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Chapter 6
Early Anglo Speculation and the Tumacácori Land Grant

When the last O'odham families left Mission Tumacácori in December 1848, most of the Santa Cruz Valley was a ghost landscape of abandoned ranches and deserted settlements. The O'odham had retreated to the riparian oasis of Bac. Hispanic Arizona had taken refuge behind the presidial walls of Tucson. Western Apaches haunted the surrounding mountain ranges, descending on moonlit nights to pick over the bones.

But the biggest change hovered beyond the eastern horizon like a line of thunderstorms massing over the mountains. For the last three years, the mother country had fought a losing battle against Manifest Destiny and the westward expansion of the United States. The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ceded California, New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona north of the Gila River to the United States in 1848. The ratification of the Gadsden Purchase six years later added southern Arizona and the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico. Even though Arizona would remain a contested frontier for three more decades, it now belonged to a restless young entrepreneurial giant, not a bankrupt, demographically stagnant backwater wracked by civil war.

Speculation—in canals, railroads, mines, and land—was the adrenaline that propelled the United States across the North American continent. Arizona was too arid to attract the land rushes that drew thousands of pioneers to the Midwestern heartland. In mining circles from San Francisco to New York, however, legends of Jesuit gold and Arizonac silver shimmered like the blue lights Mexican prospectors believed emanated from buried treasure. The lure of precious metals, not cheap land, enticed the first speculators to Arizona. Land grants like Tumacácori and Arivaca were secondary considerations—pawns in the chess game of competing mining claims and hyperbolic promotion. Meanwhile, submerged beneath the legal wrangling, O'odham ties to Tumacácori would be forgotten as speculators scrambled to raise the capital they needed to finance their ventures on an isolated and dangerous frontier.

The California Gold Rush

Southern Arizona might have remained a part of Mexico if James Marshall had not seen flecks of yellow at the bottom of the American River while supervising the construction of Sutter's mill in northern California. When the flecks assayed as gold, Californians, Sonorans, and Oregonians flocked to the "diggings." By 1849, the California Gold Rush was sucking "argonauts" from Maine to Chile into its maw (Billington 1956). That year, at least 20,000 traveled the so-called Southern Route, a network of trails converging on the Colorado River at Yuma Crossing (Etter 1998). The two most popular trails intersected the Santa Cruz River at the presidial communities of Santa Cruz or Tucson. North of the Tucson Basin, the gold-seekers followed the dry riverbed to the Pima villages along the Gila. Hispanic Arizona was no longer a forsaken finger of Sonora but a way station to the promised land along the Pacific coast.

And since that promised land now belonged to the United States, the U.S. government negotiated with Mexico to buy the Southern Route as well. Those negotiations culminated in the Gadsden Purchase, the smallest of five plans presented to Mexican president Antonio López de Santa Anna. Northern interests thwarted Southern designs to build a transcontinental railroad along the thirty-second parallel. Nonetheless, the California Gold Rush set in motion two profound transformations. First, it effectively spanned the continent. In a world hungry for specie, gold provided a powerful incentive for thousands of argonauts to leave their homes in the East and brave the Great American Desert. The United States was now a transcontinental, if deeply divided, nation.

Second, the discovery of gold in California in 1848—and in Australia in 1851—triggered a revolution in global finance. As Western Europe and the eastern United States made the transition from mercantile to industrial capitalism, the need for capital led to rapid expansion of systems of credit, generating paper money such as bank notes. Money in a capitalist system had to function both as a medium of circulation and as a measure of value—a fundamental contradiction according to Marx. During the nineteenth century, industrializing nations struggled to resolve this contradiction in order to avoid the devastating panics that followed speculative periods of expansion. One tool was the gold standard, whereby banks, at times regulated by a central national bank, had to maintain a certain ratio of gold to paper currency.

England, the leading industrial nation during the nineteenth century, adopted the gold standard in 1816 after the successful conclusion of the Napoleonic wars (Cochran 1971). Because of the dramatic drop in taxes during the post-war period, an estimated 40 to 50 million pounds of British capital became available for investment each year (Myers 1970). Millions of those pounds found their way to the United States, where they financed canal and railroad companies and a host of other ventures. With the centralized Bank of England guaranteeing the soundness of British currency, the British became the biggest creditors of U.S. banks and the money market center of the world (Myers 1970, Cochran 1971).

Until the amount of gold in circulation increased, however, other nations like the United States hesitated to follow suit. As geographer David Harvey (1999:306) points out, "The simplest way to regulate the quality of money in society is to tie it to some universally accepted money commodity like gold. The disadvantage is that the value of social labor is tied to the condition of concrete labor in gold production." In other words, the adoption of the gold standard limits the world's supply of money to the global production of gold. Because the gold supply was limited in the first half of the nineteenth century, then, voraciously entrepreneurial nations like the United States expanded the amount of money in circulation by relying on irredeemable paper currency or wedding themselves to a bimetallic standard of silver and gold. Different currencies of wildly different solvencies may have slowed the circulation of capital in a capital-hungry world, but the universal acceptance of the gold standard would have paralyzed it.

But then California and Australia injected huge new quantities of gold into the world's financial markets. The amount of gold mined in the United States alone rose from $889,000 in 1847 to $50 million in 1850, hovering annually between $40 to 50 million for the next several decades (Cochran 1971). Germany adopted the gold standard in 1871. The United States effectively did the same in 1879 when it declared Civil War greenbacks redeemable in specie. [1] During the late nineteenth century, the strongest and richest nations in the world created an international monetary standard that greased both the imperialist expansion of Western Europe and the global penetration of capital beyond imperial boundaries. The ramifications of the Gold Rush rippled on long after the last of the forty-niners had crossed jungle, desert, or plain.

Those transformations may have been little more than glimmers in the imaginations of the argonauts. Nevertheless, most agreed with newspaper editor John L. O'Sullivan, who proclaimed that it was "our national destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us." [2] As they trudged down the Santa Cruz, the gold-seekers were as convinced of their superiority over Mexicans as Spaniards had been of theirs over the O'odham.

And what those early travelers observed confirmed their racial and cultural stereotypes. To most of them, the Santa Cruz Valley was a landscape of natural abundance but cultural desolation—one haunted by mute architectural reminders of a more prosperous past. H.M.T. Powell, who sketched Mission Tumacácori in 1849, mused that "the monks had every accommodation to make life comfortable, as they usually contrive to do." Tubac, on the other hand, was "a mere pile of tumble-down adobe houses. The church has no roof....It was not worth the trouble of sketching" (Powell 1931:142).

Boundary commissioner John Russell Bartlett was even less complimentary when he ascended the Santa Cruz in July 1852. "The houses of Tucson are all of adobe, and the majority are in a state of ruin," he wrote. "No attention seems to be given to repair; but as soon as a dwelling becomes uninhabitable, it is deserted, the miserable tenants creeping into some other hovel where they may eke out their existence" (Bartlett 1854 II:296). Proceeding upstream, Bartlett described the community of San Xavier del Bac as "truly a miserable place, consisting of from eighty to one hundred huts, or wigwams, made of mud or straw, the sole occupants of which are Pimo Indians, though generally called Papagos. In the midst of these hovels stands the largest and most beautiful church in the State of Sonora" (Bartlett 1854 II:298).

