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CHAPTER VII:
FRONTIER PUEBLO

410When the Company of St. Ignatius transferred from Tubac to Tucson in 1776, the former settlement fulfilled its function as a strategic staging area for the advance of the Spanish frontier toward the northwest. The remaining settlers saw their community decrease sharply in population, reverting to the classification of a pueblo, the smallest civilian settlement except a ranch. The removal of the garrison left some forty families of civilians at Tubac with a total population not much over 150 (AGI Guad. 284). This small town set out then to test the success at Tubac of the Spanish colonial policy of encouraging retired soldiers and civilians to settle at military forts and form communities which could defend themselves when the garrison was moved.

A. Unhappy Pioneers

Although the settlers at Tubac had come there with the encouragement of the relatively liberal provisions of royal policy, they were not satisfied with the complete execution of it-they had settled at a fort and quite clearly many of them had expected that fort to remain stationary and protect 411them. Like citizens of any other power, the Tubac pioneers were vociferously unhappy over the transfer of "their" fort and the more so for the social reasons outlined in t he account of the fort from 1752 to 1776. The basic cause of their discontent was their objectively increased danger from Apache raids, but their affective ties to the people moved to Tucson did not help their attitude a bit.

Perhaps more thoughtful questionings of the post's transfer by army officers reached the new Commandant-General of the recently created Frontier Provinces at Querétaro while he was still making his way north to his new command. The Caballero de Croix wrote Lieutenant Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza on April 9, 1777, to ask that officer's opinion as to whether the new Tucson garrison should remain where it was or be advanced farther east as suggested by some officers (Anza June 30, 1777:1), probably Bonilla and O'Conor.

The commandant-of-arms of the Province of Sonora replied to his superior from his new post at the provincial capital of San Miguel de Horcasitas on June 30. Lt. Col. Anza provided a realistic appraisal of the situation of the Tucson company. Like the other two relocated posts, it was having communications difficulties. A third of its complement was occupied in escorting provisions for the sustenance of the troops, bringing them up from more settled regions which grew a surplus of food for sale. The increased distance between the fort and the settlements placed a heavy burden on the post's pack mules, also, and they were hardly able to 412recuperate between trips. Another quarter to third of the post complement was engaged in guarding the remount herd-a very vital measure in view of the incessant threat of Apache theft. This left a very weak force to hold the actual fort, and none of the relocated posts was yet completely built, Tucson being worst off of the lot because its quartermaster had gone totally bankrupt. This, Anza implied, was sufficient to indicate that the fort was far enough advanced already.

If Tucson were again forwarded, there was no better spot for it than the junction of the San Pedro with the Gila River which had been suggested to the Caballero de Croix, Anza agreed. He estimated, however, that the post's complement would have to be doubled in order for the garrison to maintain itself so far from settled territory. The former Tubac commander got in a subtle dig at O'Conor and the other officers who were all for moving the Tucson garrison farther north. The Apaches were undertaking to exterminate the northern Piman Indians since the transfer which, Anza claimed, "having said fort today nearer, they are near to achieving because of its having quit its old intermediate site at Tubac, from which it had sustained without notable decadence the pueblos of San Xavier and Tucson despite their having been outside the line."

Anza went on to point out the lack of pasturage near the San Pedro-Gila River junction, the lack of suitable sites nearer the other forts, and other considerations which militated against farther advance of the Tucson garrison, 413 winding up his report with lengthy protestations of admiration and loyalty to his commanding officer (ibid.). So impressed with Anza's report, and likely with reports of Anza by other officers, was Brigadier General Croix, that he decided to abdicate his own decision-making powers until he could reach the frontier and leave any necessary decisions about the new Tucson company up to Anza (Croix Aug. 23, 1777). Croix therefore wrote to Anza again from Querétaro delegating him power to fix the site of the Tucson company (Croix Aug. 15, 1777:1). He authorized Anza "if he should find it convenient to dispose that the said Fort of St. Augustine should return to occupy its old site of St. Ignatius at Tubac." Thus the way was opened to the ex-commandant of the Tubac post to return to his former command there if he so chose. Commandant-General Croix summed up his high estimate of Lt. Col. Anza and his disquiet over the extent of agreement as to the sad state of fledgling Tucson b etween Anza's report and another from its commander, Captain Pedro Allande when he reported to the king requesting royal approval of his delegation of powers to Anza (Croix Aug. 23, 1777). The high reputation the former commander of Tubac enjoyed at the court is demonstrated by the Province's approval of Croix's delegation of powers on December 30 at Madrid (Galvez Dec. 30, 1777).

