has been blessed with good conditions for ore deposits, and has been the site for much mineral production. Salt was mined by the Indians in the Verde Valley. Gold was panned by early prospectors. When the railroads arrived in the central highlands in the late 1800s, the mining industry expanded to include metals such as copper, lead and zinc, and non-metallics such as decorative stone, aggregates and cement. Prescott owes its existence to the discovery of gold in the Bradshaw Mountains in 1863, as did many other towns that are remembered today only as “ghost towns.” This presentation will explore the rich history of mining in Yavapai County and how it affected its growth and development.


Bill Hawes is a retired mining engineer who following his graduation from the New Mexico School of Mines worked throughout the Rocky Mountain states, mostly in underground mines. A mining history enthusiast, he is a member of the Mining History Association, the National Mining Hall of Fame, and the Mining Foundation of the Southwest. Bill has written numerous articles for the Mining History Journal as well as other mining publications. He currently serves on the American Mining Hall of Fame selection committee.

Above and Beyond: Arizona and the Medal of Honor

Speaker: Dr. John Langellier            Time: 3:00 PM                 Place: Marina Room


In the early years of the Civil War, the United States Congress enacted legislation authorizing the Congressional Medal of Honor to be awarded to those soldiers, sailors and marines who distinguished themselves by their acts of valor in our nation’s wars. Between 1862 and 1889, some 155 United States Army officers and enlisted men serving in today’s Arizona received our nation’s highest military decoration for valor. Since that time, these Medal of Honor recipients would be joined by five of Arizona’s native sons––an Army officer who campaigned against the Sioux in South Dakota, a World War I Army combat pilot, a World War II infantryman, and an Army officer and a Marine officer, both of whom were cited for their actions in Viet Nam.  This presentation is a tribute to the bravest of the brave; those men who earned our nation’s highest military decoration for valor.

John Langellier is the director of the Central Division of the Arizona Historical Society.  A graduate of the University of San Diego (B.A. & M.A.) and Kansas State University (Ph.D.), John is a nationally-recognized military historian. He is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 40 books and monographs, and has served as a consultant to motion pictures and television since 1973.  Prior to assuming his current position at the AHS his career in public history included nearly fifteen years with the Department of Defense, a decade at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles, service as deputy director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and most recently as executive director of the Sharlot Hall Museum.

The 2014 Program

A one-page flyer and a printable program for the Symposium are found here in PDF format. This is the flyer for the one just given in August; please watch this space early next spring for the 2015 program.