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I. Socio-Economic Characteristics of the Royal Fort at Tubac, continued

2. Structure of Society

The little community which grew up around the garrison at Tubac must have been a relatively close-knit one in many respects and particularly in day-to-day relationships.  There was little to do for those not in the company once necessary chores were accomplished, and much time was spent in visiting back and forth and in conversation (Treutlein 1949:290). This must have developed quite close affective feelings between the pioneers as long as some personal antagonism did not intervene, and then the rivalries were without doubt bitter.

The small size of the guard detail kept at the post for its protection meant that even within the ranks of the company, men were accustomed to working together in very small units. The post guard detail was not much larger than that mission guard detail at Bac, and smaller than the remount herd guard. An idea of the small scale of social relationships may be gained from the following listing of troopers and officers of the Tubac garrison in December of 1766. Out of a total complement of fifty-one, only these individuals have been identified, and not all of them were on the post at the time of its inspection in the latter part of the month.  Lt. Oliva was on detached duty on the Seri frontier, and none of the men whose ages are not given in the following list was on the post (Rubí Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, 1766).


  Name   Rank   Age    Birthplace Date Joined Company
 Anza, Juan B. de Captain  31 Fronteras 1760, Feb.
 Oliva, Juan María  Lieutenant 51  Sinaloa 1752, Apr.
 Huandurraga, Joséph de   Ensign 29  Ostimuri  1765, Nov.
 Marques, Carlos  Sergeant  50 Loreto, BC  1752, Apr.
 Cota, Juan Ignacio   Corporal 37  Monteclaros  1752, Apr.
 Acuña, Miguel de  " 41 Dolores 1752, Apr.
 Acuña, Joséph Manuel de  Trooper 30   Fronteras 1763, Dec.
 Baez, Joséph Pedro "  26 Divisaderos 1766, Aug.
 Estrada, Simón de " 36   Motepori 1757, Aug.
 Hurtado, Vizente  "  38 Santa Ana?  --
 Luque, Esteban " --   -- --
 Martínez, Francisco Xavier   "  29 Tubutama  1757, Aug.
 Peralta, Gabriel "  --  -- --
 Perez, Joséph  "  -- --   --
 Rivera, Pasqual de "   24 Buenavista 1762, Nov.
Romero, Joséph Antonio " -- --   --
 Apodaca, Miguel de  Armorer -- --  --
17 men on post or accounted for

331Small as the total population at and near the royal fort of St. Ignatius at Tubac was during the years from its founding in 1752 until its relocation in 1776, it was never a completely unified society. There were important inherent lines of social cleavage and differentiation within the presidial company and even more important ones in the satellite population.

a. Caste. One of the basic social characteristics of colonial society in New Spain was division of the population into ethnic castes. Tubac became no exception to the general configuration of society. The original and always basic castes were European and Indian, complicated by the importation of African slaves and interbreeding between all three groups. The Europeans occupied the position of military dominance from which flowed social privilege and economic advantage. The Indians were reduced to the position of a subordinate subcultural group although they greatly outnumbered their conquerors, and the Negroes were brought to New Spain in even worse position.

In the course of time, intermediate ethnic groups came into being between the three basic populations. The offspring of Spanish leaders and Indian women were admitted into the Spanish caste during the early years of the conquest-witness the descendents of the Conquistador Hernando de Cortés and his Aztec interpreter. Later on children of mixed marriages or liaisons found admission into the dominant caste progressively more difficult and formed an ever-increasing 332amorphous middle group. While it is generally conceded that a perennial shortage of Spanish women in the New World combined with the socially dominant position of the conquerors which permitted them access to native women was a primary cause for the swift growth of a mestizo group, by the time the royal fort at Tubac came into being the mestizo population was being increased by the marriage of Spanish women to Indian men.

This change was only one of the indications that caste lines in Spanish colonies were by no means as rigid as those developed in the English North American colonies and their successor United States of America, particularly along the South Atlantic and Gulf seaboard (Tannenbaum 1947:41-57). The Roman Catholic Church stand that every person had a soul to be saved whatever his color or social status did much to ameliorate caste distinctions and even slavery in New Spain.

b. Class. Each of the major castes was internally divided along class lines. Not all of the classes of the European caste existed in a frontier military post so remote as Tubac, of course, for the upper classes congregated at the centre of colonial government at the City of Mexico and took assignments to even provincial capitals with some reluctance.

