The Odyssey


A journey into the 16th and 17th century, without bench marks, in search of ancestors, is an undertaking of major proportions. It is a project of such immensity that even the most dedicated is apt to face repeated despair, discouragement and even contemplate abandonment of the project.

In this instance, encouragement has been drawn from having successfully traced the lineage of the Arizona Sosa, Soza families to the 18th century presidial soldier Alferez Jose Maria Sosa. He was born at Jecori, Sonora in 1746. The names of his parents has not been established. This deficiency continues to operate as a huge barrier toward extending the family's lineage beyond 1746.

To overcome this impasse, research is being directed towards ascertaining the earliest Sosa on this continent. New World 16th and 17th century Sosa surnames, appearing in random historical references, is being compiled. These names are being researched for possible connection to the Arizona families.

The identity of the earliest Sosa is essential to establish a bona fide linkage to the Arizona descendants. At this writing, no ancestral information is known beyond the 1746 birth of Alferez Jose Maria Sosa. The original Sosa may have been drawn to the New World in anticipation of land, riches and even the prospect of becoming an hidalgo. This was not an uncommon aspiration for many settlers that were induced and enticed to make the long journey to the New World.

Abundant historical references to Sosa surnames appear in Nueva Espana prior to 1746, but none to connect to the Arizona families. Much more research is required before a pre-1746 heritage can irrefutably be established. The search will remain stalemated until Jose Maria Sosa's parents are identified. What is known is the name of one of the earliest Sosas to arrive in Mexico.

Don Juan Alonso de Sosa arrived at Mexico City in 1531. He had been appointed the royal treasurer for Nueva Espana. Six months after his arrival, Sosa married Ana Estrada, the daughter of his immediate predecessor, Don Alonso de Estrada.

Juan Alonso served as treasurer from 1531 to 1555. In that capacity, he developed extensive ranch, cattle, and mining interest. His activities included mining ventures with Cortes.

Juan Alonso obviously was well connected, by virtue of his family, marriage and other connections. His father, Don Lope de Sosa, served as Governor, Canary Islands 1505 - 1515. In 1516, he was named Governor - Designate for Tierra Firme, and Castilla Del Oro (Old Panama).

Governor Lope de Sosa's departure from the Canary Islands to Tierra Firme was delayed until 1520. He set sail with a fleet of ships and 300 men. Arriving on May 20, 1520 at Tierra Firme and Castilla Del Oro, Don Lope de Sosa, gave the order to disembark. 
Don Lope repaired to his cabin to dress for the formal landing ceremony, was taken ill, and expired in his cabin. The eldest son, the future royal treasurer was with his father at the Canary Islands and at Tierra Firme, Castilla Del Oro. After the father's burial at Tierra Firme, Juan Alonso de Sosa returned to Spain.

Another significant namesake Gaspar Castano de Sosa, led an expedition of 170 men, women, and children, into the New Mexico territory in 1590. As Lt. Governor of Nuevo Leon, Sosa organized and commenced his expedition in anticipation of official sanction. Sadly, Sosa was arrested, tried, and sentenced to serve his life aboard a vessel on the China Sea. Vindication came too late; he had died on board the vessel.

The Don Juan de Onate expedition of 1598, to colonize the New Mexico Territory is more significant to this research effort. The Onate expedition included two Sosa families; Lt. Governor and Captain General Alferez Francisco de Sosa Penalosa's family included two sons: Estevan de Sosa and Francisco Illan de Sosa; Captain Alonso de Sosa Albornoz was accompanied by his wife and five children.

In the aftermath of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt at Santa Fe, New Mexico, as many as 3000 Spaniards found refuge at El Paso (now Ciudad Juarez). In 1693 a Sonoran presidio recruitment party to EL Paso, successfully obtained 25 soldiers with the proviso that 12 important relatives accompany the recruitment party's return to Sonora. The roster of these 25 soldier has not been located.

