CHAPTER XV. SURVEYING LAND IN TERRITORY.
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:
"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
"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.
"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
"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
"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,
"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.
"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."’’