November 2021

A partnership among Scottsdale Neighborhood College, Scottsdale Public Library and the Scottsdale Historical Society to provide information, news and resources about Scottsdale history.
Scottsdale Heritage Connection celebrates the Merci Car

The fully restored Merci Car at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

The French Gratitude Train or Merci Car was dedicated upon its arrival to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park Nov. 7, 1987, with stakeholders, local activist Zina Kuhn, Mayor Herb Drinkwater, French Consul Claude Posnier and National Guard Commander Major General Donald L. Owens in attendance.

The French people gifted the Merci Car, one of 49 boxcars filled with treasures, to America in thanks for our help in its recovery from World War II.  


Scottsdale Mayor Herb Drinkwater dedicated the unrestored Merci Car Nov. 7, 1987. 

The boxcar suffered years of neglect after its 1949 arrival to the Arizona State Capitol. Local activist Zina Kuhn came to the rescue, arranging for the Merci to be brought to Scottsdale. Kuhn raised money and flew to France to retrieve plaques and shields to adorn the car. Following two years of restoration, the Merci Car was dedicated Nov. 11, 1989, 32 years ago.

The Scottsdale Heritage Connection (SHC) at the Scottsdale Public Library has images that celebrate the story of gratitude with the Merci Car and many other Scottsdale cultural icons. 

(Photos courtesy of the Scottsdale Heritage Connection)

Save the date for Scottsdale's Founders Day

Founder's Day will be celebrated at noon Friday, Feb. 25, at the Community Design Studio, 7506 E. Indian School Road. This marks Winfield Scott's 185th birthday!

Traditionally, Founders Day was observed in front of the Little Red Schoolhouse on Civic Center. That building was dedicated by Winfield Scott in 1910. However, due to construction in the Civic Center, the event will be at the Community Design Studio. The building sits on land once owned by Winfield Scott. 

Bruce Wall, Community Historian Joan Fudala and Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble will share stories about Scott and Scottsdale's beginnings. 

Watch Founder's Day 2021 to see last year's virtual Founder's Day celebration.

(Photo courtesy of the Scottsdale Historical Society)

Scottsdale history classes now available online

Scottsdale Neighborhood College held two hybrid history presentations hosted by Bruce Wall. They are available on YouTube:  

Spooky Stories of Scottsdale - Hear three stories about people in Scottsdale who had  unusual deaths over the last 85 years: 1937, 1956 and 1980.

The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree - In 1976, a man who lived in a small Arizona town was found dead in his brother's apartment. The suspect was apprehended quickly, but the masterminds in the case were harder to track down. This recording is not "broadcast quality" so you'll only be able to watch it on YouTube.

Please check the Neighborhood College webpage for more information on the Spring 2022 classes. If you would like to watch any virtual presentations, visit the Scottsdale History YouTube channel. 

Scottsdale Historical Society News

The Scottsdale Historical Society is upgrading its exhibits to tell more about Scottsdale's story. As part of this effort, it would appreciate either donations or loans of photographs, posters, menus, brochures and other items that portray notable Scottsdale area buildings and sites, cultural and sporting events, restaurants and resorts that have made Scottsdale a renowned community. 

Find out more about the history of Scottsdale at the Scottsdale Historical Society. They operate the historical museum located in the Little Red Schoolhouse near Main Street and Brown Avenue in the Old Town area. The museum is currently closed, but their website has information and resources. 

The Jokake Inn

The Jokake Inn was one of the earliest resorts located in the Scottsdale area. It was built on Camelback Mountain's southeast slope (now part of the Phoenician Resort). Horseback riding was one of the guest highlights in the '20s and '30s. The ultimate ride was to a small group of cabins the Jokake Inn built near what is now 124th Street and Shea Boulevard. The ride took an entire day. Guests would enjoy an evening barbecue and a hearty breakfast the next day before being driven back to the Inn. 

The Evans family made a generous donation to the Scottsdale Heritage Connection. Learn more about the Jokake Inn.

(Photos courtesy of the Scottsdale Historical Society)

Famous alumnus

Who's this famous Scottsdale High School alumnus?

This Scottsdale-area graduate was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and moved to Scottsdale as a young boy in the 1950s. He said he grew up in Scottsdale on horseback and remembered riding his horse around town and hitching it to the drug store and movie theatre. He attended Scottsdale High School and Arizona State University. He performed as an actor but became famous as the lead singer of a music group that rose to prominence just as MTV was coming on the air in the early 1980s. His band had several hits, and he continues to write and perform music. His most recent solo album came out last year during the pandemic.  

Scroll down to see the answer!


(Photo credit: U.S. School Yearbooks 1900-1999.)

