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Arizona Land Surveyor, Land Surveying Services

AZ Land Surveying - Phoenix Arizona

Phone or Text: (623) 414-9571 - (602) 788-9520

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This weeks Look at Arizona's Past...

Chapter 34 Land Surveyor Weekly From #05: It was in 1851 that the first government exploration was made across northern Arizona. Captain L. Sitgreaves was ordered to follow the Zuili, Colorado Chiquito, and Colorado rivers down to the gulf. With a party of twenty he left Zuni in September, but did not attempt to follow the river through the great canons, turning off to the west on the 8th of October, crossing the country just above the parallel of 35, approximately on the route followed by Padre Grarces in 1776, reaching the Mojave region on the Colorado, November 5th, and following the main river south to Fort Yuma, where he arrived at the end of November. The condition of the animals and lack of supplies had not permitted this expedition to accomplish all that had been expected of it, but the result of this first exploration was an interesting itinerary, a map of the route, and various scientific reports on a new region.

Sitgreaves' exploration was followed in 1853-4 by the 35th parallel Pacific Railroad survey under Lieutenant A. W. Whipple. With Lieutenant J. C. Ives as chief assistant in a corps of twelve, and an escort of the 7th U. S. infantry under Lieutenant John M. Jones, Whipple, having completed the survey from Fort Smith across New Mexico, left Zuni on November 23, 1853. His route was for the most part somewhat south of that followed by Sitgreaves, though his survey covered the same region. Descending the Zuni, and Colorado Chiquito, and later the Santa Maria and Bill Williams fork, this party reached the Colorado the 20th of February, followed that river up to latitude 34, 50', and thence in March continued the survey across California. The resulting report as published by government, though of similar nature, is very much more elaborate and extensive than that of Sitgreaves, containing an immense amount of the most valuable descriptive, geographic, and scientific matter on northern Arizona, profusely illustrated by fine colored engravings and maps.

The Mexican government having permitted, a little in advance of the new treaty, the survey for a railroad route south of the line, Lieutenant John G. Parke with a party of about 30 and an escort under Lieutenant Greorge Stoneman left San Diego January 24, 1854, and began his survey at the Pima villages on the Gila. He reached Tucson the 20th of February, thence proceeding to the San Pedro and eastward by a route somewhat north of Cooke's wagon road for a part of the way, known as Nugent's trail. Coming again into Cooke's road on March 7th, he followed it to the Rio Grande. Again in May 1855 Lieutenant Parke with another party started from San Diego for the Pima villages, and made a more careful survey by several routes of the country stretching eastward from the San Pedro.

After the discovery of gold in California emigrants in large numbers began to cross southern Arizona, from Sonora and other Mexican states in 1848, and from the eastern United States in 1849. Of this movement, which continued for many years, we have naturally no records except for a few parties. The route followed was by the Santa Cruz and Gila valleys, though some Mexican parties preferred to cross Papagueria; and the Americans reached Tucson from the Kio Grande for the most part by Cooke's wagon road of 1846, though various cut-offs were likewise attempted It was a journey of much hardship always, and especially so in seasons of drought, though not more difficult apparently than on other routes. The experiences of the gold-seekers on any of the great lines of travel to California would supply material for a fascinating volume, but onlv a few of the diaries are extant, and not even one of them can be cJosely followed here. The journal kept by Benjamin Hayes in 1849 is the most complete that I have seen, minutely describing the events of each day's progress of his large party from the end of October, when they left the Kio Grande, to the end of December, when they crossed the Colorado into California. The tedious march, novel features of the country and its products noted, the search for grass and water, petty accidents to men and mules, occasional meeting with Indians the frequent and careful perusal of records left on trees and rocks by preceding parties, delays caused by illness and occasional deaths, passing the graves of earlier emigrants, discussions on the route and speculations on the prospects oflfered by the land of gold, and the thousand and one petty items that make up this journal and hundreds of others written and unwritten — all ,give a strong fascination to the monotonous record, but all resist condensation, or if condensed show simply that an emigrant party once on a time passed that way. The parties numbered hundreds, and the emigrants tens of thousands, but details must and may safely be left to the imagination.

