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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local February 06, 2016


2/14/2012 9:51:00 PM
Yavapai County's two 'Centennial Trees' mark Arizona's birthday
Les Stukenberg/The Daily CourierYavapai County Supervisors Carol Springer, Chip Davis and Tom Thurman unveil the plaque commemorating the planting of the Centennial Tree, a deodar cedar, on the Yavapai County Courthouse  Tuesday in Prescott.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Yavapai County Supervisors Carol Springer, Chip Davis and Tom Thurman unveil the plaque commemorating the planting of the Centennial Tree, a deodar cedar, on the Yavapai County Courthouse Tuesday in Prescott.
Scott Orr/The Daily CourierThe Yavapai County Sheriff’s color guard retires the 50-star U.S. flag Tuesday in Camp Verde and prepares to temporarily replace it with the 48-star version that flew when Arizona became a state.
Scott Orr/The Daily Courier
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s color guard retires the 50-star U.S. flag Tuesday in Camp Verde and prepares to temporarily replace it with the 48-star version that flew when Arizona became a state.
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People filled the floor of Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley for the Yavapai Centennial Gala Tuesday night. Marshall Trimball, Rex Allen Jr., and Johnny Western among others performed for the audience.
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

CAMP VERDE - The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, along with the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court, on Tuesday unveiled plaques at two "Centennial Trees," one at each county courthouse, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Arizona's entry into the Union.

The first event, held at the Camp Verde courthouse, and hosted by the county supervisor who represents the region, Chip Davis, was a small celebration. About 30 county employees and officials took part, singing "Happy Birthday" to Arizona, and watching as the Sheriff's color guard temporarily retired the 50-star U.S. flag and hoisted the 48-star version used from Arizona's admission in 1912 until 1959, when Alaska became a state.

"The 48-star flag is from my grandfather for his service in World War II," said Davis, and was given to the family by the Veterans' Administration. "That flag has not been out of the box it was mailed in since 1952," he added.

In a nod to history, when three shovels - gold, silver and copper - were used to plant the Statehood tree in Prescott, each supervisor also held one ceremonial shovel, although the sycamore tree had already been planted.

A sycamore, about 20 feet tall, was chosen because it is well-suited to the warmer climate of the Verde Valley, said Tom Thurman, district 2 supervisor. It should live to be about 150 years old, so it will likely be around for the state's bicentennial.

"I'm proud of Arizona, and I'm proud to be an Arizonan," Davis said. "And I'm very proud of Yavapai County. After a hundred years of statehood, Yavapai County is still a leader, still very much in the forefront."

Davis, Thurman, Supervisor Carol Springer and David Mackey, presiding judge of the Yavapai County Superior Court, unveiled the plaque, which is mounted on a substantial slab of granite.

After a round of applause, the crowd piled into vehicles and headed for Prescott to do it again.



But first, a bit of history

The entire idea of the Centennial Trees was inspired by the Statehood Tree, planted on the courthouse plaza in Prescott. The tree we know today as the Statehood Tree, a tall deodar cedar, was actually planted on July 4, 1910 - before Arizona was a state - because, as historian Elisabeth Ruffner said, "Prescott couldn't wait."

That tree's metal plaque incorrectly states that the tree was put in place near the corner of Cortez and Gurley streets on Feb. 14, 1912; the sign was placed by the Cub Scouts in 1960.

Ruffner said, "We now have their permission for the county staff to take the plaque off and send it back to the foundry, (and) they'll duplicate it exactly, except it'll say July 4, 1910 on it."

A white oak from Williamson Valley was the real Statehood Tree, planted near the corner of Gurley and Montezuma streets. It died within two years, however.



The Prescott Ceremony

The Centennial Tree in Prescott is also a deodar cedar, placed where the white oak stood. A twisty tree - that's how they start out - it has a lifespan of upward of 1,000 years and tends to straighten out as it grows.

The same dignitaries were in attendance, with their shovels, but this time they spoke to a larger crowd. As passersby stopped to watch, the audience grew to about 120, including a group of fourth-graders from Chino Valley's Del Rio Elementary School who happened to be touring downtown.

Thurman took the microphone this time, and introduced the various county and city officials in attendance before turning it over to Springer.

"You can't live in this county and not be a little bit of a history buff," Springer said. "I think it's really wonderful that we have a county so diverse in its geography and that its people are so diverse but that we have come together to build a great state and a great county."

They unveiled the plaque, identical to the Camp Verde one, marking the Centennial Tree.

Mackey read from an "oration" first given by Judge Fletcher Doan in 1912 at the Statehood tree dedication.

"As this tree strikes its roots into the neighboring soil of your park, as it gathers strength from its branches, so may our state policies grow and strengthen. So may we do our duties, that Arizona, in all questions pertaining to her health and strength, may be well-grounded."

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Related Stories:
• Supervisors reject plan to 'correct history' at courthouse
• Guests weave history into centennial gala in PV
• Time capsule reveals Prescott life in 1962 (see video)


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