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The Organizers 1867 - 1870

In a small adobe building located in Military Plaza, the three members of the Pima County Board of Supervisors met in the County Recorder's Office in regular session on the morning of November 4, 1867.

First order of business, as announced by Clerk of the Board Oscar Buckalew, was the acceptance of the resignation of Supervisor Estevan Ochoa, a merchant who was to become a friend and patron of the public schools in Tucson.

Chairman of the Board John W. Sweeney, a blacksmith, and member Edward Nye Fish, a wholesale and retail merchant, accepted the resignation and appointed Charles H. Lord, retail merchant and Territorial Auditor, to fill Ochoa's place.

The next order of business, according to the Board minutes, was the presentation by 10 townsmen of a petition "praying that the Board of Supervisors establish a school district in and about Tucson."

Actually, the petition did not pray that the Supervisors establish a "school district" (as was provided by law) but stated:

"To the honorable Board of Supervisors of Pima County

"We the undersigned being residents and legal voters of Pima County respectfully request that your honorable body establish a public school in the town of Tucson in accordance with an act of the Legislature, October 3, 1867."

The petition is dated November 5, 1867-- a day later than the November 4, 1867, meeting of the Board. Probably, someone didn't know what day it was.

The petition itself is on file in the Special Collections Division, University of Arizona Library.

Petitioners were John B. Allen, a retired merchant and Territorial Treasurer; Charles H. Lord, the new supervisor; Mark Aldrich, Justice of the Peace and member of the First Territorial Legislature; M. J. Flaminez; Philip Drachman & Co., engaged in the mercantile business; John G. Capron; Sidney R. DeLong; William H. Tonge, a store clerk; Leopoldo Carrillo, a retail merchant and a cattleman after whom the present Carrillo Elementary School was named; and S. B. Wine.

The supervisors accepted the petition but withheld final action on the establishment of the district until the next meeting, November 18, 1867, when the full Board could decide on the matter.

On that date, the three-man Board gathered in the Recorder's Office and heard Clerk Buckalew read the petition. The following order was then made and placed in the Journals of the Board:

"It is hereby ordered and decreed that all the Territory lying and being within one mile each way from the Plaza de la Mesilla in the town of Tucson be and the same is hereby declared a school district to be known and styled school district No. 1 Pima County--and it is further ordered that the Collector of Pima County proceed to collect the one-half of one per cent on all taxable property within said school district above described as assessed by him at his last assessment and as corrected by the Board of Equalization."

The Plaza de la Mesilla still exists and is popularly known as La Placita, a little park at Broadway and Meyer Street. Its name on City of Tucson records is Placita de San Augustine.

According to the Board of Supervisors minutes dated November 18, 1867, the Board ordered that John B. Allen, one of the petitioners, William S. Oury and Francisco S. Leon be appointed a "School Committee" to administer the school district.

Allen was called "Pie" Allen because he sold pies to the soldiers for $1 each.

Oury, along with Jesus M. Elias, was a leader of the Camp Grant Massacre on April 30, 1871. In l870, he was listed in the Federal Census as a dairyman.

Oury was a political figure and was appointed Tucson's first mayor in 1864 by Territorial Governor John N. Goodwin. He was also a newspaperman, having purchased, along with Sylvester Mowry, the Weekly Arizonian in Tubac. Soon, they relocated the paper in Tucson.

Leon was a member of the First and Second Territorial Legislature. He served on the Council which later became the State Senate.

Ida Carter, in her thesis Rise of the Public Schools of Tucson, 1867-1935, reports that there "is some question as to the identity of the school trustees during 1868-69."

As stated above, the minutes of the Board of Supervisors as of November 18, 1867, list the "School Committee" as being composed of Allen, Oury and Leon. But Augustus Brichta, the district's first teacher, seems not to agree. Brichta, in a letter to the Arizona Star dated September 21, 1909, told of his appointment as first public school teacher and said that he served with "Wm. S. Oury, John B. Allen and W. W. Williams as trustees with W. W. Williams acting as treasurer." Wheeler Washington Williams was a retail merchant at the time.

