Rueben Augustine Wilbur papers, 1863-1897

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Rueben Augustine Wilbur papers, 1863-1897

AZ 565

Collection Summary

Creator: Wilbur, Rueben Augustine
Collection Name:Rueben Augustine Wilbur papers,
Inclusive Dates: 1863-1897
Physical Description:.8 linear feet
Abstract:Collection includes appointments, correspondence, financial records and reports relating to his activities as United States Special Indian Agent and Physician for the Papago (now known as Tohono O'Odham) Indians; and personal and family papers including correspondence, tax records and receipts.
Collection Number:AZ 565
Repository: University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
University of Arizona
PO Box 210055
Tucson, AZ 85721-0055
Phone: 520-621-6423
Fax: 520-621-9733

Biographical Note

Dr. Wilbur was born in Taunton, Massachusetts in 1840 and graduated from the Harvard Medical School in 1863. He moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1865, established a medical practice and homesteaded ranch lands near Arivaca, Arizona. In 1868-1869, he was hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to conduct a vaccination program for the Papago and Pima Indians. On February 8, 1871, he was appointed United States Special Indian Agent to the Papagos residing in the Arizona Territory; on February 18, 1871, Wilbur was also appointed Attending Physician to the Papagos.

After leaving office, Wilbur operated his cattle ranch at Arivaca, spent a great deal of time trying to clarify his financial position with the federal government regarding expenditures when he was Indian Agent, submitted several proposals for mail route contracts and became involved in mining ventures in Sonora, Mexico. It is of interest to note that in 1880, prominent Arizona pioneer, Charles Poston filed a civil lawsuit against Wilbur in the 1st Judicial District Court to recover certain lands near Arivaca that were part of Wilbur's ranch.

Wilbur died suddenly in 1882, while on a trip to Massachusetts and was buried in Plymouth. His wife, Raphuela Wilbur continued to operate the ranch near Arivaca until the turn of the century and it has remained in the family. It is now being operated by Wilbur's granddaughter, Mrs. Eva Antonia Wilbur-Cruce and her husband, Marshall W. Cruce.

Scope and Content Note

The papers of the first subgroup relating to the administration of the Papago Indian Agency document administrative and financial activities, efforts to recover Apache children taken hostage by participants of the Camp Grant Massacre, arguments for the establishment of a reservation for the Papagos at San Xavier, the problem of non-Indian settlers on Papago lands, and arguments between Dr. Wilbur and Bishop Salpointe concerning expenditures for a school at San Xavier that culminated with Wilbur's removal as Agent in 1874.

The papers of the second subgroup relate to personal and family affairs, the bulk of which are related to the operation of the Wilbur Ranch near Arivaca, Arizona, mining activities in Sonora, Mexico and activities of Mrs. Raphuela Wilbur after Dr. Wilbur's death in 1882. There is no information on Dr. Wilbur's medical practice before or after his tenure as Papago Agent.

Some correspondence is in Spanish.


This collection is organized into two subgroups.





It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents for the University of Arizona, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.

Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Gibbs, George
Howard, O. O. (Oliver Otis), 1830-1909
McCormick, Richard C. (Richard Cunningham), 1832-1901
Miles, Evan
Salpointe, John Baptist, 1825-1898
Titus, John, d. 1878
Whitman, Royal
Wilbur, Raphuela

Corporate Name(s)
Catholic Church -- Arizona -- History
Mission San Xavier del Bac (Tucson, Ariz.)
United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs

Geographic Name(s)
Aribac Grant (Arivaca Valley, Ariz.)

Tohono O'Odham Indians -- History
Apache Indians -- History
Indian agents -- Arizona
Mines and mineral resources -- Mexico -- Sonora (State)

Genre Form(s)
Annual Reports

Administrative Information

Credit Line

Rueben Augustine Wilbur papers(AZ 565). Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries.

