William S. Oury Speech (1885) and Sidney R. DeLong Account (1905)
On January 31, 1884, several residents of Tucson gathered together to form the “Society of Arizona Pioneers.” This group served in its early years as a peculiar amalgam of mutual help association, advocacy group, and historical society. Members created a “Widow and Orphan Fund” to aid the families of deceased pioneers, lobbied the federal government for the “speedy and absolute removal of the Apache Indians” from Arizona, and delivered “historical reminiscences” at their monthly meetings.
Among the first to offer his reminiscences was the Society of Arizona Pioneer’s first president, William S. Oury, who had also played a prominent role in organizing the attack on the Apache in Aravaipa Canyon. On April 6, 1885, in Tucson’s Pioneer Hall, Oury gave a speech on the “so-called Camp Grant massacre,” defending the killing of the Apaches at Camp Grant some fourteen years before. The following day, Oury’s recollections were reprinted on the front page of Tucson’s Daily Citizen.
Seventeen years later, in 1902, another prominent leader of the Camp Grant Massacre, Sidney R. DeLong, became the Society of Arizona Pioneer’s first official historian. One of DeLong’s responsibilities was to write a history of Arizona, which was published in 1905 as The History of Arizona from the Earliest Times Known to the People of Europe to 1903. Like Oury before him, DeLong felt obligated to defend in detail the attack on the Aravaipa Apache.
The Society of Arizona Pioneers would over time become the Arizona Historical Society, and the accounts that Oury and DeLong produced would become important parts of the society’s early holdings.