Scottsdale has historic ties to Washington, D.C.

Scottsdale has historic ties to Washington, D.C.

By Joan Fudala

No matter what your politics, or the nearly 2,300 miles that separate Scottsdale and Washington, D.C., our community shares history with our nation’s capital. 

As the nation focuses on Washington during the November elections and its results, it’s a fitting time to reflect on Scottsdale’s countless ties to the people, places and events “inside the Beltway.”

Here are just a few:

Scottsdale wouldn’t be a premier city in Arizona if not for a chain of decisions made in Washington—the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with Mexico; the 1861 Act that created the Arizona Territory (which then included New Mexico); the 1863 Act signed by President Abraham Lincoln, which established Arizona as a separate U.S. territory; the 1865 opening of the U.S. Army’s Fort McDowell; and, finally, the Arizona Statehood Act, signed by President William Howard Taft on February 14, 1912.

Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell, the namesake of so many Scottsdale locations, made a name for himself as the losing general of Union forces at the Battle of Bull Run in 1861. The Northern Virginia site of the battle was so close to the capital that Washingtonians came with picnics to watch the skirmish taking place. Cleared of any blame for the loss (which was actually attributed to politicians who rushed McDowell and his troops into a battle they were unprepared for), McDowell went on to command the Army of the Pacific, which established Camp/Fort McDowell in the central Arizona Territory in 1865. He visited once in 1866, urged creation of a settlement nearby to provide hay for horses and food for troops, and the hay camp of Phoenix was born soon after.

President Rutherford B. Hayes signed an executive order in 1879 that created the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

If it weren’t for a persistent Helen Scott, who went to the White House to get President Lincoln’s permission to visit the Civil War battlefield where her husband Winfield lay gravely wounded, there might not have been a “Scottsdale.” Lincoln granted her request, she nursed Winfield back to health, they later homesteaded land along the Arizona Canal in 1888, and the rest, as they say, is Scottsdale history.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson set aside 2,000 acres between Phoenix and Scottsdale as a national monument, Papago Saguaro National Monument. National Monument status was rescinded in 1930, and the area became Papago State Park. Now Papago Park, it’s a regional amenity bordering Scottsdale.

President Wilson’s vice president was Thomas R. Marshall, a former governor of Indiana and part-time Scottsdale resident. Marshall was married to the former Lois Kimsey, whose parents and brother (Scottsdale mayor from 1958-62 Mort Kimsey) lived in Scottsdale. The Marshalls built a house on Indian School Road just west of Scottsdale Road in 1914 and visited frequently during his time as vice president (1913-21). At least one World War I Liberty Bond Rally was held in front of the Marshalls’ home, and he was a popular speaker and guest at local civic functions.

The late Scottsdale resident and philanthropist Henry Browne “H.B.” Wallace was the son of Henry A. Wallace, vice president to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1940s. Elliott Roosevelt, son of FDR and mystery author, lived in the Scottsdale area off and on from the end of World War II to his death in 1990.

Arizona’s U.S. Sen. Ernest McFarland is considered the “Father of the G.I. Bill,” which President Roosevelt signed into law in 1944 as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act.  Providing education benefits, low-interest mortgages and veterans’ hospitals, the GI Bill’s benefits prompted hundreds of World War II veterans to come to Scottsdale and the Valley for new opportunities.

Scottsdale residents Reg Manning (editorial cartoonist for the Arizona Republic) and Lois Kimsey Marshall (widow of Vice President Thomas Marshall) each paid an official visit to President Harry S. Truman in the Oval Office. Scottsdalian Richard Searles served as under secretary of the interior during the Truman administration.

A Pullman train car that Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower used now resides at the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale. Known as the Roald Amundsen car, and donated to the park by Mae Sue and Franz Talley, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Scottsdale was a favorite getaway for the Eisenhowers during his tenure as president. He played golf. First Lady Mamie E. enjoyed time at the all-female Elizabeth Arden’s Maine Chance Spa (site now on the grounds of The Phoenician Resort).

