|Grace Chapman was born to early Arizona settlers, Charles and Ida Genung. She
grew up on a ranch in Yavapai County and established friendships with the
Yavapai Indians who lived nearby. A little Indian girl named Maggie became her constant playmate. As a young woman, Grace married Harry Chapman and lived in mining camps with him for several years. The couple had two children but later divorced. She was a single mother when she began working at the Yavapai County Courthouse.
Grace began her first position at the courthouse in 1916, as deputy recorder. At that time, all of the records were handwritten. In 1918 typewriters were introduced into the offices, and by 1952 copy machines were being used.
Grace Chapman's early friendships with Yavapai Indians led to her determination to try to help them attain county pensions and other benefits. While she was not successful in helping the Indians gain pensions, she and others did secure land for the establishment of the Yavapai-Prescott Reservation in 1935. In this effort, she worked with Yavapai Prescott Indian leaders, Viola and Sam Jimulla, Grace Sparkes and others.
Grace Chapman also worked with Sparkes to keep the Sharlot Hall Museum open
after Sharlot Hall's death in 1943. The two women reopened the museum on May 28, 1943, less than two months after their friend's death. Within a few months, a loose affiliation of museum supporters formed an official historical society. Chapman and Sparkes organized the Prescott Historical Society activities through 1946. They were known as the "Graces" who helped get things done in Prescott.
The courthouse itself has been built, relocated and rebuilt, and built again - most recently in 1916. In 1900 a fire destroyed eight blocks of the Prescott downtown, including Whiskey Row, and resulted in $1.5 million in losses. Despite the fact that many merchants were uninsured, most rebuilt. Today, the nearby brick and masonry buildings provide a historic ambiance and context for the plaza, with 11 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the granite, Neo-Classic Revival-style courthouse itself. The site continues to be a town center, with its lovely plaza used for concerts and picnics.
Grace Genung Chapman - Courtesy of the Sharlot Hall Museum
Yavapai County Courthouse - Courtesy of Brooke Photography