14. Population Dynamics at the Tucson Military Post, 1776–1797


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BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF THE SPANIARDS, the lower Santa Cruz River Valley had supported a thriving Northern Piman population. Chapter 9 indicated the ethnic diversity contributed to these Pimas by two groups of Western Apaches who settled in peace at Tucson, but the declining statistics discussed in Chapter 13 showed that the addition of Apaches failed to arrest the Native-American depopulation process. In contrast to the debilitated reproductive ability of the shocked and discouraged Pimas, the fecundity of the Spanish soldiers was impressive. This chapter analyzes this rapid growth of the Spanish and Mestizo population at the royal military post in the context of population trends in other Sonoran settlements.

Spanish colonial policy succeeded not merely in military terms in conquering Native Americans — even Apaches — but also in biological terms. Not only did Christian missionaries convert Native Americans, but the original Christians themselves reproduced at a healthy rate. The contemporary Spanish-speaking population of metropolitan Tucson and southern Arizona stems only in part from Christianized Native Americans who learned to speak Spanish. More basically it descends from Spanish or Mestizo forebears who multiplied mightily during the early years of Hispanic settlement.


Population Trends at Piman Tucson

As already pointed out, Native Americans survived in the Tucson area only by migration and ethnic diversification. In 1774, two years before the presidio was established, Piman Tucson held 239 persons. They already included native-born individuals — the Sobaipuris whom Captain Francisco Elías G. had resettled there in 1762, and the Papagos whom Friar Francisco Garcés had persuaded to move in from the desert. By 1797, the Tucson Pueblo population rose to 289 persons, yet only 78 were riverine natives while 211 were migrant Papagos! The age structure of these Northern Pimans militated against their maintaining their own numbers. Despite a 20.9% increase from 1774 to 1797, Piman Tucson required more Native American migrants, as shown by a drop to 246 persons by 1801.

It seems doubtful that the Peaceful Apache population varied significantly between 1793 and 1797. Thus, approximately 100 Western Apaches may be presumed to have lived near the presidio in 1797.

Friar Pedro de Arriquibar enumerated the Spanish-Mestizo population for which he was responsible late in January of 1797.1 He listed 395 persons.2


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Thus, the Tucson area population grew from 230 Northern Pimans to some 784 persons of diverse origins by 1797. The major portion of that 228% increase resulted from migration to the area of ethnic groups not previously resident there. Spaniards, Mestizos and Mulattos migrated to Tucson in 1776. Western Apaches arrived in 1793. Papagos migrated there with some frequency. Yet the latter failed to maintain a viable local Northern Piman population at Tucson until 1801 or later.


Comparative Population Reports

No data have been found on Apache fecundity. Data are available, on the other hand, concerning Spanish-Mestizo fecundity at Tucson. These data demonstrate that the military post contained a viable biological population increasingly rapidly in size regardless of immigration. Seven reports from other settlements allow comparison of Tucson with some other 1796–1797 Sonoran populations.

One immediately obvious difference between the Arriquibar and other enumerations of the time is the mode of presentation of population information. Some priests whose enumerations have been located followed the natural family model. Derived from Catholic doctrine, this model historically displaced an earlier household model in reporting on New Spain's population.3 Nearly half of this group of Sonoran priests emphasized ethnic group membership.

At Mission Tumacacori, Reverend Mariano Bordoy classified individuals as married couples, widowers, widows, bachelors, boys, girls, male and female children, making a distinction between Indians and citizens. As a result, reconstructing families from Bordoy's enumeration is difficult,4 even though he did emphasize matrimony. Noreña5 followed the same scheme at Yécora, while Legarra6 reported only ethnic group totals from Cucurpe and Tuape. These priests seemed more interested in what Spicer7 calls “persistent ethnic groups” or peoples, than in doctrinal families.

More than half of this sample of Sonoran priests paid more attention to the “natural family.” Francisco Canales, Franciscan chaplain at the Presidio of Altar, reported only an estimated total of 800 persons in 90 military and 60 civilian families. “All its inhabitants are taken for and reputed to be Spaniards.”8 Arriquibar listed the Tucson population in what appear to be household groups. He placed a male at the head of each group listed, several of them alone. Arriquibar gave the military rank of men on his list, but did not record their marital status. One may infer only that men listed with a woman and children were married.9 Arriquibar did identify sons, daughters and servants within apparent households. Santisteban10 explicitly reported the Cocospera population by family groups familias), which he classified in ethnic groups. Martínez11 followed the same format at Pitíc, listing matrimonios or married couples, with the husband first, followed by wife and offspring.

