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Tucson During the 1800s

Read "Treasures of the Santa Catalina Mountains" by Robert E. Zucker. Download a free PDF sample of the book and purchase on Amazon.com.

1804 José de Zúñiga, becomes commander of the presidio of Tucson (Arizona) for the second time until 1806. The Apaches attack other Apaches killing 4 and capturing on May 3rd. They called them "meek" because they live with the Spaniards in Tucson. (CH)

1807 Lieutenant Simón Elías González, grandson of Francisco Elías González de Zayas, who began his military career as a soldier of the presidio of Tucson in 1788, is named commander of the Pima garrison of the presidio of Tubac (Arizona). (CH)

On September 10th, Lieutenant Antonio Narbona temporarily assumes command of the presidio of Tucson through June 18, 1816. (CH)

1816 Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Ignacio de Arvizu replaces Captain Antonio Narbona as commander of the presidency of San Agustín del Tucson (today Tucson) on June 18 through December 1819, but his dire management causes many civilian settlers to leave this settlement, the most northerly part of Arizona. (CH)

1819 Because 34% of the 835 presidential soldiers of the Arizpe Quartermaster have been assigned to the central areas of New Spain, the Apaches attacked the frontier presidios, beginning with those of Tucson (Arizona) and Bacoachi (Sonora; Mexico).

Captain José Romero, who is temporarily in charge of the company of Tucson (May 1819 - September 1820) due to the absence of its owner (Manuel Ignacio de Arvizu who will be officially up to December), manages to pacify the Apache Pinaleños (of the mountains of the Pinal, south of Arizona), whose "general" Chilitipagé appeared in Tucson with 78 warriors on February 17th before the interim commander, Alfonso Carrillo and settled 236 of them on May 13th, where they will mix with the Apache Aravaipas, who live there since 1793. Both groups are sedentary farmers. Since 1814, the Pinaleños cultivate the land of San Pedro, Previously cultivated by the Aravaipas. (CH)

1821, Spanish Franciscans leave. Fort at San Agustin del Tucson closes when Mexico gains independence from Spain in the Mexican revolution. 1828 mid-April, “an Apache war party attacked and massacred seven settlers at the placers just to the west "in the sierrita" between the rancho of Arivaca and the presidio of Tubac.”

1828, Mexican government order to abandon missions. 1829 November-December, Jefe Político Manuel Escalante y Arvizu, jefe politico of the department of Arizpe (1831 became first governor of new state of Sonora with its capital city in Arizpe, visited the four north missions in the Pimeria (San Xavier, Santa Cruz, Tubac and Tucson) because of certain inequities, including accounting and Indians complaints of mistreatment.”

January 22, 1830, the mission properties reverted to the Franciscan friars' care. That spring Grande and Pérez Llera made the rounds together effecting the transfer of what was left at each mission.” (“Friars, Soldiers and Reformers,” chapt 11).

Note: November 2, 1833 a cholera epidemic hits Sonora. 1831, “When don Leonardo Escalante, of Bacoachi, the provisional governor of separated Sonora, reported in August, 1831, to the minister of justice and ecclesiastical affairs in Mexico City, he explained that the documents setting forth the state of the missions during their civil administration had been carried off to Durango.” He also claimed that Tumacacori owed him 300 head of cattle.

"Treasures of the Santa Catalina Mountains"

TucsonDiscover the legends and rich history of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Learn about the Iron Door Mine, Spanish treasures and gold mining in Oracle and the Catalina Mountains. Visit the "Treasures of the Santa Catalinas" and read stories forgotten in time and download a free PDF sample of the book.

Download free Tucson Chronicles newspaper and read more about the "Treasures of the Santa Catalinas."

1832, May 1, “don Manuel Escalante y Arvizu, ex-jefe político of Arizpe, took office as the first constitutionally elected governor and proceeded to the feat of serving a full four-year term.“ (“Friars, Soldiers and Reformers,” chapt 11)

1842 Pbro. Juan Francisco Escalante, parish priest at Hermosillo, visits Tubac and towns and mission in northern Pima county (“Tubac Through the Centuries”).

