“Oh, that glass! I woke up thirsty in the night, and, do you know, I’ve been having a crazy dream ever since that I swallowed a marble.”
— Quote attributed to Kissin’ Jenny
A lady of the evening known as Kissin’ Jenny and a vain state legislator with a glass eye can be credited with making Phoenix the capital of Arizona.
This nugget of Arizona trivia is the latest bit of useless information unearthed in researching places we will pass through on a cross-country bicycle ride this fall. The desert metropolis of Phoenix will, I believe, be a place of rest and recuperation in our journey, beginning Sept. 18 in San Diego and ending Nov. 21 in St. Augustine, Fla.
But more on Kissin’ Jenny:
Stung by a severe blow to its economy caused by the move, Prescott’s movers and shakers lobbied hard to get back the capital. They prevailed in 1877 when the Ninth Territorial Legislature, after entertaining bids from Phoenix, Florence and Tucson, decided to send the capital back to Prescott, in Yavapai County. And that’s where it stayed until 1889.
During the 15th Territorial Legislature of that year, according to state historian Marshall Trimble, the delegates of Maricopa County, where the upstart town of Phoenix was located, resorted to a bit of chicanery in yet another legislative tussle over the location of the capital.
“Knowing that the vote would be close, the Maricopa delegates needed to ensure that a Yavapai County delegate would miss the crucial vote,” says a three-volume 2004 work edited by Benjamin P. Shearer, The Uniting States: The Story of Statehood for the Fifty United States. “Making a deal with ‘Kissin’ Jenny,’ a lady of the evening who worked in Prescott, the Maricopa delegates saw to it that their fellow legislator was delayed.
“This fellow wore a glass eye, and after visiting with Ms. Jenny, he took his eye out and fell asleep. Jenny took the eye and swallowed it. When he awoke and found his eye missing, he refused to go out in public, and she was unwilling and unable to give the eye back. The plan worked, he missed the vote, and the capital was moved to Phoenix.”