On this date in 1870, Arizona historian and freethinker Sharlot Hall was born in frontier Kansas. She moved with her family near Prescott (then Dewey), Arizona, at the age of 11. She worked for room and board to attend Prescott High School briefly and escape ranch life, but was forced to return home when her mother became ill. Sharlot took up photography and explored ancient Indian cliff dwellings with her brother. Seeing the lot of women of her era and taking a jaundiced view of the "egotism of the average man," Sharlot vowed never to marry. When her family attended lectures by freethinker Samuel Putnam in Prescott in 1895, 24-year old Sharlot joined him on the platform, speaking of Thomas Paine. She wrote for The Truth Seeker, a major freethought periodical, as well as for many newspapers, and met many leading reformers such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Two volumes of Hall's poetry were published. She began taking oral histories of Arizona pioneers. In 1909, territorial governor Judge Richard Sloan appointed her territorial historian, giving her a Phoenix office. Supported by the Federation of Women's Clubs, she traveled throughout Arizona collecting history. After statehood was won, the first governor dismissed her in 1912. After a reclusive retirement caring for family members, Sharlot returned to work at age 57 in 1927, when she was given a life lease on the Governor's Mansion to restore it as a museum of Arizona history in the city of Prescott. The mansion and Sharlot Hall Museum remain open to the public. D. 1943.
With a Box of Apples
Suppose a modern Eve would come
And tempt you with an apple,
Say just about the size of these?
Would you temptation grapple
And manfully declare: 'I won't?'
Or, would you say: 'Well, I
Think since you've picked them
They'd be best in dumplings or in a pie.
And, let us ask the serpent in
To share with us at dinner.
A de'il with taste for fruit like that
Can't be a hopeless sinner.
—Sharlot Hall, freethought ditty.
Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor
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