Paradise Valley resident Barry Goldwater served the Scottsdale area first as a U.S. congressman, then as a longtime U.S. senator. Sen. Goldwater waged a valiant campaign for president against incumbent Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964; his election night headquarters was the Camelback Inn. Remember the campaign slogan: “AU H2O in ’64?” During his terms as senator, Goldwater supported many programs that benefited Scottsdale, and was particularly supportive of Scottsdale Airport.

U.S. Congressmen John Rhodes and Eldon Rudd were great supporters of the Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt Flood Control Project. Numerous members of U.S. Congress and senators helped push the Central Arizona Project forward over the many decades it was in the works. Scottsdale finally began receiving water from the CAP in the mid-1980s.

During his presidency, Ronald Reagan visited the area for two sad occasions—the funerals of his father-in-law Dr. Loyal Davis in August 1982 and his mother-in-law Edith Davis in 1987. First Lady Nancy Reagan, thanks to her late father’s professional ties to Scottsdale Memorial Hospital, was the featured guest when Scottsdale Memorial Hospital North (HonorHealth’s Shea Campus now) was dedicated in January 1984.

President Reagan nominated Paradise Valley resident Sandra Day O’Connor to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981; she was confirmed 99-0 and served until January 2006.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. Congressional Tennis Tournament was held at John Gardiner’s Tennis Ranch (now The Sanctuary) in Paradise Valley.

Dan Quayle, vice president to George Bush Sr. (1989-1993), grew up in Scottsdale/Paradise Valley, attended Kiva Elementary School and played on the Scottsdale High School golf team in the 1960s. After he launched his political career as a U.S. senator from Indiana and finished his term as vice president, Quayle and his wife, Marilyn, an attorney, returned to the Valley and the Scottsdale area, where they now live and work. Their son, Ben, served one term as a U.S. congressman representing the Scottsdale area.

Former White House Physician Rear Admiral Connie Mariano—who provided medical care to Presidents Bush, Clinton and Bush—operates the the Center for Executive Medicine in Scottsdale and is a popular speaker at civic groups.  Two former Air Force One pilots have lived and flown corporate jets from Scottsdale since their retirement from the U.S. Air Force.

Since inception of the American Legion/American Legion Auxiliary-sponsored Boys Nation (1946) and Girls Nation (1947), numerous Scottsdale-area high school students have joined peers from 49 other states for a week in Washington, D.C., learning how government works.

The nonprofit Honor Flight Arizona, based in Scottsdale, ensures that veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War are flown to Washington, D.C., to visit national war memorials—the trip of a lifetime for participants.

Scottsdale baseball fan favorite Matt Williams, a former star of the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, managed the Washington Nationals in 2014 and 2015.

Coronado High School graduate Kathleen Stephens was a career State Department official, was appointed ambassador to the Republic of Korea by President Bush in 2008 and heads the Washington, D.C.-based Korean Economic Institute of America.

Scottsdale-area resident Barbara M. Barrett is the Secretary of the Air Force at The Pentagon. In previous Washington assignments, she has been deputy administrator of the FAA and vice chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board.

Between 1989 and 1994, the Close Up Club at Saguaro High School (and, later, the National Youth Leadership Center) collected hundreds of thousands of pennies to fund a museum display at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., that celebrated civil rights and Martin Luther King Jr. Teacher John Calvin mentored the effort.

Starting in 2005, students at Cactus Shadows High School, and now other Scottsdale-area schools, have interviewed hundreds of military veterans, published the vets’ stories in an annual hardback book “Since You Asked,” and have added the stories and oral histories to the American Veterans Project housed at the Library of Congress in Washington. The Friends of the Scottsdale Public Library honored the students, their teacher Barbara Hatch and the Veterans Heritage Project with its Spirit of Literacy Award in 2008.

Want to visit a D.C. big wig site without leaving the Scottsdale area? Tour the Amundsen Pullman car at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, drive along Marshall Way or Goldwater Boulevard in Old Town Scottsdale, or sit at President George Bush’s table at the Teepee restaurant on Indian School Road.