By Pony Express...

Howdy all!
Our first ever Tucson Barn Dance certainly lived up to expectations as a foot stompin', partner swingin', whoopin' and hollerin' fandango with buckets of laughter and smiles as wide as western skies!
Our folks turned out from both town and country and from parts both far and near to join in We Make History's very first dancing foray into Pima County and southern Arizona.
Pioneers, homesteaders, cowboys, farmers, ranchers and town folks were all represented and the 19th century West and the 21st century West were both well showcased!
Our music and dance were all 19th century. One of the highlights was introducing several historic quadrilles. Most folks are surprised to learn that what is called square dancing is actually a 20th century phenomena. But the forerunner to square dancing was the quadrille. And quadrilles were very popular in 19th century rural America!
We also introduced (for the first time anywhere) the Arizona Reel, a variation of the Virginia Reel emphasizing the independent spirit of the West.
Whether from plantation or prairie, old or young, American born or recent immigrant there was plenty of joy for all as we explored dance and society in the context of our rural heritage - a heritage the importance of which could hardly be overstated.
For the We Make History family the Tucson Barn Dance gave us a chance to switch gears and get an idea of the dance experience not of aristocrats but of everyday Americans to whom dance - and to whom certain manners and social mores - were all such a valuable part of their lives and culture.
There is an important lesson here for all of us.
Often when we think of "ladies and gentlemen" of "etiquette" or of "polite society" our thoughts are directed toward European royals and aristocrats, the social elite of Colonial America or perhaps the plantations of the Old South. But the truth is that good manners and respect for the opposite gender were very, very important to millions of Americans of more humble means - the vast majority of whom lived in rural areas all across our land. They may not have been as studied or polished in their etiquette as some of the more renowned groups mentioned above but they took their "yes ma'am" and their "yes sir" just as seriously and understood that respect was one of the basic foundations of good character ... and of being a good citizen.
With this in mind we consider it to have been a privilege to honour our often overlooked - yet invaluable - rural, agrarian American heritage.
Southern Arizona's more casual culture and background in farming and ranching made Tucson a natural location for just such an honor.
Thank you for taking part. And thank you for being part of the We Make History Family.
"Colonel" Scott

Dear Colonel Scott,

I'll be doggoned if I didn' have myself a good 'ol time!  I sure do hope the Tucson Barn Dance becomes another We Make History tradition!  Thankya' most kindly!

I was delighted to see so many of my fellow Tucsonans and Southern Arizonans -- and most of them newcomers, too.  No doubt many of them will be making the journey north to one of the many other balls.

It's getting mighty difficult to pick a standout Miracle Moment, but in dancing the quadrilles, I couldn't help but think of the 180-degree difference between the happiness of those moments and the disquieting dread of square dancing in middle-school gym class.  All those years ago, all those kids around me were merely walking by command, devoid of any grace or heart or desire to lift people up, with girls thinking, "I have to hold hands with him?"  And on that Saturday evening, I saw all the young people plugged into the joy of the dance and each other's company.  I saw the newcomers welcomed with open arms -- literally.  Yeee-haw!  Once again, I see the Holy Spirit working through us.

And I have hope. 

On a personal note, thank you so much for the invitation back to the hotel for cheesecake and conversation.  I dare say I needed to hear the various observations, warnings, and advice as much as the young people at the table.  I wish somebody would have been around to tell me those clear and sensible approaches to dating when I was growing up.  And hearing how God has changed the lives of the young ones, I have no doubt they will change other lives.  It's a reminder to me, and I hope to others, that we all need to pause and recognize and Give Thanks for lives gone right... and don't let up.

May God Continue To Bless You And The We Make History Family.
In Christ,
"Huckleberry" Francis
Tucson, AZ


Colonel Scott,

Yahoo!!!  Thanks again for an amazing night of music and dancing.  I had a rip-roarin' good time,  especially during the Arizona reel.  I loved the twist where we improvised the end of the dance, my partner  and I were dancing circles around all the other couples (literally).  
It's always great getting to know more and more about the We Make History family. I also really enjoyed the talks (and the cheesecake) we had in the hotel lobby.  It's always comforting to see people so concerned about the world around them and how their beliefs affect that world and vice versa.  I hope I was able to contribute some helpful insight into the group; if nothing else I have this to say: Never stop asking questions, and continue to search for the truth. We must be wary when we become content with our own perceptions.
Anyway, lunch was wonderful and a fitting end to a wonderful weekend. Thank you once again for all of the hard work and planning you and your family put into your historic balls.

