By Lorri Carlson
Until a recent acquisition, the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library housed very few photographs of the Hotel Vendome, one of Prescott's enduring establishments and historic structures. The Edith Dial Collection has provided us with some valuable images of the hotel, the second family of proprietor's, and some of their guests. With each acquisition it is important that we in the archives research the background of the newly acquired collection. During this process a family history revealed itself, providing yet another example of the value of private contributions to public history.
John W. and Edith S. Dial came to Yavapai County from Los Angeles shortly after the birth of their only child, Frances Emmy Dial, born on September 2, 1914. The young family spent their first years in Seligman, Arizona where John served as a Deputy Sheriff. With the entry of the United States into World War I, recruitment to strengthen the war effort became important. As a Deputy Assessor in 1917, John Dial was responsible for enrolling local male residents into the military.
While living in Seligman, John and Edith Dial rented out rooms in their home. One of their favorite guests appears to have been Jim Mahone, an Indian scout for Gen. Crook. He is pictured in a number of photos at the Dial residence. The photographs suggest that the Dials enjoyed gardening, as evident by the poses of Frances amidst a cascade of sweet peas where once there had only been dirt. John and Edith threw quite a party for their daughter's sixth birthday. Complete with little girls dressed in white, sporting sun-bleached ringlets, and wearing big bows in their hair, the childhood event turned a six year old from Seligman into a little princess. The collection also includes a portrait of Frances with her first grade class at the Seligman Elementary School in 1920.
By 1923, the Dials were living in Prescott at the Hotel Vendome, located on South Cortez Street. The hotel was only four years old at the time, the Dials only the second proprietors. The progression of photographs again suggests that the Dial family enjoyed their neighbors, guests, and gardening. Frances often remains the focus of her adoring parents as she is photographed on neighboring lawns with friends, at the Courthouse Plaza, in community parades, on family trips, and with visiting guests. Some of the guests were movie actors from films being shot in the Prescott area. The photos indicate that some of the cast and crew of the 1924 movie, "When a Man's a Man," stayed at the Hotel Vendome. Actor George Hackthorne is shown on the front porch of the Vendome along with a lovely actress, other cast members, and not to be left out, Frances Dial.
John, Edith and Frances spent about five years at the Hotel Vendome, where Jim Mahone made at least one more visit. Pictures were taken up on a balcony where St. Joseph's Academy can be seen in the distant background. Frances continued to grow from a little girl who played with her dolls into a young lady who wore the latest fashions. One series of images began featuring Frances with her perfectly formed ringlets followed by the after photos of her with a stylish bobbed haircut. She attended Prescott Public Schools, visited neighbors, dressed up for Halloween and other such festivities, all the while returning home to the Vendome where she practiced piano and mingled with seemingly rich and famous.
In 1928, the Dials were living as renters at 303 E. Gurley Street in the now historic Gage-Murphy residence. At the time, Charles and Anna Bangs, owners of the C.U. Bangs Service Stations, owned the residence. During this time John was hired as a state livestock inspector, a profession he continues in for the next decade. Frances is shown with friends in the large and beautifully landscaped yard. This must have been a convenient residence for the Dials with Washington School right across Gurley Street and Prescott High School just to the West across Alarcon. Frances graduated from Washington School in June 1928 and proceeded to attend the neighboring high school that fall.
The Wilson Block became the last residence of the Dial family while here in Prescott. Located on the Northwest corner of Gurley and Montezuma Streets, the Owl Drug and Candy Company occupied much of the structure. However, it also housed the St. Regis Hotel, which in 1927 became known as the Owl Hotel, the Dials' residence from 1929-1936. While John continued his work as a cattle inspector, Edith became manager of the Owl Hotel, changing the name to the Hotel Dial in 1933. Meanwhile, Frances lived the life of a teenager, increasingly active at Prescott High School. She participated as a member of the Yellow Jackets and the Girl's Glee Club. Possibly inspired by her early years of entertaining movie stars, Frances did some acting of her own during her junior and senior years. In February 1931, Frances and her mother even made it into the newspaper with an escape to Phoenix, presumably for shopping and such.
Frances met a local musician, William Cherry, and they married in April 1934. The newlyweds also resided at the Hotel Dial where the young groom continued to work as a musician and Frances provided clerical help. By 1937, there is no mention of the Cherrys or the Dials. The photograph collection here at the Archives and Library primarily consists of the story of their lives in Yavapai County, our geographical mission area. In February 1932, Frances Dial got to hear Miss Sharlot M. Hall speak to her high school about the importance of the local history. Frances did not know that she would someday be considered a part of that history. We at the museum are able to fill in the historical gaps because some very insightful and generous individuals, related to Frances only by a subsequent marriage later in her life, recognized the value of a family photo collection for use by a local repository.
Lorri Carlson is the Summer Intern at the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library.
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (pb040f7i67). Reuse only by permission.
One of 300 photographs that were accessioned into the Museum's collection shows the Vendome in the 1920s. Between the photos and other resources found at the Museum, the author was able to construct a detailed history of the Dial family.