Only two of these seven priests really employed the doctrinal “natural family” model in enumerating the mission and presidial populations at the


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end of the 18th century. Two used the old household model, one used a matrimonial model and two used ethnic group models. It would appear that the bishop's instructions left each priest a good deal of leeway in his reporting, and that the men in the missions, presidios and parishes were unfamiliar with a common model for population reporting.

Bordoy systematically indicated the ethnic origin of each individual he listed at ethnically complex Tumacacori Mission, whether Pima, Papago, Apache, Yaqui, Opata, Yuma or Spanish.12 The Tumacacori Mission population included more ethnic groups than that reported for any of the other missions. Legarra identified only Native Americans at Tuape, but Spaniards, Mestizos and Mulattos at Cucurpe. Both Noreña at Yécora and Martínez at Pitíc listed Spaniards as well as Native Americans — Pimas in the former instance, and Seris in the latter. Although he refused to send the bishop enumerations of residents, Reverend Joseph N. de Messa listed Yaquis at Torim, Vicam, Bacum and Cocorim; Yaquis and seven citizens at Virivis, and Pimas and Guaymas at Belem.13 Outside the missions, a different motivation led secular clergymen to report differently. At Bacuvirito, Licenciado Sepulveda subordinated population figures to his fee-income totals. He identified Native Americans at the Pueblo of Bacuvirito only. Those living in the placer camps Sepulveda lumped with “Spaniards, Mestizos and Mulattos” as “confessing souls receiving communion” and paying fees. He noted Native Americans separately only because he performed the sacraments for them gratis, “from the bucket” as he put it. Otherwise Sepulveda distinguished only between adults and children.14 Appendix Table 15 compares the ethnic composition of this small sample of Sonoran settlements in 1796–1797.

Arriquibar furnished no ethnic identification for individuals on his list.15 The Appendix Table 15 listing of the Tucson population as “Spaniards” is a courtesy decision, therefore, and placing it in the Mestizo-Mulatto column would probably be more accurate. The lack of ethnic identifications on Arriquibar's list of Tucson residents shows that it was not comprehensive. There is rather abundant evidence that Spaniards at the frontier missions and military posts very often utilized captive Indians as domestic servants, as civilian Spaniards at Bac and Tucson Pueblo did in 1801. In fact, so general was this practice in Sonora that the specific term “Nixora” was employed in that province to designate such captives.16 It appears doubtful, therefore, whether all 19 servants listed by Arriquibar were Spaniards. That they were detribalized Native Americans seems much more likely.

The lack of ethnic identification on Arriquibar's list raises a point of a different order concerning the completeness of his enumeration of the actual population of the Tucson area. Arriquibar listed no Apaches, or none that can be so identified. Thus, his enumeration was in fact not a complete listing of the total population of the area. Arriquibar included only members of the presidial garrison and related persons among those he considered his parishioners. His list excluded both the Apaches de Paz living near the fort and missionized Northern Piman-speaking Native Americans across the Santa Cruz River at Tucson Pueblo. While the missionary at San Xavier del Bac


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Mission cared for the Northern Pimans at the Pueblo of Tucson and assumed responsibility for the Peaceful Apaches, one might have expected Arriquibar to at least mention the latter. Chaplain Canales was more explicit about the Altar Post, certainly. On the one hand, “Indians have never been established in this Presidio.” On the other, Canales described his chaplaincy, which “extends only to the Presidio of Santa Gertrudis del Altar, without other additions of Missions, ranches or haciendas and without embracing any other district or territory.”

Undoubtedly this was similar to Arriquibar's perception of his responsibility at the Tucson post. Nonetheless, Arriquibar served in an inter-ethnic area of greater complexity than did Canales. The latter had earlier reported that: “The citizenry cannot be reported precisely because of its proximity to the Mission towns. Sometimes they move from the towns to the Presidio; on other occasions they move from the Presidio to the towns.”17

Clearly the Arriquibar enumeration of Tucson's population was not a “census” as it has been labeled more than once, for the priest ignored the Native American population of the Tucson area. Colonial census-taking never achieved real success in New Spain. On the other hand, enumerations of parts of the Tucson population similar to that by Arriquibar were made earlier than 1797.