The trust of kings and generals was not misplaced, and Lt. Col. Anza did not succumb to the temptation of ordering the Tucson fort returned to his former home at Tubac. Anza 414was imperialist enough to understand that the i nterests of the kingdom were much better served with the Tucson fort where it was than by moving it east to counter the Apache menace, and his reference to Tubac was probably calculated only to counterbalance the advocacy of farther eastward movement of the post by other officers. To order the garrison back to Tubac would be to deny the utility of his own exploration of the Upper California trail!

Meanwhile the settlers left at Tubac by the removal of the garrison were making themselves heard by local officers, very likely all unaware that their fate was being debated at the top command levels of the empire. The small number of civilians remaining at Tubac had been ready to abandon the place hardly more than a year after the departure of the troops, but Captain Pedro Allande had forbidden such a move (Bancroft 1889:383 from Barragán et. al., Nov. 24, 1777:30). In November of 1777 the Tucson commandant requested three leading citizens of Tubac to report to him personally on the condition of the former fort site. They did so on November 24th.

The burden of the plaint of the Tubac citizens was simply that they were in grave danger of losing their heads on an Apache lance, and wanted to migrate wholesale to some safer settlement. They cited chapter and verse in support of their petition to Captain Allande for permission to move.

In October the Apaches had made off with all the horses and cattle belonging to the settlement. In November the Apaches 415had pastured a herd they brought from the west for three days in the neighborhood of Tubac, loading up with maize they picked from the fields (Barragán Nov. 24, 1777:30).

The Tubac citizens asked Captain Allande either to return the Tucson garrison to its former site-a move which was beyond his powers of decision in the colonial chain of command-or augment the detachment of troops which he maintained at Tubac to help guard the livestock there. It is doubtful whether Allande sent more men to Tubac for the simple reason that he lacked a sufficient force to spare any more. As Anza pointed out to Croix, most of Allande's outfit was committed to housekeeping duties. The Tubac detachment must have been quite small, for the twelve to fourteen men the Tucson company could detail for guard duty away from the fort had to cover not only Tubac but also Tumacácori and Calabasas (Medina May 3, 1779, No. 8), to protect not only the people there but also the garrison's interest in the food they produced.

Captain Allande also assisted the citizens of Tubac by making available to them powder from the royal magazine at his post at a cost of one peso per pound, for which the local Tubac official with the title of Justice was responsible (ibid., No. 12). The commander of the Frontier Provinces later ordered this type of assistance continued at a set price of eight reales per pound.

In the fall of 1778 the Apaches returned to the offensive again, stealing five horses from the renewed herd at 416Tubac and the mounts of the troop detachment stationed there, with whom they fought a brief action (Croix Oct. 23, 1778) in September. On the first of October the enemy Indians advanced on Tubac in considerable numbers and ran off the small number Of cattle which the settlers had managed to accumulate since their all-sweeping raid the year before. The citizens a nd the detachment of troops stationed there pursued the fleeing Indians, however, and recovered about half of the stock at the cost of the life of one of the citizens and wounds to two others (Croix Nov. 30, 1778).

B. Agricultural Resources

The citizens at Tubac enjoyed a large area of irrigable agricultural lands, especially after the departure of the garrison to Tucson. They obtained a harvest of 600 fanegas of wheat and maize annually using only two-thirds of th e cultivable land (Bancroft 1889:383 from Barragán Nov. 24,1777:29).

