Genealogy Trails

Pinal County, Arizona

Pinal County was organized in 1875 from portions of Pima, Maricopa and Yavapai and contains an area of 5,368 square miles, and had, by census of 1900, a population of 7,779 exclusive of Indians. The boundaries of this county are as follows: on the north, Maricopa and Gila Counties; on the east, Gila and Graham Counties; on the south, Pima County, and on the west by the County of Maricopa. Every county of Arizona is very important on account of some product or products useful and beneficial to the human family, either in arts, commerce or subsistence. Pinal County has, within its boundaries, the elements to be of great use to the world. There are fully six hundred thousand acres of land, and all that is lacking to render it as productive as any in the world is water, which can be supplied by a system of reservoir storage of what now is allowed to run to waste. The Gila River runs directly through this county from east to west, and at times carries a vast body of water. At such times a sufficient amount should be deflected to fill the necessary reservoirs to spread over the land as needed when the river has receded. It is traversed from west to east by the Southern Pacific Railroad and a road puts off from the Southern Pacific at Maricopa and runs about north to Phoenix in Maricopa, and on via Wickenburg and Prescott in Yavapai County to the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad at Ash Fork.

Florence, the county-seat, is in the fertile valley of the Gila on the southern side and is a flourishing town of about 1,500 inhabitants, some twenty-seven miles north from the Southern Pacific Railroad, with which it is connected by a daily stage at the station of Casa Grande.

In making the trip to and from the railroad to Florence the stage passes in sight of the old Casa Grande ruins, which have stood in the desert like the sphinx of Egypt watching earth's slowly revolving centuries from times anterior to written records of America.

This evidence at least of the partial civilization of a prehistoric people stands in the midst of a great plain that might be rendered very productive if only a sufficiency of water would be gotten to it. The ancient builders of the structure brought water from the Gila by means of an acequia or canal, some thirty miles in length, the course of which can be traced today. The water would not flow in the canal at all times, though the supposition is the river then carried a larger flow of water than it now does.

A reservoir was constructed inside the enclosure of the Casa Grande, where quite a body of water could be impounded for emergencies, showing that the structure was erected for defensive purposes. From the construction of this old building it must be inferred that it was intended for defense against the assaults of a primitive enemy, for while the works would be impregnable to an enemy armed only with spears and bows and arrows, they could not long hold out against the ordnance of this day.

Arizona is at once the oldest and newest country now composing a portion of the United States. Something over three hundred and sixty years ago Alvar Cabeza de Vaca, Andres Durantly, Alonzo del Castillo Meldonado, and Estevan, a negro slave, were the first Europeans to set foot on Arizona soil. From what can be gleaned from the old records it would seem probable that the African slave, Estevan, was really the pioneer into Arizona, as he seems to have been a man of great physical strength and energy, who kept mostly in the advance, driven on by his temperament, and love of adventure; maybe his passion for the native

women urged him forward, as an attempt to gratify his passion cost him his life among the jealous Zuni Indians. This party was shipwrecked in 1527 on the coast of Florida; made captives by the Indians and held for seven years. Upon escaping from captivity they made their way over great plains, through forests, over mountains and across rivers to New Mexico and Arizona, and thence to Culiacan in Mexico.

De Soto is credited with discovering the Mississippi River, yet this party crossed that stream ten years before he stood upon its banks; visited the Moqui and Zuni villages, where was found a peaceful, semi-civilized people, a full quarter of a century earlier than the first settlement of St. Augustine, Florida, and nearly a century earlier than the vaunted landing of the Pilgrim Fathers upon the canonized Plymouth Rock.

After leaving these peaceful villages of Indians, Cabeza de Vaca and his party proceeded south and visited the Casa Grande, even then in ruins. An inquisitive mind cannot look upon this ancient building, knowing its history for over three hundred years and that it was a ruin at that time, without asking himself the question, "By whom was it erected and what has become of the builders?" No written records have come down to us, we know only from their irrigating canals and methods of defense that they ever existed. Who were those enemies it was necessary to fortify against and where did they come from? The Indians of today, Pimas, Papagoes or Maricopas have no traditions of the builders of these fortifications, but say the ruins were there as now when they first came into the country.

Does it not appear to be a fact, demonstrated by the ruins, that there have been many attempts to struggle toward civilization, on the part of different,portions of the human race at different times and in different portions of the world. Some have been destroyed by convulsions of nature; others by invasions of savage, but more warlike people, while others have slowly decayed by the lapse of time and the changing of commercial centers. Egypt is the great example that carried the arts and sciences far, in fact we can never know how far; her monuments that have falsely been styled everlasting attest her knowledge of geometry and astronomy equal, where applied, to anything now known, while we are driven to her monuments and her tombs to ascertain her hoary history. O Egypt, thy sphinx is emblematic of thee! Thy stony eyes have looked out over the Egyptian deserts for more than sixty centuries known to written history; hast seen empires rise and go down through the lapse of time, yet keepest thine own secrets. Our most profound thinkers discovered amid the mass of fable regarding the past, a few broken threads of truth, but how much of the history of the world and its inhabitants is shrouded in impenetrable darkness and must ever so remain.

