SPANISH PRESIDIOS

After Padre Kino died in 1711, the Arizona region was only occasionally visited by Spanish authorities. Missionaries continued to work among the Pimas and Papagos, but the enthusiasm manifested earlier by Kino was gone. About the only significant impact the Spanish had on the area at that time was the discovery in 1736 of silver at a place called "Arizonac," just south of what is now the Arizona border with Sonora. For awhile a "silver rush" occurred, but few Spanish remained to permanently settle the region.

By the 1740s, however, the Pima Indians began to feel restless under Spanish dominion. In November 1751 a Pima leader, Luís, revolted. Within a few days more than a hundred settlers, miners, and ranchers were killed. Churches were burned, and two priests were also killed. Spanish authorities therefore decided to extend forts (presidios) into the region. In 1752 Governor Diego Ortiz Parrilla of Sonora established the permanent presidio of Tubac. Throughout the 1750s presidio soldiers pacified the area. By 1760 a young soldier, Juan Bautista de Anza, was the new comandante of Tubac.

Anza was a tireless warrior and explorer. Over approximately the next twenty years he greatly furthered Spanish designs in the region. He terminated Pima and Seri revolts in Sonora and significantly reduced Apache dangers in Arizona. Later, Anza led an overland expedition to Santa Fe, to prove that the Spanish were unafraid of Apache threats. In 1774 Anza then went on an expedition to the Pacific Coast from Tubac. After negotiating the terrifying Jornada del Muerto (Path of the Dead) in late 1775, he led a colony of 240 Tubac settlers to the future site of San Francisco, California, founded by him on 27 March 1776. His contingent of settlers was the first to locate in that region.

Upon returning to Sonora, Anza was appointed governor of New Mexico in 1778, where he served until 1788. He then returned to Sonora. He died in Arizpe, Sonora, on 19 December 1788 and was buried in the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (founded in 1651). His grave was rediscovered in February 1963.

Because Apache pressures continued to vex the Spanish, in 1775 a red-haired Irishman soldier serving the Spanish crown, Hugo O'Conor, was sent into Arizona to investigate the situation. He determined that the Tubac garrison should be moved to a new post on the Santa Cruz, opposite the Pima Indian village of Chuk Shon [black foothill]. This new presidio was called Tucsón by the Spanish--the closest the Spanish could approximate the original Pima name.

Throughout the latter 18th century the small post of Tucson braved constant Apache pressures--mostly from the Pinal Mountain region. By the beginnings of the 19th century some degree of peace was finally attained with the Apaches, but it did not last very long. When Mexico became an independent nation in 1821, the Mexicans continued to garrison the Tucson post. By the 1830s Apache pressures again threatened the settlement, but it again survived, until Mexico ceded southern Arizona to the United States in the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. The last Mexican troops left Tucson in March 1856.

Both Tubac and Tucson still exist today. Tubac is a small town between Tucson and Nogales, Arizona, and Tucson is now the largest city in southern Arizona. The population of Tucson is about 400,000.

For more information about this period in Arizona history the following books are excellent:

Bannon, John Francis. The Spanish Borderlands Frontier. New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1970.

Bowman, J. N. Anza and the Northwest Frontier of New Spain. Los Angeles: Southwest Museum, 1967.

Dobyns, Henry F. Spanish Colonial Tucson: A Demographic History. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1975.

Officer, James E. Hispanic Arizona, 1536-1856. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1975.

Santiago, Mark. The Red Captain: The Life of Hugo O'Conor, Commandant Inspector of the Interior Provinces of New Spain. Tucson: Arizona Historical Society, 1994.

External Sites to Explore

http://www.pr.state.az.us/parkhtml/tuba c.html
Web site about the old Spanish presidio in Tubac.
http://gorp.away.com/gorp/resource/us_blm/az/his3_san.htm
Web site about the protected site of the old Spanish presidio of Santa Cruz de Terrenate. It was abandoned in the late 18th century because of Apache raids.

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