When he reached Tubac, Bartlett could scarcely summon the energy to take up his pen at all. "In a book of travels in a strange country, one is expected to describe every town he visits; but as for this God-forsaken place, when I have said that it contains a few dilapidated buildings, and an old church, with a miserable population, I have said about all" (Bartlett 1854 II:304). He did not even bother to visit Mission Tumacácori, although he noted, "Its beautiful and picturesque church showed finely among the thick grove of trees by which it is unclosed" (Bartlett 1854 II:3308). Out of such impressions sprang the myth of a romantic mission past contrasted with a squalid and shiftless present.

Bartlett went on to generalize about Anglo-Saxon superiority in words that sound eerily similar to Frederick Jackson Turner's frontier thesis half a century later:

What a marked difference there is in Spanish and English colonization! Here the zealous Missionary preceded all others, planting the cross along with the banner of his country. Then commenced the work of baptizing; and as soon as a sufficient number of converts had been made, a fertile valley was chosen, and a church erected with buildings to accommodate some hundreds. Next came the colonists, whose main efforts were to support the Mission and its priests. The Anglo-Saxon pioneer entered the wilderness with his axe, his plough, and his rifle; and after he had erected his own dwelling, the mill and blacksmith's shop rose up. Lands were brought into cultivation, the mechanical arts flourished; and when the colony became large enough and rich enough to support a pastor, a church was built. For the results of the two modes of colonization, compare Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua, before the three first became annexed to the United States, and the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. The latter had attained more wealth, more population and importance, and had done quite as much towards promoting Christianity in the first ten years after their settlement, as the former States had in two centuries" (Bartlett 1854 II:299-300).

Land Speculation and Westward Expansion

Both Bartlett and Turner left out an essential figure on the nineteenth-century frontier. Before the first farmers broke the sod or the first lumbermen felled the trees, huge grids of the West belonged to speculators who created imaginary "financescapes" of town sites and credit networks. As one nineteenth-century French political scientist noted, "The striking and peculiar characteristic of American society is, that it is not so much a democracy as a huge commercial company for the discovery, cultivation, and capitalization of its enormous territory" (Boutmy 1891:127-28). The image of the "Anglo-Saxon pioneer" entering "the wilderness with his axe, his plough, and his rifle" masked the enormous imprint of British and U.S. capital.

During the 1800s, that capital gnawed at every corner of the North American continent like a ravenous but unpredictable beast. It moved in bursts, or "business cycles," periods of manic speculation followed by panics, bankruptcies, and depressions. [3] In the process, the scramble to invest the profits of the China trade, the India trade, or later, manufacturing, transformed what historian William Cronon (1991) calls the "first nature" of natural ecosystems into a "second nature" of commodity production, transportation networks, and capital flows.

Indians, who had been shaping their own "second nature" for millennia, were exterminated or pushed westward—a brutal North American variant of what Marx termed "primitive accumulation." In some cases, the extermination was direct. In other cases, Old World epidemic diseases decimated Indian populations long before the pioneers arrived (Denevan 1992). Depopulation and "Anglo-Saxon" Indian removal programs transfigured North America into a "wilderness" of natural wealth—the pine forests of Michigan and Wisconsin, the fertile soils of Illinois and Iowa, the grasslands of the Great Plains. The land policies of the federal government then converted that wilderness into free or nearly free land, stimulating a series of rushes unparalleled in their exuberance and greed. [4] Contrary to Turner's unilineal evolutionary progression from Indian to fur trader to rancher to farmer to manufacturer, the westward expansion of the United States was more like a roller-coaster ride of booms and busts fueled by the seizure of Indian lands, the exploitation of labor, the pulses of paper credit, and the manipulation of land laws designed for very different ends.

From the crucible of the Revolution to the reclamation movement of the early twentieth century, the public lands were a political battleground between speculators and agrarian visionaries. Visionaries dreamed of a republic composed of Jeffersonian yeoman farmers cultivating their own lands and creating orderly communities on the advancing frontier. Even before the Founding Fathers defined American democracy, however, land speculation burned at the core of the American soul. Enormous grants from the British crown gave individuals and companies title to vast tracts of land along the Eastern seaboard during the 1600s. By the mid-1700s, even larger grants drew speculators west of the Allegheny Mountains. One of the most ardent was George Washington. Washington dabbled in the Ohio Company, which received a grant of 500,000 acres south of the Ohio River. He also secretly hired an old friend, Captain William Crawford, to find and preempt other choice lands on the western frontier (Sakolski 1932). [5]

After the United States won its independence from England, land speculation fanned beyond the boundaries of Anglo-American settlement like prairie wildfire. There were three great booms followed by three great crashes before the Civil War: 1818-19, 1835-37, and 1850-57 (Gates 1996). "Everyone was imbued with a reckless spirit of speculation," wrote Levi Beardsley, a New Yorker caught up in the 1830s boom. "The mania, for such it undoubtedly was, did not confine itself to one particular class, but extended to all. Even the reverend clergy doffed their sacerdotals, and eagerly entered into competition with mammon's votaries, for the acquisition of this world's goods, and tested their sagacity against the shrewdness and more practiced skill of the professed sharper" (Beardsley 1852:252).

The mania was stoked by what historian Frederick Merk (1969:ix) called "the greatest real estate transaction in modern history." Between independence and the Gadsden Purchase, the United States swelled to more than three times the size of the original Thirteen Colonies. It occupied the Northwest Territories. It bought the Louisiana Purchase from France and Florida from Spain. It annexed Texas, seized California and the Southwest from Mexico, and negotiated with Britain for the Oregon Territory. Each of these acquisitions gave the United States enormous amounts of land. The federal government then granted four-fifths of that land to states, veterans, canal and railroad companies, and individuals. The mammoth transfer did not end until the Taylor Grazing Act effectively closed the public domain in 1934.

The siren song of public lands was so seductive because there were few other opportunities for profit. "Until the modern corporation came to be the dominant factor in American economic life, the principal opportunity for investment was in real estate," the historian Paul Wallace Gates observed (Gates 1996:7). Gates (1996) revealed the magnitude of land speculation in a seminal essay entitled "The Role of the Land Speculator in Western Development." During the boom of 1835-37, for example, speculators acquired 29,000,000 (81 percent) of the 36,000,000 acres of public domain sold during those three years. And while much of the land was purchased for agricultural purposes, speculators were far more interested in townsites because they brought much higher prices. The result was a fantastical urban landscape before there were city dwellers to populate it. In the words of William Cronon, "Fictive lots on fictive streets in fictive towns became the basis for thousands of transactions whose only justification was a dubious idea expressed on an overly optimistic map" (Cronon 1991:32).

