Antonio González


Ginny Sphar

Father Antonio González was a native of Salamanca in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. He put on the Franciscan habit at the College of Querétaro on February 22, 1823, and professed on March 25, 1824.

In 1833, Father Llera went north to Querétaro to enlist more friars. He got only two. One was Antonio González.

In the late summer or early fall of 1841, Antonio rode down the Santa Cruz Valley. Instead of San Jose de Tumacácori, for its patron saint of more than 90 years, he called the mission La Purisima Conceptíon from an image of the Virgin Mary on the main altar.

For all that mattered, González was now missionary to Tumacácori in absentia and trustee of its lands. He did not date the Tumacácori inventory.[1]

In 1836, just before the departure of Father Llera, the mission roster was thus:

José María Pérez LleraSan Ignacio

Rafael Díaz Cocóspera

Antonio González San Xavier

Juan Maldonado Oquitoa

Faustino González Pitiquito

Ángel Arroyo Caborca

Antonio replaced Juan Maldonado at Oquitoa June 13, 1837, probably from San Xavier—Tucson.

When Rafael Díaz was made Father President he wrote to Father González announcing his appointment and also told him that Bishop Garza had stripped him of his faculties.

In 1841 González moved from Oquitoa to live at San Ignacio. Now there were only two missionaries left[2]--Arroyo for western Pimería and González to the north. González signed the inventory for San Ignacio on September 7, 1841. Sometime in mid-1842, González and Arroyo left Pimería Alta. After 75 years the College of Querétaro had terminated its ministry to the Pimas and Papagos.

They did not return to the College right away. They stopped off at Opodepe. Behind them the settlers begged them to return. Father Antonio did come back to San Ignacio, a son not of the College but out of Jalisco province. Now his situation was even more hopeless. During 1843 he rode not only the northern circuit but also the Altar Valley. After 1843 the signature of Antonio González, the last of the Franciscans, did not appear in mission registers. Bishop Garza wrote in 1849 that a lone Querétaran friar, probably González, had returned to Pimería Alta and died soon after.[3]

An extra historical note:

In the spring of 1844 Don Francisco Javier Vásquez, venerable parish priest at Cieneguilla, compiled, for the bishop, a brief report on the churches of Pimería Alta. He had visited, reclaimed the priests quarters, and appointed sacristans in the ex-mission pueblos of the west and those of San Ignacio and Cocóspera. He had ventured no farther north into the territory “occupied by carnivorous Apaches, sacrilegious murderers of Father Andrés ? and other Fathers.” He had heard of “a pueblito called Tumacácori,” but he seemed to confuse it with San Xavier.

Others too had heard of Tumacácori. They wanted its virtually unpeopled lands for speculation. The Apaches had chased away all but a poor remnant of ignorant Indians who no longer even had possession of their title papers. No missionary would intercede in their behalf. On April 18, 1844, without the Indians’ knowledge, the entire Tumacácori grant, fundo legal, estancia, and other lands, was sold at public auction in Guaymas for 500 pesos.

The lone bidder, Don Francisco Alejandro Aguilar, just happened to be the brother-in-law and agent of Manual María Gándara. Based on Article 73 of the Law of April 17, 1837, and on the decree of February 10, 1842, unclaimed mission lands, whose value did not exceed 500 pesos, could be sold to help out the impoverished public treasury. The Tumacácori lands had been declared abandoned and valued at 500 pesos.[4]

It did not matter that Ignacio Pamplona and a few of his kin still lived there. Soon enough the Apaches would take care of that.

[1] González was invested on February 22, 1823, and he professed March 25, 1824. CSCQ, Libro de Incorporaciones, ACQ. The friar did not date the Tumacácori inventory. Two more undated inventories of Tumacácori’s church furnishings, both unsigned, are preserved with the González document in BL, M-M 285.

[2] Díaz to González and Arroyo, May 28, 1841. Flores to Gándara, Opodepe, August 7, 1841, AES. Antonio González signed the inventory for San Ignacio on September 7, 1841. BL, M-M.

[3] (Vázquez), Abreviado informe, Cieneguilla, May 1844, BL, M-M 381, No. 62. Bishop Garza later wrote that a lone Querétaran friar, doubtless González, had returned to Pimería Alta “and died soon after.” Garza to Juan Francisco Escalante and Manuel María Encinas, Culiacán, April 19, 1849, AMS.

[4] SED, pp. 13-15. Mattison, “Spanish and Mexican Settlements,” pp. 293-94, and “Tangled Web.” The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1898 that the sale to Aguilar was illegal and void, thus nullifying all subsequent transfers of the grant. Because the rightful owners, the Tumacácori Indians, had, in the meantime, abandoned the grant, it reverted to the public domain.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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