The following Oral Histories are on DVD at the museum. Some have been transcribed as well. Copies of these transcriptions are available to Clarkdale Historical Society & Museum members at no charge.
Below are some of the oral histories we have on record. Open any name panel for a synopsis of the interview.
Gayle Mabery is the town's longest serving Town Manager, having served for 21 years. The presentation from her First Friday talk on June 7, 2019 is linked here. Gayle review milestones of the town since its incorporation in 1957, and breaks the talk into decades.
Our featured speaker is none other than Dinah (Moore) Gemmill. Dinah was born and raised in Clarkdale and has plenty of great stories to share! She spent her early life growing up here, attending the schools, marrying Jim, going to St. Thomas Episcopal Church, singing in the church choir, raising her children here, seeing her grandchildren raised in the same community, teaching, and finally retiring. Hear about the earlier days of Clarkdale as seen through her eyes.
The interview covers a wide range of topics including: Santa Fe town, integration/segregation of the schools, burros, the golf course, cattle drive, Verde Hotel, his wife, Martha Riley, Geary Heights, the bank robbery, Wigginsville and the Wiggins' dairy, Clarkdale businesses including Jones Furniture and Connor's soda fountain and bar, Peck's Lake, life in Lower Town, Butcherville, the ice plant, his brief employment at the Clarkdale smelter concentrating plant and his parents, Carl and Nellie Beltz (Carl was Manager of the Clark Memorial Clubhouse, at one time), etc.
18 Nov 2016
Oral history interview of Mr. Jesus (Jess) Sanchez Valdez on 21 Oct 2013 at his home in Clarkdale, Az. Jess describes his family, growing up in Clarkdale, joining the USAF, becoming a navigator and attaining the rank of Captain, obtaining a degree in history and teaching at local schools and enjoying retirement as an "Amateur Historian", including searching for the site of the plane crash of Sen. Wm A Clark's grandson.
21 Oct 2013
Rosemary Barker was born in 1927 in the family home at 1303 Main Street, Clarkdale. Her father, Lyle Barker, was the Concentrator Superintendent at the Mill.
1 Feb 2013
Sally was born in Jerome, Az. She grew up as a child in Patio Town with her brother Raymond. Her father, Ed Morones, worked at the Clarkdale Smelter from the age of 16 years old until 1950 when the family moved to Ajo to work there. Sally has lived much of her life in the same home in Centerville. As a teenager she worked at the Kings Cafe, and in later years worked there when it was known as the Black Hills restaurant.
24 Apr 2012
Interview with Emilia Alvarez Carrillo (and her children) at the home of Ray and Stella Morones. Many topics are covered included Emilia's birth in Clarkdale, homesteading the Alvarez Ranch in Sycamore Canyon in 1904, the moonshine still, growing crops and selling them in Clarkdale and along the railroad, etc.
22 Feb 2012
Becky arrived in Clarkdale in Sep 1952 with her husband, Dr. Owen Lee Cranmer. Their first house was in Upper Town - houses were available as miners had left Clarkdale for other towns in AZ. Dr. Cranmer was an Ob-Gyn, but like the other doctors in the area, also did general practice. Becky was a nurse - she nursed patients in hospitals if they needed extra care. Becky described life in Clarkdale after the boom time - commercial buildings were limited - Selna's Grocery, Harrah's (sp?) Drug Store, the Grand Theater, and the Bank of AZ. Despite having arrived post-boom, Becky said there was still plenty to do - Verde Valley garden club, several bridge clubs, and of course, taking care of the family. Becky also described her significant role in the consolidation of the area schools. She also mentions "Midnight" and "Tommy Dorsey", the mules who freely roamed the town.
3 Feb 2006
The interview focuses on the cement plant and the Fox family when they lived in Clarkdale.
10 May 2013
Dorothy's father was Bill Haltigan, foreman for the reverberatory furnace at the Clarkdale smelter. Dorothy's mother was a home economics teacher at the High School in the 1920s and from 1942-1951. The Haltigan family lived in the house formerly owned by Dr. Walsh, now (2016) owned by Katie Cannon: 1403 Main Street. In the oral history Dorothy talks about Amy Roberts of the Clarkdale Hotel, the ice plant, and how she did not relate to the racial/ethnic prejudices of the time.