God Bless,
The Lone Prescottonian: Colonel Zach


Dear Farmer Scott and Family,

Thank you very much for having us in your Barn Dance. We had been looking forward for many years to such an occasion. Weren't we glad to be part of it!!!

We surely had a wonderful weekend. It was so nice to be back in Tucson. We realized it had been thirteen years since we had visited Tucson and Mount Lemmon. Though we have passed through many times, it had always been just that, passing through. The city has grown a lot just like Phoenix.

The Ball was, as expected, a great success. The music, the relaxed atmosphere, yet very busy foot stomping, partner swinging, and altogether lots of laughter and joy, was wonderful. You surely proved that Barn Dancing is a beautiful part of our American heritage, a joyful way to bring together the best of many cultures. Though very different from all the other Balls, it was by no means any less enjoyable. We hope you make this a tradition. We had the opportunity to see many new faces and to fellowship with others for the first time.

The Hotel was very different from any other we had been to, but very Southwestern. The architecture, the courtyard and the decorations were very inspiring and the service was very pleasant. It was a good choice, thank you.

The time spent together the next day was as enjoyable. It is so wonderful to fellowship with other like-minded Christians in a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere. The time went by too fast, but the memories created will linger for a lifetime.

You have blessed us again. You and your family are a blessing. Lady Scott has done such a beautiful job sewing. The pictures don't really show all the details of her accomlpishments. You are surely blessed with a lovely wife, fantastic hostess and an excellent seamstress, as a farmer's wife should be!  We appreciate all your work to give us moments of joy, good entertainment and lovely memories. Sometimes it seems unfair to work so hard for just a few moments of entertainment. We deeply appreciate it.

 Sincerely yours,

The Lacys



At last -- a hoedown in my town! We Make History heads for Tucson to capture the boot-shaking flavor of rural America, granting me the chance to pay tribute to my heartland homeland.

As recounted by "Huckleberry" Francis

Memories of Missouri send me off into a dreamlike reminiscence: growing up in suburban Kansas City, finishing high school outside of St. Louis, and mentally toiling in Columbia for a journalism degree. Summer thunderstorms putting an Arizona monsoon to shame. Snow up to my knees -- or higher. Journeys back and forth on I-70 between old and new homes, with at least three hours to study the alternating green-and-amber hills of the countryside, plowed and lined with grain or dotted with cattle. Grain elevators. Lonely county roads dubbed "HH" and "Z." A humble town overlooked by a tall white water tower painted with an American Flag and the words "High Hill." Twice per trip the family car would cross the "Mighty Mo," and my eyes would fixate upon its gentle flow and tree-lined banks.

So when plans for a barn dance emerge in Tucson, I face a fundamental question: cowboy or country boy? I choose the latter.

* * *
I'm walkin' up to the hall in my best straw hat, overalls and kerchief. An' everybody's takin' me for a farmer. But I'm righ' thinkin' about a famous fictional Missourian.

"I'm thinking Huckleberry Finn," I say -- or Huckleberry Francis.

Now our host is thinkin' of a famous Kentuckian in that fine white linen suit an' hat. "Lord Scott just doesn't fit," he explains to us, saying "Colonel" seems more fittin' seein' as he hears this rumor that a relative is gonna open all these restaurants and such.

Everybody's samplin' the refreshments off to the side, standin' aroun' in their best duds -- string ties, ranch shirts, tailcoats, Stetsons and boots. Pretty fancy stuff, and all like that. But what I can' figure out is why everybody's so quiet. I know we gotta a lotta new faces, and maybe they're a bit shy, or maybe that's some doggone good punch. Anyway, no way are we gonna pull off one of these hoe-downs with everybody actin' like they're in church... oh that's right... they are in a church.

But Colonel Scott, he's still a little puzzled about everybody.

I try my best to offer some sorta explanation, real diplomat-like. "We are filled with anticipation of the joy yet to come."

Well, the Colonel thinks we oughta loosen our tongues and introduce ourselves, and he gets me to start off. Now dog my cats if I can remember more than a few names, but I can at least remember my own. So I start talkin' and it's kinda like when you see a wagon settin' off, the way it roll forward like and it gets faster. And then this kindly lady from Tucson and her family come in, and she starts talkin' and it's like this wind blowing across the fields, you know, how everybody starts smilin' and talkin' and such.

So we starts dancin', and the Colonel yells out "Give us air!" He and Lady Scott wave to part everybody in the crowd, beginning the promenade like we always do, and we got us some fine music from the Privytippers! I don't have to go very far to find my first partner. She's this young cowgirl who doesn't mind it if I gallop like a pony. So we go around and around and into a circle, in and out like that, with a hoot and a holler -- "Yee-haw!" Now this is how it's s'pposted to work. I figure them old Missourians shouted "yee-haw" if they were close enough to Kansas.


