Who is Sam Hughes?
By Frank Soltys
Sam C. Hughes was a Welsh immigrant who came to the US in 1837 at the age of eight. He never attended a day of formal schooling and when both of his parents became ill and died early he help raise and educate his 8 siblings. Sam Hughes became a successful merchant during the California gold rush, but developed Consumption (TB) and got off a stagecoach outside of the very small village of Tucson in 1858 to die. He soon recovered. This was 22 years before the railroad came and only four years after this portion of what is now Arizona was purchased from Mexico.
Hughes was a man of vision, principles, and courage. When Confederate forces occupied Tucson at the onset of the Civil War, around 1860, Hughes moved back to California rather than live under the Confederate flag. He left his financial interests to a friend until 1862 when he accompanied the first battery of Union soldiers to return to Southern Arizona.
Sam Hughes married Atanacia Santa Cruz, a young orphan, in 1863 and they had 15 children, 5 of whom died in infancy. Hughes died in 1917 and Atanacia died in 1934. In the 1860s and 1870s the three main cultural groups, Mexican American, Anglo American, and Tohono O'odham (Papago) co-existed peacefully and co-operatively. They were united against a common foe, the Apaches, whose hostilities against all three groups would not end until 1886 with the surrender of Geronimo. 
In the early 1870s Hughes helped to incorporate the City of Tucson, refused the Mayorship and served as an alderman on the first city council. In 1871 he helped early territorial governor A.P.K. Safford establish public education in the Territory saying it was "the pride of my life." (This is why the Tucson Unified School District is called "Number 1"!)
In 1928, 11 years after his death, the new Sam Hughes Elementary School in one of Tucson's first subdivisions was named after Sam Hughes. The Sam Hughes Neighborhood takes its name from the school that sits squarely in the middle of the original quadrant. We are now one square mile, bounded by Speedway, Broadway, Country Club and Campbell. (see map)
 Arizona Historical Society, 2004
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