25 Oct 2011
Interview focus is on the Big Ben Snow Cap and the 10/12 Lounge in Clarkdale.
18 May 2015
Mary was born in Patio Town in 1929 and lived in Jerome from 1929-1936, whereupon her family moved to Centerville on a street which later became Calle Rosas (named after her father). In the 1930s, the roads in Centerville were dirt and had no names. Centerville was not part of Clarkdale at the time. Mary's father went to work in the Clarkdale smelter in 1936—he was killed there in 1938. Mary waitressed at King's Cafe and she recalls the Chinese cook. Mary’s husband served in WWII in Germany and worked for the Town of Clarkdale for 40 years. They lived in Patio Town after marriage; they bought a house for $50 but had to pay ground rent of $15 every 6 months. As a young mother, life was challenging there—there was no refrigerator; a wet blanket was put in the window to cool the interior. In 1958, Mary and her husband moved to Centerville. Mary recalls attending the Catholic church in Clarkdale where the Native Americans and Mexicans were expected to sit in the bank of pews on the right side of the church. Mary had 6 children.
1 Mar 2014
Locy lived in Lower Clarkdale for many years. He is widely known as The Bee Man of Clarkdale. He held many jobs over the years including at Babbitt Lumberyard in Cottonwood, the commercial laundry in Lower Clarkdale and as a bus driver and janitor at MUHS. He describes events in Lower Clarkdale including the 36" snow storm, the 1993 Verde River flood and challenges faced by Upper Clarkdale residents such as scrubbing their cars to remove the cement dust.
16 Jan 2012
Verbon’s family lived in Clarkdale from 1936 until the smelter shut down. The interview covers many topics including the theatre, the Newstand, working at the smelter, going to Barrigan’s Hall in Patio Town after a ball game, activities at the Clark Memorial Clubhouse (swimming in the pool, playing pool, setting pins at the bowling alley, using the library, etc.) playing tennis on the courts near the Men’s Dormitory, raking alfalfa w/John Tavasci, caddying at the Verde Valley Country Club and skinny dipping for balls in Peck’s Lake, riding burros, “Ditch Day”, transitioning to Ajo, etc.
25 Oct 2017
John Tavasci, Sr., talked about his birth in Jerome in 1925, moving to the ranch (near Tuzigoot) in 1928, and leaving the ranch in 1991 because Phelps-Dodge was going to put 2500 homes there. He milked cows until 1965—during the boom times, there were 6 dairies, of which 5 were owned by Italians (the other owned by Mr. Wiggins, by TAPCO). From dairying, Tavasci then hauled cattle all over the west. He also served on the school board in the 1960s and later bought out the school buses. The son of John Tavasci, Sr., also spoke briefly about the history of the grounds of the Clarkdale Elementary School from its days as a baseball field.
6 Apr 2013
Jerry Wombacher described briefly his grandfather's migration from Iowa to the local mines. Jerry's father worked at the Miller Store by the railroad. Jerry mentioned briefly his days working at the local golf course and bowling alley and enjoying life drinking wine at the Tavasci Ranch.
6 Apr 2013
Bob Beltz talked about how there were no houses available for purchase when his family emigrated to Clarkdale from KS, so they bought a frame house w/canvas window coverings between the RR track and the river (Poverty Flats-District 3, house 41). While the house was not owned by the Company, they did have to pay the Company $12/yr in ground rent. After graduating CHS in 1943, Bob signed up for the draft and became a navigator of B-17s in Europe, flying 26 missions. After the war, he went to U of A for a degree in Accounting and Bus. Mgt. His career was in the auto business in southern AZ and CA. On retirement, he moved back to Clarkdale, where he now lives in the home his grandmother bought in 1941 for $150.
6 Apr 2013
Silkie Perkins talked about her family having come to the area in 1900 and the various farms along Sycamore canyon (Alvarez, Packard, etc.). She described how the farmers would load the produce on the canyon RR for transport into Clarkdale, where even during the depression the produce would sell for good money.
6 Apr 2013
The following histories are available as well, no synopsis at this time.
George Benatz, Jr. & Janice Benatz
Bill Helm & Billie Jean (Crose) Helm
Walt & Ernestine Murdoch
Floyd James & Matt Tapija
Irene Wacker & Lenore Nelson
Jerry Wombacher & Bill Pirtle