It’s Not Too Late to Donate!

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It’s not too late for you to play Santa!  Do you have any end-of-year giving to complete?  We would love for you to stuff the Oro Valley Historical Society (OVHS) stocking.

In September, we reopened exhibits in the Pusch House Museum celebrating Hispanic-American Heritage Month.  Since then we have changed exhibits monthly featuring; German-American Heritage, Native American Heritage, and in December, “Traditions, Toys, and Trains”.  Each exhibit always connects the subject matter to the rich history of the Greater Oro Valley Area.  Exhibits will continue through the middle of April.  In January, we will begin our popular outdoor property tours of Steam Pump Ranch.  We have hosted an average of 75 visitors per Saturday at the Pusch House with as many as 130.  Let’s keep the momentum going!


In November, OVHS received a grant from the Arizona Historical Society and we will begin work on a timeline highlighting important Oro Valley dates in history.  This project will be complete in June and will become part of our permanent collection at the Pusch House.  While the grant was generous, it may not cover the entire cost of production.  Will you take the “time” to support this effort?  Without your support and the support of our volunteers Oro Valley history will be lost in “time”.


If you have already supported OVHS in 2021, we thank you kindly!  If not, you can fill the OVHS stocking with your donation by going to our website and hit the “Donate” link or send your donation via mail to:  The Oro Valley Historical Society, P.O. Box 69754 Oro Valley, AZ 85737 Checks dated in 2021 will be given a tax donation receipt for 2021.  Online donations will reflect the date of your donation and be recognized with a tax donation letter. (Please be sure to include your address in the body of the donation.)


Thank you for helping us accomplish a successful 2021 as we look forward to a great “time” in 2022!


The Oro Valley Historical Society Board of Directors

Henry Zipf, President

Roxana Johnson, Vice-President

Paul Loomis, Treasurer

Teri Colmar, Secretary

Sue Chambasian, Collections

Joyce Rychener, Education & Garden

Sheri Graves, Photography


Financial Donations

Let’s Talk Railroads!

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On Wednesday, December 1 at 2:00 p.m. we will have a talk on the history of railroads in our area..the Narrow Gauge.  The talk will be given by two historians from the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum (in Tucson), Paul Horky and Gene Caywood.  The lecture will take place at the Pusch House Museum at Steam Pump Ranch (10901 N. Oracle Rd., OV 85737).

While you’re at the museum, you’ll be able to see the December exhibit: Traditions, Toys and Trains.  It features holiday traditions, toys through time and the history of the railroad in Southwest Arizona and Oro Valley.  This is a fun exhibit for both history and train buffs.

A free talk but donations are very appreciated!

Pusch House Museum Exhibits

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The Pusch House Museum is Back in Business!


The Pusch House Museum reopened in September after a long hiatus due to….well you know.

In September, we featured an exhibit focusing on Hispanic- American Heritage.  Our local area has a long history of Hispanic influence and our display featured the historical interconnections of cultures and bonds that unite us today.

In October our exhibit featured the roots of Steam Pump Ranch when we focused on German-American Heritage.  The life of George Pusch was the main focus but other Tucson notables of German ancestry and their contributions to our community were also featured.

The exhibits change monthly.  The Pusch House Museum will be  open the 2nd and 4th Saturdays in November (Native American Heritage exhibit) from nine to noon and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, Saturdays in December (Holiday Traditions, Toys, and Trains) from nine to noon.  We hope to welcome you, your friends, and family to the Historic Heart of Oro Valley – The Pusch House Museum and Steam Pump Ranch.

We’re Back!

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After a long, hot, rainy summer the Oro Valley Historical Society is back!  After a long ,weary, year and many months of COVID, we have an indoor exhibit at the Pusch House Museum.  We are celebrating Hispanic-American Heritage Month.  Our shared cultures in the Southwest make this a very special place.  The exhibit opened on Saturday, September 11 and was enjoyed by many.  Stop by on Saturday, September 25 from nine to noon to discover some tidbits of cultural and local history you may not know.  We hope to see you!

