Among the pioneers that came to Tucson in the 1870's were seven Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. They opened a school next to San Agustín Church for the children of Tucson and three years later one for the native American children at the San Xavier Mission. Later the parochial school was put under the direction of the Sisters and an orphanage was begun. In 1880, they took in the first patients at St. Mary's Hospital caring for the sick and injured of the Southern Pacific Railroad, County patients, and all who came.
Founded by homesteaders, cowboys, and soldiers, Tucson's African American community has a long and proud history that has contributed much to Tucson's rich heritage. These pioneers built neighborhoods, established churches and businesses, and fought to end discrimination and prejudice. Their descendants are leaders today in business, education, government and the arts.