Graham County, AZ

By Michael Liddy on September 13th, 2008

az 11200-300x300The county was named for Graham Mountain

Graham County is one of 15 counties in Arizona.
The county is in the Safford metro area.The estimated population in 2004 was 32,993. This was a decrease of -1.48% from the 2000 census.
In 2002, the per capita personal income in Graham County was $16,046. This was an increase of 17.9% from 1997. The 2002 figure was 52% of the national per capita income, which was $30,906.(1)

County seat: Safford

Fort Thomas
Pima (town)
Safford (city)
Thatcher (town)

grahammap-300x255Early History of Graham
The history of the area has three major themes. This area was used by the Indians from prehistoric times up to the present day. Indian burial grounds, village sites, and sacred sites abound in this area. This is a rich archealogical area. In more recent history, this area was the last refuge of Geronimo, and the intense effort of the U.S. Cavalry to capture the Indian war leader and his band of fighters. The second major theme of the history of this area is the settlement of the land by early pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, about 1850. The Saints brought their faith, their irrigation, and their respect for the land and the people, and made this place their home. Within twenty years after the arrival of the first pioneers many other religions were also welcoming a growing population. A third major theme of early history included another major group of Spanish settlers, from neighboring New Mexico. They made their homes a few miles north and east of Safford in what is today, Sanchez, and San Jose, Arizona. The area known as Sanchez was named after Lorenzo Sanchez who arrived in the valley sometime in 1879.
Graham county was established in 1881. The largest city, Safford, was incorporated in 1881. Safford is the namesake of Anson Pacely Killen Safford, an early Territorial Governor. The city dates back to 1873 and owes its establishment to Joshua Bailey and Edward D. Tuttle, who entered Arizona in 1862. Bailey picked the name for the town, establish its first store. Tuttle was a member of the Territorial Legislature and taught the first Safford school, an adobe structure which stood at the site of the present post office.
Geological Description
Graham County is in Southeast Arizona. The terrain is mostly composed of high desert plains at the base of medium to large basalt mountains. This area is rather unique for Arizona, since it actually has a small river running through its major valley all year round. And since most of the land here is on the edges between the mountains and the high desert plains we are in what is known as a transition area between two major biomes. A biome is a particular terrain, climate, elevation combination which has a particular array of plant and animal life. In the areas known as transitions, the plant and the animal life of both biomes abound. Graham County is one of the areas with the widest variety of animal and bird life of any area in the United States. This is also the site of the only two designated Riparian Areas in the United States. A Riparian area is that area near running water that supports water loving plants, water birds and amphibians. Yes, Graham County has that much water. We have the Gila River, the Bonita Creek, and underneath the land flows mineral water springs, artesian wells, and even some potable fresh water. For more information about the area see the Chamber of Commerce pages.(2)

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