“This land of Arizona has had an exciting history, so dramatic and inspiring that it needs no exaggeration or fictional embellishment.” ~Barry Goldwater
1802 – Due to Indian uprisings, almost all of the Spanish Arizona settlements and missions were abandoned.
1821-1848 – Mexican Period
1821 – The Mexicans declared their independence from Spain on September 16. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexicans at Puebla defeating the French. Following Mexico’s successful War of Independence, the Arizona region came under Mexican control. Trappers and traders from the United States came into the area.
1822 – The Santa Fe Trail is established between Independence, Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
1824 – American mountain men entered Arizona to trap beaver.
1836 – On March 2, Americans who had settled in Texas declared their independence from Mexico. On March 6, General Santa Ana of Mexico surrounded the mission at Alamo, Texas, and massacred the rebels. On April 21, Texan forces led by General Sam Houston defeated Santa Ana at the Battle of San Jacinto.
1845 – Texas joined the United States for protection, and the U.S. recognized the Rio Grande as the border.
1846 – The Mormon Battalion, part of the U. S. Army and the only religious unit in American military history, marched over 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego, California, crossing Arizona on their trek. The battalion’s march and service was instrumental in helping secure new lands in several Western states, especially the Gadsden Purchase of 1853 of much of southern Arizona. The march also opened a southern wagon route to California.
1846-48 – The Mexican American War was fought between Mexico and America over control of Texas. The United States believed that it was destined to expand from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean (“Manifest Destiny”). The war ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in which Mexico agreed to give up its claims to the areas of Texas, California, Arizona (north of the Gila River), New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. All land grants that had been issued either by the King of Spain or the government of Mexico were to be honored by the U.S.
1848-Present – American Period
1849 – Fort Defiance was established on the eastern border line between the Arizona and New Mexico territories.
1849 – Gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California, and the Gold Rush began. Thousands of people went to California seeking to strike it rich. Arizona’s Gila Trail became one of the main routes to California. Members of the Papago tribe helped traveling gold seekers survive the harsh desert climate. The drain of men leaving for the gold fields of California turned Tubac into a virtual ghost town.
1850 – California wanted to become a state but didn’t want to have slaves. The Compromise of 1850 allowed for the admittance into the Union of territories acquired from Mexico as non-slave states.
1852 – Americans began navigating the Colorado River by steamer. The Army Corps of Topographical Engineers began surveying Arizona.
1853 – The Gadsden Purchase was made, extending Arizona’s southern boundary below the Gila River, and forming the present boundary between the United States and Mexico. This allowed for a railroad to be built across the south to California. Tubac was resettled by previous landowners and developed by Eastern entrepreneurs.
1854 – Copper was discovered in Arizona, mined and commercially sold.
1855-57 – Congress wanted Jefferson Davis to forge a supply route through the New Mexico territory. He thought that camels could work, because they were successfully in the desert as pack animals in the Middle East. To carry out the task, Davis picked Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a lieutenant in the Topographical Engineers. Beale acquired 30 camels from the Middle East, which arrived in Texas in 1856. Beale was successful in opening up the wagon route, however, the project was abandoned when the Civil War arrived. The camels were released into the desert, where they eventually disappeared.
1856 – Citizens living in the area of western New Mexico petition Congress to create a separate Territory of Arizona.
1857 – The first stagecoach began servicing Arizona. The stage was an early operation of American Express and Wells Fargo. The Butterfield Overland Stage Line, or the Butterfield Stage, operated until June 30, 1861.
1858 – Camp Colorado (later renamed Fort Mohave) was established on the Colorado River near Kingman. It was home to military personnel for two years before being abandoned.
1859 – Arizona’s first newspaper was published by Charles D. Poston in Tubac.
1860 – Tubac was now the largest town in Arizona.
1860’s – Gold was found in the northwestern part of Arizona. Mormon pioneers from Utah began settling in the Arizona Strip which lies in the far northwest corner of the state.
1861 – Apache raids intensified against settlers as U.S. cavalry were preoccupied with the Civil War. Two engagements between the U.S. Military and the Apaches led to the construction of Fort Bowie in 1862 in order to protect Apache Pass and an important source of water, Apache Spring. The Apache Wars continued for the next ten years.
1862 – The Confederacy sent troops to occupy the New Mexico and Arizona territories although the Battle at Glorieta Pass, New Mexico ended the Confederate’s westward thrust. A skirmish between Union troops en route from California and Confederate troops was fought at Picacho Peak. This was the westernmost battle of the Civil War, and now the California Column of the Union Army occupied Arizona.
1863 – The New Mexico Territory was too large to manage properly, so President Lincoln signed a bill splitting the territory in half and creating a separate Territory of Arizona. President Lincoln wanted the territorial capital in the northern part of the territory, far away from the Confederate sympathizing cities to the south. A site near Fort Whipple was developed to be the capital of the new Arizona Territory. The town of Prescott thus became Arizona’s first truly American town. President Lincoln appointed the Arizona Territorial officials. John N. Goodwin became the first territorial governor and took the Oath of Office at Navajo Springs.
1863 – The Walker Party discovered gold in the Bradshaw Mountains, the Weaver-Peeples party discovered placer gold at Rich Hill, and Henry Wickenburg found a rich lode of gold at the Vulture Mine.
1863 – Fort Mohave was re-established by soldiers of the California Column. This occupation lasted through 1890.
