CHAPTER XV. SURVEYING LAND IN TERRITORY.


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JOHN WASSON APPOINTED SURVEYOR GENERAL-BIOGRAPHY OF-HIS ACCOUNT OF CONDITIONS IN ARIZONA IN 1871-SURVEYS MADE IN SANTA CRUZ AND GILA VALLEYS AND IN VICINITY OF PRESCOTT-SPANISH AND MEXICAN LAND CLAIMS-MINING-EXPEDITION BY GOVERNOR SAFFORD-TIMBER, AGRICULTURE AND GRAZING.

John Wasson, who was appointed Surveyor General of the Territory by President Grant in 1870, came into the Territory during that year from California, holding that position for three terms, until August, 1882. During the time of his residence here he started the "Tucson Citizen." He returned to California at the time of his retirement from office, and, at the time of his death was President of the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Normal School. He died at Pomona, California, on January 16th, 1909, at the age of seventy-six years. In his first report to the Commissioner of the General Land Office at Washington, under date of August 30th, 1871, he gives a short but interesting account of conditions in Arizona at that time which follows:


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‘‘"REPORT OF THE SURVEYOR GENERAL
OF ARIZONA TERRITORY.
"UNITED STATES' SURVEYOR
GENERAL'S OFFICE.

"Tucson, Arizona Territory,

"August 30th, 1871.

"Sir:-

"In compliance with your instructions of April 17th, 1871, I herewith present in duplicate a report of the surveying operations within the District of Arizona, for the fiscal year ending June 30th, 1871.

"Arizona was made a separate Surveying District by an Act approved July 11th, 1870; the President caused my commission to be executed July 12th, but the official notice of it did not reach me until November 5th, upon which day I executed my bond and entered upon the duties of the office.

"The records of all previous surveys in Arizona being in the California office, the year well advanced, and then being the most favorable season for field operations, I deemed it best to proceed to California, procure the official books, papers, etc., appertaining to this district, as well as other necessary supplies not obtainable here, and personally see that they were not delayed in transit. By so doing, early in January everything required to practically inaugurate field work was at hand, except my general instructions, which were not received until March 3rd. Knowing that unexpended balances were passed to the General Fund of the Treasury, and that less than half the fiscal year remained, I deemed


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it important to Arizona that surveys should commence, and therefore, without other directions than the law, I employed a complement of officers, entered into contracts, and ordered work to proceed, and am gratified to say that in all essential particulars, the Department approved the steps taken in advance of specific instructions. By such prompt action the appropriation of $10,000 for surveys, less $385.39, was exhausted prior to June 30th, and this small balance contracted for, and since that date the field work therefor has been executed, but not reported to your office.

"The surveys performed and their locality are set forth in the accompanying documents. The money should have been expended in executing surveys in the vicinity of Prescott, but the meridian line was not extended there, and the route of it lay through a section infested with hostile Indians. Applications to the commanding officer of the Military Department for an escort to protect the Deputy in the extension of the meridian, brought no response, and, therefore, I directed work performed in the Santa Cruz and Gila Valleys, where present and prospective population most demanded it. Surveys under the appropriation for the present fiscal year are now going forward in the settled valleys and timbered sections in and around Prescott under two deputies, and most of the farmers who have occupied their lands for from one to seven years, will soon have an opportunity to procure titles.

"In accordance with instructions, I submitted estimates, with some explanatory reasons therefor


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for the surveying service in this District for the fiscal year ending June 30th, 1873, on the 27th July last, a copy of which is herewith transmitted and made part of this report. In that document I made no reference to the necessity of establishing the boundary line between New Mexico and Arizona. It is evident that this should be provided for by an appropriation at the ensuing session of Congress, for, before the close of the fiscal year ending in 1873, subdivisional surveys may be demanded in the vicinity of the Territorial boundary; and, aside from this consideration, there are many others, such as jurisdiction of courts, locality of voters and tax payers, that readily suggest themselves.

"LAND CLAIMS UNDER THE LAWS OF SPAIN AND MEXICO.

"A proviso of the appropriation act of July 15th, 1870, makes it the duty of the Surveyor-General of Arizona, under instructions from the Secretary of the Interior, ‚to ascertain and report upon the origin, character and extent of the claims to lands in said Territory under the laws, usages and customs of Spain and Mexico.‚ Many such claims are reported to exist within this District, but as to their extent and validity I am unprepared to give an opinion. Verbal and written applications have been made to me by parties as agents or claimants, of such claims, for information as to the prescribed method of initiating and conducting proceedings necessary to establish their titles under the United States laws. To the end that they might be correctly informed, on March 1, I addressed a letter to the


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General Land Office, a copy of which I transmitted to the Secretary of the Interior, suggesting that the contemplated instructions be furnished to my office. As yet, none have been received by me.

"Applications for but two mineral land surveys have been made, and none for subdivisional surveys under the Acts of May 3rd, 1862, and March 3rd, 1871, although under the latter act some are contemplated.