U.S. land booms could not have occurred without easy credit. After President Andrew Jackson vetoed the renewal of the charter of the Second Bank of the United States in 1832, the number of state banks doubled and the amount of bank notes in circulation tripled, particularly in the West and South (Myers 1970). Western banks and eastern capitalists devised numerous ways to purchase the lands themselves or through proxies. Moneylenders representing them also haunted the auctions of public lands in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri, advancing credit to squatters at usurious interest rates. If the squatters could not make their payments, the banks took over their lands and their improvements (Gates 1996).

The absence of a centralized banking system with centralized monetary control exacerbated a fundamental contradiction of capitalism noted above—that money had to function both as a medium of exchange and as a measure of value. Credit systems, such as the state bank notes of the 1830s, speed up the circulation of commodities such as real estate. Unless they are guaranteed by the state or some universally accepted standard of value like gold, however, the capacity of credit monies "to represent 'real' commodity values is perpetually suspect," according to David Harvey (1999:249). In the unregulated atmosphere of the 1830s, credit expanded rapidly to lubricate land sales, but the bank notes flowing into the federal treasury grew ever more "suspect," particularly to Andrew Jackson himself.

Jackson, who had driven the Five Civilized Tribes of the Southeast into exile in Oklahoma Territory, worried that speculators were swindling his beloved frontiersmen. With more populist outrage than financial sense, he therefore issued his famous Species Circular of 1836 to "repress alleged frauds, and to withhold any countenance or facilities in the power of the Government from the monopoly of the public lands in the hands of speculators and capitalists." Thenceforth, public lands could only be purchased with gold or silver, which were in short supply on the western frontier. Within months, the scaffolding of paper debt came tumbling down. Western banks quickly exhausted their species reserves and many bank notes could not be redeemed. The Bank of England refused credit on U.S. imports. And since the English were the biggest creditors of U.S. banks and the largest market for agricultural commodities like cotton, banks defaulted and the prices of farm products plummeted. The result was the Panic of 1837 and one of the worst depressions in U.S. history. Speculative frenzy followed deregulation. Then the real estate market collapsed—a pattern that has characterized land booms and busts from the 1830s to the 1980s.

The Southern Arizona Mining Frontier

Southern Arizona missed the 1830s frenzy because it was still part of Sonora. Another land rush erupted between 1847 and 1855, however, one triggered by Congressional passage of four land acts granting veterans more than sixty million acres. Few veterans settled the bounty lands, most of which were in the upper Mississippi and Missouri river valleys. Instead, most sold their land warrants to eastern brokers, who shipped them to agents in land office towns on the western frontier. A common frontier transaction was the time-entry loan, whereby the agent sold the warrant to a buyer on one-year's credit, often at very high interest rates. If the buyer repaid the loan, he received title. If not, the agent retained the land (Oberly 1990). [6]

There were no bounty lands in Arizona. Nonetheless, the speculative flurry of the times brought the first trickle of capital to the Arizona frontier. By then, business organization in the United States had grown more sophisticated. During the early years of the republic, both government and the general populace viewed corporations with suspicion, equating them with monopolies. The initial industrialization of textile production in New England depended upon mercantile capital accumulated in the China trade, not the sale of stock. In other words, you had to have money from commerce—or real estate to mortgage—in order to invest in manufacturing (Meyers 1970).

As the U.S. economy developed, however, corporations gradually replaced proprietorships and partnerships, particularly for bigger and riskier ventures. This institutional evolution did not make the economy any less speculative, but it did provide greater opportunities for investors and greater capital for entrepreneurs. It also spread the risks of investment among the many rather than the few.

Not surprisingly, the only industry that attracted significant capital on the Arizona frontier was mining for precious metals. Silver and gold were high in value and low in volume—the only type of resources that could hope to justify the huge transaction costs of Indian depredations and long-distance transportation by mule-back or freight wagon. But as mining companies proliferated, some purchased ranches and land grants as well. A linkage between mining and ranching was being established, one that led to the development of some of the largest ranches in southern Arizona such as the Empire and the San Rafael during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Stewart 1974; Sonnichsen 1974; Hadley and Sheridan 1995).

One of the first corporate ventures was the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company and its subsidiary, the Santa Rita Mining Company. Its principal founder, Samuel Peter Heintzelman, came to Arizona in November 1850 to erect a military post at the junction of the Gila and Colorado rivers. Like many military officers of the time, Heintzelman supplemented his pay by investing in various business enterprises. He bought beachfront property in San Diego, acquired a ranch and grocery business in the Yuma area, and became a partner in the Colorado Ferry Company, the major ferry at Yuma Crossing (North 1980). But his most ambitious endeavor was the mining company, which he organized with Charles DeBrille Poston and Thomas and William Wrightson in March 1856.

Based in Cincinnati, the partners elected Heintzelman president and dispatched Poston to supervise operations in the "Gadsden Purchase lands." When he reached Tucson, Poston met an old companion, German mining engineer Herman Ehrenberg, and together they set up the company's headquarters in the deserted presidio of Tubac. On December 26, 1856, they also purchased the land grant of Arivaca from Tomás and Ignacio Ortiz. Title included mines and mineral rights as well as 17,000 acres of land. Along with two other German mining engineers, Frederick Brunckow and Charles Schuchard, Poston and Ehrenberg discovered silver at Salero in the Santa Rita Mountains on January 1, 1857, and in the Cerro Colorado Mountains a month later. Brunckow named the Cerro Colorado discovery the Heintzelman Mine (North 1980).

Meanwhile, back in Cincinnati, Heintzelman tried to drum up investors, using the Wrightsons' Railroad Record to promote the company. One early advertisement proclaimed it "the most important Mining Company on this Continent." The ad went on to say that it was located along the line of the proposed Southern Pacific Railroad in the best area for the future capital of the Territory of Arizona. [7] Unfortunately, Heintzelman was at the worst place in the worst time to be looking for money. In August 1857, the Sonora Exploring & Mining Company incorporated under the laws of Ohio as a joint-stock company with 20,000 shares valued at $100 apiece. Twelve days later, the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company in Cincinnati failed, triggering the nationwide Panic of 1857. Bloated by speculation in railroad securities, banks failed, species payments were suspended, and money markets contracted violently (Myers 1970). Heintzelman and his associates were searching for venture capital as the boom went bust.

Nonetheless, the partners struggled to keep the company afloat. Poston himself was an inveterate booster, making exaggerated claims that the other officers of the corporation repeated as they tried to woo investors. In September 1857, he boasted that "the Heintzelman mine is probably richest in the world-known." Heintzelman was growing increasingly skeptical of his flamboyant partner. But when Poston wrote, "A space in the H. mine 150 ft. long 25 deep and 3 wide will yield two million and a quarter dollars," Heintzelman excitedly concluded, "The Heintzelman mine is in 'bonanza'" (quoted in North 1980:38). From his headquarters at Tubac, which Poston christened the "Athens of Arizona," the "Commandant and Managing Agent" of the Sonora Exploring & Mining Company painted a picture of utopia on the Arizona frontier—a place where there was "no law but love, and no occupation but labor. No government, no taxes, no public debt, no politics. It was a community in a perfect state of nature."

