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CHAPTER IV:
CHRISTIAN CONVERSION

A. Tchoowaka becomes a Visitia

The priests who were sent to the northern missions in 1731 were recruits from the German provinces who spent about a year in established missions learning something of the Piman language before embarking on their independent careers. In 1732 the mission frontier finally encompassed the upper Santa Cruz River Valley Piman settlements, and permanent European settlement north of the present international boundary line in modern Arizona began-to be interrupted only briefly once more. The three new missionaries were sent into the Santa Cruz drainage in a long thrust northward. Father 62Ignacio Xavier Keller was stationed at Santa María Suamca near the source of the stream, with all the San Pedro River Valley rancherías in his charge (Hammond 1929:229, 231).

Next downstream and the first of the trio of missionaries installed in his new post was Father Juan Baptista Grazhofer, who was placed in charge of the Indians of Guebavi and its visitas on May 4, 1732 (ibid., p. 230). Thus the mission era opened at Tchoowaka in earnest. Among the visitas attached to the Mission of the Holy Angels Gabriel and Rafael of Guebavi was a place recorded as Jamac located three leagues north of Guebavi. Jamac is clearly a mistranscription of Tuvac. The other visitation stations of Guebavi were Sonoita in the uplands to the east, Aribaca to the west, and Tumacácori in the valley between Tubac and the mission proper (ibid., p. 229).

The third Jesuit, Father Phelipe Segesser, took on the task of converting the Pimans of Bac and the down-river rancherías of Tucson, San Agustín and Santa Catarina (ibid., p. 229-230).

The difficulty Europeans frequently experienced in adjusting physiologically-and probably psychologically-to lonely life grossly outnumbered by aborigines of a totally different cultural tradition hampered Father Grazhofer just as it had the majority of the Jesuits posted to the northern Piman establishments during Kino's time. Grazhofer died little over a year after arriving at Guebavi (Bancroft 1884:I:524). 63Evidently Father Segesser undertook to administer both missions during Grazhofer's illness, since he considered himself on a visit to his own parishioners at Tubac when he found that settlement abandoned and burned and its people relocated (Treutlein 1945:158).

In 1733 the Swiss Jesuit Gaspar Stiger replaced Segesser at Bac (Bancroft 1BB4:I:524). Segesser moved to Guebavi to carry on the work of the deceased Grazhofer, but within a few months he, too, fell victim to the local bacteria. Carried out to the old Eudeve mission at Cucurpe in a sedan chair carried by Indians and Spaniards including his fellow priest Keller, Segesser recovered after five months of sickness. Although Segesser had enjoyed perfect health at Bac, three months of life at Guebavi were enough to put him out of commission again, and Captain Juan Bautista de Anza (the elder) removed Segesser to his fort where his wife nursed the ailing Jesuit back to complete health with her home remedies (Treutlein 1945:142). At that point,the Jesuit Father-Visitor decided that Segesser had had enough of the northern Piman country and packed him off to the Lower Pima Mission of St. Francis Borgia of Tecoripa in 1734 (ibid., p. 143).

The bacteria of Guebavi delayed the final reckoning of the Tubac and neighboring Indians with the Jesuit mission system for a few years. Yet they were not tough enough to bring to earth the very resilient priest at Santa María, the same Keller who had been the first of the German priests taken 64ill in Sonora (Hammond 1929:229) but the first to recover. The indefatigable Keller relieved Jesuit journeys into the heathen north country, going to the Gila River in 1736 (Bancroft 1884:I:525). He stopped en route to baptize three children at the ranchería of Tuvag as his Germanic-trained ear heard the place name. It is interesting to note that Keller considered the mother of one of these children as a Christian, but not the father. This Juana Vigtoat became godmother of another of the children baptized (Libro de Baptismos de los Pueblos de S.ta María....desde 1732, p. 17).

Energetic Father Keller did not need the excuse of a long trip to bring the Indians living in the upper Santa Cruz River Valley under the disciplined regime of Christian mission life. On the twentyeighth of January of 1738 he returned to Tuvag where he baptized two more children of unconverted parents (ibid., p. 28), opening the wedge of Christianity there.

It was possibly Keller who established the first European settlers at Tubac in the final years of this decade as supervisors on a mission farm operated there as part of the little Jesuit empire on the Sonoran frontier. This economic outpost may have been founded in 1739 by the new missionary priest who came to Holy Angels Mission at Guebavi (Santos Angeles de Guebavi, Libro de Casamientos p. 9).

While neither the Suamca nor Guebavi mission headquarters were at Tubac, the Indians there were placed in nearly the same situation as their relatives at the missions proper. Once the mission farm was established at Tubac, Spanish overseers lived at the Indian ranchería with their families. Whatever rigors of mission life the Tubac Indians escaped because no missionary priest resided among them, they still suffered tremendous adjustment to accommodate the Spanish supervisors who did live among them.

The Tubac and other northern Piman Indians were actually considerably better off under mission rule than they would have been under the alternative forms of frontier labor assignment and control. The knowledge of this fact-if and when they stopped to think about it-did little to make the harsh mission regime any easier to bear.

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