History of the Prescott Corral
Founding Prescott Corral Members, History & Events
Copyright Prescott Corral of Westerners International, 2010-2016
FOUNDING OF THE PRESCOTT CORRAL
Dr. Charles Franklin Parker, minister of the Prescott First Congregational Church and founding president of Prescott College, invited ten men for a Dutch treat dinner at the Hassayampa Hotel on November 10, 1961. In attendance were Walt Coburn, J.D. Freeman, Matt Culley, Phil Rockfellow, Harold Koechling, Budge Ruffner, Gail Gardner, Charles Greene, Chick Orme and Parker. Charles U. Pickrell, former Director of the Arizona Extension Service, was invited as the principal speaker. He talked about the activities of the Tucson Corral, where he was Sheriff, and gave a brief history of Westerners, who they were and what were their objectives.After discussion it was decided that the Prescott group would operate as a Westerners Corral on a temporary basis for four months. Danny Freeman was made Temporary Sheriff and Harold Koechling Secretary-Treasurer. Before the conclusion of the trial period the group decided to set up a permanent organization. Danny Freeman continued as Sheriff, Gail Gardner was Deputy Sheriff Harold Koechling Keeper of the Chips and Budge Ruffner, Trail Boss.The Keeper of the Chips was authorized to send $25.00 to Westerners Foundation, Stockton, California, to purchase an official Westerners Buckskin Charter. This Charter, Number 18, is dated March 1, 1962. It was attached to an old single-tree donated by charter member Frank Armer owner of the Spider Ranch near Fair Oaks.
Charter night was held in the Crystal Ball Room of the St. Michael Hotel on the evening of May 4, 1962. Ladies were invited and the total attendance was about 75. The Charter was presented by Dr. John A. Carroll, associate professor of history, University of Arizona, and Sheriff of the Tucson Corral. He was the featured speaker of the evening and spoke on “The Inevitability of the Little Big Horn.” During the meeting Dr. Carroll made the presentation of our original “Old Joe” buckskin charter. Our charter has continued to have a prominent place of honor at all meetings of our corral except for two periods when it went missing, but more of that later.
The 36 Charter Members of the Prescott Corral were: Frank Armer, James M. Brown, Sr., James M. Brown Jr., Frank Carson, Ray Chester, Walt Coburn, Bill Coerver, Warren Corley, Matt Culley, Norman Fain, Al Favour, Bruce Fee, Danny Freeman, Gail Gardner, Charles Greene, John Hays, Harold James, Bob Kieckhefer, Harold Koechling, Howard Moffatt, Ernest Money, Bill Nixon, Chick Orme, Jack Osborn, Charles Franklin Parker, George Phippen, Tom Rigden, Paul Roberts, Phil Rockfellow, Lester W. (Budge) Ruffner, Dan Seaman, Jim Stewart, Bill Ward, Dick Williams, Paul Wright, C. E. Yount, Jr.
THE CHARTER GOES MISSING
A decade or so later it was noticed that the Charter buckskin banner had gone missing, probably stolen, no one knows when, nor by whom. Sheriff Kenneth Calhoun ordered a replacement, but somehow Westerners International sent the wrong number and date for the replacement. Doctor Calhoun and Danny Freeman got together and made a new banner with the correct number and date. The new buckskin banner was from a springbok, an African gazelle. It is lightweight, accurate and beautiful. Ken adorned it with his own feathers,
The Prescott Corral has long been both one of the largest and most recognized of WI local groups with a growing list of awards from the parent organization.
The Co-Founders Heads-Up award was inaugurated by Westerners International in 1970 and is presented to the Corral that has the most outstanding activities that enhance historic awareness of its community and furthers the purpose of Westerners with the most innovative and interesting programs.
Prescott Corral has won this most prestigious of WI awards on eight occasions. The list of award winning years and the names of that year’s Sheriff follow:
1971—Sheriff Howard B. Stricklin 1980—Sheriff Kenneth Calhoun 1989—Sheriff Robert Stragnell 1992—Sheriff Sue Willoughby
1993—Sheriff George Geib 1997—Sheriff Billy Parker 2008—Sheriff Mike Shepard 2013—Sheriff Dana Sharp 2014—Sheriff Tom Collins
Prescott Corral program presenters have won numerous individual awards from WI.
The Philip A. Danielson Award for the best paper presented at a WI Corral award winners are:
1988—L. Bernard Schmidt for "The Gadsden Purchase Play - Manifest Opportunity Revisited," Second Place
1989—Reba Wells for "John Slaughter's Ranch," First Place
1992—Danny Freeman for "Settlement of Simmons," Third Place
1999—Bill Bork for "The Impact of Wild West Culture in Germany,” First Place
2002—Al Bates for “Jack Swilling in Yavapai County,” Third Place
2003—Fred Veil for “Charles Henry Veil: Civil War Veteran, Indian Fighter and Arizona Pioneer,” Third Place
2004—Bruce Fee for “George Phippen, Prescott’s Premier Western Artist,” First Place
2007—Dick Bowerman for “Gail Gardner: A Man Worth Remembering,” Third Place
2007—Norm Delucchi for “The Streetcars of Prescott,” Third Place
2009—Joe Briggs for “Spring Roundups 1905-2005,” Third Place
2013—Al Bates for "Prescott’s 1898 Railroad War," Third place.
2014—Tom Collins for “Stage Struck Soldiers” Second place.
Corral Members recognized in the “Coke” Wood competition for published short articles or monographs are:
1997—Mona McCrosky for “Bill Bork Hometown Historian” published in Sharlot Hall Museum’s, Cactus and Pines, Second place.
