Tombstone boasts Arizona’s most famous gunfight, but Prescott can claim its most famous saloon story. It speaks of a baby won in a gambling game after being abandoned on the bar of a prominent saloon on Whiskey Row, Prescott’s famous collection of watering holes located in the center of its business district.
The baby dumping took place during January 17-28, 1898, but the name of the eight-month-old baby and the bar she was left in was known one way locally and another way popularly. The local tale mysteriously disappeared from print and passed into the realm of oral history.
Then, 29 years later, an original Prescottonian, Edmund Wells, published the story in his memoirs, Argonaut Tales.
A Dicey Game
In a classic combination of frontier history and folklore, Wells, one of the most respected and accomplished figures in Arizona history, recalled within the three-chaptered section titled “Chance Cobweb Hall” the story of a baby girl given to a Chinese man, George Ah Fat, to watch until the mother straightened out her personal affairs.
After several days, Ah Fat realized the mother was not going to return. He had to do something about this tot. He waited until a snowy evening, when a larger-than-usual crowd had been driven into Cobwell Hall, a prestigious Whiskey Row saloon owned by former Colorado River steamboat captain P.M. Fisher. That night, Ah Fat surreptitiously placed the baby on the bar