Later in 1726, the "Sossa" surname appears in connection with the audit of the presidio at Fronteras. Nether Sosa nor Sossa appear in 1726 presidio roster. Captain Don Gregorio Alvarez Tunon y Quiroz, with a lifetime appointment, commanded the Fronteras presidio from the comfort of his hacienda at Jamaica on the Yaqui River. Don Gregorio held extensive lands, and conducted large scale ranching and mining interest. Jamaica was only two leagues distance from Jecori, the birth place of Alferez Jose Maria Sosa in 1746.

At this point, the question can be asked: Did the Arizona Sosa families of Sonora and Arizona descend from the Santa Fe settlers of 1598 or the El Paso refugees from the 1680 Pueblo Indian Revolt ? Obviously, substantial work remains to be done before any authoritative conclusions can be drawn. Meanwhile a firm base has been laid out for future researchers.

A little over two centuries, separates the arrival of Juan Alonso Sosa in 1531 at Mexico City, and the birth of Alferez Jose Maria Sosa in 1746 at Jecori, Sonora. The challenge facing any researcher is to close the gap. A trove of historical references, archival material, and documents has been assembled and documented to help the initiated.

It is emphatically reiterated that no 16th and 17th century Sosa has been linked nor even remotely connected to the Sonora and Arizona families. Consequently, the challenge to close the Sosa, Soza genealogical gap may be left to others. Of some help may be that Ancestor Jose Maria Sosa appears severally in references and documents as a corporal, sergeant, and alferez.

Prior to 1965, very little was publicly known about the extended Arizona Sosa, Soza families. Information was minuscule, records were limited and oral reports were limited. Some oral history was found to be unreliable or inaccurate. As family interest and inclination grew, vexing questions about the family arose:

Who are they ? 
Where did they come from ?

In the quest for explanations, a fascinating and absorbing avocation evolved. A modest undertaking, mushroomed into a huge undertaking, now marking 30 years of intermittent research effort. This modest effort culminated in bringing together, in family reunions, hundreds of direct descendants of Alferez Jose Maria Sosa and Dona Rita Espinosa. Since then, descendants, spread over 12 States, have reunited in Arizona.

The name change to Soza from Sosa in the 1870's, remains an enigma. It has been established that four Sosa brothers Nicolas Soza, and Juan Soza changed the spelling of their surname to Z from S. Oral history offers some explanations, but no written authentication has been found for any of the alleged versions. 3. Annexation of Northern Sonora into Arizona Territory due to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 and the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, brought an influx of American civil servants. Care was not always observed.

Derivations of the name appear as Sosa, Soza, Zosa, and Sossa. The Portuguese versions appear as Sousa and Souza. In documents, certificates and references, and social intercourse, it is not unusual for Sosa and Soza to be interchanged. The highly respected International Genealogical Index combines Sosa, Soza, Sossa, Sais, and Zosa under the same family group.

The Treaty of Guadalupe de Hidalgo of 1848, the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, and arrival of Americans into the Arizona Territory, ushered major sociological and cultural changes. To the uninitiated, Spanish names, surnames, words or expressions were not always accurately interpreted or written. In written records, Sosa often became Soza, as well as the reverse.

Early documents confirms that brothers Antonio Campa Soza, Placido Campa Soza, Nicolas Campa Soza, and Juan Soza used the Z spelling in filing their homestead applications. Also, Antonio Campa Soza married thrice, in the San Agustin Church, and his name on church records appear both with the S and Z.

A Soza Family Tree was compiled and donated to the Arizona Historical Society, Tucson in 1975. A smaller reproduction is on display in the Soza Room at the national historical landmark Sosa - Carrillo - Fremont Museum, Tucson. This writer researched the genealogical material, and the drawing was rendered by Mary Little Siegfried, Pasadena, California. The drawing is a representation of the descendants of Alferez Jose Maria Sosa from 1746 to 1900. The family's name started out as SOSA, and later changed to SOZA.