After the reforms Charles III of Spain instituted in his colonial frontier forces, particularly the New Regulations promulgated in 1772,18 senior army officers periodically visited the Tucson post on inspection tours. An inspection report on a Spanish royal garrison is a lengthy and fairly detailed document. Several of these concerned with the Tucson garrison survive in the national archives of Spain and Mexico. This author19 has already published one list of officers and men in the Tucson garrison in December of 1778 contained in the 1779 review of Colonel Roque de Medina, also included in this volume. Because the review listed soldiers by name in order to report their economic status — whether they owed the garrison treasury or had money due them — this list can be taken as a reliable record of the military population of the post. A similar report by Colonel Hugh O'Connor listed members of the company at Tubac just before it moved to Tucson. These antedate the Arriquibar listing as post population enumerations.

Even earlier Captain Joseph Díaz del Carpio enumerated the Northern Pimans living at Tucson in 1752 (see Appendix Table 11). That is the earliest known enumeration of Native American population at Tucson. The Arriquibar 1797 enumeration is the first known listing of civilian population related to the post, inasmuch as inspection reports listed only military personnel. It is not, however, a census nor the earliest known enumeration of the Tucson population.

When the bishop of Sonora sent out his circulars asking his priests to report on population, he may well have had in mind receiving something along the lines of a modern census of population. Yet all the priests' reports thus far located leave something to be desired in this respect, especially in their lack of uniform reporting. Still, the reports allow analysis of population trends.


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Tucson and Tumacacori

Earlier this author20 analyzed Native American depopulation in the Santa Cruz River Valley settlements during the 18th century and Spanish fecundity at the Tubac military post that helped to insure permanency to Hispanic settlement in what is now southern Arizona.21 The differential survival of Native American and European populations in this valley makes comparison of the Tumacacori and Tucson population enumerations of interest, as these formed the northernmost finger of imperial settlement in northwestern Sonoran Indian country along with the Pima Indian Company at Tubac.

Despite differences in reporting between Bordoy at Tumacacori and Arriquibar at Tucson, their enumerations yield information on differential population pyramids in Tumacacori and Tucson. This evidence is of the soundest type, moreover, inasmuch as neither priest was a demographer and we are converting them into what McCall22 has labeled “witnesses in spite of themselves.” It is this category of evidence in which historians have come to repose more confidence than in narratives written to influence readers considering the topic discussed.

It is possible to identify children in both enumerations, as differentiated from married couples, widows and widowers, although with less certainty in the Tucson than the Tumacacori enumeration. The bachelors, spinsters and children in Bordoy's list23 amounted to 36% of the total reported population of 102. Inasmuch as Bordoy gave the age of each person, it is possible to see that his bachelors ranged up to 24 years of age. At Southern Piman Yécora, bachelors, spinsters and children comprised exactly half of the Native American population Noreña reported, but the sample is very small. Appendix Table 16 compares the youthfulness of people at five Sonoran settlements.

The children Arriquibar listed with couples amounted to 40% of the population he enumerated, 158 of 395 individuals listed.24 Because Arriquibar did not give the ages of persons on his list, it is impossible to differentiate widowers from bachelors. The Tucson percentage is, therefore, an underestimate compared to the Tumacacori percentage. There are 28 single men on Arriquibar's list. If all are counted as bachelors, this makes the bachelor-spinster-child group in Tucson 47% of its enumerated population.

The true figure for Tucson lies, in other words, between 40 and 47% of the total enumerated population. This is not a great difference from Tumacacori's 36%. Yet it is a sufficient difference to afford one more perspective on the differential dynamics of population trends in the aboriginal population of the Santa Cruz River Valley, even reinforced with Apache, Yuma and Papago replacements, as compared to the Hispanic settlers. The Spanish-Mestizo population was relatively younger, so better able to reproduce itself.


Fecundity at Tucson

Arriquibar listed at Tucson 3 commissioned officers, 9 non-commissioned officers, 6 carbineers, 1 armorer, 2 cadets and 39 enlisted men, for a total of 60 men in the garrison. The families and servants of the 60 members of the


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unit raised the total population of the post and its direct dependents to 223 persons. Twelve members of the garrison were listed as single. The 48 listed as having families had a total of 163 wives, children and servants reported. This meant that the average military household in Tucson included 4.4 persons at that time. The average military nuclear family size was 4.2 individuals, excluding the servants included in the household figure.

