By Anita Nordbrock and Juti A. Winchester

In their book, FAILING AT FAIRNESS: HOW AMERICA'S SCHOOLS CHEAT GIRLS, Myra and David Sadker write, "Every time a girl reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less."  There have always been intelligent, capable, and influential American women, but before the 1960s, history books seldom mentioned them, except perhaps as they appeared in the background behind their husbands.  Few avenues of activity outside marriage and the home were open to upper- and middle-class women, while lower-class and minority women worked for most of their lives, whether they were married or not.  Resourceful women of every class took advantage of whatever opportunities were available to them to make a positive impact on their surroundings.  They left behind a wonderful legacy that reflects their love of beauty, harmony and knowledge, as well as their desire for justice and a better world for succeeding generations. 

A number of remarkable women called Arizona Territory, and Prescott in particular, their home.  Typically, the history books fail to mention them, but many are remembered in Sharlot Hall Museum's Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden.  This unusual tribute honors over three hundred women who were born before 1900 and lived in Arizona before 1912.  A glance at the Rose Garden Book in the Museum Center reveals the colorful tapestry of these women's lives, recorded for all of us to appreciate.


Several Prescott women have served as community leaders.  Grace Marian Sparkes was fourteen years old when she came with her family to the Arizona Territory in 1906.  She graduated from St. Joseph's Academy in 1910, and a year later from Lamson Business College, before taking a position as secretary of the Yavapai County Chamber of Commerce, a post she held for thirty-three years.  Her volunteer service makes Grace a legend in Prescott.  She served for thirty years as secretary of the Prescott Frontier Days Association, and some credit her with coining the phrase, "Cowboy Capital of the World" to describe Prescott.  She helped organize the Hassayampa Hotel Company and the Smoki People, and worked to have Montezuma's Well and Tuzigoot preserved as National Monuments.  Grace played a key role in obtaining state aid for the early Sharlot Hall Museum, and assisted in creating the Arizona Pioneers' Home.  The Arizona Women's Hall of Fame inducted her in 1971.  Grace Sparkes left an indelible print on Prescott. 

Viola Jimulla stepped into a leadership role to help her people.  She was born on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and given the name Sicatuva (Born Quickly) by her parents.  She took the name Viola Pelhame when she attended Rice Indian School and Phoenix Indian School.  In 1901, Viola married Yavapai chief Sam (Red Ants) Jimulla, and moved to Prescott.  At her husband's death in 1940, she became chieftess, becoming a firm but benevolent leader and bringing new industry and dignity to the Yavapai Prescott Tribe.  Viola later said, "I had to help my people in whatever they needed."  Two of her daughters and one of her granddaughters also served as chieftesses, continuing her legacy of leadership.  Yavapai College honored her artistry in traditional basketmaking with a plaque, and Viola was elected to the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame in 1986. 

Prescott's ardent feminist was the daughter of pioneers, a college graduate, and the first schoolteacher in Mayer.  After her graduation from the Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine, in 1885, Frances Lillian Willard taught school in Pine, Payson and Mayer.  After her marriage to stockman John L. Munds, Frances came to Prescott and became involved in the struggle by women to obtain the vote.  She was elected to the Arizona State Women's Suffrage Organization, and in 1913, Governor Hunt appointed her to represent the state to the International Woman's Suffrage Alliance in Budapest, Hungary.  One year later, Frances Munds became the first woman senator for Yavapai County, and the second woman state senator in the United States.  She observed that the "true blue conservatives will be shocked to think of a grandmother sitting in the State Senate."  Frances remained active in politics until her death in 1948, and she was inducted into the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame in 1982. 

Sharlot Mabridth Hall left a tangible legacy in the museum that bears her name.  She worked tirelessly not only to preserve the old Governor's Mansion, but she wrote poems and stories that record Prescott's history and celebrate Arizona's landscape.  She was also active in state politics.  However, less well-known is the side of Sharlot's life that more closely resembles that of her contemporaries, her days as a ranchwoman and as caretaker for her father after her mother's death.  Look carefully at portraits of her that feature her hands, they are work-roughened, made beautiful because they bear the traces of the love and care she poured into Orchard Ranch to keep it going. 

Sharlot Hall was extraordinary because of her public accomplishments, but she was also noteworthy because of her devotion to family and friends.  This is certainly true of all of Prescott's remarkable women; almost every one had folks at home to care for.  In many cases, we find that it was not a search for fame or status that led women to act, but instead it was concern for their family's future that caused women to step out of the home.  By becoming members of community action coalitions, organizations, church groups and clubs, women changed their world, for the better. 

Anyone who is interested in learning more about the other remarkable women who are honored in the Sharlot Hall Museum's Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden are invited to come in and look at the biographies in the Rose Garden books in the Museum Center. 

Dr. Anita Nordbrock is the Assistant Curator of Education and Dr. Juti A. Winchester is the Assistant Archivist at the Sharlot Hall Museum

Our readers' thoughts...

This is a guess; as I am researching the Young line I have been looking at family pictures that we have just acquired through a distant relative.  On a picture we have it is signed: lovingly, Martha. Someone has also written on the picture: Martha Bockoven Windsor.  She did live in Prescott and gave birth to children there.  One birth was in 1928, where it states she is 30 years old  I believe the woman in your unknown picture looks a lot like the person in the picture I have.  The picture I have is in 1918.
May 1, 2008

This unidentified woman probably left behind a wonderful legacy that reflected her love of beauty, harmony and knowledge, as well as her desire for justice and a better world for succeeding generations.  To celebrate her achievements, and those of others, March is Women's History Month.