An Easy Way to Help OVHS

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Don’t forget this easy way to help OVHS! Oro Valley Historical Society is a 501(c)3 non-for-profit organization . Our exhibits, events, and activities depend on YOUR support as members, financial donations and volunteering. If you shop at Fry’s, there’s any easy way to donate and it doesn’t cost you a thing! Fry’s partners with non-for-profits and gives back a portion of each purchase you make to YOUR designated charity. All you have to do is have a Fry’s V.I.P. Reward Card, and designate Oro Valley Historical Society as the recipient.
or Search Fry’s Community rewards at
Thank you to Fry’s and Thank YOU for your support!


Sow, What’s New in the Heritage Garden?

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The Heritage Garden at Steam Pump Ranch participated in the “One Seed Pima County” community project. Joyce Rychener cultivated the seeds of the Black Russian Sunflower this year’s chosen plant. Did you know that sunflowers can grow as much as 1 foot per day? The Black Russian Sunflower produces all black seeds that you frequently see in bird seed mix. The sunflower head can be as large as 18 inches. The yellow petals of the sunflower are a halo for hundreds of very tiny flowers that turn into seeds. This large plant (sometimes 12 feet tall) has multiple uses. The leaves can be used as cattle food and the stem fiber as paper. If need be, the dried stems can be a substitute for firewood! Since many birds can’t wait to feast on the scrumptious seeds, it’s best to protect them by covering the flower head with netting or cheesecloth.

Black Russian Sunflower

Joyce is an experienced seed collector and gardener. Many of the heirloom plants in the Heritage Garden are the product of seeds that are, in seed life, several generations old. Thank you to Joyce for providing the lovely pictures and volunteering her time and effort at the Heritage Garden!




It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas….What?

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Here it is, August, and at the Oro Valley Historical Society we’re already thinking about the holidays! Our fundraising team is busy at work getting ready for the our first Christkindlmarket right here in Oro Valley. Traditionally held in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, these holiday markets are now being held in town centers world wide, including London, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. We’ll festoon the Pusch House in German holiday decor tapping the traditions celebrated by the original owner of Steam Pump Ranch (SPR), George Pusch. We’ll offer many novelty Old World ornaments and decorative items for sale in our Christkindlmarket booth conveniently located at SPR.

In search of the perfect ornaments, Teri Colmar travelled to Frankenmuth, Michigan. She visited Bronner’s the World’s Largest Christmas store (7.35 acres indoors) with literally, thousands and thousands of ornaments! (Many thanks to Ellen Mocny at Bronner’s who guided Teri throughout the store.)

So save the dates! Visit our Christkindlmarket booth EVERY Saturday from November 9 through December 21 from 9 to Noon. There’ll be lots of other surprises and treats, too! Stay tuned for more information on our website and our Facebook page, Oro Valley Historical Society, as we draw closer to the event. And until then Season’s Greetings (and enjoy the rest of our long, hot summer)!

Where have YOU been?

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Gothenburg Nebraska Historical Museum

No matter where I travel I’m always searching out the local historical society or museum. The Gothenburg Historical Society (Nebraska) purchased this building (a former church) in 2005 and it houses their collection of local history. The town has Swedish and German roots with a strong farming component. They also have displays centered on the Native American culture of the Plains Indians including the Lakota and Cheyenne tribes.

Since its founding in 1882, the town has thrived in agriculture and industry. The population is approximately 3500.

You’ll find many similarities of displays between our two historical societies. The docents were welcoming and informative…just like ours! Enjoy the photos.

The Pony Express
Wash Day
Pioneers and Native Americans
Barbed Wire Display

East/West in 1776

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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 ultimately 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 war?  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 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.  In the 1780s as information became more available, Tucson residents actually raised money to help the Patriot cause.

While there is much debate about who, in fact, is the “founding father” of Tucson, much can be said that Hugo O’Conór certainly played a role.


Hugo O’Conor, The Red Captain

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

Research Credits:

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

“West of the Revolution”/Claudio Saunt

Come on down!

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Members, volunteers and interested parties!  We invite you to our Quarterly Information Meeting at 1:00 pm, on Wednesday July 10, 2019 at the Pusch House, Steam Pump Ranch, at 10901 N. Oracle Rd.

As part of the Oro Valley Historical Society we actively work with the Town of Oro Valley to promote research, preservation, education and dissemination of history related to the Greater Oro Valley area.  To that end, we have quarterly informational meetings with several of our docents and other volunteers presenting information about our mission and our presence at Steam Pump Ranch.

We will include tours of the property, including the Heritage Garden that typically features crops that were cultivated by Native Americans in the area, our collection of artifacts, the Pusch House, the Proctor-Lieber House and other property buildings.   We’ll touch on future possible uses of those buildings as part of the Town of Oro Valley Master Plan for Steam Pump Ranch.

If you are a current member, have interest in becoming a member or would like to volunteer put this on your “to do” list!  Hope to see you.

For more information contact:

Carol Bull, OVHS Volunteer Coordinator

Heritage Garden

Ranchin’ Display

Branding demonstration

Oro Valley Historical Society
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