Pioneer Museum

Esperanza’s World – Early Tucson Center – Population & Census

Esperanza’s World – Early Tucson Center – Population & Census




Activities / Teacher Resources

Tucson ’s Multicultural Population and Census *

  • The 1870s were a time of great change for Tucson.
  • People from all over the world and other parts of the United States came to the territory to seek their fortunes.  The 1870 census included immigrants from Mexico, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Poland, England, Germany and the West Indies.
  • Some of the newcomers appear in Esperanza’s story, including Estevan Ochoa who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico; Jacob Mansfield, a Jewish merchant from Germany; Lionel and Barron Jacobs, Jewish merchants whose father came from Poland; Sister Mary Monica Corrigan of Irish heritage, originally from Canada; Bishop Salpointe, a Frenchman; and Sam Hughes, a Welshman.
  • There were also a handful of former African American slaves, such as barber, Charles Glasco, who left the South as free men after the Civil War and came west, seeking better lives.
  • Most of the newcomers were young, adventurous men and many, such as Alexander Levin and Sam Hughes, settled in Tucson and married local Hispanic women.  It was less common for soldiers to marry locals, but Lt. McKinney’s story is plausible.
  • During this time also, plenty of real no-account drifters such as Bucky and Jack (fictional characters) also came through Tucson to make a quick buck.  Many didn’t care if their activities were legal.  Cattle rustling, always an issue became a real problem.

* Text by author, Gwen Harvey

Tucson Census

1850 400
1855 600 – 700
1860 915
1870 3,224
1880 7,007
1890 5,120
1900 7,531

1870 Census Expanded

males 1,920  
females 1,304  
children  (385) ages 6 – 16
total population 3,224  
  • Statesmen, army officers, gamblers, lawyers, strangers and others enjoyed meals together at the Shoo-Fly Restaurant in Tucson owned by Mrs. Wallen.  The restaurant had both good food and flies, but they did try to shoo the flies away.
  • In 1870 Tucson there were:
    • 12 wholesale and retail stores that made over $10, 000 per week.
    • 12 – 15 smaller stores that included a drug store, groceries, pawnshops, and four restaurants.
  • Bailes, Spanish for dances, were held and enjoyed by all.  Mothers accompanied their daughters to the dances as chaperones.  Lt. McKinney (p. 36-37) discovered this tradition when he asked Mariá Elena to dance, and he had to dance with Nana first.
  • Musical instruments at the dances included the following: a fiddle, a kettledrum and sometimes a harp. At the Ochoa’s party there was also a violin and a guitar player.
  • Entertainment in the city included an occasional traveling circus with ropewalkers, jugglers and tumblers who visited Tucson from Mexico and marionettes (puppets) and Punch and Judy Shows.