Chautauqua was an adult education movement in the United States highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. The Chautauqua brought entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, and specialists of the day. Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is "the most American thing in America. Otherwise known as ‘Historical Presentations’, a person will take on the persona and character of an actual historical person, or portray a fictional character with complete accuracy of the era they are speaking of. Several members of the Opera House Guild have adopted characters who lived in the 1800’s. Several were people who lived in and around Prescott and contributed to local history. Some were people who history has made famous, others were less well known, but still contributed to the color and character of the Old West.
The Elks Opera House Guild has several members who do these historical presentations, along with other interesting historical talks. Our historical tapestries are both entertaining and factual, providing insight into times past, social issues of the day, and entertaining facts about life in the last century. Our Family-Friendly presentations can be tailored to fit into the time requirements of your event. We can also provide narrated fashion shows covering eras from 1864 through 1912 – from Territorial Capital to Statehood.
All speakers are members of the Elks Opera House Guild. We accept freewill donations for our services, which help the Guild fulfill its mission to Preserve, Protect, and Support our beautiful Opera House.
Elizabeth Bacon Custer (Carol Matthews) An army wife who refused to be left behind.
Judge C.G.W. French (Jim Pool) Chief Justice, Supreme Court of the Territory of Arizona, 1876-1884. The presentation explores four intertwined aspects of French’s life: his education; his career as lawyer and judge; his ownership of the Governor’s Mansion in Prescott; and a romance spanning forty years.
Ruby May (Linda Walls) A fictional presentation of a Prescott business-woman/madam.
Big Nose Kate (Linda Walls) Infamous common-law wife of Doc Holliday.
Pioneer Medicine (Maxine Dillahunty) Maxine does a personal persona of her fantasy self as a young nurse from the East Coast coming to Prescott, Arizona at the turn of the 20th Century for the clean dry air. It is said that all of Arizona was a Sanitarium and the population nearly double at this time. The challenges of Pioneer medicine vs. her proud New England training is both humbling and exhilarating.
History of the Elks Opera House (Maxine Dillahunty) A wonderful history of the Elks Opera House
Rememberances of a Harvey Girl (Joanie Vancore) Joanie's presentation features her as Mrs. Charles Porter, who tells about her experiences working as a Harvey Girl in Arizona. She has many interesting anecdotes to deliver about her own life and about Mr. Harvey himself.
Fanny Bashford (Sue McDonald) Sue portrays the wife of Coles Bashford, who was the first lawyer admitted to practice law in the Arizona territory.
Fanny Bashford's Prescott School of Needlework (Sue McDonald) This is a modification of an actual story about a society lady in England, who founded a needlework school to provide training for less-well-to-do young ladies.
The Language of Flowers (Sue McDonald) This presentation explores the Victorian fashion of sending secret messages using flowers.
Sarah Brady (Rachelle Richards) Rachelle portrays her own great, great grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Gilliland Brady, who came to Arizona in 1879 at the age of 18. Her talk touches on the Tewksbury Graham feud, which was the bloodiest feud in American history.