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State of Arizona Genealogy

The State of Arizona is bordered by California, Colorado (northeast corner), Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Mexico. It has a land area of 114,006 square miles making it the 6th largest state. The 2010 population was 9,687,653 and the largest cities (2010) are Phoenix, 1,445,632; Tucson, 520,116; Mesa, 439,041; Chandler, 236,123; Glendale, 226,721; Scottsdale, 217,385; Gilbert, 208,453; Tempe, 161,719; Peoria, 154,065; Yuma, 90,041. The capital and largest city is Phoenix and the official state website is

The State of Arizona is named for the Aztec Indian word "arizuma," that means "silver-bearing," or from the Tohono O'odham Indian word "Aleh-zone" which means "small spring," or the Pima Indian word "Ali shonak" which also means "small spring." The State Nickname is " Grand Canyon State ". The State Motto is "Ditat Deus," God Enriches .

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Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, Yuma

See more information about Arizona's Counties.

Arizona History

What is now Arizona was first explored by Spanish explorers in the mid-1500s. However, settlements were not established in the area until much later. When the Spanish owned what is now Arizona, the area from Gila River southward, which was also part of the Gadsden Purchase later on, became known as Primeria Alta. That translates to "Land of the Upper Pima." That area also included a part of Mexico known as northern Sonora.

Spanish explorers first came to the area because they were searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. However, they actually found old cliff dwellings, sandstone villages, and evidence of Zuni and Hopi civilizations. They also found the Navajo and Apache tribes. In 1753, a fort at Tubac was founded by Governor Diego Ortiz Parilla. Then, in 1775, Tucson was founded. The Spanish were later forced to leave what is now Arizona because of the presence of Apache marauders. However, up until the 1840s, Tucson was technically owned by Mexico. Starting in 1826, there were garrisons established at Tubac, Santa Cruz, and Tucson. Apaches continued to raid the areas around those garrisons.

In 1821, Mexico gained its independence from Spain. Then, from 1846 to 1848, the Mexican War raged, eventually allowing the United States to gain control of the area to the Gila River's north. The are to the Gila River's south became part of the United States later, in 1853, as part of the Gadsden Purchase. Both regions, however, were known as parts of New Mexico Territory for several years. It took until 1863 for Arizona Territory to be established.

Several settlers came to Arizona because they were traveling along Cooke's Wagon Route headed towards California to look for gold. Those that chose to stay in Arizona tended to settle near either the Santa Cruz River or the Gila River. There were only some small skirmishes in Arizona during the Civil war. However, in the 20 years or so after the war, the Apache tribe and the settlers got into more and more conflicts because of the cattle ranching, mining, and trading industries expanding in the area. The railroad also helped to bring new settlers to the territory, after Flagstaff was established as a connecting point between San Bernardino, California and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Arizona's frontier history has often been portrayed on TV. Cochise, Tombstone, Wyatt Earp, and the O.K. Corral are forever etched into the minds of many United States citizens, as a result. However, it's important to note that those portrayals were not always accurate and that they are not even close to the Arizona of today, which features urban developments and other modern settlements.

It wasn't until the 1900s that larger settlements were established in Arizona. After many different attempts, it finally gained statehood in 1912. Descendants of the first frontier settlers still live in the state, along with Hopi, Havasupai, Navajo, Apache, Pima, Maricopa, Mohave, Yuma, and Cocopah tribe descendants. Several descendants of the first Mexican explorers can also be found in the state today. In addition to those ethnic groups, many people have moved to Arizona seeking sun, better health, and a warm place to retire.

Fairly recently, attention has been paid to microfilming, publishing, and otherwise preserving and organizing Mexican and Spanish records for Arizona. Records from the time that Arizona became a territory and those from after statehood was established are also being carefully organized and preserved.

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