The human race has passed through many changes in its progress from savagedom towards civilization. Each body of land of any size found in the oceans that occupy much of the earth's surface has had human beings, or at least animals having the human form upon them, many of them in the lowest state of savagedom; some so low as to eat their food raw, not having advanced to the use of fire; and the natives of the Andaman Islands have just now arrived to the use of fire.

Asia, Africa, Europe, America, have all had their cave- dwellers, and, where practicable, lake-dwellers. Away back in past times and in parts of Africa today are found the cave and lake-dwellers and through a great extent of Central Africa, the natives are yet cannibals. Whether the human race became scattered over all the earth as is recorded in the rather legendary Semitic records, when languages were confounded at the Tower of Babel, or whether separate continents developed separate Adams and Eves matters little in the discussion; each appears to have started from lowly beginnings and pursued about the same course toward civilization; some have become more advanced than others. Some are today in the full fruition of an advanced civilization, others have disappeared and left only broken and decaying evidences that they have existed.

While it is true that there are large bodies of low-grade ores in Pinal County at this writing, there are few mines producing. This may be in part owing to the low price of silver in comparison with what it was some years ago. The Great Mammoth Mine that has in the past produced largely would now be lying idle were it not for the tailings that were considered of no value now being worked over for the metal known as molybdenum by a distinguished metallurgist to good advantage to himself as he continues to work some forty men.

I find the following description of a mining region now within the boundaries of this county embraced in an official report made to the Federal Government by one of its competent engineers as long ago as 1860. Deeming that this report will be more likely to meet the eye of some one who will be interested, I insert below the main portion of the report upon a particular location:

"Maricopa Lode.—This lode sometimes called Gray's Mine, situated about seventy miles north of Tucson and four miles south of the Gila River, is considered one of the best copper deposits in southern Arizona. Mr. Gray thus describes the.vein in a general report made in 1860:

" 'The formation of the district is primitive, chiefly granite, and sienite, with metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, and injected dikes of trap and quartz. The lode was traced and measured 1,600 feet, having a width of from eight to twelve feet plainly marked by its walls and outcropping ore. The veinstone is quartz with seams of argentiferous copper ore, at the surface a few inches wide, but which at six feet down appears nearly solid, covering the greater part of the lode. The copper-glance and gray ore predominate, though at top the carbonates and silicates were intermixed. A branch vein shows itself near the place of greatest development. Here it traverses an elongated hill intersecting it lengthwise, and protruding above the surface from one end of the hill to the other, a distance of seven hundred feet. The hill is sixty to one hundred and twenty-five feet higher than the valleys and ravines surrounding it, and slopes for half a mile in the direction of the lode to the west, when the ground descends northward towards the Gila at a rate of two hundred and fifty feet to the mile. The course of the lode is very regular, north 84^/2° east or 5^2° north of true east and 5J4° south of true west. The dip is to the north, and about 75° from the horizon, very nearly vertical as far as could be observed. The elevation of the Maricopa Mine determined by me with a fine cistern barometer, is 3,378 feet above the level of the sea, and 1,497 feet higher than our camp established on the Gila River, six miles off, selected as a good site for smelting works.' "

W. R. Hopkins, civil engineer, in connection with the same report, speaks as follows:

"We have traced the copper lode by distinct pieces of heavy ore for 1,600 feet about east and west; also three other veins. The lode appears to be from eight to twelve feet wide on the surface. The shaft we have commenced is on the main lode and on a hill that rises from sixty to one hundred feet above the surrounding gullies. It is now seven feet square and six feet deep. The ore is increasing in richness, and the veins widening. The vein containing the copper-glance, specimens of which you will receive, is now twenty inches wide, and occupies the south side of the lode. Next to this come gray and green ores and red oxide of copper. The lode is now occupied with the ore, so that nearly all that is thrown out goes into the pile to be smelted. The dip of the lode is now slightly to the north, and we suppose that it will run into another lode twenty-five feet north of it, and form a wider bed of ore than we now find. We would express to you our confidence in the extreme richness of the mine, both from our own observation and the opinion of experienced miners throughout this section of country. We find water-power on the river abundant (at times). Mesquite is in sufficient quantities to furnish charcoal, which is of the best quality."

