Westerners Uncork Wine-Maker’s Tale
Scheurman Mountain is one of the landmarks that Westerner hikers have become very familiar with. It was on a recent Ambler hike that this story of the namesake of Scheurman Mountain was recounted.
Johann Georg Heinrich Schuerman, a resourceful lad of seventeen, just narrowly escaped Germany as functionaries were seeking to conscript young men into the Kaiser's army. The year was 1869. Though he hastily left his home behind, he did not forget his childhood playmate, Karoline Dorethea Titgemeyer.
The boy entered the New World via Canada, then to the States, wandering for years, making his living as a baker. Finally, at age 30, finding his way to Prescott, the capital of the frontier Territory of Arizona, Henry Scheurman (his name Anglicized) opened both a hotel and a dry goods business.
Scheurman, the businessman, "advanced" materials to a homesteader named Tom Carroll, purportedly to build improvements on land located in "Upper Oak Creek." When Carroll could not pay up his amount due, he offered his "homestead" in exchange for forgiveness of the debt. It was subsequently discovered that Carroll did not own the land, which was transferred, but no matter.
At this time, Scheurman communicated back to Dorette (her nickname) that he wanted to marry her. She had not seen Henry for thirteen years past. Nonetheless, she boarded a boat bound for New York, where Henry awaited her.
The year is 1884. It is unclear from the available documents whether or not Scheurman intended to make a permanent career change but, with his beloved bride by his side, and all their belongings, he hired a driver and a wagon, and set out from Prescott to find the never-before-visited property acquired from Carroll. It took five arduous days to accomplish the trip from Prescott. It is unimaginable what Dorette may have felt when they found a broken-down ramshackle dwelling, zero amenities, and no visible means of support, or escape!
The Scheurmans produced children on a regular basis. In 1891, they founded the first school in “Red Rock.” Scheurman was a leading citizen among the pioneer families who homesteaded the area. By 1902, when the name "Sedona" was approved by the Postmaster General, Scheurman was the town's most prosperous farmer. His success evolved from his early observation that “sour grapes” were growing wild along the banks of Oak Creek. Could the tasty grapes he knew from his boyhood be cultivated in this new environment? Over the years, Henry installed upwards of 70 acres of Zinfandel vines. He was the first vintner in Arizona. Nearby Jerome, “sin city,” with its thousands of mine workers, fostered a boom era for the Scheurman winery.
In 1915, the fledgling state of Arizona passed Prohibition laws. Scheurman, not believing that the honorable occupation of wine-making could be made illegal, continued his operations of growing and selling. He was abruptly arrested by the Sheriff of Clarkdale and carted off to jail. Fortunately, he was not incarcerated for long. He was pardoned by the Governor, who responded to a petition, signed by all the residents of Sedona, which affirmed Scheurman's erstwhile moral rectitude.
Though Henry died in 1920, his grapes live on. Recently, cuttings were made from two vines, which, amazingly, had survived on their own in his long-neglected vineyard; they were nurtured back to vigor by a dedicated connoisseur. “Zinfandel” may again bring prosperity to the local area.
Westerner hikers do enjoy learning of the pioneers who first took residence in this place we love so dearly.
The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining, visit www.sedonawesterners.org. You also may join at our monthly meetings. The next one is January 10th, 2012 7:00 PM, at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona. Decemeber's meeting will be replaced by the Clubs Holiday Party.