Ring's reflections: Tucson's Anglo pioneers lured by opportunities in business, ranching

2013-07-25T00:00:00Z Ring's reflections: Tucson's Anglo pioneers lured by opportunities in business, ranchingOpinion by Bob Ring Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Before the Gadsden Purchase brought Tucson into U.S. territory - it was approved by Congress in 1854 - the only Anglo-Americans in Tucson were transients, beaver trappers, military personnel from the Mormon Battalion, argonauts on their way to the California Gold Rush and government surveyors exploring future transcontinental wagon and railroad routes.

In the mid-1850s American miners and overland stagecoach travelers began to put Tucson on the map. Soon a growing colony of Anglos had settled in Tucson, attracted by mining prospects, ranching possibilities and business opportunities.

Business was good - especially freighting and the mercantile stores that sold what the freighters brought to Tucson. Anglos worked with Mexicans in harmony and often in partnership.

According to anthropologist Thomas E. Sheridan, "The strongest representatives of Mexican culture in this fragile bicultural society were the Mexican woman who married Anglo men."

The 1860 Tucson census counted 623 people (5 percent Anglo) including newcomers from all sections of the U.S. and 12 foreign countries. Tucson was just beginning the decades-long transition from a Mexican village to an American town.

The U.S. Civil War was a difficult time for Tucson because of its population's divided loyalties.

In mid-1861 the Confederate States of America claimed that Southern Arizona and New Mexico were part of Confederate territory. Confederate troops actually "captured" Tucson in early 1862, before withdrawing from Arizona in mid-1862.

Tucson was incorporated in 1871. The 1870s saw Tucson's first public schools, its first public library, and two English-language newspapers. Census records show the growth of Tucson (and the proportion of Anglos) go from 3,224 (15 percent Anglo) in 1870 to 7,007 (25 percent Anglo) in 1880.

The southern route of the transcontinental railroad reached Tucson in 1880. Anglo settlers were now able to come to Tucson in large numbers, effectively ending the Southern Arizona frontier and precipitating a change in Tucson from a Mexican agricultural economy to an Anglo urban center.

An economic depression began in Arizona in the late 1880s and lasted for 10 years. Tucson historian C.L. Sonnichsen described the difficult times: "Business was so bad in Arizona that the population of Tucson, its largest city, declined in 1890 to a little over 5,000 … Tucson was actually for the moment, shrinking."

Tucson's slow population growth resumed in the 1890s, but the mix of Mexicans and Anglos was changing rapidly. By 1900 Tucson's population had recovered to just over 7,500; the Anglo population had grown to equal the Mexican population (about 45 percent each) and continued to increase proportionally.

Tucson's political situation had also been evolving. The Arizona Territory was separated from New Mexico in 1863. The capital of Arizona was moved to Tucson for a decade in 1867.

Beginning in the Arizona Territorial Assembly in 1891, continuing through Constitutional Conventions and introduction of numerous bills in the U.S. Congress, officials pushed long-term efforts that eventually succeeded with Arizona statehood in 1912.

On StarNet: Read the first part of this series at azstarnet.com/bobring

Influential Anglo-American Pioneers

• Solomon Warner (1811-1899) was born in Warnerville, N.Y. He worked on a Mississippi river boat, joined the California Gold Rush in 1849, and worked in Nicaragua, San Francisco, and Fort Yuma. He led a 13-mule train loaded with merchandise from Yuma to Tucson, arriving in 1856, just about the time Mexican troops permanently withdrew from the area. Warner was the first merchant to sell goods in Tucson made in the United States. Warner prospered as a shopkeeper until the Civil War, when he refused to take a loyalty oath to the Confederacy during the Southern troops' brief occupation of Tucson, and fled to Santa Cruz, Sonora, where he met and married a wealthy widow. After the War Solomon returned to Tucson and, using his wife's money, expanded his business ventures to include farming and cattle ranching.

• William Oury (1817-1887) was born in Virginia, moved with his father to Texas, at the age of 19 escaped the Alamo (under siege by Mexicans) as a courier, fought with Sam Houston against Gen. Santa Anna, became a Texas Ranger, and fought in the Mexican War with the Texas Volunteers. After the war Oury married a Mexican woman and arrived in Tucson in 1856. Oury acquired a small cattle ranch on the Santa Cruz River, worked as the agent for the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach until operations stopped at the start of the Civil War, and was a respected citizen and community leader. With miner Sylvester Mowry, he bought Arizona's first newspaper, the Tubac Arizonan, and moved it to Tucson. Oury participated in several expeditions against the Apache and in 1871 led the force from Tucson in the Camp Grant Massacre. Oury was the first mayor of the village of Tucson, a member of the school board, an alderman, a member of the Tucson City Council and was Pima County sheriff. He was also the first president of the Arizona Pioneers' Historical Society.