At Tubac as elsewhere in the semi-arid northwest of New Spain, irrigation water was far more serious a problem than cultivable land. When the troops left Tubac in 1776 the settlers and Indians at Tumacácori Mission proceeded to take advantage of their upstream location to draw off water for irrigation whenever they desired it. This practice so reduced the flow of the Santa Cruz River at Tubac that scarcely enough water remained for maize growing, although 417there wa s still plenty to grow wheat, which matured during the winter-spring wet season. The essence of the problem seems to have been simply one of hydraulics: there was ample water for maize cropping at both settlements if Tumacácori irrigated one week and Tubac the next so that a large head of water was maintained in the river. At least that was the claim of the Tubac gentry, sustained in an order from Captain Pedro Allande abrogating the doctrine of riparian rights advocated at Tumacácori Mission and restoring the arrangement previously enforced by Captain Juan Bautista de Anza when he was commandant at Tubac.

Tubac along with Calabasas and Tumacácori Mission constituted a prime source of provisions for the garrison at the new Tucson post at harvest time (Medina May 3, 1779, No. 10) and this fact was not unimportant in motivating the post commander to keep a detachment of men in those places for their protection.

C. Range Resources

The Tubac pioneers were not only well situated with regard to irrigable lands and irrigation water, they were also blessed with an abundance of natural grass pasture for their livestock on the nearby hills and the valley slopes between the mountains and the river flood plain.

The river was bordered by cottonwood and willow trees which probably furnished some timber and firewood as well 418as shade for watering stock. Moreover the citizens could cut excellent pine timber in the Santa Rita Mountain s fifteen to eighteen miles away.

The availability of these resources at any distance from the town was not very great, however, after the departure of the garrison from Tubac. The citizens there even refrained from working the many well-known rich mines in the vicinit y because of the Apache threat. The Aribaca deposits were known, one ore body yielding a silver mark from each twenty-five pounds of ore. In the headwaters of the Babocomari Creek to the east short trips which were risked brought the adventurers as much as 200 pesos for a three-day mining operation. Five silver mines had been tested in the Santa Rita range (Barragán et. al., Nov. 24, 1777:29).

D. Social Relationships

Under conditions of such psychological stress as the citizens of Tubac lived under following the departure of the garrison, they must have felt closer than ever before to the Spaniards living at Tumacácori Mission only three miles away, despite the tiff over water utilization. The Mission staff and Indian converts could be looked to for mutual support under Apache attack as well as for social reinforcement.  Certainly the social forms of garrison days were carried on, as in the exchange of godparents between the two settlements.  The same Manuel Barragán who complied with Captain Allande's 419order to report as an eminent citizen on the condition of Tubac joined Francisca Olguin of Tubac as a godparent of the son of Juan Antonio Duran and Maria Guadalupe Ramirez of the mission on January 30, 1777 (San José de Tumacácori, Libro de Bautismos, f. 17v).

The clear and present danger of Apache attack to travelers did not deter Tubac citizens from visiting even more distant settlements-possibly the prospect of Apache raids on Tubac even encouraged such visits! On July 4 of 1778 a Tubac citizen, José P. Corona, became a baptismal godfather of a child living at Santa Ana in the well-settled Magdalena River Valley to the south (Libro que contiene los de la administracion del Pueblo o Real de Santa Ana, Bautismos f. 1). On October 24 of the same year Tubac citizen Manual Gonzalez died suddenly at the Mission of San Ignacio while visiting in the same area (Libro de Entierros deste Pueblo de San Ygnacio...desde 1697, f. 16).

E. The Solace of Religion

In their time of trouble following the transfer of the military garrison the people of Tubac continued to enjoy the solace of formal religion and the services of Franciscan missionaries from Tumacácori Mission.

1. Fray Pedro Antonio de Arriquibar

Fray Pedro remained at Tumacácori when the troops rode 420north, administering to the mission Indians and the citizens staying on at Tubac, serving there until the spring of 1780 (San José de Tumacácori, Libro de Entierros f. 137v), when he transferred to Mission San Ignacio (Libro de Entierros deste Pueblo de San Ygnacio...desde 1697, f. 18v). A few years later he became chaplain to the Pima Indian company founded at San Ignacio, and a decade after that left mission work to end his career as a military chaplain, dying at the fort at Tucson in September of 1820 (Stoner & Dobyns 1959).

