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Women of the Pleasant Valley War

08 March 2017   Ken Leja

One of the Bloodiest Range Wars in Arizona History

For good reason, it’s been called one of the bloodiest range wars in American history. Estimates of the dead run as high as 50 men, but the exact number of those ambushed, murdered, or who died with their “boots on” during the Pleasant Valley War is not known.  

The impact, however, was far-reaching -- especially on the women who suffered from fear, isolation, displacement, depression and anxiety during this feud from 1887 to 1892.

Jayne Peace Pyle will discuss events that led to the bloodshed and how the “Women of the Pleasant Valley War” survived these personal tragedies at a Sharlot Hall Museum lecture on Saturday, March 18, beginning at 2 p.m.  

A fifth-generation descendent of Gila County pioneer families, Pyle comes from a cattle-ranching family and grew up hearing stories of the people and places associated with the Pleasant Valley War.

Almost every family on the Tonto Range and in Pleasant Valley was drawn into the conflict. At the center was a classic 19th century feud between two families who simply didn’t like each other very much: the Grahams and the Tewksburys.  

The war started innocently enough – cattle rustling charges, a spontaneous gunfight, and the murder of a sheepherder.  

With each such event coupled with each death, the feud escalated and became a war that would not end until only one man remained standing.

While historians differ on a specific cause, it’s clear that the resultant bloodshed was a product of mixed motives amid hatred, retaliation, self-preservation and greed.  

Jayne Peace Pyle, author of Women of the Pleasant Valley War (2014), provides a woman’s perspective of the notorious conflict and its impact on those who suffered from the losses.

Admission to the lecture on Saturday, March 18, is free, and will begin promptly at 2 p.m. in the West Gallery of the Lawler Exhibit Center on the Museum grounds. Seating is limited, so please plan to arrive early. 

Sharlot Hall Museum is located at 415 West Gurley Street, two blocks west of the Courthouse Plaza in downtown Prescott. For more information, contact the Museum at 928-445-3122 x10.

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