18th Century Alferez José Maria Sosa


Faithful research, supports the authenticity of Antonio Campa Soza's [28K] Arizona roots. It reveals the ancestral family's trek from Jecori on the Yaqui River in Sonora, Mexico to Tubac, thence to Tucson, Tempe and the San Pedro River. [35K] A trek, that commenced 250 years ago, and it would lead the family from northern Sonora and into southern Arizona.

The village of Jecori, still on the banks of the Yaqui River,12 marks the birthplace of ancestor Alferez José Maria Sosa; [34K] the progenitor of the Sosa, Soza families of Arizona. His military service record, provides the clue as to his birth in 1746.

Jecori13 was a medium Spanish settlement near the estancia of Don Gregorio at Jamaica.14 Nearby were other villages such as Cumpas and Oposura (now named Moctezuma). Locating the exact site of Jecori long eluded research efforts, which began with José Maria Sosa's military transcript. In this document, the place of birth was written as Tecori,15 not Jecori.

Reading and re-reading Juan Nentvig's Rudo Ensayo, A Description of Sonora and Arizona in 1764, (Pradeau & Rasmussen) and comparing this text with several Spanish texts, it became apparent, that Jecori and Tecori were one and the same. In the map accompanying Rudo Ensayo, Jecori is clearly marked Jecori, but was overlooked in the textual search for Tecori.16

The reader is invited to imagine the sociological and political conditions prevalent on the Yaqui River in 1746. One would need to recall the chaos and havoc created by the Yaqui Uprising of 1740-42, the Apache Raids of 1743, and the Pima Revolt of 1750-1752. [See Dobyns CHAPTER V: THE PIMA REVOLT OF 1751] These harsh and life threatening episodes took place before, during and after the birth of José Maria Sosa in 1746.

Despite repeated efforts at pacification, turmoil visited and permeated the Yaqui River, possibly prompting the Sosa's family's migration northward to the Santa Cruz valley to what is now southern Arizona. It is not known whether the family's move was decided privately or in response to government instruction or edict.

Aside from José Maria Sosa's service record,17 nothing is known about his youth or his family, until his eventual arrival at the Presidio San Ignacio de Tubac, Arizona.

The service record illuminates a career of thirty (30) years in Spanish Presidial forces; rising through the ranks as a soldier, corporal, sergeant, and finally a royal commission promotion to Alferez, Second Grade.18 The commission was signed for The King by Manuel de Negrete y de la Torre on September 26, 1794.

At the time the transcript was written, Sosa was 55 years old, married, and had engaged the enemy in over 20 campaigns. No date is discernable on the poor transcript copy, but deductive logic would point to a post-1801 date. The record states that Sosa had application, capacity, and valor19 and was of good conduct.

The 1798 Census of Tucson by Father Arriquibar, Sosa is shown as head of household, married to Doña Rita Espinosa, with one son, José Maria Sosa 11, and three daughters. José Maria Sosa 11 later married Gregoria Nunes20 and the names of their eight children appear in the 1831 Census of Tubac.

Reverting to question as to when the Sosa family left the Yaqui River valley. They travelled across other rivers i.e. the Sonora, Matape, San Miguel and Magadalena, to reach the Santa Cruz River in southern Arizona. Irrespective of the timetable, it can be surmised with certainty, that the constant attacks on Spanish settlements, and acts of rebellion and uprising by the Apache, Pima, Seri, and Yaqui tribes, were major factors or strong motives contributing to the move northward. [See Dobyns: CHAPTER VI: THE ROYAL FORT OF ST. IGNATIUS AT TUBAC]

No documentation has surfaced to support a chronology of the northward migration. Absent a governmental decree ordering the same, the Yaqui Uprising of 1740,21 Apache Attacks of 1743, and The Pima Revolt of 1750 were cumulative and compelling motives suggesting and supporting relocation.

What is known is that in 1774 Spanish Commander Inspector Hugo O'Connor inventoried the troops at the Presidio San Ignacio de Tubac; then part of northern Sonora defense perimeter. In the report, the future Alferez was listed as a soldier, 28 years old, Spaniard, and of good circumstances.

