Williamson Valley has been occupied by humans since at least 900 A.D. First settlers being Native Americans who migrated into the area for hunting deer, pronghorn, and smaller game. Archaeological studies have shown these early Native American tribes used the area for seasonal encampments, storage, and in some cases, permanent habitation. Petroglyphs along washes are at least 1000 years old. 

With the discovery of gold in the 1850s this changed population to include miners and homesteaders into this rich area. Yavapai and Hualapai tribes, already established in the area, considered this as an invasion of their territory and hunting grounds. In the 1860s this led to hostilities resulting in deaths on both sides. When the Civil War began, the Federal government established Arizona as a territory. Troops were stationed in the area to protect the gold mines and the growing number of settlers from both the Confederates and the hostile Indian tribes. The army presence which ensued promoted an Agribusiness in the area. Lush grasses in the Williamson Valley provided a natural basis for raising both hay and cattle. In 1864, livestock were introduced into Williamson Valley and the area began to flourish.

Williamson Valley was a natural passage to the Prescott area, Thomas Simmons, a civilian, established a stage station in the 1860s. Simmons, originally from Arkansas, provided meals, an exchange of horses, and also manned a post office. In 1873, it was known as  “Williamson Valley.” In 1881 the name changed  to “Simmons”, until the station closed in the 1930s. What is now Williamson Valley Road was known for many years as Simmons Highway. In fact, county publications continue to designate the name Simmons Highway on official maps.

Horses were the preferred mode of transportation around ranches and on back roads. Overland transportation was by stagecoach. A stage stop was located on the west side of Williamson Valley Road across from the Crossroads Ranch. In general, roads were poor and traveling was difficult and slow. Most residents had gardens and canned what they grew in order to survive the winter. Beef, pork, and chicken from domestic animals supplemented fruits and vegetables from the garden, as did meat from wild game. Meat was smoked, salted, hung in cellars, and sometimes canned. 

Primary sources of income were from the sale of cattle, hay, and horses–both ranch horses and bucking horses for rodeos. Meat cutting, carpentry, blacksmithing and the sale of dairy products often supplemented income.

Social life was cooperative, as neighbors helping neighbors with cattle roundups and putting up hay. The distance between ranches, frequently three or more miles, deterred frequent visits. 

Dancing was popular, and traveling bands visited Skull Valley, Kirkland, Williamson Valley, and Chino Valley. Rodeos were the biggest social events with Prescott’s rodeo as the crown jewel. Residents held smaller, informal rodeos on individual ranches for fun and to practice for the major events. A visit to the town of Prescott was a major event in itself. 

The history of the County and of the City of Prescott would have been very different if the ranching and farming industry of Williamson Valley and the Community had not developed.

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