Long after the ancient Hohokam native people built 135 miles (217 km) of canals to try to bring life to the Arizona desert, Jack Swilling created his own oasis where the city of Phoenix now stands. He organized the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company in 1867, and by the following year he was growing crops. The area was first called Swilling's Mill, then Helling Mill, then Mill City. Swilling wanted to christen the place Stonewall -- he was a big fan of Gen. Stonewall Jackson -- while others wanted to call it Pumpkinville, because of the wild gourds found growing along the Salt River.
When an English drifter named "Lord" Darrell Duppa suggested the name Phoenix -- "A new city will spring phoenix-like upon the ruins of a former civilization," he said -- the name stuck. The Board of Supervisors of Yavapai County officially recognized the new town on 4 May 1868. The first post office opened the next month, with Swilling as postmaster.
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