"Elevation 137 feet. On Colorado river, southwest corner of State. Surveyed and survey filed at San Diego, 1854. California collected taxes on it for several years. Said to have been the only occupied place in 1854, in what is now Arizona. The author feels sure that Tubac antedated it by several years. "While we were camped on the banks of the Colorado river, in July 1854, we concluded to locate a town site on the strip of land opposite Fort Yuma. The actual survey showed 936 acres and this was quite large enough for a town site." Colonel Poston, Overland Monthly July 1894.
Town first called Colorado City, also Arizona City, then Yuma city. On east side of river. An act of Territorial Legislature, Feb. 2, 1873 reads as follows: "An Act, to change the name of Arizona City. Be it enacted, etc., that the name of Arizona City, the county seat of Yuma county, be, and is hereby, changed to Yuma, and shall be known as such from and after the passage of this act."
Post Office records at Washington show that John B. Dow was appointed Post Master at Colorado City March 7, 1858. It was then in Dona Ana County, New Mexico, and Dow's commission was issued that way. These official records also show the post office was called Yuma before the passage of the legislative act in 1873 for the first post office was established under the name Yuma, October 16, 1866, Francis Hutton, PM.
"All authorities agree that it was called Colorado City at first. The big flood of 1862 practically wiped the village out and the rebuilt town was called Arizona City." McClintock. In 1867, General J.F. Rusling wrote of this place: "Directly opposite Fort Yuma, on eastern bank of Colorado, stands Arizona city, a straggling collection of adobe houses containing perhaps 200 inhabitants. Here, and at Fort Yuma, are located the government storehouses, shops, corrals, etc., as the grand depot for all the posts in Arizona. Hence considerable business centers here. But it is chiefly of a military nature and if the post and depot were removed, the city as such would speedily subside into its original sandhills. Being at junction of the Gila and Colorado, where the main route of travel crosses the latter, it is also the first place of any importance on the Colorado itself, and hence would seem to be well located for business, if Arizona had any business to speak of."
In 1874, the legislature authorized the Territorial Penitentiary Commissioners to purchase- "not less than 10 acres of land on which to locate the Territorial Penitentiary." This was first location of the Arizona Penal institution. Opened for business July 1, 1876. Writing of Yuma and its history, Donald Page, in Arizona Historical Review April 1830 says: "Garces received his crown of martyrdom at the hands of the Yuma Indians, at the newly established mission of La Purisima Concepcion, close to the site of Fort Yuma, On July 17, 171, when the Spanish Padres, settlers, and soldiers at that place and at San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuner, 8 leagues down the Colorado river, were all massacred. The padre's body was removed to San Pedro de Tubutama where it was re-interred with all the honors due a fallen "Soldier of the Cross." And thus passed Tucson's founder." See Fort Yuma, also San Dionisio.
Barnes, Will C. Arizona
Place Names University of Arizona Press. 1997.
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City Profile-Arizona Department of Commerce
Local Government Website
Sites to See
Yuma County Public Library District
Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park
209 N Penitentiary Av Yuma AZ 85364
Historical Prison Register- any inmate from 1875 to 1972 admitted to
The Yuma Daily Sun
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Books/Manuscripts found in the ASU Library Catalog
Selection of books on the history of Yuma
The growth of a western town : a case study of Yuma, Arizona 1915-1950 / by Jay Dexter Pierson.
The history of Yuma and the Territorial Prison / by Robert Woznicki.
: frontier crossing of the far southwest / by Clifford E. Trafzer.
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Items on the Arizona and Southwest Index
Yuma: in the Land - Of - Opportunity
CE EPH DTO-YUMA.5
Visitor's Guide to Historic Yuma
CE EPH DTO-YUMA.6
Fire Over Yuma Tales from The Lower Colorado
CE EPH DTO-YUMA.13
Historic Downtown Yuma, Arizona. A Guide to Yuma's Downtown Historic
Sites; Informational Brochures
CE EPH DTO-YUMA.26
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