Brichta probably was not mistaken. From the lists of expenses reproduced later in this chapter, it will be noted that the school room was not completely furnished until late December, 1867, or in January, 1868, indicating that Brichta started teaching about that time. It is highly possible that between November 18, 1867, and the time school actually started, Francisco S. Leon resigned and Williams was appointed in his place.

S. P. McCrea, in his Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1907-08, said, "W. F. Scott, Sam Hughes and W. C. Davis were credited with being the school trustees at the time of the first school in 1868." As was pointed out, the date " 1868" is probably correct, but McCrea was in error on the trustees. Actually, he recorded the membership of the School Board when John Spring became the second public school teacher in Tucson in 1871.

Giving support to Brichta, was historian James M. McClintock in History of Arizona, Vol 11. McClintock, like Brichta, names the trustees as Allen, Oury and Williams in 1868.

Membership of the School Board in 1869 and 1870 is not recorded, but since the Board was appointive by the Pima County Board of Supervisors, it is possible that the Board of Allen, Oury and Williams continued to serve during those two years.

The School Committee, on November 18, 1867, was authorized to purchase all necessary school books and stationery and rent "suitable" rooms and furnish them for school purposes. They were ordered to report to the Board of Supervisors when the work was done.

An interesting sidelight of that November 18, 1867, meeting of the Board of Supervisors was the incorporation of the Town of Tucson by the Board.

The creation of the first school district in Pima County was preceded by an act of Congress providing for a temporary government for the Territory of Arizona, approved February 24, 1863.

The First Territorial Legislature was held in Prescott beginning September 26, 1864 and the first governor of the Territory, John N. Goodwin, addressed the lawmakers on the establishment of schools, among other things such as decrying the "long hostility and brutal ferocity" of some of the Indian tribes.

On education, Gov. Goodwin had this to say:

"Self-government and universal education are inseparable. The one can be exercised only as the other is enjoyed."

He said that the common elementary school, the high school and a university should all be established.

"The first duty of the legislators of a free state," he said, "is to make, as far as lies within their power, education as free to all its citizens as the air they breathe."

The Territory of Arizona prior to its establishment was a part of the Territory of New Mexico. When the Territory of Arizona was created, law of New Mexico became a part of the legal structure of Arizona's laws. Goodwin noted that the act organizing the territory of New Mexico provided two sections of land in each township be reserved for school usage. But, he said, "It does not seem to me that any portion of this donation can be made immediately available." This was because the land had not been surveyed.

Goodwin asked his Legislature to determine what the interests of the new territory required under the donation of the land "or what further legislation in that direction should be asked of Congress."

In his appropriation request, Goodwin asked for $1,500 "for the necessary appropriations for school purposes."

Following the governor's appeal, the Legislature passed an appropriations bill, including the $1,500 for school purposes.

George H. Kelly, early State Historian, wrote in 1926 that "the first public money devoted to the teaching of children of Arizona consisted of $250 which was authorized to be paid to the Catholic Mission School, taught by the sisters at San Xavier in Pima County." Kelly noted that such parochial schools in other parts of Arizona Territory received assistance later and until a workable public school system was provided.

The $250 allotted to the school at San Xavier could not have purchased much education as the appropriation was payable in currency which at that time was worth only about fifty cents of the gold dollar.

Historian Bernice Cosulich wrote in her book, TUCSON, in 1953 that this First Territorial Legislature adopted the Howell Code which provided for free public schools, but there was no tax levy prescribed to support them. Finally, wrote Cosulich, the First Legislature appropriated $500 for books, furniture and instruction in a Tucson school, provided the "English language shall form a part of the dai!y instruction" and provided the sum was matched by a Tucson appropriation.

Tucson failed to come up with a matching appropriation so the $500 provided by the Legislature was unexpended.

