Denny Hoeh shares a peek at the written works of some of the participants in the upcoming Maricopa Historical Society Speaker Series. Photo by Kyle Norby

To understand Arizona history, you have to learn about Italian explorer Eusebio Kino.[quote_box_right]IF YOU GO
: Maricopa Historical Society Speaker Series
When: First Mondays, October-April, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Maricopa Public Library
How much: Free

A Jesuit priest, Father Kino traveled around much of 17th century Arizona, including the area that is now Maricopa, as well as California and Sonora. While he was establishing dozens of Catholic missions, he was often the first non-Native through some areas to provide descriptions of the land and people.

Author Barbara Jarquay returns to the Maricopa Historical Society to talk about Father Kino and his legacy, one of eight historians who will participate in the new 2019-20 Speaker Series.

Other speakers’ topics range from POW camps in Pinal County to Maricopa’s archaeology and answer the big question: Why is Maricopa not in Mexico? The historical society’s vice president, Denny Hoeh, said the lineup may be even better than last year’s.

The year will also include a new fundraising dinner loaded with historical snippets, “Tales & Treasures.”

Oct. 7, local archaeologist Aaron Wright is scheduled to start things off. The focus of his studies has been the Great Bend of the Gila River and what he calls its “very impressive array” of archaeological sites. For the historical society, he will talk about the basics of Maricopa’s archaeology.

Hoeh said Wright’s award-winning work has disputed long-held beliefs about the source of some of the petroglyphs in southern Arizona, bringing the Patayan into the discussion. “He’s probably one of the national experts on the Patayan,” Hoeh said.

Nov. 4, Doug Whitbeck and Michael Daehler are scheduled to talk about the natural history of Sonoran Desert National Monument.

“People don’t know the Sonoran Desert is one of the most diverse areas on the planet,” Hoeh said.

Dec. 2, author Doug Hocking returns to talk about his new book coming out in October, “Terror on the Santa Fe Trail” about an Apache battle in the 1800s.

Jan. 6, Jaquay brings her new research in to Father Kino to the meeting. Also a geographer, she last spoke to the society about the history of Arizona sheepherding.

For Arizona, the Gadsden purchase of 1854 defined its current borders and placed what is now the city of Maricopa (not to mention Tucson and Yuma) into the United States. At the Feb. 3 meeting, historian Dan Judkins will explain how and why the crucial purchase came about.

March 2, Gerald T. Ahnert will discuss the Overland Mail Company that left its mark on Maricopa. He worked on a bill now in Congress waiting to be approved to designate the Butterfield Trails as a national historic trail. A native New Yorker, he has had his work featured in True West magazine.

“No Butterfield stage was ever held up by outlaws, and no one on his stages was ever killed during the company’s service on the Southern Overland Trail,” he wrote.

“He’s not a young man, but he is so adventuresome,” Hoeh said.

April 6, archivist Steve Hoza will wrap up the series with a talk about World War II prisoner-of-war camps in Pinal County. Hoeh said he even went to Germany to interview some of the former POWs and was a contributor to the History Channel’s “The Great Escapes of World War II.”

This year, Maricopa Historical Society will forego its traditional golf-tournament fundraiser and instead launch a new event. “Tales & Treasures” is scheduled for Oct. 26, a catered dinner at Leading Edge Academy that will dish up plenty of folklore and antiques.

The event is 3-6 p.m. and is $40 for members and $45 for nonmembers. Hoeh said the plan is to have local historians make the rounds during the meal, stopping at each table to share area history or at least the truth behind some tall tales. Funds raised go to the programs and projects of the society. Learn more in the October issue of InMaricopa.

This story appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.