A Tucson View of U.S. Independence

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By the time the Declaration of Independence was adopted, signed and printed on July 4, 1776, much had already transpired to move the Patriots toward revolution.  In the spring of 1775, “the shot heard round the world” at Lexington and Concord had already been fired.  In that same summer, a colonial militia under Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold took over Fort Ticonderoga, George Washington was appointed by the Second Continental Congress to establish and lead an army, and the Battle of Bunker Hill (Breed’s Hill) had taken place. Tom Paine published “Common Sense” in January of 1776, a persuasive argument for independence.  It sold 150,000 copies with numerous printings reaching half a million (the population in American at the time being about 3 million).

On June 7, 1776 Richard Lee of Virginia proposed a resolution to declare the colonies independence.  A committee was formed to draw up the document and included among others, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson’s writing skills were widely known and he cloistered himself to quickly accomplish the task assigned him.  On July 2, Lee’s resolution was passed by the Congress.  On the evening of July 4, the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed.

But what was happening in the west while the colonies in the east prepared for a revolution?  As the Spanish headed north from Mexico, settlements cropped up along the rivers.  A Presidio fortress protected new settlers in Tubac.  In 1775, an Irish aristocrat who had allegiance to Spain, Hugo O’Conór, was appointed as Inspector General of the Interior Provinces of Spain.  He closed the Tubac fortress and determined a new fortress, Presidio San Augstin del Tucson, should be built.  When the Tubac residents relocated they found little to be desired at the new fort.  Focused more on survival and Apache raids than faraway politics, the Tucson Presidio residents were only mildly concerned with the revolution in the east.  That being said, their allegiance to Spain made them natural opponents of Great Britain. As the newly appointed Chief Minister of King Charles II of Spain, the Count of Floridblanca wrote in March 1777, “the fate of the colonies interests us very much, and we shall do for them everything that circumstances permit. In the 1780s as revolution information became more available, Tucsonans  actually raised money to help the Patriot cause.  It was a common practice for monarchs to request money from their subjects to finance wars.


While there is much debate about who the founders of Tucson are, much can be said that Hugo O’Conór  (The Red Captain) certainly played an important role.

With a large Spanish force under his command, he spent the next few years fighting the Apache and Comanche tribes who were attacking the area along the vast northern boundary of New Spain.  O’Conór’s health began to fail and he did not linger in Tucson long.  He requested a transfer.  The request was granted but, instead of retirement, he was promoted to Brigadier General and appointed Governor of Spain’s Yucatán province in Mexico. On March 9, 1779, at the age of 45, Hugo O’Conór died at Quinta de Miraflores just east of the city of Merida in the Yucatán.

August 20, 1775

I, Hugo Oconor, knight of the order of Calatrava, colonel of infantry in His Majesty’s armies and commandant inspector of the frontier posts of New Spain

Certify that having conducted the exploration prescribed in Article three of the New Royal Regulation of Presidios issued by His Majesty on the tenth of September 1772 for the moving of the company of San Ignacio de Tubac in the Province of Sonora, I selected and marked out in the presence of Father Francisco Garces and Lieutenant Juan de Carmona a place known as San Agustin del Tucson as the new site of the Presidio. It is situated at a distance of eighteen leagues from Tubac, fulfills the requirements of water, pasture, and wood and effectively closes the Apache frontier. The designation of the New Presidio becomes official with the signatures of myself, Father Francisco Garces, and Lieutenant Juan de Carmona, at this mission of San Xavier del Bac, on this twentieth day of August of the year 1775.

Hugo Oconor
Fray Francisco Garces
Juan Fernandez Carmona


Hugo O’Conór, The Red Captain (due to his flowing red hair)



Don’t Know Much About History/Kenneth C. Davis

West of the Revolution/Claudio Saunt

Hugo O’Conor/Wikipedia


Happy Birthday Oro Valley

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Happy 47th Birthday Oro Valley!

