Garcés was disappointed in his expectation of help from José de Gálvez, visitor general of the Indies. The change from the comforts of the royal court in Madrid to the austerities of the Sonoran desert proved to be too much, and Gálvez was rendered temporarily insane by the summer heat of 1769. Assistance from Anza was also delayed because of his involvement in the Cerro Prieto campaign, and he was not able to accept Garcés' invitation to occupy "the captain's room" at San Xavier until April of 1770. He was mindful of matters in the Tucson area, however, and was in constant communication with Governor Juan de Pineda about them. The document translated in the present section implies as much and makes it clear that Anza and Garcés, together at last, were taking advantage of their first opportunity to lay firm plans for construction of the new community, which was still without "so much as a mud wall." Both of these pioneers had long realized the strategic position of Tucson in the struggle against the Apache.

Were they already discussing the California expeditions? Shortly before their historic meeting, Garcés learned through the desert Indian grapevine of the arrival of Spaniards in Alta California and plans may already have been taking shape in his mind.

page 16

May 10, 1770


In my letter of the sixteenth of last month, I mentioned that I was leaving for the north the very next day. In the course of my first visit to San Xavier del Bac and Tucson, I was able to convince the Tucson Pimas to hold their position, although three families had carried out their intent to move up to the Gila River only four days before. I commanded their respective governors to see that they returned.

To strengthen the Tucson site against Apache attack, I ordered the Tucsonans to construct an extensive earthen breastwork or corral, replete with gunports, in the center of their Pima village. Just today I received word that the project is well along.

Thanks to my efforts, they are so convinced of the necessity of keeping the Tucson site occupied that they themselves pointed out to me that the only sure way of strengthening their position is to build a church as the other villages have done. I reminded them that if they had no church, it was because they themselves did not want one. They replied that they had requested a church many times, but their missionaries had never supplied them with the necessary provisions to support them during the building operation.

When I related this to Father Francisco Garcés, their new missionary, he immediately decided to grant them the full Tucson harvest of ten bushels of wheat and half the harvest of San Xavier for this purpose. I announced this good news to the Tucson Pimas and they were un-

page 17

animous in their vote to begin their church construction after the next harvest.

I also learned that the Sobaípuri Pimas of the San Pedro River have disliked moving to Tucson, since their head men could never get along with previous missionaries. Though they admitted that in Tucson they were less vulnerable than in the San Pedro Valley, an illusion was common among them that they could defend themselves even better from Apache attack up on the Gila River. The head men agreed to dispel this illusion among their people, now that things have changed.


page 18




Desert Documentary by Kieran McCarty - Chapter 4
Tucson, Arizona: Arizona Historical Society, 1976.

© 1976 The Arizona Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.

The University of Arizona Library's Southwest Electronic Text Center Logo