Unfortunately, the law of love soon unraveled and the earth did not yield the returns necessary to keep pace with the pressing need for capital. Poston and the German engineers located as many as eighty mines but never developed any of them into paying propositions. Labor problems also intensified as tension between German or Anglo managers and their largely Mexican work forces erupted into violence (Sheridan 1986). In desperation, Heintzelman turned to Samuel Colt, the inventor of the revolver who pioneered the production line and interchangeable parts at the largest private armory in the world in Hartford, Connecticut. Colt, whom Heintzelman referred to as the "Pistol man," offered $10,000 cash and $10,000 worth of arms in return for $100,000 worth of stock. The company accepted Colt's offer in December 1857. In April 1859, stockholders reorganized the company and elected Colt president. Colt quickly forced Heintzelman out and seized control.

But even Colt, whose firm made a fortune selling firearms during the Civil War, could not make the venture pay. Another financial crisis rocked the U.S. economy in 1860 as European investors sold many of their U.S. securities and drained specie out of the country because of the approaching conflict. Once war broke out, federal troops abandoned southern Arizona and Apache hostilities escalated. The Sonora Exploring & Mining Company suspended operations completely in August 1861 after Mexican workers killed Poston's brother and forced Poston to take refuge at Fort Yuma (North 1980). When travel writer J. Ross Browne visited Poston's "Athens of Arizona" in 1864, he wrote, "On reaching the old pueblo of Tubac we found that we were the only inhabitants. There was not a living soul to be seen as we approached...All around were adobe houses, with roofs fallen and the walls crumbling to ruin (Browne 1974:147).

Gándara's Hacienda at Calabasas

Despite its failures, however, the Sonora Exploring & Mining Company and Sylvester Mowry's Patagonia Mine put southern Arizona on the international financial map. Mowry in particular also conjured an Arizona that never was in order to sell stock. Addressing the American Geographical and Statistical Society in New York in 1859, Mowry claimed that Spanish Arizona consisted "of more than forty towns and villages" that "teemed with an agricultural and mining population" (Mowry 1859). Such evocations of Hispanic prosperity promised an even more abundant future. There was more than a tinge of racism to the underlying assumption: If Spaniards could flourish in the Santa Cruz Valley, there was no limit to what Yankee ingenuity could accomplish.

The Civil War and the final struggle of the Apaches kept that ingenuity at bay for nearly two more decades. During the early territorial period, the Tumacácori land grant remained in the hands of Manuel María Gándara. On December 9, 1852, Gándara even drew up a contract at his hacienda of Topahue to provide 5,000 sheep, 1,000 goats, 100 cows with calves, 100 brood mares, ten yokes of oxen, six pack mules, and ten saddle horses to stock his hacienda of Calabasas. The firm of Payeken, Hundhausen & Company agreed to develop and manage the hacienda in return for a fifty-percent interest in the estate. Two signatories, of the contract—Federico Hulsemann and another German, perhaps Hundhausen—took up residence there, repairing the mission visita and turning it into a fortified ranch house. They even erected a woolen factory, or at least a handloom, to weave blankets and serapes. [8] When Andrew B. Gray and his party passed through Calabasas in April 1853 while surveying a southern railroad route, the party's artist, Charles Schuchard, sketched the hacienda. An engraving based on his drawing in Gray's report shows a peaceful pastoralist scene in which sheep and longhorn cattle graze the floodplain below the reconverted church and a new Sonoran row-style building (Fontana 1971).

That engraving left out what came next. While Gray and his men camped nearby, this idyllic scene shattered into a mounted battle between more than one hundred Western Apaches and a force of presidial soldiers and Apache Mansos from Tucson. The presidiales and their Apache allies prevailed, lancing Western Apaches in the back as they fled up Sonoita Creek. Pioneer Peter Brady recorded the carnage and its trophies in macabre detail. A three-foot-long string of dried apples turned out to be Apache ears with shell, copper, and button earrings dangling. The "sadly altered" face of Romero, a Mexican captive who served as interpreter for the raiding party, glared down from a spike outside the mess hall. "Gray could not refrain from a joke," Brady noted wryly. "He said he supposed they had hung up the head near the mess room door as a kind of sign, 'hash within'" (Gray and Brady 1963:212).

Despite this victory, however, Apaches continued to whittle away at Gándara's flocks. The Germans and their Mexican, O'odham, and Apache Manso retinue clung to the hacienda, which one German observer described as "a citadel with walls about twenty feet high, unbroken except by a solitary doorway, provided with very heavy doors." [9] But when Mexican troops at Tucson departed for Imuris in March 1856, Hulsemann decided to drive Calabasas' stock to safety in Sonora as well. There Gándara apparently doublecrossed his German partners. José Elías, the prefect of the San Ignacio District and a Gándara partisan, seized the animals. Hulsemann was never able to recover them, losing an estimated $50,000. The partnership dissolved, and Gándara never again ran stock on the Tumacácori grant (Fontana 1971).

A decade later, the aging caudillo made one last attempt to consolidate his hold. In 1864, Gándara petitioned to have the grant surveyed in order to secure Congressional confirmation under the provisions of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. The Surveyor General of Arizona ignored his request (Mattison 1967). A year later, the French invaded Sonora with Gándara's support. In one of the ironies of history, his nemesis, Governor Ignacio Pesqueira, took refuge at Calabasas, driving a large herd of livestock across the border to pasture on his enemy's land (Fontana 1971, Acuña 1974).

C.P. Sykes and the Calabasas Land & Mining Company

But Calabasas proved to be a bitter exile. An outbreak of malaria followed by dysentery devastated soldiers at nearby Fort Mason. Pesquiera himself fell ill with "enteritis" and could barely move for several months. His wife Ramona died (Acuña 1974). The general and his retinue remained at Calabasas until republican forces drove the French out of Sonora in September 1866. After Pesqueira returned to Sonora, Sabino Otero continued to operate a large cattle ranch from Tubac, but the rest of the valley filled up with Anglo American and Anglo European, not Mexican, claims.

First came the squatters. A "Township Map of the Santa Rita Including the Aztec & Tyndall Mining Districts," published in Richard Hinton's 1878 Handbook of Arizona, reveals a string of farms or ranches between the "Old Mission of Tumacacari" [sic] and the border. The mission itself was "enclosed in the King farm" with its farmhouse about a quarter-mile from the church on the east side of the Santa Cruz (Hinton 1878:190). [10] Below the Joseph King's spread were ranches occupied by Captain Smith, who fought off Cochise at the Hacienda del Santa Rita in 1861, George Allison, who came to Calabasas to make bricks in the late 1870s, Pete Kitchen, who raised pigs along the Portrero, and other lesser known figures such as the Reynolds and the Benedicts.

But the biggest influx came from mining companies, who burrowed into mountain ranges across southern Arizona. According to Hinton (1878:127), "Up to October 1st, 1876, 975 mines were recorded in Pima County, and this number is rapidly increasing." He published a table listing 136 of these mines, the only ones to which he could attach names. The Santa Rita Mountains cradled two of the most active districts—the Tyndall and Aztec—north and east of Tumacácori.

