about table of contents home

CHAPTER VI:
THE ROYAL FORT OF ST. IGNATIUS AT TUBAC

J. Health Conditions

The garrison at the royal fort at Tubac was apparently quite a healthy one. The northern Piman Indians In the area suffered more from imported European diseases than the Europeans suffered from endemic native diseases. The latter included syphilis and in the immediate area yellow fever (Libro de Entierros de Santa María Magdalena de 1702, P. 23; Santos Angeles de Guebavi, Libro de Entierros, f. 1).

Troopers ran a constant risk of being killed or wounded in action, of course, and there were other hazards such as mountain lions or jaguars which sometimes mauled a person (Libro de Entierros deste Pueblo de San Ygnacio...de 1697, f. 21), or rabid dogs or wild animals which sometimes bit a human being (ibid., f, 30). The sex ratio in the populace at the fort was probably maintained very much in favor of the males by a high rate of female mortality in childbirth (ibid., f. 25).

The Spanish population of Tubac was not distinguished by its love for walking. In fact, the men of the settlement far preferred allowing a horse to carry them wherever they were going, even if it was just across the street to talk to a neighbor. No one ventured out of the post on foot, always riding. The hard riding involved in handling livestock on the range often lasted for days on end, however (Treutlein 1949:290) and there is no reason to believe that the men lacked physical strength, stamina or supple condition as a 358result of their love for the saddle. The multifarious and laborious tasks of the women-tortilla making, maize and wheat grinding by hand on the tripod metate, clothes washing, cooking, and so on-ensured that those with an adequate diet and unaffected by infection were in very good physical condition. Continual sawing to make clothing for the family probably produced some eye-strain among the Tubac women, especially during cold weather when they worked inside the ill-lighted adobe houses. The worst of the rough sewing seems to have been accomplished by tailors, however, in making uniforms and heavier clothing. Women did not have to labor over hot cauldrons making soap as the pioneer peasant women did in North America. Bar soap was bought from manufactories to the south and sold at Tubac (Rubí Dec. 21, 1766 & O'Conor Aug. 16, 1775).

The physical condition of the troopers of the company seems to have been fairly good. There were a few men who either enlisted with infirmities or acquired them in service.  Ensign Phelipe Beldarrain, who was taken to Tubac at the age of two by his father, the first post comandant, suffered from lung trouble at the age of twenty-five (Oliva Aug. 13, 1775 No. 9). Inasmuch as the young man had never lived elsewhere than Tubac and Santa Ana his illness can be attributed only to life in the healthful Sonoran desert as he lived it. Being the captain's son from 1752 to 1759, Juan Phelipe should have been well fed, and his widowed mother was well endowed with Indian slaves at Santa Ana, indicating the family did 359not suffer greatly there. If his lung trouble were tuberculosis, it was probably not caused by lack of sufficient food but by spoiled young Phelipe's rejection of a balanceddiet.  In his case, illness can be almost certainly attributed to the individual ratherthan the place.

Other members of the garrison also suffered lingering disabilities. José Antonio Azedo was recommended for medical discharge in 1775 because of long-continued illness without hope of cure (Oliva Aug. 13, 1775 No. 5). He was only three years older than Phelipe Beldarrain, a Spanish native of Fronteras who had been in the army since he was twenty (Oliva Aug. 13, 1775, No, 2, 3). Three other soldiers were immobile because of sickness in 1775 and were recommended for retirement.All three had been on forty campaigns or thereabouts. José AntonioRomero was thirty-three with fifteen years service. Juan JoséRodriguez was thirty-two with fourteen years in, and Pablo JoséCorona at thirty-one had served eleven years (Oliva Aug. 13, 1775 No.4).

1. Recreation

The Spaniards of Tubac could not often relax andplay, but weddings, baptisms, and the burial of children were occasionsfor social gatherings and merriment. The guests were feasted at these family celebrations, and amused themselves with gay and lively dances and songs. Dancing was largely solo, individuals taking turns executing intricate steps, but groups also gyrated for the edification of the spectators 360and themselves (Treutlein 1949:289). The music was relatively simple, probably no more than a violin or two, possibly a small harp.

In the absence of formal recreational facilities, and the comparative rarity of an excuse for a festival, most of the amusement the Tubac people obtained was probably found in frequent visiting and lively conversations and gossip (ibid., p. 290). Card playing was very likely a major amusement for the men of Tubac, among the off-duty soldiers at headquarters or in the barracks, and the idle farmers during the off season, and so on. The failure of the anything but sympathetic Jesuit Ignaz Pfefferkorn to mention card playing as a major vice of the Sonoran Spaniards suggests that his parishioners were well aware of the priest's low regard for card games, and took care not to exhibit the entertaining pasteboards when the good father was about.