Next we do this mixer, and the kindly Miss Becky tells us, "Don't get to attached to that partner." And sure 'nuff, we mix everybody up. The Texas ranchers are over here next to the Arizona cowhands, and the prairie ladies are over there with the townsfolk. And I look real careful and I see this glint, like from a sheriff's star. I see there's this young deputy who must've moseyed up from Tombstone. And I'll be jiggered if it he, his sister and his mother ain't all packin' pistols. I get to thinkin' the Town Too Tough To Die is like the Town Too Quick To Draw. Oh golly gosh, what are they gonna do if I promenade a lady with the wrong arm in front? You know my friend Huck Finn lived in a rain barrel, poor soul. So you gotta understand a few Missouri downpours likely soaked through his hat into the windmills of his mind. Well, I know what it feel like when your head don't work during the first line dance. I keep having to remember to swing my partner with my right hand -- my right hand.

I say, "I'll get it." I say, "I'll remember." He ain't here, but I keep hearing this Confederate Sergeant friend of mine, an' his voice keeps bouncin' around my skull: "YOUR OTHER RIGHT! JUST LIKE YOUR MAMA TAUGHT YOU!"

Doggone it, I keep using my right hand to keep my hat on. As soon as I put it back on my head, it wants off like a stubborn Missouri mule. But I'm real lucky 'cause my partner has more patience than any cowgirl I know.

"Whatever!" she laughs, and we keep on dancin'.

Now I gotta ask, is this a barn dance or a barn burner? You see, it got all hot after just two dances, and the ladies were fannin' themselves and the gents were wavin' their hats in front of their faces. So when we had the first break, that punch and water was flowin' like the rapids of the
Niangua River. I could sure use that rain barrel right 'bout now.

So our host was able to get the air fixed, but it's gon' take awhile in such a big place. But he's makin' everybody happy: "The temperature has dropped three degrees!" This one fine young lady, she teaches me a box step waltz. Now I'm thinkin' I already knows it, but she shows me I ain't been doin' it right all this time. It's a lot more fancy than what I figure to be a box step, and when I look at my feet on the floor, it don' look like no box at all. But that lady, she's such a good dancer. I'm so lucky she'd learn a boy like me to dance.

We all place ourselves for a quadrille, what them modern folk call a square dance. And now things are gettin' a mite bit complicated. Couple number one: joins up with couple number three, circle left and right, swing your opposite, swing your partner, promenade, and all like that. Now, go through it again with couple number two, and on and on.

That kindly lady I know from Tucson is chucklin' a little nervous. But 'ol Huck has seen worse.

"We can do this!" I tell her. "We'll be just fine!"

And she replies, "Your faith is boundless!"

So it all plays out like it should, more or less, with a few messed up swings and blown calls -- you gotta listen to the call now, y'hear? Not too shabby. How 'bout another? Second gent, swing the third lady. Oh dog my cats, that's the second lady. I just done messed up this square.

"Bird in a cage, fly right in!" Miss Becky calls as we join hands and circle 'round a lady in the center. She does this happy little jig, like.

"Bird flies out, crow flies in!"

Now it's my turn, and there's all these hands around me. So I only gets to jig for a few little moments. But you oughta see my smile, 'cos I just done conquered this horrible old memory.

You see, I remember the last time I stood in the middle of a circle during a square dance. It musta been sixth grade gym class. I was this odd fella out in a dance they called "Ninepin." Now they done taught it on a day I was either sick or playin' hooky or somethin'. So there's this one part, where there's nine boys and eight girls, and they tell you to swing, and you're suppost'a swing any girl you could find. Only I didn' know that, and so all the other boys got themselves a girl and I done got nothin'. I was smack dab in the middle'a that circle without a pretty girl, and they were all dancing around me and laughin' and teasin' me, and I'm just standin' there crying 'cause I don't know what to do. I think that there had to be one of the saddest days of my life.

But anyhow, I'm all happy now and everybody's laughing with me, even if it took all those years. Yeeeee-haw and Hallelujah!
We do all these set dances, and I get all these pretty ladies to dance with me. But I'm never gonna forget the smile on this lady from Sierra Vista. She got a smile as wide as the Missouri River. But I gotta be honest, I might never'a seen she was wantin' to dance had her friend not pointed to her from behind her back. That's kinda sneaky, ain't it? I betcha' ol Tom Sawyer never danced with as many fine belles. Of course, he was too busy worryin' about Miss Becky Thatcher.