The grant itself soon sprouted a hallucinogenic mushroom of a promotion along the Santa Cruz. The primary dreamspinner was Colonel C.P. Sykes, a New Yorker who hoped to become a Universalist minister in his youth. After his stepfather persuaded him to quit school and run the family farm, however, the consuming entrepreneurial spirit of the time enflamed his soul and drove him across the North American continent. He rode the land boom of the 1850s to Wisconsin, founding the La Cross Democrat in 1858 just after the boom collapsed. Two years later, "being a bold and adventurous business man," he sold his newspaper and "started for the wilds of Colorado," according to a biographical sketch in the Pacific Coast Annual Mining Review. "He soon accumulated an ample fortune, owning large interests in some of the best gold mining property in Colorado," the sketch continued. "He was the first to perceive the necessity for placing the mining interests of Colorado before Eastern capitalists, going to New York himself, where he organized a number of first-class mining companies." [11]

Sykes lost most of his Colorado fortune after the Civil War. Returning to New York, he formed a partnership to publish another newspaper, but mining soon drew him west again. By 1875, he was in San Francisco, the center of Western capital. There he cast about for investments as the U. S. economy struggled to pull itself out of the first major depression of the industrial age triggered by the failure of Jay Cooke's financial empire and the ensuing Panic of 1873 (Martin 1980). After hearing about the fabled mineral wealth of southern Arizona, he organized the San Xavier Mining and Smelting Company, securing title to the San Xavier Lode south of Mission San Xavier del Bac. In 1878, he also purchased the Tumacácori grant from Gándara, who died shortly after the sale (Mattison 1967). [12]

Gándara had to wait more than three decades to make money from Tumacácori. Sykes, on the other hand, wasted little time in developing the grant. He quickly sold a three-sixteenths interest to John Curry, an ex-judge of the California Supreme Court, for $9,000. The new partners then convinced other prominent San Francisco businessmen including Senator John P. Jones, Eugene L. Sullivan, and George C. Perkins, a partner in the shipping firm of Goodall, Perkins & Company, to form the Calabasas Land & Mining Company. Curry was elected president. Sykes became managing director. [13] The Tumacácori grant's transition from a landscape of community to a landscape of speculation was complete.

The early years of Syke's venture were a good time to be searching for capital. The Compromise of 1877, which threw the presidential election to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, calmed North-South tensions by dismantling Reconstruction and abandoning Blacks to Klan terror and Jim Crow. The resulting political stability ushered in a period of unprecedented economic growth that lasted, with one major interruption, from 1877 until 1893. New technological innovations in electricity and coal-powered steam engines stoked this growth, while new industries like steel built its industrial infrastructure. But every enterprise depended upon the revolutionary expansion of the railroads, which turned the United States from what historian Allan Nevins called an "invertebrate" to a vertebrate nation after the Civil War. In 1860, there were only 30,000 miles of railroad in the nation. By 1890, that number had soared to 170,000 miles, with an average 8,000 miles added each year during the boom decade of the 1880s. Because of such rapid expansion, "American society now occupied the most tightly integrated large landmass in the world" economic historian Albro Martin (1980:96) observed.

During this heady era, the Calabasas Land & Mining Company did everything it could to live up to its name. The company took over five of the six mining locations of Sykes' San Xavier Mining and Smelting Company. The new enterprise also laid out a townsite on "old Don Gaudera's [sic] ranch" of Calabasas. Sykes clearly wanted Calabasas to eclipse Tucson as the gateway to northern Mexico, and he used his contacts in the press to advance his vision. "Tucson does a trade with Sonora of at least $6,000,000 per annum. It is seventy-five miles from the northern line of Mexico," wrote "Explorer," a columnist for the New York Daily Graphic. "Calabasas is but ten miles therefrom. When the large warehouse of which report speaks as to be constructed is opened here it is hardly probable that 'the greasers' will drive their two-wheeled carts or their pack mules sixty-five extra miles." [14]

Setting a precedent for future promotions, Sykes' company used the Santa Cruz Valley's mission past to sell itself. The same issue of the New York Daily Graphic featured six lithographs entitled "Views on the Property of the Calabasas Land and Mining Company, Pima County, Arizona" (see Illustration 6.1). A portrait of Sykes, bearded and judicious, is flanked by a brooding "Mount Wrightson, From Calabasa, Santa Cruz Valley" [15] on the left and the "Ruins of Mission Tumacácori, Destroyed by Apache Indians" [16] on the right. Below Sykes is an "Ear of Corn Grown on Calabasas Rancho in 1876 without Irrigation." [17] To the left of the corn is the "Plan Of The Hotel And Plaza At Calabasas As It Will Appear When Completed." To the right is "San Xavier del Bac." [18] At the bottom is a "Map of the San Xavier Mines, 1878" divided into the six "locations" owned by Sykes. Sykes, the Yankee entrepreneur, presides over and unites the romantic past with the industrious future—a future of agricultural abundance, luxurious amenities, and mineral wealth apportioned into the precise rectangles of mining claims. "Views on the Property of the Calabasas Land and Mining Company" was a representation of space bursting with speculative exuberance.

Key to Sykes' schemes was the construction of a railroad through the Santa Cruz Valley linking Mexico and the United States. His first venture was the Arizona Southern Railroad Company, which was incorporated on August 16, 1880, five months after the Southern Pacific Railroad reached Tucson. The incorporators included Arizona entrepreneurs like Sykes, ex-territorial governor Anson P.K. Safford, and Tucson businessmen C.H. Lord as well as investors from Boston with ties to Southern Pacific's rival, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe. The Santa Fe itself bought 1000 shares of stock in the Arizona Southern for $10,000.

Sykes emphasized the importance of a rail line by portraying Calabasas as the center of a transportation network linking southern Arizona and northern Mexico. He also geared his promotions to various audiences, with Calabasas growing ever more grandiose the further away from Arizona prospective investors were. According to a sardonic article in the Tombstone Epitaph, three prospectuses were circulating by 1882—one in Arizona, another in the United States, a third in Europe. "This European prospectus was a grand affair," the Epitaph jeered. "It was filled with magnificent drawings representing the raging Santa Cruz at high tide, with steam boats and heavy vessels at the docks unloading while yonder in the distance could be seen the smoke of a dozen furnaces with lively locomotives hauling [?] to the numerous mills." [19]

Where Sykes conjured up the image of a navigable Santa Cruz remains to be determined. According to journalist Sybil Ellinwood, the illustrations were adapted from those circulated in Boston and New York newspapers by Sylvester Mowry nearly three decades earlier. "With them the ambitious Sylvester Mowry had tried to promote Eastern capital for mining ventures by picturing a line of steamers puffing up the Colorado River to Yuma, thence up the Gila to Maricopa, and finally up the Santa Cruz, invisible for much of its course, to within twenty miles of the Mowry mine," Ellinwood (1964:35) wrote. But Mowry himself made no mention of steamboats on the Santa Cruz in his major published work, Arizona and Sonora: The Geography History, and Resources of the Silver Region of North America (1866). On the contrary, he correctly stated, "Like most streams, the Santa Cruz is intermittent, sinking and rising at irregular intervals" (Mowry 1966:25). Whatever the origins of Calabasas as bustling river port, Arizonans scoffed. Stung by the sarcasm, Sykes offered a reward for any poster portraying steamers on the river (Ellinwood 1964). No one replied. Nonetheless, Sykes continued to use the mythical waters of the Santa Cruz to woo investors across the ocean. [20]

But even a Danube in the desert could not make the Arizona Southern a reality. Sykes managed to convince Congress to grant his railroad a right of way through the Papago Indian Reservation around San Xavier, but the city of Tucson turned down his request for financial support. More damaging was the construction of the Santa Fe's New Mexico & Arizona Railroad, which built eighty-eight miles of line between Benson and Nogales in 1881-1882. The road ran south along the San Pedro River, servicing the booming mining district of Tombstone. Then, at Fairbanks, it veered west and followed Babocomari Creek until it crossed a divide into the Sonoita Valley. Cattlemen moving onto the finest grasslands in Arizona suddenly had rail access to markets across the United States, and cattle proliferated like flies.