2014—Al Bates for “Prescott Begins” published in The Territorial Times, Volume VII Number 2, First place.
Other WI recognitions for our corral members:
2007—Andy Wallace took second place in the “Co-Founders Best Book Award” category for From Texas to San Diego in 1851: The Overland Journal of Dr. S. W. Woodhouse, Surgeon-Naturalist of the Seagraves Expedition co-authored with Richard H. Hevly.
Both Bill Bork and Bruce Fee have been recognized as “Living Legends” in the WI publication the Buckskin Bulletin for their contributions to the preservation of Western History.
The Prescott Corral’s Buckskin Banner, 2004
bear claws and Indian arrowheads, and it was officially unveiled at the 20th Anniversary ceremony on May 7, 1982. In 2001 Jay Cothrell reworked and repaired the framing of the Charter that had been damaged at the Fain Park “Outing”.
THE CHARTER GOES MISSING—AGAIN
The replacement banner lasted for 22 years. At the end of 2004, as we were preparing to change locations for our monthly meetings, the “host” at the old location could not locate the banner. After a fruitless search we had to concede that it was irretrievably gone and a replacement should be obtained. A group of past and future Corral Sheriffs—led by Fred Veil and Jay Cothrell—took up the challenge and a replacement was soon on display at our meetings.
SOME SIGNIFICANT CHANGES
The first Bylaws were approved and adopted on April 7, 1962. They stated: The Prescott Corral of Westerners is organized as a non-profit, nonpartisan, independent group of people interested in the study and perpetuation of all phases of the lore, traditions, culture, history and development of the great American West, the dissemination of which shall be accomplished through monthly meetings. The purpose of the Prescott Corral shall be dedicated to preserving permanently historical subjects of the West which otherwise might be lost to posterity. Other parts of the Bylaws mentioned that the membership shall be limited to 36 men and that vacancies shall be filled by majority vote, by secret ballot of the members present. The purpose of limiting membership was to give all an opportunity to research historical subjects and present the findings at the meetings each month. It was felt that each member should make a report on a selected subject about every two or three years. The idea and intentions were good but things did not work out exactly as hoped for.
Over time the bylaws were changed to increase the membership and on December 5, 1965, they were amended to read: "Membership shall not be limited as to number nor because of the sex of the prospective member." Later, Gail Gardner made this comment, "Letting women in was the greatest thing that ever happened. After that our membership and attendance began to grow substantially."
Through the years the total membership has fluctuated from the 36 Charter Members to a maximum of 303 in 1976. Our current membership is around 210. In March 1993 it was realized that there was no provision for Life Members in the Bylaws so this stipulation was added. In 1998 a further amendment was added allowing appointed members of the Posse a vote in Posse matters.
1962 DANNY FREEMAN*
1963 GAIL GARDNER*
1964 BUDGE RUFFNER*
1965 PAUL ROBERTS*
1966 BRUCE FEE
1967 CHARLES PRATT
1968 DR. TAYLOR HICKS, SR.*
1969 DWIGHT BENNETT
1970 WALTER ARMSTRONG
1971 HOWARD STRICKLIN*
1972 DR. C. F. PARKER*
1973 E. L. McINTOSH*
1974 LEE WAGGONER*
1975 EDDIE BROOKS, SR*.
1976 W. C. RUPKEY*
1977 PAUL ROSENBERGER*
1978 EARLE FRANK
1979 CHUCK NICHOLAS*
1980 DR. KENNETH CALHOUN*
1981 DOROTHY CHAFIN*
1982 DR. RANDY CLARK*
1983 RAY SHIRE*
1984 RAY CLIFT
1985 HUGH RICHARDSON*
1986 DICK WILLIAMS*
1987 JIM BROWN, JR. *
1988 JERRY EVERALL
1989 ROBERT STRAGNELL, M.D.*
1990 KENDALL CUMMING*
1991 ROBERT McDOLE*
1992 SUE WILLOUGHBY
1993 GEORGE GEIB
1994 BOB WELCH*
1995 MARTY WIST*
1996 DAVE JENNER
1997 BILL PARKER
1998 AL BATES
1999 PHIL KURITZKY*
2000 WOODY JONES
2001 MIKE WURTZ
2002 JOYCE IRWIN
2003 JAY COTHRELL
2004 FRED VEIL
2005 JOY BATES
2006 ANDY WALLACE
2007 ELDON BOWMAN*
2008 MIKE SHEPPARD
2009 DON SHAFFER*
2010 ROLAND MICHAELIS*
2012 CINDY GRESSER
2013 DANA SHARP
2014 TOM COLLINS
2015 BRAD COURTNEY
2016 JOHN MCKINNEY
Past Sheriffs of Prescott Corral (* indicates deceased)
1966 DR. C. F. PARKER*
1976 BILL* & GURTHEL* WARD
1977 DORA HEAP*
1977 BLAINE BOWMAN*
1982 GAIL* & DELIA* GARDNER
1985 SUSAN RICHMOND*
1993 MARTHA CALDWELL*
1994 BERNICE STORM*
1995 DANNY* & NORITA* FREEMAN
1996 BUDGE* & ELISABETH RUFFNER
1997 BRUCE FEE
1999 DOROTHY CHAFIN*
1999 BOB & LIBBY STRAGNELL
2000 MARTHA CURTIS*
2002 BILL* & NADYNE* BORK
2006 AL & JOY BATES
2008 PAT WELCH
2012 FRED & SALLY VEIL
Please also visit the Horsethieves and Cowgirls page for most recent honors and awards.