Broadly speaking the upper class consisted of Spaniards born on the Peninsula. The elite within this class was very small, made up of the few Spaniards of noble birth who for economic reasons or a sense of duty sought colonial assignments 333far from the life of the court. At any one time the number of noblemen in New Spain was small, consisting primarily of men on short-term colonial assignments as viceroy, top department heads within the viceregal administration in the City of Mexico, members of the Audiencia of Mexico and other major administrative bodies such as that at Guadalajara, and top military commanders.

The bulk of the upper class held lower echelon military commands and civilian governmental offices throughout New Spain. Many of these Spaniards settled in New Spain and reared families in the New World. The ultimate goal of most of them was eventual return to Spain with riches wrested from the natives in New Spain, or retirement to the Peninsula with a royal pension, but many never achieved that goal. Thus the Spaniards born in the New World came through time greatly to outnumber the officials dispatched from Spain, and a very important class distinction arose within the Spanish upper class. Those born in Europe were known as Peninsulares or less respectfully as Gauchupines. Those born in the New World were known as criollos, Spaniards of the country, and other circumlocutions.

In the nature of colonial society the criollo group was particularly open to invasion by mestizos and tended to develop attitudes more in agreement with those of the native mixed-blood population than those of the haughty Europeans.  When New Spain eventually freed itself from Spain, leadership for the successful revolution came primarily from the native-born 334Spaniards who abandoned their caste allegiance to the Gauchupines in favor of class alliance with the mestizos.

c. Tubac Dominant Caste: The Provincial Elite. At the royal fort at Tubac the local upper class con-sisted of members of the criollo class whose descendents led the revolution against Spain a couple of generations later. During the period from 1752 to 1776, these Mexican-born Spaniards were still completely loyal subjects of the Spanish King, but they were already developing a social system of their own which filled a vacuum left by the failure of the royal honors system to percolate all the way down the chain of command and colonial society. This upper class social system never became wholly independent of the royal system but the degree of de facto independence it achieved reflected a serious shortcoming in Spanish colonial bureaucracy and endowed its members with great latitude for action within what was in theory a pyramidal, authoritarian, bureaucratic governmental structure.

In terms of practical politics, the proposition might have been stated thus: "Royal governors come to the Province of Sonora but royal governors also always go, while we stay on forever-and frequently become interim governors." The "we" of such a statement was the provincial elite composed of the extended families of the frontier post commanders. Since such commanders held office virtually for life if not promoted, they did actually out-last a long succession of provincial governors. Furthermore they were able to secure 335royal commissions for their sons and nephews so that when a post comandant eventually died the chances were very high that his successor would be a son or close relative of another post comandant. The first Captain Anza commanded the fort at Janos, his son the fort at Corodéguachi and Fronteras, and the third captain Anza the royal fort at Tubac beginning in 1760. This last Juan Bautista de Anza was a member of the provincial elite with the best of credentials. His sponsorship of the son of the first Tubac commander has been described above. If Phelipe Beldarrain had been a better man, he would one day have commanded the fort at Tucson.

In the same way Captain Bernardo de Urrea, the founding comandant of the fort at Altar made his sons officers in his company and their descendents became important leaders all over the province. Maríano de Urrea, a grandson of Bernardo, commanded the Altar post from 1805 to 1811 when he went into action against the rebels in Nayarit and went on to greater things. Maríano's son José de Urrea became one of the notable and notorious militares in early republican Mexico (Almada 1952:806-807). Maríano's wife was Gertrudis Elias Gonzales, daughter of Francisco Elias Gonzales, comandant at Terrenate. Elias Gonzales founded a large family of officers including Simón Elias Gonzales, one-time comandant of the Pima Company at Tubac, later commander of the post at Santa Cruz (Mattison 1946:304) and later second in command of military forces in the State of Sonora. Ygnacio Elias Gonzales, another comandant at Tubac, was another son.

336The social position of the frontier post commanders was, of course, further enhanced by their tremendous economic power in their posts prior to the New Regulations of 1772. This does not mean they necessarily used their commercial monopolies purely to enrich themselves. Anza's forbearance in this field has already been indicated. Bernardo de Urrea was a large-scale rancher on the northern frontier years before the Pima Revolt of 1751 and his commissioning as captain of the Sinaloa company which he took to Altar. The base of his fortune was laid long before he became a fort commander, but he was already part of the provincial elite, too. Anza's fortune, like Urrea's, included large ranches in the territory adjacent to or near his presidio but was apparently founded on inherited wealth.

