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
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