Historic Resource Study
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Chapter 5
Hispanic Settlement and the Final Displacement of the O'odha

The transformation of the Upper Santa Cruz Valley from a social space where community and landscape were inseparable into an increasingly fragmented space of capitalist production culminated in the early twentieth century, when a fraudulent land grant held by speculators settled uneasily on the ashes of the mission dream. But the seeds of that transformation were planted much earlier, a decade before Kino began his evangelization of the Pimería Alta. Spanish settlers of the late seventeenth century never envisioned the speculative frenzy of the Baca Float or Rio Rico, but they did establish individual rather than communal claims to stretches of the Santa Cruz Valley. Those claims would gradually become more formalized, initiating the process of alienation that divorced land and water from any communal forms of ownership, obligations, or control. Rather than being the extension of community—a bundle of resources held in trust for generations of hijos del pueblo—the former mission lands became, first, a means of production for private gain, and then, in the words of geographer David Harvey, "a form of fictitious capital" (Harvey 1982:347) bought and sold for the future profits that could be wrung from it. The surreal yet seemingly inexorable metamorphosis from mission to pseudo-Spanish subdivision was underway.

Cattle Frontiers

The first to arrive was José Romo de Vivar, a prominent settler in the Bacanuchi Valley who served as the teniente alcalde mayor of Sonora. After silver was discovered in the mountains near Bacanuchi in 1678, Romo de Vivar established the ranch of San Lázaro at the bend of the Santa Cruz. He also ran stock around Cananea and on the southern slopes of the Huachuca Mountains in the San Rafael Valley (Kessell 1970; Officer 1987). Gold and silver may have lured him northward but Andalusian longhorns were his instruments of occupation on the virgin grasslands of the eastern Pimería Alta.

Romo de Vivar was not unique in that respect. Ranching and mining developed symbiotically in Sonora just as they did in Parral and other mining districts of northern New Spain (West 1949). Mine owners needed hide sacks to haul ore out of their shafts and tallow to light their tunnels. They also required meat, milk, cheese, and wool to feed and clothe their miners. Mines provided the largest market for the thousands of head of sheep, cattle, horses, and mules that thrived on Sonoran ranges. As early as the 1660s, cattle and mules were so abundant in the province they "hardly had a price" (quoted in West 1993:59). By 1685, the ranching frontier had reached as far north as the headwaters of the Río Sonora and Río Moctezuma, with six ranches in the Bacanuchi Valley and four in the Teuricache Valley. After glutting Sonoran markets, ranchers often had to drive thousands of head across the Sierra Madre Occidental to sell in the mines of Nueva Vizcaya, where raids by Tobosos and other Indians from the Bolsón de Mapimí had decimated local herds (West 1993).

In his magisterial North American Cattle-Ranching Frontiers, geographer Terry Jordan (1993) argues that Spaniards brought two very distinct stockraising traditions with them from the Iberian peninsula. The first and most extensive developed on the western Meseta, or interior plateau, where sheep outnumbered cattle by ratios of 10:1 to 25:1. There the powerful royal mesta, dominated by sheepraisers, controlled a system of driveways and common pastures that allowed huge herds of sheep to move from summer to winter pastures each year. Cattleraising, in contrast, was more localized and more confined. Calves were castrated to make them more docile and cattle were usually herded on foot by old men or boys. Rock-walled pastures segregated cattle from sheep, sharply curtailing their movement. Extremadura and Castile were not the cradles of the range cattle industry as they are often depicted to be.

Instead, free-ranging longhorns and the mounted vaqueros (cowboys) who pursued them flourished in coastal salt marshes rather than on windswept plains. The largest and most important was Las Marismas south of Seville, where the Guadalquivir River and its tributaries formed an enormous delta of shifting channels that flooded twice a year. In late spring, after winter floodwaters began to recede, the famous Therian longhorns drifted into the Andalusian marshlands to graze its bunchgrasses. Often uncastrated and rarely controlled, the longhorns remained there until fall, when mounted vaqueros employed garrochas (lances) to round up the semi-feral beasts and drive them to higher ground before winter floods surged again. "Here, truly, was found the embryonic cattle frontier of Latin America," Jordan (1993:35) contends.

Immigrants from Andalusia, Extremadura, and Castile implanted both traditions as they colonized the many environments of Mexico. When Spaniards began moving up the north-central corridor of the Mesa del Norte, the huge central plateau between the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental, wealthy sixteenth-century pioneers like Francisco de Ibarra ran herds of more than 100,000 cattle. But over time, the Meseta tradition prevailed. Sheep proliferated on degraded ranges, and the range cattle industry receded. In some areas of Nuevo León, around outposts like Monterrey, Camargo, and Laredo, sheep outnumbered cattle by 20:1. Cattle did not dominate the ranges of the north-central corridor—Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Nuevo México—until the cattle boom of the late nineteenth century (Jordan 1993).

The Pacific coast corridor, on the other hand, provided a series of environments better suited to the Andalusian tradition. As Nuño de Guzmán slashed his way through the densely settled lowlands of Nayarit and Sinaloa, slaving forays and Old World diseases decimated Indian societies. Depopulation cleared the way for cattle, which thrived much better in the lowland thorn forests than sheep. Cáhita-speaking Indians north of Culiacán halted Spanish expansion for half a century, but when the push northward resumed in the 1580s, both Spanish frontiersmen and missionaries from the Society of Jesus established herds of cattle wherever they settled. In San Felipe y Santiago, the most important community on the advancing northwestern frontier, pioneer Jesuit Andrés Pérez de Ribas noted that its Spanish inhabitants "are sustained by many cattle ranches, as well as cultivated fields, from which the surrounding mining camps get supplies, for which they pay the residents of the villa in silver" (Pérez de Ribas 1999[1645]:193). The great military leader of the expansion—Captain Diego Martínez de Hurdaide—even employed cattle as instruments of conquest. When rebel Tehueco Indians from the Fuerte River took refuge among the Tepahue Indians living along a tributary of the Mayo River, Martínez de Hurdaide drove a herd of 400 cattle into battle with him to feed his forces (Pérez de Ribas 1999[1645]:239).

