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Most notable, however, were the two holdups committed by masked road-agent William Whitney Brazelton.

Hugo O'Conor, the founding father of the city of Tucson, Arizona authorized the construction of a military fort in that location, Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón, on August 20, 1775 (near the present downtown Pima County Courthouse).

During the Spanish period of the presidio, attacks such as the Second Battle of Tucson were repeatedly mounted by Apaches.

Eventually the town came to be called "Tucson" and became a part of the state of Sonora after Mexico gained independence from the Kingdom of Spain and its Spanish Empire in 1821. George Cooke with the Mormon Battalion during the Mexican–American War in 1846-1848, but soon returned to Mexican control as Cooke continued his mission westward establishing Cooke's Wagon Road to California.

A separate Convento settlement was founded downstream along the Santa Cruz River, near the base of what is now "A" mountain.

From August 1861 to mid-1862, Tucson was the western capital of the Confederate Arizona Territory, the eastern capital being Mesilla.

In 1862, the California Column drove the Confederate forces out of Arizona.

In 1885, the University of Arizona was founded as a land-grant college on over-grazed ranch land between Tucson and Fort Lowell. Veterans Administration had begun construction on the present Veterans Hospital.