Rose Garden PhotographsHelen Beatrice (Shupp) Voller was a member of two of Yavapai County’s “first families,” the Shupps and the Gibsons. She was born on September 13, 1902, in Skull Valley to Dora “Nellie” (Gibson) and Chester Alvin Shupp, who were both natives of Skull Valley. Her father operated the Shupp Ranch, the eleventh homestead officially issued by the Territory of Arizona. Nellie was the daughter of pioneers, Sarah Ann (Hayes) and William Washington Gibson, who came to Arizona from Texas around 1880.

Helen rode on horseback to grammar school in Skull Valley. She chased the horse up and down the road every morning to catch him and hurried to be on time to class, she related in an oral history on file at the Sharlot Hall Museum Library and Archives.

She attended St. Joseph’s Academy in Prescott, living with her Uncle Edward Blackburn. Later she went to the Northern Arizona Normal School in Flagstaff before returning to live on the family farm in Skull Valley, where she helped care for fruit trees and the chickens her father kept for his egg business.

Helen opined that only the men in Skull Valley had a social life. But she remembered dancing in the schoolhouse where her father fiddled, and her mother "chorded" on the organ. The dances were all-night affairs, with time out at midnight for a meal. When she tired, her parents made her a bed on coats piled in the corner of the coat room. Occasionally, she rode the train to Prescott, but the Shupp family was able to do most of its shopping at Haselfeld’s Store in Kirkland.

On November 30, 1929, when she was eighteen, Helen married George Harlow Voller (1889 – 1954) in a simple ceremony in her Skull Valley home. George, whom everyone called “Harlo,” was the son of a mining man from Ohio.  They lost their first child who was born paralyzed and whose limbs never grew.  They had two additional children: Mildred June, born August 25, 1924, and John Alvin, born November 6, 1926. After Mildred’s birth, the Vollers moved to the Summer Apartments in Prescott, next door to the Plaza Annex Garage, where George worked. He later went into the service station business with Otto Lange on the northeast corner of Montezuma and Carelton Streets.

Helen also worked at the service station.  Louise Baribeau remembered her mother, Mable Overstreet, buying gas at the Voller’s station:  “Helen would come out of the tiny office, huddled in a worn jacket over thin coveralls with her hands red with cold, clean our windows, (ignoring my mother’s protests) after pumping gas from an old glass-topped pump. She always had a gentle smile and a cheerful greeting, but my mother knew her as a close friend and saw the hard life she endured.”

George Voller owned the first plane at the Prescott Airport. Helen and her daughter removed rocks from the dirt runway and filled up prairie dog holes, so that he could land safely.  Helen was also involved in community organizations, playing an active role in the Order of Eastern Star and Rainbow Girls.

Helen passed away at the Silver Rose Adult Center in Prescott Valley on November 18, 1998. She was buried in the Masonic Cemetery, Prescott, Arizona.

Her mother, Dora Nellie (Gibson) Shupp, is also honored in the Territorial Women’s Memorial Rose Garden.

Donor: Mona Lange McCroskey, March 2005
Photo Located: PB-149, F-10,I-3 - Helen (Shupp) Voller Collection
Updated: 8/2/2015, Gretchen Hough Eastman