If longhorns were the quintessential frontier animals, able to fend for themselves for much of the year, sheep required a greater level of domesticity. The Jesuits introduced these ganado menor among their mission neophytes. "To correct their barbarousness, which made them indifferent toward covering themselves, the priests brought sheep to Sinaloa so that the Indians could weave mantas of wool with which to clothe themselves," Pérez de Ribas wrote of the Yaquis, whom he missionized in 1617. "Once they are made to wear clothing they get to like it so much that some become obsessed with it. Indeed, in order to obtain clothing, or more precisely, to be elegantly dressed, they sometimes leave their homes and women and travel fifty leagues or more to {find} work outside the province" (Pérez de Ribas 1999:375).

Historian Cynthia Radding (1997) argues that as the competition for Indian labor intensified in colonial Sonora, Indians exacted payments of cloth from their priests in return for remaining in the missions. Locally produced cloth came from only three sources—cotton, wool, and, less commonly, the fibers of agave. Sheepraising was obviously critical to meet the growing regional demand.

Nonetheless, available figures demonstrate that sheep never overwhelmed cattle as they did east of the Sierra Madre Occidental. At the mission of San Pedro de Aconchi on the Sonora River, for example, there were 1,681 head of sheep and 1,475 cattle in 1749, a nearly equal ratio (Radding 1997:77). By 1778, Sonoran missions possessed more cattle than sheep (15,101 cattle vs. 11,669 sheep, with 1,213 pairs of oxen) (Radding 1997:92-93). Mission inventories for 1794 reveal that sheep once again outnumbered cattle (2,721 cattle, 357 pairs of oxen, 4,021 sheep), but never by the 10:1 or 20:1 ratios found in Nuevo León (Radding 1997).

As Appendix 1 points out, the missions of the Santa Cruz Valley ran both ganado mayor and ganado menor. Kino seems to have introduced more cattle than sheep. By 1701, there were 300 head of cattle at San Luis de Bacoancos near where Rancho Buenavista would later be established and 1,000 head at Mission San Xavier. During the second half of the eighteenth century, both Guevavi and Tumacácori possessed more sheep than cattle. By the end of the colonial period, however, the number of cattle rose sharply at both Tumacácori and Bac (5,000 and 8,797 in 1814, respectively). In 1804, the presidial community of Tucson also rain more cattle (4,000) than sheep (2,600). These figures mirror a similar ratio farther south at the presidio of Pitic (modern Hermosillo) (5,000 cattle and 3,422 sheep in 1804). And since cattle were worth five pesos and sheep only one peso, cattle were far more important to the regional economy (Radding 1997:218).

Early Settlers and the Open Range

Regardless of the mix of cattle and sheep, stockraising in the Santa Cruz Valley remained a dangerous frontier enterprise whose transaction costs rose or fell depending upon relationships with surrounding Native Americans. The massacre at Mototicachi in 1688 sparked an O'odham rebellion that drove early ranchers like Romo de Vivar from the Santa Cruz. Three decades later, Spanish frontiersmen once again settled the great bend of the river they called the San Luis Valley. Perhaps the first were Diego Romero and his four sons, Nicolás, Cristóbal, José, and Ignacio, who founded the Santa Bárbara and Buenavista ranches. Members of the Grijalva, Figueroa, Bohórquez, Tapia, Gallego, Núñez, Fernández, Gallego, Amésquita, Samaniego, Rivera, Villela, Barba, Ortega, Durán, and Covarrubias families soon followed (Garate 2003).

These early pioneers were jacks-of-all-trades, running stock, raising wheat and corn, prospecting the surrounding mountains. Gold and particularly silver mining provided much of Sonora's wealth, but the daily realities of most settlers' lives revolved around crops and cattle, not ore. With the exception of the strange silver strike at Arizonac in 1736, mining operations in the Pimería Alta were small, dangerous, intermittent endeavors—a handful of silver mines in the Arivaca area, a gold mine near Guevavi, a mine or two in the Santa Ritas (Officer 1987, 19??). [1] None of these mines lasted long or produced much ore. The Romeros and their neighbors lived on the edge of the Apacheria, their lives and modest fortunes constantly threatened by Apache raids. The mountains of the far horizon may have promised riches beyond compare, but the dangers usually overshadowed the dreams.

Nevertheless, a frontier elite began to emerge with connections to capital and political influence beyond the region. One such enterprising individual was Juan Bautista de Anza the Elder. Anza was Basque, one of the many vizcainos drawn to northern New Spain. Born in Hernani, Spain, in 1693, he sailed for Mexico in 1712 when he was nineteen years old. By 1718, he had reached Sonora, where he owned and operated a store and silver mine in the mining real of Aguaje south of modern Hermosillo. Characteristically, the other two mine owners in Aguaje were Basques as well. Two years later, Anza and four Basque companions founded the real de minas of Tetuachi in the upper Sonora River drainage south of the mission of Arizpe. They dedicated it to Nuestra Señora de Aránzazu, a manifestation of the Virgin Mary who appeared to a Basque goatherd in 1447. Anza was a young and ambitious entrepreneur, but his success was due in part to a close-knit network of Basque merchants and miners that extended from Mexico City to the mining camps of Sonora and Nueva Vizcaya (Garate 1994, 1995, 2003).

Extremadurans, Castillians, or Andalusians may not have found the Sonoran landscape surpassingly strange. To Basques like Anza, however, the heat and relentless aridity must have been oppressive, at least at first. They had been born and raised in cool, green mountain country, not the scorched, thorn-ridden terrain from which they now wrested a living. Yet these Basque pioneers put down some of the deepest roots in the region. They may even have bequeathed the state of Arizona its name—Arizonac, 'the good oak'—after a camp in the high country southwest of modern Nogales near where the bolas y planchas de plata were discovered (Garate 1995).