• Hiram Stevens (1832-1893) was born in Vermont, fought against the Apache in the New Mexico Territory and settled in Tucson in 1856. Stevens operated a ranch near Sentinel Peak and in 1858 began a business partnership with Samuel Hughes. Stevens married Petra Santa Cruz, whose father and grandfather had been born inside the old presidio. Stevens supplied Fort Buchanan and later Fort Crittenden (near Sierra Vista) with trading goods. Stevens and Hughes formed Hughes, Stevens & Co. that was active in cattle, mercantile and mining interests, making Stevens one of the richest men in the Arizona Territory. Stevens served as Tucson city treasurer and Pima County tax assessor and was a member of the Pima County board of supervisors. He was also the second president of the Arizona Pioneers' Historical Society. He served two terms in the Territorial Legislature and was twice Territorial Arizona's delegate to the U.S. Congress.

• Samuel Hughes (1829-1917) was born in Wales, immigrated to Pennsylvania with his parents in 1837, and became a merchant in California during the Gold Rush. Hughes contracted tuberculosis and, seeking a drier climate, in 1858 came to Tucson, where he recovered his health and began a retail butchering business. When Confederate forces occupied Tucson during the Civil War, he moved back to California, leaving his business interests in the hands of his partner, Hiram Stevens; he later returned to Tucson with Union troops. Hughes and Hiram Stevens became brothers-in-law when Hughes married Atanacia Santa Cruz, Petra Santa Cruz's younger sister. Hughes helped to incorporate Tucson and became an alderman on the first Tucson city council. He helped early territorial Gov. A.P.K. Safford establish public education in the Arizona Territory. He helped plan (but did not participate in) the Camp Grant Massacre. Hughes served several terms on the Tucson School District No. 1 board, was Pima County treasurer and held important positions in the territorial government. He was an organizer of the Arizona Pioneers' Historical Society, serving as president and director.

• Pinckney Randolph Tully (1824-1903) was born in Mississippi, drove a herd of sheep to California in 1849, then headed to New Mexico to partner with Estévan Ochoa in a wagon freighting business. He brought a wagon train to Tucson in 1858 and sold everything to Solomon Warner. In 1866 Tully opened a store in Tucson and by 1868 had joined Ochoa and settled permanently here, helping Ochoa run their increasingly profitable Tully & Ochoa freighting business. Tully also served twice as mayor of Tucson, four years as territorial treasurer, Tucson city treasurer, Tucson City councilman and as a member of the Tucson Board of Health. In 1877 Tully founded the Daily Bulletin newspaper, partnering with Louis C. Hughes. In 1879 Tully sold his interest in the Bulletin to Hughes. In his later years Tully supported education, aiding in the establishment of a parochial school.

• Louis C. Hughes (1842-1915), younger brother of Samuel Hughes, was born in Philadelphia, briefly served in the Union Army toward the end of the Civil War, then worked as a machinist and studied law. Hughes married Josephine Brawley in 1868, and because of health concerns in 1871, moved to Tucson, where he opened a law practice. He was selected as a member of the Tucson City Council, appointed a probate judge and elected Pima County attorney. In 1873 Hughes was appointed by Territorial Gov. Safford as attorney general for the Arizona Territory. In 1877 he stopped practicing law full time, and began publishing a newspaper, the Daily Bulletin, with partner Pickney Randolf Tully. In 1879 Hughes took over full ownership of the paper and renamed it the Arizona Daily Star. Hughes was governor of the Arizona Territory from 1893 to 1896, and his wife ran the newspaper in his absence. In 1897 Hughes returned to Tucson and resumed publishing the Star.

Editor's note

This is the second in a three-part series about the people who most influenced Tucson history between 1850 and 1900. Last week: Tucson's Mexican pioneers. Today: Tucson's Anglo-American pioneers. Next week: Tucson's Jewish pioneers.

E-mail Bob Ring at ringbob1@aol.com Sources: "Arizona - A Cavalcade of History" (Marshall Trimble, 1989); "Arizona - A History" (Thomas E. Sheridan, 2012); Tucson Citizen; "Tucson - The Life and Times of an American City" (C.L. Sonnichsen, 1987); Tucson Territorial Pioneer Project (2008); Wikipedia.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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