2. Fray Balthasar Carrillo

Arriquibar was promptly replaced at Tumacácori by another Franciscan missionary, Fray Balthasar Carrillo. Carrillo was, like his predecessor, a native of Spain born in the Villa of Titero in Navarre in 1723 (San José de T umacácori, Libro de Entierros f. 150). He had been serving in the missions of the College of the Holy Cross at Querétaro for some time before coming to Tumacácori, and had been stationed at the edge of northern Piman territory previously at San Ignacio Mission where he was from the middle of March until the end of the year 1778 (Libro de Entierros deste Pueblo de San Ygnacio... desde 1697, f. 15v-16v).

When Tubac was finally totally abandoned, Fray Balthasar Carrillo continued with his mission staff and converts to live at Tumacácori Mission.

421F. Health Conditions

Fearful as they were of Apache attacks, the citizens of Tubac seem to have enjoyed good health in their upper Santa Cruz River Valley home.

The total population following the departure of the garrison and prior to the colonization of the Colorado River establishments was 158 persons in forty families with twenty-six male heads (AGI Guad. 284). It is possible to estimate th e mortality rate for the Tubac population during this period. During 1778 one man was killed fighting Apache stock raiders (Croix Nov. 30, 1778) and another died suddenly at San Ignacio Mission (Libro de Entierros deste Pueblo de San Ygnacio...desde 1697 , f. 16). While other Tubac residents may have died during 1778, no record of such deaths has been found. These figures indicate a crude death rate of only 12.7 per 1,000 population, which is little higher than the 1956 crude death rate in the United States of 9.4 per 1,000 population (Dunn 1958:I:LIV). Such a death rate indicates that the Tubac population was physiologically capable of self-perpetuation even with some losses to Apaches and was much healthier than the surrounding Piman Indian populations.

On the other hand the high mortality from infectious diseases among the neighboring friendly Indians may have taken a great psychological toll on the people of Tubac and added to their desire to move elsewhere. A severe smallpox epidemic 422in 1781 may have helped to trigger final abandonment of Tubac. Direct information on the epidemic at Tubac is lacking, but at nearby Tumacácori Mission its effect was devastating. Smallpox mortality reached twenty-two persons bet ween May 29 and July 2 (San José de Tumacácori, Libro de Entierros) which constituted eighty-eight per cent of all the deaths there during the year. The smallpox mortality rate at Tumacácori was 159.4 per 1,000 population and the total mortality rate for the year was 181.2 deaths per 1,000 population (ibid., & AGI, Guad. 284). Compared with Tubac's low death rate, this epidemic toll was staggering and could not help but dismay the Tubac pioneers even though they probably escaped significant mortality themselves.

This epidemic was general all over northern Sonora-and probably beyond. At Mission San Ignacio epidemic fatalities from smallpox began on August 21 and continued through October 1. During those six weeks eighty-eight per cent of the total mortality for the year 1781 occurred. The 1781 total mortality increased 207 per cent over the previous year and eighty-four per cent of the deaths were in the age group under six years (Libro de Entierros deste Pueblo de San Ygnacio...de 1697, f.&n bsp;18v-24).

G. Tubac Gives Its All

While the citizens remaining at Tubac bemoaned their fate in petitions for more military protection and suffered 423repeated robberies of their horses and cattle by hostile Apache raiders, their ultimate fate was being decide d by high colonial officials living safely and snugly far from the buffets of unheeding fortune on the Indian frontier, but acutely conscious of them. The Anza-Garces explorations and expeditions to Upper California having opened a land route from Sonora to that new frontier, royal officials in San Miguel de Horcasitas and the City of Mexico were quite aware of the need for some sort of Spanish establishment at the Colorado Crossing to insure that it would remain open. Father Francisco Garces never ceas ed urging the desirability of converting the heathen Yumas to Christianity and the Province ordered missions and military posts established at the Colorado on February 14, 1777 (Coues 1900:I:14). Finally the interest of empire and the young friar coincid ed and in 1779 the Colorado Crossing was occupied by Spaniards.

