Letter from Nentvig to Zeballos (July 16, 1764)


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My Beloved Father Provincial Francisco Zeballos, [...] Pax Christy

I have just replied to a letter from His Excellency the Viceroy dated May 19th, in which he asks me for a map of this province. I had one left, identical to the one carried by the deceased Tienda de Cuervo but not so well finished. Because the Viceroy's request demanded urgency, I sent it as it was. My vision is poor, and without glasses to improve it, I would have blurred the chart had I tried to amend it.

I attempted to explain this to His Excellency, but not being familiar with court etiquette nor with the style used with such personages, I fear that unknowingly I may have committed some error and displeased him, and I may have made matters worse by refusing to furnish information about the latest incidents with our enemies although I did say that day by day, in spite of the precautions taken by the governor, the Seri and Apache Indians are gaining on us, the former having killed nine soldiers at Aigame. These are matters upon which His Excellency would be more thoroughly informed [than I].

I did not have anything worthwhile to call to His Excellency's attention although I had heard that the governor had issued orders to the captain and his soldiers at Fronteras to join in a foray against the Seris and Pimas at Cerro Prieto. But not knowing this with certainty, I did not mention it.

Being overburdened with work, I have had no time for soliciting data. Father Och, who, because of his hernia, left Bacerac on orders from the Father Visitor, is now here awaiting an easier assignment, and were it not for his presence I do not know how I could care for so many afflicted with smallpox, more than sixty in Oputo alone, and


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just as many, whom Father Och is attending physically as well as spiritually, in Guásabas, eleven leagues away. Without his care most of them would have died.

My reply to the Viceroy was in the penmanship of Father Och which is very good. I mention this to Your Reverence in case the Viceroy is offended, in which case you might send someone to explain my awkwardness. I also request instructions from Your Reverence on how to proceed if in the future similar information which we have been forbidden to impart is requested. I do not wish to trample on statutes and precepts, even if they are interpreted in a less strict manner, nor do I care to undertake superfluously another's work.

I shall rejoice if Your Reverence is enjoying good health; thanks be to The Lord I am well. I continue praying to God, on whose Sacred Sacraments I commit myself, that you will be with us many years.

Oputo, July 16, 1764.

The humblest servant and vassal of Your Reverence,

Juan Nentvig

P.S. I failed to mention that in order to comply better with the wishes of the Viceroy, I cited the last chapter of the description of Sonora carried by Señor Tienda de Cuervo without letting him know that I had written it. I am sure he will agree with me that it would be expedient to subdue and punish the enemies of Sonora. If by chance the description were not in the hands of the Viceroy, Your Reverence could order that a copy be made from the one sent to you some time ago with Father Ignacio Lissassoayn [sic], at least such portions that in Your Reverence's judgment should be seen by the Viceroy, who seems well disposed and might decide with earnestness upon the needed war.

Source: Translated from Temporalidades section, vouchers 17–24, Archivo Historico de Hacienda, Mexico City.

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