Thanksgiving Stories And More


Yet another Thanksgiving is upon us and I thought it might be a nice time for some Thanksgiving stories from the past, as well as a look at a few resources that I am thankful for as a historian, and which you might find useful. Let’s start by taking a look at a story from Pleasant Valley.

Thanksgiving at Ellison

Ellison, Ariz., Dec 2, 1899.

Editor Belt:

I thought it would be interesting to your readers to know how we spent Thanksgiving, away up in this part of the country. Messrs. Frank Ketcherside and Chas. McFarland gave a Thanksgiving ball and dance at the “Flying V” ranch, which was attended by upwards of forty persons.

The guests all arrived by sundown, and after an early supper we repaired to the large dancing floor, built expressly for the occasion and enclosed with canvas. Dancing was in order until 10 o’clock, when we were called to the “big supper.” The tables were loaded with turkey, pork, cakes and pies — a splendid repast — prepared by the Misses Ellison and Mrs. Kyle, who never overlook an opportunity to make everything a success. Our hosts, with the assistance of Mr. James Hale, attended to our every want.

After supper we returned to the ball room, and the floor being newly waxed, dancing was resumed and continued until the sun rose upon a most beautiful day. After breakfast the horses were brought in from the pasture and we took our departure for our respective homes with the thought indelibly fixed in our minds that Messrs. Ketcherside and McFarland know just how to entertain. A Guest. — December 7, 1899, Arizona Silver Belt

Dances were a popular way to celebrate and they were usually anchored by a meal, as in this case.

Thanksgiving also means turkeys and around this time of year turkey is on everyone’s mind. This next clip is about an interesting promotion that Pinal Brewery in Globe did in 1889.

TURKEY SHOOTING on the grounds of the Pinal Brewery, Wednesday, Nov. 27th; conditions: Fifty cents a shot — distance 180 yards. All who think themselves capable of winging a turkey at that distance will be given an opportunity to show their skill. — November 16, 1889, Arizona Silver Belt

Pinal Brewery was the sister brewery of Payson Brewery, which began in Payson in the mid 1880s. Amongst the principals in both was August Pieper. Just a couple months after this event, Pieper would move to Payson from Globe, divesting his interest in Pinal Brewery and taking over Payson Brewery completely. Folks don’t just want to wing turkeys though around Thanksgiving, they also want to hunt them, but sometimes they don’t go into the woods as this clip from the November 29, 1900 Arizona Silver Belt shows.

Thanksgiving being near at hand, somebody evidently intends that not only due thanks shall be offered, but a “full dinner pail” shall be the result that day by careful attention to business during the week. Mr. Callaghan has lost by one night’s haul nine of his finest chickens, while Samuel Chilson lost his entire flock.

A researcher’s list of thanks

There are more tools than ever to help a researcher. Here are some things for which I am thankful:

• Genealogy.Az.Gov – Arizona deaths and births are much easier to track with this great tool. With birth records ranging from 1855 to 1935 and death records from 1844 to 1960, you should be able to find a birth or death certificate for an ancestor in Arizona. I wish every state had a database this good. (One note: The records on this state site are still only as good as the original records fed into the system.)

• ChroniclingAmerica.Loc.Gov – A free site put together by the National Archives, it features a variety of newspapers up to 1922. Not every newspaper has been digitized yet.

• Glorecords.Blm.Gov – Did one of your ancestors patent some land? Find out on this site. They have digitized a lot of land surveys as well, particularly for Arizona. There is a nice pool of old maps in this region.

• The Arizona Memory Project site – If you simply have a general interest in Arizona history, you can’t go wrong visiting this site. In particular, check out some of the oral history interviews from the Arizona Heritage Research Foundation. It’ll take up some bandwith, but will provide you with a terrific insight into Gila County ranching history.


In my last article I referenced Polly Brown. She owned a number of places and in her later years owned the Elks Bar, not the Pioneer Bar. Don’t forget, you can always send feedback or questions to me at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.