Used by permission from the Arizona Historical Society
“Mrs. Hughes was one of the few pioneer women in the territory who left a lasting impression both in the minds of the citizens and the character of the community.” — Tombstone Epitaph, April 24, 1926
Throughout her life, Josephine Brawley Hughes was a formidable woman in defense of the causes she believed were right. The protection of the home and its values were of primary importance to her, but she also championed education, religion, temperance, and women’s right to vote. In all her quests, she showed pluck in the face of danger, determination, and a strong will.
One of six children, she was born as Elizabeth Josephine Brawley on December 22, 1839, in Meadville, Pennsylvania. She dropped her first name later in life. Her parents, John R. Brawley and Sarah Haskins, were longtime residents of Pennsylvania. Her father, a prosperous farmer and lawyer, had influential connections, giving Josephine an early introduction to the ways of the political game. She attended a rural school, several miles away from her home, and then studied at Edinboro State Normal School.
Upon graduation, Josephine taught for two years in public schools. While attending Edinboro, she met Louis C. Hughes who was studying law at her father’s law office and working at the local newspaper. They were married in July of 1869. Two years later, the effects of a wound received during the Civil War combined with overwork forced Louis to seek the warmer climate of Arizona, where his brothers Samuel and Thomas had gone many years before. In Tucson, he opened a law office and within a year had saved enough money to bring Josephine and their newborn child Gertrude to his new home.
Josephine traveled by rail to San Francisco, by boat to San Diego, and the last five hundred miles by stage to Tucson. Due to danger from Apaches on this part of the journey, the young mother carried a loaded rifle at her side while holding Gertrude in her arms. During the rough ride, there was constant fear that the rifle might accidentally discharge. At one point, the baby flew out of the lurching stage. Josephine climbed out, retrieved her baby who had landed unhurt in soft sand, and yelled to the driver to continue as she climbed back on.
Once in Tucson, Josephine set about “civilizing” her sparse adobe house. The only light available was a burning rag in a sauce of grease. She immediately had her parents ship her some candle molds, and soon candies illuminated her house and her neighbors. To further improve living conditions, she installed a cistern (possibly the first in Arizona), laid a carpet in her parlor, made colorful paper fly brushes to use at the dining table, and kept chickens in her yard to help control insects. Several years after setting up house in the desert, she even planted a grass lawn.
The Hughes family extended the hospitality of their home to many important visitors. During the Apache wars of the mid 1880s, General George Crook was their guest. In 1886, General Nelson Miles also frequented their home, planning ventures against the Indians. In the meantime, the Hughes family grew. Son John was born in 1874, followed in 1877 by another daughter, Josephine. Unfortunately, the youngest baby died in 1879, shortly before her second birthday. Mrs. Hughes refused to let her daughter be buried in the town cemetery as coyotes regularly dug up the bodies. Instead, she interred the infant in the Hughes’s front yard, planting a rose bush at the head and foot of the grave.
Shortly after her arrival in Tucson, Josephine was called upon to use her teaching abilities. At this time, boys and girls were taught separately. In 1871 a public school for boys opened, but girls either had to attend the school at the Sisters of St. Joseph convent or be taught at home. In 1872, Louis had been appointed probate judge, thus acquiring the position of county school supervisor. Upon establishing a public school for girls, Josephine became the teacher using a classroom in the Pioneer Brewery building at Levin’s Park. When she resigned in April of 1873 because of failing health, Arizona Governor Anson P. K. Safford ordered the hiring of permanent teachers, who arrived the following October.
In managing her household, Josephine followed firmly held ideals of how life should be led. To her, preserving the home as the center of religious and moral values was important above all else. She was so outspoken in defense of her beliefs that she alienated her in-laws and some Tucsonans. Nevertheless, her community recognized her as a woman of principle and ability, fit 1875, she was appointed as the Commissioner for Arizona to the Women’s Department of the Centennial Exposition to be held in Philadelphia the next year. The entire Hughes family traveled to Philadelphia, retracing the route Josephine had taken a few years earlier.
In 1876, Josephine Hughes joined several other women in organizing the first Protestant church in Arizona. Over the next couple of years, Josephine was instrumental in raising money for a church building, which opened in August of 1879. Even though she had worked to organize the Protestant Church, Josephine’s religious roots were in the Methodist Church. When Reverend George E. Adams arrived in Tucson to organize a Methodist church, Josephine left the Presbyterians and pledged support for Reverend Adams. She was among the first people to sign up as a member and once again worked to raise money for a Church building. In 1881, the Methodists opened their new brick church, which was to become a pulpit for social reforms.
Meanwhile, her husband had entered the newspaper business. In April of 1877, Louis became a partner with Charles H. Tully in the Weekly Star, with Hughes serving as editor. In 1879 he bought out Tully and began publishing the paper every day, making it the first daily in the territory. Through the Arizona Daily Star, Louis and Josephine advocated various issues, including the complete removal of Apaches from the region to Florida and higher education. They vigorously opposed capital punishment and gambling. Louis, who was interested in politics, turned the paper into a democratic journal. He wrote the editorials, but Josephine held much sway in the choice of topics. Outwardly, she served as business manager, bookkeeper, and cashier.