Their rise to prominence was rapid but hard-fought. The vizcainos won their first major political battle in 1726. For years, they had protested the corruption of Gregorio Alvarez Tuñón y Quirós, captain of Fronteras presidio, the only military garrison on the Sonoran frontier. For years, Tuñón y Quirós had thwarted their parries and continued to use presidial soldiers as his own private labor force (Polzer and Sheridan 1997; Garate 2003). But when Brigadier Pedro de Rivera Villalón arrived on his inspection of the northern presidios, Tuñón y Quirós could not bribe or dissemble his way out of a final reckoning. Rivera removed him and replaced him with Anza (Naylor and Polzer 1988).

In the decades that followed, Basques like Anza, Bernardo de Urrea, Antonio de Vildósola, and, most illustrious of all, Juan Bautista de Anza the Younger, dominated the frontier military. They commanded the presidios of Fronteras, Altar, Pitic, and Tubac (Polzer and Sheridan 1997). They married into one another's families and supported one another in political squabbles and military campaigns. And even though they pursued their military duties with vigor and competence, they invested heavily in ranching and mining as well. The Pimería Alta was in many respects a Basque political and economic frontier.

Again, Anza the Elder served as the prototype. Because the San Luis Valley was filling up with settlers, many of them Basque, Anza pushed northward, founding four ranches north of the modern international border. Manuel José de Sosa and his wife Nicolasa Gómez de Silva operated Rancho Guevavi near the mission of the same name. Opata Indian Juan Núñez and his mulata wife María Rosa Samaniego ran Rancho San Mateo at the confluence of the Santa Cruz and Sonoita Creek, near the O'odham community of Toacuquita, later the mission visita of Calabasas. Juan Manuel Bais and his wife María Josefa de Luque administered Rancho Sópori along Sópori Wash. The historical record is mute about who took care of Rancho Sicurisuta near modern Peña Blanca Lake (Garate 1995, 2003). [2]

Bound by his duties at Fronteras, Anza never resided at any of these ranches. Instead, he entrusted them to family friends and employees like Sosa and de Luque, who epitomized the tenacity of these early pioneers. María Josefa remained on the Sópori for the rest of her life, surviving the death of her first husband in 1747 and the Pima rebellion in 1751. As late as 1775, the year Anza the Younger led his colonizing expedition to San Francisco Bay, she served as madrina (godmother) at a baptism at Mission Tumacácori. Her daughter, María del Carmen del Bais, married Juan Nicolás de Sosa. They gave birth to Manuel Vicente de Sosa, who acted as padrino with his grandmother at the baptism in 1775 (Garate 2003).

The ever-expanding ties of marriage and compadrazgo, sanctified by the sacraments of Catholicism at Mission Tumacácori, were the bonds that wove pioneer families together along the Santa Cruz. If you have ever visited the rural communities of Sonora, you can smell the mesquite smoke rising from their fires and see their simple, flat-roofed adobe homes and their mesquite corrals. You can also follow the calendar of their year—sowing wheat in November, corn and beans in March and July, celebrating the saints' days, the hard, good life of planting and weaning broken all too often by the murder of a neighbor, the theft of a horseherd. These were the people who became the first Hispanic settlers of Arizona—vecinos, padrinos, madrinas, employers, allies, and occasionally enemies of the O'odham.

Some of these early frontiersmen may have obtained titulos de merced—legal grants of land—from the Spanish crown, which claimed all land in the Indies. If so, those titles have not surfaced. More likely, they simply occupied the open range, coming to agreements with their neighbors about where their ranch ended and their neighbors' began (West 1993). Because ranges were not fenced, all the ranchers in an area would periodically join together to round up cattle and horses, brand calves and foals, and cull animals they wanted to slaughter or sell. During periods of relative peace with the Apaches, cattle roamed freely, the extent of their range determined by the availability of water. Herds of goats and sheep, in contrast, foraged under the watchful eyes of sabaneros (herdsmen) to keep them from falling prey to coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, black bears, and grizzlies. [3] But as Apache raids intensified, even cattle and horses had to be corralled each night to prevent them from being stolen. The open range spasmodically contracted as hostilities escalated.

Water and the Common Good

During most of the colonial period, insuring access to water was more important than establishing fixed boundaries to grazing land. Water determined where and when you could plant, and where your livestock could forage. Hispanic stockraisers undoubtedly dug out springs and excavated shallow wells in the floodplains of rivers and arroyos, such as the famous La Canoa north of Tubac. But they did not yet possess the technology to construct the artificial water sources that would have allowed them to distribute their herds evenly across the landscape. The centrifugal windmill was not invented until 1854 and not adopted by Arizona ranchers until the 1870s. During the eighteenth and most of the nineteenth century, animals as well as crops relied on the Santa Cruz and its tributaries.

Spain was much better prepared than other European colonial powers to confront scarce water resources. Much of the Therian peninsula was semi-arid. Irrigation was an ecological imperative. Each successive wave of invaders, from Romans to Moors, contributed their own hydraulic technologies and social organizations of technology to the agrarian landscape. And as the Spanish kingdom emerged from the crucible of the Reconquista, its legal system drew from Visigothic, Islamic, and especially Roman traditions to balance the rights of powerful interest groups with those of individuals and communities.

That system was first codified in 1275 under the direction of King Alphonso X. Called Las Siete partidas, that visionary endeavor served as the model for subsequent codifications in the New World, particularly the monumental Recopilación de leyes de reynos de las Indias, published in 1681 (Meyer 1984). A common thread running through these and other examples of Spanish jurisprudence was the social contexuality of property and the importance of community. Private property was acknowledged and protected, but it was also bounded by obligations and restrictions designed to protect the well being of the larger community within which private property was embedded.