Frederick Brunkow, assayer and mining engineer, made a report in January, 1860, upon some selected specimens from this mine, from which this extract is taken:

"The specimens consisted of the outcrop ore of a powerful vein and bore unmistakeable signs of a true vein.  As commonly by all outcrop ore so here carbonates and silicates make their appearance, while the main body of the vein, to some extent below the surface probably, will consist in general of gray sulphurets of copper, and other ores, which already, in large quantities, appear upon the surface. *** I divided the ores into different classes and assayed them accordingly: i, sulphurets, mixed with carbonate, contained to the ton 50 per cent copper and 104 ounces silver; 2, gray sulphuret containing to the ton 60 per cent copper and 93 ounces of silver; 3, silicate of copper containing 20 to 25 per cent copper and 20 to 25 ounces of silver to the ton; 4, carbonate of copper containing 25 to 50 per cent copper and only a trace of silver, as carbonates and silicates are secondary formation, a large yield of silver could not be expected. The ore of this vein would be the quickest and cheapest way to reduce in a blast 'furnace and run into copper ingots, which could be shipped and afterwards be stripped of their silver. Iron crushers for breaking the ore, as well as the necessary blast, could be driven by water-power of which there is an abundance (at times) in the Gila River."

The immense resources of Pinal County must ultimately rest upon her vast bodies of agricultural land, and to render this land productive, water must be gotten upon it, as the natural rainfall is not sufficient or at least could not be relied upon, and, therefore, it becomes necessary that reservoirs be constructed upon a large scale in the seasons of rains, when the streams are at floodtide, to be filled and taken out over the soil through canals and aqueducts when needed in seasons of drought or as long as shall be necessary for the maturing of crops.

There is an excellent school at Florence, employing an able corps of fine teachers. There are several churches and a number of secret societies, a commercial club and two weekly papers edited with much ability.

The northwestern portion of the county along the Gila River is occupied by the Pima and Maricopa Indian Reservation. This reserve embraces much fertile land, considerable of which is tilled by these industrious people, who have ever been at peace with the whites, and in the first settlement of the Territory were a wall of defense against the plundering, murderous Apaches. The United States Government has supplied schools for these Indians, and the rising generation of the race has now adopted many of the methods and customs of an advancing civilization. Many of them live in comfortable houses, have American plows and other farm implements, wagons, etc. In their houses the women have sewing machines, and in many an Indian farmhouse the piano is heard. They are getting up to a higher plane of civilization and a higher life. Thus has it been demonstrated that the Indian race is capable of higher development if once started upon a higher plane by honest hands. Assessed value of property, $2,898,347.25 for 1903.

Source: The History of Arizona: From the Earliest Times Known to the People of Europe to 1903 By Sidney Randolph De Long, Arizona Pioneers' Historical Society Published by The Whitaker & Ray company, 1905

By Thus. F. Weedin, Editor Blade-Tribune, Florence, Arizona.

Pinal County, although one of the smallest divisions of Arizona, is looked upon as one of the coming counties, as nature was here particularly lavish of her favors. Pinal has a wondrous landscape of mountain and mesa, valley and canyon, with exquisite coloring. On the higher mountains are forests of pine, oak, ash and walnut. Through the county run the Gila, the San Pedro, and the Aravaipa, while on hoth sides of these streams are level stretches of land of wonderful productive capability and endurance. Then, too, large areas within the county are impregnated with all the precious metals and minerals of commercial value. Last, but not least, Pinal is possessed of a climate semi-tropical in mildness, and unsurpassed in its health-giving properties, with an atmosphere dry and pure in the extreme. The total area of Pinal County is about 5,300 square miles and its population over 10,000.

The mineral district of this county covers at least two-thirds of its surface area, the greater portion of which has not yet been touched by the prospector's pick. Yet, the mines of the county have yielded in gold, silver, lead and copper, a total of $60,000,000. The metals and minerals exist here in both veins and deposits, and where explored have proven of great magnitude and value. As the unexplored surface exhibits the same physical condition and the same evidences of mineralization, as do those which have been explored, it is rational to assume that they, too, will prove both extensive and valuable.

Next in importance to the fact that our veins and deposits are exceptional in magnitude, and productive capabilities, is the character of the ore they contain. In this feature they are also exceptional. The major portion of them contain what is commonly called "combination ores," that is, ores carrying from two to four metals of commercial value, each in paying percentage. The usual metallic constituent ores in Pinal are gold, silver, copper and lead certainly an ideal combination to insure profits. Furthermore, most of these ores carry a sufficient percentage of iron and lime to make them self-fluxing in the smelting furnace, therefore they can be treated by the fire concentration process at the minimum cost of smelting.

