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March 2023
Cave Creek Museum
 6140 E. Skyline Drive
Cave Creek, AZ 85331 (Physical Address)
P.O.Box 1, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 (Mailing Address) 
Feature Article:
The Lady Finds Her Passion
By Stephanie Bradley

Thelma Casanova was precise. Her pressed lips and focused eyes steadied her as she manipulated tools. Her fine art of bird carving had evolved from tentative to excelled. In no time, another life-like bird would perch on a branch or twig.
When the time came for Thelma Casanova and her husband Frank to retire, they knew they wanted to be in Arizona. They chose Tonto Hills in the early 1970s. Both were lovers of nature, particularly, of course, birds. Indeed, it was the avian variety in Tonto Hills that spurred them to buy land, sight unseen, and have a home built there, while they packed to leave their Pennsylvania home. Their Arizona home would include a workshop for Thelma.
While living in Pennsylvania, Thelma learned wood carving from a friend who gave her wood with which to play. While her first attempts were unsatisfactory, she gathered tips from her friend and her career soon soared along with the birds she so loved.
Thelma’s carved birds reflect her joy in the tactile experience of chipping away at a piece of wood and seeing it transformed into a life-size and lifelike rendering of her cherished birds. By the time she arrived in Arizona, Thelma was already an award-winning carver. Inspired by the birds that

visited her feeders, she continued to carve her favorite subjects. In a 1975 interview, Thelma confessed that she and Frank spent $35 a month on birdseed, about $200 in today’s dollars; just reward for the company of birds!

Thelma showed her work in shops and galleries in Carefree. Her work was in great demand, and she had many commissions. Today, you can view examples of her exquisite work in the History Wing.
The museum is fortunate to have in its collection these treasures of a gentle lady, confident and poised, who loved her birds. Thelma passed away May 2, 2011.
As it happened, the land on which the Casanovas built their home had been occupied by prehistoric Hohokam. Frank explored the archaeology, ultimately receiving aid from volunteers. Eventually the “Blue Wash Site,” a village in Tonto Hills, was revealed. While Thelma’s birds are in the History Wing, a sample of the Casanova’s archaeological artifacts are on display in the Archaeology Wing.
Photos: Cave Creek Museum
Cave Creek Museum Presents
"The Saga of the Salt
Its Connection to Cave Creek" 

Saturday, March 25


Would a very short rest on a journey to Prescott, for Stoneman and his troops, constitute grounds for the designation of Cave Creek town founder in 1870? Let's explore the true founder of Cave Creek or at least the co-founder of Cave Creek and how it all started with the venerable Salt River. This exciting saga will be delivered by Kraig Nelson, Cave Creek Museum's historian, Nuggets' columnist for twelve years who has given presentations not only at the Museum but other venues around metropolitan Phoenix, YouTube, Johns Hopkins University, and over seven years at the only UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark (and Hohokam site) in the state of Arizona. Prepare to spend an exciting time on the edge of your seats listening to information never delivered before. For additional information and purchasing tickets click HERE.

March Events
March 11 (Sat 10:00 -11:15 a.m.): AZ GOLD MINING EXPERIENCE: Click HERE for info & tickets. (reservations required)

March 12 (Sun 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.): Kiwanis Family Fun Days:
"KIDS Archeology Expo" 
Click HERE for info and to save your spot(s).

March 18 (Sat 9:00 a.m. - noon): Cave Creek Rodeo Days Parade: Come see the Cave Creek Museum entry. Better yet, Join us in the museum parade entry! Click HERE to email for additional info.  

March 21: Tucson Adventure Raffle Ticket: Info & Purchase Tickets HERE.  

March 21(Tues 4:30 - 8:00 p.m.): Cave Creek Museum's Annual Miners' Dinner: Info   & Purchase Tickets HERE.  (reservations required)

March 25 (Sat 10:00 -11:15 a.m.): AZ GOLD MINING EXPERIENCE: Click HERE for info & tickets. (reservations required)

March 25 (Sat 2:00 - 4:00 pm.): Cave Creek Museum Presents: "The Saga of the Salt and Its Connection to Cave Creek" - Click HERE for info & tickets. (reservations required)
Click HERE for info & tickets. (reservations required)

Click HERE for additional information and more
Cave Creek Museum events.

Buy your tickets NOW for this fun and lively Miners’ Dinner!
Click HERE.
Cave Creek Acclaimed
By Kraig Nelson, Cave Creek Museum Historian
We are proud of our 1870s historic town and there are multiple reasons for our pride. Here are a few interesting examples:

The first Cave Creek school was a one-room building encompassing first through eighth grades, taught by one teacher. The school was built in 1886 (closed in 1913 for 17 years) near the creek on a property called Cave Creek Station, which was the first Anglo settlement in the area (established 1877).