"The townsite of Arizona City has been surveyed and the completed plats and notes forwarded to the local and General Land Office. It is hoped that the subdivisional surveys will hereafter be extended over all townsites in advance of a demand for their entry, which is already done at Tucson and Prescott, and since the survey, the authorities of Tucson have filed an application for entry, and those of Prescott probably soon will.

"MINING.

"I have no statistics on mining, in Arizona, of sufficient accuracy to justify their presentation. However, it is a leading branch of industry now, and destined to be of vast importance. It would presently be very large but for the distances from cheap transportation, and notably because of the persistent hostility of the Indians in nearly every mining district.

"Very many mines, heretofore operated with large returns have been practically abandoned for the latter reason. Excepting near the Colorado River, life and property are not, at this time, regarded safe from Indian attacks in the mining sections; therefore, exploration is


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checked, development hindered, cost of all supplies increased to astonishingly high figures, and none but extraordinarily rich mines can be operated with profit. The Vulture Mining Company at Wickenburg has some two hundred men on its payroll; its mine is fifteen miles from its mill, and more than once men and teams on the road hauling ore have been murdered and stolen. Still its operations go on at a profit, except to human life. Recent discoveries of silver-bearing lodes, at Bradshaw Mountain, have started a new settlement, strong enough for self-protection, but any road leading to it is very dangerous for small parties to travel. Labor continues on many old discoveries in Yavapai County, and the owners are determined to hold fast to their position, even amid danger, until safety is secured either by military power, or the population, which will certainly follow advancing railways. With the many terrible discouragements, numerous fortunes have been made by mining for the precious metals in Arizona. Led by Governor Safford, three hundred men are now in the unexplored mountains in search of mines, and incidentally, for timber and water, and desirable soils for tillage-grazing being first rate on nearly every mountain and table land, and in the valley. Large veins of proven good coal have been found in the White Mountains, near Camp Apache.

"TIMBER.

"Timber is much more abundant than generally supposed, even by the majority who have traversed the travelled highways of the Territory.


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Pine, oak, and ash are the better varieties, but mesquite, cottonwood, spruce, juniper and black walnut prevail, all of much value for fencing and fuel and primitive buildings. I speak from extended observation, when I declare that, except Washington, none of the Territories, excel this in quantity of timber.

"AGRICULTURE.

"Excepting the rocky mesas or plateaus, craggy mountain sides, and here and there sandy and heavy alkali tracts, the soil of Arizona is very productive. Millions of acres which for want of rains in 1870, then appeared barren, are this year green with grass and reanimated vegetation. The town of Tucson is located upon what many of its own inhabitants term a barren mesa, yet wherever a flower, shrub, tree, or vine is planted and properly watered, the growth is vigorous. It is a great mistake, which too widely obtains, that the plateaus here are worthless. The recent rains have fully demonstrated the richness of the soil, and what may be done by irrigation. Areas of fifty and more miles, usually termed waterless deserts, are now green, and wherever persistent digging has been essayed, abundant water in wells has been found. Patient and skilfull labor will, in time, leave but a small portion of Arizona unproductive. In all parts there are valleys of unquestioned richness that may be cultivated profitably with little labor, and while many of them are occupied now, still more are monopolized by the savage Apache; yet each year one or more are penetrated by poor men, seeking a genial climate and independent means,


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and though, in some cases, one-fourth their number has been slain in a single season, the entire abandonment of any one settlement has not followed. The staple crops are corn, wheat and barley. I have endeavored to procure accurate statistics of agricultural products, but only indefinite statements were obtained. With proper tillage and auspicious seasons as large crops are produced as anywhere in the United States. For lack of rain about Prescott and in the Gila and Salt River Valleys, the staple crops are, this year, below the average, though some barley fields are reported to have yielded from thirty to fifty bushels per acre. One one-hundred-acre lot of corn, in the Santa Cruz Valley, south of Tucson, I am confident, will yield seventy-five bushels to the acre. Other lots in the same valley will be very light, owing, chiefly, to a want of cultivation. The same may be said of other localities. The soil is demonstrated to be very productive, and improper tillage, or, rather, no tillage, after seeding in poorly prepared ground, has occasioned more short crops than even scarcity of rain or any other single cause.

"Every careful attempt at fruit growing has been a success. Grape cuttings planted last year in Salt River Valley, produced choice fruit this. No one doubts the adaptability of our valley soils and climate to the successful production of nearly every species of fruit grown in the different latitudes. But for Indian ravages, discouraging the people, Arizona would, to-day, have fine orchards and vineyards.


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"GRAZING.

"As a whole probably Arizona is not surpassed by any State or Territory for grazing capacity. The area of rich pasturage is scarcely limited except by territorial boundaries. Reduced cavalry horses, carefully herded, regain their ordinary flesh and strength in two months, and beef cattle are fattened on grass at all seasons. Wherever the mountains have been explored, numerous streams and springs have been discovered, and, as before stated, water can be found by digging wells, as in other sections of our nation. Situated as we are, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, our markets will be always large, and prices good. Reduce the Indian to a state of peace, and average honesty, and liberal fortunes can nowhere else be more quickly and certainly made in the stock business. If the Government will give Arizona reliable peace, I shall, thereafter, regard any of its official positions with personal indifference."

’’

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