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Date: 1539 to 1848
Location: North Americamap
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Mary Richardson is leader of this sub-project of US Southern Colonies, New Spain and Allan Thomas US Southern Colonies Project leaders: Paula Johnson, Mags, and Nae X

Arizona was the northern part of the state of Sonora. During the early part of the Spanish colonial period Sonora belonged to the Spanish province of Nueva Vizcaya of Nueva España in what would become part of the United States of America.

NOTE: Also see the new project, Wild Wild West and Westward Ho Projects to develop profiles covering the years 1800-1925


Related Free Space Pages

  • The state was named from the arizonac, from two Papago Indian words meaning "place of the young spring."
  • State Motto - Ditat Deus - motto translated as "God enriches"

American Indians, called the Anasazi, lived along the Grand Canyon long before Europeans ever set eyes on it. The Anasazi, who are thought to be the ancestors of the present-day Hopi, lived in caves and pit houses along the edges of the canyon in pueblos (towns). The Hopi believe the Grand Canyon is a Sipapu, a place from which all people emerged

  • Nueva Espana
  • Mexico
  • California

Colony Origin/History

Arizona Territory was an organized territory of the United States between 1863 - 1912, when the state of Arizona was admitted to US. The territory was created after numerous debates about splitting the New Mexico Territory. During the American Civil War, both the United States and the Confederate States had different motives for dividing the New Mexico Territory. Each claimed a territory named Arizona that was a portion of the former New Mexico Territory. The two Arizona territories played a significant role in the western campaign of the Civil War.

Photograph from Canyon De Chelly, A Measure of Time By Jay W. Sharp.

Timeline of Historic Arizona

  • 10,000 years ago through today - archeological evidence hunter gatherers passed through the Grand Canyon 10,000 or more years ago and ancestral Puebloan people have lived in and around the canyon for several thousand years[1]
  • 700 A.D. - 1200 A.D.) Pueblo people lived on the land and the Hopi village was founded
  • 1539 - Father Marcos de Niza explored Arizona, claimed it for Spain, looking for mythical cities of gold; his reports were erroneous
  • 1540 - Spanish explorer Captain García López de Cárdenas was the first European to see the Grand Canyon in his search for the fabled cities called "The Seven Golden Cities of Cibola" under orders of conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado[2]. His journey was considered a failure because he never found the gold he sought.
  • 1692 - Jesuit priests arrived in the Arizona area
  • 1700 - San Xavier del Bac mission (White Dove of the Desert) was founded. Current church dates from late 1700's, when Southern Arizona was part of New Spain.
  • 1821- San Xavier became part of Mexico.[3]
  • 1752 - Tubac became first permanent settlement (present S. Arizona's artist Colony). Juan Bautista de Anza was appointed as commandant to the Presidio at Tubac, the first European settlement in Arizona
  • 1756 - 1763: Seven Years War (French and Indian War): disputes over land is won by Great Britain. France gives England all French territory east of the Mississippi River, except New Orleans. Spain gives up east and west Florida to the English in return for Cuba
  • 1776 - A Spanish fort is built at Tucson
  • 1775 -1783: The American Revolution creates the United States of America
  • 1776 July 4, 1776 - United States Declaration of Independence
  • 1778 July 10, 1778: France declares war against Britain; makes alliance with American forces
  • 1783 - The Treaty of Paris is signed by victorious United States and defeated Great Britain
  • 1812 - 1815 - War of 1812 between U.S. and Great Britain, stalemate but confirmed America's Independence
  • 1821 - Mexico gains military control of Arizona
  • 1821 - Trappers and traders from United States came into Arizona
  • 1846 - 1848 - Mexican-American War; at the end of war most of the land became part of United States of America
  • 1848 - United States won the Mexican War; gained all of Arizona north of Gila River (Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo)
  • 1853 - The remainder of Arizona becomes part of United States by the Gadsden Purchase
  • 1854 - Copper discovered in Arizona
  • 1857-58 - LT Joseph C. Ives (U.S. Army Corps topographical engineer), explored Grand Canyon, to map Colorado River also, using sternwheel steamboat, crashed near Black Canyon,
  • 1858 - Gold found in the Gila River
  • 1861-1865 - American Civil War
  • 1862 - Confederate troops occupied Tucson; Cochise was attacked by soldiers at Apache Pass, beginning 10 year war with settlers
  • 1863 - "'Arizona Territory created by Congress, with Prescott as the territorial capital
  • 1865 - Dec 6, 1865: abolishment of slavery in the United States
  • 1886 - Sept 4 1886: Apache chief Geronimo, surrenders
  • 1912 - Arizona became the 48th State on February 14th, St. Valentine's Day
  • 1919 - Grand Canyon National Park established

