Established in 1752 as a Spanish presidio, the first Spanish colonial garrison in what is now Arizona, Tubac was one of the stops on the Camino Real (the "Royal Road") from Mexico to the Spanish settlements in California. Tubac's most famous Spanish resident was Juan Bautista de Anza. While stationed at Tubac (1760–1776), de Anza built the chapel of Santa Gertrudis, the foundations of which lie beneath today's St. Ann's Church. Apaches attacked the town repeatedly in the 1840s, forcing the Sonoran Mexicans to abandon both Tumacocori and Tubac. Tubac was the scene of a four day siege in 1861, between Tubac's male population, Confederate militia and Apache warriors. Tubac was the original Spanish colonial garrison in Arizona. It was depopulated during the O'odham Uprising in the 18th century. During the 19th century, the area was repopulated by miners, farmers and ranchers, but the town of Tubac is best known today as an artists' colony.
Tubac's Five Cultures:
- Hohokam: (300 B.C.)
- Tohoho O'odham, (Pima): (400 A.D.)
- Spanish: Missionaries begin trading with the Pima as early as 1645, Eventually leading to the establishment of the Presidio of San Ignacio de Tubac in 1752
- Mexican: Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 bringing Tubac under the flag of Mexico.
- American: In 1853, with the Gadsden Purchase, Tubac becomes part of the United States.