• Sunlight illuminates the top of historic Mission San José de Tumacácori church.

    Tumacácori

    National Historical Park Arizona

Recurring Characters

by

Anita Badertscher

February 2004

Estevan Tubacsam is one of those “old friends” that we keep coming across in Mission 2000. Having held a series of official positions at Guevavi from 1748 until his death fifteen years later, he appears in a total of 73 records.

Estevan first shows up in the record books as witness to the March, 1748 wedding of an O’odham couple from Tubac. At this time, he was temastian, assisting father José Garrucho as a catechist, cleaning the Guevavi church, caring for the altar and ecclesiastical ornaments, and providing general assistance to the priest.

On May 12 of that year, Estevan himself got married in the Guevavi church, to Cheppa Tucucmoo. Witness to their wedding was Salvador Saati, another busy man at Guevavi. Over the years, the “nijora” (Indian of unkown tribe) Salvador served the Guevavi mission in the capacities of temastian, mador, paje, and fiscal.

Cheppa and Estevan had been married for less than a year when a devastating epidemic passed though the region. Beginning in January, ninety - one people were lost at San Ignacio and Ímuris. The epidemic hit Guevavi in February and March, reaching Sonoitac in May. At least fifty people died in the two communities. Cheppa was among the first to die at Guevavi.

Two months later, Estevan married María Nicolasa Yatuburss. María Nicolasa had been married for only two years to Pablo of Santa Fe, padre Garrucho’s personal servant, when he died in the epidemic and was buried under the floor of the Guevavi church.

We know of three children that were born to María Nicolasa and Estevan during their ten years of marriage. Their first child and only son, Francisco, was baptized and buried on the same day in 1751 by padre Garrucho, who recorded that the baby was barely alive at birth, and died shortly thereafter. Five years later, Estevan and María Nicolasa show up in the records at Suamca, where father Ignacio Keller baptized their two daughters, María and Ignacia.

Baby Francisco was born just a few months before the Pima rebellion of 1751. Estevan stood as witness to a wedding on November 1st, twenty days before the uprising. In the chaos and upheaval that followed, he disappears from the record books until December of 1754, when we find him back once more at Guevavi, becoming godfather to an O’odham baby named Bernardo Touu.

María Nicolasa died in 1759, and Estevan married again, to Juana. Here, the record leaves us with a mystery. As recorded by father Francisco Pauer, María Nicolasa died on May 17, but Estevan had already married Juana on February 19! However it all happened, this marriage was also doomed to be short lived, as Juana died only three years after the wedding.

During his lifetime, Estevan served the Guevavi Mission in several capacities. In addition to temastian, he is described at different times as paje (personal servant of the priest), mador (teacher of religious doctrine), and fiscal (church administrative officer). The last of all the seventy – three entries to include the name of Estevan Tubacsam tells us that he was still mador, and a widower, when he died at Guevavi “in receipt of the holy sacraments” and was buried under the floor of the church on April 21, 1763.

Did You Know?

Tortilla Sonorense

The Tortilla Sonorense (Sonoran Tortilla), made of wheat flour, is patted and stretched until it is an arm's length in diameter before it is cooked.