Help us Preserve the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park

Edward Cross and Arizona’s First Newspaper

     Edward Cross, born in Lancaster, New Hampshire in 1832, began working as a printer for his local paper, the Coos Democrat, when he was 15 years old.  He then moved on to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked as a printer for the Cincinnati Times. Demonstrating writing skills, he served for a time as the paper’s Washington Correspondent.  He became involved with directors of the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company and moved west in 1857.  He settled in Tubac, Arizona Territory, where he invested in the company’s  mines and established the territory’s first newspaper,  The Weekly Arizonian.  The Washington printing press was brought to Tubac by Cross and his associate, William Wrightson, via the “Jackass Mail”, as the mule teams were called, and was used to print the first issue on March 3, 1859.


     Cross, serving as editor of the paper, had strong convictions.  He took exception to a number of articles written by Sylvester Mowry of Tucson that were published in Eastern newspapers. He criticized them for inflating the size of the local population and the magnitude of local mining operations.  Mowry challenged Cross to a duel, which took place on July 8, 1859. Using Burnside rifles, four shots were fired before Mowry’s gun failed, entitling him to another shot.  Cross stood waiting unarmed.  Mowry refused to fire at an unarmed man, thus ending the duel.  Both men exchanged apologies in person and in the Arizonian. The paper was sold a few weeks later, ironically to Mowry.  He moved the press to Tucson where it was used to print the first issue of the Citizen  and possibly the Star.  Later it printed the Tombstone Nugget.  In 1910, the press was donated to the Arizona Historical Society.  The press ultimately returned to Tubac after an absence of 120 years in 1980, where it was installed in the period print shop at the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park Museum.

The Washington Press comes home to Tubac 1980

     In addition to his writing and mining interests, Cross joined the U.S. Army scouts in their efforts against the Apaches.  In 1860, he crossed the border into Mexico to command a Sonoran army garrison supporting the insurgency of Benito Juarez.  At the outbreak of the Civil War, Cross returned to New Hampshire where he accepted a commission as colonel of the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment. 

     Cross was reportedly an impulsive and colorful officer, occasionally striking non-commissioned officers with the flat of his sword when angry.  He was known to wear a red bandana on his head instead of the traditional officer’s hat. This was his way of making himself easier to spot on the battlefield by his men.  However, on July 2, 1863 Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock noticed that his bandana was black rather than red.  Cross indicated that he had foreseen his own death and that black was more appropriate.  Cross fought in the Battle of Gettysburg that day and was mortally wounded while helping to stabilize the left flank as it entered the Wheatfield.  He fell near Rose Woods and died the next day at a field hospital.  His body was shipped home to Lancaster and laid to rest in the town’s cemetery.

Material for this article was taken from Images of America:  Tubac by Shaw Kinsley and Wikipedia.

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Washington Press Postcard from Tubac Presidio Park


2 responses

  1. Nice article, and I would like permission to copy to my blog, since Edward Cross is in my family. May I? Thank you for posting this.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:57 am

    • Hi Barbara, Sounds fine–I sent you an email with the particulars. Thank you for stopping by! Cindy

      October 1, 2011 at 3:16 am

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