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Arizona: a History of Snake Oil Salesmen, Scams, and Hoaxes
February 25, 2020 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Since the earliest days, Arizonans have been visited by entrepreneurs offering all kinds of get rich quick schemes. Benefitting from tales of abundant resources in the territory, limited law enforcement and communication, a scoundrel could create enticing promise of riches and success without much external oversight. Newspapers often fanned the hysteria only to later denounce and expose the schemes. People from across America came west to seek a better life. When that better life proved too slow in materializing, they often fell prey to a quick and easy alternative being offered by the schemer. Sometimes even the well-educated and worldly could not resist the lure, despite later admitting they should have known better. Using newspaper articles, quotes, photographs and ephemera, this program illustrates some of the most famous and some of the lesser known embarrassing scams and hoaxes that have found the gullible in Arizona.
Christine Reid is intrigued by Arizona’s diverse and rich western heritage as a writer and researcher at the Pinal County Historical Society and Community Scholar for the ASU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She continues that deep interest while serving on many of the town of Florence’s heritage projects and agencies. Committed to sharing history in a lively manner, she presents the sometimes hidden or forgotten aspects of Arizona’s characters and history.