Sculpted by local artist Bill Nebeker, this monument honors early white settlers of Prescott, Arizona. It features four iconic figures: a cowboy, a mule skinner, a gold miner, and a pioneer woman.
This 1985 larger-than-life bronze grouping in Prescott,
Arizona, depicts early white settlers to the region. It includes four iconic
figures of the mythic Old West: a cowboy, a mule skinner (or freight wagon
driver), a gold miner, and a sunbonneted woman.
The central figure is a cowboy clad in a cowboy hat, fringed
trousers, cowboy boots and spurs. He carries a rope for roping cattle. This
cowboy evokes both western ranching culture and Prescott’s premier public
event, the “World’s Oldest Rodeo.” Its sponsor, Prescott Frontier Days, Inc., says
that Prescott’s professional rodeo has occurred annually since 1888.
According to Marguerite Madison Aronowitz, author of Art Treasures and Museums In and Around
Prescott, Arizona, the sculptor originally planned to include a Fort
Whipple soldier as the fourth figure, but his wife and father persuaded him
instead to honor the women who settled the Southwest. Like the famous Pioneer Woman in Ponca City, Oklahoma,
and a number of other monuments to pioneer women erected throughout the United
States since the 1920s, the female settler wears a sunbonnet and holds a Bible.
That Bible symbolizes her role carrying supposedly more civilized white American
culture to the West. Rather than striding westward, however, this Prescott
pioneer woman stands in her adopted home, shading her eyes against the bright
Early Settlers was
sculpted by Bill Nebeker, a longtime Prescott resident and member of the
prestigious Cowboy Artists of America. Nebeker,
whose father once worked as a cowboy in the Prescott area, has dedicated his
artistic career to “keeping the story of the West alive.”1 Since the 1960s, he has sculpted cowboys and ranch life, Native Americans, outlaws
and lawmen, military heroes, and western wildlife.
Prescott, Arizona, has been a center of cowboy and western
art for decades. But an interpretive
plaque accompanying the statue declares that it was the first public art work
erected in Prescott since the dedication of the city’s Rough Rider monument in