The Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood

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Settlers

During the years following the Hohokam people, it is likely that the Desert People came this way, to sip the water, to hunt, to pick the fruit of the saguaro in June. Perhaps they had saguaro or hunting camps in the nearby foothills.

We know so little of that time, until the Spaniards came into the Tucson Valley. Coronado explored up the San Pedro River to the east in 1540; perhaps some of his men crossed over the pass into the Tucson Valley. In 1699 Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino did cross the land of the Tohono O'Odham. He founded missions including the precursor of our beautiful San Xavier del Bac. Later Spaniards, finding a village of Indians at the "foot of the black mountain," built a presidio and founded the town which has become Tucson.

Hohokam, Tohono O'Odham, Spaniards. As they arrived, the Spaniards claimed the land in the name of the King of Spain, so southern Arizona was Spanish territory. After the Mexicans wrested the land from the Spaniards in 1821, it became Mexican. But not for very long. With the Gadsden Purchase in 1854, Arizona became a territory of the United States of America.

Go West! became the cry, and Anglo settlers came to southern Arizona to seek their fortunes. Ranchers and farmers came to settle along the Tanque Verde, with its rich flood plains and verdant desert. There came not only settlers from the eastern United States, but also those from Mexico, a second wave of Spanish-speaking settlers, from Sonora, Chihuahua, and Baja California.

But another people came also and seriously threatened the livelihood of these settlers -- bands of the dreaded Apaches. The western spread of Europeans encroached on land that had long been occupied by other peoples, the first settlers, the Indians. Indians often tried to accommodate the White Man, but the White Man was relentless and overran the original inhabitants. The Indians fought back. That is what the Apaches were doing, trying to protect the land that not too before they had moved into from the north. They attacked the settlers in cunning raids, took their herds of horses and cattle, and tried to drive out the new invaders. This happened as well to Spaniards and Mexicans in Sonora and Chihuahua, southern Arizona was no exception.