One of the first issues that the Hughes’ espoused in the columns of the Star was temperance, and Josephine found ways to promote temperance in the workplace with newspaper employees. She changed payday from Saturday night to the first of the week; otherwise, the men spent their money on liquor and showed up for work with hangovers.
Josephine Hughes was at the peak of her influence in the 1880s and the early 1890s having two powerful means at her disposal to promote her causes: her husband’s office as governor and the Arizona Daily Star. Though first lady of the territory, she remained in Tucson to run the Star. She took over the editorial position and helped with the printing of the paper. At the time, she was the only woman in Arizona who actively participated in the management and control of a newspaper. Inevitably, however, Josephine’s power began to fade with her husband’s removal from office in 1896 when he loudly disagreed with President Cleveland’s administration on public land policy. In 1907 Louis Hughes sold the Star, and in 1915 he died of pneumonia.
In 1912 Josephine saw her son John become a senator in Arizona’s first state legislature. He introduced a resolution for a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women, paving the way for an initiative on the November 1912 ballot. The measure passed, and women in Arizona secured the vote through the initiative measure.
A couple of years after Louis’s death, Josephine moved to Hermosa Beach, California, to live with her daughter Gertrude. In 1925 she broke her leg, weakening her health, and she passed away on April 22, 1926.
Throughout her life, Josephine Hughes worked diligently to better humanity, accepting any discomfort or danger to herself or anyone else for what she deemed a worthy end. Her tactics sometimes alienated people, but with her death, enmity towards her died. Her admirers held a memorial service in Tucson shortly after she passed away. The speakers all praised her courage and spirit as a pioneer in righteousness, education, and culture. Grover C. Linn, a dean at the University of Arizona, commented that the “ideals of Mrs. Hughes became the ideals of the Daily Star, and through the Star she molded public opinion in the community and made her paper a strength for righteousness.”
In tribute to her work, fellow Arizonans placed a bronze tablet in the rotunda of the state capitol building in Phoenix, the first in memory of a woman. The inscription reads:
“In Memoriam, E. Josephine Brawley Hughes, Wife of Governor L. C. Hughes and Mother of Hon. John T. Hughes: Mother of Methodism, Founder of W.C.T.U. and Founder of the First Daily Newspaper in Arizona….”
Used by permission from the Arizona Historical Society
“She was a typical frontierswoman — didn’t know what fear was.”
Mary Edith Goodrich and Camillus Sidney Fly were married in San Francisco on September 28, 1879. The newlyweds shared not only a love of each other, but of adventure and photography as well. Thus, to indulge themselves, they moved to Arizona Territory. Arriving in Tombstone in December 1879, the Fly’s, “Mollie” and “Buck” as they preferred to be called, quickly set up a photographic studio in a tent. By July of 1880, they had built a twelve-room boarding house. The “Fly Gallery” as the studio was named, occupied the back of the building at 312 Fremont Street in Tombstone.
While her husband roamed the countryside in search of historic photographic opportunities, Mollie ran the boardinghouse and the studio. Although women photographers were extremely rare in the 1880s, Mollie snapped the pictures of anyone with the required price or thirty-five cents. The residents of Tombstone seem to have appreciated her talents. With the marital separation of the Fly’s in 1887, the Tombstone Epitaph wrote:
“Mr. C.S. Fly, the well known photographer, leaves today for Florence, Phoenix and other points in the Territory … During his absence, Mrs. Fly also an accomplished photographic artist, will conduct the gallery in this city as usual.”
Aside from the fact that Mollie Fly was a respected photographer, little is known about her personal life and what little is known is often contradictory. We do know from photographs and letters that Mollie was a small woman,”… about five feet of pure dignity, very plainly dressed, but in manner Queen Victoria had nothing on her,” wrote Coral Henry, a young girl who lived with the Flys after her parents died.
Researchers do not know if Mollie was Buck Fly’s first or second wife, nor is it known if Kitty Fly, a girl they adopted, was Buck’s child from a previous marriage, or a stranger. Although the Flys had been separated for several years when Buck became ill from years of alcohol abuse, Mollie was at his bedside when he died on October 12, 1901 in Bisbee. She continued to run the Tombstone gallery on her own and in 1905, she published a collection of her husband’s Indian campaign photographs. The primitive publication titled “Scenes in Geronimo’s Camp: The Apache Outlaw and Murderer”, contains many of Buck Fly’s famous photographs, including the only known photographs of Geronimo’s surrender.
Finally in 1912, Mollie decided to retire. Knowing the historic value of the work both she and Buck had done over the years, she donated the negatives to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She then retired to a small home in Los Angeles where she died in 1925. Mollie Fly was a gentle woman in rough times, a quiet woman doing a man’s job in a pioneer environment – as usual.
“…as our friendship has grown, my admiration for this woman has also grown. At 103 years of age, she is still alert and active, still making and selling her ‘potteries’ to contribute economically to her family, still helping with the work of the household, still helping with raising the children, still serving as a source of inspiration for her family and all others who come to know her – Indian and non-Indian alike. “ — John E. Collins, 1977
For over a century, Grace Chapella “White Squash Blossom,” (pronounced “Tsepela”) was devoted to her clan and to her culture. Nevertheless, she adapted gracefully to the extraordinary changes which occurred in her Tewa-Hopi world. Grace understood changes, which would have traumatized a more fragile person, as having been prophesied by her elder kinswomen.
