Genealogy Trails
Santa Cruz County, Arizona
History


Santa Cruz County is the last county set off up to this date and was taken entirely from Pima County. It has an area of 1,212 square miles, about equal to the State of Rhode Island, and is bounded as follows: On the north, by Pima; on the east, by Cochise; on the south, by the Mexican State of Sonora, and on the west by Pima County. It was organized as a county in 1899. Nogales is the county-seat, situated upon the line of railroad running from Benson on the Southern Pacific, to Guaymas in Sonora, and upon the boundary line. The name Nogales is walnut, from the fact that long ago walnut trees grew upon the site.

This county possesses, in the aggregate, considerable agricultural land mostly confined to narrow valleys along the streams; perhaps the largest body is along the Santa Cruz River, which is the whole width of the county. The Sonoita, also, has considerable agricultural land and some about the head of the Babacomri Creek. There is considerable land being cultivated in the Soperi Valley also. There is much fine grazing land in this county and some of the cattlemen have succeeded in having large herds of cattle; between the Santa Rita Mountains on the west and Whetstone on the east and the northern end of the Huachucas is a great cattle range; also farther south at La Norio or "Lochiel," is, perhaps, the finest cattle range to be found in the Territory.

Much of the county is mountainous, and the mountain ranges are filled with minerals, principally gold, silver, copper and lead. Silver, probably, predominates, though it is not easy to judge of that as many of the mines are but slightly developed. At the present time the Oro Blanco Mining District and mines are coming to the front as producers, and it is found upon going down that mines which had been for years abandoned as played out, or, as miners say, petered, are found to be of great value as depth is reached, say from four to eight hundred feet. One, the Oceanic, which has more than once been abandoned as "petered," is now working successfully, though I think that is in Pima County, being over the mountain west from Oro Blanco.

In other portions of this county are extensive mines, as in the Patagonia Mountains. The old Mowry; among the first worked in the Territory; those of the Harshaw District named after David Tecumseh Harshaw, who formerly had been a sergeant in the California troops. The name Tecumseh is a family name in the Sherman family and was one of the names of General Sherman. In the latter '3o's and early '4o's of the nineteenth century, a celebrated steamboat captain, on Lake Champlain, was Richard Tecumseh Sherman, for that day commander of the palatial steamer Burlington; "Dick" Sherman, as he was familiarly called, was an uncle of David Tecumseh Harshaw, hence his middle name. The Ohio Shermans are of same family.

The whole population of the county by census of 1900, was 4,545. Nogales, the county-seat, by same census, had a population of 1,761. It is on the international boundary line, and when first started was known as "Line City." There is a Nogales on the Mexican side of the line, also, with about the same population, principally Mexicans.

The street running along division line, separating the two countries, is called International Street. Nogales is the southern terminal of the New Mexico and Arizona Railroad, also, the northern terminal of the Sonora Railroad, which runs in nearly a direct line south to Guaymas on the Gulf of California, two hundred and sixty-four and seven-tenth miles or four hundred and twenty-six kilometers and gives Nogales daily a direct communication with a seaport. Both the United States and Mexican Governments have located custom-houses and warehouses for goods in bond and have consulates at this point.

The mineral region tributary to Nogales is very extensive and must materially aid in building up at this point a large city at no distant day. The grazing interest is also large in this vicinity.

Nogales, owing to its altitude, has a beautiful and healthful climate and is quite a summer resort.

The town in the county next to Nogales is probably Patagonia, a new town upon the Rio Sonoita and railroad, just in the mining center in the Patagonia Mountains and in the Santa Rita Mountains. The old adobe town of Tubac, at one time the principal town of Arizona, is within the limits of this county. In 1850, and for several years before that time, the Mexican Government kept a small garrison of troops there.

Tubac was for several years headquarters for all the large mining operations in what was then Southern Pima, viz., Salero, Cerro Colorado, Arivaca, Santa Rita and other active camps. Tubac was a presidio during the time the country was controlled by Mexico, after that country had thrown off Spanish domination. It was probably chosen as a settling point, as at seasons of the year the Santa Cruz River was a clear, running stream of quite a body of water, and there is considerable agricultural land near there; also it is the center of quite a mining region, whose richness was known even in far off Spain. Since cattle have been largely introduced into the country and considerable irrigation going on above Tubac, the water that formerly flowed above ground in the dry season near Tubac, disappears entirely. The Catholic Mission of St. Gertrudes was located here in 1750.

At the present day it may be said of Tubac, "Its glory hath departed," in all probability never to return. The railroad station at the site of the old Mexican rancho of Calabasas, is some fifteen miles up the river from Tubac and about twelve miles north from Nogales. Here the Sonoita joins the Santa Cruz. At present it is a very small town, though its natural advantages are great. There is considerable water in the two streams for irrigating purposes, and with no large outlay of capital, sufficient water could be developed to irrigate the fine valley in proximity below.

Some fifteen miles westerly from Calabasas a peculiar mountain peak is visible called "Thumb Butte," from its resemblance in shape to a large human thumb. It stands fully sixty feet in height and about ten feet in diameter at what would be the base of the thumb. Calabasas is the nearest point to touch the Arizona and New Mexican Railroad for a large extent of country, both grazing and mining. A wagon road has been laid out and made practicable much of the way through the mountains west, direct to Oro Blanco, distant thirty-five miles; the cost would be but a small matter to render this road entirely practicable, so that instead of the long haul of seventy-five miles, Calabasas or Tucson Railroad can be reached in thirty-five miles from Oro Blanco.

A route for a railroad is now in contemplation from Tucson to the Gulf of California through the Baboquiveri Valley, that, should it be constructed, will give to the great mining region of Oro Blanco and Arivaca a still nearer railroad communication, also, the mines in the Baboquiveri Range of Mountains.

Camp or Fort Critten'den is almost historical ground, as the first military post established by the United States within the boundaries of the celebrated Gadsden Purchase (made in 1853, the treaty having been confirmed by the United States Senate on December 3Oth of that year), was here established in 1857 and called Fort Buchanan, after James Buchanan, then President, who had been inaugurated March 4th of that year. Fort Buchanan was abandoned upon the breaking out of the Civil War, in 1861, i. e., the regular United States troops were withdrawn to take part in other more active fields, and not again occupied until 1868, when it was re-established and called Crittenden, in honor of Thomas L. Crittenden, a son of Hon. John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, who then was in command of the military district embracing this portion of Arizona, south of the Gila River. At and around where was camp Crittenden, which is now upon the line of the Arizona and New Mexico Railroad, is one of the lovely spots of Arizona. The beauty of the scenery is hard to surpass, and the altitude is such that fruits of more northern climate, as the apple and the peach, ripen to perfection. At one time within the memory of oldtimers still living a band of wild horses, of the wild and free breed, roamed over these beautiful mesas, but with the advancing tide of civilization these horses have disappeared, being either frightened off or caught and broken to the uses of man. In the neighborhood of Camp Crittenden is an inexhaustible supply of limestone from which lime is supplied to the vicinity.

Mount Wrightson (Old Baldy), the highest point of the Santa Rita mountain range, with an altitude of fully 10,000 feet, is in this county about forty miles almost directly south from Tucson, in Pima County. There are fine schools established at the various points as required, and at Nogales is a fine schoolhouse. The schools are well managed and liberally patronized. There are no churches outside of Nogales, and there the Catholics predominate.

Of papers, there are two at Nogales, both lively sheets, the Oases and Vidette. The county, though at this time the youngest and smallest in area, contains vast natural resources that must, in the near future, make it the home of an industrious and rich people. The value of assessable property, $1,560,307.55 for 1903.



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