Nowhere is that embeddedness clearer than in Spanish water law. According to the Siete partidas, everyone could use flowing surface water for certain purposes—drinking, bathing, fishing, navigation and transport. Irrigation and industrial uses of water, on the other hand, had to be carefully regulated "because it would not be wise that the benefit of all men be hindered by the interest of some individuals" (Partida 3, Título 28, Ley 8, quoted in Meyer 1984:118). Moreover, land grants in both Spain and the Americas did not necessarily entitle landowners to water. Unlike English common law, Spanish jurisprudence did not recognize riparian rights. The owner of land along a river could use river water for domestic purposes and for watering livestock. Without an additional bundle of rights, however, the landowner could not divert the river onto his or her fields (Meyer 1984).

In other words, land and water were not always conjoined. Spanish law recognized different classifications of land, some with explicit or implied water rights, others without (Meyer 1984). There were at least three types of farmland. Tierras de pan sembrar were dryland fields. Tierras de pan coger, usually called tierras de temporal in northern New Spain, referred to fields dependent upon runoff from seasonal rains. In Sonoran agricultural communities today, temporales are usually located along normally dry arroyos. When floodwaters surge down them, farmers channel the temporary flow onto their fields (Sheridan 1988). Tierras de pan llevar, on the other hand, were irrigable and conveyed irrigation rights. Land classified as labores also included water rights (Meyer 1984).

Grants of grazing land, whether they were sitios de ganado mayor (ca. 4,338 acres) or sitios de ganado menor (ca. 1,928 acres), did not transmit irrigation rights unless specified. When they did, they usually designated only a small portion of the grant as labores that could be irrigated. Surface water, scarce in Spain and even scarcer on the northern frontier of New Spain, had to be carefully allocated to insure that private access did not dry up the fragile web of acequias (canals) upon which communities depended.

Subsurface water, in contrast, was a private resource shorn of most communal obligations. Springs, waterholes, or wells that originated on a grant belonged to the landowner, who could draw as much of the water as he or she wanted as long as it was not used maliciously to harm a neighbor. Rainfall may have been common property but French scientist Pierre Perrault did not demonstrate the causal relationship between precipitation and springs until 1674. Even then, according to historian Michael Meyer, "the discovery never quite caught up to Spanish jurisprudence" (Meyer 1984:120). Medieval anachronisms—that surface flow and subsurface aquifers were unrelated, that great underground rivers fed springs and wells—continued to distort water policy in both the United States and Mexico well into the twentieth century. [4]

The Bourbon Reforms and the Privatization of Property

We have already seen in Chapter 4 that Mission Tumacácori and the presidio of Tubac joined together to manage the surface flow of the Santa Cruz for irrigation. We also know that mission Indians, presidial soldiers, and civilian settlers ran their livestock together, at least when Anza the Younger was captain at Tubac in the 1760s and 1770s. The threat of Apache raids made the survival of community essential to the survival of individuals. Frontier conditions prevented the privatization of the landscape for most of the colonial period.

We may never know how many cattle and sheep Hispanic frontiersmen grazed along the Santa Cruz. The chronicles of the time simply did not record the details—numbers, rotation, seasonality—that would allow us to venture some educated guesses about the ecological impact of these early herds. About all we can do is speculate about where they ranged. Spanish longhorns were notoriously hardy, able to go several days without water in the summer and longer in the winter. During times of peace, the corrientes must have spread up the Santa Cruz and its tributaries into the foothills of the Santa Ritas, Tumacácoris, and Atascosas. During times of danger, however, settlers must have tried to keep them close to the relative security of mission and presidio. The bottom lands of the Santa Cruz, Sonoita Creek, Sópori Wash, Josephine Canyon, Peck Canyon, and Portrero Creek must have endured relatively heavy and sustained grazing pressure beginning in the 1720s. Grazing in the uplands, on the other hand, must have been sporadic, periods of expansion punctuated by long periods of contraction when few animals survived predation or Apache raids. Southern Arizona never seems to have supported the vast herds of feral cattle reported for southeastern Texas during the colonial period (Jackson 1986).

Nor do we know much about where and how the pioneers marketed their livestock. Were the cattle slaughtered for hides or driven to mining centers? Were the sheep sheared for local consumption or regional demand? Tubac absorbed some of these animals. And there were the pulses of demand created by the discovery of silver at Arizonac in the 1730s and the gold rush at Cieneguilla in the 1770s. But all we have are fragmentary snapshots. Contested frontiers rarely yield the quantitative data necessary to do anything more than sketch economic or environmental history in broad strokes.

What we do see, however, is the expansion of cattle ranching towards the end of the colonial period. Presumably this represented a response to expanding markets. The growing militarization of Sonora provided one outlet, because soldiers needed to be fed. At the same time, the success of the Apache peace policy reduced raiding and lowered the transaction costs of livestock production, with the Apache peace camps providing an additional market for beef as well. In the Santa Cruz Valley, both missions and private ranchers increased their herds and dreamed of pushing the cattle frontier eastward onto the grasslands of the San Pedro and San Bernardino valleys.

The late colonial period was also an era when the cumulative effects of the Bourbon reforms succeeded in reshaping the legal, philosophical, and administrative landscape of Sonora. With few exceptions such as Pedro de Perea's colony of Nueva Andalucia, [5] missionaries from the Society of Jesus spearheaded the conquest of Sonora in the 1600s. Skirting the dry coastal plains of the Sonoran Desert, the Jesuits followed river valleys northward, establishing missions in Lower Pima, Eudeve, and Opata communities. They never were able to exclude Spanish settlers from these valleys, but missions established by the Jesuits in the seventeenth century enabled some Indian communities to maintain control of their communal land bases into the nineteenth and even twentieth centuries. Their resilience—and the slow development of regional markets—prevented the rise of huge landed estates in Sonora and the Pimería Alta (Sheridan 1988; Radding 1997).