Original Government Structure

Spain had an efficient and relatively successful system for expanding Spanish culture and politics to new lands. However the indigenous people were never totally subdued. The system that embodied in the Laws of the Indies and included the construction of missions and presidios and the formation of civil settlements worked until the Jesuits were expelled by the crown. Sonora was divided into several departments. Departments were subdivided into municipalities, which were governed by alcaldes, similar to a modern-day mayor. This system of government was not sustainable due to numerous Apache raids and after the Mexican Revolution in 1824 the area was all but abandoned by European interests. In 1848 the United States won the Mexican War and gained all of Arizona, north of the Gila River through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Evolution of Government Structure

  • 1512 The Laws of Burgos, signed by King Ferdinand II of Aragon, focused upon the welfare of the conquered native peoples.
  • 1542 Leyes Nuevas, issued November 20, 1542 by King Charles I of Spain regarding the Spanish colonization of the Americas, are also known as the "New Laws of the Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians", and were created to prevent the exploitation of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas by the Encomenderos (large enterprise landowners) by strictly limiting their power and dominion.
  • 1548 Royal Audiencia of Guadalajara was the highest tribunal of the Spanish crown in what is today northern Mexico and the southwestern United States in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. It was created by royal decree on February 13, 1548, and was originally located in Compostela and permanently seated in Guadalajara in 1560. Its president was the chief political and executive officer of the district, subordinated only to the viceroy of Mexico.
  • 1573 The Laws of the Indies were an attempt to guide and regularize the establishment of presidios (military towns), missions, and pueblos (civilian towns), King Phillip II developed the first version of the Laws of the Indies.

  • 1776 Provincias Internasor Commandancy General of the Internal Provinces of the North was a colonial, administrative district of the Spanish Empire, created to provide more autonomy for the frontier provinces in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, present day northern Mexico and southwestern United States. The goal of its creation was to establish a unified government in political, military and fiscal affairs.
  • 1818-1823 The Mexican Empire (Imperio Mexicano) was the official name of independent Mexico under a monarchical regime, Agustín de Iturbide, was proclaimed emperor of Mexico.
  • 1824 Constitution of Mexico The Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1824 (Spanish: Constitución Federal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1824) was enacted on October 4 of 1824, after the overthrow of the Mexican Empire of Agustin de Iturbide. In the new constitution, the republic took the name of United Mexican States, and was defined as a representative federal republic, with Catholicism as the official and unique religion.
  • 1835 President Santa Anna revoked the Constitution of 1824. In October 1835, Santa Anna abolished all state governments.
  • 1848 United States won the Mexican War and gained all of Arizona, north of the Gila River through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
  • 1853 The rest of Arizona becomes part of United States by the Gadsden Purchase.
  • 1912 Statehood - The Date that Arizona was admitted to the Union - February 14, 1912. The Constitution - Arizona was the 48th State to be admitted to the Union.


  • American Indians
  • Spanish
  • Mexicans

Migrating From the Eastern, Southern and Northern Colonies

How to add the Migrating Ancestor Template

"The first Anglo-Americans to penetrate the wilderness regions of Arizona were that reckless breed known as Mountain Men. Prior to their arrival in the 1820s, few people east of “the Wide Missouri” were even aware of the vast, uncharted lands that would, some forty years later, be called Arizona. The earliest written account was the narrative of James Ohio Pattie of Kentucky." [3] Pattie joined a party of French trappers led by Michel Robidoux. Ewing Young was another mountain man of renown, who formed a partnership with a trader named William Becknell William Becknell, who would become known as the “Father of the Santa Fe Trail.” Santa Fe Trail.

It wasn’t until around the 1850s and 1860s, when miners and railroads started moving into Arizona, that the population started to grow and that population was mostly Anglo.