Scottsdale Heritage Connection community recognition 

The Scottsdale Heritage Connection (SHC) at the Civic Center Library is recognizing community groups and individuals who have performed meaningful acts for Scottsdale and the Scottsdale Public Library.

Pictured from left: Library Director Kira Peters, Mayor David Ortega, Lois McFarland and Friends of the Scottsdale Public Library Board President Trey Granger.

The Spirit of Literacy Awards, which recognizes those who have significantly contributed to community and library services and programs, relaunched last year. The awards began in 2002 and ran through 2014.

The Friends of the Scottsdale Public Library celebrated the 2020 and 2021 honorees. The pandemic delayed the 2020 celebration. Ninety-year-old Lois McFarland, an award-winning local journalist, was one who was celebrated. The Friends were delighted to recognize the many admirable contributions over the past two years. The group plans to continue the annual tradition moving forward.


The "Celebrate Scottsdale Organizations" permanent exhibit in the SHC gallery space debuted in October. The display honors 15 amazing community organizations that have made Scottsdale what it is today. A citizen group initiated the campaign and coordinated it with Scottsdale Leadership. Friends of the Scottsdale Public Library, the Boys and Girls Club, the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce and Scottsdale Leadership are just some of the featured organizations. 

Visit the SHC gallery space by year's end to view the "Milestones and Memories" exhibit. It commemorates 35 years of Scottsdale Leadership's achievements. 

How the streets got their names: Brown Avenue

Brown Avenue runs through the heart of Old Town. But with all the "Browns" who lived here over the years, who was the street named after?

E.O. Brown

Edwin Orpheus Brown, better known as E.O., and his wife Mary Coldwell Brown were early Scottsdale pioneers. They moved from Janesville, Wisconsin, in 1904, at the request of Mary's older sister, Sarah Coldwell Thomas. Thomas was  Scottsdale's first business woman and Post Mistress. 

E.O. Brown began life in Scottsdale as the co-owner of the general store and post office. He soon became the irrigation director, a school trustee, president of the Western Oil Company and the Scottsdale Cotton Gin Company, and owner of the water works and the local ice plant. He accomplished all of this in the first 10 years he lived in Scottsdale!

Starting in 1918, he was a partner of several ventures that changed Scottsdale:

  • 1918 started the Scottsdale Light & Power Company with W.E. Kimsey and Charles Miller. APS purchased the company years later.
  • 1919 started DC Ranch with Wilford Hayden and eventually Brown's Ranch.
  • 1920 started the Farmer's State Bank on Main Street. It was the first bank in Scottsdale. 

Brown's Mercantile and Farmer's State Bank

E.O. Brown's wife, Mary, died in 1924 from pulmonary tuberculosis. E.O. Brown married again to Mary Graves who owned the Graves Guest Ranch, northwest corner of Indian School and Scottsdale roads. 

E.O. Brown died in 1937 following a long illness. To learn more about this remarkable man, watch the first story in the presentation "Spooky Stories of Scottsdale."  

You can find photographs and documents related to our early pioneers in the Scottsdale Heritage Connection located within the Civic Center Library

(Photos courtesy of the Scottsdale Historical Society)  

Answer to Famous Alumnus

John "Fee" Waybill was born in Omaha, Nebraska. His family moved to Scottsdale in the 1950s and according to a recent magazine article, he grew up in Southwest Village around 68th Street and Osborn Road. He graduated from Scottsdale High School in 1966 and attended Arizona State University for a few years before becoming a full-time musician and actor. 

The band "The Tubes" was formed in 1972 in San Francisco, combing two bands from Phoenix. John became the lead singer. He got the nickname "Fee," short for Fiji because of his '70s hippie hair.

The Tubes made it big in the 1980s just as MTV was introduced to cable audiences around the county. Their hits included "She's a Beauty," "White Punks on Dope," "Mondo Bondage," and "Talk to Ya Later."

Several movie soundtracks feature The Tubes and Waybill's music: St. Elmo's Fire; Deuce Bigalow European Gigolo; Running Scared; and Dream a Little Dream. 

His latest album, "Fee Waybill Rides Again," was released in May 2020. Singer/songwriter Richard Marx co-wrote songs.

You can find most Scottsdale high school yearbooks in the Scottsdale Heritage Connection  in the Civic Center Library, 3839 N. Drinkwater Boulevard. Appointments are required through the Ask a Librarian feature.

(Photo credit:


Watch for a Founder's Day flyer around January/February. We'll be sending the next e-newsletter around February/March. It will have a Founders Day recap, upcoming virtual/hybrid history classes and more news about Scottsdale history. Happy Thanksgiving!  

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