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Revised 27 December 2010


The first white people to come to Arizona were in search of the famous "Seven Cities of Cibola", which had been rumored about for years in Mexico City.  As early as 1539, the first European explorer came into the region, but no outside settlement really occurred until the entry of the Catholic missions among the Indians.  Tucson became a village about the time the American colonies along the Atlantic Coast were fighting the Revolutionary War.  Arizona came under the ownership and guidance of Mexico in 1821 as a section of New Mexico.  In the beginning, Arizona attracted very few settlers.  by 1870, seven years after becoming a territory, Arizona held less than ten thousand residents.  

At the close of the Mexican War in 1848, a new ownership dispute arose.  To prevent further difficulties, the United States minister to Mexico, James Gadsen, negotiated a purchase through the Mexican government, for which we paid ten million dollars.  The amount of land involved was 50,000 square miles of land, lying south of the Gila River and extending east from the California border to the Rio Grande River.   The first stage coach to Arizona arrived in 1857.  By 1858, gold had been discovered along the Gila River.  In 1862, Chief Cochise and a band of Apache Indians attacked a group of soldiers at a place called Apache Pass and began a ten year war against the settlers.  Arizona became a territory in 1863.  Shortly thereafter, Kit Carson and his troupes rounded up approximately 7,000 Navajo Indians at Canyon de Chelly and forced them to leave Arizona.  In 1869, John Wesley Powell explored the Grand Canyon by boat.  Phoenix had become the territorial capital by 1880.  By 1881, rail travel crossed the state.  The west was wild and we learned about the gunfight at the OK Corral 26 October of that same year.  Geronimo finally surrendered to the U.S. troupes of 1886 and the great Indian battles were over.  In 1911 the great architectural wonder, the Hoover Dam was completed.  And finally on Valentines Day, February 14, 1912, Arizona was granted statehood and became the 48th State of these United States.    

The foreign born population of Arizona comes from the following countries:  Mexico, Canada, England and Wales, Germany, Russia, Italy, Poland, Austria, Sweden, Greece, Ireland, Scotland, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.  Since the 1850s, many Mormon families have settled in Arizona.  

There are several useful books on Arizona history available through my bookstore. Click on the Country Store from the main page and follow the prompts to your state. In doing your research, pay close attention to territorial creations, state and county line changes and check your maps of today against maps of the period. When boundary lines were changed and new territories or states or counties were created, the records may have remained in the old county, state, or territory or moved to the newly created one and you need to check through the boundary changes as they occurred over time and check each area for records regarding your research. Be aware that some records simply do not exist. Old government buildings were usually built out of wood and when the building burned up, the records went with them. Your census records for this state will begin after it was formally admitted as a state, but check also for possible territorial census records. Check also the Dawes report for relatives who may have been part of the formation of the Indian Reservations.

Name Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Apache 1872 Mohave St. Johns
Cochise 1881 Pima Bisbee
Coconino 1891 Yavapai Flagstaff
Gila 1881 Maricopa, Pinal Globe
Graham 1881 Apache, Pima Safford
Greenlee 1909 Graham Clifton
Maricopa 1871 Yavapai, Yuma Phoenix
Mohave 1864 Original County Kingman
Navajo 1895 Apache Holbrook
Pah Ute  prior to 1895 Created from Mojave County, then dissolved and returned to Mojave in 1895  
Pima 1864 Original County Tucson
Pinal 1875 Pima Florence
Santa Cruz 1899 Pima Nogales
Yavapai 1864 Original County Prescott
Yuma 1864 Original County Yuma