Early Days in Arizona

At this time Tucson was the leading town or settlement of Arizona. It had a population of perhaps a thousand, mostly Mexicans. The American flag had been raised there by a company of United States Dragoons, but its citizenship was not of a class to inspire confidence in peaceful, law abiding Americans. In the absence of civil law, the nearest courts being in New Mexico, every man was a law unto himself, and the consequence was that its graveyards were largely filled with the victims of private quarrels, but there were, among its citizenship, many of that class of Americans who marked the trail of civilization across the continent, many of whom inscribed their names in the early history of our State. Among these may be mentioned Charles D. Poston whom many of us remember in later years. He was one of the first arrivals, coming here in 1856 for the purpose of opening up and operating rich silver mines. Others were Granville (or Grant) H. Oury; William S. Oury, one of the participators in the Camp Grant Massacre in 1871; Estevan Ochoa, for whom Ochoa Street in Tucson is named; the Pennington family, in whose honor Pennington Street in Tucson is named; General Stone, whose name is perpetuated in Stone Avenue in Tucson; Dr. C. H. Lord and W. W. Williams, both of whom engaged in the first banking business in Tucson; Peter E. Brady associated in later years in the Pima County Bank with the Jacobs Brothers, and who became well known as a politician; William Kirkland, who, it is said, first raised the American flag in Tucson, and who, it is also said, was the first white man to marry a white woman in the State of Arizona; Hon. Hiram Stevens, who was sent to Congress in 1875, and served two terms; Samuel Hughes, still living, and affectionately known to everyone in Tucson, and to many others throughout the State as “Uncle Sammy Hughes”; Sylvester Mowry, who owned and worked the Mowry Mine; John G. Capron, who was one of the members of the party organized in Tucson to join Henry A. Crabb and his party; Solomon Warner, General Wadsworth, Col. Ed. Cross, editor and duelist, and C. H. Meyer, after whom Meyer Street in Tucson is named. Men they were, men of daring and courage, men who distinguished themselves in many different ways, in public life, as honored citizens, taking part in many desperate fights with the Indians.

In 1856 Solomon Warner, above mentioned, established the first American store in the “Old Pueblo,” which event was speedily followed by other American stores. His stock of goods was brought in from California upon the hurricane decks of a mule train, which was, in that time, the favorite (and only) method of freighting. He also established the first flouring mill in the Territory, the ruins of which now stand on the west bank of the Santa Cruz river, where, at that time, the village was located in what is now the southwestern part of the city, from time immemorial “Old Tucson,” and within the old walls erected by Padre Garces for the protection of the inhabitants against the incursions of the Apaches. Life in this far country was not ideal; lurking foes lay in wait to ambush the traveler at every turn of the trail. The murderous Apache, and the Mexican outlaw, rivalled each other in their deeds of pillage, robbery and slaughter.

The exact date of the founding of the village or city of Tucson is somewhat uncertain. Some writers claim that it was first located about the year 1555, and that it is the oldest city in the United States. Others, however, claim that it was not a settlement until the latter part of the seventeenth century, when the missions along the Santa Cruz were established by Father Kino, and that Tucson was a visitation attached to San Xavier del Bac. Of one thing, however, there seems to be no doubt, and that is that Tucson, whatever the exact date of its founding may have been, was the first and only walled city ever existing in the United States. The descriptions of this wall differ in some details, but the fact remains that the town was walled for many years, probably not less than one hundred and fifty, and was built in the form of a square, the wall rising about five feet above the flat roofs of the houses, affording fine breastworks for the defense of the Pueblo; the rear ends of the houses were built into and against the heavy wall surrounding the little settlement. The only door allowed was the one opening into the open square in front. The flat roofs, in the summer time, furnished fine family sleeping rooms. The little fort was also built in the form of a square, with a tower at each corner, fitted with loopholes or small windows for outlooks, and for firing on raiding Indians or other enemies, and these towers or bastions were so constructed as to enfilade the walls, as well as to intimidate the approaching enemy. Artillery was suggested by two small cannon, which one writer naively says, “were more dangerous, however, to the garrison than to the enemy.”

The enclosure formed by this wall occupied space bounded as follows: Beginning at Washington Street, thence south to Pennington; up Pennington to about the middle of the courthouse; thence north to Washington Street, along Washington Street to the place of beginning. A map, herewith shown, was made by Major Ferguson of the California Column, in 1861 or 1862, which shows the boundaries of the wall practically as above set forth. There were two entrances by immense doors made of heavy timber put solidly together, and these were invariably closed at night. One of these entrances, stood where Alameda Street enters Main, and some of the old wall has been used in the construction of modern buildings.

It might be pertinent here to insert an article printed in the Tucson Citizen under date of June 21st, 1873, which is headed: “Tucson a Century Ago,” and which is as follows:

“We met an old lady this week, who is supposed to be over one hundred years old, and was born in Tucson. Her name is Mariana Dias, and from her we obtained several historical items relating to old times, which were very interesting to us. She says as long ago as she can remember, Tucson consisted of a military post, surrounded by a corral, and that there were but two or three houses outside of it. The country was covered with horses and cattle, and on many of the trails they were so plentiful that it was quite inconvenient to get through the immense herds. They were valuable only for the hides and tallow, and a good sized steer was worth only three dollars. This country then belonged to Spain and the troops were paid in silver coin, and on all the coin the name of Ferdinand I., was engraved, and money was plentiful. Goods, such as they were, were brought from Sonora on pack animals. They had in those days no carts or wagons. The fields in front and below Tucson were cultivated and considerable grain was also raised upon the San Pedro. With an abundance of beef and the grain they raised, they always had an ample food supply. They had no communication with California and she never knew there was such a country until she had become an old woman. San Xavier was built as long ago as she can remember, and the church in the valley in front of the town, and there was also a church in Court House square, which has gone to ruin and no trace is left of it. The priests were generally in good circumstances, and were supported by receiving a portion of the annual products, but for marriages, burials, baptisms and other church duties, they did not ask or receive any pay.