To reach the Mexican border, the New Mexico & Arizona snaked down Sonoita Creek to Calabasas. Sykes lobbied hard for the railroad to build its international depot there, but the New Mexico & Arizona chose the infant border community of Nogales instead. On October 25, 1882, a crowd cheered and poured champagne on the engineers as a locomotive of the New Mexico & Arizona, draped in red, white, and blue, steamed south to face a locomotive of the Santa Fe's Sonora Railway, sporting Mexico's national colors of red, white, and green. The silver spike driven into a mahogany crosstie to commemorate the occasion drove a stake through the heart of Sykes' visionary community as well (Myrick 1975).

But Sykes was more than a decade away from giving up. That evening, he hosted a banquet for the seventy-five guests who attended the Nogales ceremony at his new Santa Rita Hotel. By then, Calabasas had grown into a community of about 150 people with five stores, two dancehalls, two Chinese gambling dens, an opium den, and sixteen saloons. The Santa Rita was easily the most elegant structure in town. With its two stories of solid brick surrounded by a white picket fence, the Santa Rita looked like a Yankee vision of prosperity and decorum. Sykes made sure the interior was elegant as well, furnishing it with three carloads of furniture from Boston and staffing it with proper Bostonian women (Myrick 1975). During its brief heyday (1882-1893), famous visitors like General Nelson Miles and prominent settlers like Sabino Otero slept under its roof and ate in its famous dining room. One guest pronounced the hotel "the best between San Francisco and Denver" (Ellinwood 1964:37).

The Calabasas, Tucson and North Western Railroad Company and the Arizona Cattle and Improvement Company

Even though the New Mexico & Arizona brought patrons to his hotel, however, Sykes still wanted a railroad of his own. In 1885, backed by New York capital, he therefore organized the Calabasas, Tucson and North Western Railroad Company. John Rice, a former member of Congress from Maine, was president. Sykes was vice-president. The treasurer was Thomas James, former Postmaster-General of the United States and president of Lincoln Bank in New York. General C.C. Dodge, "Late of Phelps, Dodge & Co.," served on its board. With such distinguished names on its masthead, the Calabasas, Tucson, and North Western planned to extend a rail line down the Santa Cruz to Tucson, Florence, and Phoenix. It also projected two feeder lines: one to Arivaca and the mining boom town of Quijotoa to the west, another to the coal fields of Deer Creek along the San Pedro River and the mining district of Globe to the northeast. [21]

Sykes was initially more successful in capitalizing his second railroad venture. He asked the Pima County Board of Supervisors to issue $200,000 worth of bonds to construct the line to Tucson and the northern border of the county. The supervisors liked the proposal and scheduled a special election on May 23, 1885. The bond issue passed by an overwhelming majority of 939 to 87 (Myrick 1975).

The Calabasas, Tucson and North Western also proposed to pay for itself by issuing first-mortgage, six-percent thirty-year bonds guaranteed by a second corporation, the Arizona Cattle and Improvement Company. The directorships were largely interlocking, with Sykes serving as vice-president and general manager and James as treasurer for both companies. The president of the Arizona Cattle and Improvement Company was the Honorable William Windom, ex-Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, with Rice serving on its board. In return for forty-nine percent of the capital stock of the railroad, Sykes received 99,940 of the cattle company's 100,000 shares of capital stock. According to the "Prospectus of the Calabasas, Tucson and North Western Railroad Company and the Arizona Cattle and Improvement Company," cattle were the currency that would bankroll the rails.

The first order of business was to sink deep wells along the route and then pump the water through a pipeline "sunk in the road-bed, for the use of stock in desert places." [22] In italics, the prospectus proclaimed, "The right of way of the railroad, with a pipe line to carry water for cattle, will practically control the grazing land along the line of the road, for many miles upon each side for many years to come, as the lands are not yet surveyed." [23] During the late nineteenth century, controlling water meant control over the open ranges of the West.

What followed was an elaborate bovine house of cards. In order to construct the line, the Calabasas, Tucson and North Western signed a contract with an unspecified "English Syndicate." For the first fifty-five miles of construction between Calabasas and Tucson, the English Syndicate would supply 370 head of cattle for each mile of construction. In return, it would be paid "all the railroad first mortgage bonds on that division, which will be issued at the rate of $30,000 per mile." [24] Upon completion of this first stage, the Arizona Cattle and Improvement Company would have a herd of 20,350 head.

The prospectus then marched through a series of Alice-in-Wonderland-like calculations to show how rapidly the herd would increase, how quickly the railroad would be paid for, and how handsomely the investors would be rewarded. During the first year, 4,400 three-year old steers would be sold at $30 per head, generating $132,000 in revenue. Second-year revenues would be the same, but by the third year, 4,400 cows would be sold as well, raising revenue to $220,000. When the entire 350-mile line was built, the cattle company's herd would have swelled to a staggering 129,500 head, "with annual sales of 56,000 head, equal to $1,400,000." Interest on the entire line's bonded debt, in contrast, would only be $530,000. Deducting another $100,000 for estimated ranching expenses, the company would have $770,000 to distribute as a thirty-percent annual dividend to stockholders in the cattle company.

And that was a conservative estimate that did not take into account revenues from cargo hauled by the railroad itself "There are at least one thousand mining claims within ten miles on each side of the proposed railroad," the prospectus trumpeted. [25] There were also the Deer Creek coalfields, which would produce 51,333,000 tons of coal. And finally there was southern Arizona's great agricultural fertility, where "it is not an uncommon occurrence that sixty bushels of wheat per acres is harvested." [26] Judicious and understated after such astonishing numbers, the prospectus concluded, "With this safe financial outlook the companies have no hesitancy in declaring that the public has never had a better prospect presented for a safe and profitable investment." [27]

The public was less than impressed. On October 16, 1885, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved of Sykes' plans and stipulated that the first county bonds would be issued if work on the railroad began within three months and was finished within a year. But Sykes was unable to raise much capital in New York because of a national depression that began in 1882 and culminated in the so-called Panic of 1884, when one major New York brokerage firm and two New York banks failed (Myers 1970). During this period, business failures rose from 6,738 in 1883 to nearly 10,000 in both 1884 and 1885 as production declined by one-fourth. Unemployment climbed to fifteen percent and labor unrest intensified, especially in 1886, when a series of strikes and their brutal repression swept the country (Rezneck 1956). As a result, the Calabasas, Tucson, and North Western did not lay a single rail. A year later, after the venture failed to meet any of its deadlines, 109 individuals petitioned the board to grant a six-month extension. The supervisors refused, "the company not even having made a good showing at commencement" (Myrick 1975:258).

