Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Visiting Still - the "Father of Arizona"

     February 14th brings about Arizona's 101st  birthday as a state of the United States of America.  So, we thought it was a perfect time to publish our story about Charles Poston, the acknowledged Father of Arizona.

    The mountaintops of Arizona have some pretty unique, amazing and strange things built on top of them. One such small mountain, just north of Florence, is an easy 20-minute hike to the top and will lead today’s Arizona adventurers to another of those early 20th Century pyramids. Since February 14th is Arizona’s birthday, a climb to the top of this mountain would be a good way to honor the Father of Arizona, Charles Poston.
    Charles Poston first arrived to this land in 1854.  He soon established the Sonora Mining and Exploring Company and when, with other American miners, silver was discovered in the nearby hills of the abandoned Presidio of Tubac, the old adobe town came to life once again.
     Tubac at this time was a part of the New Mexico Territory and Santa Fe was the territorial capitol.  Poston was made the mayor of Tubac and his jobs were many.  He served as judge, town treasurer and even had legal authority to declare war.  He spent most of his time marrying folks or granting divorces and keeping the town’s records. 

     He even had paper money printed in New York with pictures of various animals on the bills to replace the bulky gold dust and silver bullion that miners had normally used in their business transactions.  A bill with a picture of a pig on it was worth 12 1/2 cents, a calf 25 cents, a rooster 50 cents, a horse one dollar; a bull five dollars and a lion was worth ten dollars.
     But since the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861, Charles Poston had spent the better part of his time and money away from his Tubac home and the land that he wanted to become the Territory of Arizona. The war had resulted in the soldiers of the U.S Army being pulled from this land to fight in the battles of the east.  All of Tubac had to be abandoned due to endless Apache raids.
    While in Washington lobbying congress in 1862 word reached Charles Poston that Confederate soldiers had taken over Tucson and declared the Old Pueblo a part of the Confederate Territory of Arizona. His need to get the Organic Act passed and to get President Abraham Lincoln to sign it into law now took on a new urgency.
     By early 1863 his two-year lobbying effort was finally coming to a glorious conclusion.  On February 24, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation creating the Territory of Arizona. 
     Charles Poston returned to his Arizona as the territory’s first Superintendent of Indian Affairs.  In 1864 he would become the first territorial congressman to serve in Washington D.C.  Soon he would travel around the world learning about irrigation projects and desert farming.  He would also become fascinated with the idea of building a Temple to the Sun on a small mountain top that he loved near Florence.
     He spent his last years living in Phoenix writing and speaking of his memories of early Arizona. Charles Poston died in Phoenix, living in poverty, on June 2, 1902. 
     In 1925, to honor the 100th anniversary of his birth, Charles Poston’s remains were moved from Phoenix to his favorite hilltop near Florence.  There they were re-buried under a pyramid atop what was now being called Poston Butte.
     The Father of Arizona, Charles Poston, still lies under his pyramid on his favorite mountaintop near Florence.   It’s an easy hike for all the family and a fun day-trip from Anthem.

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