2. EARLY SETTLEMENT BY SPANIARDS, JESUIT PRIESTS,OLD MISSIONS, ETC.
IT has been found very difficult to trace up the history of the first explorations and settlements in what is now the Territory of Arizona. Sufficient has been learned, however, to warrant the assertion, that about thirty years subsequent to the conquest of Mexico by Cortez, or near the year 1551, the early Spanish explorers and the Jesuit Fathers penetrated into this then unknown country. In 1540 a Spanish expedition traversed Northern Sonora, now Arizona and New Mexico.1 They carried back with them to the city of Mexico wonderful accounts of the country, and of reports gathered from the Indians of the seven wonderful cities of Sibola, which other Spanish expeditions afterwards went in search of, and which are now supposed to have been the seven towns originally built by the Zuñi Indians many hundreds of years since. About the year 1560, a permanent settlement was made by the Spanish explorers and 1
One of the oldest missions established by the Jesuit Fathers was that of St. Gertrude de Tabac, in the Santa Cruz Valley, forty-five miles south of Tucson, the latter part of the sixteenth century. A writer in “Rudo Ensayo,” in 1762, says, that the Indians on the San Pedro River state that the missions were built previous to 1694. Solorano, a Spanish writer during the reign of Philip III., also mentions these old missions, and gives much information respecting the country, the old prehistoric ruins, etc.1 In the “Cronica Serifica” of about the same date, a long account is given of the early explorations, the old missions, and of the Indians then in that region, who were estimated at 75,000.
In 1720, the missions were prosperous and flourishing, and in Sonora, including what is now Arizona, there were twenty-nine missions and seventy-three Christian Indian pueblos, or villages, in charge of the Jesuit Fathers. In what is now Arizona there were known to have been the missions of San Xavier del 1
The mission church of St. Augustine at Tucson was founded by one of the priests sent out by request of the Marquis de Croix in 1769, and this old mission church has long been in ruins. The first mission church of San Xavier del Bac was founded at a very old date,—now unknown,—and on its ruins was commenced, in 1768, the present mission church of that name, the only one of all the old missions now standing. It is a model of architecture, and excites the wonder and admiration of all who visit it; and from its antiquity and surroundings, and the many interesting circumstances connected with it, deserves special mention, to which a subsequent chapter will be devoted. Since 1720 to the present
1. See Weeeler's [sic] Reports and Notes.
1. See first volume of Solorano, page 218 and on.