By Dewey E. Born
The second photoplay was called "Neighbors". The story involves two ranch families who do not get along at all well. The girl of one family, played by Mary Ryan, falls in love with the boy of the other family, played by Robin Adair, which creates a host of problems. The two elope by taking a train out of town.
The elopement scene was filmed at the Prescott depot. Robin Adair was on the platform of a train. Mary Ryan was to ride up on a horse and jump on the platform then the train would go off in the distance. It didn't quite work that way. Mary Ryan misjudged the distance between her horse and the train and fell to the ground. Romaine Fielding was directing the scene and shouted to her to continue the performance. With blood running down her face, she ran to the platform and carried out the scene. Fielding had her go through the scene one more time before Dr. Yount could attend to her wounds.
Another picture was a re-enactment of the Indian attack on the Miller ranch in 1865. John Miller and another man built a cabin and corral about four miles from town on the Williamson Valley road. In the Spring of 1865, they were taking care of a small herd of cattle for Edmund Wells when they were attacked by a large band of Indians. Armed with only two muzzle loading rifles, they were able to drive off the Indians. Judge Wells gathered up his remaining cattle and the two men moved into Prescott. That night the Indians returned and burned the buildings giving the ranch the name Burnt Ranch.
The Indians in the film were local young men who were promised $2.50 each as extras. C.D. Born and his brother Bob were two of the Indians. When the job was done they went to Mr. Fielding for their pay. He promised they would get it in a few days. As the day went by with no money the boys decided to take action. Fielding had rented a house on the northwest corner of Alarcon and Goodwin. Every evening about 7:00 the boys would knock on the door. When Fielding opened the door they would ask for their pay, listen to the excuse of the day and leave. After several days Fielding gave them their five dollars.
Granite Dells became a favorite location of the early film makers. In addition to the huge granite boulders there was also Granite Creek with its magnificent stand of cottonwood trees and a very picturesque lake. It was also accessible. The railroad ran nearby with a small depot at Point of Rocks where the Bradshaw Mountain line branched off. Take the train out in the morning and back in the evening.
"The Uprising" was filmed at Granite Dells with a few scenes at the Grove Street studio. This was the story of an Indian attack on a group of trappers. In the end the trappers are able to drive off the attackers. An interesting description of the cast was published in the Prescott Journal Miner on August 12,1912. "Indians, trappers and primitive white women form the cast which, with the exception of a few members of the company, are gathered from the local constellation of robust chivalry and mountain beauty."
The Lubin Company made several more films, including one of the Forest Service fighting a forest fire, before returning to the Southern part of the State in November.
In 1913, the Selig Company came to Prescott with Marshall Stedman as unit manager, Mrs. Myrtle Stedman as leading lady, Bill Duncan as lead and a stunt man named Tom Mix. Tom Mix had been a cowboy, ranch foreman, sheriff, deputy U.S. Marshal, Texas Ranger and rodeo performer before joining Selig in 1909. When they started making westerns in Prescott, he quickly moved from stunt man to star.
Tom Mix made many movies around Prescott, first with Selig then with Fox and later his own company. He too made extensive use of the scenery at Granite Dells. In one film he was chasing a band of Indians, the usual local boys, past the boating lake. The Indians were supposed to cut some hollow reeds, jump in the lake, and breath through the reeds. They jumped in but were up again in a few seconds, breathing through the hollow reeds was impossible. They were directed to run behind some nearby rocks. The scene worked well. The film was cut after the boys went under the water, the scene of Mix riding by was inserted followed by the Indians coming out of the water and running away.
With Tom Mix, the films moved from the one reel, 15 minute movies, to those running an hour or more; and from the silent pictures to the "talkies". Prescott and the surrounding area played a prominent part in all of this.
Dewey Born is the Author of Stories of Early Prescott, which is available at the Museum Store.
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (pb159f2i14). Reuse only by permission.
Tom Mix and an unidentified actress prepare for their next scene on this set built in or near Prescott. Mix came to the area in the teens and made many movies here.