First imperialist into the breach was Father Francisco Garces himself when he discovered in August that the Yumas had changed their minds about Spanish dominion in the interval since he had last passed that way (ibid., I:9). Chief Palma had been placed in an untenable position by the slowness with which Spanish colonial machinery moved. His fellow-tribesmen were accustomed to seeing swift results from a chief's promises, and expected the Spanish promises to Palma to yield them abundant trade goods promptly. As the months wore on, Palma traveled the desert trails to the fort at Altar 424to find out what was delaying his Spanish friends. He was satisfied by Captain Tueros' explanation that Commandant-General Croix hi mself planned to visit the Yumas when he braced the Altar commander in March of 1778 (ibid., I:14), but even Palma could not persuade his tribesmen of Spanish good faith when another trip to Altar and even the provincial capital of San Miguel de Horcasitas early in 1779 produced no immediate results (ibid., I:15).

There was a small and delayed-action result from Palma's second visit-the forwarding of Father Garces and Father Juan Díaz to the Yuma country. The Province was going through one of its frequent periods of troop shortage, so the king's commands were only niggardly fulfilled in terms of a military post establishment on the Colorado. The army commander asked Garces to take as few troops as possible (ibid., I:16) and preparations dragged on through July when Garces obtained twelve troopers from Tucson and Altar of the fifteen he requested, and this corporal's guard reached the Colorado River with the two missionaries later in August (ibid., I:17).

A dozen more men reached the river with Father Díaz on his return early in October and the new establishment was finally formally ordered founded on March 20, 1780 (ibid., I:18). The colonists arrived at the river in the fall of that year (ibid., I:19), many of them coming from Tubac in the prelude to dissolution of that town.

Tubac again contributed part of its population to advancing 425Spain's colonial frontier, and this contribution was a very large one in terms of the small remaining population. There were only some forty families at Tubac fo llowing the withdrawal of troops and the Colorado River colony included twenty families of soldiers and colonists, twelve of laborers and twenty-one of soldiers (ibid.) of which total a goodly number had come from Tubac. Apparently the Tubac peopl e preferred life on the Colorado on a new frontier under military protection to life at Tubac without it. For the final blow to their community had been struck sometime after April of 1779 when the Commander of the Frontier Provinces ordered the detachme nts of troops at Tubac, Tumacácori and Calabasas returned to their fort at Tucson, which had so many men on detached duty the only troops left to defend it were those men on sick call (Medina May 3, 1779, No. 8). Probably the withdrawal of the guard detail occurred in July in order for the Tucson company to supply Father Garces with its share of the dozen men he took to the Colorado River.

Those residents of Tubac who did not chose to join the Colorado River enterprise moved north to the royal fort at Tucson (AGI, Guad. 284), further strengthening that post and helping to insure its permanency. By their movement the immediate fate of Tubac was sealed but the long-range settlement of northern Sonora (which became southern Arizona) by Europeans was assured.

426The exodus of the people of Tubac who remained after the Colorado River colonization effort was not immediate, nor does it seem to have been precipitate. Settlers seem to have drifted away gradually over the next two or t hree years, and in mid-August of 1780 the pueblo of Tubac was still counted upon with Calabasas and Tumacácori to protect the line of communication between a proposed fort at Buenavista and that at Tucson (Thomas l941:185).

Toward the end of that year 1780 Lt. Col. Juan B. de Anza further ensconced himself in the good graces of the Province and his officials by giving to the monarch his house at Tubac, which he had purchased from Captain Baldarrain's widow many years before (Croix Dec. 23, 1780).

In early January of 1781 Tubac was still mentioned in dispatches to place Tumacácori Mission geographically (Croix Mar. 23, 1781), but its residents were departing. The Commandant-General of the Frontier Provinces admitted that the royal policy for developing the defenses of such former fortification sites could not be carried out for lack of facilities, and the people were fleeing (Thomas 1941:183-184). By 1783 Tubac was definitely abandoned (AGI Guad. 284).

The colonial policy of encouraging civilian settlement at military posts so the area could defend itself after transfer of the garrison had failed to create a permanent settlement at Tubac-yet the policy as such had succeeded resoundingly in founding San Francisco, Tucson and abortively Yuma.

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