Many Oro Valley residents are familiar with the historic Steam Pump Ranch and its original owner, George Pusch. A German immigrant, Pusch, along with his partner John Zellweger, established the ranch in 1874 in what is now the heart of Oro Valley. Pusch Ridge was named after him by 1902. An unknown fact about George Pusch is that he was twice a member of the Arizona Territorial Legislature (1891 and 1899) and served as a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1910.
An entry for GEORGE PUSCH in the records of Arizona history states:
“Republican from Pima County”. “Cattleman and owner of a butcher shop. Partner in firm of Pusch & Zellweger whose cattle brand was well known throughout the area. Director of the Arizona National Bank. Member of the city council, Tucson. Served in the house of representatives 1891, 1899. Refused to sign the finished constitution. Died Tucson, August 20, 1921.”
Pusch’s refusal, noted above, to sign the Constitution is part of the broader picture of Arizona politics in the early 1900s. Arizona’s movement to statehood was a lengthy one and it was not proclaimed a state until February 14, 1912, the last of the contiguous 48 states.
Fifty-two delegates were elected to the 1910 Arizona Constitutional Convention held in Phoenix. Of these, 41 were Democrats and 11 were Republican. The large majority of Democrats was attributed to voter dissatisfaction with a territorial government that gave considerable power to large corporations. Pusch was one of the few Republicans at the Phoenix convention as were the other four representatives from Pima County.
The Constitutional Convention lasted 60 days. The Democrats wrote a constitution that contained measures for the recall of all public officials including judges who were often viewed as being controlled by large companies and the railroads. They thought it would be approved by a Republican Congress in Washington D.C.. During the Convention, Republicans disagreed and all except one refused to sign the Constitution. George Pusch and the other Pima County delegates went home, so Pima County had no signatures on the document sent to Congress for ratification.
Congress did approve the Constitution, however President Taft did not until Arizona removed the provision specifying that public officials, including judges, were subject to recall. Arizona voters complied and on February 14, 1912 President Taft signed a proclamation admitting Arizona to the Union. Later that year, Arizona voters amended their constitution to reinstate the recall of judges provision. An independent state from the beginning!
George Pusch’s records from his participation in the 1910 Constitutional Convention have been donated to the Oro Valley Historical Society by his grandson, Henry Zipf. They will be displayed at Steam Pump Ranch in the future. By Patricia Sped (2010).
Members of the Arizona Constitutional Convention Phoenix, Arizona –October 10 to December 9, 1910. George Pusch did sign the above photograph (No. 12, above the center arch). He is seated in the front row, the first person on the right. (The woman in the photo was not a delegate).