“Among the leading and wealthier men who lived here at that time, she mentioned the names of Epumusema Loreles, Santa Cruz, Ygnacio Pacheco, Eita Soso, Padre Pedro, and Juan Diaz. On inquiry about the Apaches she spoke with considerable feeling and said that many efforts had been made for peace with them, but every attempt had resulted in failure; that whatever promises they made, but a few days would pass before they proved treacherous and commenced murder and robbery again; that they murdered her husband in the field about two miles below Tucson and that most of her relatives had gone in the same way; that she was now left alone and would be in want but for such men as Samuel Hughes.

“She related the circumstances of one peace that was made about ninety years ago. It seems that the Apaches got the worst of a fight on the Arivaca Ranch; several were killed and the son of a chief was taken prisoner and brought to Tucson, and the Indians at once opened negotiations to obtain this boy. Colonel Carbon, in command of the Spanish forces, agreed with them that on a certain day the Indians should all collect here, and to prevent treachery and being overpowered, he brought in at night, and concealed within the walls of the fort, all the men he could get from all the towns within one hundred and fifty miles. On the day appointed, the Indians came in vast numbers; all the plains around were black with them. The colonel then told them if they had come on a mission of peace they must lay down their arms and meet him as friends. They complied with his request, and then all the people inside the walls came out and went among them unarmed. The colonel gave them one hundred head of cattle and the boy prisoner was produced and turned over to his father, and they embraced each other and cried, and an era of reconciliation and peace seemed to have arrived. The boy told his father that he liked his captors so well that he desired to live with them, and in spite of the persuasions of the old man, he still insisted upon remaining, and the Indians were compelled to return to their mountain home without him. The boy was a great favorite with the people. Sometime afterwards he went to visit his people, but before leaving he saw everyone in the village and bade them goodbye, promising to return, which he did in fifteen days. A few days after his return, he took the smallpox and died. Very soon after his death, the Apaches commenced to murder and rob the same as before.

“The aged lady then remarked with apparently much feeling, that since her earliest recollection she had heard it said many times, ‘We are going to have peace with the Apaches,’ but every hope had been broken and she did not think we would have any peace as long as an Apache lived.

When she was a girl, the Apaches made two attempts to capture Tucson. The first time nearly all the soldiers and men were away. The Apaches learning of this, took advantage of the absence of the defenders and attacked the town, and would have taken it and murdered everyone in it, but for the timely assistance of the Pima and Papa go Indians, who came to the rescue in large numbers, attacking the Apaches on two sides, driving them off and killing many. The next time the sentinel on the hill west of town discovered them coming; he gave the alarm, and after a severe fight, the Indians were driven off. The Apaches had no firearms in those days, and were armed with spears, bows and arrows.

“She referred to the pleasant times they used to have when their wants were few and easily supplied, and told how they danced and played and enjoyed themselves. We asked her if she thought the people were happier than now; she did not seem inclined to draw comparisons, but remarked that if it had not been for the Apaches, they would hardly have known what trouble was. Crime was almost unknown and she never knew anyone to be punished more severely than being confined for a few days. The law required all strangers, unless they were of established reputation, to engage in some labor or business, within three days after their arrival, or leave the town, and to this regulation she attributes the exemption from crime. On inquiry as to whether they had liquor in those days, she said that she never knew a time when there was not plenty of mescal, but it was only on rare occasions that anyone drank to excess, and then they acted to each other as brothers.”

In Tubac was printed the first paper ever published in Arizona, its editor being the Colonel Ed. Cross before mentioned, who fought a bloodless duel with Lieut. Sylvester Mowry. This paper was called the “Arizonian” and was printed on the first printing press brought into the territory. This printing press was brought around the Horn and transported overland through California to Tubac. It was afterwards used in publishing the “Tombstone Nugget” and is now preserved among the curiosities of the Pioneer’s Historical Society in Tucson.

In the meantime Colorado City had been formed on the Colorado River, as we have heretofore noted. An account of its survey and location by Charles D. Poston and party is given in Pumpelly’s “Across America and Asia.” The party, having no money to pay Don Jaeger for their ferriage across the river, located the townsite on the Arizona side, surveyed and mapped the same, and gave their German friend a glowing account of the future possibilities of a steam ferry, and the large population which would inevitably people the new town, and had no difficulty in selling him several large lots and giving him a deed to one lot in exchange for $25.00, his price for ferrying the party across the river. Outside of the military post which was located on the California side, there were but few settlers at what is now Yuma City, although it remained for many years the principal port of entry to Arizona from the west, and also to California from the East.

Notes About Book:

Source: History Of Arizona Volume 1, By Thomas Edwin Farish, 1915, Printed and Published by Direction of the Second Legislature of the State of Arizona, A. D.

Notes about Online Publication: This manuscript has been ocr’d and heavily edited. Many of the Native American words have been reproduced as clearly as online publication will allow us, but not all are exactly the way they were in the original work. The structure of this manuscript has been changed to allow better online presentation.

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