After the Jesuits were expelled, however, Bourbon reformers like José de Gálvez weakened the economic and political influence of the Franciscans while expanding the professional military. Enterprising frontier families—the Anzas, Urreas, Vildósolas, Elías Gonzálezes, and others—used military careers to consolidate their positions as leaders of regional elites. Meanwhile, the non-Indian population was increasing, generating greater demand for land as well as Indian labor (Sheridan 1992). Customary use-rights to the floodplain and open range gave way to private property rights as the missionaries lost power and the Indian communities lost ground.

A variety of legal instruments formalized these rights, growing ever more supple as land became more of a commodity and less an extension of community. The merced—or royal land grant—remained the foundation, reflecting the primacy of the Spanish crown as the fundamental landholding entity in the Americas. As the great Spanish legal scholar Juan de Solórzano Pereira wrote in his Politica Indiana, "Except for the lands, meadows, pastures, woodlands and waters that by particular concession and grant have been made...all the rest of this land, and especially that which is yet to be plowed and cultivated, is and should be of the Royal Crown and Dominion" (quoted in Meyer 1984:118). [6]

Nonetheless, there were other instruments as well. One was the composición, which legalized customary use rights to land. Another was the denuncia (statement of claim) and subsequent public auction of lands considered either realengos (public domain held in the name of the king) or baldios (vacant lands). Radding (1997) notes that non-Indian settlers resorted to both the composición and denuncia with ever-increasing frequency in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Vecinos employed composiciones to obtain title to farmland along the floodplains. They utilized denuncias to secure sitios de ganado mayor or ganado menor on agostadero (non-arable grazing lands) in the foothills and surrounding mountains (Radding 1997).

Accelerating this trend toward privatization was the decentralization of authority to distribute land. At first, the Spanish Crown limited that authority in New Spain to the Council of the Indies, the viceroy, and the audiencia de México. By the late eighteenth century, however, governors, intendants, and even presidial commanders could issue grants (Radding 1997). This greatly facilitated the process of land transfer. It also increased the power of regional officials and regional elites.

Land Grants in the Santa Cruz Watershed

In the Santa Cruz Valley, Spanish officials authorized only three grants before Mexican independence: to Toribio Otero north of Tubac in 1789, to the O'odham of Mission Tumacácori in 1807, and to Agustín Ortiz of Tucson in 1812, who received two sitios de ganado mayor in Arivaca. [7]

The sons of Agustín Ortiz—Tomás and Ignacio—petitioned for another grant in September 1820, but it was not approved until December 1821, several months after the end of Spanish rule. This was San Ignacio de Canoa—four sitios de ganado mayor (4 square leagues; about 17,354 acres) along the Santa Cruz River north of Tubac. Ignacio Elías González, commander of Tubac presidio, surveyed the grant himself (Willey 1979) [8] Elías González was Tomás Ortiz's father-in-law. In 1827, he and Nepomuceno Félix received their own grant of San Juan de las Boquillas y Nogales along the San Pedro River. [9]

San Ignacio de Canoa was clearly intended to be a stockraising operation. The starting point of the survey was the famous "paraje de la Canoa," where Spanish travelers had stopped to water for more than a century. But wayfarers did not quench their thirst from a flowing stream. According to Elías González, the Santa Cruz Valley between Tubac and Mission San Xavier "contains a wide plain, through the middle of which runs the river of this military post [Tubac], although without water, because of its many sandy places which interrupt its flow at a distance of half a league from the post" (quoted in Willey 1979:154). La Canoa was the only location along this dry stretch where water could be obtained from shallow wells. This was the place where Juan Bautista de Anza and 239 other people bedded down on October 23, 1775, their first night out of Tubac en route to California. "Here during most of the year water is found, although it is not running, but by a little digging in the sand enough can be had for whatever is required," Anza noted in his diary (Bolton 1966[1930], Vol.3:6). Later owners of San Ignacio de Canoa developed artesian wells, irrigated wheat fields, and even created a five-acre artificial lake, but the Ortiz brothers did not have the technology to turn Canoa into an irrigated oasis (Willey 1979; Hadley 2000). They wanted it for livestock, not crops.

Before Tomás and Ignacio Ortiz could take possession, however, they had to outbid Fray Juan Vañó of Mission San Xavier. Canoa had originally been appraised at 30 pesos a sitio because it had no flowing water. Backed by Tucson vecinos, who probably wanted San Xavier's huge herd to move south, Vañó escalated the bidding as high as 52-1/2 pesos. The Ortiz brothers dropped out, then changed their minds and offered 62-1/2 pesos per sitio. That was more than Vañó was willing to pay (Kessell 1976).

Clearer than anything else, the Canoa bidding war revealed that land had finally become a commodity in the Santa Cruz Valley. During the relative peace of the early nineteenth century, both missions and settlers were running out of room as they expanded their herds. Moreover, members of the regional elite, particularly the Elías-González family, decided that the grasslands of southern Arizona were a good place to invest capital from their ranching and mining operations in the Sonora River watershed. Customary use rights withered as competition for rangeland increased. As a result, more and more of southern Arizona was carved into private estates with formal surveys and fixed boundaries.

