Arizona will celebrate 100 years of statehood on Feb. 14, 2012. Activities are being held in numerous cities and towns throughout the year to honor this event. The Rim Country Museum here in Payson will feature a Centennial Exhibit titled: Arizona’s Story — A Rim Country View.
About the exhibit
The exhibit features a section about Arizona’s Territorial Years from 1863 to early 1912 and will feature Rim Country personalities who contributed to Arizona’s growth toward statehood.
• Duett Ellison, of Ellison Creek and later Pleasant Valley, was Arizona’s first First Lady. In 1904 she married George W. P. Hunt, who became the first governor of Arizona.
• Also featured is the contribution of Samuel Ache Haught II, owner of the H-Bar Ranch in Rye who served in the 23rd Territorial Legislature.
The largest section of the exhibit shares significant events from the first 100 years of statehood. The theme “A Rim Country View” provides a local focus on people and events in this area. The photos may evoke nostalgia in long-time Payson residents, while visitors may find the 100 years of progress in Rim Country quite amazing.
There will also be a glimpse of what the future may hold. The work on the C.C. Cragin pipeline is scheduled to begin in the spring, and progress on the anticipated four-year college campus continues as of this writing. Yet, there may be some other changes to Rim Country on the horizon.
Although the Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin are normally closed on Tuesdays, a special tour of the museums will be held Tuesday, Feb. 14 for the Daughters of the American Revolution and other invited guests following the flag-raising ceremony. The Centennial Exhibit will open for public viewing on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
The entrance of New Mexico to the Union on Jan. 6, 1912 and Arizona on Feb. 14, 1912 resulted in a new design for the U.S. flag. The number of stars changed from 46 to 48. Updates to the U.S. flag become legal on the 4th of July following the date of admission for the state. Therefore the 48-star flag was not officially adopted when Arizona became a state in February of 1912, but was first flown in July of that year.
To celebrate Arizona’s Centennial, a flag-raising ceremony with an honor guard in attendance will be held at 1 p.m., Feb. 14 to raise the 48-star United States flag and Arizona state flag on the museum flagpole. These flags will be flown throughout the Centennial Year and the exhibit will remain on display as well.
As part of the Arizona Centennial, the Arizona Community Tree Council, Inc. sponsored the “Witness Tree Program” to recognize trees that have stood within the boundaries of Arizona for over 100 years.
Lita Nicholson of the Rim Country Museum nominated the Emory Oak in front of the Womans Club building on Main Street as a Witness Tree candidate.
Extensive documentation was needed to support the nomination. Jim Mercer and Jeff Leonard from Tonto National Forest Ranger Station measured the tree’s height (53 feet) and crown spread (average 66 feet) and estimated that it could easily be 200 years old. Historical accounts and personal testimonials also supported the nomination. In early January, notification was received that the Emory Oak had been accepted as an official Centennial Witness Tree.
This tree has long been known as the “Chaining Tree” in Payson. There was no jail in Payson until 1935 and local history sources report that the oak tree in front of the Womans Club served as the “jail tree” in the early years. Those who ran afoul of the law and were arrested would be chained to this tree while they awaited an officer from the county jail in Globe to transport them for incarceration.
Old-timers report that, while a few truly needed to be incarcerated, many were just good ol’ boys who needed a place to calm down their exuberance from too much “likker.”