Tag Archives: pioneers

Mesa Pioneer Monument

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Pioneers in Mesa’s Pioneer Park

The last time I lived in Mesa, AZ, I visited the city’s Pioneer Park at 26 E Main Street. Near the southern entrance to the park is the Pioneer Monument.

In an article on the website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints titled “Statue Honoring Arizona Pioneers Dedicated,” the history of the statue is told. In the mid-80s, sculptor Claude Pomeroy was in Pioneer Park and heard someone suggest its name be changed to Rose Garden Park. Pomeroy

decided to make sure Mesa’s residents didn’t forget their colorful pioneer heritage.

[T]he four leaders of the First Mesa Company of 1878 [are] depicted by the statue.

Charles I. Robson, George W. Sirrine, Charles Crismon, and the sculptor’s grandfather, Francis Martin Pomeroy, were portrayed holding the tools they labored with: a shovel, a gun, a spirit level, and a map of the townsite.

A woman and a boy, referred to in the article as well as on the plaque on display with the sculpture only as “mother and child” are behind the male settlers. I suppose this means the women and the children present during this time in Mesa’s history are not real pioneers, they’re more of an afterthought, those whose places are behind the real (male) pioneers. I supppose this means only the men and their work were important.

Did the sculptor not know of any real women and children of the time to base his work on? Perhaps he could have used his own grandmother as a pioneer model, as he used his grandfather.

Surely Pomeroy could have included female pioneers in his work if he had chosen to. The women could have been portrayed holding the tools they labored with: a butter churn perhaps, an iron, a spoon and cooking pot, a needle and thread. Women’s work has always been important and it’s terrible that history and artists like Pomeroy have ignored that work.

I apologize to the unnamed pioneer woman pictured here for relegating her to the shadows. My arm placement was rather unfortunate in light of my desire to have the pioneer women of Mesa given their due.

Am I surprised that a piece of public art made by a artist who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and depicting people of the same religion relegate a woman and child to the back of the crowd? Am I surprised that female ancestors are not given the same respect as male ancestors? Am I surprised the ratio of men to women in the statue is 4 to 1? Am I surprised that women and their work are mostly ignored? I’m not surprised by any of those facts, but I am still disappointed.

A second plaque on display with the sculpture does a better job of being inclusive. It states,

This monument is dedicated to the founding men, women, and children of Mesa whose efforts, with others of all races, religions, and cultures, changed a harsh desert land into this vibrant cit of today.

I would like to see another artist come along and get a grant from the city to make a second monument for the park. In the new monument, women would stand tall and proud next to their husbands and sons, fathers and brothers. The new statue could be called Women Were Pioneers Too, and the women depicted could stand with a butter churn, a spoon and cooking pot, a needle and thread, and an iron.

While I’m wishing, I’d also like to see a third piece of art, this one depicting the men and women native to the area, as well as the

others of all races, religions, and cultures, [who] changed a harsh desert land into this vibrant cit of today…

mentioned earlier. It’s time to stop honoring only the white people (usually men) who came into an area and made it their own. If we’re going to honor people, we need to be diverse and inclusive.

I took the photos in this post.

Kern Valley Museum

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I visited the Kern Valley Museum in Kernville, CA in the late spring of 2015. I was impressed!

Other small town history museums I’ve visited (I’m looking at you, Truth or Consequences, NM and Quartzsite, AZ) have been jumbled, hodge- podge messes, filled with any (literally) old thing with little-to-no explanation of historical context. The museum in T or C is huge and rambling, with so much (too much) to see and difficult (both physically and mentally) to read explanation cards. Quartzsite’s museum is smaller and more cluttered with even less explanation of why objects are on display.

The Kern Valley Museum has none of those problems. Housed in a former doctor’s office, the museum staff has arranged similar items in displays in the former exam rooms. Visitors can spend time in one room with photos and artifacts from the various movies filmed in the region, while in other areas folks can learn about local money-making endeavors such as mining and ranching. The museum is very clean, and exhibits are well-lit, with brief and easy to read explanatory notes.

In the museum’s backyard, larger items are on display.

One cool item in the back area is a reconstructed covered wagon originally from pioneer days. It was brought from Missouri, over the Oregon Trail, in 1850. Between 1998 and 2000, it was restored from a pile of lumber, a box of hardware, and some wheel hubs.

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This is the covered wagon at the Kern Valley Museum

 

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This is the front view of the covered wagon at the Kern Valley Museum. I love the suitcase on the lower right.

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This is the rear view of the covered wagon at the Kern Valley Museum. It makes my van look so comfy and spacious. Can you imagine riding in such a wagon from Missouri to the West Coast?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A horse-drawn carriage is also on display.

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There is gold mining equipment in the back area as well.

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A small room is set up to look like a blacksmith’s shop. Since my great-grandfather was a blacksmith, I was interested in the equipment on display.

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There’s a small cabin behind the museum too. If I remember correctly, the cabin was moved from its original location to the museum in Kernville. I don’t recall if the furnishing were pieces originally from the cabin or historically accurate items that came from elsewhere. The museum’s website calls it “a restored and furnished 110 year old cabin…”

 

Self-portrait in cabin's mirror.

Self-portrait in cabin’s mirror.

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Cabin’s kitchen area.

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Cabin’s sleeping area. I love the quilt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I enjoyed exploring the Kern Valley Museum and recommend it as an educational stopping point for any visitors to Kernville.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read about my visit to the nearby Old Kernville Cemetery.

All photos in this post were taken by me.