Mary Josephine Smith Lawler  (b. 1873, d. 1958)
Mary Josephine Smith Lawler Lawler residence, 225 E. Union St., Prescott
Mary Smith Lawler first came west as a Harvey Girl, working for the Fred Harvey Company and its chain of restaurants, and later was employed by Hotel St. Michael in Prescott. After marrying William Lawler, she drove ore wagons at her husband's mines. The family moved to Prescott so their son could attend school, and they lived in a home on Union Street in a neighborhood called "Nob Hill" where Prescott's upper class resided.

Region: North Central Arizona
Theme: Women at Work, Women in Domestic Life

Mary Josephine Smith was born on November 9, 1873, in Missouri and became one of the early Harvey Girls who worked in Harvey House restaurants associated with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in the Southwest. Later when working in Hotel St. Michael, she met her future husband. After their marriage, the couple lived at William Lawler's Hillside Mine, near the small town of Congress in Yavapai County. Mary performed work that was untraditional for women at the time, driving horses that pulled the ore wagons. She often had to shovel rocks from the road to allow the wagons to pass.

When the family moved to Prescott, they lived in a double house on Union Street that had been built by William's brother, Jack. Jack owned all of the land on the south side of the street, and he sold lots to other successful merchants, including Henry Goldwater, Jake Marks and C.A. Peter, who all built homes there. These homes were larger than nearby houses, and each has vistas of Granite Mountain, Thumb Butte and the national forest.

While living in Prescott with her family, Mary Smith Lawler became known as an excellent quilter. She obtained samples of silk from an eastern company to create beautiful quilts. She belonged to the Altar Society of the Catholic Church and donated a quilt each year for the church raffle.

The Lawler house is in the Union Street Historic District, which occupies the entire 200 block of the south side of street. All of these homes were built in the 1890s, and the site is considered a historic district by the Prescott Historic Preservation Office because it is one of the few remaining blocks in the city where historic houses outnumber newer structures.

For more information, visit the Sharlot Hall Museum and Prescott Historic Preservation Office website.

Photo Credits:
Mary Josephine Smith Lawler - Courtesy of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, 02-0180


1225 W. Main Street, Suite 101, Box #159, Mesa, AZ 85201 • 480-834-3833  •  © 2020 Arizona Women's Heritage Trail