Sykes tried to revive his railroad once last time. In January 1891, he circulated petitions to convince the Pima County board of supervisors to once again issue $200,000 in bonds. He also promised to build a $100,000 hotel and sanatorium if the Tucson City Council gave him the old Military Plaza. In an article in the Tucson Citizen on February 5, 1891, prominent citizens generally supported Sykes' schemes but recommended that no county funds be expended until the railroad was completed. "If the parties mean business and will do as they say in a specified time I am heartily in favor of the propositions," merchant Samuel Drachman commented. But then he bluntly added, "I want to see the contract drawn up in such a shape that not a dollar of money or fit land will be given till the work is satisfactory [sic] performed."

Once again, it was the same sad story. The supervisors approved the bonds as long as the first stretch of rail was constructed by March 1, 1892. March 1 came and went, Sykes requested another extension, and New York investors continued to ignore the Tucson, Calabasas and North Western. Then the Panic of 1893 plunged the nation into a much deeper depression than the one a decade before. The 1880s witnessed the construction of more railroads than any other decade in U.S. history. The 1890s saw many of those lines end up in receivership. By 1895, companies controlling forty thousand miles and representing $2.5 billion in fixed capital that could not be transferred to other industries had failed.

Railroads were already consolidating before the Panic of 1893, with main lines buying up feeder lines to become self-sustaining systems. In 1892, thirty-three railroads capitalized at more than $100 million apiece controlled 70 percent of the tracks and even more of the traffic in the United States. After the Panic of 1893, investment bankers like J.P. Morgan swallowed up the weaker roads and established the shape of the railroad industry for the next fifty years. The proliferation of railroads encouraged overbuilding and ruinous competition. Morgan and his fellow bankers reorganized the U.S. system into six or seven "communities of interest" in which big companies bought one another's stock (Chandler 1980; Martin 1980; Moore 1980). Those big companies-were the largest business enterprises on the globe.

A speculator like Sykes was hopelessly out of his league in such an environment. In 1903, two years after he died on another fruitless search for capital in New York, the Calabasas, Tucson and North Western bonds were destroyed in the presence of the Pima County board of supervisors and the county clerk. Two other companies—the Twin Buttes Railroad and the Tucson and Nogales Railroad Company, a Southern Pacific subsidiary—connected Tucson with Calabasas, Nogales, and Mexico in 1910 (Myrick 1975). That was the year that Sykes' widow, who had remained in the Santa Rita Hotel, died. By then, Calabasas was little more than a ghost town slowly being reclaimed by mesquite.

The Legal Death of the Tumacácori Land Grant

While Sykes was trying, and failing, to turn Calabasas into the gateway to Mexico, the Tumacácori land grant died as well. When Sykes and Curry purchased the grant from Gándara on July 24, 1877, the surveyor general of a state or territory had the power to investigate the validity of any land grant in his jurisdiction (Bradfute 1975). In the Arizona and New Mexico territories, claimants had to present titles from Mexican archives along with supporting documentation. The surveyor-general examined the documents, took affidavits from witnesses concerning the grant, and made a recommendation to the Secretary of the Interior. If the secretary declared that the claim was valid, his report was sent to Congress for final confirmation or rejection (Mattison 1967; Bradfute 1975).

Sykes and Curry initiated this process on December 15, 1879, when they sent a petition and packet of documents to John Wasson, Surveyor General of Arizona. The packet included Spanish transcriptions and English translations of the original Tumacácori grant, its sale to Francisco Aguilar, and Gándara's sale to Sykes and Curry. Wasson took the testimony of Theodora Varela de Troil and Pete Kitchen, who both attested that Gándara had indeed occupied the grant in the 1850s. R.C. Hopkins, "familiar with the Spanish language and well acquainted with the character of Spanish handwriting," swore that the documents were, "in his opinion, unquestionably genuine, written and signed at the time of their respective dates." [28]

Wasson recapitulated the paper trail and discoursed on the legal history of missions, presidios, and pueblos in his "Opinion and recommendation." "The missions had no ownership of the lands which they occupied with their Indians and stock," he pronounced [italics original]. He went on to note that "the boundaries of the mission possessions were only conventional, and that they were constantly reduced as lands embraced therein were from time to time, granted by the government to private individuals until the establishments were finally extinguished by decree of secularization." [29] Wasson did recognize that Spanish law granted pueblos a fundo legal of four square leagues, but added, "a much less quantity than four square leagues was included within the measurements actually made as shown by the field-notes of the survey made in 1807." Moreover, "the said measurements of the 'estancia' or stock farm, embrace a much less quantity than the two sitios called for in the title papers, and the addition thereto, asked for by the Indians and granted to them, was limited by boundaries, and hence the quantity cannot be known without an actual survey." [30]

Wasson also stated that the mission of Tumacácori "and the Indian pueblos pertaining thereto" were abandoned at the same time that "Spanish troops" abandoned the presidio of Tubac. Therefore, the sale of Tumacácori to Aguilar on April 18, 1844, was valid under the law passed by the Mexican Congress in 1842. Wasson recommended that Sykes and Curry's claim be confirmed.

The Secretary of the Interior forwarded Wasson's recommendation to Congress on May 24, 1880, but Congress took no definitive action. [31] For the next two decades, the grant wound its way through a maze of claim and counterclaim that led all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. At no time in this process were the O'odham ever a party to the legal wrangling.

Sykes was little more than a bystander himself. In 1881, The Calabasas Land & Mining Company, incorporated in California, exchanged stock with the Santa Rita Mining Company of Colorado. Santa Rita ended up with the Tumacácori grant minus the Calabasas townsite and the Arizona Southern Railway Company's right-of-way. Nine years later, in 1890, a purchasing committee representing former stockholders of Santa Rita bought the company's holdings, including the Tumacácori grant, at a foreclosure sale. The stockholders formed an association and appointed William Faxon of Boston as trustee to manage the Santa Rita properties until they could be sold at a decent price. Faxon granted the Santa Rita Land & Cattle Company a seven-year lease on the grant beginning on April 28, 1892. [32]

Meanwhile, several other claimants surfaced. One was George Hill Howard, who asserted title to the "lands of Guebavi." Howard contended that before Francisco Aguilar formally conveyed Tumacácori to Manuel María Gándara in 1869, Gándara sold one square league of the grant to Claude Jones on July 6, 1864. Jones transferred the deed to Isaac Domingo Marks and Edson Adams in 1865. In 1878, Isaac Marks sold his share to Joshua Marks, who sold out to Edward Head that same year. Three years later, Head transferred his half-share to Adams as well. Adams then conveyed the entire property to Howard in 1883. [33]

A more intriguing claim arose from Dolores Astiazarán and thirteen other members of the Aguilar-Gándara extended family. [34] Astiazarán, who had married into the clan claiming the enormous Sópori grant, was one of seven children of Dolores Aguilar and Manuel María Gándara. The rest of the plaintiffs were her siblings or cousins (see Aguilar-Gándara Family Tree, Illustration 6.2). Their suit, first brought against the Santa Rita Mining Company in the district court of Arizona in 1887, argued that Dolores and the others were the heirs and grantees of Francisco Alejandro Aguilar, Dolores' uncle. The suit does not mention either Gándara's sale of Guevavi to Claude Jones in 1864 or Aguilar's sale of Tumacácori to Gándara in 1869. [35] The district court ruled in favor of Santa Rita, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court of the Arizona Territory. Astiazarán and her fellow plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1893. The Supreme Court dodged the issue by declaring that since Congress had not yet acted on Wasson's report of 1880, the grant could not be challenged (Mattison 1967).

