The transfer of the entire presidio to Tucson was a drastic move and left the Tubac region defenseless. The Spanish settlers there were not at all pleased with the removal of their presidio. The following document tells the story and provides insights into the day-to-day life of the pioneers. The original Spanish account was in the Tucson presidial archive in 1854 when the Parke Railroad Survey team passed through the village. This rough translation was made by one of the members with the permission of Ensign Joaquín Comadurán, acting commander of the presidio. In 1856, when the Mexican garrison was removed from Tucson, the original Spanish document, as well as many other important presidial records, disappeared.

San Agustín del Tucsón.
November 24, 1777.


In obedience to your order of November 20, 1777, I, Manuel Barragua, together with two other leading settlers of Tubac, Francisco Castro and Antonio Romero,

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appear in your presence to give the information you request concerning the Tubac area: watering places, land for cornfields, pastures for horses and cattle, and minerals of the region, as well as routes taken by the Apaches for their attacks and escapes and the places where they camp.

The Tubac settlement is situated between two mountains, some fifteen miles apart, forming a valley with abundant and fertile fields for the growing of corn. We have enough water for the cultivation of wheat, but not enough to grow the corn we need. If Tubac shares Tumacácori water, damned up by the mission at that place, there is enough water for all. Captain Juan Bautista de Anza set up a schedule whereby Tubac used the Tumacácori water for a week, then the Tumacácori Pimas used it for a week, and so on. We were overjoyed to hear recently that you have approved the continuance of this arrangement.

Tubac has abundant pasture for cattle and horses in the valley and on the hillsides. There are cottonwoods and willows in the valley and there is easy access to excellent pine forests some fifteen miles away in the Santa Rita Mountains. The Tubac settlers are raising over 600 bushels of wheat and corn annually, and we are farming only two-thirds of our land.

There are many mines of very rich metals some twenty miles to the west in the vicinity of Arivaca. Three of these mines are especially productive. One yields eight ounces of pure silver to every twenty-five pounds of ore. A second yields forty-five ounces to every carga [ 100 pounds] of ore. The third mine yields a little less than this.

Ten to fifteen miles further on, in the Babocómari Valley,10 there are excellent gold placers. These were examined by José de Torres and all of the Tubac settlers. Three

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visits to these placers, where camp was made for three days each visit, reaped a profit of 200 pesos in gold. This can be verified by two merchants who traded their goods for it and now have the gold.

Ten miles east of Tubac, in the Santa Rita Mountains, two silver mines have been worked with smelters and three more with quicksilver, all with a tolerable yield. Though these mines are common knowledge to all of the Tubac settlers, they cannot be worked on a permanent basis because of the Apaches, who have pastures and encampments in that vicinity. They continually skirt the Santa Ritas on their way to a place called Agua Caliente, some twelve miles away.

Apache pressure on Tubac has increased by the day since the garrison was moved to Tucson. We have recently talked of selling our effects and entirely abandoning the Tubac area, your own orders notwithstanding. Although you have threatened us with heavy penalties, we may have to do just that for the sake of our very lives. During this last month, the Apaches stole all of our horses and cattle. With unprecedented boldness, they have destroyed even our fields, carrying off what corn they could.

Ever since our presidio was moved to Tucson, our Spanish settlement at Tubac, together with its nearby Pima villages, has suffered untold casualties. Calabazas has been burned to the ground, a calamity it never before experienced. Apaches are openly grazing their stolen horses in our valley and daily attack our cornfields, taking captive anyone who might be working in them.

Since they have already done away with all of our possessions and show no signs of leaving, all they can be waiting for is to take the only thing they have not taken, the lives of ourselves and our families. Our only hope is

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the restoration of our presidio to its original location and the positioning of troops along the routes of Apache attack and escape. We have great confidence in the fame and name of Allande y Saavedra. Only you can save us!

In the name of all the settlers at Tubac,


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Desert Documentary by Kieran McCarty - Chapter 8
Tucson, Arizona: Arizona Historical Society, 1976.

© 1976 The Arizona Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.

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