The following article is from the Oro Valley Historical Heritage Guide, April 2009

The Making of a Town by Marjorie K. Kriegh, Town Historian

(Marjorie Kriegh, wife of Jim Kriegh and first Town Historian for the Town of Oro Valley)

It is fact that the Town of Oro Valley has been happily incorporated since April 1974.  But, perhaps, you have wondered how and why the Town of Oro Valley came to be.

Our story began long ago, way back in 1968.  Tucson Mayor “Gentleman” Jim Corbett made a statement, which , to some area residents could be likened to the “shot heard round the world”.  Well, ‘round Tucson, anyway.  Mayor Corbett said that they (the areas around Tucson) will be taken in (to Tucson’s city limits) “kicking, stamping and screaming, if necessary”.  The City of Tucson’s political climate, as it was at that time, was not to many people’s liking and many, many people living outside Tucson’s corporate limits wished to remain so.  Some concerned citizens began to look at the feasibility of forming their own town in order to avoid being “absorbed” by the City of Tucson.

The State of Arizona, however, had done its part to discourage incorporation of areas on the “outskirts” of larger municipalities.  A ruling came down from the legislature which stipulated that an area proposed for incorporation must have at least 500 inhabitants who all had to exhibit common goals and objectives.  Additionally, to protect the larger cities, an area proposed for incorporation had to be farther than six miles from another incorporated city’s boundaries.  If the proposed boundaries were not six miles apart, then permission by the incorporated city must be given.  Larger cities and towns lobbied long and hard for these incorporation rulings because they did not wish to be hemmed in by a proliferation of “bedroom communities”; to avoid competition.

Some residents northwest of Tucson were undaunted by these rulings.  With the competent legal advice of Mr. Ellsworth Triplett, for whom I served as legal secretary at the time, interested people began to organize. These people came from, not only the area later to become known as Oro Valley, but also, from the Catalina Foothills area.

There were obstacles to overcome.  The “six mile” rule made incorporation of the Catalina Foothills area impossible, but, as Mr. Triplett advised, the outlying area which included the Oro Valley Country Club Estates and the Highlands Mobile Home Park, could conceivably be incorporated since the area was six miles distant from the City of Tucson limits.  (Later, the Highlands Mobile Home Park was dropped from the incorporation effort because less than 50% of the people favored the incorporation.)  At this time, the proposed Town was to be named, The Town of Palo Verde.”

Because the Oro Valley Country Club Estates, under the direction of Mr. Robert Daly, President of the Homeowner’s Association, was undertaking street improvement, interest in the incorporation effort waned for a time, but was renewed when Mr. E. S. (Steve) Engle, the new Oro Valley Homeowner’s President became interested.  Together with my husband, Jim Kriegh, they gathered citizen support from all areas proposed for incorporation, including Shadow Mountain Estates East and West, Campo Bello Estates, Linda Vista Citrus Tracts, and Oro Valley Country Club Estates.

Citizens from all these areas worked long and hard for many years, the culmination of their efforts being the filing of a petition for the incorporation of the Town of Oro Valley with the Pima County Board of Supervisors.  As may have been suspected this petition was promptly rejected by the Board, leading to a four year court battle which ended in the Arizona Supreme Court.  The decision handed down by the Supreme Court directed the Pima County Board of Supervisors to incorporate our tiny 2.5 square mile Town of Oro Valley.

This decision signified the birth of the Town of Oro Valley on April 15, 1974 and the beginning of a Town which, it is hoped, all citizens may be proud of today*

*The resolution to incorporate Oro Valley was adopted by the Pima County Board of Supervisors on April 15, 1974.  The first Mayor and Council were appointed on April 17, 1974, so April 17th is the official Town birth date.

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