Rose Garden PhotographsSharlot Mabridth Hall was born on October 27, 1870, in Lincoln County, Kansas to James Knox Polk and Adeline Susannah (Boblett) Hall. She traveled to Arizona with her family in a wagon train in 1882. Sharlot rode her pony all of the way from Kansas, helping to herd horses which her father sold once they reached Arizona Territory.

Sharlot’s father first worked a hydraulic, gold mining operation on Lynx Creek, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory. The family built Orchard Ranch in 1890 above the junction of Lynx Creek with the Agua Fria River.  Until 1927, the ranch was Sharlot’s home. 

Sharlot Hall attended a school term in Dewey and also a high school term in Prescott, but she was largely self-educated.  Her father did not believe education was necessary. However, her mother was a prolific reader and passed the love of reading onto Sharlot.  From an early age, Sharlot was writing poetry and stories, and she began selling her writing as a young woman.  She also became interested in Arizona history as a teenager through listening to stories told by Judge Henry Fleury, who lived in the former home of the territorial governors (the Governor’s Mansion) in Prescott. 

When she was a young woman, she began contributing her poetry and articles to the magazine Land of Sunshine, which eventually became the Out West magazine. Sharlot also worked as the publication’s editor for a few years, living in Los Angeles, California for several months at a time.  Charles Lummis, the magazine’s publisher, became Sharlot’s friend and mentor early in her career.  She often stayed with Charles and his family when she was in Los Angeles.

In 1904 she was the Monday Club's representative to the Arizona Federation of Women's Clubs. She served for many years as the historian of the statewide federation of women’s clubs. Sharlot also served as president of the Arizona Pioneers' Association. She accepted an appointment in 1909 as Arizona’s territorial historian. In this position, she traveled around the territory, collecting artifacts and stories from early Arizona pioneers.  She was the first woman to hold a public office in Arizona and worked as the territorial historian until 1912. 

In 1910, she published a book of poetry, Cactus and Pine.  It was reviewed favorably in the eastern and western U.S.  Sharlot also served as Arizona’s electoral delegate in 1925, traveling to Washington, D.C. following the election of Calvin Coolidge as United States president.

Sharlot lived on the Orchard Ranch until 1927, when she negotiated with the City of Prescott for a lifetime lease on the Governor's Mansion.  She had long advocated preserving the building.  She opened the Governor’s Mansion as a museum in 1928 and worked to enhance the museum during the next fifteen years. Sharlot was a curator, director and archivist, as well as public relations advocate for the museum.

Sharlot oversaw the museum’s expansion during the 1930s, when the Sharlot Hall Building and Ranch House were constructed through New Deal funding. She lived first in the attic of the Governor’s Mansion and then in an apartment in the Sharlot Hall Building. The old log cabin, Fort Misery, was moved to the museum grounds in 1936. 

Sharlot died on April 9, 1943, in the Arizona Pioneers’ Home where she had moved, following a heart attack.  Although she had requested that no funeral be held, her friends and colleagues held her funeral at the museum, and she was buried in the Arizona Pioneers' Cemetery in Prescott.

After her death, the Sharlot Hall Historical Society continued her efforts to preserve Arizona history and to maintain the museum that was named in her honor. Charles Franklin Parker, Prescott Congregational Church minister, summed up Sharlot in the January 1943 issue of Arizona Highways as "an historian, a gatherer, a recorder and interpreter of fact, of people and times."  Sharlot Avenue in Prescott is named in her honor.

Margaret Maxwell's biography of Sharlot Hall, A Passion for Freedom: The Life of Sharlot Hall was published in 1982.  Sharlot’s second book of poetry, Poems of a Ranch Woman, was published posthumously, in 1953.  Her diary of her 1911 trip on the Arizona Strip was published in Sharlot Hall on the Arizona Strip in 1975.

Donor: Mrs. A. H. Favour
Photo Located: Sharlot M. Hall Collection MS-12, Box 18, F-2, Item-1928-001-I-060
Updated: 5/12/2015; Mary Melcher