This process of privatization soon encroached upon the mission lands of Tumacácori. In the spring of 1821, while the war for independence was still raging to the south, León Herreros filed a denuncia to "the place called Sonoita, the very ancient pueblo of the Indians, abandoned because of the incursions of the Apache Indians." A resident of Tubac like the Ortiz brothers, Herreros requested "two sitios of lands" he promised to stock "with cattle and horses" because he had no lands on which to maintain his bienes de campo. [10]

Once again, Ignacio Elías González directed the survey. One of the members of the survey party was Manuel de León, who had measured the Tumacácori grant fourteen years earlier. Herreros wanted the center of the grant to be "the same walls of the aforementioned Sonoita." [11] These may have been the ruins of the church Father Francisco Pauer built in the 1750s. Kino had established Los Santos Reyes de Sonoita as a visita of Guevavi in the late 1600s. Captain Coro and more than 500 other Sobaipuris from the San Pedro Valley withdrew there after a dramatic battle with Jocomes, Sumas, Mansos, and Apaches in 1698 (Sheridan i.p.). By 1821, however, Sonoita had been abandoned for nearly fifty years, the black hole into which the Sobaipuri frontier collapsed. [12] Located in a pass between the Santa Rita and Patagonia mountains, Sonoita was where the descendants of the avengers of I'itoi took desperate refuge until they either fled or died. [13]

The surveying party under Elías González began its work in the heat of late June, 1821. They marked off sixty-three cord lengths to the northeast, ending just upstream from a spring (ojo de agua) at the foot of a small hill. Then they returned to the center—the ruins of visita—and continued down the canyon until they had measured off "more or less two sitios" Because of the "cragginess" and "roughness" of the bordering mountains, however, the surveyors only extended the boundaries of the grant twenty-five cord lengths on each side of the canyon. The canyon twisted and turned so much that the surveyors often could only measure partial cord lengths. You can sense Elías González' fatigue and frustration in the pages of his report. [14]

The next day, the surveyors completed their work. Starting from the center, they paced off 312 cord lengths down canyon to the south, ending at a spot along the camino real to Tubac called the "first ford" (primer vado). To the right, facing west, they measured twenty-five cord lengths and erected a pile of stones as a boundary marker on a small hill above a little valley. To the left, they did the same, ending at the first of two small hills known as Los Cuates ('The Twins'). "Rancho de Calabazas," which belonged to Mission Tumacácori, lay about two leagues to the southwest. North of the grant was no-man's land "through which the enemies [the Apaches] enter and leave to commit their robberies and hostilities." Because of all the contortions of the terrain, Elías González and his crew were only been able to survey one and three-fourth sitios. Herreros registered the tract "for the raising of cattle and horses and the cultivation of tierras de pan llevar." [15]

Treasury officials in Arizpe appraised the Sonoita grant at sixty pesos per sitio because it had "flowing water and some aveones [sic; perhaps peonias] of tierra de pan llevar." [16] Unlike Canoa, Sonoita included lands that could be irrigated, so it implicitly conveyed water rights as well. During the requisite thirty days of public notice, no one contested Herreros' denuncia or the survey, and no one offered more than the appraised 105 pesos. Herreros took possession of the grant, although he was not issued formal title until May 15, 1825. Fittingly, that was el dia de San Isidro, the patron saint of farmers.

Tumacácori's missionary, Fray Juan Bautista Estelric, apparently did not concern himself with Herrero's occupation of the old visita. Perhaps he was too busy trying to collect the 12,000 pesos owed the mission by Ignacio Pérez, who had purchased 4,000 head of cattle from Tumacácori to stock his new San Bernardino grant. Or perhaps his ever-more scandalous involvement with the young woman who attended him diverted his attention. Less than a year after Herreros' denuncia of Sonoita was approved, however, his cattle were breaking into the fields of O'odham farmers near the junction of Sonoita Creek and the Santa Cruz. Fray Ramón Liberós, Estelric's more vigorous successor protested. He pointed out that the Tumacácori grant included range lands owned by the Jesuits as well as the fundo legal along the floodplain and the estancia at Calabazas (Kessell 1976).

Herreros and Liberós resolved their differences by agreeing to a boundary at Loma de las Cruces, perhaps the first of the two hills called Los Cuates where Elías González had erected a cross at the end of his survey. [17] Herreros could still run cattle down the canyon of Sonoita Creek, but O'odham from Calabazas were the only ones who could farm its lower stretches. Four years later, Herreros sold the Sonoita grant itself to Mission Tumacácori (Kessell 1976).

But that sale was never recorded in Arizpe, a fatal oversight in an increasingly legalistic environment. Soon afterward, in December 1827, the federal congress signed a law expelling Spaniards from Mexico. Officials of the short-lived state of Occidente (Sonora and Sinloa) removed Liberós and most other Spanish Franciscans the following spring. In 1831, Herreros, old and illiterate, sold Sonoita a second time to Joaquín Elías for 200 fanegas of wheat (Kessell 1976). Elías may have been the brother of Rafael, the owner of the San Rafael del Valle land grant, and Ignacio and Eulalia, owners of the Babocómari grant. [18] The O'odham families farming Sonoita Creek were no match for the powerful Elías clan. With the departure of Liberós, they had lost their last vigorous champion in a world that valued paper titles more than living communities.

The Demise of Mission Tumacácori

You can feel the noose tightening around mission lands. By the end of the 1820s, the Elías González family owned much of the upper San Pedro watershed and its tributary, the Babocómari. Along the Santa Cruz itself, Francisco José de Juvera of Arizpe denounced the Romeros' abandoned ranch of Buenavista just south of Tumacácori's boundaries. He died before the grant was confirmed, but his widow, Josefa Morales, received title to four sitios in 1831 (Officer 1987). Seven years later, Joaquín Astiazarán received the largest Mexican land grant of them all—El Sópori—thirty-one and 7/8th sitios (137,583 acres) running east of the Santa Cruz from Tubac to Mission San Xavier (Wagoner 1975). Astiazarán never occupied the grant, but the landscape of the Santa Cruz watershed was now a sea of private claims surrounding Mission Tumacácori.

In November 1832, Fray Rafael Díaz reported that there were nineteen adult males at the mission, suggesting a total population of perhaps 80 to 100 people. [19] For the next decade, they eked out a living as drought withered their crops, Apaches stole their livestock, and settlers in Tubac appropriated more and more of their dwindling resources. Before he left, Fray Liberós appointed O'odham Ramón Pamplona as mission administrator. Pamplona did a good job managing Tumacácori's affairs, but after he resigned, a series of settlers—Tomás Ortiz, Buenaventura López, José Sosa—took over. Tensions escalated, particularly with Sosa, whom the O'odham accused of abuse and embezzlement. In 1830, the mission possessed about 800 sheep and 400 cattle, most of them feral because the Apaches prevented mission cowboys from rounding them up. By 1834, 100 of those sheep bore Sosa's brand. Meanwhile, Ignacio Ortiz leased two of Tumacácori's four wheat fields, and Esteban Velos held the wool-weaving concession (Kessell 1976). Slowly but surely, the mission was being picked apart.