Another family tree drawing was donated to the Tubac Presidio Park, Tubac by Fred Soza of El Paso, Texas. This drawing highlights the descendants of Alferez Jose Maria Sosa and Dona Rita Espinosa, with special emphasis on the descendants of Juan Moreno Soza and Maria Petra Yanez. The classical calligraphy was commissioned by Fred Soza, and rendered by Richard Silva of El Paso, Texas.

As genealogical research technology improves, increased translation of early government and church records, knowledge about the past becomes more readily accessible. Perhaps the gap can be narrowed. What has become clear is that since 1746, the family evolved from essentially a hispanic ancestry to a multi-cultural ancestry that now mirrors the face of America.

The evolution of the Sosa family, originating in 1746 in the remote Spanish village of Jecori on the Yaqui River, is informative and revealing. Considering the economical and political uncertainty prevailing at the time, in the mid 18th century, survival during the Yaqui Indian Uprising of 1740, and the Pima Rebellion on 1750 was remarkable.

The Yaqui Uprising of 1740 had been pacified by the time Jose Maria Sosa was born at Jecori in 1746, Even though the Uprising caused havoc, wreckage and dislocations in Sonora, Jecori was over 100 miles north of the Tecoripa battle site. 1711 - 1767 Jecori, is located between Cumpas and Moctezuma (formerly named Oposura) on the Yaqui River, within two leagues of Jamaica. No Yaqui Uprising references have been located that may have affected the village of Jecori.

The turmoil on the Yaqui River, between 1740 and 1742, was followed by the Pima Rebellion of 1750. Undoubtedly these two uprisings impacted and created the uncertainty on the part of the settlers. These occurrences may have been contributing factors in the Sosa family migrating farther north to the Santa Cruz valley to what is now Southern Arizona. Sosa surnamed families are recorded at Guevavi (below Tubac Presidio) as early as 1745. 

As life on the Northern most Nueva Espana frontier played out, social events and blood lines evolved and coalesced. Social unions and inter- marriages occurred. These unions produced the mixed race or "mestizo" that brought forth a new people on the north and south continents. This amalgamation is a continuing process. Illustrative, are the surnames of the 20th century direct descendants of Alferez Jose Maria Sosa and Dona Rita Espinosa. See the complete list on page 21.

At this time, through the veins of the 20th century extended Sosa, Soza families, flows the blood of the Iberian Peninsula, the European continent, the Great Britain, Ireland, the continents of North & South American, Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands, Middle East, and Israel.

The family reunions brought forth a deepened and abiding sense of enrichments, honor and pride, as the family's cultural heritage and historical legacy unfolded. The family's journey from the remote village of Jecori, Sonora led to Tubac, Tucson, Tempe, and homesteads in the San Pedro River valley.

The extended family's homesteads on the San Pedro River is deeply etched in the Arizona State land Office records. National Archives, Pacific Southwest Region, Laguna Niguel, Ca. The Soza Ranch, Soza Canyon, Soza Wash, and Soza Cemetery at Redington are designated by the United States Geological Survey on area maps. U.S. Geological Survey Map N3215 - W1105/15 1957

In the 1960's, on another continent, a descendant of Alferez Jose Maria Sosa, the late Ezekiel Rodriguez Soza, made his mark as a topographer and cartographer. Mount Soza and Soza Station at the South Pole, Revised 1988, U.S. Geological Survey stand in silent, yet permanent tribute to his endurance, energy and skill in mapping vast areas of Antarctica. A grateful United States Department of the Interior awarded him the Antarctica Service Medal on May 11, 1970. The United States Geological Survey Museum, Reston, Virginia houses a display of Ezekiel's two Antarctica expeditions. The medal and certificate awarded to Soza were donated to the Arizona Historical Society, Tucson in 1982.

To facilitate those that may be inspired to expand their own research, random notes and reference works are part of this study. As collection, interpretation, and translation of historical material improves, closing the family's two century genealogical gap will undoubtedly improve.

Part of which site