Early Settlers - Pecan Orchard Site #3


After the Hohokam vanished, there was a period of about 400 years when the valley was lightly inhabited, if at all. The next evidence of any settlement came in 1859 when an Arkansas emigré, Robert Rolette, cleared the bottomlands between the Pantano and Tanque Verde. He probably planted an orchard much like the pecan grove in front of you, he probably raised vegetables and grains such as wheat and barley, and he probably was harassed by Apaches. He stayed only three years. But even after Rolette's hard luck, families from south of the border and east of the Mississippi, whose eagerness to farm outweighed their fear of the Apaches, began to settle this valley.

Living in the hot, dry desert was an untried experiment for Euroamericans and one that required a basic modification of their institutions and practices. On the other hand, Mexicans from the Sonoran Desert had 300 years of adaptation, experimentation, and innovation behind them. They became the professors of dry land survival. Almost without exception, the building material used was adobe, successful farming methods were Mexican, and the language spoken was Spanish.

By the time Camp Lowell was moved to this site in 1873, there were ten land claims and three acequias (irrigation ditches) in the vicinity. Half of the families were Mexican and half were Euroamerican.