Two decades later, there was no more meat on its bones. In May 1841, Francisco González [20] applied for Los Nogales de Elías—7-1/2 sitios and 2 caballerías (32,763 acres) of oak grassland southwest of Tumacácori. Ignacio Pamplona, Tumacácori's O'odham governor, accompanied the survey crew to identify the landmarks of the mission's estancia. González asked Pamplona if he could borrow Tumacácori's title to "learn the boundaries" (quoted in Kessell 1976:296). The O'odham of Tumacácori never got the title back.

No one knows if it was collusion or happenstance, but two years later, the Tubac juzgado de paz filed a report on Mission Tumacácori that set the stage for its final alienation. President Antonio López de Santa Anna was toying with the idea of inviting the Jesuits back into northern Mexico. Sonoran authorities therefore wanted to know if any of the missions possessed "ancient Jesuit fincas, houses known as community houses, cultivated fields known by the name of mission fields, the state in which they are found, the value of the rents they produce, their investment value, as well as whether some of these fincas have also been sold and with what authority." The Tubac justice of the peace responded negatively. He informed Joaquín Quiroga, the sub-prefect of San Ignacio, that "in this mission or pueblo of Tumacácori, no fincas of the Jesuits or houses called community houses have been known, only the houses of the convento in which the missionaries of said pueblo used to live, whose structures had been situated there in 1821 along with its chapel." [21]

The justice of the peace went on to say that most of the buildings "had fallen to the ground and those that remain threatened [to become] ruins" except for the church. There was one mission field to the south and another across the river about half a league away. "Both are found to be unfenced and abandoned since 1828, full of mesquite and other shrubs, because of a shortage of water in the river. There is only enough water for some few Indians to irrigate their meager sowings." [22]

The litany of desolation went on. Of rents or houses or irrigated fields there were none. The ranch and irrigated fields [labores] of Calabasas, along with the mission and estancia of Guevavi and the sitio of Sonoita, "are cast away, without buildings or goods, without a single cow except for the few wild ones that have fled to the mountains." [23] Santa Anna's chimerical Jesuits were not going to have much to come back to in the Santa Cruz Valley.

Instead, caudillo (military strongman) Manuel María Gándara snatched Tumacácori out from under the O'odham. Gándara was the most powerful main in Sonora in the mid-nineteenth century, seesawing in and out of power as he fought José de Urrea and then Ignacio Pesqueira for control of the state. An opportunist allied with centralist forces in Mexico City, Gándara often joined forces with Yaquis, Mayos; and Opatas fighting to retain control over their communal lands. That led his opponents to accuse him of inciting a "war of the castes." But Gándara was no friend of the O'odham. After the so-called "Papago War" broke out in the western Pimería Alta, Gándara organized an expeditionary force that cornered the Tohono O'odham in a canyon at the foot of Baboquivari Peak, I'itoi's sanctuary, on January 14, 1841. He and his men killed more than forty O'odham and recovered over 1,000 head of livestock (Officer 1987). [24] Gándara's commitment to the colonial pact depended upon whether he needed Indians on his side or out of the way.

In Tumacácori, he clearly wanted them gone. On April 16, 17, and 18, 1844, the treasury of the Department of Sonora advertised a public auction in Guaymas, Sonora's most important seaport more than 200 miles away from the mission. On the block were "the arable lands and lands for the raising of cattle and horses of the four leagues of the fundo legal of the deserted pueblo of Tumacácori and of the two sitios of the estancia of the same [Tumacácori] at the points of Guevavi, Portrero, Cerro de San Cayetano, and Calabazas, whose areas, borders, boundary markers, and colindantes are delineated in the corresponding official survey carried out in the year 1807 by the commissioned land surveyor, Don Manuel de León." The auction took place at noon on the 18th after the requisite three days of public notice. "In loud and clear voice," the auctioneer Florentín Baldizin repeated the lengthy legal description of the property. Then he said, "Going once! Going twice! Going three times! That it be declared! That it be declared! That it be declared! How good! How good! How good that it goes to Señor Don Francisco Alejandro de Aguilar!" [25]

Aguilar, a prominent Guaymas merchant, was the sole bidder. He also was Gándara's brother-in-law. Acting as Gándara's agent, Aguilar bought the mission and its lands—shortened throughout the rest of the title to "the four leagues of the fundo legal of the deserted pueblo of Tumacácori and the two sitios of its estancia of Calabazas, and other adjoining points"—for 500 pesos. [26] Tumacácori was declared to be "deserted" despite the fact that the parish priest from San Ignacio continued to perform both baptisms and marriages at the mission between 1844 and 1848 (Kessell 1976). But no O'odham were present in Guaymas to contest Aguilar's claim. Even though they did not know it yet, the beleaguered little community at Tumacácori had finally been severed from the land that had sustained them long before Kino had ridden into their valley.

Aguilar orchestrated the land grab under the provisions of an 1837 law and 1842 decree that allowed abandoned mission lands to be sold at auction to benefit Mexico's depleted public treasuries as long as their value did not exceed 500 pesos. [27] They were part of a series of laws passed after Mexican independence between 1828 and 1842 that represented the culmination of the Bourbon Reforms. Their foundation was Decree 89, which allowed vecinos to hold office in Indian communities and only recognized landed property with legal title. Decree 89 and the decrees that followed put a torch to the colonial pact. First, they subordinated the limited political autonomy of Indian communities to Mexican municipal authorities. Then they eviscerated Indian control over their communal land bases. These decrees enabled regional elites to denounce Indian lands as "vacant" and purchase them at auction (Radding 1997). Tumac´cori was no anomaly. The land grab just seemed more blatant because it took place so far away.

