Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’


December 3, 2011

The Buckeye Valley Museum, established in 1954, is housed in a building whose facade was designed to resemble the front of the old Kell mercantile. The historical society’s mission is to preserve and share the history of Buckeye, Arizona and its surrounding communities with emphasis on farming. Its collections include historic photographs, family histories, Hohokam pottery and artifacts from the early establishment of the Town of Buckeye and Buckeye High School yearbooks dating back to 1928.

The prehistoric Hohokam people lived and farmed in the Buckeye Valley more than one thousand years ago. They grew cotton, beans, corn and squash in irrigated fields near their villages along the Gila River. Cactus fruit and mesquite beans along with rabbits and deer were an important part of their diet. Visitors to the museum will see an impressive collection of Hohokam clay pottery, stone and shell jewelry, arrows, axes and other stone tools. They used stone manos (grinding stones) and metates (rock slabs) to grind corn and mesquite pods to make flour.

Early settlers in the Buckeye Valley who made the community’s history were farmers and their families who grew crops, built houses and made their own tools. When a group of settlers left Ohio and arrived in the area in 1888, it was the start of what is now the town of Buckeye. Malie Monroe Jackson built a canal to help haul water to his crops and named the canal Buckeye, in honor of the state of Ohio. At first the town was called Sydney. Later when the town wanted to incorporate as Buckeye, the residents had to get a court order from the Arizona State Supreme court allowing them to do so. In 1885, a group of investors from Ohio led by Malie Monroe Jackson, an Ohioan, built a canal in the desert west of Phoenix. A year later when the canal was in operation Thomas Clanton, a homesteader near the canal, applied to the United States Postal Service for a post office. The Postal Service granted the request and named the new home post office Buckeye.

The museum maintains biographies and photos of the Buckeye Valley and West Gila Valley Old Settlers Union, which was founded in 1934. More than16,000 names have been entered into the museum’s family history program. The museum has an extensive oral history program which documents the residents’ life experiences.

After the Hohokam left the Buckeye Valley about seven hundred years ago, the land remained unoccupied until the 1880s. Several small ranches were developed first in Liberty and then in Palo Verde. The construction of the Buckeye Canal in 1885 opened up large tracts of land for farming.  The first crops were alfalfa and grain used to feed livestock. Later cotton became the primary crop.

The Buckeye Valley Museum is a part of the Heritage Park project. This 13.9 acre park, was formerly known as the Eastman Gin. An on-site cotton gin will be restored and used for educational and entertaining demonstrations. In addition to the museum, Heritage Park will  feature a couple of acres of native agricultural fields; an antique tractor and farm implement displays; a farmers market; a large scale park; an outdoor amphitheater and a walking trail.

Buckeye Valley Museum, 116 East Hwy. 85 (10th Street and Monroe), P.O. Box 292. Buckeye, AZ, 85326

Tel: 623-349-6315  Web site:

Border Air Museum

January 1, 2011

Douglas, Arizona was the first international airport of the Americas. Aviation was an important part of the evolution of Douglas and was almost lost if it were not for Richard and Irma Westbrook. Richard, a 1949 Douglas High School graduate, worked for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA.) Westbrook was inducted in 1993 into the NASA Hall of Fame. The Border Air Museum was a gift to the City of Douglas by the widow of the late Richard Westbrook in 2002. Richard died before the museum was completed. The Border Air Museum houses Westbrook’s collection of air history.  

            The museum exhibits a Trojan airplane which was made in Douglas in the 1950s. Other exhibits include displays of American Airlines memorabilia, a wall of history of the Douglas Army Air Field with artifacts, an in-depth history of Douglas aviation, history of the Mexican Revolution and aviation in Douglas, Women’s Air History, and a history of Hollywood making films using the Douglas airport. There is a letter from the President Roosevelt declaring the Douglas airport “The First International Airport of the Americas.” It was the first airport in the state to have night flights.

            Douglas had the first airplane in the state of Arizona. In 1908, a group of Douglas men formed the Douglas Aeronautical Club and built a glider from mail order plans. This glider was pulled into the air by a two horse buggy equipped for release with an aerial hitch, from behind the YMCA building. A year later they added a motor and propeller and they had motorized airplane.

