Brad Courtney's lecture, "The Dynamite Demon of Whiskey Row's Cabinet Saloon," November 3 at the Prescott Centennial Center. Film by cinematographer Daniel Eremenchuk.
The Whiskey Row historian was honored and humbled to be introduced in such an eloquent manner at the Prescott Centennial Center by a dear friend, John McKinney, USMC: “I know of two formulas for success. One: it happens when preparation meets inspiration and perspiration results. Two: success happens when you find a need and fill it. Our speaker tonight epitomizes both of these criteria. Brad Courtney found that Whiskey Row was referenced in almost every book about Prescott, but that no one had written a comprehensive book about Whiskey Row itself. He found a need and was inspired. After four years of extensive and intensive research regarding Whiskey Row history, coupled with his master’s degree in history, he was prepared. His resulting book, Prescott’s Original Whiskey Row published by The History Press, has been a bestseller since its launch in late 2015. Brad has become one of Prescott's most popular speakers; his appearances have resulted in turn-away crowds at Sharlot Hall Museum and other venues.”
Introduction by John McKinney, USMC, 2016 Sheriff of the Prescott Corral of Westerners
The online version of the True West article, "Mile-High Getaway", wherein I was consulted/quoted. http://www.truewestmagazine.com/mile-high-getaway/
Click on the archives of The Q & A Show with DJ Fone. Click on episode 161 for the June 6, 2016 interview with DJ Fone. It starts at 21:20. This was a lot of fun. http://www.qna.com/kqna-talk-radio.html
Thank you to the Territorial Times for plugging Prescott's Original Whiskey Row, and my good friend Dr. Thomas P. Collins's book (which I believe will soon be award-winning). If you get a chance to pick up some copies, Territorial Times is outstanding and can be found in several bookstores in Prescott.
Original article at The Daily Courier
PRESCOTT - As he arrived at the podium to speak at the Arizona History Convention in Prescott Friday, Sharlot Hall Museum Interim Director Fred Veil couldn't help but note that some of the characters in his presentation coincidentally were connected to the two previous talks.
While the three stories were meant to be presented together in a session about Prescott, it was still interesting that some of the same people were integral to the different stories.
Veil talked about the Banghart family that came here in 1866 and built a farm, ranch, stage stop, hotel and telegraph office near Del Rio Springs in present-day Chino Valley. They later operated a livery stable in Prescott as well.
"The Banghart Ranch during its heyday was a center of social activities," Veil said.
Young women were scarce in those days, so perhaps it's no coincidence that prominent local bachelors enjoyed coming to the Banghart parties since George and Mary Ann Banghart had four daughters.
It wasn't long until three Banghart daughters married three of the region's most eligible bachelors.
Flora married John Marion, "a frontier (newspaper) editor in the best tradition of yellow dog journalism," Veil noted. He ran the Arizona Miner from 1867 to 1877, then founded the Morning Courier in 1882 that became the Evening Courier and now is the Daily Courier.
Nellie married Nathan Oakes Murphy, who became a territorial governor and member of Congress.
His brother Frank Murphy owned the Congress Mine and was instrumental in bringing railroads to the region.
Murphy was a central character in historian Al Bates' talk Friday about Prescott's 1893 Railroad War between Murphy and Thomas Bullock.
Bullock built the first railroad to Prescott in 1886 but it was poorly constructed, so Murphy led the effort to build a second route in 1893. They had a price war that soon sent Bullock into bankruptcy.
Rose Banghart married Edmond Wells, who soon became county attorney, millionaire president of the Bank of Arizona, state legislator, assistant U.S. attorney, Territorial Supreme Court justice and Arizona attorney general.
Veil could only imagine what family dinners must have been like, given that Marion was a rabid Democrat and Wells and Murphy were staunch Republicans.
Wells wrote a book called "Argonaut Tales" about his life and included what Bradley Courtney calls the best saloon story in Arizona's history - that of Baby Chance Cobweb Hall.
The title of Courtney's talk preceding Veil's at the Arizona History Convention was "Charity on Whiskey Row: the Legend of Chance Cobweb Hall and the True Story of Violet 'Baby Bell' Hicks."
It turns out Wells' story about Chance Cobweb Hall was too good to be true, but it was based on a real person named Violet Bell.
In both the embellished story and the real one, unknown persons abandoned a baby in a Whiskey Row saloon in 1898. Chance was left in the Cobweb Hall Saloon, while Violet was left in the Cabinet Saloon.
The Evening Courier wrote that "Several babeless married men almost came to blows over the possession of the little one."
Judge Charles Hall won Chance with a throw of the dice in Wells' tale, while Yavapai County Probate Judge Charles Hicks ended up with Violet. It's possible he won her by gambling, too. He also happened to be the county official who handled adoptions, Courtney noted.
Turns out the baby belonged to William and Mary Bell. William ran away to Crown King and got 25 days in jail for abandoning his baby, while Mary signed the baby over to Hicks.
Violet Bell Hicks had problems later in life, marrying a man named Arthur Binner who beat her and drank too much. One of her four children said his mother never told him about being abandoned as a child, Courtney related.
Violet later reconnected with her birth mother, but when she traveled all the way to Alaska to meet her birth father, he wouldn't have anything to do with her, Courtney said.
In reviewing Argonaut Tales, Prescott historian and museum founder Sharlot Mabridth Hall noted that the book wasn't all true history, but sometimes romance is more valuable than truth, Courtney related.
"It is human nature to try to make something beautiful out of something less than beautiful," Courtney observed.
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