The history of the city of Phoenix begins with Jack Swilling, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. In 1867, while traveling through the Salt River Valley, he saw a potential for farming, much like the military had already cultivated further east, near Fort McDowell. He formed a small community that same year about 4 miles (6 km) east of the present city. Lord Darrell Duppa, one of the original settlers in Swilling's party, suggested the name "Phoenix", as it described a city born from the ruins of a former civilization.
The Board of Supervisors in Yavapai County, which at the time encompassed Phoenix, officially recognized the new town on May 4, 1868, and the first post office was established the following month, with Swilling as the postmaster. On February 12, 1871, the territorial legislature created Maricopa County, the sixth one formed in the Arizona Territory, by dividing Yavapai County. The first election for county office was held in 1871, when Tom Barnum was elected the first sheriff, running unopposed when the other two candidates, John A. Chenowth and Jim Favorite, fought a duel wherein Chenowth killed Favorite, and then was forced to withdraw from the race.