Historic Past


The San Pedro River Valley, is a long and narrow stretch of land, touched by history, but long under-utilized by Spanish, Mexican and Anglo settlement. Travelled, crossed and traversed by Cabeza de Vaca (1536) (though some historians dispute it); Fray Marcos de Niza (1538); Melchior Diaz (1539); Sixteen Century North America P/131 Francisco Vasquez Coronado (1540); and several times by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino (1696) to 1701. University of Arizona Press / Tucson 1987 P/32 The flags of Spain, France, Mexico and the United States, claimed this land, but the Apache aggressively resisted incursions into their valley. The American experience in the valley began as a consequence of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 and the Gadsden Purchase of 1854.

This brief recital of the valley's historic past spans 320 years from 1536 to 1856. Prior to 1865, only a handful attempted settlement of the area. Subsequent to the 1865 there was some activity in the valley, as one writer wrote in 1877 Rare Book # 152653, Huntington Library San Marino, California that "the San Pedro River, about 50 miles east of Tucson, in which the lateral valleys, are about 50,000 acres of good farming land, most of which can be successively cultivated." Another writer P/237, P/285 wrote about "the growing settlement where the stage road crosses at Tres Alamos, and that trading point is becoming one of importance.", and that a "farm belonging to Apodaca, whose ditch finished cost $1,000... "further down, Juan Borquez... has 18

acres of corn...Ruiz Mendoza...raised a large crop of wheat, barley and some corn and beans. ...the whole 20 miles down from Tres Alamos there is an abundance of water, grass, timber...". With a valley so promising, what hindered large scale settlement? 
The reluctance of settlers to come into the valley in any large numbers during the Spanish Colonial (pre-1821), Mexican (1821 -1856), and United States (1856 - 1880's) periods is generally and readily understandable, given the smallness of the Territory's population and the more menacing threat of Apache hostility.

In the Spanish Colonial period, the Apache roamed at will, "that by 1710 the Apache had cleared an area 250 miles wide for their exclusive occupation". resisted efforts to domesticate, resorted to raiding, plundering and pillaging from east to west and north to south into Mexico. Though the Apache dominated the area, the Sobaipuris were permitted to live and farm along the San Pedro River; but it was always at the sufferance of the Apache. Settlements to the west benefited from the "buffer" the Sobaipuris provided along the San Pedro. They served as a barrier between the Apache in the east, and the Spanish and Mexican settlements to the west, encompassing Tucson and south along the Santa Cruz River Valley.

In 1761, the Spanish Colonial authorities mandated the relocation of the Sobaipuris to the Santa Cruz valley to supplement the declining Indian population at the missions and to replenish their labor pool. The Indian population decline at the

missions was attributed to a high death rate, and abandonment of mission life by the Indians. Hispanic Arizona 1536-185 P/39-40 This forced relocation adversely affected the security of the San Pedro valley. The Apache, unabated, controlled the length and breadth of the valley. They were unchallenged from the San Pedro River to the New Mexican border, and from the Gila River south into Mexico. For over 100 years, settlement and development of the valley, was not very attractive, nor conducive to Spanish, Mexican, nor to American settlements.

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