1843 Historian Donald Page reports that the first known discovery of gold in the Cañada del Oro was on June 29, 1843 when Colonel Antonio Narbona, on a military expedition against the Apaches, camped there and found placer nuggets. (“The Lost Escalante” chapter in the “Lost Gold and Silver Mines of the Southwest,” Eugene L. Conrotto, 116).

1847, by treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, all of the territory north of the Gila River now included in Arizona was ceded to the United States.

1849, February 29 “The people of the presidio of Tubac and of the pueblo of Tumacácori have removed to the presidio of Tucson as a consequence of the murders committed by the barbarians during the month of December last. From El Sonorense” (“Friars, Soldiers and Reformers,” chapt 11).

1855-56, American troops take possession of Tucson and Tubac. The Mexican army takes the civil, church and military records, possibly to Imuris.

1858, Dr. Robert Forbes (his notes of June 20, 1915, p 39) writes that Sam Hughes first saw ruins in 1858, located on west side of the Santa Catalinas at present-day Catalina State Park. George Hand writes in his diary that he rode out to see the ruins. Called Mission of Ciru by Archbishop Salpointe, according to Agustin Tomé. (Source: Data Relatives to Spanish and Indian Ruins on Mesa Between Montrose and Romero Canyon known as the Rancho Viejo or the “Mission of Ciru” Donald Page papers, c 1927, AHS).

By May 1870, miners were “panning between $12 and $30 a day.” Apache attacks kept miners away for about 10 years.

1880, March 4, “Iron Door Mine” first published newspaper article reporting ruins found in middle of Santa Catalinas near “Mine with the Iron Door” by two prospectors at a place called Nueva Mia Ciudad (“Nine Mile City”) that once had a legendary “monster church with a number of golden bells.” They found the remains of a stone building of granite and marble after the style of the old Cocospari church in Sonora. They found bars of iron lying down at the mouth of a nearby tunnel.

This is the earliest published account of a local legend that began over 100 years prior when the Jesuits controlled the land. When the Jesuits left, they placed an iron door to seal the mine and destroyed the two entrances to the location. The writer notes this tradition of the Santa Catarinas is known by many old Arizonans. The two prospectors met an old Mexican in Caborca whose grandfather had kept a diary of life in the Nine Mile City and its location. (“AZ Weekly Star”).

Note: 9 miles is 2.6 miles, but 9 leagues are about 31 miles – present day Saddlebrooke near the Canada del Oro ruins. The term Nine Mile City could have been confused with Nine League City, as league was the Spanish measurement used for distance- liga. Nuevo Liga Ciudad would be correct. Read more about the Iron Door Mine and the Tucson Gold Rush of 1880s.

1882, December 31, “At their meeting on the 28th the Board of Supervisors established polling precinct No. 21 at Pueblo Viejo, place of voting at Romero's ranch; Inspector, John Zellweger; Judges of Election, Francisco Romero and Miguel Martinez.” (Arizona Weekly)

1883, Nov 27, “Stone Church” newspaper article relating stories heard of ruins by Judge Charles Meyer called “Pueblo Viejo” that had a “stone church” made of granite with a mosaic floor and arched roof between “the Finger Mountain and Ventana Canyon.” Placer diggings were found nearby. May have been abandoned at the turn of the century and inhabited by Apaches until they died of smallpox in 1861.

The Judge has seen the gold and silver. Meyer also relates story of the Indians who moved from villages along the San Pedro and chased by Apaches through the west side of the Santa Catalinas (into the Canyon del Oro), then chased again to the area of the stone church ruins until they were killed by the Apaches who settled there at the beginning of the century (1880s- see the story of the San Juan Day massacre in 1796) (“AZ Weekly Citizen”).

1884, January 19, “At the Ventana divide there is a never failing stream that flows down to the Canyon de Oro. This latter canyon opens in the Santa Catalinas above Pueblo Viejo, and trends around to the east and south, heading towards the divide at the north base of Mt Lemmon. This canyon also has three large forks,” reports Ira Carter in a newspaper article (“Arizona Weekly Citizen”).