Container List

Subgroup I: Papers relating to the Administration of the Papago Indian Agency at San Xavier, Arizona, 1863-1880
Appointments, 1871
Contains appointment papers of Dr. Wilbur as United States Special Agent for the Papago Indians in the Arizona Territory, dated February 8, 1871 and as Attending Physician to the Papago Indians of the Arizona Territory, dated February 18, 1871. Includes a $10,000 bond, dated March 18, 1871, supported by securities pledged by Estevan Ochoa, William Scott, James Lee and Robert Crandall.
11 Appointment Papers. , 1871
Correspondence, 1871-1880
Contains the agency letterbooks (unbound) for 1871-1873, that document the daily business of the agency. Also includes letters to and from the United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the United States Treasury Department and the Pima Indian Agency. Items of note in this correspondence include discussions of the Camp Grant Massacre, efforts to recover Apache children held captive from that incident and extensive documentation of Dr. Wilbur's financial problems relating to expenditures made at the Papago Agency. In addition, this series contains documentation of the political feud that developed between Dr. Wilbur and Bishop Salpointe of the Tucson Catholic Diocese, the problem of encroachment of non-Indian settlers on Papago lands near San Xavier, Wilbur's suggestions for a Papago Reservation, and requests for assistance in obtaining anthropological field data from the Smithsonian Institution.
Also present is the draft of a letter sent to John Titus, Chief Justice of the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court, from Dr. Wilbur requesting legal assistance in the recovery of Apache children kidnapped during the Camp Grant Massacre. All of the correspondence that postdates Wilbur's removal as Papago Agent in 1874 documents efforts to resolve financial problems that occurred when he held the office of Papago Agent.
12-4 Sent Correspondence: Letterbooks. , 1871-1873
15 Sent Correspondence: Commissioner of Indian Affairs. , 1878-1880
16 Sent Correspondence: John Titus. , 1871
17 Received Correspondence: Commissioner of Indian Affairs. , 1872-1879
18 Received Correspondence: Pima Agency. , 1879-1880
19 Received Correspondence: Smithsonian. , 1879
110 Received Correspondence: Treasury Department. , 1879-1880
111 Sent and Received Correspondence: John B. Salpointe. , 1873-1874
Annual Report, 1874
Annual Report prepared and sent to Commissioner of Indian Affairs which includes information on schools, distribution of annuities and tools, problems of drunkenness, non-Indian settlers living on Papago lands, livestock, farming and a strong statement containing Wilbur's perceptions of the influence of the Catholic Church in their dealings with the Papagos.
112 Annual Report. , 1874
Financial Records, 1871-1880
Contains property lists, receipts and bills, statements of public funds, vouchers for expenses, certificates of support for vouchers, subvouchers for expenses, receipts from the Treasury Department, and remarks of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs on agency accounts and statements of differences from the Auditor's Office at the Treasury Department that document expenses incurred during the operation of the Papago Agency from 1871-1874. The bulk of this material relates to Dr. Wilbur's financial difficulties of justifying agency expenses. A portion of this material was produced after Dr. Wilbur left office in 1874, but it all pertains to financial activities that occurred during his tenure as Special Agent and Physician to the Papago.
113 Property Lists. , 1873-1874
114 Receipts and Bills. , 1871-1876
115 Statements of Public Funds. , 1873
116 Vouchers, Aravaipa and Pinal Apaches, San Carlos. , 1873
117 Vouchers, Papago Agency. , 1872-1873
118 Certificates of Support for Vouchers. , 1871-1875
119 Subvouchers. , 1877-1880
120 Receipts from Treasury Department. , 1873-1874
121 Remarks from Office of Indian Affairs. , 1871-1876
122 Statements of Differences from the Auditor's Office at the Treasury Department. , 1871-1877
Tribal Lists, 1871
Contains holographic list, probably prepared by Dr. Wilbur early in his tenure as agent, which has the names of the "Captains" and "Adjutants" for several Papago villages labeled as "pueblos." These terms represent a holdover of a Spanish practice of assigning village leaders specific titles. All of the villages listed represent communities located west of San Xavier on what is now the main Papago Reservation.
21 Tribal Lists. , 1871
Pamphlets relating to Indian Affairs, 1863, 1874
22 "Ethnology and Philology of America," George Gibbs. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Contributions, No. 160, 33 pp., Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. , 1863
22 Remarks of Hon. Richard C. McCormick of Arizona in the House of Representatives, 43rd Congress, 8 pp., Washington, D.C.: GPO. , 1874
Remarks relate to the Army Appropriation Bill, Preservation of the Buffalo, Reduction of the Army, National Washington Monument, the Military Telegraph and Title to Lands in Arizona.
22 Speech of Hon. Richard C. McCormick of Arizona in the House of Representatives on the Indian Appropriations Bill, 43rd Congress, 12 pp., Washington, D.C.: GPO. , May 11, 1874
22 Laws and Regulations relating to Indian Affairs, loose signatures tied with string, octavo. 93 pp., Washington, D.C.: GPO. , 1830s-1860s
Subgroup II: Personal and Family Papers, 1871-1897
Correspondence, 1871-1897
23 Correspondence Received: Dr. Wilbur. , 1871-1880
24 Correspondence Received: Dr. Wilbur regarding mining activity in Mexico. , 1878-1880
25 Correspondence Received: Mrs. Wilbur. , 1882, 1892-1893, 1897
26 Correspondence Received: Unidentified. , 1895
Summonses, 1880
Contains a summons from the 1st Judicial District Court in Pima County, a holographic draft of the summons and two additional summonses from the United States Surveyor-General's Office for the Territory of Arizona. These all relate to a civil suit filed against Dr. Wilbur by Charles Poston and Santiago Ainsa in a dispute over the ownership of the "La Aribac" land claim in the Arivaca Valley, Arizona.
27 Summonses. , 1880
Financial Papers, 1874-1895
Contains receipts, bills of sale, notes, lists and tax receipts that relate primarily to the operation of the Wilbur Ranch near Arivaca, Arizona. Also includes several mail carrier proposals submitted by Dr. Wilbur in 1877. Receipts and bills also document Mrs. Wilbur's purchases from a variety of merchants in Tucson and a contribution made by Dr. Wilbur to the Republican Congressional Committee in 1874.
28 Mail Carrier Proposals. , 1877
29 Arivaca Ranch. , 1875-1895
210 Receipts and Bills. , 1882-1895
211 Property Sale. , 1895
212 Tax Receipts. , 1873-1892