The Tucson Mormon Heritage Festival and Remembering Tucson’s Veterans and Pioneers Event is on Nov. 9. Standing in the middle of downtown Tucson, not far from the Pima County Courthouse, is the monument to the Mormon Battalion, remembering the first time the United States military came to the Old Pueblo in 1846. They were the only religious unit to serve in the American military and their trek of 2,000 miles was the longest continual march in U.S. history.
A number of the 500 men, women and children were impressed with what they saw in Arizona. One of them, Erastus Bingham, returned with his family years later and settled the area along the Rillito River, which was running in those days, near the Fort Lowell and Alvernon Roads. Of the hundreds of early Mormon pioneers that came to Tucson in the early 1900s, many of them were refugees, chased out of Northern Mexico by Pancho Villa. The Binghamstook many of them in, helped them start their own farms and helped them get settled in a community which became known as Binghampton.
In honor of these early settlers of Pima County, their families, and our veterans, the Arizona Historical Society's Fort Lowell Museum is sponsoring the Tucson Mormon Heritage Festival, a free event open to the public.
Bette Richards, curator at the Museum is the director of the event. She has enlisted the help of Randy and Kathy Madsen to tell the story of the Mormon Battalion. Duane Bingham will provide historical presentations of Binghampton. There will be many other booths and demonstrations including the history of the early Hispanic Mormons in the Tucson area; rope-making and lassoing; frontier activities for children, such as games, a kid's rodeo and doll making; a cowboy poet; spinning and hand weaving; family history experts; a mining demonstration, and the Fort Lowell Museum will be open to the public.
The event will include music throughout the day, culminating with the traditional Fourth Regiment Cavalry Band, followed by a presentation by Ted Vogt, director of the Arizona Veterans Administration followed by the striking of the colors at 3:30 p.m.