This compares with 4.69 persons per household in the Peruvian Indian agricultural population at Vicos in 1952, and 4.56 persons per household there in 1963, when the total population grew at approximately 1.5% annually.25 Inferentially, the Tucson growth rate in 1797 was slightly but not greatly lower than the modern Vicos rate, which occurred under health conditions not much different from those in Tucson at the end of the 18th century.

Appendix Table 17 compares household average size in the various ethnic groups in Cocospera, Tumacacori and Pitíc Missions with the Tucson presidial situation at the same time, plus Altar presidio. Only the small colony of Spaniards at the Pitíc Seri Mission and the Altar post families exceeded the Tucson garrison households in average size, indicating the significant differential between Spanish families and native Sonoran Indian families in biological reproductive rates in 1796–1797. The coincidence between the Spanish and Northern Piman household sizes at Cocospera, where Santisteban reported that Native American population had been falling, suggests important differences between mission and presidial environments, the Cocospera and Tucson environments, and/or migration.

Even with the 20% unmarried men in the Tucson garrison, the post population was being more than reproduced by the wives of married soldiers. Tucson's population was growing, in other words, if emigration were balanced by immigration, simply on the basis of the fecundity of garrison spouses, without even taking the civilian population into account. This is clear not only from the average family size, but also from fecundity figures. The 47 women in existing marital unions in the post population in 1797 had produced 105 living children when Arriquibar made his enumeration, an average of 2.2 each. This figure leaves out of account others who had emigrated or established independent households in Tucson, because such cases cannot be identified from the Arriquibar list. In other words, only 21 years after the post was founded, it could maintain and increase its own population. Gross fecundity was undoubtedly considerably higher than the figures given here, inasmuch as Arriquibar enumerated only surviving children still in households at the time, giving no clues as to the prevalence of miscarriages, still-births, and the infant mortality rate.

That miscarriages and other factors depressed fecundity is suggested by the presence of 11 wives, or 23.4% of those enumerated, who had no living children recorded. This number probably included young wives yet to enter their child-bearing years, and older women past child-bearing age, but the proportion does suggest some degree of sterility.

The 36 women, or 76.6% of the garrison mates enumerated, were fecund enough to more than reproduce the adult population. Twelve of these wives had three living children enumerated, and another dozen had two living


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children. Eight had four children, and two wives had only a single living child still in the household. On the other hand, one wife had five and one had six children at home. This amounted to an average fecundity of 2.9 children per fertile wife in 1797, which must be taken as a rather minimal figure inasmuch as it does not count any older children of these women who might already have left home. This fecundity rate suggests the possibility of a 50% increase in the local population of each child-bearing generation, without immigration from farther south in New Spain.

The apparent sex ratio of children born by women in the Tucson post seems to have been nearly equal. The living children Arriquibar recorded in military garrison families included 52 boys and 53 girls. Appendix Table 18 compares the tertiary sex ratio of the total Tucson population Arriquibar enumerated with 1796 ratios for Spaniards elsewhere in Sonora and three Native American samples. This comparison suggests that the Pima Bajo of Yécora were capable of significant increase by 1796 as were the Spaniards at Cocospera and Tucson, although the nature of the latter settlement as a military post with more single males than a civilian settlement would have masked its biological potential.

Given the small size of the Yécora Mission population reported, the suspicion arises that its sex ratio may well be a product of differential residence at the mission and the scattered Pima Bajo rancherías roundabout, rather than a reflection of the actual total population. Yet the Pima Bajo may have passed their population nadir by 1797 and been recovering numbers.

Successful biological adjustment to life at Tucson and Altar stands in striking contrast to the continued high rate of Native American mortality, low Native American fecundity and Native American population decline reported from Tumacacori and Cocospera and implied in the enumerations elsewhere. This difference between the Spanish or Spanish-Mestizo population, and the Native American populations in their susceptibility to infectious diseases explains in large part why Spain was able to establish and to maintain a permanent outpost of Western Civilization and colonial military power at Tucson at the farther boundary of friendly Native American territory and the hostile edge of inimical Apache country. Biological differences in disease resistance expressed in fecundity rates ultimately determined the cultural characteristics of the population of the Tucson area.

Up: Contents Previous: 13. Northern Piman Population Trends at Tucson, 1690–1821 Next: PART IV. SUPPLEMENTARY DATA




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