Hey Tom! You ain't never done the cookie dance, have ya? So here we go, sittin' in three chairs and passin' them cookie tins to one lady and waltzin' off with the other. It's real easy if there's a boy on one side of you. Otherwise, you gotta do what you haveta. We're just gettin' warmed up when the band stops playin.'

Everybody's right confused. I shout, "Encore, Encore!" and everybody starts shoutin' too. And bless their hearts, th' Privytippers give us a whole mess more.

We're gettin' along really well, but I keep wonderin' about this one dance, because I asked Colonel Scott if we were gonna do a Virginia Reel. And I forget exactly what he said, but I know he's got somethin' cookin.

"Ladies and gentlemen, find your partners for the Arizona Reel!"

He calls it from the stage, and 'cos there's enough people who know it, he doesn't have to teach us anything. Now I heard 'bout this. The way it goes is first corners honor each other and then second corners, do the same. And these corners do all these turns, and do-si-dos. But dog my cats if the Colonel doesn't start mixin' them steps up. I guess that's the Arizona part.

"And in Arizona we mix it up," he says.

Yeah, you right I mix it up. I mix up the reeling part. You see there's these ladies in the line left of me, and these ladies to the right, too, 'cos all these ladies are dancin' together. I don' have no idea why there aren't gents where the ladies are, but anyhow, I start swingin' the wrong line. But somehow I gets through it, and I keep wishing the Privvytippers will keep on playin' so I can do it again right.

But that Colonel, he's got some sly ideas.

"Swing your partners!"

And we do... and suddenly...

"Every man for himself! Free for all!"

All the lines break up and everybody starts jiggin' and twirlin', swinging and spinnin' around and promenading each other across the entire floor. It's on now! It's a hoe-down! Yeeee-haw!

We only got time for one more mixer before that last waltz.

"I learned a box step," I say to my partner, "but I don't think I want to try it out."

But nobody ever gets all uptight when I keep it real simple like. And that's really something, 'cos I can see all the young frontier boys and girls trotting across the floor like they in a St. Louis ballroom.

I reckon' it's time I turn my attention back to the pretty one in front'a me, I think. Remember to smile real nice for the lady. Make sure your hat's on tight.

See more memories from this historic first in Tucson!

NEXT: Dance & Dance Ability


Please also see our “Etiquette & Expectations” page as well as our "All About Us" page.













There were few things that Americans of the 19th century liked better than dancing. Pioneers, soldiers, farmers, politicians, ministers and indeed people of all types wrote in diaries, letters and published articles regarding attending dances. Of course good dancing is a very joyful experience. As our forbears realized, dancing positively engages the mind, exercises the body and has a wonderful tonic effect on the soul. But there was much more than just the pleasure of dancing to attract participants. With no radio or CDs available, dances were an opportunity to hear and enjoy music. With no telephones or email available dances provided an opportunity to socialize, communicate and share news with others. With high cultural expectations of behavior, dances were especially an opportunity to polish one’s manners and develop the social skills expected of those in "decent company".
While the formal “Grand Ball” may have been the height of the 19th century dance experience, people from throughout the social spectrum also enjoyed dancing in less elegant settings and less ostentatious circumstances.

On prairies and plantations, in parlors and presidios, rural Americans of all sections and classes enjoyed any opportunity to do some lively stepping.

From Atlantic to Pacific and The Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, they reeled and promenaded at soirees, shivarees, stomps, hoe-downs, corn-huskings, fandangos, harvest balls, barn dances, county fairs, birthday parties, wedding receptions, patriotic gatherings and church socials to tunes like “Soldier’s Joy”, “Jefferson & Liberty”, “Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine”, "Cotton Eyed Joe" and "The New Five Cents".

Often no more than a single experienced fiddler was required but a good 3 or 4 piece string band could draw folks in from miles around. Some came on foot or straddling the back of a mule while others pranced on racehorses, rolled up in carriages or arrived perched in fashionable buggies. Some wore their homespun “Sunday best” while others wore silken “store bought” goods. Some came from busy, growing towns while others traveled from distant frontier homesteads.
It may have been a New England Church Social, an Appalachian Wedding, a Carolina Soiree, a Kentucky Hoe-Down, a Nebraska Corn Huskin' Party, a Texas Fandango, a Prairie Harvest Dance or a Louisiana Cajun' Stomp.
It might even have been a Tucson Barn Dance!
But wherever it was or whatever it might have been called - one could be sure of warm smiles, friendly faces, a well-tuned fiddle and some fine lively dancing!

Charlie & Sally












































































We Make History

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House Standards

The 1st Virginia Infantry

The American Heritage Festival

























Looking ahead toward next year...



























And the smiles continued the next day...