2. Diet

The basic diet of the people of Tubac consisted of cereal grain products made from the staple grains maize and wheat. Basic dishes were posole, pinole, atole and tortillas (ibid., p. 288) orwheat bread (ibid., p. 289). Atole was a refreshing drink made with corn meal and water, borrowed from Indian cuisine. Pinole was the basic ground corn meal ingredient for that and other preparations.Tortillas were very thin bread baked on a hot comal or thinclay or metal circle after being patted out from a ball of malleable361dough and thinned by flopping from hand to hand and thenfrom forearm to forearm as they increased in diameter.

Meat dishes were relished by the Tubac populace, which was in general well satisfied with fresh or jerked beef. Only the wealthy could afford delicacies such as mutton and chicken (Treutlein 1949:288), suggesting that small animal husbandry and bird keeping were not widely practiced skills at Tubac. There must have been some hunting of wild game and there was probably some bartering for fresh or dried venison brought to the post by the desert Pápagos.

Even under Captain Juan Bautista de Anza the food supply system for Tubac was none too efficient. The ration he issued was considered scanty by the troopers, some of whom peddled their horses and equipment to purchase extras (Rubí Dec. 21, 1766). The ration was the same as the one customary in other frontier posts, restricted invariety by the small number of crops raised in Sonora (Anza Dec. 30,1766).

Field Marshal Pignatelly y Rubí instituted a schedule of rations designed to raise the amounts received by the troopers and eliminate the scarcity of provisions which had previously prevailed among the Tubac troops:

RATION WHICH THE CAPTAIN MUST ISSUE EXACTLY EVERY FIFTEEN DAYS FOR THE SUBSISTENCE OF THE TROOPS OF HIS COMPANY" AS FOLLOWS: Prices: Pesos Reales

He shall give each soldier for his fifteen-day ration one fanega of maize or wheat, or 362in its place an equivalent quantity of flour for the price of-------- 4 p. For the same fifteen days time he shall issue for each four soldiers one beef for the price of-------- 8 p. Providing that these must be issued by the Captain precisely at the above-fixed interval of fifteen days and not at one time for all the year as has been the practice. If beef is lacking so each soldier is provided one sheep as equivalent to the aforesaid quarter of beef, he shall issue it for the price of-------------1 p. 4 r. If because of some accident the distribution of beef which is scheduled on some date should be impossible the captain must issue the corresponding amounts of salted or dried meat. To all this shall be added the corresponding beans or vegetables which are easiest for the captain to supply with sufficient chile, sugar, soap, salt, and other necessities which because of their daily consumption also are to be issued exactly every fifteen days ... (Rubí Dec. 31, 1766b).

The royal inspector's reform of the Tubac ration system approximately doubled the ration received by the troops. Previously each trooper had received only one fanega of maize per month, a peso's worth of soap, and such vegetables as 363were in season at any particular time (J. M. Acuña Dec. 23, 1766), plus necessary salt and shoes (Estrada Dec. 24, 1766; Martínez Dec. 24, 1766).

As time went on the supply service probably improved with the advance of civilized territory toward the frontier of settlement. At least by 1775 rough-refined brown sugar loaves appear in the Tubac post accounts (O'Conor Aug. 16, 1775). Flour, maize, pinole, and beans with chile and salt for seasoning still formed the basic diet(ibid.).

Festival foods for the celebrations were on a more appetizing order than everyday dishes. The principal treat was chocolate served with high-quality tortillas. Brandy also graced the family festivals of baptism, wedding and children's burials, and the Spaniards were very fond of it (Treutlein 1949:289).

3. Tobacco

Like the Indians of the area, the Spaniards of Tubac were very fond of tobacco (ibid.). The crown had long been aware of the propensity of colonial subjects to consume this narcotic in great quantity, and had formed a tobacco monopoly controlling distribution of tobacco products for the royal profit. Presidial officers such as the commanders of Tubac were responsible for the administration of tobacco sales within their posts (Rubí Dec. 21, 1766).

Later, under the New Regulations of September, 1772, 364which went into effect at Tubac on June 1, 1774, a junior officer designated as quartermaster took over administration of the royal tobacco monopoly which profited fromthe sale of cigarettes to the tobacco-loving troops (O'Conor Aug. 16, 1775). Cigarettes came in packs in those days, too.

CONTINUE
TABLE OF CONTENTS