The Eastern Arizona Museum & Historical Society of Graham County celebrated 144 years of Pima history and its own 60 years of existence on April 21 and 22 during its annual Heritage Days.
Activities included a barbecue dinner on Friday evening, a quilt show in the Cultural Hall of the “Old Pima Church” and a cowboy breakfast on Saturday. Safford blacksmith Max Maxwell was also on hand both days to demonstrate metalworking techniques on a forge that dates back at least a century.
There was steady foot traffic through the museum Saturday as young and old investigated the thousands of items on display. Pima native Bill Cosper, a retiree who was visiting from Phoenix with his three grandsons, said he tries to tour the museum at least once a year.
Once again this year, Loretta Graves was stationed at her post playing the upright piano that originally belonged to Sylvia Louise Bentley Lucas Sessions. Aside from having an incredibly long name, Sessions was a piano teacher who is credited with having what is believed to be the first piano in the Gila Valley.
Other visitors to the museum on Saturday included Fred and Anna Sanchez, of Safford. They show up regularly to tour the facility. That’s due in no small part to the fact that a significant number of items on display are connected to their own family. Fred Sanchez is the great-grandson of Sanchez, Ariz., founder Lorenzo Sanchez. His wife said they stop in frequently “because there’s always something new.”
Dozens of quilts, both old and new, were on display at the church Cultural Hall down the street.
Quilting is a popular pastime in the Gila Valley, as evidenced by the number and quality of the stitched creations on display. There were roughly 60 quilts on loan for the event, offered for no other reason than the love of the craft. Among the contributed pieces was a gorgeous Silk Star design assembled by 85-year-old Della Webster.
Seasoned quilter Judy Phegley took on the job of running the quilt show for the first time this year.
“I wasn’t in my right mind, so I said yes,” she joked.
The Eastern Arizona Museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.