Native Americans

American Indians have been living in the current area of Arizona thousands of years. Over a quarter of current area of the state is reservation land. Twenty tribes are members of the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona

    • Prehistoric Tribes of Arizona
      • Ancestral Pueblo, Four Corners area
      • Hohokam, or Ho:-ho:gam, as far north as the Valley of the Sun and as far south as Mexico.
      • Mogollon
      • Patayan (western region)
      • Sinagua [4]

Federally Recognized Tribes: [5]

  • Ak Chin Indian Community of the Maricopa (Ak Chin) Indian Reservation
  • Cocopah Tribe of Arizona
  • Colorado River Indian Tribes of the Colorado River Indian Reservation, Arizona and California
  • Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
  • Fort Mojave Indian Tribe of Arizona, California & Nevada
  • Gila River Indian Community
  • Havasupai Tribe of the Havasupai Reservation
  • Hopi Tribe of Arizona
  • Hualapai Indian Tribe of the Hualapai Indian Reservation
  • Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians of the Kaibab Indian Reservation
  • Navajo Nation, Arizona, New Mexico & Utah*Pascua Yaqui, Arizona, Mexico

  • Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, California & Arizona
  • Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community of the Salt River Reservation
  • San Carlos Apache Tribe of the San Carlos Reservation
  • San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe of Arizona
  • Tohono O'odham Nation of Arizona
  • Tonto Apache Tribe of Arizona
  • White Mountain Apache Tribe of the Fort Apache Reservation
  • Yavapai-Apache Nation of the Camp Verde Indian Reservation
  • Yavapai-Prescott Tribe of the Yavapai Reservation

Indentured Servants


Probably the first person of African heritage who came to this area was a member of a Spanish expedition. Esteban a 16th century explorer, was originally from Morocco, and was a slave to a Spaniard.[4]

Many of the African Americans coming to this region in the 1850's were leaving the southern states looking for new opportunities to establish roots, raise families, and escape racial persecution. Shoe shine parlors, barber shops, ranches and restaurants were among the first business opportunities for free blacks. African Americans could only buy or rent homes and businesses in certain areas.. Both legal restrictions and the actions of Anglo settlers enforced this discriminatory policy.[5]

Economic Resources and Information

  • Grand Canyon "discovered" by first European in 1540, mapped in 1857 by LT Joseph C. Ives, topographical engineer of the U.S. Army Corps, whose navigation expedition used a sternwheel steamboat until it struck a rock near Black Canyon, then a skiff.
  • The Fur Trade in the 1820's
  • Gold discovered 1854 by Pauline Weaver, Prescott's First Citizen
  • Copper discovered 1858
  • Tourists in 1900's
  • The Five C's - Copper, Cotton, Cattle, Citrus, Climate

Conflicts Within The Colony

Research Resources

Further Reading

History of Arizona and New Mexico, 1530-1888 (1889) by Hubert Bancroft ... "the antiquity of these territories as Spanish provinces — for they were the first to be occupied by Europeans, and ten years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock"

The romance of the Colorado River, the story of its discovery in 1540, with an account of the later explorations, and with special reference to the voyages of Powell through the line of the great canyons 3d ed. by Frederick S. Dellenbaugh.

WikiTree Resources

Existing Categories

Surname/Family Pages


NOTE: This should include a "how to" set up a cemetery.

Free Resources

  • Rootsweb
  • Family Search
  • MooseRoots
  • State maps available at: Digital Topo Maps. NOTE: A disclaimer is required when used. This can be placed under the comments on the photo page.
  • Animated flags available at: AB Flags NOTE: Disclaimer is required when used. This can be placed under comments on the photo page.
  • Google Earth can be used to view states, Google Earth requires downloading the program.

Paid Resource Sites

  • State maps available at: Digital Topo Maps. NOTE: A disclaimer is required when used. This can be placed under the comments on the photo page.
  • Fold3 - Annual Membership, $79.95. Coupons and discounts are available online for certain groups, including veterans. An Ancestry site. Has many military record images (not all), census records. Navigation/searches can be difficult. Record images are very good.
  • 7 Day Free Trial - could be used if you amass a number of searches and complete them at one time. NOTE: Check the project page for members who are willing to do a lookup based upon their membership.
  • Mexican Genealogy Research Online: A Guide to Help You Discover Your Ancestry

Photos and Images

Photos and Images Arizona and New Mexico

Native Americans First People is a child friendly site about Native Americans and members of the First Nations. 1400+ legends, 400+ agreements and treaties, 10,000+ pictures, clipart, Native American Books, Posters.

"Images of Native Americans,", The Bancroft Library, Berkeley

Sources for this Page

  1. [1]
  2. [2]

Images: 8

The "Boss" Cactus of Arizona

US Southern Colonies Arizona page Image 9
US Southern Colonies Arizona page Image 9

US Southern Colonies Arizona page Image 10
US Southern Colonies Arizona page Image 10

Cave Dwelling, McElmoe Canon
Cave Dwelling, McElmoe Canon

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On 9 Dec 2014 at 09:36 GMT Paula J wrote:


December 9, 2014