The Hohokam Indians are the shrouded backdrop to Mesa, Arizona's rich history. The culture settled the river basin nearly 2000 years past; by building incredible canal systems that rivaled even the most technical of ancient civilizations, yet never had a recorded language to retain their history. Many of the canals are still integral to modern Mesa, Arizona.
Over the course of nearly a thousand years the Hohokam expanded their original 125 miles of canals into a vast expanse covering nearly 110,000 acres in 1100 A.D. By 1450 A.D the Hohokam called “depleted ones” or “All Used Up” had constructed hundreds of miles of canals before vanishing without a trace.
After the Hohokam disappeared in late 15th century, little is known. The Apache war tribes drove out the Spanish, among the others who attempted to settle the region, in 1700's.
In the 1800’s U.S. Army Troops fought and subdued the Apaches finally opening the frontier to American settlers. Daniel Webster Jones was sent to settle Arizona by the Church of Latter-day Saints. Settling what would be known as Lehi Daniel Webster Jones was always a influence in Indian affairs.
By the late 1870’s the First Mesa Company, 85 members of the church of Latter-day Saints, arrived where Daniel Webster Jones settled in Lehi. Soon after they First Mesa Company left and settled Mesa City; they immediately began clearing the old Hohokam canals.
Though the city itself has always been Mesa City, the Mesa post office has had many names. The original postal authorities thought Mesa an unacceptable name possibly confused with Mesaville of the San Pedro. Hayden’s Ferry was the first, later renamed Zenos before 1889 when the Mesa City Post Office was the final name change.
Dr. A.J. Chandler, who founded the nearby city bearing his name to the south, enlarged the Mesa Canal with heavy machinery. Enabling the construction of an electric power plant later purchased by Mesa City in 1917. Mesa became one of few cities to own its own utilities. Enabling many public works for the benefit of all even on through the Great Depression.
Falcon Field Airport and Williams Air Force Base are reminders of WWII each built in 1941 during the struggle to train and provide pilots for the war. The British Royal Air Force used Falcon Field Airport, while Williams Air Force Base was for the training of U.S. pilots.
Aerospace engineering firms and the military families has ever been a large portion of the population of Mesa, Arizona. Not until the tourist boom associated with the cooling power of commercial air conditioning did Mesa become the giant city it is today.