Mexican-American Calendar : Arizona

1864 - 1985

(Compiled by Christine Marín)


1864 (November) The Black Canyon Mines in Coconino County were first discovered by Mexican-Americans in 1864 who were working placer mines in Turkey Creek. They extracted $35,000 in gold.

1877 (May) Antonio Varela became the proprietor of the Arizona and Sonora Stage Line, which carried the United States mail.

1878 M. L. Peralta of Wickenburg was appointed Postmaster of the area.

1878 Carlos I. Velasco began publishing El Fronterizo, an important Spanish-language newspaper, in Tucson.

1880 (December) Mexican-Americans began the Mexican Mine in Globe. The mine had a shaft 250 feet deep, all in good loads of gold and silver.

1880 Mariano Samaniego was the contractor to carry the U. S. mail from Tucson to Globe.

1881 José Garcia published a weekly newspaper in Phoenix, called La Guardia.

1881 Mexican-Americans extracted silver from the mines in the Amole District, near Tombstone.

1883 (May 12) Phoenix merchants signed an agreement to receive Mexican currency only at the rates of: dollars, 80 cents; halves, 40 cents; quarters, 20 cents.

1884 The U.S. Mail contractor for Springerville was Antonio Gonzales.

1886 (July) The first carload of bullion, the product of the smelter in Nogales, valued at $2,000, was shipped to Pittsburgh, PA. The smelter was built by the Mexican-Americans.

1887 (July) Mexican-Americans built the first Catholic Church in Solomonville, Arizona.

1889 Mexican-Americans organized the first Presbyterian Church in Morenci. There were 25 members.

1894 The Alianza Hispano-Americana, one of the earliest Mexican-American organizations to provide health and death benefits as well as social activities for its members, was founded in Tucson. Over 10,000 members belonged to chapters throughout the Untied States.

1898 (June) There was a prospect of trouble between the Mexicans and the Anglos at Clifton and Morenci. The outbreak of racial conflicts was based on the sympathy of the Mexicans towards Spain in her troubles abroad.

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1903 The Clifton-Morenci Strike, one of the earliest copper mine strikes in the Southwest, was caused by Mexican-American miners to protest racial prejudice in the mines, a dual-wage system where Mexican miners were paid much lower wages than Anglos for the same work, and unfair labor practices aimed only at Mexican-Americans.

1904 (January) Mexican-Americans organized the first William Randolph Hearst Club in Phoenix. The officers of this Democratic club were J.E. Sonoqui, Theodore Olea, and Joseph Biaz. The club had a charter membership of 150.

1904 Forty Anglo orphaned and abandoned children were brought from New York by Catholic nuns to Clifton-Morenci to be adopted by Mexican-American families. Upon their arrival, Anglos bitterly resented the placement of these children into the homes of the Mexican-Americans. Vigilantes broke into the homes in the dark of night and kidnapped and forcibly removed the children, causing further racial conflicts between the Mexican-Americans and the Anglos.

1907 (November) Jesus Garcia, railroad engineer, became a hero when he saved the entire town of Douglas by running a burning train loaded with high explosives out of town. Unfortunately, Garcia was killed in the explosion.

1911 (July) Company H, the National Guard in Yuma, elected a Mexican-American to the rank of lieutenant. The Adjutant General refused to issue a commission to him.

1913 Phoenix was recommended as a mobilization point for the Arizona National Guard in case of war with Mexico.

1913 (April) Mexican-Americans protested Arizona's anti-alien ownership law, which deprived them of their prior rights to property.

1915 La Liga Protectora Latina, a fraternal and mutual aid society, was formed in Phoenix and incorporated throughout Arizona, with 30 lodges remaining active. In 1917, La Liga played an important role in the unification of Mexican-American copper miners.

1917 (July 12) The Bisbee Deportations occurred in Bisbee. Two months after the U.S. entry into World War I, copper miners in southeastern Arizona walked out on strike. Vigilantes rounded up more than a thousand strikers, most of whom were Mexican-Americans, shipped them out of Arizona by rail, and left them out in the New Mexico desert in boxcars without food or water. Although charges were brought against the vigilantes because of their inhumane actions, no court action resulted.

1920 (July) 200 Mexican laborers employed in Arizona cotton fields were refused their pay and sent to Nogales. Arizona Governor Thomas Campbell began an investigation of charges that the laborers had been abused.

1920 The Ku Klux Klan became active in Globe-Miami, Phoenix, Tempe, Prescott, and Tucson. The KKK maintained its strong anti-Mexican philosophy against the Mexican-Americans in these towns.

1924 Mexican-Americans built the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Phoenix as a response to the racial prejudice and segregation they encountered at St. Mary's Catholic Church, where they were forced to hear mass in the basement of the church.

1926 (March) The Arizona Cotton Growers' Association started lobbying in Washington for changes in immigration laws which would permit growers to bring in more Mexican labor.

1927 César Chávez, organizer and labor leader and charismatic leader of the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, was born in Yuma. Chávez dedicated himself to fighting for the rights of all farm workers and challenged agriculture's insistence on its right to an unlimited supply of cheap labor.

1933 (March 4) President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide employment to men in need of work during the Great Depression. Thousands of Mexican-American men became enrollees and lived and worked in CCC camps throughout the U.S. In Arizona, they built forest roads, range fences, and erosion control channels; they planted trees, constructed armadas and trails and improved the forests. They earned $30 a month, and kept $5; the remaining $25 was sent home to their families.

1933 The first Catholic Church in Scottsdale was built by the Mexican-American community. Originally built on the corner of Brown Avenue and First Street, the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church served the Mexicans who lived in Scottsdale and worked in the area as laborers and cotton pickers.

