California Exodus


The departure date of Jose Benito Moreno and family from Los Angeles to Ures, Sonora is not known. It can only be drawn inferentially that it took place c.1869-1870.

One source has the family leaving Los Angeles in a carriage and two green wagons. No sooner had they arrived at Ures, the mother died. This would be Maria Refugio Villalobos Moreno, the mother of Jesus Moreno Soza.118

The best source of information is the 1939 Reminiscences119 recounted by Jesus Moreno de Soza in which several important assertions are made; for example:


"all were born in California, four living and two dead before we left there."

"A big flood came, my father lost all, became desperate, and left for Sonora where the family remained until my mother died in 1860" (sic, must be 1870, because two sisters were born in Los Angeles c.1865 and c.1867).

"Then we were brought here with my sister who had married an American."

The sister and American references were to Mrs. Petra Carrillo Goodwin, nee Moreno, who had married Dr. Francis Henri Goodwin.

Completing the circle is the family photograph of Jesus at age 17 which was taken in Tucson c.1872. Jesus would remain in Tucson with the Goodwin family until her marriage to Antonio Campa Soza on July 28, 1878 in Tucson.

The 1878 Antonio and Jesus marriage would result in a plethora of issue, with nine males and five females making up the family. Added to this, were the four offsprings of the Antonio's 1869 marriage to Mercedes Federico. An increased progeny, the accumulation of homesteads, grazing permits and water rights, would stand Antonio and Jesus in good stead as their presences expanded up and down the San Pedro River valley.

Following the death of Antonio, Jesus displayed an unusual entrepreneurial spirit as evidenced by her continued ranch and farm activities; discovery of additional water resources; Administratrix of her husband's Probate #3722 for twelve years; concurrent with the construction of a commercial building in the Tucson business district.

The financing and construction of the A.C. Soza Building, with the attendant responsibilities for business and residential rentals, were also noteworthy attributes. Jesus would reach her eighth decade before resigning as Administratrix of Probate #3722

The A.C. Soza Building, no longer in the family, still stands at 429 N. 4th Avenue, Tucson. The two story brick building, with four apartments, stands as a testimony to the foresight, and the indomitable spirit of a truly Arizona pioneer woman.

The urban renewal and revitalization of the north Tucson business district is a continuing vindication of business decisions made by this pioneer when she bought the vacant lot in 1899, and held it to fruition for others to benefit. Later additional apartments would be built on North Herbert, immediately behind the 4th Avenue commercial building.

Throughout Probate #3722, Jesus would continue to administer her sole and separate properties, namely the personal and real property in Cochise County. It appears as though she also had beneficial and fiduciary interest in Lot 16, Block Four in the Walker Addition, Benson.

On March 30, 1937, the remaining assets in the Estate of Antonio C. Soza, Deceased were awarded to his widow. On a petition filed by the Administrator, the Superior Court, Pima County issued ORDER SETTING ASIDE ESTATE TO THE SURVIVING SPOUSE.

La Senora Doña Jesus Moreno de Soza would expire two years later on January 13, 1939 at Tucson. Death took her just a week after she had been interviewed at the AHS.

Married for thirty sevens years, widowed for twenty four, Maria Jesus Moreno de Soza would complete her long, fruitful and eventful life of eighty four summers. Her travels would take her from Los Angeles, the place of her birth in 1855, to her father's birth place in Sonora. Thence to the ancestral territory of her future husband in Arizona. The long odyssey of approximately 1000 miles, from Los Angeles to Ures, "in one carriage and two green wagons,"120 ended with her 1939 burial at the Soza Cemetery, overlooking the San Pedro River.

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