1864 – Kit Carson and a group of cavalry rounded up nearly 8,000 Navajo Indians and forced them to walk over 300 miles to a place called Bosque Redondo on the Pecos River in New Mexico, where they lived in exile. Four counties (Yuma, Yavapai, Pima, and Mohave) were created.
1865 – Fort McDowell was built on the lower Verde River, east of the Salt River Valley.
1866 – Former soldier John Y. T. Smith contracted to supply hay for soldiers’ horses and mules. Smith hired Hispanic laborers who settled near the fort to harvest wild hay from the Salt River. The next year, Smith established a hay camp on the Salt River, becoming the first settlement in the Salt River Valley.
1867 – By this time, more people lived in the southern part of the territory, so they had more legislators and they voted to move the capital to Tucson.
1868 – The exiled Navajos were allowed to return “home” to a newly created reservation in the northeastern corner of Arizona.
1869 – John Wesley Powell explored the Grand Canyon by boat on the Colorado River.
1870’s-1890’s – Copper became the dominant metal to be mined in Arizona, but silver and gold were also important. Both mining and ranching flourished as a large-scale business.
1870 – Jack Swilling formed the Salt River Water Users Association. He set aside a square mile for a town, near the ruins of the ancient Hohokam. He declared that his new town would rise, like the Phoenix, from the ashes of the prior civilization. The total territorial population at this time was only 9,568 according to the U.S. Census.
1871 – A third county, called Maricopa, was created for the Phoenix area. In the Camp Grant Massacre, a group of citizens ambushed a band of Apaches under the protection of the U.S. Army who were camped outside Camp Grant.
1872 – General Crook mounted a concentrated effort to defeat the central Arizona Apache and Yavapai tribes. The Chiricahua Apaches, after fighting to keep Americans out of Cochise county, agreed to a peace treaty. The Indians were moved to the Central Highlands and told to farm.
1872 – Mormon leaders started Lee’s Ferry across the Colorado River to expand Mormon settlements throughout Arizona. Mormons settled along the Little Colorado River and also headed south to St. David on the San Pedro River in Cochise County. Early Mormon settlements in northeastern Arizona included Springerville, Snowflake, St. Johns, Heber, Eager, and Show Low. Other Mormon settlements were established at Pipe Spring, Brigham City (now renamed Winslow), Lehi and Mesa.
1874 – Geronimo and his followers broke from the reservation and raided southeastern Arizona for the next twelve years. Charles T. Hayden opened his flour milling operation using water from the Tempe Irrigating Canal.
1876 – The territorial prison opened at Yuma.
1877 – Silver was discovered at Tombstone. Some of the largest copper deposits ever were discovered at Bisbee. But with all of the ranching and mining going on in the northern part of the territory, the northern legislature now had enough votes to move the capital back to Prescott.
1881 – The Southern Pacific Railroad crossed from Los Angeles to Yuma, and by 1883 reached El Paso, Texas. Wyatt Earp, three of his brothers, and Doc Holliday killed several suspected cattle rustlers on October 26 in Tombstone, Arizona. This shootout went down in history as the gunfight at the O.K. Corral (although it actually took place in the street). The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) began a long campaign against alcohol and saloons in Arizona. The City of Phoenix incorporated.
1883 – The Atlantic & Pacific (Santa Fe) Railroad line was laid from Albuquerque across Northern Arizona. By the late 1880s, there was a Fred Harvey restaurant/hotel located every 100 miles along the Santa Fe line. The Fred Harvey girls are said to have helped “civilize the American Southwest.”
1886 – The great Apache Chief Geronimo was finally captured on September 4. This marked the end of Indian hostilities in the West. Geronimo was sent to Florida and later was moved to Oklahoma where he spent the rest of his life. A blizzard on the Great Plains made everyone want to move South. The Territorial Normal School opened in Tempe.
1888 – Copper replaced both gold and silver in economic importance in Arizona.
1889 – Phoenix became the new population center of the Arizona Territory, and the Governor declared that the capital from now on would be in Phoenix, halfway between Tucson and Prescott. This would settle the matter once and for all. Legislators would meet temporarily in the chambers of the Phoenix City Hall. The Territorial Normal School is renamed the Arizona Territorial Normal School.
1891 – Moses H. Sherman and Marcellus E. Collins of Phoenix donated ten acres of land for a territorial capitol site. To compensate Tucson for the loss of the capital, a bill was passed to place the University of Arizona in Tucson. The U.S. Congress rejected Arizona’s application for statehood.
1891 – The United States Industrial Indian School at Phoenix, later known as the Phoenix Indian School, was founded. It was a coeducational, federal boarding school in which Native American Indian children were brought from the reservations to be educated and assimilated into the white man’s culture. An act of Congress, signed by President Ronald Reagan in November 1988, was to close the Phoenix Indian School and pass its administration from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the National Park Service. Nineteen students, the last graduating class, received their diplomas on May 24, 1990.
1892 – The Kibbey Decision stated that water belongs to the land and is not a separate commodity, granting land owners rights to a guaranteed supply of water.
1895 – Phoenix became linked by rail to both northern and southern railroad lines, increasing the ability to move goods and people not only east and west, but also north and south.
1898 – The Rough Riders, including men from Arizona, fight in Cuba.
1899 – Construction began on the new capitol building in Phoenix.
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