In 1899, Alfred C. Lockwood was the 24-year-old teacher, but he was a student as well. This was a time when law schools were not the gateway to a law profession. Alfred was studying law as an apprentice while teaching at the school; this process was called “reading law.” Mr. Lockwood was admitted to the Arizona Bar in 1902. His stellar career included serving as the eighth, eleventh, and fourteenth Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court (in 1929, 1935, and 1941 respectively).

The late Beverly Metcalf Brooks, and former Museum historian, arrived in Cave Creek in the early 1960s. As a young lady, she spoke to many “old-timers” around Cave Creek who shared valuable history with her. One old-timer Les Smith, long deceased, shared stories in the one-room Cave Creek schoolhouse.

Les Smith discussed his friendship with classmates and twins, Martin and Mamie Robinson. They were born in Glendale
but moved to an area near the National Memorial Cemetery located on Cave Creek Road. There were ten children in the Robinson family. They had a tough life. Their father was an alcoholic and left the family when Martin and Mamie were 12. Things changed for the better as Martin David Robinson was a good singer, songwriter, and performer. He eventually won two Grammy Awards and was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame with 17 number-one singles, under his changed name of Marty Robbins.

The Cave Creek mining district, 144 square miles (four townships), was known for gold, silver, and later “red gold” (copper). Additionally, early miners noticed ledges of beautiful jasper and onyx, forms of quartz, jutting from areas near the creek.

Early eastern investors purchased deposits of jasper and onyx and hauled slabs to Phoenix in horse-drawn wagons. From there, they were sent to Los Angles by railroad for cutting and polishing. Cave Creek onyx was used to decorate buildings found at the Chicago World’s Fair (also known as the Columbian Exposition) in 1893. The White House received a gift of a beautiful vase made from Cave Creek onyx during the Calvin Coolidge administration (1923-1929). The late Cave Creek historian Frances C. Carlson believes it’s still at the White House in storage.
Letter from the Board President:
Dear Cave Creek Museum Family,

The Museum has welcomed record-breaking numbers of guests this season. Recently 80 visitors signed in! How fun is that? Our ARIZONA GOLD MINING EXPERIENCE is sold out every run, so we added a second weekend during the cooler months to handle the demand. Our adult programs are regularly at capacity. Stephanie Bradley’s geology talk is so popular, we had to schedule an encore presentation—and that sold out!

I mention this (other than boasting a little) because as I write, 2/3 of Miners’ Dinner tickets are sold. Don’t delay buying yours! Listen to the rumble of the Stamp Mill then relax beneath the stars as Cowboy Balladeer Mike Ewing strums. Savor Horny Toad’s famous fried chicken or toothsome ribs. Enjoy a fashion show featuring Watson’s Hat Shop chapeaux and the newest designs from Chico’s. I’m blown away by the generosity of our donors to our compelling Silent Auction offerings.


While online buying your Miners’ Dinner tickets, register for upcoming programs. In March the museum presents “Saga of the Salt and Its Connection to Cave Creek” by historian Kraig Nelson. Check other upcoming programs as well in April and May.

And a reminder: Arizona Gives Day is April 4. This is the 11th anniversary of this online fundraising event. While Arizona Gives accepts donations year-round, most donations are given during Arizona Gives Day: $6,000,000 last year! Please remember us for your online giving, every day, all year, but especially April 4. Visit, enter CAVE CREEK MUSEUM in the search bar at the upper right of the page, and there we are!  (You can’t miss our Cave Creek blue!)

Thanks to all our members (it’s almost renewal time!) and community for your support and love.

Darlene Southern, President
Cave Creek Museum Board of Directors

Letter from the Desk of Evelyn Johnson:

Dear Cave Creek Museum Family,

As you may know, my activities came to a grinding halt February 8. I was hospitalized and was not happy! I am so used to being at our museum and seeing all of you as you enjoy your various activities that make CCM hum and fun. I was not having fun at the hospital, but received good care and was a good patient, even if I really wasn’t all that patient! We are so used to instant resolution of issues…the TV show gets DNA results before the commercial and the bad guy is caught before the show ends. That is not the case in real life. I focused on getting well and could do so because of all of you. I already knew that our volunteers are the best, capable of handling whatever comes their way and, of course, that is precisely what happened in my absence.

