Arizona History

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

Effective family history research requires some understanding of the historical events that affected your family and the records about them. Learning about wars, governments, laws, migrations, and religious trends can help you understand political boundaries, family movements, and settlement patterns.

State, county, and local histories often contain biographical sketches of local citizens, including important genealogical information. This may be one of the best sources of information for some families. See Arizona Genealogy and Arizona Archives and Libraries

Historical Content[edit | edit source]

County and local histories often contain biographical and historical information about residents and their families. They may provide the occupation, previous residences, birth date, or birthplace (city, county, and state or country).

Information about a family may be found in a history under the married name of a daughter or sister. Relatives or clues are often found by studying the pages that have biographies of residents or that tell the history of the town or township where an ancestor lived.

Histories are great sources of genealogical information. Many contain biographical information about individuals who lived in the area, including:

  • Parents' names
  • Maiden names of women
  • Place of birth, death, or marriage
  • Occupation
  • Migration
  • Military service
  • Descendants

Timeline[edit | edit source]

The following important events in the history of Arizona affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements.

  • 1539: Marcos de Niza a Spanish Franciscan Friar was first to explore Arizona.
  • 1776: The Spanish established a garrison at Tucson.
  • 1821: Mexico took control over the land now included in Arizona. Apache troubles restricted white settlement to Tucson.
  • 1846: The Mormon Battalion built Cooke's Wagon Road, south of the Gila River. The road became a favorite route across Arizona and into California for early prospectors and pioneers.
  • 1846: U.S. Military under command of Col. Alexander W. Doniphan engaged the Navajo at Bear Springs. US occupied what is now New Mexico, effectively controlling it.
  • 4 July 1848: In the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Mexico ceded land north of the Gila River, to the United States, including a major portion of Arizona.
  • 13 Dec 1850: New Mexico Territory created. First Federal Census of territory taken.
  • 30 Dec 1853: The Gadsden Purchase bought from Mexico, land south of the Gila River.
  • 3 Feb 1855 All the Gadsden Purchase added to Dona Ana county, New Mexico Territory.
  • 5 Apr 1860 An unofficial convention held in Tucson declared the creation of the Territory of Arizona from the southern half of New Mexico Territory. A provisional constitution and government was setup, along with 4 counties.
  • 13 Jan 1862:The Confederate States of America recognized this Arizona Territory as one of their territories. But the confederacy soon lost control of Arizona and New Mexico land.
  • 1862: Indian battle of Apache Pass. Battle of Picacho Pass (Western most battle of Civil War)
  • 24 February 1863 Territory of Arizona created by US from the western half of New Mexico Territory, the first four Arizona counties created.
  • 1864:Kit Carson, led a U.S. army against the Navajo Indians. The army killed the sheep and burned their crops forcing the tribe to surrender or face starvation. The Navajo were marched to Fort Sumner at Bosque Redondo, New Mexico. The march became known as "The Long Walk". Eight thousand survived the march but many others died.
  • 1866: The northwestern part of Arizona Territory was transferred by the US government to the State of Nevada, though Arizona resisted until 1871. Battle of Skull Cave (Indian & federal troops)
  • 1871 Camp Grant Massacre
  • 1873 Apache removal by U.S. Army under direction of Kit Carson.
  • 1882 Battle of Big Dry Wash
  • 4 September 1886 Apache Indian Medicine Man, Geronimo surrendered to Federal Troops under General Miles in Arizona, ending the last major Indian War. Geronimo had led his band of renegades on a six month escape from San Carlos reservation in Arizona.
  • 1870-1910 The non-Indian population of Arizona increased from fewer than 10,000 to over 200,000 as settlers moved in from many states and countries.
  • 14 February 1912 Arizona became a state.
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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

Also see Previous Jurisdictions to Land in Arizona showing dates the jurisdictions were created and maps. This will help in determining what jurisdiction your ancestor lived in and where the records are now located.

History[edit | edit source]

Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. Published histories of towns, counties, and states usually contain accounts of families. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of pioneers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search. Local histories are extensively collected by the Family History Library, public and university libraries, and state and local historical societies. The United States Research "History" page cites nationwide bibliographies of local histories which include histories of Arizona.

  • A bibliography that includes some local histories is Arizona Gathering II, 1950-1969: An Annotated Bibliography. [1]
  • A Bibliography of American County Histories [2] [3]
  • United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress [4][5]

State Histories Useful to Genealogists[edit | edit source]

Good genealogists strive to understand the life and times of their ancestors. In this sense, any history is useful. But certain kinds of state, county, and local histories, especially older histories published between 1845 and 1945, often include biographical sketches of prominent individuals. The sketches usually tend toward the laudatory, but may include some genealogical details. If these histories are indexed or alphabetical, check for an ancestor's name. Some examples for the State of Arizona are:

  • History of Arizona. [6]
  • Arizona: The History of a Frontier State [7]
  • Robinson, William Henry. The Story of Arizona. Phoenix, Ariz: Berryhill Co, 1919. scan of the entire book.
  • George S. Tanner. Mormon Settlements in Arizona. J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, 1970. WorldCat 639677965 A collection of primary sources relating to the Mormon Pioneer colonization efforts along the Little Colorado River and the surrounding area. Most materials collected by George S. Tanner. Includes diaries, histories, correspondence, financial records, biographies and autobiographies, and clippings.

United States History[edit | edit source]

The following are only a few of the many sources that are available:

  • The Almanac of American History, [8][9]This provides brief historical essays and chronological descriptions of thousands of key events in United States history.
  • Dictionary of American History, Revised ed [10] [11]This includes historical sketches on various topics in U.S. history, such as wars, people, laws, and organizations. A snippet view is available at Google books.
  • Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium [12][13][14]This includes a history, some maps, tables, and other historical information.

To find more books and articles about Arizona 's history use the Internet Google search for phases like "Arizona history." FamilySearch Catalog Surname Search lists many more histories under topics like:


Websites[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Donald M. Powell, Arizona Gathering II, 1950-1969: An Annotated Bibliography. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 1973. (Family History Library book 979.1 A3pa).
  2. Filby, P. William. A Bibliography of American County Histories. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1985. (FHL book 973 H23bi)
  3. Worldcat
  4. Kaminkow, Marion J. United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress. 5 vols. Baltimore: Magna Charta Book, 1975-76. (FHL book 973 A3ka.)
  5. Worldcat
  6. Farish, Thomas Edwin. History of Arizona. Eight Volumes, San Francisco, California: Filmer Brothers Electrotype Company, 19--? Reprint of Phoenix, Arizona: N.p., 1915-18. ( Family History Library book 979.1 H2f; v. 1-4; on film 934825 items 1-4.)
  7. Wyllys, Rufus Kay. Arizona: The History of a Frontier State. Phoenix, Arizona: Hobson and Herr, 1950. ( Family History Library book 979.1 H2w.)
  8. Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. The Almanac of American History. Greenwich, Conn.: Bison Books, 1983. (FHL book 973 H2alm)
  9. Worldcat
  10. Dictionary of American History, Revised ed., 8 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976. (FHL book 973 H2ad.)
  11. Worldcat
  12. Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium. Springfield, Mass.: G & C Merriam, 1971. (FHL book 973 H2v)
  13. Limited view at Google Books
  14. Worldcat
  15. Writings on American History By American Historical Association, Library of Congress, United States National Historical Publications Commission, Published by KTO Press, 1921 FHL book 973 H23w
  16. Worldcat