1886, May 1, a newspaper articles reports that “Tombstone has the threadbare story of the mine with the iron door, located in the Cananea mountains. When tradition fastened the iron door to the mine of fabulous riches, iron doors were more scare than rich mines.” (“Arizona Weekly Citizen”)

1887, May 14, “Two large gold mines have been opened by the earthquakes in the Santa Catalina mountains. Some of these days an enterprising earthquake in Arizona will open a dry goods store or a barber shop. Philadelphia News.“ (“Arizona Weekly Star”).

1927 September, typed report by Donald Page about ruins near present-day Catalina State Park on the west side of the Santa Catalinas, near the Romero ranch ruins (on a mesa between Montrose Canyon and Romero Canyon). The ruins represent 4 periods of culture: round stone pit houses; rectangular pit houses; single and multi-room houses; and multi-room adobe walled communal building.

The stones were laid in mud mortar, and may be an early Spanish type of stone walled building. Signs of Mexican construction with paved foundations and floors. Also, called Ciudad Nuevo Millas” (“city of nine miles”) located “9 miles from Tucson” (“Data Relative to Spanish and Indian Ruins.” Donald Page papers, AHS). Note: the site is actually 18 ½ m from Tucson and 31 miles or 9 leagues from San Xavier- see note below.

1956 Donald Page writes in a magazine article that the mine was “located close to an early Spanish mining camp that lies on a mesa in a nearly inaccessible part of the mountains.” The Jesuits owned the mine and camp and later built a church. The mine was worked until their expulsion in 1767.

A “group of mysterious ruins lie on a small mesa east of the lower end of the canyon (Cañada del Oro) may be a link to the lost mine.” (Oct 1956, Desert Magazine, “Lost Jesuit Mine with the Iron Door”). Description of “traces of an old walled, stone-built city could be the ruins of a Hohokam village from 500-1450AD.

The 15-acre site is managed by Catalina State Park. Earlier mention of this site on record was in 1875, thirteen years after the California Volunteers published their observations in the Alta. Francisco Romero had a ranch on the west side of the Catalinas in 1844.” (“The Civil War in Arizona: California Volunteers 1861-1865,” Andrew Maisch, 204). *

In the 17th and 18th centuries, distance was measured in leagues (liga, legua). One league is about 3.4 miles long. ** Treutlein, Travel Reports of Joseph Och, pp. 43-44; Tumacacori National Historic Park, NPS; quoted in Arthur D. Gardiner, “Letter of Father Middendorf, s.j., dated from Tucson, 3 March 1757,” The Kiva, Vol. XXII 1957, p. 1. Sources: (CH) Translated from “Cronologîa Historica” (http://cronologiahistorica.com ) UAiR: University of Arizona Institutional Repository.

Note: 1 league is about 3.4 miles. At that distance from “Window Rock” (La Ventaña) is the edge of Montrose Canyon where ruins are located, as described by Donald Page (below).


Local Tucson History Books

These books are written by local author and publisher Robert Zucker. Read chapters and download a free PDFs from the books and purchase full copies on Amazon.com.

Entertaining Tucson Across the Decades is a collection of newspaper articles and original photographs covering 50 years of Tucson music and arts entertainment from 1950-1999. Read chapters and download a free PDF from the book.

Treasures of the Santa Catalina Mountains is one of the most comprehensive books written on the legends and history of the Catalina mountains, north of Tucson. Learn about the Iron Door mIne, Buffalo Bill Cody's mining interest in the Catalinas and how the lure of gold brought prospectors to the Cañada del Oro– the Canyon of Gold. The story of the the lost mine, the lost city and the lost mission. Download a free PDF sample of the book.

Tucson Gold Rush 1880 In the 1880s explores the history of numerous mining claims that were staked throughout the Santa Catalinas and nearby mountains by local pioneer businessmen, many reclaiming old abandoned Spanish and Mexico diggings.


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