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Over the following years, the city continued to grow, with the population increasing to 20,292 in 1920 and 36,818 in 1940.

A separate Convento settlement was founded downstream along the Santa Cruz River, near the base of what is now "A" mountain.Hugo O'Conor, the founding father of the city of Tucson, Arizona authorized the construction of a military fort in that location, Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón, on August 20, 1775 (near the present downtown Pima County Courthouse).During the Spanish period of the presidio, attacks such as the Second Battle of Tucson were repeatedly mounted by Apaches.The coroner's jury concluded that Spence, Stilwell, Frederick Bode, and Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz were the prime suspects in the assassination of Morgan Earp. They found Stilwell lying in wait for Virgil in the Tucson station and killed him on the tracks.After killing Stilwell, Wyatt deputized others and rode on a vendetta, killing three more cowboys over the next few days before leaving the state.Eventually the town came to be called "Tucson" and became a part of the state of Sonora after Mexico gained independence from the Kingdom of Spain and its Spanish Empire in 1821. George Cooke with the Mormon Battalion during the Mexican–American War in 1846-1848, but soon returned to Mexican control as Cooke continued his mission westward establishing Cooke's Wagon Road to California.

Tucson was not included originally in the Mexican Cession and Cooke's road through Tucson became one of the important routes into California during the California Gold Rush of 1849.

In 1857, Tucson became a stage station on the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line and in 1858 became 3rd division headquarters of the Butterfield Overland Mail until the line shut down in March 1861.

The Overland Mail Corporation attempted to continue running, however, following the Bascom Affair, devastating Apache attacks on the stations and coaches ended operations in August 1861.

In 1885, the University of Arizona was founded as a land-grant college on over-grazed ranch land between Tucson and Fort Lowell. Veterans Administration had begun construction on the present Veterans Hospital.

In 1890, Asians made up 4.2% of the city's population. The population increased gradually to 13,913 in 1910. Many veterans who had been gassed in World War I, and were in need of respiratory therapy, began coming to Tucson after the war, because of the clean dry air.

The Spanish name of the city, Tucsón Tucson was probably first visited by Paleo-Indians, known to have been in southern Arizona about 12,000 years ago.