The Territory of Arizona was created by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on February 24, 1863 (his image is near the top of the County Courthouse on both the North and South sides of the building). Yavapai County was one of four original counties in the Arizona Territory and at 65,000 square miles in size was believed to be the largest county ever created in the United States. The other three original counties were Mohave, Pima and Yuma. Yavapai County came to be known as the “Mother of Counties” because Apache, Coconino, Gila, Maricopa and Navajo counties were carved from it. Today, Yavapai County is 8,125 square miles in size – approximately the same size as the state of Massachusetts!
Yavapai County was also home to Arizona’s first territorial capital, with the provisional seat of the territorial government being established in the Chino Valley area in 1864 and then several months later moved to Prescott. In 1867, the territorial capital was moved to Tucson and ten years later it was returned to Prescott. In 1889 the capital was moved to Phoenix, where it remains to this day.
Today, Yavapai County is a bustling and rapidly growing county with nine incorporated cities and towns and numerous unincorporated communities. It has a rich heritage of ranching, mining, military and business and is home to much of Arizona’s most fascinating history. From ancient Indian ruins in the Verde Valley to the once rollicking Whiskey Row in Prescott, and from the deserts of the southern part of the County to the brilliant red rocks of the Sedona area to the Ponderosa forests in the Prescott area, Yavapai County has plenty to offer those interested in history, mining, ranching, and outdoor activities.
Please feel free to browse our site and join us in celebrating Arizona’s centennial and the role that Yavapai County and its citizens have played in our state’s history!