            By 1913 this airplane was famous locally as The Douglas Bomber. General John “Black Jack” Pershing, who led the U. S. expeditionary force to capture the notorious Pancho Villa, recruited Charles Ford and his Douglas Bomber to fly over the border and drop bombs south of Agua Prieta on the railroad tracks to stop supplies flowing into Villa’s troops. The bombs were made from lard buckets filled with dynamite, scrap metal and concrete.

            After World War I and the Mexican Revolution, Douglas became a take off point for barnstormers. These stunt pilots and aerialists–or barnstormers as they became known–performed amazing tricks with airplanes. Barnstorming was the first major form of civil aviation.  By the 1930s, the Douglas Airport was a stopping point for American Airlines, traveling from San Diego to San Antonio.

Border Air Museum,  East 10th Street & Airport Road, Douglas AZ 85607, Tel: 520-417-7344

Tucson Boy Scout Museum of Southern Arizona

August 31, 2010

The Otis H. Chidester Museum has one of the largest collections of Scouting memorabilia in the world. Otis H. Chidester was born March 22, 1903 in Mineral City, Ohio and spent his early years in Susquehanna, Penn. Chidester became a Boy Scout on September 8, 1912 and after more than eighty-four years was the nation’s senior Scout in continuously registered and active service. He became an Eagle Scout in 1935, received the Silver Beaver Award in 1948, and was named a Distinguished Eagle Scout in 1993. At the time of his death on February 22, 1997, he was revising his monograph on the history of Scouting in Southern Arizona. His home has always been the museum headquarters.

            Chidester made many contributions to scouting and worked with the National Supply Division to replace the bulky horseshoe shaped blanket rolls used by Scouts. The result was a zippered bag called the Arizona bag, a type of sleeping bag. In 1984, he established the Scout Museum of Southern Arizona, which members changed in 1992 to the Otis H. Chidester Scout Museum of Southern Arizona.

            Chidester taught at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind from 1937 to 1940. He earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Arizona in 1940 and 1948. He founded the graphic arts department at Tucson High School in 1940 and served as department chairman until 1968. He was inducted into the Tucson High School Hall of Fame in 1992.

            The museum collects, preserves and exhibits written, photographic, audio and other physical records, artifacts and memorabilia relating to the Boy Scouts of America, with an emphasis on scouting in southern Arizona and the Southwest. Exhibits features historical photos, patches, badges, books, Scout apparel, camping equipment and Scout knives, along with a collection of Scout related art. Hundreds of old Merit Badge pamphlets are either on display or in the museum library. Many of these pamphlets are from Otis Chidester’s personal collection. Others were donated to the Museum.

            Each room in Chidester’s former home features special exhibits. The Cub Room contains training and informational material which includes Pow Wow notebooks, Webelos Scout Helps, Pack Administration and Leadership. There are also World Cub Scouting patches, dated registration cards and other Cub items.

            The Display Room exhibits a rare and quite complete collection of books by Ernest Thompson Seton, dating back to 1899. Excerpts from these books were incorporated into the first Boy Scout Handbook. Books by Dan Beard date back to 1882. The 1908 Scouting for Boys by Lord Baden-Powell made no mention of standard advancement tests. Then in 1910, following the incorporation of the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910, the Official Handbook of Boy Scouts of America by Ernest Thompson Seton and Lieutenant-General Sir Robert S. S. Baden-Powell. Seton was authorized to put together a temporary Scout Handbook. This he did by taking part of the 1908 Scouting for Boys by Baden-Powell and part from his Manual of Woodcraft Indians, adding the outline for the American Boy Scout program. This program included Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class and the fourteen English merit badges.

            Norman Rockwell had a long association with Scouting. On a hall wall are six registered and rare Norman Rockwell plates. There are reproductions of paintings by Rockwell who also did fifty-two scouting calendars from 1925 to 1976. The mug room features more than five hundred Scout mugs. The museum’s Trading Post has items available for trade or purchase to help support the museum.

Otis H. Chidester Scout Museum, 1937 E. Blacklidge Drive, Tucson AZ 85719, Tel: (520)326-7669, Web site: