Prehistoric: It is believed that the Tubac area has been inhabited over 11,000 years. First to come were the Elephant Hunters, who hunted in the dense Arizona forests and along numerous lakes and streams for the huge elephant-like mammoth. The Hohokam lived in the area between 300-1500 A.D., followed by the Pima and native O’odham, who greeted the Spanish.


Spanish Colonial: Jesuit missionary Father Francisco Eusebio Kino entered the Santa Cruz Valley in 1691, converting the natives, building missions, ranches and farms. By 1732 Tubac was a vista of Mission Guevavi and a mission farm and ranch by 1738. The Pima Revolt of 1751, resulting from a half-century of Spanish domination, caused widespread destruction. In 1752, Spanish troops defeated an army of 2,000 Pima warriors and established the Presidio of San Ignacio de Tubac. Garrisoned with fifty troops and officers, it was commanded by Capt. Juan Thomas de Belderrain.

Apaches Indians, recent migrants, preyed upon Tubac and the surrounding area. The Jesuits were expelled from Spanish possessions in 1767 and replaced by the Franciscans. By 1771, the now-friendly Pimas, were moved from Guevavi to Mission Tumacacori for easier protection. Perhaps Tubac’s most famous person was soldier and explorer Capt. Juan Bautista de Anza II. During his tenure at Tubac (1760-1776), Anza built the chapel of Santa Gertrudis, the foundations of which lie beneath today’s . Anza’s second expedition to the Pacific coast departed from Tubac October 23, 1775. It included approximately 300 soldiers and colonists, and culminated with the founding of San Francisco.