All of us have much to look forward to, from happenings at the museum to the friendships we enjoy. Thank you all for your kindness and concern.
On February 28, ground was broken for the Veterans Memory Garden. This exciting project has brought great interest, commitment, and promise. The process began humbly following a program last May about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Many were inspired to recognize the sacrifice of our many veterans. Once the seed was planted, ideas flew and grew! And now look! We are set to honor our veterans in beauty and calm.

~Evelyn Johnson,  Executive Director
Yeee Haw!

Join the Rodeo Days parade on Saturday, March 18.
Our entry is "History on Parade."

Be part of the fun! Walk or ride the two-mile route on our float
or just cheer us along the way! 

Contact Buck Columna for details by clicking HERE. 

The museum features an exhibit on the history of Cave Creek Rodeo Days in the mini-wing. March being Cave Creek Rodeo Days month would be a perfect time for you to stop in to museum and see the rodeo exhibit.
Museum Store News:
Look What's Happening
at the Cave Creek
Museum Store
in March

Need Naylor? 

Find all titles by our popular December speaker Roger Naylor in the Museum Store. His writing reflects Roger’s enduring love affair with the Copper State as he shares travels, musings and appreciation of our beautiful homeland. His his newest publication, Awesome Arizona, hits the shelves any day now. Come visit us at the Cave Creek Museum for an amazing selection of books, jewelry and giftware!  
Come visit us for your book-buying needs. 
Open even when the Museum isn't!
Remember, we don't charge sales tax and
members get an additional 10% off purchases. 
Come and see us!

Keep Getting Better

Sending love and good wishes to Executive Director Evelyn Johnson and to her husband Don, both recovering from recent hospitalizations.

Wes Cooper continues PT as he recovers from a fall and
shoulder surgery.

Album of Events:
***A Very Special Event***
On February 28, speakers and guests joined museum volunteers to celebrate groundbreaking for the Veterans Memory Garden. The moving event showcased plans for the development of a respectful place for reflection and contemplation.
Photo Left:  Veteran Memory Garden Co-Chairs Steve Greenberg and Chris Kempster
Photo Right: Breaking ground from left to right: Carefree Mayor John Crane, American Legion Post 34 Commander Brian Fernandez, Vice Commander of the Arizona Department of American Legion Thomas Woodward, Cave Creek Mayor Bob Morris, Cave Creek Museum Board President Darlene Southern, and retired designer/builder Marc Viator 
Veteran Thomas Woodward, Vice Commander of the Arizona Department of American Legion, spoke movingly of the profound value of the Veterans Memory Garden.

Photos:  Stephanie Bradley and C. "Buck" Columna


The Cave Creek Museum got its start by a small but energized group of community-minded volunteers. Now, 52 years on, we are still guided by their singular mission to preserve the history of the local foothills region. Their example of dedication continues to inspire us and our future is still in the hands of our volunteers.

I have always been involved with my community," says volunteer Debbie. "When my kids were young I was active in their schools, cub scouting, and sports. Later, I could focus more time on my interests and the Cave Creek Museum allows me to explore my love of history. As a retired teacher, I get to bring that history to life through school tours and other family- focused programs. But the real reason I volunteer is just how much fun I am having!”


Kids saddled up for fun on their hobby horses at Kiwanis Family Fun Day! Ye-haw

Volunteers share the wonder of the Sonoran Desert with school children.
Bored? 'Looking for something fun to do
in the new year?

Discover the Riches in Volunteering!
Volunteer opportunities abound at the Cave Creek Museum. Do you enjoy talking about history? Being a docent could be perfect for you? History, however, isn't your only option. Volunteer opportunities at our Cave Creek Museum abound! Which of these areas is calling YOU?
* Event Planning
* Hospitality
* Maintenance
* Technology
* Museum Store
* Education
* Office Assistant
* Exhibits / Collections Management
* And MORE
At the Cave Creek Museum, there’s a spot for you!

Become part of a lively, engaging community of volunteers passionate about supporting our Cave Creek Museum while making new friends and giving back to our community.
For more information, view the volunteering page on our website

If you've missed any of our Nuggets
e-newsletter OR would like to enjoy reading some of our past issues, simply click
The  Cave Creek Museum's Community Partner for March is
Sundial Pilates.
Cave Creek Museum Board of Directors
President: Darlene Southern 
Vice-President: Tammy Causey
Treasurer: Pam DiPietro
Secretary: Molly Tufts
Board Members
Colin "Buck" Columna
Joe Dollison
Steve Greenberg
Chris Kempster
Nina Spitzer
Administrative Staff
Evelyn Johnson, Executive Director
Jo Ann Stuckey, Museum Administrator

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Cave Creek Museum · 6140 Skyline Drive · Cave Creek, AZ 85327 · USA

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