Goodwin was elected to Congress and Richard C. McCormick was appointed acting governor. The Second Territorial Legislature convened at Prescott on December 6, 1865.

McCormick urged agricultural development to furnish mining ventures with food because "Mining, however rich the placers or the quartz, can seldom be made lucrative where provisions have to be supplied from a distance." He also bemoaned the hostile Apache as the "chief obstacle to the growth and development of the territory" and said that "utter subjugation, even to extermination" was a necessity.

McCormick did not, however, recommend any educational measures. In April, 1866, he was made governor officially and convened the Third Territorial Legislature in Prescott on October 3, 1866. McCormick failed to call for an activation of public schools and no school appropriations were made.

The Fourth Territorial Legislature convened at Prescott on September 4, 1867.

Under the leadership of Gov. McCormick, an act was passed authorizing the creation of public school districts by Boards of Supervisors in the several counties and the maintenance of schools therein by levying a tax on the property in the district. The districts authorized were to be four miles square and to contain a population of 100 persons. (This Legislature also moved the state capitol and legislative halls to Tucson in 1867.)

It was under this act that the Pima County Board of Supervisors created Tucson School District 1 on November 18, the same year.

There have been many writings by historians describing the Town of Tucson at the time of the establishment of Tucson School District 1 in 1867.

A. M. Gustafson, editor of John Spring's Arizona, has this to say about Tucson in the era 1866-1870:

"From a population of six hundred in 1866, as noted by Bishop Salpointe, Tucson increased in numbers to 3,224 as reported in the census of 1870. The census is good reading for there we find blacksmiths, silversmiths, carriage makers, wagon masters, saloon keepers, lawyers, gamblers and soldiers. Listed are the names of such soldiers as Patrick Callahan and John Devine from Ireland and Julius Bechtold from Germany as well as the names of men from the Atlantic seaboard and the middle-west. Among the professional gamblers enumerated were Daniel McCarthy, an Irish immigrant, and easterners such as Edwin C. Haines and John B. Hart.

"Blue uniforms were commonly seen in the drinking and gambling places of the day. Well known were the Palace and the Congress Hall saloons where the Fifth Territorial Legislature supposedly met when it moved down from Prescott. Frequented also were the establishments of Foster and Hand and the Wheat Saloon, the latter run by Augustus Brichta, who advertised in the Weekly Arizonian in 1869 that ‘the undersigned having leased the above saloon is prepared to furnish his friends and the public with a general assortment of wines, liquors and cigars.' "

Other merchants of the day included Sweeney and Etchel, a blacksmith and wagon shop; Tully & Ochoa, wagon train operation and general store; and Goodwin and Sanders, dealers in general merchandise.

Gustafson wrote that "Belts, pistols, powder and percussion caps were needed for protection from the undesirable elements of the town and from the Apaches who were a constant threat to travellers and to the inhabitants of the smaller communities."

Spring, in Troublous Days in Arizona, wrote that "quite frequently (Tucson's) population awoke to find a dead man in the street, sometimes killed over-night while seeking his habitation in the then unlighted streets, sometimes also, and this quite frequently, killed in a brawl over cards or women in a barroom or dancehouse, when his body would be simply dragged some distance away and abandoned."

It was in this atmosphere that the School Committee prepared to start a school, late in 1867.

Ida Carter, in her thesis, reported finding receipted bills for school supplies as follows:

Mr. J. B. Allen Bot of Fuller & Taft.

