By Dawn Dollard and Jean Petrie
Before there was a building on the chosen site in Arizona Territory (where the Governors Mansion stands today at the Sharlot Hall Museum), the Governor's Party camped among the pines. Atop one of the tallest trees, they raised an American flag to mark the spot where the government of the new Territory would be located.
Sharlot M. Hall recorded the history of that flag. According to her notes, the territorial officials appointed by President Lincoln had assembled at Cincinnati, Ohio, at the home of John Gurley who had been appointed the first Governor of Arizona Territory. Plans were made, stores were bought and traveling wagons packed for the trip West. Gurley, well informed about the West, had been active in securing the separation of the Territory of Arizona from New Mexico and, according to the Arizona Miner (March 23, 1864) "early and late, in season and out of season, for several years did John A. Gurley of Ohio labor for the end [the governorship] which was happily consummated at the closing session of the 37th [U.S.] Congress."
So proud was he of his appointment to this post that his daughter born in June 1863, was named Florence Arizona Gurley. The subscribers to his newspaper, "Star of the West," knowing of his feelings about his country and his new assignment gave him an American flag to carry with him.
Sadly, Mr. Gurley died of appendicitis on August 19, 1863, on the day the party expected to depart for Arizona Territory (and three days later, 73-day-old Florence Arizona was buried beside her father). John Goodwin of Maine, already in Ohio preparing to go to Arizona Territory as Chief Justice, was appointed Governor and William F. Turner joined the party as Chief Justice. Friends of Gurley covered his casket with the flag and then, after the ceremonies, gave it to his successor (who recognized the symbolism of the gesture) to carry it to the west where Gurley would never go. Governor Goodwin displayed the flag entrusted to him in a place of honor before his tent at each stop in the long journey across the continent. Later, when laying out the new capital city of Prescott, the founders named the main east-west street for the man who was appointed but never served as the first Territorial Governor.
After arriving at the banks of Granite Creek and deciding upon the site for the capitol of the new Arizona Territory, the officials raised the flag on a pine tree on the spot nearly identical with the one on which the General George Crook Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a permanent flagpole in 1929.
At that ceremony in 1929 during the patriotic exercises that accompanied the initial presentation of the flagpole and flag to Sharlot M. Hall, Mrs. David W. Russell, Regent of the local DAR chapter, said, "Its presence told of the loyalty, love and courage of those who came here so long ago to establish a new territory in the wilderness." Dressed in a colonial gown, Mrs. Russell expressed the desire of the two-year-old chapter to "bring back to the mansion something of its early customs, part of which was the flag flying from dawn to dusk each day."
The bronze plate on the granite boulder marking the site reads:
General George Crook
Daughters of the American Revolution
July 4, 1929
During its State meeting in Prescott on October 23-25 this year, the Arizona Society, Daughters of the American Revolution will be commemorating this event by a renewal ceremony on the grounds of the Sharlot Hall Museum at 9:00 a.m. this morning (October 25, 1998). Participating will be Indian representatives from the First Prescott Indian Art Market, Edgar Perry and Rex Pooyouma. Present will be the current State officers, headed by Mrs. James Bugbee, Regent, and eight former State Regents, Museum Director Richard Sims, and Jody Drake as Sharlot M. Hall. Cory Wright, Ashley and Tyler David, whose mother and grandmother are members of the Yavapai Chapter will lead the salute to the flag, representing a three-generation involvement in DAR patriotic and historic endeavors. Hopi Rex Pooyouma will raise the flag which has flown over the U.S. Capitol, and the National Anthem will be sung in Apache.
Join us this morning to relive and reenact a historic occasion which has its roots in the first flag raising at the capitol of Arizona Territory in 1864. Or visit our website (www.sharlothall.lib.az.us) to find out about more activities at the Sharlot Hall Museum
Dawn Dollard is ex-Regent of Yavapai Chapter, DAR, and Jean Petrie is Regent of General George Crook Chapter
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (po0168.2p). Reuse only by permission.
Sharlot M. Hall was photographed in 1929 standing by the flag pole and the DAR marker which will be re-dedicated this morning (October 25, 1998) at Sharlot Hall Museum.