By then, at least four corporations and 120 homesteaders and squatters had established claims to portions of the Tumacácori grant. On October 1, 1888, a group of them led by George Atkinson petitioned the U.S. General Land Office to investigate the grant and restore any lands to the public domain that were found to be "unlawfully held in reservation." [36] Commissioner Stockslager examined the grant, concluded that Wasson's approval was "improper," and ruled that "there is not and has never been any lawful, valid or actual reservation of lands for the Tumacácori and Calabasas claim." [37] Suddenly, all claims to the grant were in jeopardy.

The Santa Rita Mining Company appealed, and Secretary of the Interior W.H. Schurz reversed Stockslager's decision in 1893. [38] But Schurz's ruling did not confirm Santa Rita's title to the grant. On the contrary, it merely stated that the reservation of the grant from the public domain had been legal under the provisions of the Gadsden Purchase pending a decision by Congress. "As before said, the policy of our law was to treat all these Mexican grants as conferring only inchoate or equitable rights, needing confirmation to ripen into a legal title, which could be accorded by Congress alone," Schurz wrote. [39] He went on to note that the law creating the U.S. Court of Private Land Claims in 1891 repealed Congressional authority and transferred it to the new tribunal, but that transfer in no way abrogated the original reservation.

The three parties claiming Tumacácori then turned to the Court of Private Land Claims, which was created for the sole purpose of determining the legality of Spanish and Mexican land grants (Bradfute 1975). Faxon and his fellow plaintiffs brought suit against the individuals and corporations already ensconced on the grant, including C.P. Sykes, George Atkinson, the Sonoita and Santa Cruz Land and Water Company, the Salero Land and Cattle Company, and the New Mexico and Arizona Railroad Company. [40] Howard and the Astiazarán-Gándara-Aguilar-Oceguera extended family also submitted their petitions. Rather than hearing the cases individually, however, the Court consolidated the three suits. In the end, the fate of the grant hung on the one claim the three petitions had in common—that Francisco Alejandro Aguilar's purchase of the grant in 1844 had been legal and valid under Mexican law.

In 1895, the Court most emphatically decided that it was not. Wading through Mexican statutes passed during a particularly chaotic period in Mexico's history, the justices determined that Ignacio López, Treasurer General of the State of Sonora, had no authority to auction off public lands. Title to such lands could only be conferred by the National Treasury. [41] Associate Justice William W. Murray filed a concurring opinion, noting that the grant was never duly recorded as a toma de razón in the "proper book" as required by the Treaty of Mesilla in 1853 (Gadsden Purchase). [42] "IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED [caps original]," the Court pronounced, "That the claim to the property known as and included in what is called the Calabasas, Tumacácori and Guebabi grant or private land claim, and being situated in the county of Pima, Territory of Arizona, under a grant alleged to have been derived from the Republic of Mexico, executed by Ygnacio Lopez, Treasurer General of the Department of Sonora in favor of Francisco Alejandro Aguilar, and dated the 19th day of April, 1844 be and the same is rejected and said petitions are dismissed." [43]

The three parties then appealed their consolidated case to the U.S. Supreme Court. In an 1898 decision entitled Faxon v. U S, the Court upheld the Court of Private Land Claims in 1898. After reviewing the Mexican legislation cited in support of the case, Chief Justice Fuller, who delivered the Opinion of the court, concluded, "While these various laws are rather confusing in their number and minuteness, nothing is clearer than that the power to make sales and grants was vested in the treasury department of the nation, and governed by strict rules and regulations, none of which contemplated that any single officer could make the sales." [44] Fuller also agreed with the lower court that "the missionaries and Indians only acquired a usufruct or occupancy at the will of the sovereign" under the 1807 Tumacácori grant. After the decree of April 16, 1834, secularized the missions, the lands themselves were no longer "temporalities" of the "church or its ecclesiastics." "And, as many years before the sale in question, the lands of this pueblo and mission were abandoned," Fuller went on to say, "it would seem that they thus became a part of the public domain of the nation, and that as such the only laws applicable to their disposal were the laws of the nation in relation to its vacant public lands, to which the proceedings in this instance do not purport to have conformed, or to have been made under them." [45] It was the end of the line for George Hill Howard, the former Santa Rita bondholders, and the fading Aguilar-Gándara Sonoran elite.

The O'odham, who had defended their church and their stretch of the river years after the other Mexican land grants in Arizona had been deserted, were not even ghosts haunting the pages of court testimony. The official records of the grant's history agreed, without any evidence, that the "land had been abandoned about the year 1820." [46] Nearly three decades of occupation—more than a generation of tilling the soil and fighting Apaches—were obliterated by Gándara's subterfuge.

And yet, buried in archives like those of the Diocese of Tucson, are other records—records that the O'odham not only inhabited but tried to reclaim their lands. In the 1850s, when Gándara was trying to turn Calabasas into a sheep ranch, nineteen O'odham from Tumacácori convinced the O'odham governor of San Xavier del Bac to press their case. The governor petitioned Prefect José Elías to retrieve their titles from Gándara. Elías, a gandarista, paid no attention to their plea. Even though they continued to care for their santos and church ornaments separate from those of San Xavier, their legitimate claim to the Tumacácori grant vanished from the legal record (Kessell 1976).

Nonetheless, memories of an O'odham Tumacácori lingered on. In 1931, Franciscan missionary Bonaventure Oblasser published the reminiscences of Carnación, a blind and ancient O'odham woman living at San Xavier. According to her:

Tumacácori belongs to us, too. It happened this way. The Apaches drove our kin folks from that mission. These wild people were going to burn the statue of St. Cajetano. The flames had already commenced to consume the image, when a shower extinguished the fire. Their statue and many others were brought here by the women, who carried them in their Kiahats (burden baskets). The statue of María Santisima, however, was brought tied on a horse. I missed seeing the cavalcade arrive at the old mission, but I did hear the ringing of the mission bells as they reached this place. One of the statues, the one of the Blessed Virgin with child, was taken to Tucson (Oblasser 1931:98).

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Last Updated: 12-Mar-2007