None of these men was a self-made man in the capitalistic sense commonly understood in the United States. Every one of them functioned as one member of a family unit which shared his successes and vicissitudes and with which he shared his losses and gains. Thus the third Captain Anza's brother Francisco came to Tubac with him and shared in the financial management of the family estates. Francisco's daughters eventually inherited Juan Bautista de Anza's estate when he died without surviving offspring,

Nothing that has been said of the Sonoran provincial elite thus far would account for the persistence of this social unit through time nor its efficiency as a governing and leadership mechanism. The key to its role in government 337and commerce and politics in Sonora for generations was the fact that the provincial elite consisted not so much of a social class as a large extended kindred. The techniques by which they reinforced one another's leadership roles and access to privilege and advantage were matters not only of correct choices by like-minded individuals, but also of strong obligation between genetic or ritual kinsmen.

The members of the provincial elite sought their mates as a rule among the other families of the group and in some cases this elite endogamy extended to the point of back-crossing in genetic terms. Members of the same extended kin-group married who were so closely related that special dispensation from Church rules against marriages within specified degrees of consanguinity had to be obtained from the governor (Libro de las Partidas de...Casamientos de Tropa...de Tubac..., f. 10v).

The intermarriage of families of the provincial elite was readily apparent at Tubac. The third Captain Anza's wife was a daughter of Captain Joséph Díaz del Carpio (if Tamarón was correct about the brother-in-law priest), former comandant of Terrenate. Captain Juan Thomas Beldarrain's wife María Theresa was a daughter of the former provincial governor Captain Gabriel Prudhom Butron y Muxica, Baron of Heyder. Over at Altar Captain Bernardo de Urrea's son Ignacio Miguel married the daughter of the militia captain Joséph de Mesa whose son Joséph was long curate at San Ildefonso de la Cieneguilla mine camp. Bernardo's grandson Maríano married 338Gertrudis Elias Gonzales, daughter of Captain Francisco Elias Gonzales of Terrenate, and so on.

Moreover the actual genetic relationships existing in the provincial elite were reinforced by a web of ritual kinship relationships established by the compadrazco system.  Characteristically Spanish parents preferred to obtain godparents for their children from among their own peers or betters. Since the provincial elite families lived in relative isolation because of their small numbers at any military post, they tended to turn infant baptisms into social occasions. Suitable godparents could be found for a few offspring among close relatives living at or near the same post, and the other eligibles such as priests. Sooner or later peers had to be sought among the other families of the provincial elite residing at other posts. Those who accepted the new relationship had to make the hazardous trip to the post where the infant was to be baptized, creating a flurry of excitement by their visit and the opportunities it offered for genteel social intercourse, exchange of news andgossip, and renewing affective ties between geographically isolated segments of the elite.

Captain Juan Thomas de Beldarrain's choices of godfathers illustrate the pattern. Young Lt. Juan Bautista de Anza was tapped as godfather of little Juan Phelipe born in 1750 and the Jesuit missionary priest Francisco Pauer was nominated as sponsor for a son born at Tubac a few years later. Both came from the top drawer of provincial society.

The following kinship chart with the ones presented previously should be sufficient to make the points most significant to this discussion: the actual genetic relationships between the various leading families of the province of Sonora induced by class endogamy and frequent recurrence of familial endogamy.

341The Provincial Upper Class--The provincial elite of Sonora was the top echelon of and originally grew out of a rather more amorphous social class which may be termed the provincial upper class. This was made up of army officers, officials of the royal civil government, clergymen, big businessman, landed proprietors and wealthy miners who were not quite equal in rank and position to the members of the elite, and who were not joined into a single integrated kinship group as were the members of the elite. This group was much more of a true class distinguished by shared values and attitudes than was the elite with its readily apparent social organization. It could be defined only in contradistinction to classes above and below it in the social scale. Aside from the occupation differences between members of this provincial upper class there was the very important distinction and potentially or actually divisive matter of place of birth. Many of the civil officials and particularly the priests were European-born and looked down their supposedly more aristocratic noses at the Mexican-born Spaniards-especially as considerable upward social mobility was possible for mestizos living on the frontier so that the purity of caste of Sonoran upper class families was not always above question. This attitude of social superiority on the part of European-born members of the class is well illustrated by one of the Spanish-born priests at Tumacácori Mission who served Tubac also, Fray Pedro Antonio de Arriquibar, 342a member of the humble Order of Friars Minor, sons of St. Francis of Assisi. Sworn to poverty and humility, this Spaniard was yet haughty enough to identify New World-born Spaniards whom he suspected might not be of pure caste as "Spaniards of the country" implying that they might be considered Spaniards more by social fiction than genetic reality (Stoner & Dobyns 1959).

