Meet Tootsie!

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Did you see the question on our Facebook page? Here’s the answer!

Tootsie was a turn of the century doll from the Henry G. Zipf Collection. She was presumably owned by Gertrude Pusch Zipf (1883-1974), who was the daughter of George and Mathilda Pusch. The Pusch family were the original owners of Steam Pump Ranch.


Ruth Fahden a member of the Tucson Doll Guild, the Doll Artisan Guild and the United Federation of Doll Clubs researched the doll and the clothing era. She learned the doll was produced in Germany by Henrich Handwerck and his wife, Minna, who made dolls from 1876 to 1902. Heinrich and Minna Handwerck dolls were produced in Waltershausen, Thüringia, Germany beginning in 1876 until they were purchased by Kammer & Reinhardt in 1902 after Heinrich Sr. passed away at the young age of 44.  After 1921 Heinrich Handwerck Jr. re-founded the factory in Gotha near Waltershausen.

Ruth designed the outfit which includes fabric from Gertrude’s wedding dress.

The doll’s name was suggested by Barbara McIntyre (great-granddaughter of George and Mathilda Pusch). She recalled that the family called Gertrude, “Aunt Tootsie”.

“Tootsie” made her debut October 2017 at Steam Pump Ranch in the Pusch Ranch House where she continues to be on permanent display.

A member of the OVHS Collections Committee, Peg O’Connell, took on the Tootsie restoration project.


Romero Ruin Hike

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Romero Ruins

Romero History Hike 

Oro Valley Historical Society    

Friday, October 25, 2019

Registration: Contact Sue Chambasian at no later than noon on October 23. Limited to 20 people on a first come, first served basis.  All participants must sign an OVHS waiver at the meeting place on October 25.

Hike: Walk several paths in Catalina State Park and hear about the history of the Francisco Romero family.  He and his descendants resided in this immediate area between 1869 and 1930.  The family had a cattle ranch and orchards in this area.

Leader: Jim Williams has led history hikes and recently researched the Romeros as part of his book, Claiming the Desert.

Time: Meet at 7:30 am at hike starting point

Location: Catalina State Park. Drive through the entrance gate on the main road until you see the sign for “Romero Ruins” on the right side of the road. Park in the lot on the immediate left of the road.

Length of Hike: 3 miles (2-3 hours)   Participants can choose to do the first Romero ruins hike, about 1 mile, and then stop.  Others can go on a further hike to another Romero site for approximately 2 miles.

Elevation gain:  150 feet 

Gear: Wear long pants, hiking boots or athletic shoes, and a hat.  Bring water and sunscreen.

Cost: If you have a state park pass, entrance to the Park is free. If not, a maximum of four people can arrive in one car and pay one $7.00 entrance fee.  Fee for the hike: a suggested donation of $10 per person to the Historical Society, payable when we meet at the parking lot.

Have a Funtastic Day!

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Second Saturdays at Steam Pump Ranch

Now that fall is here and cooler temperatures are on the horizon (?), things are in full swing at Steam Pump Ranch!

Come from 9am until 1pm for all the fun activities.

Take a tour of the Pusch House (9 – Noon).  Docents will provide information on the ranch house and property.  The special exhibit this month will feature the history of the Romero family and their homestead (now part of Catalina State Park).  Don’t miss this opportunity to explore the history of your town!

Visit the OVHS booth.  Find out what’s happening and how you can get involved!  Buy a Jim Click Raffle ticket to support OVHS, a gift item, water, or just say “Hi”!

Explore the Heritage Garden.  There’s always a fun arts and crafts project for children, Hands on Archaeology with Archaeology Southwest, and garden demonstrations and information.

Stop and Shop. Heirloom Farmers Market, Commerce Corral and the Historic, Western and Americana Artisan and Antique Fair.

Listen:  Awarding winning Country and Western artist, Carol Markstrom, will be onstage from 10:30 to Noon.

See you on Saturday, October 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. What a FUNTASTIC way to spend the day!

An Easy Way to Help OVHS

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Don’t forget this easy way to help OVHS! Oro Valley Historical Society is a 501(c)3 non-for-profit organization . Our exhibits, events, and activities depend on YOUR support as members, financial donations and volunteering. If you shop at Fry’s, there’s any easy way to donate and it doesn’t cost you a thing! Fry’s partners with non-for-profits and gives back a portion of each purchase you make to YOUR designated charity. All you have to do is have a Fry’s V.I.P. Reward Card, and designate Oro Valley Historical Society as the recipient.
or Search Fry’s Community rewards at
Thank you to Fry’s and Thank YOU for your support!


Sow, What’s New in the Heritage Garden?

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The Heritage Garden at Steam Pump Ranch participated in the “One Seed Pima County” community project. Joyce Rychener cultivated the seeds of the Black Russian Sunflower this year’s chosen plant. Did you know that sunflowers can grow as much as 1 foot per day? The Black Russian Sunflower produces all black seeds that you frequently see in bird seed mix. The sunflower head can be as large as 18 inches. The yellow petals of the sunflower are a halo for hundreds of very tiny flowers that turn into seeds. This large plant (sometimes 12 feet tall) has multiple uses. The leaves can be used as cattle food and the stem fiber as paper. If need be, the dried stems can be a substitute for firewood! Since many birds can’t wait to feast on the scrumptious seeds, it’s best to protect them by covering the flower head with netting or cheesecloth.

Black Russian Sunflower

Joyce is an experienced seed collector and gardener. Many of the heirloom plants in the Heritage Garden are the product of seeds that are, in seed life, several generations old. Thank you to Joyce for providing the lovely pictures and volunteering her time and effort at the Heritage Garden!




It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas….What?

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Here it is, August, and at the Oro Valley Historical Society we’re already thinking about the holidays! Our fundraising team is busy at work getting ready for the our first Christkindlmarket right here in Oro Valley. Traditionally held in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, these holiday markets are now being held in town centers world wide, including London, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. We’ll festoon the Pusch House in German holiday decor tapping the traditions celebrated by the original owner of Steam Pump Ranch (SPR), George Pusch. We’ll offer many novelty Old World ornaments and decorative items for sale in our Christkindlmarket booth conveniently located at SPR.

In search of the perfect ornaments, Teri Colmar travelled to Frankenmuth, Michigan. She visited Bronner’s the World’s Largest Christmas store (7.35 acres indoors) with literally, thousands and thousands of ornaments! (Many thanks to Ellen Mocny at Bronner’s who guided Teri throughout the store.)

So save the dates! Visit our Christkindlmarket booth EVERY Saturday from November 9 through December 21 from 9 to Noon. There’ll be lots of other surprises and treats, too! Stay tuned for more information on our website and our Facebook page, Oro Valley Historical Society, as we draw closer to the event. And until then Season’s Greetings (and enjoy the rest of our long, hot summer)!

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