This volume was born out of a very keen desire to honor and preserve the memory of the 1870-1908 Arizonan hispanic homesteaders. It is hoped that this compilation will become a useful resource for the curious, the interested, or even the serious researcher.

The Homestead Act of May 20, 1862 "This Act also knows as the 160 acre Homestead and the Johnson Homestead Act. Act authorized the head a family, or other persons with specified qualifications to enter public lands, limited to a total of 160 acres., coupled with the Pre-Emption Act of 1841, ushered in a new era in Arizona's development. These Public Lands laws made land available to "any person who is head of a family, or who has arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and is a citizens of the United States, or who shall have filed his declaration of intention to become such, as required by the naturalization laws, and has never borne arms against the United States...." section 1

The earliest legislative act that may have affected development of Public Lands in Arizona was the Act of July 22, 1854. chap. 103, 10 stat. 308, 309 It authorized the appointment of a Surveyor - General for New Mexico, This settlement at Redington, Arizona occurred before an Arizona Land Office was established. Kansas, and Nebraska. At that time Arizona was part of the Territory of New Mexico.

The Arizona Land Offices records examined, Table of Contents do not contain any Arizonan applicant (s) under the Act of July 22, 1854. The records of the New Mexico Land Office may show otherwise.

On February 24, 1863, Congress approved and President Lincoln signed into law, the Act establishing the Territory of Arizona. The First Territorial Legislature met on February 26, 1864 at Prescott. State Historian (1926) Calls were soon heard to expedite surveys in the Territory. There were also complaints about the Surveyor General being so far removed from Prescott, headquartered at Santa Fe. Congress obliged by placing Arizona under the California Land District, with the Surveyor General stationed at San Francisco.

Finally, on March 2, 1867, the Arizona Land District was authorized, chap. 179, 14 stat. 542 with a Land Office at Prescott. A second land district was authorized on February 18, 1873, named the Gila Land District, chap. 169, 17 stat. 468 with a Land Office at Florence.

The importance of Land Districts and Land Offices is that these entities controlled all district public land transactions, under the supervision of the U S Commissioner, General Land Office, and the Secretary of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

This volume deals specifically with Arizona's hispanic homesteaders during the period of 1870 to 1908. To more fully understand the scope of this study, it is imperative to recall the history of the area prior to 1870. Consideration should also be given to the impact, these new land laws had on the lives of the hispanic, as they availed themselves. They had to contend with a different culture, a different language and legal system.
Prior to 1862, public lands were sold to raise government revenue, settle debts, and compensate the troops and veterans. Now a new concept of land ownership became available to United States citizens, or to those able and willing to "declared their intention" to become citizens. "That any person who is the head of a family, or who has arrived at age of twenty-one years, and is a citizen of the United States, or who shall have filed his declaration of intention to become such, as required by the naturalization laws of the United States, and who has never borne arms against...."

The Arizonan hispanic and his forbearers had lived under several flags and now the United States. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) and the Gadsden Purchase (1854-1856) uprooted their lives and presented a dilemma: accept United States citizenship, or retain their loyalty to Mexico. Newer hispanic immigrants, from Mexico and elsewhere, faced the same dilemma, if they intended to acquire public lands. Homestead law mandated American citizenship as a pre-requisite to completion of the homestead process

This compilation was obtained by examining and excerpting hispanic surnames from twenty four (24) separate archival records for the period between 1870 to 1908. These records, identified as Boxes are in the RG 49 Records of Arizona Land Offices, stored at the National Archives, Pacific Southwest Region, Laguna Niguel, California.

Nearly 2600 separate entries appear herein. The benefit to the reader is that in one volume, vast archival material is readily accessible. The progress of a given homesteaders can be traced from application, through tract books, thence certificate, final certificate, and then the highly coveted patent. Research time is vastly minimized for the initiated.

The material is arranged in alphabetical and chronological indices. An alphabetical index has been created for each archival record (Box or Boxes) and precedes each chronological index.

Some ambiguity in surnames may arise, owing to the Indian Homestead Act of 1884 . Some applicants under this special legislation had adopted hispanic surnames. Applicants under the Indian Homestead Act of 1884 are identified in the endnotes. An earlier act, the Indian Homestead Act of 1875 , did not present this ambiguity as no hispanic surnames were noted.

The homestead process was lengthy, spanning several years. Not all applicants made it through and obtain a land patent. Some abandoned, cancelled, relinquished, lost interest, or simply lacked "staying power". Some died, in which case the interest of the widow and/or heirs was protected. In other cases "insufficient water for the crops" lead to abandonment. The Pre-Emption Act of 1841 chap. 75, 12 stat. 392, section 6. or Cash Purchases section 2 was easier and quicker for those able and willing to pay for the land.
Some homesteaders were victims of Affidavits of Contest, chap. 152, 29 stat. 91 where the homesteader's entry could be legally challenged for an alleged or contrived non-compliance with homestead requirements.

An examination of eighty-two (82 ) Contests Entries contested by the United States 1905-1914 reveal 39 vis a vis 31 Contests where the hispanic prevailed over the non hispanic contestant or contestee.

Even in some Contest by corporate or mining companies, and the Forest Service, the hispanic was able to prevail. What may have prevailed beyond the Land Office judicial system, does not fall within the purview of this study.

Suffice to say that this volume will benefit those that seek an inkling of the homestead history of those that have gone on before them. Expanded information can be gathered from the complete homesteader's file. On a fee basis, the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20409 responds to request for copies of complete homestead files.

Edward Soza
August 1994
Altadena, California

A Walk Through The Past Affidavits of Contest New World Odyssey, A Search For Roots Hispanic Homesteaders in Arizona Mexican Homesteaders in the San Pedro River Arizona Pictorial Biography