Tales from the Morgue: A San Xavier anniversary

2012-05-18T09:15:00Z 2013-02-14T12:57:03Z Tales from the Morgue: A San Xavier anniversaryJohanna Eubank, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 18, 2012 9:15 am  • 

The Morgue Lady missed the anniversary of the laying of the foundation for the San Xavier Mission, but this article might interest readers even if it is a bit late.

Of course, the Arizona Daily Star wasn't around yet in 1700, but the Star ran an article for the 228th anniversary of the event.

From the Arizona Daily Star, April 27, 1928:

 


San Xavier Building Started 228 Years Ago Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the 228th anniversary of the laying of the first foundation stone for the Church of San Xavier del Bac.

The following extract from the diary of Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, quoted in an article by Dr. Frank C. Lockwood published in the April issue of "The Arizona Quarterly Review," tells of the founding of San Xavier:

"April 28, 1700, he (Father Kino) writes: 'On the twenty-eighth we began the foundations of a very large and capacious church and house of San Xavier del Bac, all the many people working with much pleasure and zeal, some in digging for the foundation, others in hauling many and very good tezontle from a little hill which was about a quarter of a league away. For the mortar for these foundations it was not necessary to haul water, because by means of the irrigation ditches we very easily conducted the water where we wished, and that house, with its great court and garden nearby, will be able to have throughout the year all the water it may need, running to any place or workroom one may please, and one of the greatest and best fields in all Nueva Biscaya'."

The following letter concerning a monument for Father Eusebio Francisco Kino signed by a number of Tucson citizens, constituting a finance committee, was received by The Arizona Daily Star yesterday:

"A community is greater in proportion as it recognizes and honors its great men. By common consent we have come to look upon Father Eusebio Kino as a truly monumental character — the most potent individual and the most worthy in the civilization of the southwest. He is our earliest and our greatest pioneer. He was a religious genius, a saintly missionary, a mighty spiritual captain; and he was also a builder, a ranchman, an explorer, and a statesman. He first brought domestic animals into Arizona; he founded San Xavier Mission; he first explored and mapped Pimeria Alta; and he was the first to discover that California could be reached by land from Sonora.

"The citizens of the southwest now desire to honor his memory with a monument worthy of his great name and as enduring as the civilization that he planted here in the desert. Almost spontaneously a large and very representative committee has come together to promote and direct this undertaking. It will require at least $10,000 to erect such a statue as the committee has in mind. We desire that nothing in the southwest shall surpass this monument in fitness and artistic distinction. The choice of a sculptor, the art design, — all that has to do with the concrete realization of our ideal in a creation of monumental beauty — has been placed in the hands of a remarkably well qualified committee.

"We are addressing this letter to a large number of well known men and women in the southwest who we believe are both able and willing to make subscriptions of from $25 to $500 to carry out this inspiring civic project. It is our hope that at least three-fourths of the amount required may be subscribed by those to whom this letter is addressed. Subscriptions may be made payable January 1, 1929. It is believed that after the larger gifts have been made, we can raise the remainder in small amounts from a very large number who are eager to give, but cannot give much.

"We sincerely trust that you will be able to give promptly and generously. By so doing, you will honor the memory of a benefactor of men, and will provide a thing of beauty that will be a permanent joy to the generations that come after us.

"Committee on finance, Mose Drachman, chairman; Albert Steinfeld, Mrs. George F. Kitt, M. J. Riordan, Mrs. Lynn J. Tuttle, George H. Kelly, Robert Tally, Frank Duffy, Thomas O'Brien, Miss Mary M. Duffy."

 

Some who haven't been in Tucson long may think the statue of Father Kino atop his horse is the monument in question. If so, it would have been placed 60 years after the fund-raising began.

The statue at Kino Boulevard and 15th Street was placed there in 1988 and dedicated Jan. 13, 1989.

The Morgue Lady does wonder what the good father would think if he could see the two small Santa hats placed on the horse's ears each Christmas season, but she imagines a man who accomplished as much as Father Kino must have had a good sense of humor.

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About this blog

"Tales from the Morgue" is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library — also known as News and Research Services — for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com