The merchants who lived at Tubac competing with the liberal Captain Anza and profiteering off the soldiers under Lt. Oliva (O'Conor Aug. 16, 1775) belonged to this upper class group unless they were petty traders, indeed.

The upper class at Tubac included somewhat more families than those residing within the confines of the military post itself. It extended to the top administrative assistants at the neighboring missions such as the interpreter at Tumacácori, Juan Joséph Ramirez, and his family. The social identification with the Spaniards of the fort felt by such relatively isolated white families living in the midst of mission Indians is illustrated by the tendency of the women of such families to go to Tubac to give birth to their babies among Spaniards rather than Indians. For example, Manuala Sosa, wife of the interpreter Ramirez, bore a daughter at Tubac on December 2, 1774, who was baptized Viviana Jacoba at Tumacácori Mission three days later (San José de Tumacácori, Libro de Bautismos, f. 14). Another citizen women living at the mission also went to the fort to have her child on December 20 343that same year (ibid., f. 14v). That the military post functioned as the critical reference group for the Ramirez family is also shown in its choice of godparents of baptism for another daughter (Gabriela) born March 12, 1776, from among the citizens of Tubac (ibid., f. 17v).

This Ramirez family had been founded by an officer of the original Tubac garrison as already related. He was not a member of the provincial elite, yet could hardly be considered middle class. He was a member of the provincial upper class and such his descendents continued to be through his son Juan José working as an interpreter, and his grandson Teodoro, a rancher and storekeeper. Neither worked with his hands, the critical cutting point in Spanish America between upper class and lower status.

The Provincial Middle Class--There exists a widespread misconception that Spanish-speaking countries historically have not had any appreciable middle class. This may have been true to some extent and in certain areas such as major cities (Guthrie 1945:250) but it probably was not true of the royal fort at Tubac and the immediate area in the years from 1752 to 1776. The provincial middle class in existence there may have been different from the middle classes in Great Britain or Franco or Germany at that time but one did exist after a fashion. It is probably this difference which tends to confuse historians-they are not willing to concede the existence of a middle class unless it displays attributes 344and behaviors identical or closely similar to those of the Northwestern European middle classes. This cultural myopia overlooks the actual persistence through colonial times of a significant group of people with fairly common attributes and values who occupied a socioeconomic position between the upper classes and the lower classes.

At the royal fort of Tubac and similar frontier posts, this middle class consisted of a miscellaneous group of civilians and soldiers. There were the non-commissioned officers and the occupational specialists in the garrison who did not pull the same duty as the line troops and who were able to work at some profit to themselves. Such was the armorer, for instance, who was a sort of master smith whose jobs ranged from gunsmithing to crude blacksmithing and horseshoeing. In addition there were the soldiers who obtained land grants within the fort reservation which they farmed in their spare time and with the aid of their families in order to increase their income by selling their produce to the comandant or to independent traders, besides Elias Gen.

feeding the family. Over a period of years they could improve their lot considerably and achieve quite a comfortable living and a secure social status within the middle class, particularly when they retired from the service and devoted themselves full-time to farming and/or other economic activities. These man can be distinguished in the financial records of the post by their credit balances in the company funds. These men and their 345families corresponded to the official model of good burghers which was in part responsible for the policy of granting farm lands from the post reservation to those desirous of farming. For similar middle-class independent farmers had survived the feudalization of Spain in independent, self-governing towns and villages where each family possessed one or more house lots and one or more strips of farm land, grazing stock on a community common. These middle-class communities supplied a model for the frontier fort desired by high officials as a colonizing and defensive institution.

Besides the land-holders still in service in the Tubac garrison and the handful of retired troopers whose social success was already achieved, there were out and out lifetime civilians attracted to the post by agricultural or other economic opportunities on the frontier. The most numerous group of this category was undoubtedly made up of miners and prospectors. They were congregated in mine camps all over Sonora but some undoubtedly wandered to Tubac. When such a miner struck it rich, he might very easily move rapidly into the upper class and the elite. The colonizer of New Mexico, Juan de Oñate, was a captain-general of Spanish troops partly because his father Christoval had found some of the richest mines in San Luís Potosí.

Unfortunately for the middle-class miners in the Tubac area, none of them had similar luck, so far as the record shows. All remained middle class hopefuls.