Bartolomé Ximeno


Ginny Sphar

Father Bartolomé was born in the village of Santa Cruz de Tobed on the Río Grio, a poor farming community. The climate was cold but healthful; still some residents suffered pneumonia and fevers.[1]

In 1759 he entered the Franciscan Order at the convento of San Cristobal de Alpartir. He and Father Garcés had met on the way in Calahorra. While Father Garcés studied theology, Ximeno made his novitiate.[2]

Father Bartolomé came to New Spain with the Mission of 1769, along with 40 others. Heading up the Mission was Father Juan Domingo Arricivita, best known as the chronicler of the College of Querétaro. Only 29 would stay and, of those, 8 would serve at Tumacácori.[3]

Father Ximeno came to Tumacácori in 1772 to replace Father Gil de Bernabé.[4] By November 1772, Gaspar de Clemente joined Father Ximeno at Tumacácori.[5] For the first time the mission had two friars but only one stipend. At that time, Ximeno was 30 and of average height with a mole on his cheek.

They set out to improve the living conditions at Tumacácori. They began tearing down the hovels and building proper adobe dwellings. Father Gil de Bernabé may have initiated the project. Ximeno and Clemente evidently carried on. They or their successors refurbished the Tumacácori church. They built a wall around the entire complex. At Calabazas they roofed and put into service the church and consecrated the cemetery.[6]

On Friday evening March 5, 1773, Ximeno was writing a letter, telling them back at the College how it was at the missions. That very morning about 10 A.M. Apaches had ridden up to the edge of the pueblo and driven off nine of the mission’s mares and crippled another with a lance. He wrote that, unless something was done to stop the Apaches, the missions would fail. As long as the government failed to provide more prompt and active measures to contain the Apaches, the missions would not advance. In a short while the Pimería would be done with.

For his superiors’ benefit he reiterated how the Sobaípuris to the East in the San Pedro Valley used to hold back the Apaches and how their removal had opened up the floodgates. He damned the military. He said, “I think that on the frontiers, gunpowder has lost all the power and effectiveness the Author of Nature bestowed upon it. In so many murders, robberies and atrocities committed by the Apaches since I have been in the mission, I have never heard it said that our men killed a single Apache.”[7]

As for the state of his own mission, Father Ximeno told it like it was. His cabacera, Tumacácori, had 23 families. They had the fields close at hand. At the three visitas, the fields were a league or more away and the workers ran the risk of attack. The mission had hardly any livestock left. With the mission population scattered, not even two missionaries could give them the instruction they needed. Ximeno suggested consolidation. The natives of Guevavi and Sonoitac could be brought to form a larger pueblo at Agua Fría—six miles south of Tumacácori on the river flat. If the missions were reduced to only two pueblos, the people of Guevavi and Calabazas could be relocated at Agua Fría while Sonoitac’s population could come to Tumacácori. A closer congregation would make it easier to instruct them in the faith.

The question of friars managing the business end of administration confounded Father Bartolomé and he said so. Yet what alternatives were there. The natives were incapable of taking over. He admitted he did not have it in him to resolve the matter.

He concluded with a prayer, “May God in his infinite goodness and mercy move the hearts of those who can remedy such adversity.”[8]

Later that March of 1773, Fathers Ximeno and Clemente received the news of Father Gil de Bernabé’s murder.

Father Ximeno left Tumacácori late in the summer of 1773 after being there a little over a year. From mid-1774 until mid-1776 he was at the frustrating, precarious mission of Pitiquito, where he and his compañero “Found their hands tied, without any authority to punish, reprimand, or even say anything to the Seris, because that was the way the government chiefs and superiors had recommended, almost commanded, they do it.”[9]

On a 1775 list of Querétaro friars, someone later wrote accidentado (afflicted) next to Ximeno’s name. He was back at the College during the late 1770s but not listed in 1781.[10] He had served his ten years.

[1] Madoz, Diccionario, Vol. 14, p. 768.

[2] Kessell, “Making of a Martyr,” pp. 182-85. Barbastro, Compendio.

[3] Francisco Sánchez Zúñiga, Bartolomé Ximeno, Gaspar de Clemente, Joseph Matías Moreno, Tomás Eixarch, Juan Bautista Velderrain, Joaquín Antonio Belarde and Baltazar Carillo.

[4] Arricivita, Lista, 1769. The register is not complete for Ximeno’s administration: his earliest entry records the burial at Guevavi of an Indian widow from Calabazas on July 6, 1772; his last, a baptism on August 15, 1773. DCB.

[5] Cartagena to Bucareli, September 25, 1772. Clemente’s first and last entries in the extant Tumacácori register, both marriages, are dated November 16, 1772, and January 23, 1775. DCB.

[6] Barbastro, Compendio. Arricivita, Cronica seráfica, p. 448. Except for the roofing of the Calabazas church, which seems to have been done after the fall harvest of 1772, it is impossible to fix the precise dates of these physical improvements. On September 22, 1772, Ximeno recorded the last burial at Guevavi of a body from Calabazas. Clemente on March 4, 1773, entered the details of a burial at Calabazas “in the church.” Four months earlier, on November 16, 1772, he had celebrated a marriage at Calabazas, which may mean that the church was already in service by then. DCB.

[7] Ximeno to Guardian, Tumacácori, March 5, 1773, ibid., 81. I edited a copy of Ximeno’s report in the Civezza Collection as “San José de Tumacácori—1773: A Franciscan Reports From Arizona,” AW, Vol. 6 (1964), pp. 303-12. I mistook the abbreviations nros. (nuestros), our side or our men, for mros. (ministros or misioneros), ministers or missionaries, and thereby thrust upon Father Ximeno the unlikely and misleading statement. “I have never heard it said that the missionaries have killed even one Apache.” Ximeno had been preoccupied with the Apache menace from the beginning. The second burial he performed was for three women killed in a July 14, 1772, attack on Guevavi. DCB. (I assume this is Kessell speaking.)

[8] Ximeno to Guardian, March 5, 1773.

[9] Father Pedro Font to Ximenez, Tubutama, January 20, 1777, CC, 201.80. Mission San Antonio de Padua (Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) de Pitic, baptismal, marriage, burial register. Archivo de la Mitra de Sonora, Hermosillo (AMS). Ximeno’s first and last entries at Pitic were for baptisms, July 3, 1774, and September 1, 1776.

[10] Lists of personnel, ACQ, M, 2.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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