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Besides being a rich blend of Anglo, Mexican, Spanish, and Native American cultures, the city of Tucson has the distinction of being one year older than the USA itself. Its official birthdate is August 20, 1775 , when Hugo O'Conor established the Tucson Presidio (fort). A year later, Spanish settlers followed.
Before then, Tucson had been an Indian village continuously occupied for more than 10,000 years. Its name came from an Indian word meaning “water at the foot of the black mountain.” Although O’Conor originally named his settlement “San Agustin de Toixon,” only the Indian portion of the name survived the passage of time.
Hugo O’Conor, the eighteenth-century founder of modern-day Tucson , was a descendent of a twelfth century Irish king named Turlough Mor O’Conor. Hugo left his native Ireland in 1750 to seek his fortune elsewhere, which was a common practice among Irish aristocrats of the period. Their Roman Catholic faith and anti-British politics precluded any advancement in their own land.
O’Conor’s colorful career began with his participation in Spanish military action against Portugal during the Seven Years’ War. Later he served the Spanish crown in peacetime assignments to Cuba, Mexico, and Texas when Texas was still part of Mexico. He died in Yucatan at age 45.
At 2021 North Kinney Road in Tucson you will find the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. In June-August 2008, between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., visitors will be given the chance to learn more about the night sights and sounds of the desert.
Special events will include Family Astrononomy Nights June through August. Not only will visitors get hands-on experience with telescopes and the chance to quiz astronomy experts, but also they will hear ancient stories and legends of the night sky from Native American storyteller Gerard Tsonokwa.