Our speaker, Jana Bommersbach, has been a reporter and editor of newspapers, written books and appeared to TV with both political commentaries and investigative stories. In short, “She’s a real Arizona treasure!”  What followed was Jana entertaining Phoenix West Rotarians with true stores and lore about Wild, Weird, Wicked Arizona. Because she was sure we’d be a friendly group, she used us as guinea pigs for her first Zoom presentation in her fast paced, non-stop, fun, fact-filled, informative history lesson. Just a few of the highlights follow. 
Jana quickly grabbed the attention of all attendees by sharing details about the most famous shootout in the history of the west—the 1881 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona Territory—a fight that started at “2:45 on Wednesday, October 26 1881 and ended 27 seconds later with three dead and five who would later die because of it!” Despite its name, she indicated the fight actually took place behind the corral. 
Jana shared that even though Arizona has more than their share of famous Arizonans including Wyatt Earp, Geronimo, César Chavez and Wonder Woman, achieving statehood was a 50-year struggle, which finally ended on February 14, 1912. The US simply didn’t want Arizona—it was said that Arizona needed less heat, more water and a few good citizens—the same things that Hell needs!
She explained how we were first part of Mexico until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 that ended the U.S. Mexican War and transferred 500,000 square miles of land from Mexico to US ownership, including about 3/4 of Arizona. In 1854 the US, through the Gadsden purchase, added another 30,000 acres including Tucson and parts of NM. It actually created the southern border of the present U.S. Mormons became our first immigrants. 
Geronimo, an Apache warrior, was one of our most famous Arizonans. As head of the last band of free Indians, he was one of the most feared Indian leaders. His name was Goyahkla (The One Who Yawns), but was later named Geronimo. He sought revenge on Mexican soldiers who had killed his wife and children. Some think the name came from frightened soldiers invoking the Catholic St. Jerome when facing Geronimo in battle. He was never captured but eventually surrendered and was sent to exile in Florida. 
Most of us didn’t know that there was the time in the early 1900s that the state’s territorial legislature decided that women could not hold the top five offices in Arizona. No woman could be governor, attorney general, secretary, treasurer or superintendent of schools but in 1998, almost 90 years after Arizona women were given the right to vote, five women were elected to serve in the state’s five most important government positions. Jane Dee Hull was elected governor, Betsey Bayless Secretary of State, Janet Napolitano Attorney General, Carol Springer Treasurer, and Lisa Graham-Keegan Superintendent of Public Instruction. To this day, Jana says, theFab Five remain the greatest number of women to serve in a state’s highest elected offices at any given time. 
Jana also told us about Sharlot Hall, the first woman government employee who chronicled early Arizona through poems and journals. Despite her domineering father who thought that women should have no voice, in 1909 she became the first woman to hold a salaried office in the territory. Check out the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott. 
Pearl Hart was another unique Arizonan, the first female stage coach robber—less than five feet tall and under 100 pounds she held up a stagecoach carrying four armed men, garnering $431.20 in cash and a gold watch. She and her boyfriend Joe Boot gave each of the men $1 so they could pay for their dinner in Globe. Because she was so cute, she was acquitted of the crime, while Boot got 30 years. She was retried and ended up the only woman in the Yuma territorial prison. However, Pearl was paroled by Territorial Governor A.O. Brodie, given a train ticket to St. Louis and, some say , “pockets full of cash.” It took 50 years to find out why, when reliable sources said they had to get her out of town because she was pregnant. Apparently only three men had been allowed to visit without supervision—and one of them was the governor himself. Uh oh!
At 10:23 AM on February 14, 1912, President Taft signed statehood papers, and Arizona became our 48th to much celebration around the state. Bisbee set off 48 sticks of dynamite while Globe fired 48 cannon volleys. In Tucson, sirens at the waterworks announced the news In Prescott, they raised a toast and shot off pistols on Whiskey Row and in Phoenix, George W.P. Hunt walked from his hotel to the state Capitol and was sworn in as Arizona's first governor. Another famous Arizonan, a future senator and presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater, was three years old at the time. 
No one expected much of Arizona but Jana noted that we can boast two members on the Supreme Court, Justices O’Connor and Rehnquist, Navajo Code Talkers who helped win the war in the Pacific, Kids Vote, Make a Wish Foundation in its 40th year, the Buffalo Soldiers, Caesar Chavez, Alice Cooper, Steven Spielberg, Wonder Woman Linda Carter and the list goes on. She reminded us through examples that when something goes wrong, there’s usually an Arizona connection. Ugh! Despite that, we have a beautiful state that is worth fighting for - rich, wonderful and wacky! 
Our thanks to Jana for a delightful and informative presentation.