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Delaware News

Sahuarita’s name may be misspelled

By David Leighton For the Arizona Daily Star

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2016.

The name of a fast-growing city in southern Arizona may be a long-standing misspelling.

In September 1820—a year before Mexico gained its independence— Thomas And Ignacio OrtizTubac residents, petitioned the Governor of Sonora and Sinaloa for the grant of four sites (over 27 square miles) of grassland around La Canoa for the raising of horses and cattle.

Under Spanish law, the land had to be measured, valued and auctioned off before the title could be granted. In July 1821, Ignacio Elias Gonzalez, commander of the military post of Tubac, appointed officers and ordered that the investigation be carried out. His account of the survey of the concession of San Ignacio de la Canoa describes a vast area that stretched from Tubac in the south to “el Saguarito, where there is a plant of this tree, which remains as a landmark. . ” the North.

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Because Mexico was in the process of separating from Spain, no titles were issued to the Ortiz brothers at this time. They finally obtained it in 1849.

The first known person to settle in “el Saguarito”, the Spanish word for little saguaro, was Cyrus S. Rice, born in Maine in 1832 and traveled to California, possibly for the Gold Rush. In December 1861, he enlisted in Company I, 5th California Volunteers Infantry Regiment as a corporal, at Marysville, Calif., and served until his discharge in 1864, at Las Cruces, New Territory. Mexico.

Around 1867, Rice moved to “el Saguarito” along the Santa Cruz River. His new home was called Sahuarita Ranch, which was likely a corruption of the area’s original Spanish name. On December 23, 1868, he sold the ranch for $600 to Albert C. Benoit. The deed of sale describes the boundaries as follows: “Commencing at Sahuara opposite and west of the house…”

Instead of using a normal land deed (i.e. general warranty deed), Rice used a quitclaim deed to sell his ranch. This type of deed may indicate that the seller is unsure of ownership of the property. Rice may therefore have settled near the small saguaro or landmark without buying the land from a previous owner. Either way, Rice was probably the first to live here and is therefore the founder of what is known today as the town of Sahuarita.

Benedict, born around 1830 in Michigan and arrived in Arizona around 1860, married Gregoria Alvares just before his purchase of the Sahuarita Ranch. His wife, who speaks Spanish, may have pointed out the misspelling of the ranch’s name, as it was changed to Sahuarito Ranch.

John Spring, who was stationed at Camp Lowell, would write years later about a leg of his journey from Tucson to Santa Cruz, Sonora. “As night fell, we stopped at a place called Sahuarito (little giant cactus), for an isolated plant of this genus growing near the place, which was a food and watering point maintained by a certain Benedict, about twenty-five miles south of Tucson and one mile west of the Santa Cruz River.

In July 1872, Benedict and two ranch hands were in the field about 300 yards from the ranch house, planting beans and pulling weeds, when the Apaches attacked. Benoît received several bullets, including one in the foot which injured him for life. In November of that year, he was elected Treasurer of Pima County and later served as Territorial Auditor. In January 1874, Benedict began tending the horses and mules at the Sahuarito Ranch, charging $2.50 per animal per month with unlimited grass (grain was available for an extra charge). The following year, he advertised the sale of the Sahuarito Ranch in the Arizona Citizen newspaper, but apparently found no buyer.

By 1877 he had abandoned the Sahuarito Ranch and moved to the Huababi Ranch on the Santa Cruz River south of Calabasas.

Between April and November 1877, James K. “Jim” Brown And Tom Roddick got the Sahuarito ranch from Benedict. In June 1879, Roddick was preparing to travel to Texas to obtain cattle for the Sahuarito Ranch when he died suddenly. A few years later, the ranch legally became Brown’s sole property.

In December 1879, Brown returned to his home state of Ohio and brought back a wife, Olive S. Brown. When she arrived at her new home, Olive found an eight-room ranch with adobe walls and high ceilings. The two front living rooms had floors, while the rest of the house had dirt floors. This structure was surrounded by a large, thick adobe wall.

On September 4, 1882, the Sahuarito Post Office was established, with Brown as postmaster and Olive as assistant. It was used until June 11, 1886. Brown was sheriff of Pima County from 1891 to 1892.

Early in the new century, when the Twin Buttes Railroad was under construction between Tucson and the mining camp called Twin Buttes, Brown granted the railroad the right of way through his property with the agreement that the station would be called Saharato. A few years later, he sold his ranch and properties and moved to Tucson.

According to Olive S.Brandgranddaughter of James K. Brown, the family ranch has always been known as Sahuarito Ranch, not Sahuarita Ranch.

On October 11, 1915, the post office was re-established as Sahuarita with T.G. Dumont as his postmaster. Over time, the station also became known as Sahuarita.

As it grew, the town retained the name Sahuarita, which it still bears today.

Special thanks to Mary Bingham of the Tubac Historical Society and Dan Cowgill of the Fidelity National Title Agency for research assistance on this article. For a list of sources used in this article, see the online version at Tucson.com


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