The role of the Tubac Presidio, which had been founded in 1752, was to thwart the Apache attacks and raids into northern Sonora and southern Arizona. However, continued and repeated enemy Apache attacks forced the presidio's relocation in 1775, from Tubac to present day Tucson.22

With the removal of the presidio from Tubac to Tucson, the Sosa family again moved north, this time leaving archival evidence of their presence, that preceded the Declaration of Independence of the United States in 1776.23

Exhaustive efforts have been expended in an effort to peer past the 1746 birth of José Maria Sosa;24 to extend knowledge of the family's lineage; and ascertain their arrival in the New World. The results have not been definitive. Hampering the investigation has been the absence of the identity of José Maria's parentage. From 1746 to 1774, nothing is known about Sosa, until the inventory of the Presidio de San Ignacio de Tubac in 1774.

One ray of hope is a reference to a SOSSA surname that appears in connection with the Fronteras Presidio in 1726. The absence of a Christian name for SOSSA presents a serious research impediment. The missing presidio muster rolls, also operates as a detriment.

The Commandant of the Fronteras Presidio in 1726 was Don Gregorio Alvarez Tunon Quiros,25 an absentee commandant with a lifetime appointment. He spent much of his time at his hacienda at Jamaica on the Yaqui River, tending to his cattle, farming and mining enterprises. Mines at Jamaica were founded as early as 1705.26 The site is approximately 90 miles south of Fronteras and about six miles north of the birthplace of ancestor Alferez José Maria Sosa. A huge leap of faith might support the possibility that this SOSSA, cited in a 1726 Fronteras report, might be the long sought link to the Sosa family at Jecori in 1746. 

image of drawing of José Maria Sosa [48K]

The José Maria Sosa service records has been an invaluable tool in tracing and reconstructing a portion of the life and family of this presidial soldier from the 18th century. 27

An equally important source of 18th century material on the life of José Maria, is the borderland research by Henry F. Dobyns28 in which he chronicles the demographics of the Tubac and Tucson presidios.

In 1795, lands held by José Maria became the object of an effort to pacify the Apaches. Franciscan Friar Juan Bautista Llorens recommended five points; one point on LANDS specified: "they (Indians) must be allocated the fields of one citizen and Ensign Sosa".29

Church records of the birth, baptismal, marriage records have not been found for José Maria Sosa or his wife. It is known that José Maria married Rita Espinosa, corroborated by the Tucson Census of 1798 by Father Pedro Antonio de Arriquibar (OFM). The census list José Maria Sosa, his wife Doña Rita Espinosa, his son José Maria 11, and three daughters.

Rita Espinosa de Sosa was rated as one of the wealthiest persons in Tucson. She died on April 16, 1820 at Tumacacori.30 The present cemetery was not dedicated until October 1822, the National Park Service opines that it is possible Rita is buried in one of the unmarked graves.31


Mission Church of San José De Tumacacor [27K]

Mission Church of San José De Tumacacori 32


For more information on the Mission Church of San José De Tumacacori, see Mission Churches of the Sonoran Desert

In the absence of church records, the year of Alferez José Maria Sosa's demise can only be inferentially drawn as occurring between Sosa's military service record (1801) and the letter written (1811) by Fa. Arriquibar. In the 1811 letter Father Arriquibar intercedes on behalf of the late Alferez's son who sought to marry the sister of his previous love affair.33

Whatever church impediment may have existed, it was removed as José Maria Soza 11 and Gregoria Nunes did marry. They raised a family of eight and appear in the 1831 Census of Tubac. To this united couple, the following were the children: Rita, Ramon, José Maria 111, Manuel, Maria Guadalupe, José Calistro, Ignacio, Maria Tomasa.

In the next section, the names of José Maria 111, José Calistro and Manuel recur most often, as these three sons and their descendants, have been more easily researched. Manuel is the father of the subject of this biography, and Calistro is the uncle/step father of the same. José Maria Sosa 111 and his wife Solana Mendoza are historically associated with the property now celebrated as the SOSA-CARRILLO-FREMONT HOUSE MUSEUM in Tucson. View a QTVR panorama of the Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont House Museum. Get the free QuickTime player.

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