But the mineral wealth of Pinal County is not limited to the abovenamed four metals. Prospecting and mining have been chiefly confined to these metals simply because few prospectors are sufficiently familiar with the ores of the rarer metals to recognize them in the field, referring in this connection, to platinum, uranium, nickel, cobalt, bismuth, tungsten, vanadium, molybdenum, etc., all of which exist here, but as yet in undetermined quantities. We also have bituminous coal measures, in an undeveloped state, in the Deer Creek district, but sufficiently prospected to demonstrate that they can be made profitably productive. The two great mining properties of the county are the Magma copper-gold-silver property, at Superior, and the Ray Consolidated copper mines, at Ray.

In the center of Pinal's mineral area, beginning seven miles east of Florence, extending thence south to and beyond Casa Grande, west to and beyond Maricopa Junction, north to the base of the Superstition Mountain range, and thence west to the Pinal and Maricopa county line, is a solid body of surpassingly fertile agricultural land, needing only water to make it as fruitful as is the delta of the Nile. At some time in the unwritten past, and long before the present type of civilized man was privileged to look upon this land of promise, a very numerous people thrived and prospered here, as is attested by the yet distinctly visible remnants of their very elaborate canal systems and auxiliary storage reservoirs. Through the center of this great stretch of fertile land trails the Gila River, with its 17,000 square miles of watershed and phosphated water, entirely devoid of deleterious substances and enriching the soil at each irrigation by the deposit of silt rich in phosphates, while through its southern portion runs the Santa Cruz River. The underground waters of the Santa Cruz are sufficiently near the surface, west of the McLellan wash and in the vicinity of Casa Grande and Maricopa stations, to make irrigation by means of pumping plants feasible and profitable. Probably 50,000 acres could be reclaimed in this manner, through the organization of pumping plant districts, under a district irrigation law, or through the installation of individual plants. A number of individual pumping plants are now in course of installation, and some in operation, in this locality. Several are also in successful operation near Florence. The normal flow of the Gila River, at the point where it enters this valley, twelve miles above Florence, is sufficient to irrigate permanently about 25,000 acres of land, according to reports submitted by James D. Schuyler and John H. Quinton after they had carefully studied and analyzed the stream flow tables compiled by the Geological Survey from data obtained by daily measurements made during years of minimum flow. All this water has been appropriated by small private ditches, the O. T. canal, recently completed, and the Pinal Mutual Irrigation Company's canal, now in course of construction. The latter canal will have a diversion dam of the Indian weir type, planned by James D. Schuyler, who is consulting engineer for the builders. This canal system will be built, owned and operated by the land owners whose land it will irrigate. The O. T. canal is also a mutual system, operated on the co-operative plan, and serves about 2,500 acres of land. In planning the diversion dam and head-works for the Pinal Mutual Irrigation company's system, Engineer Schuyler took into consideration the probable early construction of the San Carlos dam, and designed said works upon a scale that will fully meet the requirements of the larger project. Recent contour surveys of the Picacho reservoir, now the property of the Pinal Mutual Irrigation Company, demonstrate that it enlarged to a storage capacity of about 65,000 acre-feet of water. It can be safely estimated that the enlarged Picacho reservoir will irrigate about 15,000 acres of land. There is no doubt that the San Carlos dam will be constructed in the near future, as the government has become greatly interested in the project on behalf of its Pima wards.

The Casa Grande Valley Water Users' Association has also projected and are surveying a flood water canal, from a point about twelve miles east of Florence to Casa Grande station, on the Southern Pacific Railroad. It will be seen, by all the foregoing data, that by means of canal, storage and pumping systems, fully 200,000 acres of fertile land can be reclaimed in this valley, if we fully utilize the various sources of water supply.

In the San Pedro Valley is a large acreage of exceedingly fertile land that can be reclaimed by river and artesian water, extending from Dudleyville to the east line of the county. A well at a depth of 800 feet, near Mammoth, struck a strong "gusher" that is furnishing sufficient water to irrigate several hundred acres, thus proving the valley to be in the artesian belt. The Aravaipa Valley, which comes into the San Pedro Valley about twelve miles above Winkelman, has an abundant water supply in the Aravaipa Creek, which flows through the center of it, and all the lands of this picturesque little valley are planted to fruit, including navel oranges, lemons, apples, peaches, pears, apricots, plums, grapes and all kinds of berries. Its fruits are unsurpassed in size and flavor.

Owing to a rare combination of climatic and soil conditions, the lands surrounding Florence, and extending to and surrounding Casa Grande, will produce to perfection oranges, lemons, grape fruit, olives, figs, nectarines, peaches, apricots, plums, pears, pomegranates, grapes and all kinds of berries.

Source: Who's Who In Arizona

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