According to family traditions, Grace, of the Bear Clan was born February 14, 1874 at Tewa Village, Iwinge (also known as Hano) located on the eastern edge atop First Mesa on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. Grace began learning to make pottery from her mother, TaTung Pawbe, when she was a small child. She also learned pottery making techniques from her neighbor, Nampeyo, who was fourteen years her senior. Her father, Toby Wehe, was a traditional farmer. During the 1890s, he was also the courier for ethnologist A. M. Stephen who lived on top of First Mesa. Wehe ran the round trip journey to and from Gallup in one day’s time whenever Stephen needed to have mail and supplies brought to him.
At age nine, Grace was with the first group of children taken to Keam’s Canyon to attend school. It was there that she met and married John Mahkewa. As the years passed, she gave birth to three children, Dorothy, Donald, and Alma; she also adopted the four children of her sister who died in childbirth. At the time of her death, Grace had forty-six grandchildren, eighty-eight great-grandchildren, and twenty great-great-grandchildren.
The first two decades of the twentieth century were especially eventful for Grace. Her mother, then in her seventies, was digging coal for firing pottery when a rock fell and killed her. Her father who had been blind for many years died soon afterward. But Grace was becoming ever more accomplished with her pottery making and becoming known as “The White Pottery Lady,” because of the off-white color of her pots. She sold the wares at the trading post established by Tom Polacca who was also a Tewa from First Mesa.
Tourists began to ask especially for her pottery and orders were sometimes placed for pottery to be shipped to other states. Grace received orders to make dozens of salt and pepper shakers for restaurants. Tom Polacca began to encourage her to sign her work. Grace was hesitant – pottery had not been signed up to that time – but finally she agreed. In the next few years, the signing of pottery became customary.
In 1917, Grace became the cook for the Polacca Day School, a position she held for thirty-eight years. She arrived at school each morning before dawn. She hired school boys to chop wood for the oven and to help haul water from the well while she made fresh yeast bread and butchered the meat. In the early years, there was no refrigeration so all food had to be prepared daily.
The tiring walk up and down the side of the mesa convinced Grace that she should build a house in Polacca close to the school. Her home, the first non-government house in Polacca, now enlarged and modernized, is still being used by her descendants. In 1955 when Grace retired, in recognition of her many years of hard labor, the school personnel gave her a water spigot for her yard. At that time, plumbing was not common in Polacca, and Grace was the first person to have running water available at a private home.
Grace spoke English fluently in addition to her native Tewa and Hopi languages. She was friends with the Polacca Day School teachers and they often picnicked together and shared craft ideas. The first Hopi teacher at Polacca was Elizabeth White who in later years also became a well-known potter. During the two years Elizabeth was at the school, she would often go to Grace’s home during her lunch hour and play Grace’s piano, another first for that period.
During her frequent long walks, Grace would gather wild spinach and other greens to prepare as food or tea, or to use in making paints for her pottery. She also collected broken pottery (potsherds) which she ground and used for temper. Sometimes, she would find larger pieces with lovely designs, which she kept, for inspiration. Among those special potsherds were pieces with the rain bird and butterfly which she developed as her special designs. The butterfly, more than any other, is now considered to belong especially to Grace’s family and the use of it is being carried on in the fourth generation. Grace’s daughter, Alma Tahbo, granddaughter Deanna Tahbo, and great-grandson Mark Tahbo have particularly incorporated the butterfly into their own fine pottery work.
In 1927, Grace became the first person from the Hopi Reservation to travel in an airplane, going from Grand Canyon to Long Beach where she demonstrated and sold her pottery. A half-century later, Grace returned to California with her daughter, Alma, for a special showing and demonstration at the Numasters Gallery in Alhambra. By this time, Grace was well over a hundred and was recovering from a severe automobile accident. Although she walked with a cane and needed someone to comb her long hair because she could no longer reach around to the back of her head, she was still making pottery, including some very large bowls which are now collectors items.
Throughout her long life, friends sought Grace’s company. It was not unusual to see cars with out-of-state license plates parked beside her home in Polacca. In 1967, a retired school teacher from California made her way to Polacca to bring back to Grace a jar she had purchased in Long Beach, California nearly forty years before. The teacher wanted Grace’s grandchildren to see some of Grace’s early wonderful work. Grace was the subject of study by anthropologist Gene Weltfish and ethno-archeologist Michael Stanislawski. In his popular book, Sun in the Sky, Walter O’Kane includes words of praise and a photograph of this remarkable woman. She has also been cited regularly in books about Southwestern pottery.
As a human being, Grace was gentle, compassionate, and hardworking. She had a keen sense of humor all of her 106 years. She was tolerant of those individuals who referred to her work as “Hopi pottery,” but she identified herself, and would want to be remembered, as a member of the Tewa Bear Clan and as a Tewa-Hopi pottery maker.