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The stories behind 14 popular Tucson roads

Monday, July 25, 2022   /   by Adam Donaldson-Moxley

The stories behind 14 popular Tucson roads

Article originally posted on tucson.com on June 5th, 2022

Every street name in Tucson has a story behind it. Historian David Leighton, who writes the Star's regular Street Smarts column, shares what he has found out about some of the city's most popular roads. 

Congress Street

Actually, the street is named after the Congress Hall Saloon, built in 1868 at Congress and Meyer Avenue.

The saloon hosted informal meetings of the Arizona Territorial Legislature when Tucson was the capital of the territory. In 1871, a meeting of prominent townsmen was held there, during which the municipality of Tucson was organized and officers elected. The saloon's builder, and owner for more than 30 years, Tucson pioneer Charles O. Brown, was chosen as one of the councilmen.

Brown was born in Essex County, New York in 1829, and his family moved to Illinois when he was about 12 years old. Sometime later he ran away and headed to the California Gold Rush, where he made his fortune.

In 1860, he came to Tucson and soon after married Clara Borvean, a Mexican woman from a respected family.

He built the Congress Hall Saloon on Calle de la Alegria (Happiness Street) and Meyer Avenue. In 1870, the Tucson map shows that Calle de la Alegria had been renamed Congress Street in honor of the important saloon, where the legislators met.

It was a gambling house and saloon when owning a bar was a perfectly honorable profession and also served as a place where miners and cattlemen could meet, write letters or read. The floors were made of fine wood from Sante Fe, the locks were of the best quality, and there was a large safe in the back.

Newspapers from throughout the country were available, and many of the fanciest dances of the day were held in the large, L-shaped building.

The saloon's operation passed to Brown's sons in the early 1900s. It's unknown when the hall closed but, it was knocked down in 1912, the year Arizona became a state.

Brown died in 1908.

Cushing Street
Just south of the Tucson Convention Center downtown are three streets named in 1872 in honor of men killed by the Apaches.

Lt. Howard B. Cushing was born to Dr. Milton B. Cushing Sr. and Mary (Smith) Cushing on Aug. 22, 1838, in Milwaukee.

In 1862, Cushing enlisted in the 1st Illinois Light Artillery and saw action at the Battle of Shiloh and the siege of Vicksburg. After his younger brother, Alonzo, was killed at Gettysburg in 1863, he took his place in the 4th U.S. Artillery, and stayed there for the duration of the war.

Cushing had two other brothers, Milton Jr. and William, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War. William's heroism in the war was documented in the book "Lincoln's Commando" by Ralph J. Roske.

After the Civil War, Howard was stationed at Fort Washington, Md., drilling recruits. In late 1867, he transferred to the 3rd Cavalry and within a few months became a first lieutenant, commanding Troop F. In late 1869, he was in the Guadalupe Mountains of southwest Texas, where he attacked Mescalero Apaches who had stolen livestock.

On March 2, 1870, Troop F left Fort Craig, New Mexico Territory, for the Arizona Territory, where Cushing continued his pursuit of Indians. On May 26, 1870, a wagon freight train traveling from Tucson to Camp Grant was attacked by Indians, resulting in many deaths, including that of Hugh Kennedy, part owner of a ranch and store on the San Pedro River. After a long and difficult scouting mission, Cushing located the attackers and reported killing 30 of them.

On May 5, 1871, in the Whetstone Mountains of Cochise County, Cushing was ambushed by Apache warriors. He and his friend William H. Simpson, a mining engineer from San Francisco, were killed in the Battle of Bear Springs. The rest of the command retreated to Fort Crittenden.

Both Cushing Street and Simpson Street got their names in 1872, when S.W. Foreman did the town site survey and named the streets in their honor.

Kennedy Street was likely named that same year after Hugh Kennedy.

Click on the link below to see the other twelve street names: Link
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313 S Convent Ave
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