About The Historical Texts

Following is the list of uncopyrighted publications used for the History of Arizona and the Southwest. All can be easily found on-line in PDF format. Sorted by publication date they are:

  1. The Memoir of the Proposed Territory of Arizona - 1857 | By Sylvester Mowry
  2. Arizona and Sonora - 1863 | By Sylvester Mowry
  3. The Territory of Arizona_1874 | By Arizona Legislative Assembly
  4. Resources of Arizona - 1881 | By Arizona Legislative Assembly
  5. The History of Arizona and New Mexico, Volume 17 - 1889 - (Arizona Portion) | By Hubert Howe Bancroft
  6. Titan of Chasms the Grand Canyon - 1906 | By C.A. Higgins, J.W. Powell, Chas.F.Lumins
  7. Reminiscences of a Soldiers Wife - 1907 - (Arizona Portion) | By Ellen McGowan Biddle
  8. The First Through the Grand Canyon - 1915 | By Major John Wesley Powell
  9. The History of Arizona, Volume 1 - 1915 (starting Chapter VII) | By Thomas Edwin Farish
  10. The History of Arizona, Volume 2 - 1915 | By Thomas Edwin Farish
  11. The History of Arizona, Volume 3 - 1916 | By Thomas Edwin Farish
  12. The History of Arizona, Volume 4 - 1916 | By Thomas Edwin Farish
  13. The History of Arizona, Volume 5 - 1918 | By Thomas Edwin Farish
  14. The History of Arizona, Volume 6 - 1918 | By Thomas Edwin Farish
  15. The History of Arizona, Volume 7 - 1918 | By Thomas Edwin Farish
  16. The History Of Arizona, Volume 8 - 1918 | By Thomas Edwin Farish
  17. Arizona the Wonderland - 1917 | By George Wharton James
  18. The Story of Arizona - 1919 | By Will H. Robinson

The majority of the publications listed here were written with the intent to be historically accurate. This is not an attempt to make a point of historical fact by providing this information. It is intended to simply share what is documented about the American Southwest, primarily on the Arizona Territorial area.

There are no living people to speak for the time period related here. We must use recorded information to look into that era. The point-of-view of today is different from those living then. The intent here is not to provide an opinion. If one spends time reading the material listed, it will be enlightening as to life in the untamed Territory of Arizona as it was in the minds of the people of at that era.

Regarding the stories of the all of people in the Territory of Arizona it can bring out all emotions. From sympathy to anger and sadness to admiration, you will feel something. It is difficult to imagine what it would be like to be living here, or traveling through, at different times in the past. It is hopeful that all will find a least find some amusement looking through the window of the past provided here.

A little about the Arizona Land Surveyors of yester-year

It was a rough life for the Land Surveyor of yester-year. The Survey party that was sent out then consisted of a large crew. Usually between 5-7 men. There was a head Land Surveyor along with a couple of Land Surveyor trainees which pulled the chain. The chain was an actual 66 foot long chain, with 100 links, used to measure distance. It looks similar to what holding the flags at the base of the page. There were laborers to help clear trees and brush out of the way. Given the crude equipment of the time, it is amazing how accurate some of the old Land Surveyor's measurements were.

Land Surveying in Arizona Started in 1866. From a report in 1867 by Joseph S. Wilson, Commissioner of the General Land Office : "A contract was entered into with Deputy Surveyor William H. Pierce on the 15th day of December, 1866, for the survey in Arizona of 96 miles of the Gila and Salt River Meridian; 36 miles of the base line and standard and exterior township boundary lines, to amount in the aggregate to a sum not exceeding $7,500. Mr. Pierce completed the survey of the meridian from the initial corner north 24 miles, the base line from the same corner east 36 miles, and the first standard parallel north along the south boundary of township 5 north, east 42 miles, and west 42 miles, when the military protection which had been furnished him was withdrawn, and he was compelled to quit the field, the Indians infesting the country, rendering it unsafe and impracticable to continue the work without military escort. At his request, and by your order, Mr. Pierce has been released from further obligation to prosecute the work under his contract."

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Our Arizona Land Surveyor's Weekly Look into the Past of Arizona...

Chapter 34 Land Surveyor Weekly From #05: It was in 1851 that the first government exploration was made across northern Arizona. Captain L. Sitgreaves was ordered to follow the Zuili, Colorado Chiquito, and Colorado rivers down to the gulf. With a party of twenty he left Zuni in September, but did not attempt to follow the river through the .........Continue to complete Chapter

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