It also seemed to be part of a pattern of deliberate expansion by one faction of what historian Stuart Voss (1982) calls Sonora's "urban notables." Gándara and his family owned the haciendas of Bamori and Topahue near Ures on the lower Sonora River. He married the daughter of Victor Aguilar, a prominent hacendado at San Miguel de Horcasitas, the old colonial capital of the provincias internas. If you look at a map of Sonora, you see that Ures and Horcasitas, on the lower San Miguel River, are nearly parallel to one another, forming the wings of a "v" that come together at Hermosillo, which was developing into Sonora's most important commercial center. Ures, Horcasitas, and Hermosillo were the cities that served Sonora's most dynamic agricultural region, a region where hacendados like the Gándaras and Aguilars had already wrested the rich bottom lands of the Sonora and San Miguel rivers away from the Lower Pimas.

Gándara acquired Tumacácori through Francisco A. Aguilar, Victor Aguilar's son, who had established himself as a mercant in Guaymas, Sonora's gateway to the world. An even wealthier and more prominent Guaymas merchant was Manuel Iñigo Ruiz, also from Horcasitas. Inigo was Gándara's biggest financial backer throughout his civil wars with Urrea and Pesqueira. Gándara therefore represented the political and economic interests of an axis of merchants and landowners that rain from Ures and Horcasitas to Hermosillo, and from Hermosillo to Guaymas. Through their control over Sonora's most important port, and Gándara's intermittent control over the state government in Ures, [28] the axis monopolized much of Sonora's trade for three decades (Voss 1982).

Another member of this network was Joaquín Astiazarán. A Spanish immigrant, Astiazar&accute;n married the daughter of Iñigo, who received the hacienda of La Labor between Horcasitas and Hermosillo as part of her inheritance (Voss 1982). There Astiazarán served "the best of wines" and lived in a red-brick house surrounded by gardens laid out "in the English style," according to an English visitor (Ward 1829 II:446). In 1837, just as Gándara was rising to power, Astiazarán acquired the immense Sópori land grant. The Guaymas-Horcasitas-Ures elite apparently saw the Santa Cruz Valley as an arena for growth, a good place to invest some of their capital in livestock and land despite the danger from Apaches.

Their relationships with the Arizpe-based Elías Gonzálezes were more problematic. The Elías González family had staked their future and their fortunes on the northern frontier, fighting Apaches for control over the mineral wealth and rich grasslands of northeastern Sonora and southeastern Arizona. By the 1840s, three of the brothers—Simón, José María, and Ignacio—were third-generation military commanders, keenly aware that frontier conditions had deteriorated dramatically since Mexican independence. They therefore favored a federalist rather than a centralist national government, convinced that they were better prepared to confront Sonora's problems than politicians and bureaucrats in Mexico City. Their longstanding alliance with the powerful Almada family of Alamos and their federalist sympathies occasionally aligned them against Gándara and his allies (Voss 1982; Officer 1987).

Those rivalries never had a chance to express themselves in southern Arizona however. Bankruptcy and civil war kept Mexico from taking effective action against the Apaches, who penetrated deeper and deeper into Sonora and Chihuahua. By the outbreak of the war with the United States in 1846, all the Arizona land grants except "deserted" Tumacácori had been abandoned because of Apache hostilities (Officer 1987).

Two years later, in October 1848, Lieutenant Cave Johnson Couts, an officer with Major Lawrence Graham's dragoons, rode down the Santa Cruz Valley. "The churches in this valley are remarkable," he wrote. "At Tumacácori is a very large and fine church standing in the midst of a few common conical Indian huts, made of bushes, thatched with grass, huts of most common and primitive kind...This church is now taken care of by the Indians, Pimas, most of whom are off attending a jubilee, or fair, on the other side of the mountain." [29] Couts went on to say, "No Priest has been in attendance for many years, though all its images, pictures, figures &c remain unmolested, and in good keeping. No Mexicans live there at all" (Dobyns 1961:58-59).

In other words, a decade after the Ortiz family had abandoned Arivaca and Canoa, and the Elías-Gonzálezes their land grants in the San Pedro Valley, a small community of O'odham remained at Tumacácori. There they continued to cultivate their crops and care for the church and its santos even though the land now belonged to Gándara. Ironically, the presence of a large Apache Manso community at Tubac enabled them and the vecinos at Tubac to cling to the Santa Cruz floodplain (Officer 1987).

But their days were numbered as well. A census taken early in 1848 revealed that Tubac's population had declined to 249, most of them Apache Mansos. Then, on December 9, 1848, the Apaches attacked Tubac and Tumacácori, killing nine at the presidio. The Tubaqueños decided to abandon their community and move north to the relative security of San Xavier and Tucson (Officer 1987).

The few O'odham at Tumacácori had no choice but to join them. They carefully removed the santos from their church and packed up the vestments and other sacred items, carrying them to safety at San Xavier, intending to return as soon as Apache hostilities subsided. [30] For a century and a half, O'odham at Tumacácori had resisted or selectively adopted what the Jesuits and Franciscans offered them, gradually evolving their own interpretation of Catholic rituals and beliefs. They had absorbed the Sobaipuris, fought the Apaches, secured and lost legal title to their lands. But soon another people and another government with no appreciation for communal traditions would hold sway along the Santa Cruz. The mission dream flickered for a little while longer in exile at San Xavier, but Tumacácori would never again be the center of a communal space that held land and water in trust for future generations. The mission church would become the icon of a vanished era, divorced from the people who built and worshipped in it. The landscape itself would become the object of litigation and speculation, commodified in ways the Sonoran notables could never have envisioned. Gándara had betrayed the O'odham at Tumacácori. The government of the United States eventually declared that betrayal illegal, but gave the land to speculators instead.

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Last Updated: 12-Mar-2007