Santa Cruz County, AZ History

Gadsden Purchase

All of the territory for Santa Cruz County was part of the Gadsden Purchase, it was one of the most intriguing real estate deals in which United States has ever taken part. In 1852 Gadsden agreed to pay Santa Anna $10,000,000 for a strip of territory south of the Gila River and lying in what is now southwestern New Mexico and southern Arizona. The Gadsden Purchase has an area of 45,535 square miles and is almost as large as Pennsylvania.

Gadsden was appointed U.S. Minister to Mexico by President Franklin Pierce with instructions of his own design to buy from Mexico enough territory for a railroad to the Gulf of California. The Gadsden treaty gave to the United States freedom of transit for mails, merchandise and troops across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and provided for a readjustment of the boundary established by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

International Railroad

William Ray Morley surveyed a route through Ambos Nogales in 1878 and the following year the Sonoran Railway was formed in Mexico as a subsidiary of the ATSF. The daughter of surveyor Morley drove the last spike linking Guaymas with the Southern Pacific Railroad at Benson. It would become the first rail line linking the US and Mexico. The main street as that time, was named Morley Avenue after the land surveyor.  In 1880, San Francisco merchant Jacob Issacson built a trading post in Nogales and a post office was established in the store too. Present-day Nogales was referred to the Issacson community, but when the railroad built its depot it chose to name the stop Nogales 

American Pioneers

In 1857, with the promise of economic prosperity, the Pennington family traveled west, originally with the intention of settling in California. The Penningtons temporarily stopped at Sonoita Creek near fort Buchanan. The men obtained a contract from the government to supply the fort with hay and the women sewed soldiers' uniforms. When they completed the contract, the Penningtons moved west to  present-day Rio Rico. 

Gandara Hacienda

In 1859, the Pennington family moved into the former residence of the Governor of Sonora, Manuel Maria Gandara. Gandara was governor of the state until being overthrown by the dictatorship of Santa Anna. Today, Avenida Gandara is a street named after his family in Rio Rico. 

First Tucson Marriage

While at Fort Buchanan, Larcena Pennington met John Hempstead Page. The two were married on December 24, 1859, becoming the first American citizens to be wed in Tucson. 

Siege of Tubac

In 1861, Tubac was the scene of a four-day siege between settlers, and the Chiricahua Apaches. The Confederate militia arrived at the town and fought off the final assault. The men, women, and children chose to flee to avoid being completely massacred by the overwhelming Apache warriors who eventually burned down Tubac. 

Artist Colony

In the 1930s - 1960s Tubac became an art colony. Painter Dale Nichols opened an art school in the small desert village in 1948 and restored some of Tubac's historic buildings. Today Tubac is home to over 100 art galleries, home decor boutiques, gift shops, jewelers, potters, art school, gourmet restaurants, and a golf resort nestled along a verdant valley with one of the oldest stands of cottonwoods in the state.