1/3 doz geographies at $6.00 $2.00
1 doz first readers 5.00
1 doz third readers 12.00
3 1/2 doz sellers at $6.00 21.00
1 doz Bookkeeping 2.00
1 lot 30 books 15.00
Hermosillo, Dec. 9, 1867
Fuller & Taft

The within accounts are allowed at 2/3¢ on legal tender

M. M. Handcock

J. B. Allen
Bot of Fuller & Taft.

1 doz primers $1.50
2 doz primers at $2 1/2 5.00
1/3 doz slates at 6. 2.00
1 doz slates 3.00
1 Ream of f-- paper 3.50
3/4 doz A.B.C. at 2. 1.50
slate pencils .75
Hermosillo, Dec. 9, 1867
Rec. Payment
Fuller & Taft
M. Handcock

Tucson, Deciembre 28th, 1867
Scool Commescroners

a Doming Lopes Drven
Por componer dos Bentanas y una puerta $10.00
Domingo Lopes.

Tucson, Dec. 31, 1867.

School Commissioners
To G. Lee Dr.

To making 1 bench for schoolroom $ 1.00
" " " " " " " 1 desk 2.00
" " " " " " " 3 window frames 7.00
" " " " " " " sash - 30 lights 15.00
" " " " " " " setting frame and sash 2.00
Rec. Payment of J. Allen
Geo. E. Lee, Carpenter

School Commisisoners of Pima Co., District of Tucson

To M. Stevenson Dr.
To making 9 desks at $4.50 each $40.50
" " " " " " " 6 benches at 2.50 each 15.00
" " " " " " " platform & desk for Master 15.00
" " " " " " " 6 ft. of lumber 15.00
" " " " " " " Lock & bolts 1.50
Rec. Payment of J. Allen M. Stevenson

Mr. J. B. Allen
To P. Biaggi

For 30 penholders at 10¢ $3.00
1 box pens No. 404 2.50
Tucson, Jan. 23,1868
Rec. payment-- P. Biaggi.

The "Master" mentioned as having a platform and desk made for him was Augustus Brichta--the same Augustus Brichta who operated the "Wheat Saloon."

Being a saloon operator was only one phase in the life of Brichta.

Born in New York City on September 18, 1821, Brichta went from there with his family to Havana, where he was educated in a Jesuit College, then to Missouri where young Brichta entered St. Louis University and graduated. Brichta went into business with his father in Texas and in 1846 joined a Texas regiment under Gen. Zachary Taylor and served during the War with Mexico. He later joined the gold rush to California, found little gold and established residence in Prescott three months before the First Territorial Legislature, which convened September 26, 1864. Brichta served with the Legislature as enrolling clerk and moved with it to Tucson when the Capitol was moved.

Probably because of his educational background, Brichta was asked to become the first teacher by the School Committee.

The location of Brichta's school is in some dispute. According to Estelle M. Buehman in Old Tucson, the "schoolroom was an old adobe building formerly occupied by the government, on the little street leading to Levin's Garden."

An article in the Arizona Star, August 23, 1908, locates the school "on Pearl Street at the foot of and between Congress and Pennington Streets." And Betty Blackburn locates the school at the "southeast corner of Pennington St. andStone Ave. where Walgreen's drugstore now stands" in the Arizona Daily Star on August 11, 1960.

All sources agree that the school had a dirt floor and roof and was furnished with benches. It was 25 by 40 feet in size. There was an enrollment of 55 Mexican boys. Beginning in January, 1868, Brichta taught the school for six months--for two of which he received no pay--and then it was closed due to lack of funds.

In his letter to the Arizona Star, dated September 21, 1909, Brichta mentioned "Sabino Otero, Placido Rulles" and "one of the Leons" as being among his students.

Brichta, after the school closed, became a hotel clerk, assistant postmaster, enrolling clerk again in the 7th and 8th Territorial Legislatures, clerk in the commissary department, County Recorder, Constable and first Justice of the Peace in Nogales.

In 1872, he married Maria Franco of Sonora, Mexico, whose three sons he adopted. He spent his later years in mining ventures in the Tucson Mountains and in acquiring real estate in Tucson.

He died December 21, 1910, and is buried in Holy Hope Cemetery in Tucson. Descendants still reside in Tucson.

First Hundred Years, By James F. Cooper, Edited by John H. Fahr, Tucson, Arizona, 1967