The History of Yuma
and the Territorial Prison

b y   R o b e r t   W o z n i c k i

History of Yuma
xii + 212 pages, including index and bibliography

ISBN 0-933025-35-1

Woznicki Publications, Tempe, Arizona

Table of Contents


01. Some Interesting Facts about Yuma, Arizona

02. Early Yuma . . . the Spanish Period

03. Early Yuma . . . Continued

04. Steamboats on the Colorado

05. The Real Yuma Begins to Grow

06. Yuma from 1900 to World War II

07. Gadsden Purchase and Its Effect on Yuma

08. Yuma Indians

09. Fort Yuma

10. Yuma Territorial Prison

11. The Railroads of Yuma County

12. The History of Irrigation in Yuma County

13. The Colorado River

14. The All American Canal

15. Roads in the Desert

16. The Catholic Church in Yuma

17. U.S. Marine Station and the Yuma Proving Grounds

18. The First Hanging in Yuma

19. Sylvester Villa

20. More Facts about Yuma

21. Agriculture

22. Yuma of the Future

23. Famous Men of Yuma

24. Somerton, Arizona

25. Harold C. Giss

26. Points of Interest around Yuma County

27. San Luis, Arizona


From Chapter 5, "The Real Yuma Begins to Grow"
It is said that wicked soldier died here, and was consigned to the fiery regions for his manifold sins; but unable to stand the rigors of the climate, sent back for his blankets.
    -- J. Ross Brown      
    Adventures in the Apache Country, 1864

The years 1858 and 1859 were important ones in the Yuma area. They brought permanent residents, a new steamer, and the discovery of gold on the Gila.
    Many Americans and Mexicans who returned from California were frustrated because they did not find gold, and they stopped along the areas of Yuma Crossing and hunted for the rich, yellow lode.
    Jacob Snively, a man from Texas, found the dust about eighteen miles above Fort Yuma. News spread all over the United States, and for a while, the Yuma area was a repetition of the California gold strike. The area where gold was found by Snively became Gila City, and about a thousand people suddenly appeared to make the city a new hub of activity. . . .
    The gold strike did not last long. There was no rich discovery of any kind. The settlement soon vanished, and Gila City became a ghost town.
    In 1862, Arizona City [Yuma] suffered a severe flood. At this time the Gila River overflowed her banks to such an extent that water stood twenty feet deep on a ranch in the bottom lands just above the town. The town virtually had to be rebuilt again. This was one of many disasters that the future area of Yuma was to suffer.
    In 1864, Yuma County was laid out with La Paz as the county seat, and it was in this year that the first Pony Express came to Yuma. But in 1867, Yuma, as we know it, began to mature as a site. Permanent homes replaced huts; there were streets and new stores. Mexicans came from Sonora and many came from California. The rich soil near the river produced abundant crops. Wagon factories were established to take care of the overland freighters.
    In 1866, the Post Office was established, and the Arizona Vigilantes organized.
    In 1870, Arizona City was made the county seat of Yuma County. Consequently when the San Diego [California] tax collector arrived the following fall, there was trouble. When he demanded that the taxes be paid in gold coin, an excited citizen swore out a warrant charging the man with an attempt to collect money under false pretenses. Fortunately for him, some of the more calm citizens deposited bail for his temporary release to appear in court.
    Immediately the troubled man wrote to San Diego to inquire what action he should take. His friends advised him to leave the place under cover of darkness. No time was lost in doing this, and his bondsmen were left in a bad state of mind. All of them declared they would never pay another cent to the San Diego authorities, and from that time on the citizens of Yuma have carried out their threat. History seems to record the fact that the people of Yuma always wanted to be identified with the great area known as Arizona.

Copyright © 1995 by Robert Woznicki.

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