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1939 The Mexican Methodist Church, known as the "Powderbox Church" of Jerome, was built by Sabino Gonzalez in 1939 and completed in 1941. The church was built for the Mexican-American miners and their families who experienced racial prejudice at the hands of the Anglo Methodists who refused to allow Mexicans into their church. Gonzalez built his church with disassembled wooden blasting-powder boxes.

1942 The Asociación Hispano-Americana de Madres Y Esposas, the Mexican-American Mothers and Wives Association, was founded in Tucson by Rosa Rodriquez Caballero. The organization was founded to help support the war effort in Tucson, and to provide economic and moral support to the Mexican-American soldiers abroad in World War II. The women published a community newspaper, The Chatter, and raised over $1 million in war bond sales in a 12-month period.

1945 Mexican-American veterans of World War II organized the first American Legion post for Mexican-Americans in Phoenix. Thunderbird Post No. 41 was founded by Frank Fuentes and Ray Martinez.

1955 Court Case: Baca v. Winslow, United States District Court No. Civ-394-Pct. A court suit to enjoin discrimination in furnishing swimming pool facilities; the segregation pattern consisted of permitting use of the swimming pool every other day to Mexican-Americans, American Indians, and Blacks only. The Anglos used the pool only on the day it was cleaned. Upon pressing the court case, the City of Winslow stipulated to discontinue the segregation.

1955 Court Case: Ortiz v. Jack, U.S. District Court of Arizona, No. 1723. After filing of court case, the Board of Education of Glendale agreed to discontinue the segregation and discrimination of Mexican school children.

1955 Court Case: Gonzalez v. Sheeley: Opinion by United States District Judge Dave Ling, Phoenix. The Court injunction granted barring segregation of Mexican school children in separate schools; ruling anticipated decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Negro school segregation cases. In the course of the decision, the Court declared: "...a paramount requisite in the American system of public education is social equality. It must be open to all children by unified school association, regardless of lineage."

1960 (March) The Mexican-American Community of La Victoria, known as Victory Acres, was annexed by the city of Tempe. The area was named "Victory Acres" during a three-day celebration of the U.S. conquest in World War II. The community remained a Mexican-American community until it was annexed.

1960 The American Coordinating Council of Political Education (ACCPE) was founded in Phoenix to provide a political support base to elect a Mexican-American Principal in the Phoenix Elementary School District.

1970 Dr. Manuel P. Servin, noted and most prominent scholar, educator, and writer of Mexican and Borderlands history, came to Arizona State University in Tempe to head the new American Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Servin also taught Chicano history courses as part of the program's goal to offer minority history courses to ASU students.

1970 The Hayden Library at Arizona State University in Tempe established the first Chicano Studies Library Project in Arizona. Christine Marín, native of Globe, was named Director of the library's collection development program and library project.

1971 Romana Acosta Banuelos, native of Miami, was named by Richard Nixon to become Treasurer of the United States.

1974 Raul Castro, born to indigent parents in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico, became Arizona's first Mexican-American Governor.

1974 Margarita Alcantar Reese became the first Mexican-American woman Mayor of El Mirage.

1974 Regina Rivers was the first Mexican-American woman from Arizona appointed to a service academy, the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY.

1975 (April) The first Arizona conference for Spanish-Speaking Women was held in Tucson and was sponsored by the Tucson League of Mexican-American Women.

1977 The Hanigans of Douglas, the father and two sons, were accused and later acquitted of torturing and robbing three Mexican nationals who crossed their ranch along the U.S.-Mexico border looking for work. The incident sparked bitter controversies over the rights of alien workers and touched off bitter and numerous demonstrations against the American court system.

1977 Graciela Gil Olivares, native of Sonora, Arizona, was selected by President Jimmy Carter to head the Community Services Administration program in Washington, DC.

1978 Virginia Aguero of Mesa became the first Mexican-American woman to seek a position on the Mesa City Council.

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1979 Ramona Cajero became the first Mexican-American woman to pass the physical abilities test of the Tucson Fire Department.

1980 (October) A 3-figure bronze sculpture of Mexican-American World War II servicemen was unveiled by Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Silvestre Herrera at the Escalante Community Center in the community of Victory Acres. The memorial honors all Mexican-Americans who served their country in WWII.

1983 Mary Rose Garrido Wilcox, Native of Superior, became the first Mexican-American woman elected to the Phoenix City Council.

1983 Louis P. Rodriguez, native of Superior, was the first Mexican-American Superintendent of the Phoenix Elementary School District. He was appointed by unanimous vote of the district's 5-member board.

1983 The Phoenix Elementary School District board voted to select 25 eighth-grade Mexican-American young women and their mothers to participate in a pilot program previewing campus life at Arizona State University in Tempe. The "Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program" was funded through the federal Women's Educational Equity Act and began in January, 1984.

1983 (May) Martin Rubí, age 17, became the first Mexican-American in 44 years to serve as Valedictorian for the Winslow High School graduating Class of 1983. The last Winslow Valedictorian of Mexican-American heritage was Rubí's aunt, Rose Rubí Rincón. Rincón graduated in 1939 and is believed to be the first Mexican-American Valedictorian in Winslow High School history.

1984 (May) Arizona's first Hispanic Convocation was held at Guadalupe, Arizona. The Hispanic Convocation ceremony honors all Mexican-American graduates of Arizona State University in Tempe.

1984 (August) Phelps Dodge Corp. ordered Mexican-American Sears employees to stop speaking Spanish in their lunch and work places, sparking bitter racial and ethnic confrontations over the rights of Mexican-Americans in the Morenci store.

1984 (December) The U.S. Hispanic Senior Citizens sponsored a conference and seminar in Phoenix on health care for the Mexican-American elderly.

1985 (January) The United Steelworkers of America formed District No. 39 in order to give Mexican-Americans a voice in the union hierarchy. The new district covered Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico.

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