Father Joseph Garrucho

Father Joseph Garrucho may be the man most responsible for the 1751 uprising among the O’odham. The Governor of Sonora referred to him as a “black villain.” He was said to be a harsh administrator. Yet, he was noted to be “light hearted” and a good comrade by his supervisors, and he consoled and encouraged other discouraged priests.

Garrucho was born Guiseppe Garruchio on the Island of Sardinia on March 27, 1712. He had black hair and blue eyes, with light skin and a sparse beard. He arrived in the Pimería in 1745 and set off for his assigned mission, Guevavi. Upon arrival, he was disappointed to find that the “church” was a mere ramada. On May 5, 1745 he made his first diary entry; the O’odham had deserted Guevavi due to a rumor of an impending military action. He trekked into the hills and convinced them to return.

Garrucho began construction of a real church, and developed herds and crops. During his six years at Guevavi, he dealt with three epidemics that brought discouragement and death. He worked hard to hold the community together. It was a thankless task, but he made more progress than any of his predecessors. The mission farm at Tubac produced ample crops. Under his guidance, a church, furnished and painted, took shape.

Garrucho didn’t bother learning from the natives he oversaw. Fellow priests sarcastically referred to him as the “Lord Bishop,” because of his overbearing attitude and his zealotry. While the missions grew and gathered converts under his leadership, his rough attitudes offended the very people he wanted to convert and teach. He took tilled lands and used them for the mission. Callous, he disregarded the feelings of the native people. He punished the father of a native governor. Assuming the man was shirking, he forced him to continue to work. The man ultimately died because of Garrucho’s lack of sympathy. He slapped a man in direct violation of his own church’s rules and insulted the man in the eyes of the tribe. Garrucho encouraged the Spanish citizenry, the gente de razón, to settle nearby and attend services. This in turn meant competition for resources with the mission people.

After the 1751 rebellion, he was removed to the Ópata mission of Oposura where he would stay for 15 years. By 1765, he was preaching in the language of the Opata. Garrucho was eventually promoted to Father Visitor. He developed “attacks” which kept him from riding, and he rarely saw the missions under his care. He grew corpulent away from the rigors of the missions.

In 1768 Garrucho, along with other Jesuits, was put aboard the Swedish ship Princess Ulrica at Vera Cruz and expelled from the country. In Spain, separated from his fellow priests, he was placed under heavy guard and marched halfway across country to Madrid to be imprisoned. His death was unrecorded.

For more in-depth information, read the full account of Joseph Garrucho

Last updated: July 6, 2019

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