Cayetana Albizu


Anita Badertscher

March 2003

Josefa Cayetana Albizu was about one year old, “poco mas o menos,” on March 18, !780 when padre Arriquibar baptized her at Tumacácori along with two of her siblings – a three year old brother, Pedro Antonio, and four year old sister, Bernarda. Cayetana lived at the mission with Pedro, Bernarda, another sister, Teresa, who was about seven years old at the time, and her parents, José Manuel Albisu and Josepha Rivera.

When Cayetana was not yet in her teens, she met her future husband, a fellow Papago who would be named Manuel Pacifico at his baptism. Manuel came to the mission from the Papaguería with his parents, who tried out mission life for a while, then decided to return to the desert. Manuel, however, was already hooked by young Cayetana. He returned to Tumacácori, was instructed in Christian doctrine, and was baptized. A month later, he and Cayetana were married. Manuel was somewhere between sixteen and twenty-two years old at the time. His new wife was thirteen.

Manuel died only two years later, leaving Cayetana a widow at the age of fifteen. Six months after Manuel’s death, she married the son of Tumacácori’s governor, a Pima man about ten years older than herself. José Domingo Arriola had lost his first wife and ten day - old baby boy just three months before.

After three years of marriage, Cayetana and José Domingo had their first baby, a little boy whom they named Vicente. The baby lived for only two months before dying in their home in Tumacácori. A year and a half later, they had another baby. María Nicolasa lived only a few hours before dying late in the afternoon on the day of her birth. This time, Cayetana became pregnant immediately. They named their next little girl María Nicolasa, too, something that people often did when they lost a very young baby. Unfortunately, little Nicolasa didn’t live much longer than her namesake, dying in her parents’ home at the age of two months.

Cayetana never had another child. An epidemic swept through Tumacácori in 1805, taking her with it on May 14. Cayetana and her three babies are all buried in the old Jesuit cemetery at Tumacácori. She was twenty-five years old.

Three months after her death, thirty-five year old José Domingo married again, to thirteen year old Guadalupe Zuñiga of Tumacácori.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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