This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

What prominent men looked like in old-time Phoenix - 1901


Time travel with me back to Phoenix, Arizona in 1901. We'll be visiting some prominent citizens, which I found in "Who's Who in Arizona 1901".

You can describe this era as the "old West", but it's not really. This is a generation after the old west. It's mostly described as Victorian, although Queen Victoria died that year. To me, it seems the best way to describe this era is the age of mustaches. Big mustaches. Really big mustaches.

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Let's start with George H.N. Luhrs up there. A bit thin on the top, but he more than makes up for it with the forest of hair growing under his lip, and on his chin. Getting your photo taken took some time back then, that is, the exposure was very long, so you don't see many people smiling. In fact, it looks like the biggest challenge was not to blink. George may look like he's pondering the future of Phoenix, but he's probably just trying not to blink. His corduroy jacket would probably pass unnoticed if you wore it nowadays, but notice that back then there's a button where there's a mysterious button hole on men's jackets nowadays. The bowtie shows the typical stiff collar of the day, which must have been very uncomfortable.


Then there's C.H. Hall (no relation to me) who is showing what younger men looked like. His hair is neatly plastered down, and while his mustache would be large by today's standards, back then it was fairly tame. You can see the high collar, and his tie and jacket would be unremarkable by modern standards, except that it buttons much higher than jackets do now, and shows less tie. This is a style that you only see nowadays when men get married. That's a fairly large knot in his tie, probably a Windsor.


James Priest, who lived in Tempe (yes, the street there is named after him), is showing the style of an older man. Perhaps he was protesting the gigantic mustaches that were so common at the time, by having a bare upper lip, but he more than makes up for it with his goat's beard. His collar, although large by modern standards, is not the high type.


John B. Doner is showing a very up-to-date style for 1901, including wire rim glasses, and of course a large "soup strainer" mustache. His collar is upright, but not quite so high. His tie is also of a type that would be fine in the 21st Century, tied in a Windsor.


John J. Gardiner shows off an epic beard, and a respectable mustache. Note that while his mustache and beard look about large enough to hide farm implements in, if necessary, the hair is neatly trimmed. Since a shave and a haircut was only two bits back then (25 cents) presumably the barber did a little extra work if a shave wasn't needed.


And then there's Michael E. Curry, who is showing exactly how it's done. His mustache appears to be large enough to attach to a broom, and his collar is very high with a nice neat bowtie. He is wearing his jacket unbuttoned, revealing what most men wore at that time, even in Phoenix, a vest. A vest is where men used to carry stuff, such as their watch, and their specs. Their flask of whiskey, of course fit in their jacket pocket, and men's jackets still have the same size pocket, which still fits flasks of that shape, which curve.

I've learned an important lesson here, visiting these prominent Phoenix men in 1901, if you want to be important, you'd better grow that mustache! Unless you're James Priest, and you go with the goat's beard.