THE FOUNDING OF TUCSON

  The Tucson Pimas, whose village was at the foot of what is now A Mountain, kept their promise to begin construction of permanent mission buildings after the autumn harvest of 1770. By February of 1771, they had completed a mission residence with sophisticated rounded lookout towers at the corners. On the first day of February, they were able to repel an Apache attack on the newly fortified village. The residents were quite proud of this, and Garcés admitted that the building had been put up "with a thousand hardships and sacrifices."

Evidently the adobe structure had been given priority over the church. The construction of the first religious edifice in Tucson, however, was well under way by the following year, 1772. The church took more time because it was larger, and because Garcés was away a good part of the time in exploring and pathfinding for the first Anza expedition. Two months before Garcés was to leave on the second journey, Hugo Oconor, military inspector and commandant of the northern frontier of New Spain, with his aide-de-camp Lieutenant Juan Fernández Carmona, rode into the mission compound of San Xavier del Bac to fulfill the dream of Anza and Garcés - the establishment of a royal Spanish presidio on the east bank of the Santa Cruz River at Tucson. The document tells the story.

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San Xavier del Bac.
August 20, 1775.

I, Hugo Oconor, knight of the order of Calatrava, colonel Of infantry in His Majesty's armies and commandant inspector of the frontier posts of New Spain, Certify:

THAT HAVING CONDUCTED THE EXPLORATION PRESCRIBED IN ARTICLE THREE OF THE NEW ROYAL REGULATION OF PRESIDIOS ISSUED BY HIS MAJESTY ON THE TENTH OF SEPTEMBER OF 1772 FOR THE MOVING OF THE COMPANY OF SAN IGNACIO DE TUBAC IN THE PROVINCE OF SONORA, I SELECTED AND MARKED OUT IN THE PRESENCE OF FATHER FRANCISCO GARCES AND LIEUTENANT JUAN DE CARMONA A PLACE KNOWN AS SAN AGUSTIN DEL TUCSON AS THE NEW SITE OF THE PRESIDIO. IT IS SITUATED AT A DISTANCE OF EIGHTEEN LEAGUES FROM TUBAC, FULFILLS THE REQUIREMENTS OF WATER, PASTURE, AND WOOD, AND EFFECTIVELY CLOSES THE APACHE FRONTIER. THE DESIGNATION OF THE NEW PRESIDIO BECOMES OFFICIAL WITH THE SIGNATURES OF MYSELF, FATHER FRANCISCO GARCES, AND LIEUTENANT JUAN DE CARMONA, AT THIS MISSION OF SAN XAVIER DEL BAC, ON THIS TWENTIETH DAY OF AUGUST OF THE YEAR 1775.

HUGO OCONOR
FRAY FRANCISCO GARCES
JUAN FERNANDEZ CARMONA8

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Desert Documentary by Kieran McCarty - Chapter 6
Tucson, Arizona: Arizona Historical Society, 1976.

© 1976 The Arizona Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.

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